Today we celebrate with GREAT JOY the birthday of Our Blessed Mother. It is in a very special category of religious feasts, because it is one of the only three birthdays that the Church celebrates during the year: those of Our Divine Lord, His most holy Mother, and Saint John the Baptist. The reason why we celebrate these birthdays, rather than the anniversary of death as in the case of most of the saints, is that these three persons were born in the state of grace—the state of God’s favor and not under the sad shadow of original sin.
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created in the state of God’s grace or favor. However, they rejected God’s grace by sinning, and thus lost that divine favor for themselves and their progeny. From that time until the redemptive death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, no one entered the state of total happiness which we call heaven. After death, the souls of those who died in the state of God’s favor went to a place of waiting until the redemption of the world would be accomplished by Christ.
When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we say: “He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead . . .” That “hell” into which he descended was not the hell of the lost souls, but rather this place of waiting for the redemption. The soul of the crucified and dead Christ went there to announce to those held there that their entrance into heaven was just about to occur, since he had died on the cross for the remission of sins and was about to rise to bring all the souls of the just into heaven with him.
The first actual event of the New Testament was the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. During the preceding centuries, there had been many promises and predictions of the redemption, but the first actual occurrence leading to it was Our Lady’s conception which we celebrate each year on December 8th. That led necessarily to her birth, which we celebrate now, and in turn, her birth led to her conception of Our Lord Jesus Christ when she was about sixteen years old.
I can imagine that at the time of Our Lady’s birth, the angels in heaven and the just souls in the place of waiting which we call “the limbo of the Fathers” may well have been gladdened by the divine revelation that the mother of the Savior had been conceived and born, and now it would not be long before redemption was accomplished. Thus the Church addresses Our Lady as “Cause of our Joy” and speaks of her as the dawn which ushers in the new day of salvation. At Mass this morning, our Sisters sang as an opening hymn a beautiful one whose words begin: “Hail thee, festival day! Blest day that art hallowed forever!” The birth of the Mother of the Redeemer is blessed indeed, and will be a source of happiness to all those who love her divine son into eternity. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.