Happy Mother's Day

05-14-2023Weekly ReflectionFr Charlie Goraieb


Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and grandmothers of our parish community. Like many, on this day I reflect on my own mother and the impact she had on me. I always knew I was loved very much by her. She taught me many things: how to speak (albeit Spanish, not English); about God’s love for me and everyone; how to pray; to love my brother and sister; to obey the teachers at school and to apply myself; to be kind to others; to ask forgiveness for wrongdoings; and the joy of warm, homemade food awaiting our return from school. As we grow older and more independent, the importance of our mother’s love begins to wane. That is one reason why this day in which we honor our mothers is so important. The unconditional love of God is reflected in both of our parents, but our mothers who make it concrete and transformational.

As irreplaceable as our biological mothers are, we Catholics have two other maternal figures in our lives. The first, of course is Our Blessed Mother Mary. Her motherhood is not limited to just Jesus, but to all those who belong to her Son. This can sound abstract and somewhat poetical—until you’ve encountered the real and life-changing presence of Mother Mary. Every canonized saint, without exception, talks about their devotion to and love for Our Blessed Mother. Just like at the wedding at Cana, she intercedes for us with her Son (“they need more wine”) and then shows us how to experience His Grace and intervention (“do whatever He tells you”). So simple. Thank you, Blessed Mother.

Our second Mother is the Church, Mater et Magister (Mother and Teacher). Over the years, I have come to deeply love the Church. No doubt, a lot of that is due to my position; but it is also very personal. I experience the Church in a very incarnate way. She is not just an institution, but also the presence of Jesus in a very visible way. I can’t deny some of her flaws (which derive from us, her fallen members), but it is her beauty and wisdom that capture my heart and soul. From the day I returned to her 48 years ago and embraced her as the Light of Christ in my life, she has led me deeper and deeper into the great Mystery of living for and serving Jesus, her Founder.

Our Church can only be really understood from within by those who love Jesus. Looking at her from the outside, it is easy to see the flaws that trouble her critics. But once we’ve come inside and have received the grace of her treasures, especially the Sacraments, she is beautiful beyond compare. I’ve always appreciated Bishop Barron’s analogy of viewing the Church as a stained-glass window, like the famous South Rose Window in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (untouched by the recent fire). Looking at it from the outside, the window is dark, opaque and indecipherable. But once inside, and when the sun is shining through it, the window becomes not only a work of priceless beauty but a source of soul-changing illumination. May our Lord deepen your love for the Church. May you find joy in embracing all of her teachings (even those you find so difficult) and may you experience her as a Mother bringing you into her—your—family that will guide to our heavenly Father.

Again, Happy Mother’s Day!