By Sr. Kathryne of the Holy Trinity Lopez, HMSS
In 2018, Pope Francis added a feast day in the General Roman Calendar under the title of “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” for the Monday following the solemnity of Pentecost. This year, it falls on Monday, May 24, 2021.
The Church has honored Mary under this title for quite some time. Pope St. Paul VI 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” at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Vatican Council in November 1964. In 1975, a votive Mass under this title was proposed, then in 1980, the invocation of the title was added in the Litany of Loreto with the permission of the Holy See. By 1986, other formularies were published in the ritual book: Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is the Mother of Christ and mother of the members of the Mystical Body, the Church. The Decree given by the Congregation of Divine Worship beautifully explains:
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.
Furthermore, we meet Mary in the Upper Room as our maternal guide when, after her Son’s Ascension, she “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers” and implored the gift of the Spirit who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation. Mary prayed with the apostles and disciples gathered in the Upper Room while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).
With this celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father hopes it encourages “the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and a faithful” as well as a growth in Marian devotion (cf. Decree).
Happy Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church!
By this celebration, may we 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” (cf. Decree).
For more information, see the Decree on the Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar.