Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Monday, December 31
Mass at 5:30 pm and 7;00 pm (in Spanish)
Tuesday, January 1
Masses at 8:30 am and 10:00 am
Today's solemnity recalls the honoring of Mary as the Mother of God which finds historical roots during the Council of Ephesus in 431. The English title "Mother of God" is a literal translation of the Latin title Mater Dei, which in turn is a looser rendering of the corresponding Greek title Θεοτόκος (Theotokos), literally meaning "Bearer of God" dogmatically adopted by the First Council of Ephesus as an assertion of the divinity of Christ. The title is thus fundamentally Christological rather than Mariological. By the 7th century, January 1st was observed as a celebration of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the 13th century, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ replaced this feast honoring Mary. In 1751, granting a request from Portugal for an official feast day celebrating Mary’s divine maternity, Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal’s churches to celebrate a feast to Mary on the first Sunday in May. By 1914, the feast was established in Portugal for celebration on October 11 and was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931. In 1974, Pope Paul VI placed the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God” back to the first day of the year.
This feast reminds us of the role that the Blessed Virgin played in the plan of our salvation. Through the Holy Spirit, God the Father prepared Mary to be the dwelling place where His Son and His Spirit could dwell among us. Christ’s birth was made possible by Mary’s fiat, or sanctioning of God’s plan with her words, “Be it done to me according to thy word”.
Calling Mary “Mother of God” is the highest honor we can give to her. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the “Prince of Peace”, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God honors Mary as the “Queen of Peace”. New Year’s Day is also designated as the “World Day of Peace”, further acknowledging the role of Mary in our hearts and in our world.