As I write this column I am enjoying a quiet start to Mothers’ Day with my own dear mother, Joyce.  I get busy later today, but for now I am enjoying time with her on her special day.  I will even cook Sunday brunch for her soon!

What a blessing our mothers are to us!  My two sisters and I are so blessed to have our mom still with us.  Our father died nearly 25 years ago now, and to still be able to enjoy mom’s love and company is something for which we are grateful to God.  I am doubly blessed because my mom chose to move to Portland with me from Michigan and she is able to live in my home.

I share this personal reflection because our relationship with our mothers is just that — very personal.  But it is a part of who we are.  We are nurtured by the love and care that our mothers give us all through our lives.  I often tell young people that no matter how old you get, or how important you THINK you are, you are always your mother’s child.  My mom is fond of saying, “I taught him everything he knows” or “That’s my boy.”  Someone, not knowing who she is, once heard her correct me about something and said, “You can’t talk to the bishop like that!”  Her response was, “The heck I can’t.  I gave him birth!”

In all of God’s marvelous design for the human family, one of his greatest blessings is the gift of motherhood.  Do we need any further proof of the infinite wisdom and love of God?  From the beginning of creation, God made man and woman in his own image and likeness.  He made Eve the mother of all the living and, with Adam, she helped fulfill God’s plan for the human race.  Man and woman, united in the covenant of marriage and nurturing and forming their children, is the foundation of civil society and community of the Church.  The family is the “domestic Church,” the Church in the home.

We give thanks, therefore, for the gift of motherhood and our own mothers.  Dads deserve their own pat on the back as well, and fathers should especially treasure the gift of the mothers of their children and all they do to nurture them as only a mother can do.

While upholding the dignity and blessing of mothers, we should also acknowledge that the ideal of motherhood is not always fully realized.  Some children do not experience the beautiful and nurturing love of a good mother.  For them we must provide special love, care and attention.  A special note of gratitude should also go to those mothers who raise their children without the presence of a loving father.  They often live heroic lives of sacrifice and love for their children.  Especially heroic are those women who, in difficult circumstances, chose life for their child.

We also must not forget those women who, for whatever reason, do not get to experience being a mother to their own children.  They nevertheless have so much to contribute to others, both in the Church and society, drawing from the innate motherly charism that is part of their womanhood.  I have a sister who has never had her own children but who has spent the last 34 years as a special education teacher to high school children.  She always talks about them as “her kids” and has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many young people.  I am so proud of her!

Those of us who are blessed to still have our mothers with us must not forget those whose mothers have passed from this life to the next.  Many still grieve the loss of a mother, perhaps regretting things left unsaid or undone, but also treasuring the many memories that death cannot take from us.  For them we pray, even as their mothers look over them now in a new and powerful way.

There is one other mother I would like to mention, who is certainly not the least of our mothers.  She is our Blessed Mother, the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God.  Holy Mary is a mother to all of us. She is mother to our mothers.  She is the mother of each of us, her children.  She is the mother of those without a loving mother.  She is mother to those moms who go it alone in life.  She is mother to those who cannot have their own children.  She is the Mother of the Church.  

Holy Mary, under her title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of the Church in the United Sates and of our own local Church in the Archdiocese of Portland.  At the end of June, on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I will consecrate our Archdiocese again to Mary under the title of the “Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima.”  We will do so using a statue of our Lady of Fatima blessed by Pope Francis, who consecrated the world to Our Lady in October of last year.

There will be a lot more to say about that consecration as time goes on, but for now, may Holy Mary pray for all mothers and may she welcome into the halls of the heavenly Kingdom our mothers who have gone to their rest!