“Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world, for from You has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God..”
– Benedictus antiphon, feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
There are really two broad reasons for celebrating the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The first is a very human reason. We celebrate the birthdays of those we love, because it is a special day for them, and a day of joy for us – because of their birth, we have those we love in our lives and they enrich us with their presence. These people give our lives meaning and value. Celebrating their birthdays is a simple but lovely way to express all of this. The Blessed Virgin is the Mother of Our Lord and we love Her very much; She is kind and She loves us and helps us, and She brings us to Her Son. So how much more will we celebrate the birthday of this sweetest of mothers.
The second reason is a spiritual one, and that reason is captured in the quotation above from the Benedictus antiphon from Morning Prayer. The birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the second glimmer of divine light falling upon the world – the first was at Her Immaculate Conception. In these two events, a ray of light from Heaven begins to pierce the darkness of the world, and that light is a sign of something wonderful to come, that the promnise made long ago by the Lord is ready to be fulfilled – the moment is at hand. The Blessed Virgin is the means but not the end; and so Her birthday is a step along the way to Her Son’s coming – He is the Light, and She is the first sign of His dawning; “from You arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God”, as the Church puts it. Now that She is born into the world, we know that He is very close to coming into the world, also.
It is customary to give a little present to the one who is celebrating a birthday – who doesn’t love to receive such a gift? And so that leaves us wondering – what will I give today to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on this Her birthday? What prayer, what sacrifice, what little act of devotion can I offer Her, that it might please Her?