Rogation Sunday doesn’t always land on Mother’s Day, but it seems fitting when it happens. Rogation comes from the Latin rogare, to ask, and in this case ask (pray) for God’s blessing upon the crops, newly seeded.
And just so, mothers carry the seed of fathers to term within their bodies, to bear fruit, be fruitful, and give birth to the next generation that will ensure the life of the community, state, nation, world.
It is good to remember, honor, and give thanks for mothers, particularly in a world at war upon the family. For, in many ways, the mother holds the family together, providing a home in which love can feed growth, a kind of seedbed. Fathers protect that home from outside threats, as they provide sustenance and shelter. Yet today many forces rip the family apart. We must heal the wounds, wiping tears with our love.
Mothers of course can also be fruitful in other ways, creative in endeavors outside the home, for the span of child rearing comes to an end and other doors open, beckoning. Fathers can mother, as well as father. There are times when we share roles for good purpose, but the heart of the mother is to mother, and the heart of the father is to father. Both mothers and fathers can comfort their children in overlapping roles, drying their tears together.
But what about God’s tears for the unborn? What about the seeds that never mature, never become what they were intended to become? What about those children who never take their first breath of life in our astounding world of light and love? What about those mothers who live with their “choice” to kill their own children, the Lady Macbeths who cannot be cleansed, until finally facing the Lord of Life in his Church, confessing, repenting, and being absolved.
I was thinking today in our chapel about our General Confession in which we offer our penitence to Christ and are forgiven. It is a regular prayer said before the beginning of the Canon of the Mass and is intended to replace or perhaps supplement private Confession to a priest. We offer all our selfishness, our un-love, our “manifold sins and wickedness,” sins committed by thought, word, and deed, “Against thy Divine Majesty.” We are heartily sorry, the memory is grievous, the burden intolerable. We ask for mercy and forgiveness, and with this prayer, followed by absolution, we are cleansed, these dark gritty places in our heart made clean like a slate. We slough off the soil dirtying our soul and start anew, ready now to receive the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We have cleaned our house to give him a home in which to dwell.
Ritual – saying the same words with each liturgy, weekly or more often – can dull our hearts and minds, yet it can also free us to fully experience God’s presence, in this case his absolution. Memorized words and phrases are engrafted upon our souls, changing us and opening us up to the glories of the Eucharist. There is an action that occurs as we say these words with intent, as we reach for God and God reaches for us. Christ allows the engrafting, for he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Holy Spirit prompts us to repent and to reach out, and Christ carries us to the Father in his arms to be wrapped in love. For, after all, it is his blood shed for us that allows the shedding of our sins, freeing us from death itself.
I speak of repentance today, even in this season of Eastertide, for many of us must confess and repent our part in the death of our culture, the death of love, the death of the unborn. For if we do not honor mothers, make them worthy of respect and dignity and much more, we become a part of this culture of death, and we bear responsibility. And to honor mothers is to support family life and all that that means. One day we shall face judgment, shall see the children that were not born, shall see what part we may have played in their deaths.
And so we honor those who mother those who do not belong to them. We honor women who could not bear children for whatever reason, and who support other mothers and other families. I see this in parish life, an extension of family life. I have been mothered by these ladies, and my little boy was mothered by the whole parish. Christ’s Body, the Church, honors mothers, for mothers give life to the unborn and ongoing love to the living.
May is Mary’s month too, the mother of all of us, the reborn Eve. She said yes to God’s will in her life, and in that fiat she became holy, whole, full of grace and blessed among women. She gives us her son, and in the giving gives us life forever, should we too say yes.
And when we say yes, we become “doers of the word, and not hearers only” as St. James writes in today’s epistle (James 1:22+). As doers we honor mothers, all those who mother, and especially those who create families and homelife in which children are welcome, families open to life itself.
We ask Our Lord’s blessing upon our crops that feed the world. We ask his blessing upon our families and children and mothers, that a new generation may be seeded and born and welcomed by us all, mothered with the love and life of God within each one of us.
I have been interested to see, during Eastertide, how the epistle and gospel readings for each of our churches track each other. Not true, of course, for the Novus Ordo.
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