I’m the mother who hates Mothers’ Day. I have been known to lock myself in my room or ask my family to leave the house. . . without me. I have been known to cry most of the day. Last year, I was able to muster up a “Thank you, I love it!” for the disappointing spinach salad—spinach leaves with tomatoes—that the family made me. I will admit, however, that I did truly love it when my four-year-old wrapped his skinny arms around my waist and said, “You’re my favorite mother.”
For some mothers, Mothers’ Day is hard. A child with severe special needs can put a great strain on a family, making celebrations more challenging. Some moms may have experienced their own mother’s death and approach the holiday with a heavy heart. Other moms have experienced the devastating loss of a child. Still other moms are struggling with infertility and the day accentuates their grief. Yet God is in the midst of our motherhood. Our cross is his cross, for he helps us to carry it. Perhaps this will not be the year of glad rejoicing, but it can still be a year of thankfulness that God has called us to this powerful vocation.
In the event that you are experiencing disappointment today and need a boost, I am sending you a token of affection, a little note of love. It is to tell you the story of the founding of this ministry, Mighty Is Her Call, in the hope that it will remind you of just how important your vocation is, whether or not the reality of your life as a mother is matching your original expectations, and whether you think your family is doing a good job of expressing it. I offer this story as one of hope for each of us: that the Mighty Is Her Call has your back, and that Christ is in our midst.
Sitting in my living room five years ago, hosting my first-ever retreat for mothers with two priests present to offer Mass and confession, I was overwhelmed with how much the beautiful, tired, grace-filled, heart-warming, run-down, open-to-life mothers relished being given to—given the opportunity for sacraments, given the chance to hear a mother’s testimony, given the chance to watch a video I had created that spoofed our motherly life. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we sang – and none of us wanted it to end. Those first retreats in mothers’ homes turned into retreats at parishes, once parishes began contacting me, inviting me to bring the retreats they had heard about to their communities. Since then we have also given retreats in New York City, Nashville, and Louisiana.
Then in 2018, the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, I had a burning passion to throw a ball—a formal yet raucous dance party—in the “ball” of the Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas. My hope was to throw the biggest, best celebration of all time for open-to-life Catholic mothers. They are the most under-valued, under-appreciated, exhausted, selfless, generous, big-hearted, beautiful, holy people I have ever met. They shine a light for the world. In the early Church, St. Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” I believe that today, open-to-life Catholic mothers, in shedding their blood both physically and spiritually, are the new seed of the Church. The non-profit status that I had applied for arrived just in time for this ball, and the diocese of Dallas gave its approval and endorsement of it.
Our daily blog of encouraging messages for mothers was launched the day of that first ball, and now we have thousands of daily readers. The talented writers craft passionate posts, articulating the sacredness, holiness, importance, and power of motherhood, and offer daily support to mothers in the trenches.
The ultimate aim of Mighty Is Her Call is to move the needle for mothers in the Catholic Church. In lavishing mothers with the retreats, balls, and daily dose of love that they deserve, our favorite way is by articulating that this vocation is in the pattern of Christ: it is a cruciform vocation, united to Christ’s passion by laying down one’s life for others, biologically or spiritually nourishing our children with our own bodies and blood. The talented blog contributors proclaim the sacredness and genius of the vocation, each in her own way. Our prayer is that collectively, the mothers of Mighty Is Her Call will successfully respond to the Catholic Church’s invitation to “[bring] full dignity. . . to motherhood. Today new possibilities are opened to women for a deeper understanding and a richer realization of human and Christian values implied in the conjugal life and the experience of motherhood” (Christifideles Laici, 51). Again, it’s time for us as a community to break new ground in understanding the sacred importance and power of the calling.
May you receive the gift today that the staff, blog contributors, ministry team, board and donors of Mighty Is Her Call and I extend to you. May you rest in the reassurance that your vocation, open-to-life motherhood, is extraordinarily reflective of the Passion of Christ–even and especially when your particular vocation is marked by disappointment, pain and grief. May you be nourished by the reminder that your cross-shaped motherhood is essentially vital and life-giving to the Body of Christ. May you partake of the opportunities—from daily blog posts to retreats to our next ball (a Dallas retreat and ball to be held as soon as social distancing allows)—to soak up our applause and appreciation of you. Imagine thousands of women joining heaven itself cheering you on. “You’re doing it! Keep going! We’re here for you!”