Fifth Sunday of Easter
MOTHER’S DAY. Of course, today is Mother’s Day. While this is a secular holiday, how can Catholics not enthusiastically join in the celebration? After all, who celebrates motherhood with more joy and reverence than the Catholic Church? Who else sees motherhood as a uniquely holy and dignified vocation, and mothers as specially lifted up by God himself for our respect, honor and love?
Of course, all human beings have a natural inclination toward a deep affection for their own mothers. But in spite of this, western culture has gradually been subtly degrading the dignity of motherhood and mothers, discouraging motherhood by pushing contraception, sterilization and, of course, abortion, and stressing “careers” over maternity. And now we have the new efforts of gay and transgender activists challenging the very notion and dignity of womanhood, and therefore motherhood.
Against all this stands the Catholic Church, which recognizes motherhood as a holy vocation, and mothers as the heart of the family. We recognize this dignity in all women, even before their first tiny baby rests in their wombs—women are created with this great gift written into their nature, with this tremendous capacity and potentiality to give life and love not only to their children and families, but to the world itself. Moreover, we give special praise, care and defense of mothers from the very first moment their tiny babies are conceived in their bodies.
Furthermore, the Church sees in motherhood the model for her own relationship with God’s children: “she” is the bride of Christ, and so also “Holy Mother Church.” From motherhood the Church takes its lead in giving eternal life and love to the baptized, and with a mother’s heart she looks on the unbaptized throughout the world, longing to take them into her embrace and bring them to Christ.
And finally, the Church recognizes that one of the greatest gifts Our Lord Jesus has given to us is His own Blessed Mother, Mary, to be our Mother: “Son behold your Mother!” Who is more dear to us than her, who tenderly comforts her children in their times of sadness, fear and loneliness? Who teaches and protects women as they learn the true meaning of motherhood? Who draws children and husbands to show a deeper love and respect for mothers, wives and all women? And who more forthrightly brings us to her son, and teaches us “to do whatever He tells you?
Today we honor all mothers, living and dead. And we especially try our best to show our own mothers, in various ways, just how deeply we appreciate all they do for us, and how much we truly cherish and love them. But the best thing we can do for our mothers is to pray for them: to commend them to the care of our Blessed Mother, and to the love of her son, Jesus, who loves our moms even more than we do.
Spring and Summer. Spring has sprung, which means we will begin again to experience two things at Mass: more noise and less clothes. Understandably so: as they become more active outside little ones seem to tend to be more active inside also, and as it becomes warmer outside, all of us tend to wear less clothing.
The only dress code we have St. Raymond’s is to use common sense, as well as Christian modesty, chastity and charity. Growing up in Texas, I understand all about dressing for the heat. But let’s remember two things. First, please try not to dress like you’re going to the pool when you’re coming to Mass. As an accountant, for 10 years I used to wear a coat and tie to work every day in the San Antonio summer heat, to show respect for my work and my client. You don’t have to do that for Mass, but you should dress in nice clothes. Imagine if you were going to meet the Pope or the President—what would you wear? Jesus is here, and you should dress like it. Not only for His sake, but to remind yourself and your family and friends how important He and Mass is. On the other hand, if someone does come to Mass in a t-shirt and shorts let’s charitably assume they have an important reason for doing so.
The second thing to remember is that the more skin we show the more likely we are to be a “near occasion of sin” to others. Some say, “it’s not my fault if someone sees my skin and has bad thoughts.” Well, that’s not entirely true: we always have to try to be prudent with our words and actions, lest we tempt someone to sin, even unwittingly. The key is charity: think, “could I dress a little more prudently, modestly, chastely, so that I can help others from sinning?” So I ask all of you, wherever you are this summer—whether on the beach, on a date, or at Mass—please consider the spiritual well-being of others.
Also, we love to have little children at Mass. But all of us (including their parents) would also prefer if they would be peaceful and quiet at Mass. But that isn’t always the way it is—especially at this time of year. So once again I encourage all of you, in charity, to be patient and supportive of parents and children (especially on this Mother’s Day). On the other hand, parents, please remember to do what you can, and when a child continues to make noise or gets really out of hand at Mass, please consider moving to the “Family Room” or the narthex until they quiet down. God bless you parents and your little ones!
Ordination Anniversaries. For decades the third Saturday of May was the day for ordaining priests in the Diocese of Arlington. Consequently, most of the priests of the Diocese celebrate(d) their ordination anniversaries last week or in the coming days. I’m sure I speak for almost all of my brother priests when I say that I thank God with all my heart for this great gift.
So, I heartily encourage all the boys and young men of our parish to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to this great vocation—and I beg all their parents and siblings to join in this encouragement. And I ask you all to pray for your priests, and for the seminarians training to be your future priests (especially James Waalkes from our parish), and for all the boys and young men of St. Raymond’s who have not yet discerned the call that is theirs. Pray for us, that we may be the servants and the fathers God created and calls us to be for you. And join me in thanking God for this wonderful gift.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles