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From the bishop: May 2014 FAITH Grand Rapids column

My dear friends,
 
This issue of Faith Magazine will be arriving in your homes very close to Mother’s Day. Most of the efforts, sacrifices and expressions of love our mothers have given us will never be publicized. Their recognition will be more personal. But what matters is not the scope of the appreciation but its genuineness. As we honor our mothers, we fulfill the truth of Proverbs 31:28, “Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her.”
 
About a month from now we will celebrate Father’s Day. We will come to church and remember our fathers living and deceased who have had such a profound impact on our lives.
 
My Mom and Dad provided a wonderful home in which to raise my three sisters and me within the context of our Catholic faith. I have no doubt that my vocation came from their witness of faith and prayer. I can also thank my Dad for introducing me to the game of golf. I probably owe my golf swing to him, too.
 
While Dad is now 92 years old, my Mom died in 1999. Shortly after her death, a friend sent me the prayer that Jewish people recite on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, to honor the memory of a deceased mother. It is a beautiful prayer which I still pray from time to time, and I include it here:
 
“I remember thee in this solemn hour, my dear mother. I remember the days when thou didst dwell on Earth, and thy tender love watched over me like a guardian angel. Thou hast gone from me, but the bond which unites our souls can never be severed; thine image lives within my heart!
 
May the merciful Father reward thee for the faithfulness and kindness thou hast shown me; may he lift up the light of his countenance upon thee and grant thee eternal peace! Amen.”
 
In the “Theology 101” section of Faith Magazine, you will find a discussion of the fourth commandment. The fourth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” is the first commandment following after the three commandments about love of God. The 7th chapter of the Old Testament Book of Sirach provides wise advice about our parents:
 
“With your whole heart honor your father; your mother’s birth pangs forget not. Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?”
 
Duties of children toward their parents have traditionally included: to love and respect them as long as they live; to obey them in all things except sin; to help them in their old age or when they are sick or dependent; and to see that they receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and a Catholic funeral. Duties of parents toward their children include: love, the fundamental obligation (all their other duties are rooted in it); provision for life, health and well-being (food, clothing, housing and some degree of material security); and the duty to give their children a good education as well as to set a good example and exercise correction and watchfulness.
 
While the fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their mother and father, it also looks to relationships between the members of our extended family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that this commandment “extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.” (2199)
 
Not all of us are parents, but all of us are or were once children. It is the most universal relationship! May this Mother’s and Father’s Day remind us all of many good memories and awaken a sense of gratitude and pride as we salute and pray for our parents on these two national observances.
 
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak