Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend (παραθώμεθα, предадим, place before God, hand over) ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.” (Great Litany, Byzantine Divine Liturgy)

If you’ll forgive this personal note today, because it’s Mother’s Day I’d also like to “commemorate,” and “commend” or “place before” God, in praise and gratitide, the self-giving journey of my mother, Matushka Catherine. I’m remembering how she, a mother of four, made it possible for my father to be a full-time, ROCOR priest (which means a very low salary, insufficient to support a family). She went to work. But when I was a child, my mom had not yet learned English sufficiently, so she could only find difficult jobs: At one point, she worked the night-shift at a sewing-machine factory, and at another point she worked nights at a nursing home. My dad did the grocery-shopping, made us breakfast and saw us off to school, but somehow she always cooked dinner, made all the church-feasts and fasts beautiful for us, and taught us to do our part in various chores around the house. And don’t ask me how she also taught (and still teaches) at the church-school on Saturdays, and still bakes all the prosphora (liturgical breads) for the parish.

There is so much more to say here, how she, to this day, bustles about, placing others before herself, and still holding a full-time job well past retirement-age. Thank you, дорогая мама! And thank you, Lord, for her, and for all the unsung heroes of Your cross-carrying Church.

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