Fr. Luke A. Veronis serves as the Director for the Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, pastors Sts Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA, and teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at both Holy Cross and Hellenic College. He also taught at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (2005-2008). Fr. Luke has been involved in the Orthodox Church’s missionary movement since 1987. Together with his family, he served as a long-term cross-cultural missionary in Albania more than 10 years (1994-2004), and as a short-term missionary in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana for 18 months (1987-91). Since 2010, he teaches a summer missions class which he takes to Albania for two weeks every year. He has led four mission teams from his church to build homes for the desperately poor through Project Mexico. His published books include Go Forth: A Journal of Missions and Resurrection in Albania (2010); Lynette’s Hope: The Witness of Lynette Katherine Hoppe’s Life and Death (2008); and Missionaries, Monks, and Martyrs: Making Disciples of All Nations (1994). Fr. Luke teaches the Preaching course at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, as well as numerous classes in Missiology and World Religions. His weekly sermons since January 2013 can be found at http://www.schwebster.org/sermons/ Fr. Luke is married to Presbytera Faith Veronis, and they have four children.
When I’ve asked children over the years which virtues they best loved about their mother, I get a variety of beautiful and cute answers:
- she loves us and cares for us no matter what
- she is always there when we hurt, and is always ready to help us
- she comes right away when we’re sick, and takes care of us
- she tucks us in at night, and holds us when we’re afraid
- she teaches us a lot of things, and even helps us do our homework
- she plays with us and is a lot of fun
- she takes us special places and does special things with us
- she lets us bake things, and then allows us to eat the batter
Reflecting upon these answers, I thought about how the words of these children in some ways summarize motherly virtues which our Lord calls all of us to hold. Here are a few of the virtues we’ve learned from our mothers, and we cannot only lift up on Mother’s Day, but we can all strive to imitate.
The first virtue is being there for others. A Jewish proverb noted, “God could not be everywhere, therefore he made mothers.” Being there when we’re in need, when we’re afraid, when we don’t feel well, or when we just want company. Mothers are great at this, but each of us is called to be present and available for one another! Let us all imitate this motherly virtue of “being there for others” in our world today!
A second virtue is teaching us what’s important in life. I heard a proverb that said, “The mother’s heart is a child’s schoolroom.” Preparing us for life, with all its ups and downs, and helping us to learn something positive from every experience. What a great motherly virtue this is, and what a great lesson we can pass on to others. Let us all help each other constantly learn and grow in what is essential and eternal in life.
A third set of virtues is that of compassion, mercy, and love. Caring for us and loving us, no matter what we’ve done – the unconditional love of a godly mother can be one of the greatest reflections of God’s unconditional love for us. We’ll always be mommy’s little girl or boy, no matter what we do, no matter what mistakes we make, and no matter how old we are, just like we’ll always be our Lord’s precious, precious child. How beautiful and powerful it can be for us to imitate and share such loving compassion and mercy to the world around us!
Another typical virtue of mothers is one of encouragement – helping us believe in ourselves and fulfill our potential. The world outside constantly attacks us with negativity, and strives to pull us down, trying to get us to settle for the lowest common denominator. Godly mothers, however, believe in their children, and especially understand the divine image within each and every child. How different our world would be if we could make such positive encouragement a part of our daily lives! Let us go out and strive to build up and help others fulfill their divine potential!
A final and most important virtue I want to extol from godly mothers is that of faith. In our skeptical, secular world of today, we need mothers who plant and pass on the seeds of faith to the next generation. Mothers are typically the pillars of faith in the family. And yet, mothers can’t do it alone. So many of society’s forces cultivate the exact opposite of faith – they plant seeds of doubt, of self-centered pride and self-sufficiency. It’s interesting to note how many of the great saints of our Church received their initial faith from their mothers, and then carried that faith into maturity. May we thank God for the faith that our mothers planted in us, and strive to build upon this foundation of faith. Let us raise up the next generation of faithful Christians!
Someone once said, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I can shape the world!” Abraham Lincoln lauded the influence of his own mother when he said, “I remember my mother’s prayers, which have clung to me all my life. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” Possibly no influence on earth can impact a child in the same way as a mother!
Of course, we don’t want to only honor our own mothers, but we also lift up all mothers and mother-figures throughout history who have fulfilled their calling as loving angels to their own children and to the children of others. Whether one is a birth mother, a step-mother, a grandmother, a godmother, an adopted mother, a surrogate mother, or even a woman who offers motherly care and concern to others as an aunt or a friend, we pause to honor and thank you women of faith for the role and impact you have had and continue to have in the lives of others.
So on this Sunday of Mother’s Day, let us honor and remember our dear mothers, and all other mother-figures, who have exemplified these virtues of being present, teaching us what is essential and eternal, and building us up with their compassion, love, encouragement, and faith. These are the virtues we want to thank our mothers for, and these are the virtues we all should strive to imitate in our daily lives.
Happy Mother’s Day!
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