One of my newer blogging friends Em, from Teach Me to Braid, shared a beautiful and moving post earlier this month, called Church, about her efforts to raise awareness at her church about members who might find holidays such as Mother’s and Father’s Day difficult, as well as attending baptisms/dedications, because they are struggling with infertility and/or grieving the loss of a child. It reminded me of Lori’s post from around this time last year called Outliers.
Lori posted that blog entry the weekend of Mother’s Day 2012 and I in turn emailed a link to the pastor of our church and requested he share it with the other priests at our parish. I sent the message at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, asking him to read Lori’s words and keep them in mind when preparing for Mother’s and Father’s Day masses in the days and weeks to come. I wanted them to be aware/reminded of the “outliers” Lori speaks of who don’t fit the traditional mold of a mother or father on such holidays, but still deserve to be included in special prayers and blessings on those holidays.
I was surprised, in a good way, when less than a half an hour later I got a reply to my email from our pastor! He shared with me the blessing they were planning to use at all of the Mother’s Day masses the next day, which was already very inclusive, and asked if I had any edits or suggestions to make it even more inclusive. I did have a few and sent them a long quickly with this message.
I added my suggestions below in (bold) and would love if you are able to incorporate them in some way to be a bit more inclusive. I added one line to included those who are trying to conceive their first child and those who may be struggling to have another. I also changed the line about those who have lost a child to those who have lost children (as sadly some have lost more than one). That said, I am very pleased with/proud of what you were planning to do/share already!
It made me so happy the next morning when this special blessing was read, including the changes I had offered.
You have given women the capacity of participating with you in
the creation of new life entrusting them with a sacred and precious gift.
And so we pray
for all of our mothers who have given us this gift of life;
for mothers who unconditionally love and nurture their children;
for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibilities;
for those who want to be mothers or have another child, hoping and trying;
for mothers who have watched their children grow into adulthood;
for mothers whose joy in their children is abundant
for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;
for those whose children are physically, mentally or emotionally challenged;
for those who raise children on their own;
for those who have lost children;
for those who care for the children of others;
Grant your blessing on these our mothers.
May their love be deep and tender;
their care compassionate and unfailing.
May your Holy Spirit constantly inspire, guide and strengthen them.
so that they may lead their children to know what is good,
living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
This past Sunday, on Mother’s Day, I was very pleased to hear the same special and inclusive blessing read at mass. I was also moved when one of our associate pastors, who said the mass we attended, mentioned mothers who have lost children during his sermon. I wish more women and men attending Mother’s and Father’s Day services got to hear such special and inclusive blessings on those holidays.
As we prepare for Father’s Day next month, I encourage those who are in a position to educate and make such blessings, sermons and speeches more inclusive to do your best to make it happen. These are the two posts I shared in honor of Father’s Day the past two years, in which I also spoke to the importance of trying to be more open and inclusive on these parenting holidays in effort to be more sensitive to and with outliers, including those who have lost children and/or are trying to build or expand their families and having difficulty.
An Unusual Father’s Day Blessing (June 2011)
A Father’s Day Blessing (June 2012)
I will leave you with one of my favorite family photos from Mother’s Day this year. Once a year I like to be in a picture at our daughter/my children’s sister Molly’s grave at the cemetery. It means a lot to me to have this, though I wish our baby girl was still with us here to celebrate my being a mother to three amazing children.