May 10, 2009

Who is our Mother?

Cardinal George's Schedule

  1. May 10: 12:30 p.m., Mother’s Day Mass, Holy Name Cathedral Auditorium
  2. May 11: 2 p.m., Finance Council Meeting, Quigley Center
  3. May 12: 9:30 a.m., Presbyteral Council General Meeting, De Paul University, O’Hare Campus; 6 p.m., Catechetical Ministries Awards Banquet, Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
  4. May 14: 7:30 a.m., Big Shoulders Fund Board Meeting, Chicago Club; 2 p.m., Board of Advisors Meeting, Mundelein
  5. May 15: 1:30 p.m., Consultors Meeting, Quigley Center
  6. May 16: 5 p.m., Graduation Mass, St. John’s Catholic Newman Center Chapel, Champaign
  7. May 17: 11:45 a.m., Mass, St. Philip the Apostle, Northfield
  8. May 18: 1 p.m., Administrative Council Meeting, Meyer Center; 5 p.m., 150th Anniversary Mass, Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  9. May 19: 10 a.m., Episcopal Council Meeting, Residence
  10. May 20: 7:30 a.m., Partnership for New Communities Advisory Committee Meeting; 9 a.m., Propagation of the Faith Board of Directors Meeting, Meyer Center; 8 p.m., DePaul University Symphony Orchestra Concert, Symphony Center
  11. May 21: 8 a.m., Leadership Greater Chicago Breakfast, Quigley Center; 11 a.m., Dedication, Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Elk Grove Village; 6 p.m., Mass, The Equestrian Order of The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Glenview
  12. May 23: 10 a.m., Priesthood Ordination Mass, St. Rita High School; 7 p.m., Illinois Knights of Columbus State Convention Banquet, Westin Hotel, Lombard
Cardinal's Crest

Cardinal's Appointments

May 1, 2009

His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George announces the following appointments:


Rev. Kilian Knittel, from administrator of St. Irenaeus Parish, Park Forest, to be chaplain of the Apostleship of the Sea, effective immediately.

On Mothers’ Day, each of us does something extra to tell our mother that we love her and are grateful for her love. If our mother has died, Catholics remember her at Mass in a particular manner. Mothers’ Day began as a religious remembrance, although it was secularized fairly early, becoming, like most major civic holidays, a commercialized commemoration.

One year when I was still in grade school, I went to my sister’s high school to watch her perform in the student presentation of a play called, “I Remember Mama.” It was the story of how a mother of a poor family gave her children confidence in the future by assuring them there was a bank account to cover their financial worries. Because there really was no bank account, Mama always convinced her family that they should not use the “savings” until they were absolutely sure they had to do so. Because of her love and skill, the family weathered every crisis without turning to the non-existent bank account. Mothers give confidence to their children. Mothers want what is best for their children.

The Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our mother comes from the fact that we are incorporated into Christ by baptism. As members of Christ’s body, his mother is ours. We find a confirmation of this relation to Mary because of our relation to her son in the words spoken by Jesus from the cross to his mother and his beloved disciple (John 19: 26-27). Just before dying, Jesus tells Mary that John is her son; then he tells John that Mary is his mother. Practically, this meant that Mary, left alone at Jesus’ death, had a son to take care of her: “…the disciple took her to his own home.” Spiritually, it meant that Mary was mother to the disciples of Jesus, including ourselves. She gives us confidence in our life of faith, encouragement in cooperating with the grace won for us by her son. She wants us to become saints.

Catholics also speak of the church as their mother, for she is the womb in which we receive grace through the sacraments. Her instruction sets out the way to the fullness of life, in this world and the next. Her worship, because it unites us to Christ, gives us confidence in God’s love for us. The Fathers of the Church explained that no one can call God “Father” without recognizing the church as “Mother.” Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and love for the church go hand in hand. Both Mary and the church mediate our relationship to Jesus Christ. When someone makes his or her separate peace and decides that they have no need for mediation in the life of grace, the church disappears from their life, sometimes without their even realizing it.

Catholic social teaching calls for agencies of the state to take care of needy people when other means of helping the poor are not available. The state should help to provide the means for all to live with dignity. When the state’s “mothering” becomes smothering, some people speak of a “nanny state.” Dorothy Day, who was a peace activist and a person committed to living with the poor as one of them, used to speak, with a certain sarcasm, of “Holy Mother the State.” The state helps to give citizens confidence and provides a “safety net” for those whose lives are most threatened; but our emotional ties to our country, while very deep, usually fall short of the kind of devotion that mothers inspire. One can change citizenship; immigrants do it regularly. One has only one mother.

Mothers’ Day provides an occasion, if necessary, to reconcile our relationships: with our proper mother, with the Blessed Mother, with the church. Alienation and estrangement are signs that life is disordered in some fashion. Mothers’ Day is a moment for putting our fundamental relationships in right order, in loving order. Then the day will be happy, and our lives will be full. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Archbishop of Chicago