The Church honors and celebrates Mary, our Blessed Mother, as a woman of great faith all year long. Each celebration tells us something special about Mary and helps us to remember that she put God first in her life and always lived with love.
September 8—The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim, hoped for many years that God would bless them with a family. Little did they know that their daughter would be such an important part of God’s plan for the salvation of all people. We celebrate Mary’s birthday because through her, God’s Son, Jesus, our Messiah, was born.
September 15—Our Lady of Sorrows
On this day we remember that our Blessed Mother watched her son die on the cross. Like any mother, Mary was filled with sorrow, but she never lost faith in God’s plan to bring about the kingdom of peace, justice, and love through Jesus’ death and Resurrection. She stayed with Jesus through his suffering and death and held him in her arms when he was taken down from the cross. Mary’s example teaches us to trust in God to help us in times of sadness.
October 7—Our Lady of the Rosary
The feast celebrates the victory of European Christians who were outnumbered in a battle against an invading navy over 500 years ago. Before and during the fighting, Christians prayed the Rosary and asked Mary to help them be triumphant. The Christians defeated their much stronger enemy. Pope Pius V established this feast soon after. Today we pray the Rosary as a way of reflecting on the main events in the life of Jesus and Mary. As we pray, we can ask Mary to help us live as followers of Jesus.
November 21—The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Anne and Joachim were so grateful for God’s gift of their daughter Mary that they decided to present, or offer, Mary to God. When Mary was three years old, her parents took her to the temple in Jerusalem to be blessed and to dedicate Mary to loving and serving God always. We sometimes call Mary the “Temple of God” because God came to live within her. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit lives in us. With Mary’s help, we can be temples of God’s grace, or life, within us.
December 8—The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
We believe that God blessed Mary long before she became the mother of Jesus. From the first moment of her life, Mary was free from sin. All human beings, except Mary, are born with original sin. God kept Mary free from this condition. This gift was a special grace that prepared Mary to be the Mother of God. We honor Mary’s grace-filled life and we ask her to help us to avoid sin and to live as children of God.
December 12—Our Lady of Guadalupe
More than 500 years ago, a humble Mexican peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of Mary. Mary spoke lovingly to Juan. She asked him to go to the bishop to tell him that she wanted him to build a church on the place where she was standing.
This bishop did not believe Juan. Juan asked Mary for a sign that would convince the bishop. Mary told Juan to go to a certain place where roses were blooming. It was a wonderful sight—roses in winter! Juan gathered the roses in his cloak and went to show them to the bishop. When he opened his cloak, they saw an even more amazing sign: the image of Mary, just as she had looked when she talked to Juan, appeared on the cloak.
The bishop was convinced. A church to Our Lady of Guadalupe was built as Mary asked. Pilgrims visit the church from all over the world to pray to Our Blessed Mother. The church is a sign that God cares for and hears the prayers of all people, especially the poor.
January 1—Mary, the Mother of God
On this day, we honor Mary’s total gift of herself to God and to us, his people.
March 25—The Annunciation of the Lord
This celebration honors the day on which the angel Gabriel visited Mary and announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of his only Son, Jesus. Mary humbly told the angel that she would do everything God asked of her. We celebrate the Annunciation, which means announcement, exactly nine months before the birth of Christ. On this day, we thank God for his loving plan for all people and we thank him for the gift of Jesus and his mother.
The Saturday after Corpus Christi—The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Gospel of Luke tells us that after the boy Jesus was lost in Jerusalem, he was found three days later answering the questions of the temple teachers. Mary had been very worried when Jesus was lost. She listened in astonishment to his conversation with the temple teachers! Mary had a mother’s heart. She did not know what was in store for Jesus, but she trusted God. Her only concern was for her son. She loved him and prayed for him.
Today’s feast reminds us that we can imitate Mary’s example. We can avoid sin so that our hearts and minds are pure. We can make room in our hearts for our love for God and his Son to grow.
May 31—The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth
St. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was the first person to recognize the special gift God had given Mary. Elizabeth said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). Mary had gone to visit Elizabeth in the hill country because she, too, was expecting her first child and Mary wanted to help her.
This feast helps us to remember that God did not choose a wealthy person or royalty to be the mother of his son. He chose a humble young girl who came from a small town. Mary trusted always in the Lord, and she tells us to put our faith in God, also.
August 15—Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On this day we remember that Catholics believe that at the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed, or taken up, into heaven, body and soul. Because of her privileged role as the mother of Jesus, God preserved her body from the effects of death. How this happened is a mystery that we accept because of our faith in all that the Church teaches.
Just as Jesus showed us the glory of the Resurrection, our belief in Mary’s Assumption helps us to have hope that when Jesus comes in glory to announce that the Kingdom has been completed, we, too, will rise from the dead. Our bodies and souls will be reunited; we will see the face of God; and we will live in everlasting happiness with God and all those who have lived as his children.
August 22—Queenship of Mary
Christ is our King; Mary our Queen. She is queen of heaven and earth. She is queen of the angels, apostles, and saints. Unlike earthly queens, Mary does not want any glory for herself. She wants us to thank God always for the many blessings he has given us. She asks us to give glory and praise to Jesus by living as his disciples. As our queen, Mary wants to serve us. We can pray to Mary and she will bring our troubles and hopes to Jesus and ask him to help us. Hail Holy Queen!