In a possible answer to why Pope Francis recently received Cardinal Sarah in audience, it was announced today that the Congregation for Divine Worship, with the approval of Pope Francis, has added a new memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary added to the calendar. The memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, will be kept on the Monday after Pentecost.
The Blessed Virgin Mary was present at the first Pentecost. It is recorded at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles that, after the Ascension, the following went to the upper room:
“…Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Then, after a successor to Judas was selected, the Holy Spirit came down upon those gathered.
In 1964, near the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI formally declared Mary the “Mother of the Church.”
The decree issued today is dated Feb. 11, the memorial for the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes. It says in part:
“Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year.”
The new memorial will appear in all calendars and liturgical books of the Roman rite around the world. There are three ranks of celebrations in the Roman calendar: solemnities, feasts, and memorials. The latter may be optional or, as in the case of today’s new memorial, obligatory.
The liturgical texts for the memorial will be translated and approved by episcopal conferences, and then may be published after confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship. Pope Francis recently returned approval of liturgical translations to episcopal confirmations, with Rome simply confirming the conference approval, in accord with the explicit wishes of the Second Vatican Council.
In an accompanying commentary, Cardinal Sarah sounded one of his favorite themes on silence, writing at the conclusion of the commentary:
“The hope is that the extension of this celebration to the whole Church will remind all Christ’s disciples that, if we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God. These are three mysteries that God gave to the world in order to structure, fructify, and sanctify our interior life and lead us to Jesus. These three mysteries are to be contemplated in silence. (cf. R. Sarah, The Power of Silence, n.57).”