Mary, Mother of the Church
This year for the very first time we will be celebrating a new memorial that has been added to the Church calendar:
Mary, Mother of the Church
This addition to the calendar by Pope Francis in March of this year will be celebrated every year on the first Monday after Pentecost (the resumption of Ordinary Time after the Easter season). Daily Mass for the memorial will have it own proper readings and prayers from the votive Mass for
Our Lady, Mother of the Church
. It will make things a little challenging for priests and readers as these are not incorporated directly for this memorial in the Roman Missal and Lectionary, but then "variety is the spice of life!"
Why has the Holy Father decided to add this obligatory memorial (that
mean that it's a holyday of obligation; it means that, lacking a serious reason otherwise, it must be observed for celebration of Mass that day) to the Church liturgical calendar? One of the formal titles for the Blessed Mary has been "Mother of the Church" since formally bestowed by Blessed (soon to be Saint) Pope Paul VI in 1964, recognizing her maternal care for the Church and for the faithful believers that had already spanned centuries. Having already been observed in the church calendars of Poland, Argentina, St. Peter's Basilica and some religious orders, this memorial had already set aside the Monday after Pentecost as the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church in these "local" churches. Pope Francis is merely making it a norm for the universal Church.
Honoring Mary as mother of the church on the day after Pentecost highlights for Catholics that Mary was present with the disciples on Pentecost, praying with them as the Holy Spirit descended. The
Catechism of the Catholic Church
(CCC) relates that "Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it" (CCC 964) and that "she is our Mother in the order of grace" (CCC 965). Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect for the Congregation for Worship and the Divine Sacraments, said that Mary, "from the awaiting of the Spirit at Pentecost, has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim church on earth."
This role is reflected in the readings that have been adopted for the Mass of the newly-established universal memorial. The second option for the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles 1:12-24, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Although already "full of grace" from the moment of her conception and brought to fulfillment through her fiat at the Annunciation, Mary's presence at Pentecost shows how closely she is united to the Church from its very beginning (as Pentecost is commonly known as the "birthday of the Church"). That her support is visible at all moments of our lives - the bad as well as the good - is shown in the Gospel reading chosen for the Mass: John 19:25-34. As Jesus hangs from the Cross, he gives his Mother to the apostle John - giving her also to the faithful that would follow, the Church, of which she is both Mother and Queen.
Of course it is always prudent to recognize that, although Mary is revered foremost among the saints and angels, she is
worshipped; that honor belongs to God alone. The predominant place that the Church gives to Mary among the blessed is based upon Scripture (e.g. Luke chapter 1, John chapters 2 and 19 and elsewhere) as well as the examples of Jesus' own respectful deference as a son to his mother. The
reflects this when it says: "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it. No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source." (CCC 970)
Proper Collect for Mary, Mother of the Church:
O God, Father of mercies,
whose Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross,
chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother,
to be our Mother also,
grant, we pray, that with her loving help
your Church may be more fruitful day by day
and, exulting in the holiness of her children,
may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Even while living in the world, the heart of Mary was so filled with motherly tenderness and compassion for men that no-one ever suffered so much for their own pains, as Mary suffered for the pains of her children.
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Video (2 parts, 6 minutes total) -
The Power of the Holy Spirit
For the celebration of Pentecost this Sunday and for our Religious Education students who will soon receive Confirmation but this is also a good, quick refresher for all.
Who is the Holy Spirit? How does the Spirit work in our lives and in the life of the Church? Why is it so important that we know and love him?
For many, the Holy Spirit can be the most difficult Person of the Trinity to think about, making it harder to understand the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. Our first session gives a fresh and inviting perspective about this often neglected and misunderstood Person of the Trinity. After you watch the short videos, consider downloading the attached materials for more information.
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Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, May 18 at 3:00PM