Our best teachers
Like Mom and Dad, both of whom were members of the Legion of Mary and former catechists of the Most Holy Trinity Parish in Balic-Balic, Sampaloc, Manila, I was also a volunteer catechist and teacher when I was a teenager. I shared Christian Living Education (CLE) to grade school pupils at Legarda Elementary School in Manila decades ago.
I remember my mom telling me: “My son, a teacher makes an engineer, a doctor, an IT professional, a politician, and a saint… Be a good one.” And I’ve been teaching ever since. Before she died, I promised her that I would always remember her by putting her complete family name in mine. Hence, my name is Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano, quite a long one that carries not just a middle initial but the full BAUTISTA as a middle name, my mom’s family name.
Missing my mom and dad is an understatement. I miss caressing their wrinkled hands, hugging their frail bodies, and kissing their foreheads. Recalling the unforgettable moments with them makes me downright sentimental, with too many lovely memories to recall, so much gratitude to give for so much love I had received.
Every single day with them was purest joy and; in their old age and in death, my parents never were a burden. My dad at 86 was preparing his best clothes for a paseo with me the next day but, that night in his room, while reaching up for his walking shoes on top of a high cabinet, he accidentally fell down and died the next day due to a diffused vascular brain injury.
My mother’s old age, though with lingering illness, was beautiful, and her death at home was as quick as my dad’s as if to spare us, the living, from worries. How could I forget that instant when my mom tenderly stared at me as if to say, I’m ready? “With death comes honesty,” they say. Mothers and fathers are loved; please don’t make them cry. Kids, don’t break their hearts.
A special love goes to all teachers who are mothers
Motherhood is strength and mothers are mighty because they carry LIFE in their womb and bring forth into this world the image of God. The imago Dei (seated in the immortal soul) can only be transmitted from mother to her child through pro-creation and, in this special sense, our mothers are God’s co-creators.
As Pope Francis has nicely put it, “A mother joins with God to bring forth the miracle of a new life. Motherhood is the fruit of a particular creative potential of the female body, directed to the conception and birth of a new human being.”
The same catechism that I teach to others reminds me that Mom and Dad produced my body but not my simple, spiritual, and immortal soul because it was directly created by God at the very moment of conception.
One form of white martyrdom (martyrdom without dying) vis-à-vis red “blood” martyrdom is motherhood, and our mothers are the most blessed of all martyrs in this “valley of tears.” In fact, mothers are the toughest and bravest martyrs of the human species, for lifetime motherhood is the supreme sacrifice for most of our women.
God gave them that special assignment, which makes all mothers specialists in survival, in taking care of their young, and in giving all that they have without condition, until their last breath.
There’s no living substitute for a mother, and you have only one; mine was gone. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother” (Ephesians 6:1-2).
Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano (facebook.com/josemario.maximiano) is the author of 500 YEARS ROMAN CATHOLIC (2020) and 24 PLUS CONTEMPORARY PEOPLE: God Writing Straight with Twists and Turns (Claretian, 2019).