OCHOA: Learning to Honor thy Mother

April 24, 2018

The upcoming month of May is when we traditionally pay tribute to our mothers, both human and divine. 

Typically, we do something special for our earthly moms like giving cards or flowers, or preparing a special meal. If our mother has passed away, we remember her at Mass or visit her grave to offer prayers. 

We pause and reflect on the many gifts she has given us, beginning with the amazing gift of life. 

Likewise, May is the time to honor our heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many cultures continue beautiful traditions, like the one my own mother remembers fondly, that of young girls dressed in white dresses singing and bringing flowers to surround a statue of Mary. Litanies are chanted, paying tribute to her with the many titles bestowed on her through the ages: “Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles”... and so on. 

The Hail Mary, once announced so many ages ago by the Angel Gabriel, is recited around the world in as many languages as people can speak. Devoted Catholics offer prayers to their own image of Mary, whose devotion, depiction and sometimes apparition reflects the style and symbols significant to the different cultures. In Mexico and Latin America, we have Our Lady of Guadalupe; in Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima; in Vietnam, she is Our Lady of Lavang.

On March 3, Pope Francis has formally added another day in the Church calendar to give tribute to Mother Mary. Robert Cardinal Sarah, vicar for liturgies and sacraments, has officially announced that beginning this year, the Monday following Pentecost will be dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Church. 

Like a mother, Mary waited in the Upper Room with the Apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the birthday of the Catholic Church. Since Christ is the head of the Church, she, as His mother, becomes Mother for the Church. Through the establishment of this special memorial, the pope wishes to emphasize the “maternal sense of the Church.”

One way we could celebrate the new Memorial to Mary, Mother of the Church would be to pray the World Mission Rosary.

Like the loving mothers and grandmothers who continuously pray for their children, we can join in prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world. This is a practice developed by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who served the U.S. Church from 1951-1966 as the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

10 Hail Marys are recited for each of the five continents, accompanied by reflection on the gifts and needs of the Church around the world. Upon completion, the participants will have included the whole world in prayer.

This practical method developed by this expert in communication and instruction brings to focus the importance of missionary activity. As Bishop Sheen announced at the Second Vatican Council, “Mission is the essential work of the Church, in which all of its members are called to be involved. It is God’s mission. Mission has a Church, not vice versa.”

We can also begin to get involved in some type of missionary outreach through our parish or with a missionary order or organization. The Mission Office can provide information related to our different local mission groups.

On Friday, July 20, the first day of the 2018 Archdiocesan Youth Conference, youth from across the Archdiocese are invited to make their own World Mission Rosaries. Like in previous years, they will line up eagerly around the table where this special missionary workshop is offered to our high schoolers. 

This beautiful tradition will be passed on to the next generation to continue our Catholic faith into the future. As in every age, the need for prayer continues. Our young people will be reminded that they too can turn to a loving heavenly mother who admonishes wrongs, wipes away tears, keeps the human family united, and leads us in love to eternal life.

Hilda Ochoa is the director of the Mission Office.