On September 8, the Church celebrates the wonderful feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this day, we receive into the arms of our Christian hearts the little baby who is our Blessed Mother. At this feast, God’s masterpiece of human personhood is born for us and we are present at the birth of our own Mother.
There is something special about the birth of a baby, distinct from his beginning to exist in the womb of his mother. When a baby is born, even though he already existed in himself in the womb, he now begins to exist in a new way, in that he is present to the world around him. This is how St. Thomas explains the fact that the Church celebrates the Birth of Christ more solemnly than His Conception. We have something of this logic in the solemnity with which we keep the feast of Mary’s birth from St. Anne.
In one sense, the Church celebrates Mary’s Immaculate Conception with greater solemnity than her Nativity. This makes sense from the perspective that Mary is God’s personal work of art, His special bride, whom He keeps entirely secret and for Himself in the recesses of her ineffable holiness and virginity. Therefore, it is fitting to celebrate with more solemnity who she is in herself rather than who she is for us.
But the Church universal celebrated the Nativity of the Virgin from antiquity, thereby signifying a certain pre-eminence of the feast day even over that of the Immaculate Conception. This pre-eminence is justified because of Our Mother’s unique role in salvation history. She is the Mother of God, Our Savior. She is His masterpiece so that she may be His Mother. She is so magnificent in herself so that she may be so magnificent for us. Therefore, from the perspective of our own salvation, we rejoice even more at her birth than at her conception.
On September 8, we celebrate Mary’s “Christmas.” Let us feel all the joy of Christmas in its proper order reflected in the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the Mother of the Redeemer, New Eve, the Co-redemptrix, the Mediatrix of All Graces! Tomorrow a Mother is born for us, a Lady is given us! Let us love her and imitate her and let her be our true Mother!
Fr. Joseph Previtali