Understanding the Feast of Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church

“Mother of the Church” since the IXe century

Where to find the premises of this assertion? Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great, two fathers of the Church, glimpse its outlines. The first says that Mary is “the mother of the members of Christ “. ” The whole community of the faithful was begotten with Christ in the Nativity“, writes the second. “This community of the faithful is none other than the Church which is born from the womb of Mary when her head, Christ»,explains Mgr Dominique Le Tourneau, author of the Mary’s Encyclopedic Dictionary. He also quotes Saint Hilary of Poitiers who, in the IVe century, “emphasizes the link between the birth of Christ from the Virgin Mary and the spiritual genesis of Christians “: ” The Church has its origin in Bethlehem, because it began to exist in Christ » ( Tractatus super Psalmos).

For Saint Ambrose, the Church is born in a mystical way from the womb of the Virgin when she gives birth to the Incarnate Word. “It is rightly said that [Marie] was married and was a virgin, for she was the figure of the Church, which est immaculateborn, but married. The Virgin conceived us spiritually, and the Virgin nous put at mwave without moan » ( De institutione virginis).

The first to use precisely the title of “Mother of the Church”, estimates the prelate, seems to be a certain Bérengaud de Ferrières, Benedictine monk of the IXe century.

Following them, the popes spoke. ” The Catholic Church, instructed by the magistery of the Holy Spirit, always professed the highest devotion andtowards Mary, as Very loving mother, who was left as an inheritance by the very voice of Jesus, her dying husband “, writes Benedict XIV in his bubble Gloriosæ Dominæ in 1748. Then Leo XIII (1878-1903) declared that “ she showed herself truly Mother of the Church and was truly mistress and queen of the Apostles ». In 2009, Benedict XVI himself mentions this title.

It remains to be understood why Whit Monday was chosen. “The choice of this day has biblical roots,explains Father Corrado Maggioni inAvvenire.The Acts of the Apostles tell that the Mother of Jesus is present in the Cenacle, in prayer with the Apostles awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Church of Pentecost, animated by the spirit of the Risen One, advances in time under the considerate maternal guidance of the Virgin.»

This presence of Mary in the Cenacle “bears witness to God’s plan to give him a decisive role in the leadership and sanctification of the Church»,adds Mgr Dominique Le Tourneau. The words of Jesus who, on the cross, gives Mary as mother to the apostle John, also resonate. “The Mother indeed, who was near the cross (jn19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all men, personified by the beloved disciple, as children who must be reborn to divine life, thus becoming the tender mother of the Church whom the Christ generated on the cross, when He returned the Spirit“, writes the decree which establishes the party.

In Rome, a mosaic has been watching over Saint Peter’s Square since 1981. Placed on a facade of the Apostolic Palace, a Virgin and Child wears her blue cloak the title of “Mater Ecclesiae”, “Mother of the Church”. Six months after his attack, John Paul II had him placed in thanksgiving, sure of Mary’s maternal protection. A few decades later, Pope Francis chose for our time this same “provident guide“.

What is a memory requirement?

The Pope did not establish a new Marian feast, but a memory. We call “memory” the degree of liturgical celebration that comes after the solemnity (like the Assumption) and the feast (like the Visitation). Memory can be optional or mandatory. “Mary, Mother of the Church” is an obligatory memorial: in the event of coincidence in the calendar with another memorial of a saint or a blessed, it takes precedence.

The texts of this day were published in annexes of the decree: they areGenesis3, 9-15.20,Acts of the Apostles1, 12-14 andJeans19, 25-34. A future edition of theOrdo lectionum Missaewill indicate that these readings are proper, i.e. they must be adopted in place of the readings of the day.

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Understanding the Feast of Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church

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