The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Julia Ward Howe on Mothers’ Day

with 3 comments

Julia Ward HoweRyan Roderick Beiler at the excellent God’s Politics blog caught my attention with this proclamation by Julia Ward Howe. Howe sought an annual Mothers’ Day in the USA, beginning in 1870. But, as Beiler says, “This was not a day originally intended for saccharine sentiment…”

So you shall see.  Hold on to your hat:

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Wow – those are brightly burning phrases!  May I bear such passion!

Related post: Take Care of Our Children
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Written by Monte

May 12, 2007 at 10:44 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Jacquelyn: I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to sit down to work early Sunday morning and find your comment. Thank you so much.

    And Nancy: I read it here, too – you’ll see it mentioned as an intro to my sermon when I post the sermon in the next couple f days. Has teeth in it, doesn’t it! I put a few of the more memorable phrases on the projector – like “the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.” And the sermon – your instincts align with mine – was about the Kingdom of God coming down upon us.


    May 14, 2007 at 3:45 pm

  2. Monte

    I read Julia’s original proclamation yesterday at our worship gathering – it is a far cry from schmaltzy Hallmark cards and sentimental stories about our grandmas. What powerful words she wrote! When I read things like that, I find myself thinking that maybe if we all truly embraced the way of Jesus, we’d see the kingdom of God prevail…and not have to wait for the sweet by and by :-)


    May 14, 2007 at 12:09 pm

  3. Thank you for bringing Julia Ward Howe’s words to us as we approach this Mother’s Day. This helps me go to sleep with some greater sense of the “Peace of Christ” (re: our text for May 13 lectionary). Mother’s Day has long been a struggle for me in the church, as there is an expectation that we treat it almost as a holy day and yet its history has been long forgotten and thus it has become empty of meaning for many of us. Thank you for this timely reminder.


    May 13, 2007 at 12:25 am

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