Pope institutes new memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church
On Saturday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision that the Church celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as “Mother of the Church” every year on the Monday after Pentecost, as a way to foster Marian piety and the maternal sense of the Church.
The decree establishing the memorial was published March 3 in a letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
As Sarah explained, Pope Francis added the memorial to the Roman Calendar after carefully considering how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.”
“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,” Sarah wrote.
The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been added to the General Roman Calendar, the Roman Missal, and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Latin text has been published, and the translations will be prepared by the bishops’ conferences and approved by the congregation.
A celebration of a memorial generally means that prayers and readings specific to the day’s memorial are used in the Mass.
The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.
In 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, will be celebrated on May 21.
The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.In a decree released on 3 Mar 2018 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.He said the Holy Father wishes to promote this devotion in order to “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.”‘Mother of the Church’ in tradition
The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ.“In fact the former [St Augustine] 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 [St Leo the Great] 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.”The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer.”Scripture, the decree says, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she “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.”