Today, and every very year on September 8th, the Church celebrates with great joy the birthday of the Mother of Jesus, the Son of the living God Our Savior. Also called the Nativitity of the Mother of God as well as the Nativity of Mary, the Nativity of the Theotokos, and many other names that show our love of our Mother. If you count, it is exactly nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It stands to reason! Mary was conceived in the womb of St. Anne December 8th; therefore, nine months later we celebrate Our Lady’s birthday.
In all times, places, and cultures birthdays are celebrations of immense joy—the day that due to God, the author of all life, brings a great gift, another human person into the human family. The birthday of Mary has greater significance. God chose Mary to be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our Mother in the order of grace.
Therefore, should we not rejoice in Our Lady’s birthday and manifest this joy by generously giving Mary not only one gift, but five, or even more if you feel so inspired? Indeed in giving to Our Lady, we will always receive much more in return. God cannot be outdone in generosity; the same can be said about our Lady. She looks kindly and lovingly with her maternal gaze and smile on those who love her!
1. A Clean Heart. The privilege of the Immaculate Conception calls to mind the sinless character of Our Lady. She was conceived without Original Sin; she lived an impeccable existence and she desires that those who love her distance themselves from the poison of sin. Why not make a good confession around the time of the Birthday of Mary. Offer the “Immaculate one” a pure and clean heart. Saint Pope John Paul II observed that Marian Sanctuaries are spiritual clinics because they are havens or refuges where sinners can purify their souls of sins by making a good sacramental confession! “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
2. “Maria cogita, Maria invoca”! One of the key elements of the charism and spirituality of Venerable Father Pio Bruno Lanteri, the Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, is a tender and loving devotion to Our Lady. The above Marian expression, in Latin, means simply this: “To think about Mary and to invoke Mary.” As a little child walking with his mother will think about his mother and call out to her, so should we God’s children and children of Mary think about her often and often have Our Lady’s name in our mind and on our lips and in our hearts!
3. Imitate Mary in Her Virtues. The great writer on Mary and author of True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort, highlights the ten most important virtues that Mary practiced. Let us strive to practice all of these virtues. However of all of the virtues that Our Lady practiced the greatest of all of these virtues was that of Charity. Another name for charity is supernatural love. There are two dimensions to true and authentic supernatural love: to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength; then to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our Lady is model of this double dimension of love. Look up at the cross and you can contemplate graphically this double dimension of love. The vertical bar symbolizes the love we should have for God which should always be first and foremost. Then the horizontal bar, which extends outward in two directions, symbolizes that intense love that we should have for our neighbor. The greatest love we can possibly have for our neighbor is the ardent prayer, desire, good will and effort for the eternal salvation of his immortal soul. This Our Lady desired constantly and even now in heaven: God’s glory and the salvation of immortal souls!
4. Read Some Good Books on Our Lady. There are many spiritual masterpieces written on Our Lady who Saint Louis de Montfort calls: “God’s masterpiece of creation”. We would like to mention just one in this short essay: The Glories of Mary. Beyond the shadow of a doubt this Marian masterpiece, written by the great Marian Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus Marie Liguori, will set your hearts on fire with love for Jesus and Mary His Mother. This classic is a detailed explanation of the prayer Hail Holy Queen. The saintly author takes hundreds of years of tradition as well as copious Biblical references to magnify the sublime person of Mary who indeed is the Queen of the angels, the Queen of the saints, the Queen of martyrs, the Queen of confessors, and the Queen of Virgins. St. Alphonsus also gives a short story after every explanation and then invites us to enter into prayer to honor Our Lady. It would be almost impossible for anybody to read prayerfully this spiritual gem and not have his heart ignited with love for Jesus and Mary. Try it!
5: Pray the Rosary. It would be far from complete if it were not strongly recommended to pray the prayer that Our Lady loves most—the most Holy Rosary! At Fatima Our Lady appeared six times to the little Shepherd children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. In every one of the apparitions Our Lady insisted on the praying of the most holy Rosary. Saint Pope John Paul II in his writing on the Rosary, The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary, also reiterated the primary importance in praying the Rosary and for two specific intentions: world peace and for the salvation of the family. Times are tough. Families are in jeopardy. The world is in tension and possibly heading toward war. David the Shepherd boy had to confront an overpowering warrior, huge, vicious, well-armed and with much experience—Goliath the Philistine! David had nothing more than a small slingshot and a few small stones. For all intents and purposes David was a goner! But not for God because nothing is impossible for God. With one aim and shot, the giant came crashing to the ground and David killed Goliath with his own sword!
As a birthday gift to Mary, why not decide right now to pray the prayer that she loves so much—the most Holy Rosary. This gift will fill Our Lady’s heart with joy and you will triumph over your enemies!