During the 1600’s, England celebrated a day called Mothering Sunday. During this time, many of England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home to spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the “mothering cake” was often brought along to provide a festive touch.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the “Mother Church”—the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the Church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebrations. People began honoring their mothers as well as the Church.
In the United States, Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold Mother’s Day meetings in Boston every year.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis began a campaign for a national Mother’s Day. Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to clergy, business leaders and politicians to establish a national day. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated on the second Sunday of May in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. The celebration defined the purpose of the day: “Mother’s Day is to remind us of our duty before it is too late. It is to revive the dormant filial love and gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth. To try to wipe out family estrangements. To make us better children by getting us closer to the hearts of our good mothers. To have them know we appreciate them as well as love them.” For our mothers who have died, do not forget them at the Sacrifice of the Mass.
THE EASTER MIRACLE
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is just half of the Easter miracle. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God!” Think about that for a minute. God humbled himself, took on human flesh, died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we can become like Him, so that we can share in His divine life. This beautiful truth of our Faith is, in fact, the second half of the miracle of Easter. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). As Christian disciples, we know that the more closely we follow Jesus, who is the way, the more fully we live in God’s grace. And it is in the home, the domestic church, that we first come to know and love Jesus. On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we also celebrate Mother’s Day. A reflection of God’s love, our mothers feed and nurture us. They care for us and help us grow. Under their loving guidance, we learn to take our first steps on the path of salvation. Today and every day, let us join St. Peter in praying that our families may become “like living stones… built into a spiritual house to be a holy “priesthood” to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5)