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MEMORIAL OF MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH (Celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday)

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”  And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. – John 19: 25 – 27

A new feast was inserted into the Universal Calendar for the Latin Church last year by Pope Francis, in a decree dated February 11, 2018 – the 160th anniversary of the apparition of Mary at Lourdes. Previously, permission to celebrate a feast of Mary had been extended to Poland and Argentina, as well as St Peter’s Basilica, and several Religious Orders and Congregations.

The title of “Mother of the Church” was famously bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council. The understanding of Mary’s motherhood has developed in the decades following Vatican II, especially as the Church has reflected on the Council’s teaching about Mary in chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium).

The Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church is celebrated on the Monday following Pentecost, highlighting the fact that the Mother of God was praying alongside her spiritual sons, the Twelve Apostles, at the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost. Mary, by virtue of being the mother of Jesus Christ, has always been recognized as the Mother of the Church.

Jesus established this during His Passion. Before He expired on the Cross, Jesus gave His final instructions to Mary and John, elevating the nature of their relationship within the Kingdom of God. He said to Mary, “Woman, behold thy son,” and to St. John the Beloved (who mystically represents all His disciples), “Behold thy mother.”

As pilgrims, we always search for the face of Christ, for Christ himself, and reflect continually on the meaning of our lives, and of what it means to be a pilgrim in this world. As we search, we encounter many that point the way to Him–the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints and many “living stones” of faith–especially Mary, His mother and our mother. We find a deep devotion to Mary, at the heart of many pilgrimages.

The Church today continues to encourage all of us to entrust our lives, our vocation, our ministry, our service to Mary, the mother of Jesus, mother of God, mother of the Church. This title is one by which Mary has been venerated in the Church for many centuries. And in 1964 at a Mass closing the third session of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Paul VI formally recognized her as “Mother of the Church.”

Now, on this day after Pentecost, the whole Church is celebrating for the first time as a universal feast the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This celebration, instituted by Pope Francis in March, incorporates the Gospel reading from Saint John which recounts how as Jesus was dying, he “the disciple he loved” with Mary at the foot of the cross, and the Lord said to him, “Behold your mother” (19:25-34).

Since we regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, it is fitting to celebrate this next day as the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. She was present, abiding in prayer with the Apostles in the Upper Room as they received the Holy Spirit, and it was in fact her “yes” to following God’s will that set in motion our salvation as she became Jesus’ mother, his first and greatest disciple, and our first and greatest example in faith.

On this inaugural universal feast day – which comes about a week after we celebrate Mother’s Day to honor our earthly mothers – we can, like Saint John Paul and also like the young men studying to become priests, remember Mary’s maternal care for our Church and for each of us. Just as she prayed with the Apostles, she prays for us, that we too open our hearts and lives to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and become Jesus’ witnesses to the world.

As Pope Francis says – “Mary is the Mother who gives us her Son Jesus. Mary is the path that guides us to the Heart of Christ, who gave his life for love of us. This is why we love her and venerate her as Mother of the Church.


Interestingly, before this feast was created Pope Francis penned a prayer that was at the end of his encyclical Lumen fidei, released in 2013, an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict XVI.
Here is this prayer, invoking the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.

Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.

Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord! Amen

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2 Prayers

  1. Peter S says:

    Please Mother Mary, In the name of your some Jesus I pray from the pain of loneliness in my heart I pray for your kindness, Sympathy & beg for your divinest of intervention that you will please send an to place me in the heart of someone so special to me. Her Name is “Crystal” she has had a sad hard life & has built a wall. I pray that I can be the one to have her take down that wall & see & feel my true intentions. I want us to build a life together. I have been praying for so long now. I am tired & worn. Please I beg of you to bless me with your help on this day. Also on a side note please bless my friend Kay who had a very disturbing experience from someone she thought she could trust. She is trying to move on but it’s slow & he has not stopped harassing her. All of this in the name of your son Jesus I pray, Thank You, Amen