Navigating the Faith: Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church New Feast Day

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by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, on March 3, 2018, announcing that Pope Francis has added the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, to the universal calendar of the Church. The memorial will be celebrated on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday, which is May 21 this year.

The decree begins:

“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.”

The decree goes on to reference St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great who taught that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. Mary stood at the foot of her Son’s cross as he founded the Church and entrusted its members to her tender care.

The Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII honor Mary with the title “Mother of the Church. At the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Pope Paul VI declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church” on November 21, 1964. A votive Mass in honor of Beata Maria Ecclesiae Matre was added to the Roman Missal in 1975, the Holy Year of Reconciliation. Some countries, dioceses and religious orders already had a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church on their particular calendars.

In adding this memorial to the Roman calendar, Pope Francis hopes this celebration will promote a growth of 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, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.

From the 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”
2-11-2018

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