I like to think that today’s feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, and Pentecost are a perfect marriage of Spirit and youth. Today, the Church is young! We just celebrated Pentecost yesterday, and today’s feast was only placed in the calendar by Pope Francis in 2018.
Fifteen years ago, when filming Father Hesburgh for the Documentary, God, Country, Notre Dame, we asked him “What is your favorite prayer?”
“That’s easy, It is Veni, Sancte Spiritus! 'Come, Holy Spirit!'” He said. "Whenever I am faced with an important decision and am not sure which way to turn, after examining it from all sides, consulting trusted advisers, I pause in prayer and say, 'Come, Holy Spirit.' I place it in his hands, I make the decision and then go ahead and do it. It has never failed me.” Father Hesburgh, even in his 90’s always seemed young to me.
“Mary is a shining light in the heart of the Church.” That is what Pope Francis says.
She is the perfect model of the young Church yearning to follow Christ with vigor, joy, and openness to the Spirit’s guidance and direction. She was still a teenager when she received and embraced the message of the angel with open heart and soul: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
Thinking about Pentecost, the leaders of the Church, Peter, James and John must have been very young, perhaps in their early thirties, as was Jesus. John, he wasn’t even growing a beard yet. Peter, when he is martyred some thirty years later was only in his sixties. What was God thinking entrusting leadership of the Church to a children’s crusade?
According to the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is present with the young disciples of Christ in prayer on Pentecost Sunday when the roaring fire of the Holy Spirit descends upon them.
Today, Mary is the Mother who watches over us, her children on our pilgrim journey through life. Under the gaze of Mary, our Mother, Mother of the Church, there is plenty of room for deep faith, quiet hope and boundless love. Amen.
Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year.
This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life is anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God in every Mass.
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About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.