Mothers and Carnations

Posted by Holly Benner on May 9, 2020 3:00:30 PM

 CarnationsMother's Day is observed around the world with most cultures setting aside a day to honor mothers. Some see the carnation as the official flower of Mother's Day, perhaps because Anna Jarvis, when she organized the first official celebration in the United States in 1908, distributed 500 carnations as the flower was her own mom's favorite. Carnations, and their various colors, then have become symbolic of this day here at home. The colors red/pink are used to represent those fortunate enough to have their mother physically with them to celebrate this day. Oppositely, the white carnations represent those mothers who may not be here physically, but are celebrated spiritually.

During one of my visits to the Missions, I was fortunate enough to experience how Mother’s Day is celebrated in the African culture. While extravagant meals were not made and presents were not exchanged, this day still held special significance. I was excited to experience the celebration of this holiday in a different culture, but I was saddened to be celebrating this day without my own child. I remember walking into the church and seeing the African woman wearing carnations. This made me feel like I was at home. It was so beautiful to see the impact that one small flower could make on the lives of these women. To this day I wear my white carnation in proud memory of my own mother, while celebrating with my daughter, and praying for all of the mothers throughout the world who made the choice of life.

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you.” We have all said those words at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, for some of us, we can no longer repeat those words to our mothers in person. The meaning behind those words, however, will never lose their significance. While every Mother’s Day is special in its own way, there are two that usually hold a special place in our hearts: the first Mother’s Day without your own mother, and for those that are mothers themselves, the first Mother’s Day as a mother. I had a unique experience. These “unique” Mother’s Days happened to be the same for me. I unfortunately lost my mother in the physical sense while I was pregnant with my first and only child. After losing her, my best friend, I questioned how I was going to be able to find joy in becoming a mother while mourning the loss of my own. I did not find out the gender of my baby prior to giving birth, but I was convinced that it would be a boy. Much to my surprise, a few months after my mother had passed away, she gifted me with a baby girl. Picking out a name was easy, she would be named after my mom. So that first Mother’s Day I mourned the “Eva” that I had lost, while celebrating with the “Eva” that I had gained.

On Mother’s Day we honor all mothers: biological mothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, both alive and deceased. While our own mothers hold a special place in our hearts, there is one mother who is “mother to all,” Mary, the Blessed Mother. We should take time to reflect on her life throughout Scripture and to incorporate her motherly presence into our own lives. When we are in need of peace in our lives, especially during this difficult period in the world, praying for the intercession of the Blessed Mother brings the comfort that we all seek. Let us remember that Mary has appeared to many diverse peoples throughout difficult periods in history. This year on Mother’s Day, while we may be celebrating differently due to the current circumstances, we can still honor the greatest mother of all through prayer and reflection.

 Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there!



 Hol(l)y Headlines!” ~ a bit of a play on words ~ is an "Extra! Extra! Read All About It" call to build missionary momentum as part of our ongoing effort to educate and motivate the next generation of the Catholic Church's missionaries. The blog's author, Holly Benner, is National Coordinator for the Missionary Childhood Association. She's also the mission education coordinator in her home Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has a passion for the missions and experience in making mission real at the diocesan level. For 10 years, Holly traveled frequently to Africa as president of a faith-based non-profit that she founded, one focused on developing sustainable water resources among poor communities.

Prayer To "Our Mother"...    

prayer-mary-pope-francis-2Pope Francis has composed a prayer to our Blessed Mother to seek her protection during the time of COVID-19. Here is the text of that prayer:

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.

We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.

At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain,
with steadfast faith.

You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.

We are certain that you will provide, so that,
as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:

He who took our sufferings upon Himself,
and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.

We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.

Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test –
and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.


Topics: Catholic Missions, Mother's Day, carnations

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