The Happy Priest Reflects on the Greatness of Motherhood
separation, single moms, widows, mothers forced to work out of necessity, grandmothers raising grandchildren, prodigal children and prodigal grandchildren, are realities that cause deep, daily suffering for many women. Added to all of these sufferings, is the pain endured by many married women who would like to be mothers.
All mothers and grandmothers need to find in Mary, our Blessed Mother, the faith, hope, love and fortitude to stand firm at the foot of the cross. All suffering has power when we unite our suffering to the cross of Jesus. Take your suffering, united to the suffering of Jesus, and offer that suffering for your children and grandchildren.
As we honor our mothers and grandmothers on this yearly celebration of motherhood, we also need to consider the essential duties of husbands and children.
Saint Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 6: 25). Husbands have the solemn duty to sacrifice themselves continually in their total love for their wives and their children. Each day provides numerous opportunities for husbands to live out their family life with many acts of patience, kindness and service.
Through loving obedience and the living out of the virtue of charity, children become a joy and not a burden to their mothers and grandmothers, and the children in turn learn to emulate these same virtues. Conversely, children who are self-centered will be unable to love the way that they should.
To be a true mother today is certainly very challenging indeed. However, our yearly celebration of Mother's Day should motivate all mothers to understand the importance of their call by God to motherhood.
I am very grateful for the hard work and dedication of the women in any parish that I have been assigned to. No matter where I have ever been as a seminarian or as a priest, I have always seen the promise of Jesus fulfilled: "And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19: 29).
Concretely, not only have many dedicated women assisted me in my ministry as a priest, I have also received many spiritual mothers and many spiritual sisters that have always taken very good care of me by keeping my refrigerator filled with delicious meals.
Aside from the apostolic activity that many women provide in a parish family, it is good for a good priest to have the emotional support of spiritual mothers and spiritual sisters. In order to be fully human, the faithful celibate priest needs to experience the richness of celibate friendships with the women of his parish family. Life without the experience of the feminine dimension of human reality would be incomplete and cruel.
Women who truly live out their femininity are living icons of the tenderness of God. The celibate priest reminds women that love is eternal. Women remind priests that love is not only paternal, but maternal as well.
On this beautiful day dedicated to motherhood, we must contemplate the reality that God is love. The Holy Spirit has given us, through the Sacrament of Baptism, the gift of love. It is through a profound spiritual life that we encounter the Holy Spirit. In this way, he can give us the ability and the power to love more each day.
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will renew the hearts of all mothers so that they can live out their calling to motherhood with a deeper and more generous love within the daily circumstances of their lives.
In this Sunday's gospel passage we hear these well-known words from Jesus: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15: 13). Here, in these simple yet profound words, we find a program of life for the entire family.
Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. Visit him on the web to learn more about his book, homilies and audio podcasts.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Sunday homily, Catholic spirituality, Mother's Day, Father James Farfaglia, John Paul II, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Gospel of Saint John, Mary, Blessed Mother
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