Editor’s note: Pope Francis announced in March 2018 his decision to add “Mary, Mother of the Church” as an optional memorial to the Monday after Pentecost (June 10 in 2019). Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said upon the announcement of the new observance that Pope Francis wishes to “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.’” In the Divine Office, proper texts for this liturgical observance will be translated and included in the second edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. An unofficial translation of the second reading from the Office of Readings, taken from Pope Paul VI’s address at the close of the Second Vatican Council’s Third Session on November 21, 1964, is provided here courtesy of EWTN website.
“Mother Of The Church”
Therefore, for the glory of the Virgin Mary and for Our own consolation, We proclaim the Most Blessed Mary Mother of the Church, that is to say of all the people of God, of the faithful as well as of the Pastors, who call her the most loving Mother. And We wish that the Mother of God should be still more honored and invoked by the entire Christian people by this most sweet title.
This is a title, Venerable Brothers, not new to Christian piety; it is precisely by this title, in preference to all others, that the faithful and the Church address Mary. It truly is part of the genuine substance of devotion to Mary, finding its justification in the very dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
Basis: Divine Maternity
Just as, in fact, the Divine Maternity is the basis for her special relationship with Christ, and for her presence in the economy of salvation brought about by Jesus Christ, thus it also constitutes the principal basis for the relations between Mary and the Church, since she is the mother of Him Who, right from the time of His Incarnation in her virginal bosom, joined to Himself as head of His Mystical Body which is the Church.
Mary, then, as Mother of Christ, is mother also of all the faithful and of all the Pastors.
It is therefore with a soul full of trust and filial love that We raise Our glance to her, despite Our unworthiness and weakness. She, who has given Us in Jesus the fountainhead of grace, will not fail to succor the Church, now flourishing through the abundance of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and setting herself with new zeal to the fulfillment of its mission of salvation.
Yet Close To Us
And Our trust is even more lively and fully corroborated if We consider the very close links between this heavenly Mother of Ours and mankind. Although adorned by God with the riches of admirable prerogatives, to make her a worthy Mother of the Word Incarnate, she is nevertheless very close to us.
Daughter of Adam, like ourselves, and therefore our sister through ties of nature, she is, however, the creature who was preserved from Original Sin in view of the merits of the Savior, and who possesses, besides the privileges obtained, the personal virtue of a total and exemplary faith, thus deserving the evangelical praise beata quae credidisti (blessed art thou who believe). In her earthly life, she realized the perfect image of the disciple of Christ, reflected every virtue, and incarnated the evangelical beatitudes proclaimed by Christ. Therefore in her, the entire Church, in its incomparable variety of life and of work, attains the most authentic form of the perfect imitation of Christ.