Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to all the world!


 

The Church’s calendar observes the birthdays of only two saints: Saint John the Baptist (June 24), and Mary, Mother of Jesus.

 Today is the birthday of the holy Virgin Mary whose life illumined all the Churches. The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Perhaps because of its close proximity to the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not celebrated today with the same solemnity as the Immaculate Conception. It is, nonetheless, a very important feast, because it prepares the way for the birth of Christ.

The birth of Mary was miraculous. She was conceived without sin as a special grace because God had selected her to become the mother of His Son (the feast of her Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8). The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, though generally believed throughout the Church for many centuries, was formally declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

There is nothing contained in Scripture about the birth of Mary or her parentage, though Joseph’s lineage is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, a book dating from the 2nd Century AD, not part of the authentic canon of Scripture. According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child. According to one tradition, the house in which Mary was born in Nazareth is the same one in which the Annunciation took place.

In many cultures, the birthday of every person merits a celebration. Family and friends gather to wish the “birthday child” many happy returns. There are well-wishing, balloons, cards, cakes, candles, a favorite meal, there are gifts and jests–all the things that say, at least once a year, “You are special, there’s only one of you, we are happy that you exist.” So, it is for the people of God and Mary. In celebrating the nativity of Mary, Christians anticipate the Incarnation and birth of her Divine Son, and give honor to the mother of Our Lord and Savior.

 

Let us honor Mary, especially by imitation of those virtues of hers , which are to us an open book of instruction ; let us have recourse to her , who ,according to the name ‘Star  of the Sea’ with which the Church salutes her ; shines for all who sail upon the dangerous sea of the world. For this reason, Saint Bernard calls out to each one of us:  “Do not take your eyes from the light of this star, if you would not be overwhelmed by the waves; if the storms of temptation arise, if you are thrown upon the rocks of affliction, look to the star, invoke Mary! In dangers, in distress, in doubt, call on Mary.  She will not be far from your mouth, or your heart; and, so that you may obtain her intercession, do not forget to imitate her conduct. When you follow her, you do not go astray; when you invoke her , you are no longer in doubt; when she supports you, you do not fall; when she leads you, you surely come to eternal life and you find , by your own experience , that she is justly called Maria, which means ‘Star of the sea’.”

 

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing;
and damning death, He bestowed on us
life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen of Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

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