When a mother helped bring world peace

blessed-mother-mary

What does it mean to be a mother? Today, what was once a simple answer seems to be much more complicated.

With surrogacy, reproductive technologies and gender fluidity, our traditional understanding of motherhood seems to be under siege.

For some it is a term that is inadequate because it is far too restrictive. The more inclusive term ‘parent’ is preferred. We see this clearly in the provincial government’s All Families Are Equal Act, which became law last November. You will not find the term mother or father in this legislation.

This is unfortunate because the term parent focuses more on function rather than on a relationship. A mother is more about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’ In all this confusion we run the risk of losing the essence of motherhood.

Our recent celebration of Mother’s Day helps to bring clarity as we focus on what it means to be a mother. We offer our love to the woman who gave us life, nurtured us and continues to love us each day. To be a mother initiates a profound relationship with a son and daughter that can never be broken because it is sealed in flesh and blood. Life is conceived in love, grows in love, and is born in love. This is what we celebrate on Mother’s Day and countless greeting cards express this fact in so many poetic ways.

We have different birth mothers; however, Christians acknowledge that we also have a mother that we share in common.

One of the final acts of Jesus as He was dying on the cross was to give to us His Mother Mary:

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26)

In interpreting this passage, the early church fathers considered St. John to be a symbol of the Church. In giving Mary to John, Jesus was giving her to us all. With a mother’s love she intercedes for us and leads us to her Son, Jesus. By honouring her as the Mother of God (Theotokos) and our Mother, too, we are fulfilling the wishes of her Son. Mary at the foot of the cross reminds us that she is always with us, especially in times of great difficulty.

In 1917 the ‘war to end all wars’ was raging in Europe and the Bolshevik Revolution was beginning in Russia. That year the deadly mix of communism and atheism began its reign of terror. A war that was supposed to end quickly turned into a continuous conflict that only produced death, destruction and misery for millions of people. At that time, Mary appeared in the Cova de Iris, near Fatima, Portugal, to the three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. The message that she gave was filled with great hope. In total there were six apparitions from May to October 1917 with this same message, “Pray the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war.”

The First World War ended 13 months after the final apparition in November of 1918.

A mother helped to bring peace to the world.

On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13) Pope Francis canonized Jacinta and her brother Francisco in Fatima to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions.

What does it mean to be a mother? A woman who brings life, love and peace to her children.

Published First under: “FAITH: When a mother helped bring world peace” on St. Catharines Standard, May 19 2017. http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/05/19/faith-when-a-mother-helped-bring-world-peace