"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 of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 11 February 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.
This year on Monday, May 21, the day after Pentecost, we will be celebrating the newly added feast day; the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Pope Francis has added this memorial to the Roman calendar to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title as, "Mother of the Church". The title "Mother of the Church" was established for the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council in 1964. He “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’ and established that ‘the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles"according to the decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The feast day will now take place annually on the Monday after Pentecost as an effort 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”.
Although Our Lady was not officially given the title of "Mary, Mother of the Church" until the Second Vatican Council the Church historically has included Marian theology in valued texts and traditions of the Church fathers. Both Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo reflected on the Blessed Virgin's role of being the "Mother of the Church" as she is the Mother of the members of Christ who is the Son of God, which makes her the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church.
Pope Francis, throughout his papacy, has emphasized the importance of having a devotion to Our Lady and how for Christians having a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not something that is being recommended or suggested as being something nice to do or something that is a good thing to do, but it is something necessary in our lives. Pope Francis has said:
“Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life. The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman.”
It is fitting that now we are able to celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of the Church the day after Pentecost. Mary's Divine Motherhood is directly connected to her 'clearly being the mother of the members of Christ' (CCC 964) and after her Son's Ascension, Mary "aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers."506 In her association with the apostles and several women, "we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation."507(CCC 965). As we near the end of Eastertide and move closer and closer to Pentecost I find myself reflecting on those words and pondering the questions; "What was going through Mary's mind after the Ascension as she was praying in the Upper Room with the Apostles," and "How did Mary feel as they became filled with the Holy Spirit"? One word comes to mind, "joy," she must have been feeling an overwhelming amount of "joy" as she was preparing the Apostles to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit; wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord, that would be poured into their hearts. They would be filled with the love of Christ and a peace and reconciliation that would enable them to be able to proclaim the gospel with a conviction that would be spread throughout the world.