Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
Last Day of the Christmas Octave
Welcome to this new blog that is part of Emmanuel magazine! I am honored that our new editor, John Christman, SSS, requested that I share news, reflections and info that is timely on pastoral liturgy and worship. Before we go forward, it might be helpful to remember what we do each year, especially on the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. We, like Mary, ponder in our hearts all that has occurred in the previous year.
From the time of his election we get the sense that Pope Francis has purposely not wanted to delve into the liturgical cultural battles that deflected our attention in the 1990s through 2013. Instead of being overly concerned with things such as how many candles there are on the altar, he has focused the Church’s attention on evangelization and helping the poor.
Having just seen the Netflix movie The Two Popes, we are reminded in the film of the famous quote that was spoken to Pope Francis after his election to the papacy: “do not forget the poor.” Pope Francis has certainly raised our awareness to global crisises that are around us and prophetically pointed to the things we as Church need to do better in order to live the Gospel and witness to our Christian faith.
Interestingly, however, these last two years Pope Francis did formalize a Marian feast and new Marian memorial for the Church. The feast of Mary, Mother of the Church takes place the day after Pentecost. Mary as Our Lady of Loretto, has been elevated to a “memorial.” Our Lady of Loretto is optional, yes, but having us understand its importance on December 10, in the midst of two other Marian feasts, underscores Pope Francis’ belief that Mary is an icon of how we are to be true disciples and witnesses of our faith in the world.
Pope Francis also celebrated in this past year many interfaith events in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Thailand, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. One cannot help but notice that he is practicing what he’s preaching by going to the peripheries of the Church, where there are minimal Christians, let alone Catholics. He’s likewise reaching out as a faith leader to other people of good will and members of differing faith traditions. This has revived an interfaith liturgical spirit that we should pay attention to as we work together for a better world. It gives us pause and causes us to reflect upon how we could pray together with other faith leaders in our own communities.
As things happen in 2020, I hope to use this column to bring you news, information and a bit of humor to assist you in your pastoral work. For over 20 years I have enjoyed contributing to Emmanuel, especially in bringing you commentary on the important rituals of our Roman Rite. With the release of the second edition of the baptism ritual for children, now called Order of Baptism of Children, we have much to look forward to!
Blessings and prayers to you in 2020!