Today, in the Catholic Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. What are my thoughts? Maybe some of my readers do not know what a “solemnity” is. Let’s start with that. A solemnity is the most significant category of specialized celebrations. The others are “feast,” “memorial,” and “ferial.” All four have to do with the readings and prayers at Mass on that day. The opening phrase at Mass tells us what it is on a given day. “Today we celebrate the solemnity (or feast, or memorial, etc.) of ________. Solemnities are the most significant while the others are less significant. Examples of feasts are the Transfiguration (August 6) and the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1). Memorials are days designated to honor certain saints, such as St. Dominic (August 8) and St. Mary Magdalene (July 22). The ferials are the other days, sometimes to honor a saint, while sometimes to honor nothing in particular.
What I am really thinking about today, though, are all the ways we honor the Blessed Mother with particular days and why. Besides today’s reference to Mary, the Mother of God, we have the Assumption (August 15), the Immaculate Conception (December 8), the Annunciation (March 25), and many others throughout the year. No other saint receives so much attention. She is the primary female saint (or saint of either gender) in the Catholic Church. I fear that this fact is ignored in several ways. First is among those who feel that there are too few women in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the fact that women are unable to be ordained priests. They feel that this is unfair particularly in the modern world where many women hold positions of power in the secular world. Well, next to Jesus, I maintain that there is no male who holds a position of power or honor equal to or exceeding that of the Blessed Mother! This fact seems to be lost on those who would argue for greater roles for women in the Church. Secondly, some Christians object to honoring Mary at all, evidenced by the fact that she receives almost no attention (let alone honor) in other Christian denominations. These denominations often claim that Catholics worship her, and worship should be reserved for God alone. The Catholic Church responds saying that we do not worship her, but simply honor her (in many ways) for the role she has played in salvation history. Any Catholic that worships her is doing so in error. I feel that it is not right to ignore her while giving more attention to male saints by, for example, naming church structures after St. Paul, St. Mark, or St. Luke, and other biblical saints.
I don’t usually voice my opinion on politically sensitive matters, but today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and I just thought what my thoughts are on the matter should be expressed. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Amen.
The picture is of a statue of the Blessed Mother found on the grounds of the Trinity Heights Center in Sioux City, Iowa.