Loading
May 14, 2013
In the aftermath of Mother’s Day
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *

By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *

I can’t believe I am about to defend Mother’s Day – I who dislike being fussed over and think of the occasion mainly as the day I’m going to be forced to stand and feel conspicuous in the middle of Mass.

Nevertheless, I’ve seen some attacks on Mother’s Day from strange quarters over the years, beginning about 20 years ago when I went to greet a priest friend after Mass and overheard him being reamed out by some lady telling him he had no business speaking about mothers in his homily because it made people like her from dysfunctional families feel left out.

Poor man. That was the moment I first began to understand the burdens of a parish priest. If you can’t even give a few innocuous pleasantries about motherhood on Mother’s Day without catching it, you are obviously never going to win.

For a number of years now I’ve participated in blog post discussions in which women were invited to share their fondest experiences of Mother’s Day. Without fail, the first comment is always from a woman struggling with infertility objecting that Mother’s Day is unfair: those mothers have their blessings already and blessing them again feels like rubbing my nose in it.
I recently read a poignant essay from a woman who painfully regrets a long-ago repented abortion making a similar point. Mother’s Day is filled with grief for her, and Mass feels like torture that day.

I’m of two minds on the matter. On the one hand, when you encounter the same objection repeatedly, you can’t just dismiss it, you have to “hear” it.
Have you seen the recent comments from Elizabeth Smart about why she didn’t try harder to escape her kidnapper? She said in part she remembered a teacher once comparing the loss of virginity to being a piece of used chewing gum, so after she was raped she felt dirty and unworthy of rescue. Her remarks have led to a vigorous discussion about Christian “purity culture.” It’s important to encourage sexual purity, but it’s important not to give girls the impression there’s no way to recover if they mess up – or in Smart’s case, are attacked.

I have to think something similar must be in the minds of women put out by Mother’s Day: the fear that if they are not mothers, or have a checkered sexual past, there’s no real room for them in the Church except as afterthoughts.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. The Church welcomes women as Jesus himself welcomed them in the Gospel. Think of the Samaritan woman in John 4. She goes to draw water during the heat of the day, by herself. It would have been more usual to go in the cool of morning or evening with friends, so her solitude in itself suggests a woman isolated by sin. Perhaps others judged her; just as probably she withdrew from them out of her own sense of shame.

Anguished, alone, hardened (we can tell from the way she speaks to him at first) she encounters Jesus, who has gone to the well deliberately to meet her. How do we know? Because he sends the disciples away for food and it does not take twelve men to buy groceries!

What a markedly different woman she is after meeting Jesus! Heart on fire, she who had avoided notice runs back to tell her entire village. Come see this man – He told me everything I ever did! Her past has no hold over her; Jesus has liberated her utterly. That’s the way Jesus treats women, and it’s what the Church wants for them too: mercy and wholeness, not perpetual shame.

We have to do a better job communicating to these sisters of ours, broken by infertility or by abortion or miscarriage, that they are not lesser than. Their grief counts for a lot with Jesus and  with us. It draws down grace. They participate fully in the calling of all women to “spiritual motherhood,” which is not some cheap consolation prize, but the essence of what John Paul II called “the feminine genius” – the innate capacity to recognize the dignity of the human person and draw it out.

The foregoing is true and important, yet I still have to ask on the other hand: are we not called to be happy for people, and to encourage others to carry their crosses, even if they seem lighter than our own? When we see others getting recognition and think, “they shouldn’t give that prize because I’m not eligible,” is that not the deadly sin of envy epitomized? Does Mary Magdalene resent the honor given to Mary the Queen? 

Isn’t it possible that hurt feelings on Mother’s Day are not because the Church excludes me, but only that I still have some healing to do to accept my cross or forgive myself?

In a culture rapidly losing its ability to see that mothers and fathers are each in complementary ways necessary, ragging on Mother’s Day seems like a bad plan.

Rebecca Teti is a wife and mother who writes for Catholic Digest and other publications.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
22

Liturgical Calendar

October 22, 2014

Wednesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 12:39-48

Gospel
Date
10/22/14
10/21/14
10/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 3: 2-12
Gospel:: Lk 12: 39-48
Gospel:: Lk 12: 39-48

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/22/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 12:39-48

Homily
Date
10/22/14
10/21/14
10/20/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: