The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
We are celebrating the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nine months after the Immaculate Conception. We don’t know much about Mary, even having different traditions about the location – Nazareth or Jerusalem. Tradition holds that her parents were Anne and Joachim, whom we celebrated in late July.
There is much that is not known, and even the scriptural data is slim. But what cannot be disputed is her personal sanctity and her vocation as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. God is no fool. She was chosen for a reason.
Note that the Collect for this day speaks of bringing deeper peace to us. This is a gift that is continuously imparted to us, both by mother and son, Mary and Jesus. No doubt Jesus’ own sense of peace was strengthened by the example of his mother.
Jesus was not witness to the visit of the angel and proclamation of the Magnificat, but he would have seen its spirit lived out through her time of raising him and standing at the foot of the cross, with his friends.
We sometimes make Mary out to be extraordinary. She was, of course. But what appeals to most of us is her ordinariness and approachability and maternal care. She is an historical woman who is the subject of countless writings, pieces of art (both beautiful and tacky), music, and the inspiration for many religious communities of woman and men. She appeals as much to the impoverished as to the mighty.
A friend lent me a copy of Our Lady of the Lost and Found, by Canadian novelist Diane Schoemperlen. It was published in 2001 and won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. It basically deals with a middle-aged writer who hosts the Virgin Mary for one week.
Mary explains that after 2,000 years of petition, adoration, and travel, she is tired and needs some time off. The novel has been described as profound and original, extraordinary and illuminating.
As a Catholic with a devotion to Our Lady, I can attest that it is reverent. If anything, it heightens my appreciation of Mary and her profound role in the history of women and men of faith. It has been a boost to my faith.
Here is the description from the dustjacket:
This is a magical tale in which Mary becomes much more than an icon. She becomes a kind and thoughtful and funny friend, a woman we can understand, not just one who is revered. As their time together unfolds and their wonderful friendship develops, the narrator learns the remarkable history of one of the most influential and complex women of all time. Along the way, she is propelled into a vibrant examination of life’s big questions and begins to discover her own capacity for faith.
Let’s take a quiet moment today to give thanks for Mary and her special place in the hearts of all believers and in the heart of the Church.