On Sunday, 8 September 2019, the Catholic Church celebrates the birthday of Our Blessed Mother, daughter of St. Joachim and St. Anne. It is a traditionally fixed date, exactly nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which falls on 8 December. The Bible does not record her infancy or early childhood but some of the earliest Christian writers and Fathers of the Church have described her in the first century of the Church.
Tradition describes that Mary’s parents were deeply sad because they were unable to conceive a child. They began to pray and fast earnestly and finally an angel appeared to Anne and prophesied that all generations would honour their future child: “The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.”
Mary’s parents brought her to be blessed by the temple chief priests saying, “O God, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations,” and “look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever.” Her parents and the chief priests offered her to God “as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage” with Joseph, the carpenter.
Every September, our Blessed Mother’s birthday is celebrated in the three main prominent feasts of Our Lady – Annai Velangkanni, Our Lady of Good Health and Mother of Perpetual Help. In the Archdiocese Kuala Lumpur, one parish (Mother of the Perpetual Help in Mentakab, Pahang) and three chapels (Our Lady of Annai Velangkanni in Gadong, Seremban, Our Lady of Good Health in Kg. Pandan, Kuala Lumpur and in Assam Jawa, Kuala Selangor) celebrate her birthday. I have ministered in the chapel of Annai Velangkanni, Gadong, which is situated in between Seremban 2 and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). It is quite a well-known chapel in Negeri Sembilan whose faithful are mostly Tamil-speaking. The chapel draws approximately 2000-2500 pilgrims during the feast day.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is a very special and powerful spiritual mother for all of us. Today, she is in heaven united fully with Christ Jesus and praying for us. We, Catholics have a very special devotion to our Blessed Mother because we believe that she is a mother who gives us her maternal care and protection. Whenever we recite the Rosary, the Blessed Virgin Mary communicates to us. When we turn to her in our time of need, she protects all of us from all harm, from all evil and from all danger.
St. Louis de Montfort, who was a priest in the 18th century, in his book entitled – “True Devotion to Mary”, spoke about how our Blessed Mother protects and leads souls to Jesus. He compares her to a hen who gathers and shelters us under her protective wings, saving us from outside enemies – from hawks, eagles and vultures. To ensure that the hen becomes their escort, surrounding them like an army in battle array. This is what Blessed Mother does out of love she has for everyone, especially those who daily, spend time in devotion to her. St Louis also added that when we trust in her, she “dispatches millions of angels” to protect us from the power of enemies.
In our anguish, struggles and distress, our devotion to Our Lady and receiving the Holy Communion will save us from all evil and Jesus will make known His salvation to His people.
Rev. Fr. George P.