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A Mother's Day Message

Dear Friends,

Happy Mother’s Day!

All of us at St Teresa salute and pray for all mothers, both living and deceased on this special day – and given the circumstances, perhaps one like no other!

You may recall that Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at Saint Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

Interestingly, although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925.

Perhaps this year Jarvis will get her wish. While this annual celebration of the work and worth of mothers has become both a religious observance and a most profitable commercial occasion, the regular scene of stores filled with eager shoppers, striving to find something unique, or accustomed gifts and cards and flowers will certainly be different.

Perhaps this year, in gratitude for so many blessings from our mothers, including their role in caring for us in this pandemic, we will have to settle for a hand-written note or a homemade card, or a Facetime call, or a family Zoom session to tell mom how much we love and appreciate her. Perhaps this year, rather than sharing a meal together, some children will prepare and cautiously drop off a meal or a beautiful and delicious cake and take and post photos of the remote event. Perhaps this year, rather than being able to actually visit the graves or mausoleums of our deceased mothers, we will have to offer a spiritual bouquet in quiet prayer for her for now!

Needless to say, however we express our love for our mothers, with precaution and safety, the feelings are still the same and perhaps even deeper this year!

When I was a kid, growing up in my parish at Saint Paul of the Cross in Jersey City, the organist Cas Rakowski always sang this song as a Communion reflection on Mother’s Day:

M is for the MILLION things she gave you. O is only that she’s growing OLD. T is for the TEARS she shed to save you. H is for her HEART of purest gold. E is for her EYES, with love-light burning. R is RIGHT—and right she’ll always be.

Put them all together and they spell mother, the word that means the world to me!

Happy Mother’s Day to all, including my own mother Frances, who I have come to love beyond all understanding over my years on this earth!

Blessings! -Fr Bob [Thanks and credit to:]

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