May 12th – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord / Mother’s Day

My Dear Friends,

Today we celebrate the gift of our mothers. What is more precious than a mother? So precious that even our Lord chose one when he called the Blessed Virgin Mary. During this month in which we honor Mary our Mother, we honor all mothers too. Their sacrifice, their love, their comfort, and their reassuring presence always makes us feel loved.

Earlier this month when I was preaching to the school children about the month of Mary, I illustrated to them how much Mary loves and protects us by using this analogy: Imagine all the times as children that we got hurt riding a bike or playing a sport, and all we wanted in that moment was the embrace of our mother because it reminded us that everything would indeed be better.

This day we also remember all of our mothers who have been called home to heaven. As Christians, we see beyond death and feel their warm embrace from above. This day is bittersweet for so many who have lost a mother but rest assured that we are praying for the repose of their souls during our annual Mother’s Day Novena of Masses. The gift of a mother transcends death itself. We recall all the sage advice they gave us and all the times they embraced us when we were hurting. Their prayers from above now lift us up because what mother could ever forget her child?

We also honor expectant mothers. I am always quick to point out that they do not become mothers when their child is born, but rather the moment the child was conceived. We see in our pregnant mothers the hope of new life. The Virgin Mary shares an intimate communion with them because for nine months she carried the Savior of the World in what Mother Teresa called “the world’s longest Communion.”

I also ask you to pray this day for all those who long to be mothers and all mothers who have a lost a child during pregnancy. Our community has always done such a beautiful job of embracing these mothers in their grief. We mourn with them and we pray with them that they may one day see the fruit of their womb. God, in His Divine Wisdom, has a plan for each of them. With our eyes firmly set on eternity, these mothers long to be with their children forever in heaven. 

Each of these mothers would gladly give their lives for their children. This is the beauty of motherhood. A mother lays down her life for her children which is why I want to invoke the prayers of St. Gianna Molla on this day and her heroic virtue. She was a Catholic pediatrician in Italy in the mid-20th century, and I will let Catholic Online take her story from there:

In 1961, Gianna became pregnant with her fourth child. Toward the end of her second month of pregnancy, Gianna was struck with an unimaginable pain. Her doctors discovered she had developed a fibroma in her uterus, meaning she was carrying both a baby and a tumor. After examination, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to continue to have children, but take the life of the child she carried; a complete hysterectomy, which would preserve her life, but take the unborn child’s life, and prevent further pregnancy; or removal of only the fibroma, with the potential of further complications, which could save the life of her baby. 

Catholic teaching affirms what medical science, the Natural Law, the Bible and unbroken Christian tradition affirm, the child in the womb has a fundamental Human Right to Life. Wanting to preserve her child’s life, Gianna opted for the removal of only the fibroma. In fact, she was willing to give her own life to save the life of her child. Gianna pleaded with the surgeons to save her child’s life over her own. She sought comfort in her prayers and her living faith. The child’s life was saved, for which Gianna graciously thanked the Lord. After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy, but Gianna spent the remainder of her pregnancy with an unparalleled strength and insistent dedication for her tasks as a mother and a doctor. 

A few days before the baby was to be born, Gianna prayed the Lord take any pain away from the child. She recognized she may lose her life during delivery, but she was ready. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”

On April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was successfully delivered by Caesarean section. The doctors tried many different treatments and procedures to ensure both lives would be saved. However, on April 28, 1962, a week after the baby was born, Gianna passed away…

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Her husband and their children, including Gianna Emanuela, attended her canonization ceremony, making this the first time a husband witnessed his wife’s canonization… During Gianna’s canonization ceremony, John Paul II described her as, “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.” 

St. Gianna, pray for our mothers.

God bless you all,

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