Today, September 8, is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, and our parish's feast day. Our parish name is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which means that I have to write very small when I write out that weekly collection check.
We always have a celebration at the parish on (or close to) her birthday. This year, because it falls on a Saturday, we will have special readings and emphasis on Sunday, as will every other parish that has this patronal feast.
Until I moved to Juneau, this feast day didn't mean that much to me. The Annunciation: of course! Christmas: absolutely. But the birth of Mary? Not so much.
But the conception and birth of Mary are very important in our faith story.
Joachim and Anna, Mary's parents (and Jesus' grandma and grandpa!) were surprised by the late in life pregnancy and delighted by the birth of a little daughter.
They watched her grow into a toddler, a preschooler (maybe they didn't have preschools in Nazareth) a school aged child, a tween, and a teenager. They watched with pride as she was betrothed to a nice carpenter and then were no doubt worried when she became pregnant while still unmarried. They worried as they saw her off on a journey to participate in the census - wondering if her child would be born along the way. They were frantic when Mary, her husband Joseph and their grandson had to flee to Egypt.
This was probably not the life they had imagined for their daughter. I would imagine that Joachim and Anna had probably already died before Jesus began his public ministry, suffered his Passion, and rose again. I'll bet that when He returned to heaven, he had some explaining to do to grandma and grandpa...
But to get back to the subject, today, we celebrate Mary's birth. Conceived and born without sin, so to be a worthy vessel to carry the Son of God, she is Mary: The Mother of God, Mary: The God-Bearer, The Theotokos, and the Mother of us all.
Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to you!