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The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast Day - 8th September
(Totus2us was given to Mary on her birthday in 2009)

3 2us by Monsignor Leo Maasburg       

"Our Lady's birthday reminds us that each one of us has been born to love and be loved. That is the reason of our being."

"The Virgin Mary who brought the dawn of hope and salvation to the world"
by St Peter Damian

"Who is this?" asks the Holy Spirit as Mary comes into the world. "Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun?" (Sg 6,10)...

She "comes forth like the dawn." Our first father was made in the image and likeness of his Creator in the full light of day (Gn 1,26). What could be more wonderful for a created being than to share the Creator's likeness?...  He granted him the everlasting image but the likeness was still to be achieved: man was to become like his Creator. Yet he rejected the honor of such a privilege..., delivering himself over to death, into the darkness, along with all his descendants. Darkness covered all the earth until the coming of the Virgin. There was none who could escape the shadows, none to disperse them... but with the coming of the Virgin, dawn arose. Mary makes known the true light and, by her nativity, causes the most radiant of mornings to shine. She is the Morning Star. She is that dawn who follows or, rather, from whom is born the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20): he who alone surpasses her in splendour...

"Yours is the day" when Adam was created, "yours the night" (Ps 74) when he was cast out from your light. It is you who created the dawn, that is to say the Virgin Mary, and the Sun, that Sun of Justice who arose from her virgin womb. As dawn announces  night's end and signals the beginning of the day, so the Virgin put to flight the night without end and day after day she gives to earth the one who sprang from her virginity. 

Benedict XVI's homily at Mass on Our Lady's Birthday
850th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine of Mariazell
Piazza of the Basilica of Mariazell, Saturday 8th September 2007 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
with our great pilgrimage to Mariazell we are celebrating the patronal feast of this Shrine, the feast of the Nativity of Mary/Mary’s Birthday. For 850 years people from various/different peoples and nations have come here, people who pray bringing with them the desires of their hearts and of their Countries/homelands, their most intimate concerns and hopes. Thus Mariazell has become for Austria, and far beyond her/its borders, a place of peace and reconciled unity. Here we experience the consoling goodness of the Mother; here we encounter/meet Jesus Christ, in whom God is with us, as the Gospel passage today affirms – Jesus, of whom in the reading from the prophet Micah we (have) heard: “He will be peace” (cf Mic 5, 4). Today we enter in(to) the great pilgrimage of many centuries. Let us/We (make a) stop with the Mother of the Lord and pray to her: Show us Jesus. Show to us pilgrims the One who is both the way and the goal/destination: the truth and the life.

The Gospel passage, that we have just heard, opens our gaze further/broadens our view. It presents the history of Israel starting from Abraham as a pilgrimage which, with ascents and descents/ups and downs, by/through short ways and long ways, leads finally to Christ. The genealogy with its luminous/light and dark figures, with its successes and failures, shows us that God can write straight even on the crooked lines of our history. God leaves/lets/allows us our freedom and, nevertheless, knows how to find in our failure new ways for his love. God does not fail. Hence this genealogy is a guarantee of God’s faithfulness; a guarantee that God does not let/allow us (to) fall, and an invitation to orientate/direct our life/lives ever/always anew towards Him, to walk ever/always anew towards Christ.

To go on pilgrimage means to be orientated in a certain direction, to walk towards a goal. This also confers to the way and to its effort a beauty of its own. Among the pilgrims of Jesus’s genealogy there were some who had forgotten the goal and wanted to put themselves as (the) goal. But again and again/always again the Lord had also raised up people/persons whohad let themselves be driven by nostalgia for the goal, orientating their lives towards it. The momentum towards the Christian faith, the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ was possible, because there existed in Israel people/persons with hearts/a heart in search/that were searching – people who did not rest in custom/content with custom, but who scrutinized/looked further ahead in search of something greater: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Mary and Joseph, the Twelve and many others. Because their hearts were waiting/expectant, they could recognize in Jesus the One whom God had sent and thus become the beginning of his universal family. The Church of the Gentiles was made possible, because both in the area of the Mediterranean and in neighbouring and middle Asia, where the messengers of Jesus arrived, there were people waiting/expectant who were not satisfied by what everyone was doing and thinking, but who were seeking the star which could indicate to them the way towards Truth itself, towards the living God.

We have need of/need this restless and open heart. It is the kernel of (the) pilgrimage. Also today it is not sufficient/enough to be and to think somehow like everyone else. The project of our life goes further. We have need of/need God, of this/that God who has shown us his face and opened his heart: Jesus Christ. John, with good reason, affirms that He is the only begotten God who is in the bosom/breast of the Father (cf Jn 1, 18); thus only He, from the depths of God himself, could/was able to reveal God to us – (to) reveal to us also who we are, from whence/where we come and (towards) where we are going. Certainly, there are numerous great personalities in history who have had beautiful and moving experiences of God. However/Yet they remain human experiences with their human limit(s). Only He is God and therefore only He is the bridge, who truly puts God and man in immediate contact. Thus if we Christians call Him the only Mediator of salvation valid for everyone, who interests everyone and whom ultimately everyone needs, this does not at all mean disdain for other religions nor arrogant absolutisation of our thought, but only being conquered by the One who has touched us interiorly and filled us with gifts, so that we may in our turn also make/offer gifts to others. In fact, our faith is definitely opposed to the resignation that considers man incapable of truth – as if this were too great for him. This resignation in front of truth is, according to my conviction/I am convinced, is the kernel of the crisis of the West, of Europe. If for man a truth does not exist, he cannot in fondo/ultimately even distinguish between good and evil. And then the great and wonderful knowledge/discoveries of science become ambiguous: they can open up important perspectives for (the) good, for the salvation of man, but also - and we see this/it - become a terrible threat, the destruction of man and the world. We need the truth. But of course, in the light of our history we are afraid that faith in the truth entails/might entail intolerance. If this fear, which has good historical reasons, assails us, it is time to look at Jesus as we see him here in the sanctuary/shrine of Mariazell. We see Him in two images: as the child in the arms of the Mother/his Mother’s arms and, above the high altar of the basilica, as the Crucified (One). These two images of/in the basilica tell us: the truth is not stated/does not affirm itself through an external power, but is humble and gives itself to man only through the interior/inner power of its true being. Truth shows itself in love. It is never our property, our product, just as love can not/never be produced, but only received and transmitted/passed on as gift. We have need of/need this interior/inner strength/force of truth. We as Christians trust in this strength/force of truth. We are witnesses of it. We must transmitt/pass it on as (a) gift in the same way in which we received it/as we have received it, just as it was given.

“To look at/gaze upon Christ” is the motto of this day. This invitation, for (the) man in search, turns itself/transforms always anew/repeatedly into a spontaneous request/plea, a request/plea addressed in particular to Mary, who has given us Christ as her Son: “Show us Jesus!” Let us pray thus/make this prayer today with our whole heart; let us also pray thus/make this prayer beyond this hour, interiorly in search of the Face of the Redeemer. “Show us Jesus!” Mary responds, presenting Him to us first of all as a child. God has made himself small for us. God does not come with external strength/force, but he comes in the powerlessness of his love, which constitutes his strength/force. He gives himself into our hands. He asks for our love. He invites us to also become small ourselves, to come down from our high thrones and to learn to be children before God. He offers us the 'You'/He speaks to us informally. He asks us to trust in Him and to learn thus to stay in truth and love. The child Jesus naturally reminds us also of all the children of the world, in whom he wishes to meet/come to us. Children who live in poverty; who are exploited as soldiers; who have never been able to experience the love of parents; sick and suffering children, but also those who are joyful and healthy. Europe has become poor of children/child-poor: we want everything for ourselves, and perhaps we do not much trust the future. But the earth will be deprived of the/a future only when the strengths/forces of the human heart and of reason illuminated by the heart are extinguished/go out – when the face of God no longer shines upon the earth. Where there is God, there there is (a/the) future.

“To look at/gaze upon Christ”: let us gaze briefly at the Crucified One above the high altar. God (has) redeemed the world not through/by the sword, but through/by the Cross. Dying, Jesus extends his arms. This is first of all the gesture of the Passion, in which He lets himself be nailed (down) for us, so as to give us his life. But the outstretched arms are at the same time the attitude of the prayer/praying man/one who prays, a position which the priest assumes when he extends his arms in prayer: Jesus has transformed the passion - his suffering and his death - into prayer, and thus/in this way he has transformed it into an act of love towards/for God and towards/for men/humanity. For this reason the outstretched arms of the Crucified One are, in the end, also a gesture of embrace, with which He attracts us to himself, wishing to enfold us in the hands of his love. Thus/In this way He is an image of the living God, he is God himself, to Him we can entrust ourselves.

“To look at/gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and something different to/from a moral system, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that continues/lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (cf Jn 15, 15), the Lord says to his own. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral (system), it is exactly/appunto the gift of a friendship, precisely for this reason it also bears/carries within itself a great moral strength of which we, in front of the challenges of our time, have such greet need. If with Jesus Christ and with his Church we re-read in an ever new way the Decalogue of Sinai, penetrating/entering into its depths, then it reveals itself to us as a great, valid, permanent instruction. The Decalogue is first of all a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and guides us, who carries us and, nevertheless, leaves us our freedom, indeed, he renders it true freedom (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (8th commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other persons/people and for what belongs to them (ninth & tenth commandments). By virtue of the strength/force of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as signpost/path marker in our time of the world.

“Show us Jesus!” With this request/plea to the Mother of the Lord that we set oout on the pathway towards this place. This same request/plea will accompany us when we return to our daily lives. And we know that Mary hears/grants our prayer: yes, at any time/whenever, when we look towards Mary, she shows us Jesus. Thus we can find the right way, we can follow her/it step by step, full of/filled with joyful trust/confidence that the way leads into the light – into the joy of eternal Love. Amen."

Blessed John Paul II - on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

8th September 2004 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Mary as "blessed among women"

1. The liturgy today commemorates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast, very important to popular piety, leads us to admire in Mary the Child, the purest dawn of the Redemption. We are contemplating a little girl like every other, yet at the same time the only one who was "blessed among women" (Lk 1: 42). Mary was the immaculate "Daughter of Zion", destined to become the Mother of the Messiah.

2. Looking at the Child Mary, how can we fail to remember the many defenceless children of Beslan, in Ossezia, victims of a barbaric kidnapping and tragic massacre? They were inside a school, a place in which values are learned that give meaning to the history, culture and civilization of peoples: reciprocal respect, solidarity, justice and peace. Instead, between those walls they experienced outrage, hatred and death, the evil consequences of cruel fanaticism and an insane disregard for the human person.

At this moment our gaze broadens to take in all innocent children in every corner of the earth who are victims of the violence of adults. Children forced to use weapons and taught to hate and kill; children induced to beg in the streets, exploited for easy earnings; children ill-treated and humiliated by arrogant, abusive grown-ups; children left to themselves, deprived of the warmth of a family and prospects of a future; children who die of hunger, children killed in the many wars in various regions of the world.

3. It is a loud cry of pain from children whose dignity is offended. It cannot, it must not leave anyone indifferent. Dear brothers and sisters, before the cradle of the Infant Mary, let us respond with renewed awareness to the duty that behoves us all to protect and defend these frail creatures and to build them a future of peace. Let us pray together that the conditions for a serene and safe life may be created for them.

Prayer for all the Innocent Children in the World

Brothers and Sisters, accepting the Holy Father's invitation, let us raise our prayer to God. Let us say together: Lord, hear us!

For the children of Beslan who were torn from life with brutal violence while they were preparing to start the new school year, and for their parents and friends killed with them: that God in his mercy will throw open the doors of his house to them, let us pray: Lord, hear us!

For the injured, for the victims' families and for all the members of the Beslan community who are mourning with broken hearts the death of their loved ones: that, supported by the light of faith and comforted by the solidarity of so many persons throughout the world, they may be able to forgive those who have harmed them, let us pray: Lord, hear us!

For all the children in so many parts of the world who are suffering and dying because of the violence and abuse of adults: that the Lord will enable them to feel the comfort of his love and melt the hardness of hearts that is the cause of their suffering, let us pray: Lord, hear us!

For the many people abducted in the tormented Land of Iraq, and in particular, for the two young Italian volunteer workers kidnapped yesterday in Baghdad: that they may all be treated with respect and quickly restored unharmed to the affection of their loved ones, let us pray: Lord, hear us!

For justice and peace in the world, that the Lord may illumine the minds of those who are subjected to the fatal suggestion of violence and open all hearts to dialogue and reconciliation, so as to build a future of hope and peace, let us pray: Lord, hear us!

God, our Father, you created men and women so that they might live together in communion. Make us understand that every child is a treasure of humanity and that violence to others is a dead end with no future. We ask you this through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ Our Lord, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Click here to read the Vatican booklet for this Prayer Vigil for Atonement.