Celebrating Mary’s Birthday

by Paulette Martin, OSSM

One of the first articles of our rule of life to grab my heart was #29, the directive to celebrate principal Marian feasts as family occasions. What more fitting family celebration than a mother’s birthday? We anticipate it, we plan, we invite others, we have a grand meal, and later we can remember it warmly. Anticipating our Holy Mother’s birthday, I like to preview the missal and the liturgy of the hours, savoring some of the readings, antiphons, responses, and intercessions at leisure and with the attention not always possible during actual communal prayer. Just as preparations for any family celebration enhance the enjoyment of the actual event, so these meditations deepen the joy and fervor of our liturgical participation on her day.
  • “He whom the world could not contain was sheltered in her womb”
  • “For of her is born the Son of Justice Christ our God”
  • “Truly you are the most favored of women; where Eve brought a curse,you have brought a blessing.”
The gifts that Eve had lost, God restores in Mary. I offer you two visuals easily brought up on your computer, Masaccio’s “Expulsion of Adam and Eve” and Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.” In the face of Masaccio’s Eve is all the agony of realization, loss, and shame. In Michelangelo we see the powerful forefinger of God reaching to animate Adam, while his almighty left arm embraces proprietorially a beautiful woman and Their Son. In the loving wisdom of His eternal now, Mary is present. And so we go to her birthday banquet singing “Hail Holy Mother”, as has been done since the 8th century.  We bring gifts to her of our love for her Son, our love and gratitude to her, our pledge as their servants. We take part in the sacred meal, joyfully receiving, because of her, the Son of Justice, Christ our God.  
Since 1245 our friars, and therefore we, ourselves, have been exhorted by St.Augustine to be “one in mind and heart on the way to God,” and our rule of life reminds us often to live with the “abiding inspiration of Mary.” These two messages contain the essence of the servants’ way. The following intercession is found in the office of readings, “Make your Church of one mind and one heart of love–And help all those who believe to be one in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus.  
     ALLELUIA! Hail Holy Mother!!! Happy Birthday !!! ALLELUIA!
. . . and do not forget the cake and ice cream . . .
Submitted by, Paulette Martin, OSSM, National Assistant Prioress, 2019