By Francesca Merlo
For many countries around the world, the second Sunday of May marks Mother’s Day. Although it is celebrated differently from country to country, and even from family to family, whenever and wherever Mother’s Day is celebrated, it is a day to honour our mothers, and all the sacrifices they make for us.
Pope Francis once said that humanity is “built on mothers” and that their love is a cure for a world, which is so often divided and filled with bitterness. He spoke of a mother’s heroism in self-giving, “strength in compassion” and “wisdom in meekness.”
Mother’s Day in a time of coronavirus
This Mother’s Day will be felt a little differently as, all around the world, countries are facing strict lockdown measures due to the Covid-19 coronavirus. Although many mothers have been lucky enough to welcome their children home for this lockdown, many more are finding themselves separated, and in some cases, far away.
Some of the mothers most affected by the pandemic are expectant ones. In a statement released on 7 May, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that around 116 million children will be born throughout the duration of the emergency.
UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said “millions of mothers all over the world embarked on a journey of parenthood in the world as it was”. Now, she continued, they must “prepare to bring a life into the world as it has become”. She described it as a world in which expectant mothers are afraid to visit health centres for fear of infection, or of missing out on emergency care due to strained services. “It is hard to imagine how much the coronavirus pandemic has recast motherhood”, she added.
Since the start of the coronavirus, the rate of home births has, in fact, risen, as more mothers choose their homes to be a safer option than visiting a hospital.
Pope Francis described mothers as peacekeepers, saying that “in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children”, mothers are “the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies of war”. He noted that Mary, too, “saw many difficult moments”, and like a good mother she is close to us, her children, “so that we may never lose courage in the adversities of life”.
May is also the Marian month, in which we celebrate Mary – dubbed by Pope Saint Paul VI as the “Mother of the Church”, in 1964. “God Himself needed a mother” said Pope Francis, and Jesus himself gave her to us. “She is the Queen of peace, who triumphs over evil and leads us along paths of goodness, who restores unity to her children, who teaches us compassion”.
The Pope has invited the world to pray the rosary throughout this Marian month, saying “contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial”.
Around the world, on Sunday 10 May, many people will be praying to Mary, our Mother, for their mothers, near and far.