A Mother’s Day prayer

May 8, 2020
Image: “The Madonna of the Lilies” (1899) by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905).

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in Australia on the second Sunday of May since 1924. But, Catholics have been celebrating a sort of mother’s day since the first few centuries of the Church. The fourth Sunday of Lent, or Laetare Sunday, traditionally was a time to return to your mother church (home parish) and leave an offering.

Those who practised this custom were said to have gone “a-mothering”, and soon it became known as “Mothering Sunday.” As the popularity of “Mothering Sunday” grew, it became a day when domestic servants were given leave to be with their families. The day became one of the few times a year where a grown family could gather, as working families often had conflicting schedules. Once the tradition became a day for family reunion, with a reference to mothers in the name, it naturally evolved to include all mothers within the celebration. For children, the long walk back home became a time for picking flowers for mum, and this would grow to the tradition of giving gifts of all sorts to mothers.

In Catholic tradition, the month of May is dedicated to Mary. Chosen by God above all other women, Mary’s faith and obedience paved the way for the Incarnation. Her example teaches us faith, obedience, humility and most of all, how to love. As St Thomas of Villanova said, “If in this world any creature ever loved God with whole heart, with whole soul, and with whole mind, she was the creature.”


“From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things.
From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone.
From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God.”



At the foot of the cross, her heart broke for Jesus, yet she accepted God’s will not only for her Son, but for herself in her new role as mother to us all (cf. John 19:25–27). As we honour today our earthly mothers and mother figures—including stepmothers, relatives, guardians, close family friends and those who would be mothers—let us honour our heavenly mother as well. Those devoted to her are always led to her Son. For her wise counsel tells us, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

And so, we invite you to pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, You chose to put yourself—tiny, needy and helpless—into the nurturing and watchful hands of a human mother. Since then, every act of mothering, both physical and spiritual, in every time and every corner of the world recollects Mary’s. Inspired by this example, we, too, honour our mothers and mother figures today. Bless these women, that they may be strengthened as Christian mothers and nurturers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, honour them always with a spirit of profound respect.

We ask this in your holy name. Amen.


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