For the Church, New Year’s Day means Mother’s Day.
The Church rounds out the Octave of Christmas by celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Savior born in Bethlehem was truly human—like us in all things but sin—and truly divine. In her arms Mary cradled the second Person of the Trinity, the Word through whom all things (herself included) were made. Marvelously, Mary bore her Creator. She is rightly called the Mother of God.
God also gave us his Mother for our own. In the Salve Regina we hail her as a mother: as Mater misericordiae, “Mother of mercy.” In the same hymn we implore her:
Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.
Our Mother responds to this petition, but not in the way we might expect. When writing about the origins of the Dominican custom of chanting the Salve Regina, Bl. Jordan of Saxony notes,
A certain man, both religious and trustworthy, has told me that, in spirit, he often saw the Mother of our Lord prostrate herself before her Son for the security of the whole Order, as the friars were singing: Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.
What she does for Dominicans I imagine she does for all her children. Mary’s love for us moves her to turn her eyes of mercy toward us—by turning them to the very Source of mercy. “[T]o one who loves, a friend is but another self,” St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his treatise on mercy, “and so he counts his friend’s misfortunes as his own and grieves over them in the same way” (ST II-II, q. 30, a. 2). Our Mother pleads before her Son as if our troubles—mourning and weeping in this vale of tears—were her own.
The Lord responds out of the superabundance of his goodness. St. Thomas reflects that in every one of God’s works, “mercy strikes the first root… and even gathers more strength as it continues” (ST Ia, q. 21, a. 4). Mercy motivated the very creation of the universe. It was not owed to us to be created; instead God freely and willingly chose to create—the merciful willing of something out of nothing. His mercy has only intensified through the course of history. One example of this is found precisely in the existence of Our Lady as a maternal, merciful intercessor.
Through the intercession of the Mother of God, may this new year renew us in God’s mercy.
Who needs Auld Lang Syne when you have the Salve?
Photo by NordWood Themes