Katrina Fernandez today looks at the growing phenomenon of secularizing the Mass—taking note of things like Mother’s Day to confer special blessings on some in the congregation, an act that can often have unintended consequences:
Mother’s Day can be an especially painful day. To many women Mother’s Day can be a bitter reminder of infertility, miscarriage, abortion, or the death of child. It’s also a difficult holiday for people who have lost their own mothers or have estranged relationships with them. For many of those noted reasons, I am not a fan of Mother’s Day myself. But even if Mother’s Day were my absolute favorite holiday of the year I would still be vehemently opposed to what has become the common practice of giving special recognition to mothers during Mass. I’m not opposed to mothers or their deserved recognition but I am opposed to secular holidays being imposed in a way that hijacks the Mass. Personally, I think everything that happens at Mass should relate specifically to the liturgy; otherwise what’s the point of having a liturgical calendar. …A simple blessing for all mothers, spiritual as well as physical mothers, at the very end of Mass during the dismissal while everyone is standing would suffice.
Read on for more wisdom on this subject.
At my parish, here’s what we did (and I suspect it will be the same next month, for Father’s Day):
After the post-Communion prayer and announcements, the priest asked the mothers to stand, and he made a point of underscoring, “all mothers—grandmothers, godmothers, mothers-in-law…anyone who feels she has been a mother to someone.” With that, most of the female members of the congregation were on their feet. He offered a brief blessing, congratulated them and thanked them (warm applause followed, of course) and then invited the rest of the congregation to stand for the final blessing.
Events like these remind us that the Catholic Church is tilted heavily toward marriage and family—or, if the single life is mentioned, it’s usually in connection with religious vocations. Sometimes, that can also pose a challenge. Many Catholics who are unmarried or childless can feel marginalized or overlooked—like they just don’t fit in.
Seeing this imbalance, a priest from our parish, the Rev. Bob Blauvelt, several years ago established a Single Adults Group to reach out and minister to this overlooked demographic. Over 15 years later, it’s going strong and offering single Catholics—whether widowed, divorced or just unattached to anyone—a place to experience fellowship, friendship and faith. (I’m privileged to serve as the spiritual director for this group at our parish, and grateful to accompany these folks on their journey.) If your parish doesn’t have something like this, talk to your pastor. It can do a world of good.
Meanwhile, Katrina adds this wise advice, which can console anyone:
In the past, when I have had to struggle through the awkwardness at Mass during the holiday I focus my thoughts and pain on the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother in heaven. If I cannot muster enthusiasm for my own mother or my own circumstances, I can certainly muster enthusiasm and praise for Mary. Celebrate your Mother, Mary, by visiting her son in adoration and offering your prayers for all those who share your pain. Let Mary bring you comfort.