“There are many precious things in life that can’t be seen but still exist,” writes Marilee Mayfield. “This includes the unconditional love a mother gives… Like an angel, she watches over her family.” Abraham Lincoln would have agreed: “All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” Should we not, then, give due credit to Nancy Hanks Lincoln for her indispensable role in raising the son who preserved the Union and abolished slavery?
Do we also not owe a major debt of gratitude to Mary Ball Washington for raising the son who won the Revolutionary War and provided indispensable leadership in the Founding of America? “All I am,” stated George Washington, “I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
No wonder Archbishop Bernardito Auza could say, “While history books sing the victories of valiant emperors and warriors, all of civilization… owes an unpayable debt of gratitude to the less chronicled or even unknown contributions of women that have shaped civilizations, like the silent but constant flow of deep waters that shape rivers.”
Washington and Lincoln were not the only presidents to acknowledge that debt of gratitude. President John Quincy Adams attested, “All that I am, my mother made me.” President Theodore Roosevelt asserted, “The mother is the one supreme asset of national life; she is more important by far than the successful statesman, or business man, or artist, or scientist.”
President Ronald Reagan declared, “With all of the words that have been written about motherhood, all of the poems of tribute and gratitude that have been penned through the ages, all of the portraits of a mother and child that have been painted down the centuries, none has come close to expressing in full the thankfulness and joy owing to mothers.”
President Donald J. Trump proclaimed, “Our deep appreciation for the strength and spirit of mothers and their resolve to do what is right for their children and families cannot be overstated. Today [Mother’s Day] and every day, we honor the incredible women whose influence on the world is beyond measure.”
That immeasurable influence is the subject of a powerful online documentary entitled The Power of Mothers: Their Influence on the World. Featuring interviews with Julie Beck, Janice Crouse, Christine Vollmer, Patrick Fagan, and others, the video is featured in IOF’s Worldwide Motherhood Initiative and demonstrates that, in the words of producer Shelly Locke, “Mothers are the most powerful influence for good on the earth today. Within their hands lies the very future of the world! Mothers of the world deserve our greatest respect, our protection, and our care.”
Her statement echoes the insight of the wise drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which the word “special” occurs only once: “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.” How do we provide that special care and assistance? The following suggestions may help.
1. Honor your wife. Give your children the great gift of honoring and loving their mother. “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family” (Mother Teresa).
2. Honor your mother. It is part of the Ten Commandments. Spend time with her, seek her insight, care for her, and let her know of your love and appreciation.
3. Help struggling mothers. Anonymously assist single mothers who struggle to provide and raise their children. “Our future is already mirrored in how we, as individuals and as a society, support mothers to raise strong and healthy families” (Archbishop Bernardito Auza).
4. Promote marriage. Help promote a culture that honors faithful and fulfilling marriage in which a woman and a man create “a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for people, families, communities and societies” (Pope Francis)—and the world’s greatest refuge for mothers and children.
5. Promote life. Help promote a culture that protects mothers by protecting the sanctity of life. “Abortion not only kills the child, it deeply wounds the woman. How could it not? The maternal instinct is very powerful” (Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone).
As IOF continues its worldwide work of protecting motherhood, we pause in celebration of Mother’s Day 2021 to acknowledge our unpayable debt of gratitude to those angels we call mothers. To them we say, Thank you for your selfless sacrifice for your children—and all of us!