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A New Year’s Day Reflection

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

It is most appropriate that the beginning of the New Year should be the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The first day of a New Year reminds us of the beginning of things, the beginning of the world and of mankind. We commemorate, therefore, the creation of the world, when God brought the universe into existence out of nothing. This has, in fact, been the Church’s mind from the early centuries. We also commemorate the beginning of the human race, when God brought into the world our first parents; we celebrate the origins of mankind. But, as we know, the human race lost the divine friendship, and except for God’s mercy would never have been able to enjoy the heavenly vision for which man had originally been made.

At a point in time, as faith tells us, the Son of God graciously decided to become man, that as man He might redeem us and restore us to the life of grace that we had lost. On New Year’s Day, therefore, there is a third and most important commemoration - not only do we think of the beginning of the universe and of the human race, but also the beginning of the supernatural life. If we ask, “Why?” the reason is that the Incarnation is the source and origin of all the graces that mankind, from the fall of Adam to the end of the world, has received and is receiving and will receive.

This does not mean, of course, that until Christ came into the world no one received grace, either actual or sanctifying: otherwise, Our Lady (who came before her Son) could not have been either possessed of or full of grace, which she surely was. It does mean, however, that with the Incarnation we have the foundation, the fount, the source, the cause of the supernatural life of every human being since the fall of Adam and until the end of time. It is for this reason that the Church in Her new liturgy has made New Year’s Day the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Since Christ is the source and origin of our restored supernatural life, what more appropriate day could there be than New Year’s Day to celebrate this mystery, which is also a fact of history? But more still, it was Mary’s acceptance of the Divine Motherhood that gave us Jesus Christ. Two decisions were made to give mankind back the supernatural life it had lost: one in heaven by the Trinity, deciding to send the Second Person of the Trinity into the world: and the other on earth, by Mary. Happily, the two decisions coincided.

This is the reason why we juxtapose two titles of Our Lady. At the beginning of her litany, we address her as Mother of Christ and Mother of Divine Grace. She is the Mother of Divine Grace, because she is the Mother of Christ and Christ is God; and all the grace we receive was made by God, by all Three Persons. But it was merited by the Son of God, and the meriting began in the womb of Mary. The moment He acquired His human will, He began to merit our salvation and the divine life that, thanks to Him and her, we now enjoy.

We might say, then, that New Year’s Day is the birthday to the supernatural life of the human race, thanks to Mary. That is why she is not only the Mother of Christ and the Mother of God, but the Mother of the Church. She is the Mother of supernatural life, having given us the One through whom and by whom this life began.

Vol. 42 - #4, December 1996, pp. 10-11

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

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