8 September: Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast day commemorates the birth day of Mary. There are only three birthdays on the liturgical calendar: Mary, Jesus, and John the Baptist. Usually, it is the custom to celebrate the feast day of a saint on the date of their death as that marks their “birth” into everlasting life. Mary, however, entered the world sinless (known as the “Immaculate Conception”). Mary is called the firstborn of the redeemed and her nativity is “the hope of the entire world and the dawn of salvation” (Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus). Mary’s birth is not recorded in scripture but is found in the Protevangelium of James, an apocryphal writing from the 2nd century. The liturgical celebration of this feast has a joyous theme of light: the world that had been shadowed in the darkness of sin sees a glimmer of light with the arrival of Mary. Through Mary comes Christ, the Light of the World. Mary has a pivotal role in salvation history and her nativity is cause for joyful celebration. Today and every day, let us call upon the Blessed Mother as “Cause of our joy”, one of the beautiful titles in her litany.
“Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to all the world. For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice, Christ our God. Destroying the curse, He gave blessing; and damning death, He bestowed on us life everlasting. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
(from The Divine Office – Matins (Morning Prayer))
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Have a birthday party for Mary! Birthdays don’t need special explanations for children. Let them decorate the house with leftover party supplies in honor of their heavenly mother. Blue is an especially fitting color for this day (it is symbolic of Mary’s blue mantle).
- Ask children to think of a birthday “gift” they can give to Mary: a prayer; an act of mercy; a small sacrifice; a virtue to work on; a handful of wildflowers to adorn a Marian statue; etc.
- Make a blue and white cupcake rosary (a “rosary” made out of cupcakes, mini cupcakes, or cookies. Idea here. Sing “happy birthday” to Mary before enjoying this special dessert! A simple white cake symbolizing Mary’s purity is also perfect for this feast day.
- Eat blueberries today: blueberry muffins or pancakes, blueberry pie or simply fresh blueberries.
- Consider purchasing a Marian statue for your home. Creating a Marian garden in your yard is another beautiful way to honor Our Lady.
- Learn a Marian hymn. Ideas: Ave Maria, Salve Regina, Immaculate Mary and Hail, Holy Queen.
Pray a rosary – that’s the best way to say “happy birthday” to your heavenly mother!