Monday, the 21st of May, marked the first celebration of the feast day Mary, Mother of the Church. Pope Francis added this feast to the Roman calendar for the Monday after Pentecost every year.
Pope Francis stated that he hopes this feast will “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”
During his homily, Pope Francis examined the motherliness of Mary as described in the Gospels and how the Church exemplifies motherly characteristics. He states, “she [the Church] is mother; she gives life…And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.”
Pope Francis continued by discussing the tenderness found in Mary and in mothers. He states that, “A Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness. It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion, that knows silence. It is, too, a soul, a person who lives out this way of being a member of the Church, knowing that he or she is like a mother and must go along the same path: a person who is gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.”
This feast day helps us to ponder the unique position that Mary has in the Church. We are called to ask Mary to come to our aide in guiding the Church towards God and His plans and in exemplifying the loving and tender qualities that she possesses.
You can read the official decree of this feast day here, and you can read more about Pope Francis’ homily here.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, pray for us!