Happy New Year, Merry Eighth Day of Christmas, and Happy Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God!* There are many feasts celebrating Our Lady, but this one honors her specifically for her motherhood, as Theotokos: “Bearer of God.”
The picture of Mary in today’s gospel is always both an inspiration and an indictment for me. Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19) She’s JUST given birth. In a stable. And all of a sudden a bunch of strangers show up and start giving her messages from Angels about how awesome he is. I feel like I would have MANY things to say about that. But Mary is quiet and reflective.
Twelve years later, after finding the child Jesus in the temple, we are again told that, His mother kept all these things in her heart. (2:51) I have had a kid wander off for a few minutes at the County Fair, and talked about it pretty much the whole drive home.
In all things, I suppose, but especially in my motherhood, I’m quick to talk, and quick to assume, and to momsplain, and to condemn. I’m more likely to keep things in my mouth than in my heart. That’s not the kind of thing that gets a person a solemnity celebrating her as a mother. But a new calendar year is a new beginning, a time to make goals, a time when each of us can decide to focus less on talk and more on reflection.
Also in the spirit of new beginnings, is the tradition of singing or reciting the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus on January 1st. The Church offers a plenary indulgence for it today, pursuant to the usual conditions. You’re going to want to say it later with the family or friends, but let’s go ahead and say it together right now, just in case . . .
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.
*Today is a holy day of obligation in many countries. In the US the obligation is abrogated on years, like this one, when January 1st falls on a Monday.
Best resolution for the year? Listen and reflect.
Kendra Tierney is a forty year old mother of nine and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She's a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is counting down the days until her oldest turns sixteen and can take over some of the driving! Her new book about living the liturgical year in the home is in the editing process. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here.