* Mother’s Day
At the many funerals I have been privileged to celebrate over the years, when the person is a deceased mother and grandmother, especially if the family is larger, you hear example after example of how the person was a mother, not just to her own family, but to everyone who crossed the threshold of the house. You know the type. The woman others outside the family called “mom” and “grandma” and truly meant it. Many of us, myself included, have been blessed with mothers whose love for their children is unquestioned. It simply was and is always present. Such maternal love is so clearly an expression of God’s love for us.
We are all meant to experience that embracing, ever-present love, to have it be that creative sea within which we are kept afloat. That is why it is so difficult to believe one is capable of being loved and capable of love, if we grow up without that maternal love. At the same time, that is why it is so important, no matter our personal experience with our own mothers, that we have a deep sense of God’s maternal love for each of us. To image God in such a way that we are held, embraced, protected, rocked in the loving arms of God who is not only father but mother to us as well.
I think one reason our Catholic devotion to Mary resonates in many people’s lives is precisely this maternal imagery. We tend to image God almost exclusively in male images, and even with images that need not be male, we tend to think of them as male—creator, judge, protector, etc. Thankfully, we had a very strong image of Mary as intercessor and protector whose motherly love for her Son (and for us who are Jesus’ adopted brothers and sisters) touches a deep chord within us. We know that Mary is simply human and any devotion to her cannot be seen as more important than our faith in Jesus Christ. God, however, wants us to experience God’s love often in a maternal way. If you are able to image God in that way, I would encourage you to do so in your prayer. God will also use one’s devotion to Mary as a way to show such maternal love through her intercession. If you have moved away from praying the Rosary and asking Mary to intercede on your behalf or have never tried such “Catholic” prayer, May is a good month to try it out. God loves us as unconditionally and more deeply than any mother loves her children.
We are meant to experience such divinely-given maternal love in our lives. It is healing. It is creative and life-bearing. Let us give thanks on this Mothers’ Day for all the moms in our lives—biological, adopted, spiritual—and pray for them. To know a mother’s love, whoever has shown it to us, is to know the presence of God in our lives.
* Looking Ahead
I would like to celebrate the Corpus Christi weekend Masses (June 10-11) in the form of a “Teaching Mass.” I did that up to the COVID-19 outbreak; it has been several years since I last did it in a full way. In preparation for those “Teaching Masses,” I will write a series of articles in the next few bulletins, beginning next week. I would encourage everyone to read those brief articles as a way to prepare for the Masses on Corpus Christi.
We will end Corpus Christi Sunday with a Eucharistic procession, much like last year, as we kicked off our 60th anniversary as a parish. The procession will be our way of closing our anniversary year as well as keeping us connected to the three-year Eucharistic revival promoted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
On June 25, the last Sunday of June, I am inviting everyone to join me in my farewell Mass at St. Regis at 10 a.m., followed by a reception in the Fr. Murphy Gym and Fr. Shields Hall. It would be wonderful to thank as many of you as I can and to say goodbye to you personally. Then, on the following weekend, there will be a welcome for our new priest, Fr. John Dudek, with a reception outside after each Mass. Under the new structure of what is called the “Family of Parishes,” we priests, technically, are not individual pastors of the parish. Rather, we are a team of priests—the fancy language is “in solidum”—who jointly serve the West Maple Family of Catholic Parishes. In practice, Fr. John Dudek will be the main priest connected to St. Regis, living at the parish rectory and having general responsibilities for the welfare of the parish.
When I finalize the details, I will send a letter to all parish members, letting you know where I will be living, how you can contact me, and so forth. As I have mentioned in previous bulletins, “retirement” is really not an accurate word for what happens as we enter “senior priest” status. Yes, we let go of all the many administrative responsibilities of being a pastor, but we then get to be priests, available to help wherever we are needed, doing the things that we love the most.