March 16, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
March 16 has little significance for the larger community, but in my household, it marked my mother’s birthday. My family – father, mother, sister, and I – celebrated all of our birthdays within a month of each other. My father’s birthday is on February 15; my sister’s, Penny, birthday is on February 25; my birthday is on March 12, and my mother’s birthday is on March 16. One month of celebrations, and then another year would have to be completed until the celebrations could occur again.
A mother’s birthday has a unique significance. She spearheads the celebrations for everyone else and relishes in the enjoyment of them. So, when it came to her celebration, everyone would try to match her enthusiasm. We all fell short of the special touches that only a mother who knows her family can supply.
We carry the wisdom of our mothers with us throughout our lives. We remember her word at unique times in our attempts to live a full life. It was my mom who told me, “Well, if all of your friends jump off a cliff, would you follow?” This reference to doing what was right and proper, and not being a follower but a leader, was one of my favorite expressions that my mother pronounced when my sister and I were acting goofy. She would also say, “Laugh today, cry tomorrow.” I never knew whether this was a reference to the “yin and yang” of life or to the accountability she held us to for our actions. One particular expression that still echoes in my mind was her prophetic words she spoke whenever I would tease her: “Just wait, you’ll miss me when I am gone.” She was right. I miss her every day, especially when it comes to her being my prayer warrior.
My mother had tremendous confidence in God, Mary, and the Saints. When her ability was curtailed to assist others in the preparation of food or personal visits, she turned to her ability to pray. When confronted with challenges in my priestly life, presentations, or concerns of my friends, I would call her and ask her to pray for my intentions or me. I know that others did as well. She would not pray generally, but specifically, for each of my intentions, or me, or others, fulfilling her promises. I find myself copying her daily in my prayers before God, specifically and by name, praying for intentions and individuals.
Perhaps the greatest action that a parent can share with their children is modeling the importance of prayer. The action of prayer transcends this world and prepares us to understand that we are always directed to our union with God.
In a couple of months, a beautiful bronze statue in honor of Mary Mother of the Church will be erected at the Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center. The statue will be a reminder of our commitment to Jesus, and the gift of the Church that was given to us by Him. We are her children, and she consoles us, especially during times of suffering and struggle. At this time in our history as a nation, we need our Mother more than ever. Amid her uncertainty, she gave her fiat, her yes to be an instrument of God’s Will. We must also give our fiat to God, and trust that He will use us as His instrument, leading our society and us to the heavenly kingdom.
Just as we remember the words of our mothers, we must also remember the last words of our Blessed Mother recorded in the Gospel of John. These words echo in our minds and souls, “Do whatever He tells you,” (John 2:9) and He tells us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee