Catholics Celebrate Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on New Year’s Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on January 1 to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics on New Year’s Day and on the eighth day of the Octave of Christmas celebrates the Virgin Mary as mother of Jesus and as mother of the Universal Church.

Cardinal Wuerl noted in his homily the “purpose to the passage of time” and the new calendar year. “One could almost take a fatalistic view that what we witness is simply the passage of time with no particular purpose to it,” he said. “But what brings us to Mass today, what the Church lifts up for us today, is the recognition that there is so much more.”

That purpose is reflected in the celebration of the New Year and in the second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians: “When the fullness of time had come…God sent his Son, born of a woman…so that we might receive adoption as sons” (4:4).

“Part of this passing of years brings to us what Paul is talking about, ‘the fullness of time’ when grace entered into our lives,” the cardinal said. “You and I, my brothers and sisters, live the age of God’s grace. What marks this ‘fullness of time’ for you and for me is the completion of that whole process we celebrated in anticipation of Christmas and now reaches its fullness in the birth of God who is come among us, to be one of us so that he could invite us into his life.”

Through the sacraments, saints, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the universal call to holiness, each person is challenged to grown as a child of God, said Cardinal Wuerl. And Mary, Mother of God is the model for us all to accept and allow God’s transforming grace to work in our hearts. “This is where the role of Mary comes to such focus,” he continued. “It is in her acceptance of God’s invitation to be Mother of the Messiah, to be Mother of Christ, that Mary has given us an example of the ability of a human being, of each one of us, to become a part of God’s plan.”

Just as Mary changed the course of history through her “yes,” each person can contribute to manifesting the kingdom on earth through obedience to God’s word, said the cardinal as he concluded his homily. “Perhaps the reason the Church chooses the first day of the new year, the new calendar year, to celebrate the mystery of God coming among us in Mary and through Mary is to let each of us know and reflect that God continues to enter our world through our act of faith, and through living that graced life.”