LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Mary is a part of Christ’s “mission from the beginning,” Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in his homily for the Mass celebrating the Church’s new feast, Mary, Mother of the Church, on the Monday after Pentecost.
“From the moment she says ‘yes’ to the Angel — and He is conceived beneath her Immaculate Heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit,” he told a congregation of 3,000 May 21 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
Concelebrants included Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Joseph V. Brennan and several priests of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
More than 1,300 students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, attended the Mass, along with teachers and their chaperones from 22 Catholic schools across the archdiocese. There also were hundreds of women religious and Marian devotees among the faithful.
Students and other Massgoers brought written prayer intentions for the intercession of Mary that will be delivered to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in July during the archdiocesan pilgrimage with Archbishop Gómez.
Representatives from each school that attended the Mass participated in offering flowers to Mary, and students from Precious Blood School led the coronation ceremony to place a wreath of flowers on the cathedral’s statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
To commemorate the new feast, Archbishop Gómez is offering a blessed image of Mary to every family in the archdiocese who would like to receive one.
“There should be an image of Mary in every home, a picture of our mother,” he said. “My prayer is that families and individuals will place this image in a prominent place, and when they look at it, they will remember to pray and make an act of love to our mother.”
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, headed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, announced in early March Pope Francis’ decision to add the feast to the Latin-rite Catholic Church’s calendar as an “obligatory memorial.”
“The words that Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross, He speaks today to you and to me — and to the whole Church. He tells us to look into the eyes of Mary, and He says to us: ‘Behold, your mother!’ Jesus gives us His own mother — to be our mother.”
— Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles
USCCB vice president
In his homily, Archbishop Gómez said he was “so happy that Pope Francis has given us this new day to remember Mary each year on the Monday after Pentecost. As we just heard in the Gospel, this was our Lord’s dying wish and his final gift to us.”
The Gospel reading for the feast is John 19:25-31, which recounts how from the cross Jesus entrusted Mary to His disciples as their mother and entrusted His disciples to Mary as her children.
“The words that Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross, He speaks today to you and to me — and to the whole Church,” the archbishop said. “He tells us to look into the eyes of Mary, and He says to us: ‘Behold, your mother!’ Jesus gives us His own mother — to be our mother.”
Archbishop Gómez recalled how when he was a child, his parents taught him and his sisters “that we had mother on earth and also a mother in heaven. And of course, in Catholic school, I learned the importance of devotion to Mary, our Blessed Mother.”
“We started every day with prayers to Mary and we tried to pray the Rosary every day,” he said. “I still remember my principal in Catholic school. He used to ask us every day, ‘Did you bring it with you? Are you using it?’ And of course, he was talking about our rosaries.”
“I still pray the Rosary every day and I recommend this devotion to you,” Archbishop Gómez told Massgoers. “The Rosary is a beautiful way to show our love for Mary and to center our lives on Jesus, learning to love Jesus as Mary loved Jesus.”
When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, “Mary became the maternal heart of His Church,” he said.
“Mary is still the heart of the Church, the mother of the family of God,” he said. “The mother of Jesus still goes with us, sharing our joys and hopes, helping us in all the challenges of our daily life. She still opens her arms to us with tender love, to give us comfort and guidance.”
Just as the disciple John took Mary into his own home after the Crucifixion, “this is what Jesus wants for you and for me,” Archbishop Gómez added.
“Jesus wants you to take Mary into your homes — into your lives and into your hearts,” the prelate said. “He wants you to love her as a mother. He wants you to feel the love that she has for you. And He wants you to love Mary, as He loved Mary.”