It would be difficult for me to separate the words “Catholic” and “mother” when it came to my mom, Anne.
She was as devoted to her faith as she was to her mothering — and she was definitely a full-time mother, even when working at a carpet store 40 hours a week. The fact that I would be attending first grade in a Catholic school was non-negotiable for my mother. No matter what financial hardships she and my father had to shoulder, she was bound and determined to enroll me in our parish school.
For my mother, my First Communion was Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July, all rolled into one. The after-Mass party was an elegant affair at the Italian restaurant where my parents had first met.
The proposed date for my Confirmation happened to fall on the same day as a statewide Spanish exam. While my mother dutifully chauffeured me from the exam building to the church, she made it crystal clear which event was the more important of the two. And, of course, an exquisite meal at a chic restaurant followed.
My penchant for overscheduling continued as I attempted to attend college and work at a local radio station at the same time. I had the weekend reporter shift, which made 7 AM Sunday Mass my only option. One Easter, I overslept and failed to make it to the last-chance 6 PM Mass. Ironically, my reportorial assignment that day was to interview a “Rappin’ Reverend,” — a Protestant pastor with a rap music ministry.
My mother’s disappointment in my failure to attend Mass was heartbreaking. Of all the people on planet Earth, she was the one most responsible for sharing the Catholic faith with me. She was my direct line to heaven, and I was giving her the busy signal.
By the time I had a daughter of my own, my time management skills and my priorities had improved. Even when my toddler was a veritable wiggle worm in the church pew, I faithfully took her to Mass. I would try to engage her attention with a children’s Mass book and, thanks be to God, she would stop wiggling long enough to look at the pictures.
My daughter and I would stop at a statue and light a candle for our special intentions, after which we would kneel down to say a quick prayer. When we rose to walk away, my little one would invariably rush back to the kneeler for a prayer goodbye.
I am so grateful to my Mom for teaching me the art of Catholic mothering — not so much by words, but by example. The most important elements — the love of God and neighbor — poured forth from her like the purest gold. She tried faithfully to imitate the Blessed Mother and, for my own daughter’s sake, for that I am eternally thankful.
Who in your life right now is helping to teach you the finer points of love of God and neighbor?
Copyright 2017 Maria V. Gallagher