Honoring mothers is a Catholic tradition

Published: May 11, 2018

Mother's Day has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States on the second Sunday of May since 1914. But Catholics have been celebrating a sort of mother's day since the first few centuries of the Church. The fourth Sunday of Lent, or Laetare Sunday, traditionally was a time to return to your mother church (home parish) and leave an offering.

The "Madonna of the Magnificat" painted by Botticelli Filipepi in 1483 portrays Mary being crowned by two angels, while she writes the Magnificat and holds her Son, Jesus. The Magnificat, which is Latin for "My soul magnifies" is also known as the Canticle of Mary, which is the prayer of thanksgiving that Mary said after being greeted by her cousin Elizabeth at the Visitation. This feast is celebrated May 31.

Also known as Mothering Sunday, it naturally evolved into honoring your mother as well. And devotion to Mary, the mother of God and our spiritual mother, in the month of May gives this holiday depth for Catholics that goes far beyond giving flowers or candy on Mother's Day.

"God, creator and lord of the universe, chose to put himself — tiny, needy and helpless — into the nurturing and watchful hands of a human mother. Since then, every act of mothering — both physical and spiritual — in every time and every corner of the world recollects Mary’s."

In Catholic tradition, the month of May is dedicated to Mary. Chosen by God above all other women, Mary's faith and obedience paved the way for the Incarnation. Her example teaches us faith, obedience, humility and most of all, how to love. According to St. Thomas of Villanova, "If in this world any creature ever loved God with whole heart, with whole soul, and with whole mind, she was the creature.”

At the foot of the cross, her heart broke for Jesus, yet she accepted God's will not only for her Son, but for herself in her new role as mother to us all. (John 19:25-27) As we honor our earthly mothers this month, let's honor our heavenly mother as well. Those devoted to her are always led to her Son. For her wise counsel tells us, "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)

To help you grow your relationship with Mary, see Five Practical Ways to Reconnect with Mama Mary or Nine Ways to Celebrate the Month of Mary. To learn more, visit the Marian Library at the University of Dayton. Resources include a list and explanation of Marian liturgical feasts and ways to celebrate the month of Mary through May crownings and more. Other sites offer details on how to plant a Mary Garden or learn about the new  Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church to be celebrated May 21. And the U.S. bishops offer a Marian Glossary and Our Sunday Visitor answers your most frequently asked questions about Mary in Catholic teaching

Mother's Day Gifts from Heart

1. You don't have to spend money to show the moms in your life how much you care. Send them a spiritual bouquet for Mother's Day.

2. Ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for them. That is one of the best gifts you can give. For women have no greater role model than Mary. 

3. Pray the rosary for your mom. The Family Rosary website allows you to create a free, customized Mother's Day e-card where you can detail your prayer goals.

4. If you prefer to make a card by hand, Life Teen International, offers a variety of Scriptures that highlight the role of a mom.

5. Busted Halo offers a virtual Mother's Day retreat designed to deepen the relationship you have with your mom, especially at a time when that relationship is evolving.

6. Our Sunday Visitor offers a Mother's Day Gift Guide if you want to give handmade rosaries, flower cards, soaps, coffee, gourmet fudge, music and more.

Mother's Day Prayer

"I thank you, Creator of us all, for my mother. I thank you that she gave me life and nurtured me all those years. She gave me my faith, helping me to know you and to know Jesus and his ways. She taught me how to love and how to sacrifice for others. She taught me that it was okay to cry and that I should always tell the truth. Bless her with the graces she needs and which you want to give her today. Help her to feel precious in your eyes today and to know that I love her. Give her strength and courage, compassion and peace. Bless her this day with your love." Amen.

This prayer was taken from prayers for and by mothers on Creighton University's Online Ministries. This website and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offer prayers for mothers struggling through a variety of challenges as well as blessings.