My mom recently told me that she has been praying every day for me during Holy Communion, and that after two miscarriages, she even prayed daily for me when I was in the womb.
I was always amazed at how much my mom would sacrifice herself for me in so many creative and wonderful ways. The harsh Michigan winters were tough on my body, and I spent many winter nights sick and coughing in my bed. And yet, I would wake up in the morning with a classic vaporizer near my bed, gently placed there by my mom at about 2 a.m.
She knew when my brothers or sister or I had a rough day, and she bent over backwards trying to crack some jokes at dinner or try to raise the level of the conversation to bring the family spirit to a higher level.
We spent a lot of our winter months playing hockey on the local pond, both after school and on week-ends, and we could always look forward to a home-made pot of hot chocolate with giant marshmallows floating on the top. She was able quietly to round up all of our neighborhood friends for surprise birthday parties, and would make sure that we wrote personal thank you notes for all the gifts and favors received.
I have traveled the world and been away from home for the past 30 years of my religious life. I have received hundreds of handwritten notes (often several pages in a letter) in Spain, Rome, Washington and New York. My mom has a heart that sees needs, and reacts with humble kindness.
But more than all of these tangible acts of charity, my mom has a deep and vibrant faith that drives this selfless activity. She loves Jesus Christ, and she even told me over breakfast last summer, "Michael, how can anything be hard if you love God?"
At 89 years old, she is grateful for every day that God gives her, and tries to live each day to the fullest, spending herself to help others.
My mom also realized that the greatest gift that she could give her four kids was to strive to have a great marriage. There were bumps and challenges, as in any marriage, but my mom was committed to make it work. With her sensitive heart, my dad and her three sons caused her heartache and suffering, but in these moments, her silent and loving response humbled us and made us all think about our insensitivity and lack of kindness.
I recently sent out an email asking people for prayer intentions. I was amazed to see that 90 percent of the responses were from moms, asking for prayers for their children, especially for their faith and moral improvement. Moms are simply indispensable, and although they are never thanked or appreciated enough, God is so grateful to be able to love through them.
Thank you, moms, and please keep up the good fight for Christ.
Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders.
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