Today the Church celebrates, only for the fourth time, the Memorial of Mary the Mother of the Church. In 2018, as he announced this addition to the liturgical calendar Pope Francis wrote that he wished to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in its pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety”.
The title of ‘Mother of the Church’ is very ancient (it goes back at least to the fourth century), but it was forgotten for many years. However, this beautiful title was revived around the time of the Second Vatican Council, as the bishops sought to give a clear teaching on what the Church is.
When we think of the Church sometimes we will think first of the Church as an institution with schools, universities, offices and administration. But first and foremost of course the Church is us Christians. So the Council wrote a document (Lumen Gentium) which reflected on how the Church is made up of lay people, of religious, of ordained ministers, all of whom are journeying together as they follow there vocation to be saints.
In the words of Saint Pope Paul XVI “the Church is not an institution, but a people… Mary is the Mother of us, the Church.”
At the foot of the cross, the Beloved Disciple (Saint John) represents all of us when Jesus entrusts him to his Holy Mother. From that moment, Mary was not just the Mother of God, but the Mother of all Christians. As such, we venerate her as the Mother of the Church.
Mary is truly our Mother, and she loves each one of us with a mothers heart.
She dwells now in the glory of heaven, and it is from heaven that she continues to accompany us with maternal love. She cares for us as a mother cares for her children, watching over our ever step and interceding for us. Today we celebrate the gift that is our Heavenly Mother.
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!