Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – SISTER REGINA DE VITTO – MAY 21
The Baccalaureate Mass at the University of Notre Dame this past Saturday was an inspiring faith event. We were in the thousands gathered together in the Purcell sports pavilion to worship God with great thanksgiving for the academic achievements of this year’s graduates. The Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, Bishop Rhodes, spoke near the conclusion of the liturgy emphasizing the gospel message to love one another, to embody compassion in service of justice. Why should we do this? It is best said within the familiar hymn “Pan de Vida”: “Poder es servir, por-que Dios es amor.”
This graduation weekend was also for me a celebration of family. My family is connected by cell phones, texts and photos. Yet we are separated by geographical distances that prevent us from seeing one another. And so this graduation weekend reconnected us in the ways that social media devices cannot. We were happy to be together and mindful of those who could not be with us. Through our common meals, our stories, our laughter, our sharing of personal joys, triumphs and heartaches we were energized and renewed. The desire to change the world is in the heart of every graduate having made it to this culminating moment. But we learn much of how to change the world from our families who are bound by compassion through the unforeseen demands of life. The Spirit gives us the power to change the world to be a little more kind, more merciful, more compassionate “por-que Dios es amor.”
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – AMY ALZNAUER – MAY 7
It is almost Mother’s Day and I am putting together a package for my own mother, who is nearing eighty, and my children are going about the house doing little furtive things, which I imagine are some sort of preparation for this coming Sunday, and I am grateful. But Mother’s Day never passes for me without an attendant shadow. Thirteen years ago, my first child died and was born just a few weeks before she was due and just a few days before Mother’s Day.
I was home from the hospital on Saturday of that year, numb and aching, when Fr. Bart came to check in on us. He said gentle, caring things. And then finally, before he left, his voice dropped to an even softer tone. “Tomorrow is Mother’s Day,” he said, as if he were confessing. I remember looking up at him with a new shock of pain. “Don’t come,” he said. “I will bring you communion.”
A year later, I was almost nine months pregnant with my son, who is now eleven, but I couldn’t yet bring myself to believe he would make it out alive. On Mother’s Day, I foolishly went to mass, and when the mothers were called to the front, I sat in my pew. Well-meaning friends beckoned vigorously with their arms. “You are a mother,” they were trying to say. I walked up and stood at the back of the crowd. I can’t remember if I even stayed long enough to take my flower, but soon I was pushing out the side door, tears streaming down my cheeks. The mother of someone who died, I thought. The mother of someone who may never come. I wept for hours.
Since then, even though I now have my own, living children, I can never stand with the mothers on Mother’s Day and not think of all the people who grieve on that day, some of whom are up there with me. I think of all those who grieve for a child who died, or a child they never had, and all those who grieve for a mother who is no longer with them. In particular this year, I am thinking of the Sullivan family. So, I want to offer this poem by Jean Nordhaus, a Mother’s Day poem, for everyone who grieves on this day.
A Dandelion for My Mother
How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems. Like you.
Like you, in the end. If you were here,
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.
It is poem about missing a mother, but those spiky suns, that yellow hair, that turned too soon into ghost stars, could just as easily represent a child.
I want to close by saying this. Some of the greatest mothers I have ever met are people in this parish who do not have their own children. One made a beautiful dollhouse for my daughter. One crocheted blankets for my two, living children before they were born, praying for us with each stitch. One kept vigil for me throughout my darkest hours. One blessed, remembered, cherished both me and my children with such love it made me see the face of Christ. So, for all those mothers, who have taught us how to mother and have mothered us, and to all those families who are grieving a mother or a child, let us profess together: Those beautiful, fragile things that were torn away from us, even the ones we longed for that never came, the Breath of God will someday restore.
And finally, in need, in hope, Mary, Mother of Mothers, pray for us.