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Asking the clergy about mothers

Whether your mom is your best friend or the most complicated person in your world, there's no denying the importance of the relationship. Our clergy offer insights to help strengthen the bond. We asked, "How can faith improve the powerful relationship people have with their mothers?"

Sister Lucy Clynes, treasurer and vocation director, Daughters of Wisdom, Islip:

I look at the founder of my congregation, St. Louis de Montfort, who lived in France from 1673 to 1716. Although upper-middle class, his mother took him to visit the poor and sickly. He got the sense of being observant and caring from her. Because of his warm, comforting relationship with his mother, he was able to transcend the gloom-and-doom mentality of the time. He chose to be gracious to the poor and eventually gave his wealth to the poor.

I was spoiled by my father growing up. It was as an adult that I began to realize the endless challenges my mother handled in running the house: our needs, the needs of her parents, who lived with us, caring for a handicapped aunt and volunteering in the community.

By looking at the sacrifices that the various mothers in the Bible made, we can better understand the sacrifices our own mothers make for us today. One of my favorite stories of relationships is Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth left her own home to travel with Naomi back to her homeland to care for her. Ruth loved her just that much (Ruth 1, Ruth 2).

Imam Ahmadullah Kamal, Long Island Muslim Society, East Meadow:

The Quran tells us how to behave around our parents. Al Isra, Chapter 17, verses 23 and 24: (23) Your lord has ordered you to worship none except him, and to be good to your parents. If either or both of them attain old age with you, do not say: "fie on you," nor rebuke them, but speak to them with words of respect; (24) and lower to them the wing of humbleness out of mercy and say: "My Lord, be merciful to them, as they raised me since I was little."

For us, every day is Mother's Day. The Quran never allows us to disrespect or mistreat our mothers and our fathers.

We should always remember that as they cared for us when we were little and couldn't care for ourselves, it is our responsibility to care for our parents as they grow older.

As parents, we have to remember that what we do in our relationships with our children as they grow will have a profound effect on the relationship they have with us as adults.

The Rev. John Zenkewich, Unity Church of Hempstead:

A mother's love for her children is a manifestation of God's love for humanity.

When you look at the harmony of the world, you can see the way that creatures work together in nature for the family structure. In nature, the mother -- and father -- do all they can for the health and growth of the child.

You can look to the Scriptures for examples of faith where the mother does all she can to do for the child. For example, Jochebed, who gave up Moses to save his life (Exodus 2:1-10).

If a child is able to understand that Mom only wants the best for him or her, then the child can have patience and understanding when there are things that the mother does or requires that doesn't seem to make sense.

Remember, Jesus didn't do his first miracle (John 2: 1-11) until his mother asked him to: turning water into wine. He didn't really want to do it. Her love saw the potential of her child and knew it was time for him to start his path for his ministry. That is an example of a child having faith and listening to his mother.

Rabbi Michael Stanger, Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation, Old Westbury:

The first thing that comes to my mind is the commandment to honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16). It says later, in the book of Leviticus (19:3), that you shall fear your mother and father. In this instance fear means to revere. Why is it reversed in Leviticus? Rabbis posit that a person would automatically honor the mother because she is the primary caregiver.

Most of us go through a stage in our lives when we are very mommy-focused. On the other hand, we tend to be more in fear of our father and to want to make him proud of us. Maybe we automatically assume Mom is always proud of us, while we must earn a father's respect. It is an indication of the different relationships we have with Mom as caregiver and father as breadwinner. Even though we may fear our fathers, and may appear to relegate mothers to a lesser role, the Torah is full of references to barren women who want to give birth (Sarai in Genesis 16, Rebekah in Genesis 25:21). They want to be that source of life, just as God gave us all life.

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