Friday, July 29, 2011

The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord

St. Mary with Jesus

     The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of our Lord, is celebrated on August 15th (see p. 26 in your Book of Common Prayer. St. Peter's, will celebrate be celebrating this feast on Sunday, August 14th, 2011. 

     In the Anglican tradition, Sundays are always a feast of the Resurrection, a "little Easter", regardless of the liturgical season. And it has been the Anglican emphasis not to interrupt the Sunday celebration of the Resurrection by celebrating saints' feasts. The notable exception to this norm has been the celebration of a patron saint's feast day (for us the Feast of St. Peter & St. Paul, and the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter). To celebrate the feast of St. Mary the Virgin, pushes us a bit beyond our norm, but not by much. 

     The early Church celebrated St. Mary, not only the Mother of Jesus-God, but also the mother of the Church. She was the first to receive Christ as Messiah, the first Christian, and in her words and example we find the basic response of Christians to Christ ("Let it be with me according to your Word [, O God]", "Do whatever [Jesus] tells you," following Jesus to the Cross, etc.). It was the later medieval hierarchical emphasis and fear of God's wrath that made Mary the go-between/intermediary for us and Christ, which is an idea Protestants (and others) protest against.

     Because of her relationship to us and to Christ and because of Mary's testimony to the Gospel, it is fitting that the Church continue to celebrate her life and witness. (I am fond of pointing out that growing up I was encouraged to celebrate George Washington, our first president, more than St. Mary, our mother and the first Christian. And I think that ought not to be so!) It is also fitting that since we have a male patron saint, Peter, we should also demonstrate an equal emphasis on feminine holiness in our observances, if not for ourselves, then for our youth and little ones. And thus, I look forward to learning more and celebrating with you our spiritual mother and the Mother of our Lord, St. Mary, First Disciple, Mother of the Faith, and God-bearer. 

The Readings and Collect for the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin:

Some background on celebrating St. Mary in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition:
Wikipedia article - especially the section "Joint Anglican-Roman Catholic Document" 

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