Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

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Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church—Memorial

Celebrated the Monday after Pentecost

Liturgical Color: White
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Quote:
Indeed, the Mother standing beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit. Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as ministers of his love towards his Mother, entrusting her to them so that they might welcome her with filial affection. ~From the Decree of the Congregation of Divine Worship adding the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church to the General Roman Calendar

Reflection: Little is said about the most glorious Mother of God in the Scriptures. In many ways, she lived a quiet and hidden life. Since her Assumption into Heaven, the Church has prayerfully pondered her life and role in the mystery of salvation. Little by little, saint after saint and pope after pope have shed greater light upon her singularly unique and glorious role in the Father’s eternal plan. As the Church’s understanding of the Blessed Mother has deepened, new titles and new dogmas have been proclaimed about Mary. In 2018, a new liturgical memorial honored her with the title “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”

To understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role as Mother of the Church, we need to begin with Scripture. As Jesus hung on the Cross, John’s Gospel records that the mother of Jesus and two other women stood before Him, alongside John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted His mother to John’s care. “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).

In 1895, in his encyclical on the rosary, Pope Leo XIII wrote about that Gospel passage:

Now in John, as the Church has constantly taught, Christ designated the whole human race, and in the first rank are they who are joined with Him by faith…She was, in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the Teacher and Queen of the Apostles, to whom, besides, she confided no small part of the divine mysteries which she kept in her heart” (Adiutricem #6).

In 1964, Pope Saint Paul VI promulgated the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). After presenting a complete picture of the mystery of the Church, the final chapter of that constitution presents “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.” That chapter highlights her singularly unique and maternal role within the Church. Lumen Gentium did not go so far as to ascribe the title “Mother of the Church” to the Blessed Mother, but it did go into great detail about her maternal role within the Church. Four years later, in a motu proprio letter, Pope Paul VI referenced Lumen Gentium and took it a step further by bestowing upon the Mother of God the title “Mother of the Church.”

…we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed (Solemni Hac Liturgia #15).

Since that time, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have continually referred to the Mother of God as the Mother of the Church. What does the title “Mother of the Church” mean? On September 17, 1997, Pope John Paul II defined it this way in a Wednesday catechesis:

The title “Mother of the Church” thus reflects the deep conviction of the Christian faithful, who see in Mary not only the mother of the person of Christ, but also of the faithful. She who is recognized as mother of salvation, life and grace, mother of the saved and mother of the living, is rightly proclaimed Mother of the Church. (#5).

On March 3, 2018, Pope Francis announced that a new memorial would be added to the General Roman Calendar and celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday, entitled “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”

In the decree instituting this memorial, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said:

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.

It is significant that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was entrusted to the Church in the person of Saint John the Apostle at the foot of the Cross. From the Cross, the Church was conceived by the outpouring of grace that flowed from Jesus’ Sacred Heart. At Pentecost, our Blessed Mother was present as the Church was born.

Today, the Mother of the Church reigns in Heaven next to her Son; from there, she continues to nurture the Church as a loving mother. She not only intercedes for us but also mediates her Son’s saving grace, making her the ongoing instrument of grace and mother of all.

Because our understanding of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary has continually unfolded over the centuries, it is fair to say that we do not yet fully understand her glorious role in the Father’s plan of salvation. Some have proposed that she be given the dogmatic titles “Mediatrix of All Grace” and “Co-Redemptrix.” Regardless of what comes next in our ever deepening understanding of the role of the Blessed Mother, we can be certain that those who one day gaze upon the essence of God Himself as he reveals all truth will immediately become aware of the most profound mysteries of Mary’s hidden life.

As we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, know that she is your spiritual mother insofar as you are a member of Christ’s Body, the Church. By giving birth to the Head, she gives birth to the members. As members of that Body, it is essential that we seek spiritual nourishment from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is our mother and queen. From her, we are born into God’s grace. She is the chosen instrument and mediatrix of grace. Rely upon her motherly intercession and mediation, and entrust yourself more fully to her care.

Most glorious Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you I entrust myself just as Jesus entrusted John to your care. Receive me as your spiritual child, and nurture me with your Son’s divine grace. Thank you for your “Yes” to the Father’s plan, for your life, and for your continuous “Yes” through time and eternity. May my “Yes” echo yours as I surrender fully to God’s plan. Mother Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

Reflection taken from:

Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Volumes One–Four


Further Reading:

Decree instituting the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Vatican News

Catholic Saints & Feasts

National Catholic Register

Catholic News Agency

Commentary

Opus Dei

Catholic Culture

Wikipedia

Other Papal teachings on the “Mother of the Church”

Pope John Paul II

Pope Paul VI

Lumen Gentium

Pope Leo XIII

All Saints for the Liturgical Year

Saints A–Z>>>


CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS

DECREE
ON THE CELEBRATION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH
IN THE GENERAL ROMAN CALENDAR

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.

In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. These considerations derive from the divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer, which culminated at the hour of the cross.

Indeed, the Mother standing beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit. Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as ministers of his love towards his Mother, entrusting her to them so that they might welcome her with filial affection.

As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). In this sense, in the course of the centuries, Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent, such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict xiv and Leo xiii.

Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul vi, on 21 November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles”.

Therefore the Apostolic See on the occasion of the Holy Year of Reconciliation (1975), proposed a votive Mass in honour of Beata Maria Ecclesiæ Matre, which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. The Holy See also granted the faculty to add the invocation of this title in the Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986). Some countries, dioceses and religious families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to their particular calendars.

Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year.

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.

The Memorial therefore is to appear in all Calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of Mass and of the Liturgy of the Hours. The relative liturgical texts are attached to this decree and their translations, prepared and approved by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this Dicastery.

Where the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, is already celebrated on a day with a higher liturgical rank, approved according to the norm of particular law, in the future it may continue to be celebrated in the same way.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 11 February 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.

Cardinal Robert Sarah
Prefect

Arthur Roche
Archbishop Secretary


(Short Version)

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church—Memorial

Celebrated the Monday after Pentecost

The most glorious Mother of God largely lived a quiet and hidden life, and there are but a few stories about her in the Scriptures. Since her Assumption into Heaven, the Church has prayerfully pondered her life and role in the mystery of salvation. Little by little, saint after saint and pope after pope have shed greater light upon her unique and glorious role in the Father’s eternal plan. As our understanding of the Blessed Mother has deepened, the Church has proclaimed new titles and new dogmas about Mary. In 2018, a new liturgical memorial honored her with the title “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”

To understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role as Mother of the Church, we  begin with Scripture. As Jesus hung on the Cross, His mother and two other women stood before Him, alongside John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted His mother to John’s care. “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).

Beginning with Pope Leo XIII in 1895, many of our popes have referred to Mary as the “Mother of the Church,” with each one adding to our understanding of Mary in that role. On September 17, 1997, Pope John Paul II defined “Mother of the Church” in this way in a Wednesday catechesis:

The title “Mother of the Church” thus reflects the deep conviction of the Christian faithful, who see in Mary not only the mother of the person of Christ, but also of the faithful. She who is recognized as mother of salvation, life and grace, mother of the saved and mother of the living, is rightly proclaimed Mother of the Church. (#5).

On March 3, 2018, Pope Francis announced a new memorial on the General Roman Calendar, celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost:  “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”

In the decree instituting this memorial, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said:

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.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was entrusted to the Church in the person of Saint John the Apostle at the foot of the Cross. From the Cross, the Church was conceived by the outpouring of grace that flowed from Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Our Blessed Mother was present at Pentecost as the Church was born.

Today, the Mother of the Church reigns in Heaven next to her Son; from there, she nurtures the Church as a loving mother. She intercedes for us and mediates her Son’s saving grace, making her the ongoing instrument of grace and mother of all.

Most glorious Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you I entrust myself, just as Jesus entrusted John to your care. Receive me as your spiritual child, and nurture me with your Son’s divine grace. May my “Yes” echo yours as I surrender fully to God’s plan. Mother Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

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