Motherhood—on Earth and in Heaven

May 2012

May is the month of mothers. Catholics devote it to our Blessed Mother and on the second Sunday we join everyone else to celebrate Mother’s Day. It would be fitting, then, to also acknowledge Earth—our elemental mother, the physical foundation that provides our air, food, and water. Each of these three mothers in their own way makes life possible in the fullest physical and spiritual notions of what it means to be human.

During one of the few winter storms this past winter, I met a colleague after a pro-life Mass. He told me about his mom’s passing and the care that she required while ill, which he dutifully and lovingly provided. He spoke of the faith that they shared, especially at their final farewells.

The death of mothers and grandmothers—as well as their illnesses and decline—are painful times for the children that they conceived, carried, and cared for. In this and so many other ways, motherhood transcends cultures, ideologies, and incomes. Motherhood binds humanity. And so in this month of motherhood, we must examine our relations with our heavenly, earthly, and elemental mothers and, in every way possible, be attentive children—as the Fourth Commandment requires and my colleague exemplified.

We must be sons and daughters that care for our human mothers and fight for their lives when they become entangled in an increasingly complex medical industry. We must not succumb to the growing wave of “caring” euthanasia that is sweeping the Western world. We must protect all life, especially the women that said yes to it in the first place. We must passionately champion and celebrate the vocation and gift of motherhood in ways that challenge others to do likewise.

We must also care for creation—for Mother Earth, a term that to some may seem dripping with paganism, but really, given what creation offers the human person, the term just makes sense. And so we must do the things that good daughters and sons do: Appreciate creation’s divinely ordained, cosmic qualities that allow life to thrive while not taking more from our planet than is healthy; we must not alter ecosystems beyond what they can manage; we must not become a cancer within this fallen but still wondrous Eden.

And of course, to do all this, we Catholics must remain close to our Blessed Mother—Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Our individual and parish devotions in May are a celebration of humanity’s role in salvation history—of Mary’s great, selfless Yes to God. And certainly, this Yes continues throughout human history: Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, lives have been changed and addictions soothed; cruel, atheist empires have fallen; cultures that committed human sacrifice have converted and knelt before the Cross of Christ; and countless children have been saved from abortionists through prayer and the conversion of many a moms’ heart.

And so for our moms—here or passed on—and for our planet’s ecological health (which dictates the possibility and quality of life for future generations) let us keep the motherly meaning of May always in our hearts as we pray, “O God, you willed that, at the message of an angel, your word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant to your suffering people, that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with you. Through the same Christ our Lord.”

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.