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 Cardinal Rigali on the

Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church

By J. Basil Dannebohm

Special to the Catholic

On March 3, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis made the decision that the Church should celebrate the Blessed Mother in her role as “Mother of the Church” every year on the Monday after Pentecost, as a way to foster Marian piety and the maternal sense of the Church.

The official decree was published in a letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Blessed Pope Paul VI, who earlier this month, the Vatican announced will be canonized a saint later this year.

In an interview with writer J. Basil Dannebohm, His Eminence, Cardinal Justin Rigali, explained the significance of the distinction between a votive Mass and a Memorial.

“A votive Mass is a Mass that is not inscribed in the liturgical calendar of the Church, but which the Church permits to be celebrated  on certain days in honor of a particular mystery of God or the Blessed Virgin or the Angels or Saints,” said Cardinal Rigali. “In the Roman Missal there is a Votive Mass of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, which can be used on various occasions.”

The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been added to the General Roman Calendar, the Roman Missal, and the Liturgy of the Hours.

“What Pope Francis has now given to the Church is a new celebration of Mary, Mother of the Church, to be observed throughout the Church on the Monday after Pentecost,” says His Eminence. “It has the liturgical rank of a Memorial. As such, it is inscribed in the calendar of the Church. It is not a Feast but it is given to the whole Church, and its celebration brings new honor to our Blessed Mother.”

His Eminence noted that observing the memorial on the Monday after Pentecost bears significance.

“This new Memorial is beautifully placed right after the Solemnity of Pentecost and in this way also provokes a reflection on the relationship of the Blessed Virgin to the Holy Spirit,” said Cardinal Rigali.

In his encyclical, “Divinum Illud Munus, Pope Leo XIII mentioned the spousal relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin: “You know well the intimate and wonderful relationship existing between her (The Virgin Mary) and the Holy Spirit, so that she is justly called His Spouse.”

The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, will officially be celebrated for the first time on May 21, 2018.

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