In a home school reading class we are reading a book which has certain passages in Elizabethan English. Such texts are charming to read and–at times–intriguing to decipher. I offer to you here a text in celebration of today’s secular observance taken from a pastor’s column from some legendary past time–first in contemporary English for your easy comprehension, and then in its original form. In my modern translation it reads:
To whom it may concern: Happy Parent B Day! you birthing persons and child-care givers. Though you were selfish in your inability to control your desires to have offspring, and though you have, as a result, burdened the environment and consumed precious resources of Earth–Blessed be It!–in order to provide for them, have nice day, all the same.
I now quote the original text:
To those irreplaceable ladies deserving of praise: Happy Mothers Day! you who gave birth to and loving cared for your children. How generous of you in sacrificing yourselves to become mothers and in providing for your children at great personal expense in feeding, clothing and educating them with all that almighty God–Blessed be He!–gave you. May you be specially honored and blessed for this today!Ah, yes! It is with nostalgia that we look back to former times when motherhood was honored, not as a means of personal fulfillment for certain women who made that their choice, but for the noble and indispensable role mothers have in God’s plan for the human race.....In a more sober vein, I will have a word about Holy Mary, our spiritual mother and Mother of Christ, about Her own indispensable part in God’s plan for the human race, precisely as a mother–not only in the obvious sense of Her divine maternity through consenting to what was revealed to Her by the Archangel, but also in the sense of Her place in establishing, with and under Christ, the new order, the new Testament, the new religion of Christ. I’m thinking here of the fascinating event that took place at the wedding in Cana. Notice that it was Mary’s astute observation which precipitated the miracle our Lord was to perform. “They have no wine,” She said. As in the case of Saint John’s writings, there is a deeper significance to this than may appear at first. Our Lady was not only noticing an approaching predicament for the wedding guests, but one for all of Israel whose people had become spiritually depleted. The miracle of Christ made the new and superior ‘wine’ of the New Testament: a new faith, a new sacrifice, ceremonies and sacraments. But what concern was this of Hers? Indeed, that’s the very question Christ put to Her, not in order to belittle Her (as some have thought) but to indicate that She indeed has that concern because She has claim to the graces Christ imparts. The interceding, mediating role of Mary is one part of Her spiritual maternity. (The greater part is being the literal Mother of Christ.) We will meet with Her again on Pentecost Sunday where Her maternal position in the Church is highlighted further. Although She was not one of the apostles, She was there with them, mothering them and through them the entire Church. This event was somewhat of a parallel to the incarnation: Mary, by the fertility of the hovering of the Holy Spirit, brought about a conception and a birth: the first time to Christ; at Pentecost to the Church, His mystical body.
If even in today’s radically secularized world we have a remnant of recognition for the indispensable place of mothers, we Christians ought not to forget as well the necessary place of Holy Mary (by God’s choosing) in bringing about the salvation of mankind.
Today, at the noon Mass, we will celebrate First Holy Communion for some of our children. How much we wish this to be a memorable day for them with their beloved Jesus, and the first of many devout receptions of the Holy Sacrament! In an image from the Book of Revelation, one can see a dragon ready to devour the offspring of the woman–the evil one scheming to snatch these innocent ones from the hand of God. May Holy Mother Mary keep them ever near Christ through His sacraments!