Thursday, January 1, 2009

Maria Mater Dei

To-day is the Octave Day of Christmas; the oldest sources relate that in Rome this was once held as a fast-day in detestation of idol-worship, but was soon solemnized as the eighth day of the Yuletide solemnities.  The Office for this day apparently stems from the Christmas Office as celebrated, not at St Peter's, but at St Mary Major's; as it has a more Marian orientation, while still celebrating the inexpressible joys of Our Saviour's birth, in the modern Roman Rite it has been renamed the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, thus happily taking over the thought of the feast thereof held on the 11th October from 1931 until the postconciliar reforms.  Viewing this celebration from another angle, being the eighth day after His Birth it is also called the Feast of the Circumcision (St Luke ii, 21 - the very short Gospel read at to-day's traditional Mass), recalling how Our Lord, was born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem those subject to the Law and enable us to receive the adoption of sons (Galatians iv, 4-5).

(Icon of the Mother of God, Health of the Roman People, in the Borghese chapel at St Mary Major, Rome.)

 St Elizabeth acknowledged her "the Mother of my Lord" (St Luke i, 43); how wonderful is this great title of the Blessed Virgin - to be Mater Dei, to be Theotokos

No more intimate relationship to God can be conceived.  In Suarez' immortal phrase, "She touched the hem of the Divinity". 

Hail, Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
(St Luke i, 28)

Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
(St Luke i, 42)

Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

The Traditional Collect of this splendid feast is also that used with the Marian anthem Alma Redemptoris Mater from Christmas until the Presentation of the Lord:

Deus, qui salutis æternæ, beatæ Mariæ virginitate fœcunda, humano generi præmia præstitisti: tribue, quæsumus; ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus auctorem vitæ suscipere, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: Qui tecum vivit...

(God, Who didst grant unto the human race the reward of eternal salvation through the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, grant, we beg, that we may feel her to intercede for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the Author of life, Our Lord Jesus Christ: Who with Thee liveth...)

(More about New Year, to-day's feast(s) and so forth can be found at my post for the 1st of January 2008.)

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