In accordance with the will of Pope Francis, the memory of Mary Mother of the Church is now obligatory for the entire Roman Rite Church on the Monday after Pentecost.
In the decree Ecclesia Mater of the Congregation for Divine Worship published on February 11, 2018, the day of the 160th anniversary of Mary’s first apparition to Bernadette in Lourdes, the pope inscribed in the Roman calendar a day of obligatory memory in homage to Mary , “Mother of the Church”, that day. Christians throughout the world are therefore called to participate in the celebration dedicated to her and to pray to her.
During the first celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, on May 21, 2018, Francis gives the meaning of this feast: “In the Gospels, whenever we speak of Mary, we speak of the “ Mother of the Church”” (Jn 19, 25-34). And if “even in the Annunciation, we do not pronounce the term ‘mother’, the context is that of motherhood: the mother of Jesus” “This attitude of mother accompanies her work throughout the life of Jesus: she is a mother,” he insists. So much so that, “in the end, Jesus gives her as a mother to his own, in the person of John: ‘I am leaving, but here is your mother’”. This, then, is “the motherhood of Mary”.
The culmination of a long tradition
Pope Francis is not the first to attach himself to the very ancient figure of Mary as Mother of the Church. In the 5th century, Saint Augustine and Pope Leo the Great already affirmed that, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is also the mother of the Church.
In the 20th century, in the Apostolic Constitution Lumen Gentium, published on November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI solemnly recognized the Blessed Virgin Mary “Mother of the Church, that is to say Mother of all Christian people, both of the faithful than of pastors, who call her most lovable Mother” (LG 53).
The title of “Mother of the Church” is explained in detail in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The role of Mary towards the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ, it flows directly from it”, we read in from article 963.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is in prayer with the Apostles in the Upper Room (Acts 1:13-14), awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit which marks the birth of the Church. Celebrating Mary, Mother of the Church, on Pentecost Monday, the day on which ordinary time resumes in the liturgy, means that the Church, born of the Holy Spirit in the presence of Mary, is also led and accompanied in history by Her presence.
This liturgical novelty introduced by Pope Francis underlines the close bond between each baptized person, the whole Church and the Mother of the Lord. This is the meaning of the preface to this day of memory of Mary, Mother of God: “When we celebrate the Virgin Mary, it is to you that our praises are addressed. By welcoming your Word in an immaculate heart, she deserved to conceive him in her virgin womb. By giving birth to her Creator, she was already watching over the beginnings of the Church. By receiving at the foot of the cross the testament of the God of love, she welcomed as her sons all men whom the death of Christ gave birth to divine life. When the Apostles were waiting for the Spirit you had promised, she joined her supplication to that of the disciples, thus becoming the model of the Church in prayer. Raised in the glory of heaven, she accompanies and protects with her maternal love the Church on her way to her homeland until the day when the Lord comes in his glory. »