Saturday, September 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mother!

Today is Our Lady's birthday - her official, liturgical birthday, though we do not know the actual day of her birth.  If the visions of Medjugorje are authentic, then we would know her birthday to be the 5th August, since that is the date the alleged visionaries claim Our Lady told them she was born; but that would make no difference to the liturgy, she would not be the only Queen to have two birthdays: Elizabeth II of England has an official birthday in June and her actual birthday in April: the June date allows for better weather for official celebrations.

How do we celebrate Our Lady's birthday, after all we cannot give her gifts or throw her a party...or can we?  One of the wonderful dimensions of the Catholic faith is our attitude to feasts - from early times we have made festivity an important part of the liturgy.  We attend Holy Mass, have processions and then we party.   In Ireland that was part of our religious experience for centuries until the parties lost their religious/devotional elements and disintegrated into drunken orgies.  The bishops then felt the need to ban these celebrations, and so one of the few colourful elements in what was for the most part a rather austere Church was lost. 

Now I do not agree with the drinking and hanky-panky, but it is a shame that the drab became the dominant experience for many.  We Irish were never great at liturgy, and we still struggle with it, hence the liturgical crisis of the last fifty years.  While it would be good to recover some of our ancient traditions in the renewal, we might also learn from other traditions in the Church, particularly the Mediterraneans.

In the meantime, I think it would be quite appropriate to celebrate Our Lady's birthday with a little fiesta.  Holy Mass (offered for her intentions, perhaps), Rosary, a Holy Hour with her Son, and a nice meal and a toast to the Holy Mother.  Perhaps a little music and dancing, but no hanky-panky!


  1. Fr. John,

    I was delighted to see the beautiful picture of Our Lady of Medjugorje as I didn't know it was Our Lady's birthday. However I am very puzzled that you mentioned if the visions are authentic and also used the words alleged visionaries. You have encouraged great devotion to Our Lady of Medjugorje and have held many ceremonies in her honour. So on her birthday do you not think we should leave out words that question the presence of Our Lady in Medjugorje or the visions received by the visionaries. There are enough people hurting her without her most devoted causing doubt.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I presume you do not mean to offend with that last remark, but I must point out, Anonymous, I do not intend to cause doubt, but rather give space to those who do not believe in the visions, of which there are many on the web.

  3. Fr. John,

    No there was no offence intended just confusion and surprise. There will always be lots of space for those who do not believe but not so much for those who do.

    Perhaps the former need more space. Thank you for an otherwise witty and as ever informative blog.

    From me (anonymous!)