“To be a mother is a great treasure. Mothers, in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, are the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies against war,” the pontiff told pilgrims during his Jan. 7 general audience address.
Mothers, he said, “are often exploited because of their availability. Not even the Christian community values them properly, despite the eminent example of the Mother of Jesus.”
Mary’s example provides an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the role of all mothers in society and the Church, the Pope explained, noting how despite all of the “symbolic glorification” we give to motherhood, it is still under-valued.
“All of us give credit to our mothers for life and many other things, but not always are they listened to or helped in everyday life…Their important contribution to the life of society, their daily sacrifices and their aspirations are not always properly appreciated,” he observed.
To be a mother is a gift, the Pope said, and explained that through their sacrifices, mothers assist in helping society to overcome its self-centered tendencies, as well as its lack of openness, generosity and concern for others.
“In this sense motherhood is more than childbearing; it is a life choice entailing sacrifice, respect for life, and commitment to passing on those human and religious values which are essential for a healthy society,” he said.
Pope Francis then drew attention to the phrase “martyrdom of mothers” coined by Archbishop Oscar Romero, who served as the archbishop of El Salvador and was shot and killed while saying Mass in 1980 for speaking out against social injustices committed by the government.
This maternal martyrdom, the pontiff noted, consists of a mother’s ability to offer herself in silence, prayer and total surrender, “without any fanfare,” to her motherly duties.
A mother’s sensitivity “to all that threatens human life and welfare is a source of enrichment for society and the Church,” he said, observing how it is common in moments of difficulty to encounter the tenderness, dedication and moral strength of our mothers.
Pope Francis, you are the man! How very true this feels.
Even as a mom I don’t think I see and appreciate everything my own mother did for me.