|Icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos|
It's impossible to define exactly how many Marian feast days the church celebrates. There are three solemnities (really important ones); The Immaculate Conception (December 8), Mary Mother of God (January 1) and The Assumption (August 15). Then there are a whole host of lesser feast days such as today, and an immeasurable amount of memorials which often are only celebrated in certain regions or by certain groups (often when the BVM has appeared or worked a miracle in a certain area). So why all of this emphasis on celebrating the Virgin?
Firstly we should ask, what has Mary's role been in salvation history? I have been told many times by protestants that 'Mary didn't die for me'. It's True (at this point I usually don't mention the Catholic dogma that at the end of her earthly life she was assumed body and soul into Heaven). But having admitted that she is not our saviour, we must also be honest that she has like many people (the Apostles, Moses, the Prophets, Adam and Eve...) played a role in salvation history, and not only that - but the most important one! In the second century the Bishop of Lyon, St Irenaeus said
' ...Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race'.
|Amongst the singular graces |
granted by God to the
Blessed Virgin was her
bodily assumption into Heaven
So it is our duty and a joy to venerate her, the New Eve, the co-redeemer par excellence, and today is an opportunity to do so by giving her a gift of thanks for her role in salvation history on this day that we remember her birth. Stuck for a gift?
- Light a candle or buy some flowers - next time you go to church light a candle or take some flowers to the Lady Chapel and give a real physical gift.
- Pray the rosary - Our Lady gave the Rosary to St Dominic and attached to it many promises not only for those who recite it, but also for the whole world. In many of the apparitions which have taken place since, Our Lady has stressed the importance of this prayer, and even instructed us to 'pray the rosary every day' in Fatima. Give it a go today. Click here for more info.
- Put an image or statue of the Blessed Virgin up in your home - In you bedroom, living room, garden, office... it doesn't matter where, but you can honour Our Lady by this simple action, but remember it should always be united to prayer.
- Wear a miraculous medal - Our lady asked St Catherine Labour to cast this medal as a sign of her role as the Mediatrix of many graces and promised many graces too to those who devoutly wear one. Many miracles have been attributed to wearing the miraculous medal, however it should be remembered that the medal is neither magical or superstitious, but a sign of the devotion of the wearer.
- Wear a brown scapular - Like the miraculous medal, the Brown Scapular was another gift of Our Lady, this time to St Simon Stock (an English man) in the thirteenth century. This time however the wearer is granted a pledge of salvation, you can find out more about this and the miraculous medal here.
- Say a prayer of consecration - this is a big subject explained very well here.
- Read The Glories of Mary by St Alphonsus Liguori - apparently this is a fantastic work, I say apparently as I havn't read it myself. I guess this can be one of my presents! an Amazon link