The Passionists - Compassion

Mary in Christian Tradition

Feasts of the Lord in which Mary has a special place

The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (February 2)

The Feast of the Presentation, an ancient feast also with roots in the early Jerusalem church, celebrates the day when Mary and Joseph brought their infant Child to the Temple of Jerusalem to present him to God according to Jewish custom. Though a feast of Jesus Christ, who is revealed as Messiah to the aged Simeon and Anna, faithful Israelites waiting for the Messiah, it is also is a feast of Mary. Simeon becomes the messenger of a "Second Annunciation" as he tells Mary

"of the actual historical situation in which her Son is to accomplish his mission, namely in misunderstanding and sorrow." (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 16)

In the reading from St.Luke, Simeon says to Mary:

"This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed- and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword- so that the thoughts of many hearts will be laid bare." (Luke 2,22-40)

"While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful." (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 16)

The Annunciation of the Lord (March 25)

The feast , recalling the angel Gabriel's visit to Nazareth to announce to Mary God's invitation that she should be the mother of a Divine Son, is primarily a feast of Jesus Christ. It celebrates God become incarnate, the Word made flesh, as a loving gift to humanity and all creation. Yet Mary had an important role in the mystery of the Incarnation.

Though troubled by the angel's extraordinary words, Mary accepts the invitation in faith.

"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1, 38)

Like faithful Abraham, who "believed against hope," Mary accepted the mysterious plan of her Creator and consented to its consequences by the dim light of faith. She is a model for believers who make "a pilgrimage of faith."

The primary reading for this feast is the story of the Annunciation from St.Luke's Gospel (Luke 1,26-38). The feast is celebrated nine months before the feast of Jesus' birth.

The Visitation (May 31)

The feast of the Visitation celebrates Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth who was with child. At their meeting, John the Baptist, the child in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy, and Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb." (Luke 1,41) Jesus Christ, in Mary's womb, is recognized as God's blessing.

Mary, too, is praised for her faith.

"Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." (Luke 1)

A feast of the Incarnation, the Visitation is also a feast of Mary who responds with her song of praise:

"My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit finds joy in God my savior." (Luke 1,)

The feast of the Visitation celebrated between the feast of the Annunciation and the feast of the birth of John the Baptist. (June 24)

Other feasts of Mary