Bearing and Birthing: Starting the Year with Mary

Apologies for the tardy post–I’ve been disconnected from the blogosphere for more than a month, and it took a bit of time for the creative juices to start flowing again.

New Year’s: the holiday (and holy day) celebrated by everyone around the world regardless of race, religion or ruling government. (As an aside, I found myself writing “Merry Christmas” and never “Happy Holidays” on all my cards and gifts…just because I can.) The New Year refreshes us with hope (things are bound to be better!) and enlivens us with resolve (I am going to be better!) for the year so pregnant with promise and possibilities.

While the rest of the world gets psyched with lists of best habits and techniques to get to that “better YOU in 2014,” the Church, as She does every year, invites us to start the year with Mary, the Mother of God. That this feast falls within the liturgically jam-packed Christmas season speaks much about its importance–that it lands squarely on the Octave of Christ’s Nativity makes it as holy as Holy Days get.

I find it interesting to note that the title “Mary, Mother of God” is the oldest of all Marian titles and feasts. It was first used after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, which was convened to address the doctrine of Nestorius who asserted that Christ’s human and divine natures were separate. As the council proclaimed Jesus true God and true man, it followed that Mary was not just Christotokos (Birth Giver of Christ) but Theotokos, Bearer (or Birth Giver) of God.

Before she was the Immaculate Conception, or Queen of Heaven and Earth, or Our Lady of [place name of virtue or apparition site here], she was firstly a mother, the Mother.

Christ’s humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception. For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her womb: “Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.” (CCC#466)

2013 saw me battling with a darkness I’ve started calling the SELF–propelled by inordinate self-love and self-pity, needing (demanding) repeated validation of my perceived self-worth. Darkness spreads as far as we’ll let it, and soon every aspect of my life seemed covered with this self-indulgent depression. The only time I didn’t feel gripped by despair was when I was with my children–playing with them, laughing with them, hugging them, kissing them–I seemed to forget whatever sorry state my soul was in. I was needed, I was loved…not because I had done anything to merit such affection, such devotion, but simply because I was their mother.

Darkness spreads because I let it…because in some twisted, self-indulgent way, I like it.

This is the first of all Marian feasts and titles because, while every other aspect of her person inspires us to be like her, her divine motherhood is reason enough for us to love her.

And in the sacred place of a mother’s arms, Theotokos calls all her children to follow her example–to bear witness in the world to Christ’s love and mercy, to let Him be birthed into our lives–that those who live in darkness may see Light, may be Light. Suffering, trials, tribulations? Well, you can’t give birth without experiencing labor pains.

At the start of the year, our Mother guides us thusly:”Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5) Mary, Mother of God, and our mother, pray for us that we may respond with the very words you uttered: “Let it be done unto me as you say.” (Luke 2:38)

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