This is the Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snow (St. Mary Major). Here is Saint Mary Major, from last November, looking out from the church and upwards.
The Catholic calendar is filled with wonderful feast days, like the one today! From a discourse by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop:
Justly, then, do we celebrate this mystery since it signifies for us a double grace. We are led toward the truth, and we are led away from our condition of slavery to the letter of the law. How can this be? Darkness yields before the coming of the light, and grace exchanges legalism for freedom. But midway between the two stands today’s mystery, at the frontier where types and symbols give way to reality, and the old is replaced by the new. Therefore, let all creation sing and dance and unite to make worthy contribution to the celebration of this day. Let there be one common festival for saints in heaven and men on earth. Let everything, mundane things and those above, join in festive celebration. Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.
Happy New Year to all! Let’s start the year with some happy and beautiful things.
1. This is the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, and Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Get your liturgical calendar for 2014 (for the United States) from the USCCB, linked here.
2. Did you know that the title of Mary as Theotokos, God-bearer, goes back to about 60 AD? There is also an ancient and beautiful hymn, We Fly to thy Protection, or Sub Tuum Praesidium, that goes back to about 250 and includes the Theotokos title.
3. There are so many wonderful depictions of Mary in art. There is also a legend that Luke was an artist and painted a portrait of Our Lady. Here is a discussion of this story and some icons and paintings associated with it.
“Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice he has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels” (Is 61:10).
Photo taken on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2012, Saint Benedict Catholic Church, Richmond, VA.
See this wonderful reflection by Father Mark at Vultus Christi: