By Cian Molloy - 05 March, 2018
This year, the Church will have a new liturgical celebration in honour of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church, on Monday 21 May, the day immediately following Pentecost Sunday.
In 1964 Pope Paul VI announced that Our Lady was ‘Mother of the Church’. Eleven years later, during the Holy Year of Reconciliation of 1975, he added a votive Mass in honour of Beatae Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris (Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church), into the Roman Missal.
Now Pope Francis has decreed that this votive Mass be celebrated annually on the Monday after Pentecost.
The decree was released by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on Saturday and its prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah, said the development took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.
The decree notes that both Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ, and the Cardinal said that the new celebration will “remind all Christ’s disciples that, if we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God”.
Cardinal Sarah said that the move takes into account “the importance of the mystery of Mary’s spiritual motherhood, which from the awaiting of the Spirit at Pentecost has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim Church on earth”.
The hope, Cardinal Sarah concluded, is that the celebration of Mary as Mother of the Church “will remind all Christ’s disciples that, if we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God”.
Official liturgical texts for the celebration have been published by the Congregation for Divine Worship, and translations of these are to be prepared and approved by local Bishops’ Conferences, with the Congregation for Divine Worship having the final say in the texts to be used on the day.
The new liturgical celebration will be greeted with particular joy in Castleknock in Dublin, as the parish there is dedicated to Our Lady Mother of the Church. Within the Castleknock church, which was opened in 1983, there is a shrine to Our Lady, Mother of the Church. That shrine contains a copy of an ancient fresco of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, which is to be found in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.