A Mother’s Love and Witness are Powerful!
By Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author of Feeding Your Family’s Soul and A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers
When we think of a mother’s love we might get a warm and fuzzy kind of feeling inside, reminiscing childhood memories. Truth be told though, as warm and cozy as a mother’s love truly is, mothers indeed possess an incomparable inner strength that is utterly edifying. Her vocation is extremely important in raising little saints to heaven even though our culture, which values the size of a paycheck over anything else, does not revere the sometimes monotonous tasks of a mother and pushes women to pursue careers outside the home rather than get “tied down” to a sometimes thankless job.
I am exceedingly thankful for my vocation of motherhood, as well as the very interesting life that God has given me—filled with endless heart-warming joys and sprinkled with struggles and challenges too. I constantly pray that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus—to be His humble instrument to inspire faith in others—first in my family where He has placed me to be a wife and mother of five on earth and three in heaven, as well as a grandmother. After all, my spiritual mother Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, someone I was blessed to know personally for almost ten years has often preached “Love begins at home.”
Beyond my family, because our Lord has given me the task of writing and speaking to inspire faith in others, I expand my reach by His grace and go out to meet countless people at my events who openly share their hearts with me and ask me for prayers for a myriad of needs. My book signing events are not merely a time to sign books, but rather an opportunity for much grace in the amazing encounters that God sets up. I’ll share a few encounters with you.
One time after giving a keynote speech to a parish in Kansas, a very long line of people who wanted to purchase autographed copies of my books formed at my book table. The first woman in line came to me with many tears, telling me that her mother had just passed away. My heart immediately went out to comfort her in her intense sorrow. She continued to bury her head into my chest as my arms reached around her in compassion. She laid her head against me a few times during our conversation—she needed love and empathy. She needed to feel Christ’s loving arms around her.
Before we parted, she gave me a copy of her mother’s obituary and placed her head against my heart again while many tears flowed.
A week or so after I returned home to Connecticut, I received an email from her. I will share it with you because I feel it is a very inspiring story of a mother’s powerful love and shining witness to her family and beyond.
Do you remember me? I met you last week. I bought your book and asked you to pray for my Mom that passed away on. You told me that my Mom is in heaven now when I told you that my Mom died on her sleeping at age 87 years old.
You put the Miraculous Medal close to yours. I am so blessed to receive it from you. The next day, on Monday I put the medal to my Mom’s hands in her casket and told her about your story. I was so surprised they opened the casket again when I visited her. But I kept your medal now. My mom was cremated last Wednesday.
Thank you for comforting me and making me strong.
After meeting you, I realized that I am so blessed because God gave me a wonderful Mother that had a very strong faith. My mother was not rich, she did not leave money, but she left the important things, such as her example that shows me that we have to trust in God and pray all the times. It is more valuable than everything else. You made me so proud about my Mom.
She was baptized when she was 5th grade, being the only one in her in her family who was Catholic. After years, she made sure that all of her family (9 siblings), became Catholic and her parents too, and also my Dad. Now all of my aunts, cousins, nephews, uncles are Catholic because of my Mom. It is pity that I just realized this after my Mom is gone.
How wonderful she is. She never complained if she had a problem. She always prayed. We were so poor when I was a kid in Indonesia, living in a small house, not tile, only dirt. I have 4 siblings, my Dad was jobless, so my Mom worked hard to make dresses for our neighbors to get money, but she put all her kids through Catholic school and we were baptized as babies.
She taught her kids to be good Catholics. Now, we (3 of her kids) are living in USA. God always has better plans than we can ever imagine.
It is nice to meet you and thank you for opening my mind that my Mom is not ordinary people. God loves her and I believe that she is happy now in her new place in heaven. She is so blessed.
This woman was suddenly given the grace after her mother’s death to understand the amazing things that her mother had accomplished as a very simple yet faithful woman who worked hard to get her family to heaven. “Small things with great love” as Mother Teresa, a great spiritual mother to our world has always preached. She often spoke about the fact that God calls us to simply be wholeheartedly faithful to our duties in life. That is really our ticket to heaven, and just as importantly, it opens wide the gate for others because of our Christian witness. I am deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to give that woman a blessed Miraculous Medal—Mary’s medal. Mary truly mothers us through her sacramental. Mother Mary always points us to her Son. “Do whatever he tells you,” as she told the wine stewards. Mary will grant many graces to us for the asking. Let’s not be hesitant to ask her.
God Gives Us Strength to Endure
That night I was also blessed to meet a woman waiting in the same line of people waiting to approach my book table. She drew nearer and knelt down next to my table. She presented a photo of her handsome son to me. On the other side though, was a printed eulogy. He was only thirteen years old when he passed away in an accident just twelve weeks prior. I gazed at the photo of that smiling child and the woman was beaming with a mother’s love as she tenderly told me all about her beautiful son who surely went straight to heaven. This woman proceeded to tell me that God had granted her much grace and after some time she would accept the tragedy of her son’s death. I witnessed strength personified in that woman kneeling at my book table. Such love, such grace. Mothers are strong. Mothers are heroic.
Another woman came forward to tell me all about a little baby with brain cancer. That’s right—a baby—with brain cancer! Her thoughts were not on her own needs. She pleaded for prayers from me for little Adele, her friend’s baby girl who was undergoing chemotherapy at a tender age. She told me all about Adele’s mother’s dire need for prayers that Adele might be healed. Sometimes a mother’s heart seems encircled with piercing thorns when she experiences the depth of this type of pain.
Mothers Can Be a Channel of Grace
We start first in our own homes to serve our families. When we are out and about with our family’s activities we have the occasion to share our faith with others through caring words and kind gestures, not hesitating to get “God” and “prayer” into our conversations—even with complete strangers. We never know how much someone will be impacted by those words and Christ’s love shining from our eyes. This was shown to me in such an amazing way one ordinary morning out at the school bus stop. I tell this story often because I like to encourage others that by God’s amazing grace, our simple words and care can work miracles in someone’s heart—someone needing God’s love!
When my daughter Mary-Catherine was about three years old she insisted upon wearing a pretty dress to the school bus stop one morning. After seeing her older siblings go off to school on the school bus, my neighbor remarked that Mary-Catherine looked pretty in her dress.
I replied, “It’s really her Church dress but she desperately wanted to wear it this morning.”
My neighbor began to cry and then she sobbed! I asked if I could give her a hug. She immediately accepted my hug. I had no idea why she suddenly got upset, but I knew I needed to try to comfort her. She then opened up about the promise she made to her father on his death bed, eight years prior. She told her father that she would be sure to have her son baptized. Eight years had passed and he was still not baptized. She cried some more and I told her that it was not too late! She expressed her concern about getting yelled at by the priest for waiting so long. I reassured her that the priest would welcome her with open arms and I offered to call our parish priest ahead of her phone call to him to help pave the way. She thought it was a good plan.
Soon after, my neighbor’s son was baptized and my neighbor went to Confession and was back in the graces of the Church! She then helped out in the parish office while her son took his faith formation lessons to make his First Holy Communion. God is amazing! That one word, “Church” that I mentioned in describing my daughter’s dress had awakened the memory in my neighbor’s heart about her important promise to her father.
Mothers are the Hands and Feet of Jesus!
Mothers everywhere are involved in innumerable ways in the care of their families and of others. All women are spiritual mothers and can mother those that God has put in their lives. Their faithful witness shines among us. God calls every single one of us to open our hearts to His grace and to strive to be Christ’s hands and feet in our darkened world. A simple smile, a listening ear, a warm hug of comfort can soothe someone’s deep pain and open up an amazing channel of grace!
Saint Teresa of Avila encouraged us to go forth and bring Christ’s love to others. She said:
“Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks with compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.”
Happy Mother’s Day to every woman!