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Ordinary Time: May 21st
Memorial of Mary, Mother of Church; Optional Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs; Optional Memorial of St. Eugene de Mazenod, bishop (Canada)
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Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.
The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris
, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.
In 1815, St. Eugene de Mazenod founded the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to evangelize the poorest populations of Provence that were being neglected. He then sent his missionaries to proclaim the Gospel in America, South Africa and Asia. Later on, he was appointed Vicar General of Marseilles and, in 1836, Bishop of this same diocese. Until his death on May 21, 1861, he was at the service of his people with an extraordinary pastoral charity, nourished by an intense interior life. In his city, rapidly developing at the time, he created numerous parishes, built new churches and installed new Religious Institutes. — Cardinal Bernard Gantin
Saint Christopher Magallanes was joined in martyrdom by twenty-one diocesan priests and three devout laymen, all members of the Cristeros movement, who rose up in rebellion against the anti-Catholic Mexican government during the 1920s. Having erected a seminary at Totatiche, he secretly spread the Gospel and ministered to the people. Captured by government authorities, he was heard to shout from his jail cell: "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico."
Mary, Mother of the Church
By issuing the Decree on the celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, Pope Francis wishes to promote this devotion in order to “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 reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.
It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ.
“In fact the former [St. Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St. Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”
The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer”.
Scripture, the decree says, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.”
In 1964, the decree says, Pope Paul VI “declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother’ and established that ‘the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles’”.
St. Eugene de Mazenod
St. Eugene De Mazenod, refused to follow the established modes expected of someone born into nobility. From an early age, Eugene was troubled by the living conditions of the poor and their degraded status in society. When he became a priest, Eugene was not satisfied to accept the traditional role of a pastor serving a large, affluent parish. Instead, he sought out the poor laborers and preached the message of God’s love — a message they had not heard before.
Born in France in 1782, Eugene lived amid turmoil in his country and in his family. Although he grew up with the privileges and luxuries of wealth, his family life was far from ideal. His parents came from very different backgrounds and they eventually divorced, a rarity for Catholics in the 18th century.
As the French Revolution grew, Eugene’s family was forced into exile, and at different times, he was separated from his mother or father for years at a time.
After years of struggling to find his place in life, Eugene experienced a conversion at the age of 25 and entered the seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1811. In 1816, Eugene invited others to join in his ministry to the poor and founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Since that time, thousands of Oblate priests and brothers have dedicated their lives to serving those most in need. He died on May 21, 1861.
On December 3, 1995, Pope John Paul II canonized Eugene De Mazenod a saint and recognized his example of untiring dedication to the poor.
— Excerpted from Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate WebsitePatron:
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St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions
Like Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. (November 23), Cristobal and his twenty-four companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristobal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. Magallanes and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-1928).
All of these martyrs except three were diocesan priests. David, Manuel and Salvador were laymen who died with their parish priest, Luis Batis. All of these martyrs belonged to the Cristero movement, pledging their allegiance to Christ and to the church that he established to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico's leaders had made it a crime to receive baptism or celebrate the Mass.
These martyrs did not die as a single group but in eight Mexican states, with Jalisco and Zacatecas having the largest number. They were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.
— Excerpted from Saint of the Day
, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.