Honoring the Virtues of Mothers
When I’ve asked children over the years which virtues they best loved about their mother, I get a variety of beautiful and cute answers:
- she loves us and cares for us no matter what
- she is always there when we hurt, and is always ready to help us
- she comes right away when we’re sick, and takes care of us
- she tucks us in at night, and holds us when we’re afraid
- she teaches us a lot of things, and even helps us do our homework
- she plays with us and is a lot of fun
- she takes us special places and does special things with us
- she lets us bake things, and then allows us to eat the batter
Reflecting upon these answers, I thought about how the words of these children in some ways summarize motherly virtues which our Lord calls all of us to hold. Here are a few of virtues we’ve learned from our mothers, and we cannot only lift up on Mother’s Day, but we can all strive to imitate.
The first virtue is being there for others. A Jewish proverb noted, "God could not be everywhere, therefore he made mothers." Being there when we’re in need, when we’re afraid, when we don’t feel well, or when we just want company. Mothers are great at this, but each of us is called to be present and available for one another! Let us all imitate this motherly virtue of “being there for others” in our world today!
A second virtue is teaching us what’s important in life. I heard a proverb that said, "The mother's heart is a child's schoolroom." Preparing us for life, with all its ups and downs, and helping us to learn something positive from every experience. What a great motherly virtue this is, and what a great lesson we can pass on to others. Let us all help each other constantly learn and grow in what is essential and eternal in life.
A third set of virtues is that of compassion, mercy and love. Caring for us and loving us, no matter what we’ve done – the unconditional love of a godly mother can be one of the greatest reflections of God’s unconditional love for us. We’ll always be mommy’s little girl or boy, no matter what we do, no matter what mistakes we make, and no matter how old we are, just like we’ll always be our Lord’s precious, precious child. How beautiful and powerful it can be for us to imitate and share such loving compassion and mercy to the world around us!
Another typical virtue of mothers is one of encouragement – helping us believe in ourselves and fulfill our potential. The world outside constantly attacks us with negativity, and strives to pull us down, trying to get us to settle for the lowest common denominator. Godly mothers, however, believe in their children, and especially understand the divine image within each and every child. How different our world would be if we could make such positive encouragement a part of our daily lives! Let us go out and strive to build up and help others fulfill their divine potential!
A final and most important virtue I want to extol from godly mothers is that of faith. In our skeptical, secular world of today, we need mothers who plant and pass on the seeds of faith to the next generation. Mothers are typically the pillars of faith in the family. And yet, mothers can’t do it alone. So many of society’s forces cultivate the exact opposite of faith – they plant seeds of doubt, of self-centered pride and self-sufficiency. It’s interesting to note how many of the great saints of our Church received their initial faith from their mothers, and then carried that faith into maturity. May we thank God for the faith that our mothers planted in us, and strive to build upon this foundation of faith. Let us raise up the next generation of faithful Christians!
Someone once said, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I can shape the world!” Abraham Lincoln lauded the influence of his own mother when he said, “I remember my mother's prayers, which have clung to me all my life. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother." Possibly no influence on earth can impact a child in the same way as a mother!
Of course, we don’t want to only honor our own mother’s, but we also lift up all mothers and mother-figures throughout history who have fulfilled their calling as loving angels to their own children and to the children of others. Whether one is a birth mother, a step-mother, a grandmother, a godmother, an adopted mother, a surrogate mother, or even a woman who offers motherly care and concern to others as an aunt or a friend, we pause to honor and thank you women of faith for the role and impact you have had and continue to have in the lives of others.
So on this Sunday of Mother’s Day, let us honor and remember our dear mothers, and all other mother-figures, who have exemplified these virtues of being present, teaching us what is essential and eternal, and building us up with their compassion, love, encouragement, and faith. These are the virtues we want to thank our mothers for, and these are the virtues we all should strive to imitate in our daily lives.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Here's a beautiful song to honor mothers:
Facing Our Uncertain Future
Love Until It Hurts
Our Orthodox Faith