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Birthday of the B.V.M. 2010

If you want an image for this feast, may I suggest that you go here and look at the chapter-house painting by D. Werburg Welch in the ebook Magnificat? The composition of the painting is entirely classical, but there is a grace and youthfulness about the treatment that is very winning.

The birthday of Mary ought to be something on which all Christians can agree: we do not need scripture to assure us that the mother of our Saviour was born. Her birthday is therefore something we can celebrate in the simple, uncomplicated way in which we celebrate the birthdays of family members. I think that is the secret. For both Catholic and Orthodox Christians, there is the sense that Mary is a family member. Church teaching is very clear that adoration (latria) is given only to God, but to Mary we show a special reverence (hyperdulia) which sets her above the rest of us (blessed art thou among women), as a mother is always reverenced by her children; but it is a reverence which has a great deal of freedom in it.

St Bernard's sermon for this feast expresses the theology of Mary's place in the Church in a way that even the thickest of us can understand. He calls her the aquaduct which channels the Fountain of Life to us. That is exactly right. Mary's glory is to be the Mother of God, but her gaze and ours are directed towards our Saviour.