VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope
Francis has decreed that Latin-rite Catholics around the world will mark the
feast of "the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church" on the
Monday after Pentecost each year.
The Gospel reading for the
feast, which technically is called a "memorial," is John 19:25-31,
which recounts how from the cross Jesus entrusted Mary to his disciples as
their mother and entrusted his disciples to Mary as her children.
The decree announcing the
addition to the church calendar was released March 3 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Pope Francis approved the
decree after "having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of
this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the church in
the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian
piety," the decree said.
Cardinal Robert Sarah,
prefect of the congregation, noted in a brief commentary published the same
day, that Blessed Paul VI in
1964 had formally bestowed the title of "mother of the church"
on Mary, but that recognition of her maternal care for the church and for
believers had already spanned centuries.
"The feeling of Christian
people through two millennia of history has cultivated the filial bond which
inseparably binds the disciples of Christ to his Blessed Mother in various
ways," the cardinal said.
The church calendars of
Poland, Argentina, St. Peter's Basilica and some religious orders already set
aside the Monday after Pentecost as the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.
Honoring Mary as mother of
the church on the day after Pentecost also highlights for Catholics that Mary
was present with the disciples on Pentecost, praying with them as the Holy
Spirit descended. Cardinal Sarah said that Mary, "from the awaiting of the
Spirit at Pentecost, has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim
church on earth."
Along with the decree and his
comments, Cardinal Sarah also published in Latin the specific liturgical texts
for use on the memorial at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours.
"will approve the translation of the texts they need and, after receiving
their confirmation, will publish them in the liturgical books for their
jurisdiction," the cardinal said.