In the midst of the scandals and accusations, we should recall the great joys and blessings of our Faith, not least the gift of Mary, the sinless Mother of God, co-redemptrix of the human race, whose birthday we celebrate today. This feast, nine months after the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, has its origins likely in Syria-Palestine in the 6th century, sometime after the definitive decree declaring Mary to be Theotokos, the true ‘Bearer of God’, in His human nature, at the Council of Ephesus in 431. We know that Our Lady has her body, now glorified, transcending our notions of ‘space and time’, but a real body it is, still celebrating in some way her earthly birthday some two millennia ago.
Josef Ratzinger in his liturgical works emphasizes the historical, concrete, incarnational dimension of Catholicism and its liturgy. We celebrate with great joy the works of God, as He brings about our salvation within time and history with the free cooperation of His creatures. Anna and Joachim, the parents of Mary, corresponded patiently with the grace of God, and their child even more so, the vessel ‘full of grace’, whose fiat allowed the Saviour of the World to become incarnate with her womb. Like any gentleman, but here, a gentle God, He waited upon her word, as He does to this day.
Hence, our devotion to the Virgin should be great indeed, as the one chosen to be His mother. Offer her some little present, a decade of the Rosary, a Memorare, some good deed done to someone, especially those who need it most, and who knows what surprise you may get.
Like the fictional hobbits, and Bilbo on his ‘eleventy-first birthday’, I am rather confident that Our Lady will give far greater presents than any we could offer her, recalling her Son’s exhortation that it is better to give than receive, and God loves the cheerful giver most.