Two New Additions to the Liturgical Calendar This Week
Pope Francis has declared a new feast of Our Lady to be linked to the birthday of the Church at Pentecost. The Monday after Pentecost Sunday is now to be celebrated as a Memorial of “Mary Mother of the Church”.
Memorial of “Mary Mother of the Church”:
Earlier this year, a degree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline in the Sacraments formally announced the addition of a new Memorial to the Roman Calendar. The Memorial in honour of ‘Mary, Mother of the Church’ is to fall each year on the Monday after Pentecost. This year the Memorial will be universally celebrated on May 21st. The official prayers and texts have been released in Latin and will be translated and released soon by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The title “Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Virgin in 1964 during the Second Vatican Council by Blessed Pope Paul VI. In a letter published by Cardinal Sarah announcing the addition to the Roman Calendar the Cardinal explains that the Holy Father wishes the celebration to encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and deepen our affection and piety to our Blessed Mother.
Whilst the title was officially given to Our Lady in the 20th century, the Church has long held the Blessed Virgin to be our (the faithful) Mother. St. Augustine referred to Mary as ‘the Mother of the members of Christ’ who co-operated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church. There is no doubt that through the witness of Our Lady as she followed her Son through all of the key moments of his life and subsequent Passion, Death and Resurrection, she inspired the followers in her faith and trust in her Son. The decree also refers to Mary’s role at Calvary as she stood at the foot of the Cross. There she became the Mother of the Church when she: “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.” (The decree)
The decree represents an occasion of great joy for the Church as we reflect upon Our Lady’s maternal care for us. The picture associated with this article depicts Mary, Mother of the Church gently enfolding the faithful within the protection of her mantle. This new feast day represents a wonderful occasion to annually review our own echoing of the maternal discipleship of Our Lady in our own lives. Let us give thanks to Almighty God for such a great gift to the Church.
The Vatican decrees for the establishment of this memorial can be read by clicking the links below:
The Thursday after Pentecost each year will now be celebrated as a Feast entitled “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest”.
The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. In him the Father has been well pleased from before all time. As Mediator between God and human beings, fulfilling his Father’s will, he sacrificed himself once on the altar of the Cross as a saving Victim for the whole world. Thus, instituting the pattern of an everlasting sacrifice, with a brother’s kindness he chose, from among the children of Adam, men to augment the priesthood, so that, from the sacrifice continually renewed in the Church, streams of divine power might flow, whereby a new heaven and a new earth might be made, and throughout the whole universe there would be perfected what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the human heart.
As of 2018 this feast is now Proper to England and Wales.
A full text of the liturgy can be found by clicking on the link below: