Mother's and Father's Day

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly




            The Hallmark "holy days" are upon us.  Mother's Day and Father's Day.    Fueled by the greeting card and florist industries, these two observances have taken on a semi-sacred character, second only to Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving in the calendar of family observance.   

Until recent years these days hardly got a mention in church.  Today they are practically a part of the liturgy.   This is all for the good I suppose.  These observances show reverence for the fourth commandment, "Honor your father and your mother, that you may live long in the land that I give you."   That is not just scripture, it is practical advice.  Ignore these days at your peril.

Of the two, Mother's Day is clearly the bigger deal.  It is the sun.  Father's Day is the moon, basking in reflected light.

There is definitely an up-tick in church attendance on Mother's Day.  I think that is because young adult and teenage children everywhere say to their mothers, "What do you want for Mother's Day?"  To which mothers everywhere respond, "I want you to go to church with me and then we can go out for brunch."

God bless  'em.  It is touching to see those "20 some things" struggling to remember the responses for mom's sake.  You can see mom's eager face too, hoping that the preacher will say something that day that will hook her youngster back into the sheep fold.  The pressure is definitely on for priests.

After mass on both days restaurants are full.  One headwaiter at a big Washington establishment told me that Mother's Day is the busiest morning of the year in the restaurant business.

Since we are in a semi-rural area, we don't have many  "brunches" places nearby, unless you count the buffet at Bert's Lunch and Auto Repair Shop.  This place seems more appropriate for Father's Day.  It provides both a high cholesterol breakfast and an oil change, all in one convenient location.   What else could a dad ask for?

In our parish hall, we mark both days with breakfasts.  For Mother's Day, the Men's Club cooks.  For Father's Day, the Ladies' Club cooks.  This results in an odd reversal of tastes.  Since the men choose the menu for Mother's Day and the women choose the menu for Father's Day.  Our Mother's Day breakfast is very masculine, with pancakes and syrup, eggs, and lots of bacon and sausage.  The Father's Day breakfast is more feminine, with fresh fruit and nice pastry.  The people who seem to enjoy it the most are the kids.  They get credit for a meal without having to do any work or dig too deep into the piggy bank.

Once of the nicest features of Mother's Day is that churches get a chance to join together in some ecumenical effort.  In our parish, for instance, we are joining with other area churches to support the local crisis pregnancy center for Mother's Day.  We will give out "tiny feet" lapel pins in exchange for a donation to help expectant and new mothers.  Other area churches will also sponsor the same crisis pregnancy center with fund raisers.

The best thing about Mother's and Father's Day is that we celebrate vocations too little honored recently.  The Christian vision of motherhood and fatherhood  needs a little building up.

For women we can celebrate the love that they showed in giving us the gift of life and nurturing that life to adulthood.  We honor all mothers, especially new mothers,  accept many difficulties like the  Blessed Mother who herself was a woman in a crisis pregnancy.

For men we celebrate Christian fatherhood, in the model of St. Joseph.  This almost forgotten man of virtue needs celebrating.  We are in desperate need to celebrate men of fidelity, chastity, and gentleness.

If those are the qualities that emerge from Mother's and Father's Day observance, they are worth every effort, including the greeting cards and the flowers.