Today is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When I was reflecting on this earlier this morning I was struck with the thought that it is somewhat unusual for us as Catholics to celebrate the birth of saints or other significant figures in salvation history.
As a matter of fact, I can only think of three occasions where we do this. One, of course, is Christmas where we celebrate the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The next obviously is today’s feast, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The third and final one (that I can think of... please correct me if I am mistaken) is that of the birth of St John the Baptist.
What is it that unites these three births that the Church, in its wisdom, sees fit to celebrate as part of its liturgical festivities?
Now, I do acknowledge that this is somewhat of a speculation, as I unfortunately do not know the mind of the Church in its entirety... but it seems to me that these three figures, unlike the saints, whom we often celebrate feasts on the anniversary of their earthly death, were born free of Original Sin.
Each one of the saints, like each and every one of us is born with this Original Sin, thanks to the fall of our first parents. However, it seems that these three extraordinary characters in the history of Salvation are in somewhat of a different state than that of the rest of us when they are brought to birth.
Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived immaculately, that being, through the Divine action of God’s grace she was preserved from any stain of Original Sin, so as to pass on to her Divine Son a human nature untainted by the reality of Original Sin. Hence, both Jesus our Lord and His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary were born without Original Sin, and therefore the occasion of their births is thus worthy of celebration.
Regarding St John the Baptist, Sacred Tradition holds that upon the visitation of Our Lady to her elderly yet pregnant yet cousin, St Elizabeth, that the child within her womb leaped for joy at the presence of the Mother of the Lord and His embryonic presence in the neighbouring womb, so to speak. This leaping for joy is held to be a physical expression of the joy felt by the child at his sanctification within the womb. Therefore, when the time came for him to be born, he arrived into this world already sanctified, free of Original Sin. Thus, all three of these events are worthy of celebration within the liturgical calendar of the Church.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary really is something wonderful to contemplate; a mystery inextricably linked to the redemptive action of Jesus her son. We have the opportunity to give thanks to God for His magnificent salvific action through the death and resurrection of His Son and the essential role that He chose to give Our Lady in that action.
The Birth of the Holy Infant Mary
Saint Anne Gave Birth to the Holy Infant Mary
LET US PRAY
O almighty and merciful God, Who through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, did prepare the body and soul of the Immaculate Infant Mary that she might be the worthy Mother of Thy Son, and did preserve her from all stain, grant that we who venerate with all our hearts her most holy childhood, may be freed, through her merits and intercession, from all uncleanness of mind and body, and be able to imitate her perfect humility, obedience and charity.
Through Christ Our Lord.