We celebrated the feast of the Nativity of Mary on Friday, September 8. The New Testament does not provide details of Mary’s birth, but we know her parents were Anne and Joachim, devout Jews. Anne and Joachim longed for the birth of a child, just like so many people today who struggle with infertility. Anne and Joachim were gifted with a miraculous conception and birth. Mary’s birth was a precursor to the birth of Jesus. We celebrate the birth of Jesus around the world on Christmas, December 25th.

The Entrance Antiphon speaks to us of joy and justice. “Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God. “Sun.” A play on words, for Jesus is indeed Mary’s Son. Jesus challenges us to bring about a world where justice reigns.

We ask in the collect that we receive the gift of “heavenly grace. May the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation.”

Dawning! A new day! A new age, where peace reigns among people. We see Mary’s birth as a sign of hope, hope so desperately needed in today’s world. War reigns in Ukraine, children go hungry in Africa and our country too. Immigrants undertake dangerous journeys filled with hope that life can be better.

The prophet Micah reminds in the second reading that “his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace.” What does Peace mean in today’s world? What does it entail for us?

Peace means friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence.

Can we be bearers of peace? Peace begins with our families, our neighbors, our co-workers.  Peace begins with accepting and affirming those around us, recognizing and celebrating their gifts and talents. Peace can be communicated with a smile, a handshake, a hug and even a warm embrace. Peace can entail letting go of some of our pre-conceptions, our biases, moving from selfishness to selflessness, a “Letting Go and Letting God.”

Hope! Peace! Matthew in his Gospel tells how the Virgin Mary will give birth to Jesus, and “he will save his people from their sins.”

Hope eludes many, as they struggle with hunger, being homeless because they cannot afford housing, trying to end gun violence in our cities, towns and even in our schools.

We celebrate on the feast of the Nativity of Mary the one who had the courage to say yes unconditionally to God. What can we do to celebrate Mary’s birthday?

Donate to a group or charity working for peace, to feed the hungry, to help people find jobs and a place to live.

Go to Mass, and then take time to reflect and pray over the readings proclaimed.

Pray the Rosary, especially the Joyful Mysteries. Along with your personal intentions, Catholic Relief Services invites us to offer the Rosary for the safety of displaced families around the world and for solutions to climate change and other root causes of forced migration. Click to read more.

Next is to personally get involved, and the Norbertine priests at Daylesford Abbey offer many opportunities. Bethesda Project is a major ministry to the homeless of Philadelphia, serving over 2000 different individuals per year.

In their outreach Ministry they collect non-perishable food each Sunday at  Mass that is then delivered to St. Gabriel’s Food Cupboard.  The Isaiah 58 Ministry is a ministry to assist migrants and refugees in our area.

The Spirituality and Retreat Center offers group and private retreats, and spiritual direction is also available.  You can visit the Abbey and walk and pray the Stations of the Cross, and attend Sunday Masses.

The Arbor Gateway is the entrance to the outdoor Stations of the Cross, and to much more. “Our gateway entrance marks passage through a holy doorway designed to symbolize one’s decision to enter into the life of Jesus Christ so as to be transformed from sin’s brokenness to wholeness through grace.” options to pray the Stations of the Cross, including for Migrants and Immigrants, for Seniors, for Children, for Divorced and Separated and many more topics.

Celebrating the feast of the Nativity of Mary can be our chance to take a next step, to visit and pray with the Norbertine priests, to explore and partake in some of the upcoming events and even to get involved in one of their ministries.

We celebrate a new “birth,” Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We can use this opportunity as followers of Mary and Jesus, to bring peace, love, and justice to our world.

Let Us Begin!