New Year’s is a day of new beginnings, goals, celebrations, and reflections. And it’s also one of the most special days in the Church – the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. One week after we celebrate the birth of Christ, we give thanks to His mother. This solemnity is also the final day in the Octave of Christmas and the World Day of Peace.
Jesus is a way that can be travelled, open to everyone. He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points him out to us, she shows us the Way: let us walk in it! And you, Holy Mother of God, accompany us with your protection. Amen.Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God 2012
Table of Contents
- History & Church Teaching
- Mass Readings – Holy Day of Obligation
- Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God Prayers
- Commonly-Asked Questions
- Related Guides
History & Church Teaching
Throughout history, there have been many movements to establish a feast honoring Mary as the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. However, this solemnity only became an official one in the 20th century.
“In the revised ordering of the Christmas period it seems to us that the attention of all should be directed towards the restored Solemnity of Mary the holy Mother of God. This celebration, placed on January 1 in conformity with the ancient indication of the liturgy of the City of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation.”
He stated the complementary nature of the three solemnities which celebrate Mary:
|“Recognize the beginning of the Church, the spotless Bride of Christ”
|“Recognize the beginning that has already been made and the image of what, for the whole Church, must still come to pass”
|Mary, Mother of God
|“She is the Mother of the Head and of the members – the holy Mother of God and therefore the provident Mother of the Church”
Source: Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI
All three solemnities are essential to the Church’s understanding and admiration of Mary. The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, presents us with a unique way of starting the new year. Just after the birth of Christ, we enter the new year accompanied by Mary, the Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Prince of Peace.
Mass Readings 2023 – Holy Day of Obligation
First reading from the Book of Numbers
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27)
Second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)
The Gospel according to Luke
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:16-21)
Pope Francis offered a beautiful reflection on this Gospel reading in 2022,
I ask, brothers and sisters, how do we make this passage, how do we surmount this clash between the ideal and the real? By doing exactly what Mary did: by keeping and by pondering. First, Mary “keeps”, that is she holds on to what happens; she does not forget or reject it. She keeps in her heart everything that she saw and heard.
The beautiful things, like those spoken to her by the angel and the shepherds, but also the troubling things: the danger of being found pregnant before marriage and, now, the lowly stable where she has had to give birth. That is what Mary does. She does not pick and choose; she keeps. She accepts life as it comes, without trying to camouflage or embellish it; she keeps those things in her heart.Pope Francis
This reflection from Pope Francis reminds me of a particular quote from St. Thomas Aquinas: “As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary.”
By keeping Mary in our hearts, we might be guided by Her love of Christ as we navigate the sea of life, whether turbulent or calm. As we pray in the Ave Maris Stella prayer, “Hail, O Star of the ocean, God’s own Mother blest, ever sinless Virgin, gate of heav’nly rest.”
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God Prayers
Collect Prayer for the Solemnity of Mary 2023
“O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”
Source: Catholic Culture
Prayer from Pope Francis, Holy Mass on the Solemnity in 2022
“At the beginning of the New Year, then, let us place ourselves under the protection of this woman, the Mother of God, who is also our mother. May she help us to keep and ponder all things, unafraid of trials and with the joyful certainty that the Lord is faithful and can transform every cross into a resurrection. Today too, let us call upon her as did the People of God at Ephesus. Let us stand and, facing Our Lady as did the people of God in Ephesus, let us together repeat three times her title of Mother of God: ‘Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God!’ Amen.”
Source: Vatican Archives
Short prayers for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
- Hail Mary Prayer
- The Rosary
- Dear Lord, help me look to Mary as my guide in navigating this life’s many ups and downs. Help me seek her peace such that I may rest with You.
- Mary, please accompany me in my journey to your Son, Jesus. Wrap me in your mantle and give me the strength to seek Him in all I do.
Commonly Asked Questions
The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, falls on New Year’s Day; it celebrates Mary as the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of the Church.
Though there are many other solemnities in the Church (read the next question), this holy day is often shortened to “the Solemnity,” even though there are five other solemnities in the Church. As Pope Francis said in his 2022 homily on this day, “The New Year begins under the sign of the Holy Mother of God, under the sign of the Mother. A mother’s gaze is the path to rebirth and growth.”
Yes, and no. Solemnities are special feasts – those greatly important to the Church and theology. All Sundays and holy days of obligation are solemnities, though not all solemnities are holy days of obligation.
Other holy days of obligation include the Nativity of Jesus (December 25), the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8), the Solemnity of the Ascension of Christ (Thursday of the sixth week of Easter), the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (August 15), and All Saints’ Day (November 1).
The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is celebrated on January 1 (New Year’s Day) every year. In 2023, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, falls on a Sunday.
Yes, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is a holy day of obligation. The Church encourages all Catholics, who are able, to attend Mass on the Solemnity. The USCCB allows two exceptions, however: when the Solemnity falls on a Saturday or Monday, “the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.” Most likely, in years when the Solemnity falls on one of these days, your parish will celebrate the Solemnity the Sunday before; that day is New Year’s Eve this year.
A holy day of obligation, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is most commonly celebrated with Mass. On this day, we celebrate Mary as the Mother of Jesus.