What Every Mother Needs, by Msgr. James Lisante

From all the advertising on TV as well as in newspapers and magazines, you have to figure that mothers everywhere long for fine jewelry, designer clothing, bouquets of flowers and, of course, a fine dining experience to make their Mother’s Day celebration complete. While I’m sure most of them would enjoy – and deserve – those tributes, I still think the one thing every mother longs for is harder to come by. And that, quite simply, is some help.

That help differs, depending on the situation. A woman with young children and a small budget could use a babysitter so she and her husband could have a few hours to themselves. Another mother who acts as caregiver to a parent, as well as juggling a job and a home, could benefit from a volunteer to run a few errands. We all lead such busy lives that it’s hard to think about taking on one more thing – whether for our own mother, a friend or a neighbor. Still, it seems to me that lending a hand to a someone who could really use a little assistance has got to beat out anything in a box with a bow on it.

Let me tell you about a couple of women, mothers themselves, who have made a huge difference, not only to moms who often have no one else to help, but also to fathers and other family members.

Jeannie Hanneman was just a little girl when her mother endured a difficult pregnancy, only to give birth to a son who died within days. But she never forgot how the loss affected her family. Later, she and her husband Bruce went through years of infertility before their daughters were born, one with serious birth defects. As a parish director of family ministry, Hannemann saw, over and over again, the pain that so many people experienced from a variety of issues related to childbearing. She decided that she had to help, so she started “Elizabeth Ministries” (www. elizabethministry.com).

The Biblical story of the visitation of Mary and Elizabeth is her inspiration. “God knew what Mary needed. And what she needed was not an angel visiting her. What she needed was another woman who would understand,” says Jeannie Hannemann. Volunteers in hundreds of church-related groups offer one-on-one comfort, advice and practical support for those having difficulties related to pregnancy, infertility, adoption, special needs, miscarriage and the death of a child.

Victoria Thorn was still in college when a friend had an abortion. “I tried to help,” she said, “but never knew how to reach her and I could not seem to say the right things.” Years later, she became a counselor for a crisis pregnancy center and eventually became one of the first experts on post-abortion ministry. She started Project Rachel and became executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing (www.noparh.org). She and others who volunteer in church-related groups around the country try to help mothers – and fathers – who are coming to terms with the trauma that abortion can cause.

Victoria Thorn is firmly convinced that healing is possible, even for those who have kept the pain hidden for years. Forgiveness of self and others is a vital part of the process.

Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers – so many people need help and comfort for so many reasons. And we can give that help if we just decide to make a difference.

But don’t forget the flowers.