Today, Monday 21st of May marks the celebration of the new feast day proclaimed by Pope Francis, the Feast of “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church”. This feast will forever follow Pentecost Sunday.
In creating this feast Pope Francis wants the church to reach for a “Marian character,” or to become increasingly Mother-like.
That idea of Mary interceding for the Church, as a mother does for her children, is important for Catholics to consider. The key to understanding it, is its placement right after Pentecost. At the time of the original Pentecost, Mary “did what a mother would do – she prayed with and for her children in the upper room”. And at Jesus’s crucifixion, when he publicly announced to the disciple John, “behold your mother” about Mary. John, symbolises all of us, the Church.
Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.
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.
Fr. Bill McNichols has written the very beautiful icon which accompanies this text, for this Feast Day. See link HERE here to his meditation on this, where he says:
“At this point we need to recall von Balthasar’s own admonition, not to reduce consideration of Mary’s role to devotional piety. She has a social-ecclesial personality. Accordingly, while from the world’s point of view the Woman remains u-topian and without ‘form,’ something of her invisible form is discernible in her genuine children. In them the invisible realities become visible.
“Mary continues, as it were, where people become ‘mothers’ of Christ.”
Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for Us.