Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January 1st - Honoring Mary, the Mother of God

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a Holy Day of Obligation

January 1st is much more than a new calendar page and a day off from work. On this day, the Church remembers and celebrates Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The celebration of a feast honoring Mary’s maternity of the Divine Jesus Christ dates back as far as the 5th century, and was celebrated in many cases just before or after Christmas. The feast has been celebrated on different days in the East and West; prior to Vatican II, the Latin Rite Church celebrated the feast of the Maternity of Mary on October 11th.

In 1974, Pope Paul VI restored the feast to being a part of the Christmas season by fixing the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to January 1st:

“On the Solemnity of the Birth of Christ the Church both adores the Savior and venerates His glorious Mother. On the Epiphany, when she celebrates the universal call to salvation, the Church contemplates the Blessed Virgin, the true Seat of Wisdom and true Mother of the King, who presents to the Wise Men, for their adoration, the Redeemer of all peoples. On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (the Sunday within the octave of Christmas) the Church meditates with profound reverence upon the holy life led in the house at Nazareth by Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, Mary His Mother, and Joseph the just man.

In the revised ordering of the Christmas season it seems to us that we should all direct attention towards the restored Solemnity of Mary the holy Mother of God. This celebration, placed on January 1 in conformity with the ancient indication of the liturgy of the City of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the "holy Mother...through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life."

It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels, and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year's Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace.”
 
     -Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 1974