We celebrate parents and remember our spiritual mothers and fathers this time of year. Children everywhere are scrambling, trying to find just the right way to express their love on Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. Brunch reservations are filling up, Hallmark is selling cards at a record pace, and almost every television and radio commercial has a suggestion for the perfect gift for Mom and Dad.
Springtime is a season when we are particularly aware of the gift of new life. The trees and flowers are in bloom. Gardeners are faithfully tending their seedlings and plants. Watching animals and birds nurturing their newborns remind us of the special bond between parent and child.
It is good to set aside a day to express our gratitude and love for our parents. Many of us will only be able to use the day to remember a mom or dad who has died, in love and prayer. Unfortunately, many people will be painfully reminded of wounded, broken or nonexistent relationships with their mothers or fathers. For many, Mother’s Day and/or Father’s Day promoted by our culture and even celebrated at Sunday worship only serves to remind them of the kind of mother or father they will never have. It can be a very lonely, isolating experience not to be able to share in joyful gratitude for the parental love the rest of the world seems to be celebrating.
Hopefully, we can look to the spiritual celebrations honoring St. Joseph and Mary this time of year as consolation and strength for those who feel orphaned and for those parents who are struggling themselves. The feast of St. Joseph on March 19th as the husband of Mary and again on May 1st,as the feast of Joseph the Worker, gives us the opportunity to look to him not only as the father figure for Jesus but also as an example of unwavering love and fidelity of a man for his wife and children. And Catholics particularly remember Mary as well as remembering their own mothers during the month of May.
Let us look to the Holy Family as a model of unconditional love and faith. We can use Joseph and Mary as examples of the parents we strive to be. We can call upon them in prayer to strengthen and sustain us as parents and parent-figures for younger generations. And perhaps, some can look to them to be the spiritual father or mother they have longed for and needed. That is the beauty of our belief in the Communion of Saints, and patron saints. Even if we feel abandoned or mistreated by the people in our lives, we can still trust in the love, prayer and support of those fathers and mothers in faith who have gone before us.
Mary and Joseph be with us and bless us and all families this season.