Several months ago I interviewed for our radio show, Thoughts for the Week, the chaplain of San Quentin prison in California. The chaplain told of a convicted murderer who found out that his mother was dying of cancer and since there was no way to see her, the chaplain arranged for a telephone call in his office to be made by the convicted murderer to his mother who was dying of cancer. He said it was very touching. The prisoner said, "mom, I will meet you in heaven, the chaplain is taking good care of me, don't worry about me, I will pray for you, please pray for me."
After the telephone call the convicted murderer was brought under armed guard back to his cell. The mother died two days later. The mail we have received concerning what that chaplain did shocked most of the staff who open our mail. The criticisms were the following: stop wasting taxpayer money; the man is a murderer, let him pay for his crime; why should he be given preferential treatment when other prisoners are not given the same treatment. The letters went on and on.
Most of us reading the letters could not get over the lack of compassion, the eye for an eye philosophy that we criticize about the Muslims, the un-Christ-like consideration of a dying mother. It just indicated to us that our culture has brought into our collective psyche an insensitivity, a non-compassionate mentality, that in no way allows the spirit of Christ to be given.
After we read through all the letters, I went back to covering the three nursing homes that I cover. Almost every year at this time, Mother's Day, we are just amazed and shocked at the number of mother's who never get a visitor from one end of the year to the other. When we call some of these sons and daughters long before mother's day to make sure they drop in just to see their mothers we hear, "well I have a family to take care of, I do have a busy schedule and am traveling out of town". The list of excuses goes on and on. You worry about this as a clinical psychologist. You even worry more as a Catholic priest. When you think for years we were all taught the Fourth Commandment, honor thy mother and father. Each one of us on Mother's Day has to keep in mind that there is a theology and a spirituality we should be practicing if mother's day is to be meaningful.
Catholics all throughout our country during the month of May are reminded about Mary, the mother of Christ. She is the one who when the Church was in trouble became the dynamizing solidifying force that kept twelve apostles together. If it were not for Mary, the mother of Christ, our Church would have more chaos than it does today. She motivated the apostles to go to the ends of the world preaching the gospel of her son, Jesus Christ. In celebrating Mother's Day, we celebrate her memory, her work and her life.
We also celebrate all of the mothers who have given us life while we are on this earth. She is the one who risked her life bearing us and often times spends her life bearing with us. She, too, like Mary, the mother of Christ, inspires, motivates and leads the family. There is not only a theology to single out when we honor the mother of the world, there is a spirituality that is associated with the wonderful gift of motherhood. We honor that spirituality in today's mother because it is that which nourishes us and teaches us the values of Christ. If you go back into your own lives and your relationship with your mother, they were always there for you. Their lives, no matter what human imperfections they have, will always be an inspiration and their memories will be a benediction.
All over the world youngsters will bring flowers and gifts and candy to their mothers and rightly so. Yes, we are sorry that certain youngsters never experience the nurturing love of true motherhood. We are saddened that certain people think all mothers are the same. There are mothers today who we take our hats off to. They have given us a theology, they have given us a spirituality that helps each one of us walk worthily in the vocation that God has called us to. To those who disagree with honoring mother and father as God said in the Fourth Commandment, we simply say we have the right to agree to disagree, but none of us have a right to be disagreeable to each other.
To all the mothers in the world, Happy Mother's day.
back to top | home