01 January 2006

Mater Dei

As we honor Mary as the Mother of God, today, we also begin a new calendar year. In one way it seems odd to have a new year in the dead of winter. For the celebration of "new year" in most cultures was a time to mark new growth and vegetation in nature. The ancient Romans were on to something when they celebrated the new year in March. For us who live in the northern hemisphere, it would seem more fitting to celebrate "new life" in March or April, when spring is beginning.

Mary, the Mother of God, can, perhaps, help "redeem" this lost celebration for us. When Mary said, "yes" to the angel she set right a long history of "wrongs" -- so to speak. For millennia, since creation and the fall, it seems that the Lord has been in search of one who would say "yes" to Him in so perfect a manner. We have a rich tradition of men and women in the Old Testament, prophets and preachers, priests and kings, who faithfully carried out the Lord's will. But Mary was different. She was conceived without sin and so disposed to respond so fully, so unhesitatingly, so generously, when asked to be the Mother of God. Mary's "yes" gave new life: physically, in the person of Jesus Christ and spiritually, in the example that she leaves for us, her children. So as we mark the beginning of a new year -- though there be no blossoms outside our windows -- let us follow Mary's example of saying "yes" to all that the Lord asks of us and let us nurture new life, in the garden of our hearts, by imitating her "yes."

"The greatest title that can be given to the Holy Virgin is to name her Mother of God."
St. Francis de Sales

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