On January 1st, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Mary as the Mother of God. This day used to be the feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, but Pope Paul the 6th in 1974 changed it to the feast we celebrate today. Calling Mary the Mother of God is first, scriptural and secondly, in keeping with how Mary was viewed by the Church from antiquity.
Pope Paul VI:
"In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season, we should all turn with one mind to the restored solemnity of the Mother of God. This feast was entered into the calendar in the liturgy of the city of Rome for the first day of January. The purpose of the celebration is to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to “the Holy Mother… through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life.” This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year’s Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace" (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974, no.5).
From the Scriptures:
The prophet Isaiah foretold that a virgin would conceive and bear a Son, and His name would be Emmanuel. Literally the word, also spelled Immanuel, means in Hebrew, “with us [is] God.” This is the explanation given by St. Matthew, when he described the event of Joseph’s angelic message: not to be afraid to take Mary as his lawful wife, after she was found to be with child (Mt. 1:23).
The evangelist Luke is equally clear. When Mary asks how she can become the Mother of the Messiah, the angel answers by telling her, “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy One who shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). What his disciple said was repeated by St. Paul, who told the Galatians, “God sent His Son, born of a woman”
Moreover, when Mary came to visit her cousin, Elizabeth’s first words were astonishment. The unborn John leapt in his mother’s womb for joy, and Elizabeth exclaimed, “And how have I deserved, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
” (Luke 1:42).
The early Fathers of the Church were unanimous in venerating Mary as God’s Mother. Who could improve on the statement of St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing in his letter to the Ephesians, on his way to martyrdom in Rome? Says Ignatius, “Our God, Jesus Christ, was carried in Mary’s womb.
” He was, according to Ignatius, “from the seed of David, it is true, but by the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:3).
Not surprisingly, by the third century, the Greek writers coined the name Theotokos (Theos
God, and tokos
= mother) to describe the Mother of Jesus. And before the end of the fourth century, St. Gregory Nazianzus boldly declared, “If anyone does not recognize the Holy Mary as the Mother of God, he is separated from God” (Letter 101, 4). (cf Fr. John Hardon