Today we celebrate Mother’s Day, a day on which we honor our mothers, living and deceased for their care, concern and unconditional Love for us throughout the years of our lives. It is one of those special days we cherish and look forward to each year. I would like to share with you the history of mother’s Day. The Mother’s Day was originally conceived by a mother Julia Ward Howe during the Civil War with a call for Peace, and to unite women against war. She wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, after the War, as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Anna Jarvis, a young homemaker from West Virginia, who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers’ Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
Jarvis’ daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, much later, when her mother died, started her own crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Grafton is the home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine. From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother’s Day. Nine years after the first official Mother’s Day holiday, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. She was arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mother’s convention where white carnations, the flower that was popularly associated with the holiday, were being sold for profit. Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful days of the year, while it’s origins in mothers’ opposition to war, has been lost.
So, in your remembrances of this Mother’s Day, remember these brave women who, as mother’s, called upon the whole nation not to forget the ravages of war. Make a promise to become a proponent of peace in the name of all our mothers, who never lose sight of the needs for protecting their own and all children everywhere. Jesus gave us the command to love. So we are called to: listen to God. Care for the needs of others. Lay down our lives for the good of another. This is, in a unique way, the very vocation of motherhood: listening, caring for the needs of others and laying down one’s life for another. A mother’s love is first seen even before a woman becomes a mother. A husband and wife’s mutual desire to conceive a child in itself demonstrates their fatherly and motherly love. And their love for one another extends to the child they lovingly desire to conceive. Not much is stronger than a mother’s love for her child. Our mothers, together with our fathers, are the ones who first teach us about love and how to respond to those in need.
The Church, in many ways, is also a mother to us. She teaches us how to love and to respond to those in need. From her we receive the grace of the sacraments, are taught to hear the word of God, and receive teaching to guide our steps in the truth and freedom of the children of God. Today, in a special way, let us be grateful: for our mothers who, by birth or adoption, nurtured us and supported us through life; for our Church who takes on the maternal role of guiding us through life; and for our Blessed Mother, who protects both the Church and all her children.
Happy Mother’s Day and God’s special blessing for all mothers.
God Bless You,