Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Mothers, to whom "every human person be indebted for his or her life" and almost always much of his or her human and spiritual education, "are rarely heeded or helped in daily life. They are little appreciated in their central role in society. On the contrary, the availability of mothers to sacrifice themselves for their children is often used to 'save' on social spending". Even "in the Christian community, mothers do not always receive their dues or are not appreciated enough."
The catechesis on the family was at the centre of the first general audience of 2015, which Pope Francis dedicated to "mothers", without whom society "would be an inhumane society, since mothers always know how to show, even in the worst moments, tenderness, dedication, and moral strength."
A festive atmosphere pervaded the meeting in the Paul VI Hall, partly because of the Golden Circus and the performances by its acrobats, jugglers and other artists. In thanking them, the pope called them "creators of beauty" that the world "needs". "Circus performers," he said, "create beauty; they are creators of beauty. This is good for the soul."
"How much we need beauty! It is true; our life is very practical, doing things, carrying out our work. This must be done: doing, speaking with the hands . . . Our life is also thinking, reason . . . speaking through the mind. We are also people who love, who have this capacity to love, speaking through the heart. Thinking is the language of the mind; loving is the language of the heart; doing is the language of the hands. All three languages come together to create the harmony of the person. That is where beauty lies. The people who performed today for us are creators of harmony, creators of beauty, who teach us the higher road of beauty. God is certainly true; God is certainly good; God knows certainly how to do things; he created the world; but above all God is beautiful! God's beauty. Very often, we forget about beauty, do we not? Humanity thinks, feels, does, but today it greatly needs beauty. Let us not forget this!"
In his address to the 8,000 people present in the audience hall, Francis said that "perhaps mothers, ready to sacrifice so much for their children, and often for those of others as well, should get more attention. We should better understand their daily struggle to be efficient at work as well as attentive and loving in the family. We should better understand what they aspire to in order to express the best and truest results of their emancipation".
"A mother with children always has problems; she is always working. I remember at home, we were five. If one did one thing, another thought about doing something else. Our poor mother went from one to the other; yet she was happy. She gave us so much."
"Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of selfish individualism. [. . .] Individual means 'what cannot be split. Mothers split themselves, from child bearing and giving the child to the world to raising him or her. Mothers hate war the most for it kills their children. I thought so many times about mothers, when they received a letter that says, '. . . your son fell in defence of the country . . .'. Poor women, how much do mothers suffer! They bear witness to the beauty of life".
In his address, the Holy Father also cited Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated in 1980, who spoke of the "martyrdom of mothers." During the homily at the funeral of a priest killed by death squads, the prelate said that being martyrs also means "giving life gradually, [. . .] in silence, in prayer, in the honest fulfilment of one's duty, in the silence of everyday life" as a mother does, "who, without fear, with the simplicity of motherly martyrdom conceives a child in her womb, gives birth, nurses, raises and cares for him or her with affection. This is giving life. This is martyrdom'.
"Being a mother does not mean only giving birth to a child, but it is also a way of life," the "choice of giving life," the pontiff said. Hence, "A society without mothers would be an inhumane society, since mothers always know how to show, even in the worst moments, tenderness, dedication, and moral strength."
"Mothers often pass on the deepest sense of religious practice. The value of faith in the life of a human being is written in the first prayers, in the early acts of devotion that a child learns. It is a message that believing mothers know how to pass on without too many explanations. These will come later, but the seed of faith is in those first precious moments. Without mothers, not only there would be no new believers, but faith would lose much of its simple and profound warmth."
The Church "is our mother! We are not orphans; we have a mother! Our Lady, Mother Church and our mother. We are not orphans; we are children of the Church; we are children of Our Lady; and we are children of our mothers":
"Dear mothers," the pope said, "thank you; thank you for what you are in the family and for what you give to the Church and the world. To you, beloved Church, thank you, thank you for being a mother. To you Mary, Mother of God, thank you for making us see Jesus. Equally, we salute all the mothers present here with an applause."
After the catechesis, the pope also greeted a delegation of French imams involved in Christian-Muslim relations. In his address, he urged them to maintain with courage their commitment "in the service of peace, brotherhood and truth."
The pontiff also greeted pilgrims from Poland, in particular a delegation of survivors from the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was liberated seventy years ago this month.