Seeds of the Word - The new feast of Mary, Mother of the Church

Photo: Pietro Perugino, Crucifixion with Mary and St. John, National Gallery of Art, Wikimedia Commons Photo: Pietro Perugino, Crucifixion with Mary and St. John, National Gallery of Art, Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis has decreed that a new Marian memorial be inscribed in the Roman calendar

A few moments before dying, Jesus made us heirs of his most precious treasure on Earth: his own Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27) Jesus knew his mother should not be alone. She needed children to look after, children who would make her feel she was their mother, who would come to her aid and who would seek refuge under her mantle.

Jesus’ beloved disciple, representing all the beloved disciples of Jesus, welcomes Mary into his home from that day. In this way, the church embraces Mary as its mother for all ages. The apostles first, and then the entire church, will need a Mother who can summon them in love, who can help them to reconcile after a feud, who appeases them when tension arises, who consoles them when things don’t go as expected, who gives them hope when all seems lost, and who prays with them and for them.

In such a way, the Mother of God becomes the mother of the beloved disciple and the Mother of the Church.

Pope Francis has decreed that, beginning this year, on the Monday after Pentecost, the Catholic Church will celebrate annually the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. On February 11, as the church celebrated 160 years since the first apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, issued the official decree which makes this new feast to be inscribed in the General Roman Calendar. It is to appear not only in the liturgical books for the celebration of Mass, but also in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Holy Father wants this celebration to remind us that “growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the redeemed.”

It is quite meaningful to celebrate this memorial the Monday after Pentecost. It was at Pentecost when the church was born when the strong driving wind filled the house in which the apostles were praying with Mary. (see Acts 1:14) The link between the vitality of the church at Pentecost and Mary’s maternal care for this community of disciples is evident. Since that moment, the church has honored Mary as mother of the disciples, mother of the faithful, mother of the believers, mother of those who are born again in Christ, and certainly, Mother of the Church. We can even find this title in the magisterial writings of the Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII. Yet it was not until 1964, at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, that Blessed Pope Paul VI declared that the Mother of God should be further honored using the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.

For the church, May is the month of Mary. The new liturgical celebration of the ecclesial maternity of Mary will give both to this month and to the spirituality of the church an even stronger Marian weight. The Mother of God is the Mother of the Church! The Mother of Jesus is our Mmother! Blessed be forever her Son, Jesus Christ.

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Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - Mayo 2018

Mauricio I. Pérez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is