09 Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

posted May 23, 2018, 10:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 23, 2018, 10:18 AM ]
May 21, 2018 marked the first celebration of the Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, instituted early this year by Pope Francis. The announcement came in a decree issued March 3, 2018 by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

“The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on His nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church,” according to the decree.

“This celebration will help us to remember 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, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.”

On March 27, 2018, the same Congregation clarified that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, must be celebrated by everyone, beginning this year.

The Notification from the Church’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments clarified that the new Obligatory Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, must be celebrated in the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, beginning 2018. The new feast is to be observed on the Monday following Pentecost.

Because Pentecost is a movable feast, tied to the notification, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation, notes that an exception still exists, in accordance with the rubrics in the Roman Missal: “… it is possible that the new Memorial could coincide with another Memorial of a Saint or Blessed; and when this happens, the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, will take precedence.”

The new feast was inserted into the Universal Calendar for the Latin Church earlier this year by Pope Francis, in a decree dated February 11, 2018 – the 160th anniversary of the apparition of Mary at Lourdes. Previously, permission to celebrate a feast of Mary had been extended to Poland and Argentina, as well as St Peter’s Basilica, and several Religious Orders and Congregations.

The title of “Mother of the Church” was famously bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council. The understanding of Mary’s motherhood has developed in the decades following Vatican II, especially as the Church has reflected on the Council’s teaching about Mary in chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium).