Mothers' Day Proclamation

Now, before some liturgico-ecclesiological pedant points out that strictly speaking today is not Mothers' Day, but Mothering Sunday, a celebration of mother church rather than our biological (or any other sort of) mothers, I want to say, I know. Mothers' Day is actually an American invention, but like anything that comes out of the USA, whether it be MacDonalds, Disney, Dunkin Donuts or Double Dip Recessions, it eventually makes its way across the Atlantic, and so by default Mother’s Day has replaced the older and less commercial Mothering Sunday celebration. For that the card manufacturers, florists and chocolatiers may be very grateful, but actually even the American phenomenon didn't start out as the saccharine spending spree that it has become.

Apparently it grew out of Julia Ward Howe’s Mothers' Day Proclamation in 1870.
Julia Ward Howe, is perhaps best known for having written the words to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which inspired the Union Troops in your Civil War, but horrified by the effects of that war, in its immediate aftermath she wrote this:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice! Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as the means whereby the great human family can live in peace,
And each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

You don't read that on too many Mothers' Day cards. But perhaps in the light of events here in Northern Ireland and the other conflicts around this world, it is an appropriate time to hear that proclamation again.


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