Tuesday,September 8, is the Feast of the Birth of Mary. A little-known devotion in the USA is "Maria Bambina" or the baby Mary, a statue or image of her as an infant.
The Catholic liturgical tradition honors the birth of only three people: Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist. I came across an interesting fact recently that in the early Church, the deaths of martyrs and saints were celebrated as their "birthday into heaven", but there was controversy about celebrating even the births of Jesus and Mary. Origen thought that because the pagans celebrated their births (and especially since it was a birthday celebration that Herod agreed to cut off the head of Saint John the Baptist), Christians should not celebrate the birth of even our Saviour.
Well, he evidently got over-ruled!
The celebration of our Lady's birth is most important in this day and age. We not only honor her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into heaven, but also the day when she began her earthly life borne from the womb of Saint Anne.
Devotion to Maria Bambina is a manifestation of the "culture of life": an appreciation of God's wondrous gift of life and the mission of our Lady to be the "Ark of the Covenant" that would hold the Son of God. She is the Mother who brought up the Lord of All with Saint Joseph. She is the Mother who stood beneath the Cross and received all of us as her children. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit who prayed with the Apostles in the upper room as Mother of the Church.
Honoring our Lady as an infant is not just sentimental.
It is a way of affirming that God, indeed, is in our midst; that He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to redeem us.
Maria Bambina, pray for us, pray for our families, pray for the unborn and all those who are vulnerable to the evil so present in this "culture of death." Amen.