OTHER'S DAY, 1997. At our weekly prayer meeting a spontaneous outpouring erupted in words of love and support for all mothers. It was a profound spiritual and emotional experience, for each of us has had at least a taste of the cup of joy-suffering that comes with the job of motherhood. Some have children with serious learning problems and painful school experiences. Others are dealing with challenging, sometimes out-of-bounds behaviour, with sibling rivalry and family disharmony. Parents of teenagers hold their breath as their adolescents make bad choices. We watch as our young people stand on the brink of adulthood, hoping and praying that they are equipped with the right tools. All of us have wiped away tears of anger and hurt and disappointment as our young-uns bump along the rocky road to maturity. Some of us, as adults, look back with regret and sorrow on our shortcomings in our treatment of our own mothers.
The dreams and aspirations I had for my own children, all now adults, certainly did not include mental illness, criminal behaviour, broken relationships, and spiritual darkness. Have I experienced guilt that I was not a better mother, regret that I gave bad advice and provided a flawed role model, envy that we do not workshop together as other families do? Yes, I've been down all these roads before finally arriving at a place of acceptance and peace, squarely at the foot of the cross.
There Jesus has invited me to stand arm in arm with his precious mother and his beloved disciple, to unite my pain with his redemptive suffering. He has called me to join him in his ultimate act of surrender by handing over my children to him, secure that he will do his work in them in his own way and in his own time. Not long ago I was prayed with by a complete stranger at a healing service and her inspired words, without knowing anything about my situation or my need, were of hope and consolation: "Jesus wants you to know that he is looking after your children. You are to trust him. You are not to worry about them. They are in his hands and everything will be fine." When fear creeps in, I need only recall this promise and serenity returns.
Meanwhile, though, my role as a mother is not one of passive letting go but of active and persistent prayer for my children as I strive to love them unconditionally and remain faithful to the Gospel in my own life.
During the celebration of the Mass at the recent Catholic Charismatic Conference, Father Tom Forrest referred to these words imbedded in the Lord's Prayer, as the Church's exalted prayer of healing and reconciliation:
"Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."