Udupi/M達elle: Feast of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary (Monthi Festh) celebrated with devotion
By Eugene DSouza
Bellevision Media Network
Udupi, 08 Sep 2016: The rains did not dampen the spirit of either the children or their parents who came to St. Lawrence Church, Moodubelle with flowers and festive dresses to celebrate the birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary (Monthi Festh) in the morning of Thursday, 8 September 2016.
As there was incessant rains in the morning the blessing of the new paddy and offering of flowers to Mother Mary could not be held at the Grotto.
As an alternate arrangement, children with flowers and Gurkars carrying the bundles of new paddy stood around in the portico. Rev. Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Parish Priest along with Rev. Fr. Lawrence Cutinha, Assistant Parish Priest and other priests recited prayers and blessed the new paddy. Thereafter the children offered flowers to Mother Mary.
The altar servers with new uniforms followed by the Gurkars carrying the blessed paddy and the priests entered the church in procession. The Gurkars gently placed the blessed paddy at a specially allotted place towards the right of the main altar in front of the statue of Infant Mary.
The solemn feast mass was concelebrated by the priests with Rev. Fr. Clement Mascarenhas as the chief celebrant.
Deacon Roy Lobo delivering the homily narrated in brief the history of the Feast of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary and explained the meaning and significance of the feast especially for the Catholic community living in coastal region. He said that Monthi Festh is important for four significant points. First, it is the celebration of the birthday of Mother Mary; secondly, it is observed as the family feast bring the family members closer through family meal in which the new paddy is added; thirdly, it is an occasion during which we give thanks to God Almighty for giving us abundant paddy crop and food; fourthly, the Catholic Church in India observes the Feast of the Nativity of Mother Mary as Girls Day.
At the end of the feast mass, Rev. Fr. Clement Mascarenhas conveyed the greetings of the feast to all parishioners living in the native place as well as in other places including those working and living abroad. He appreciated the efforts of the children and their parents in bringing flowers to offer to Mother Mary during all the nine days of the novena. He also thanked the sponsors of the sweets for children during the novena days and Gerald Fernandes for sponsoring the sugar cane distributed soon after the feast mass to the children. Fr. Clement appreciated the choir which sang the hymns melodiously and all those parishioners who had helped in cleaning the church and decorating the altar.
Brief History of the Nativity of Mother Mary:
Clearly there is no historical record of the birth of Mary. The Church does believe, however, that from the very moment of her conception she was totally free from sin and remained free of sin for her whole life. It was not acceptable that Jesus, the Son of God, should be conceived in a body tainted by sin. Her birth, then, is clearly something to celebrate. The Church, too, has given names to her parents – Joachim and Ann, whose feast is celebrated on 26 July.
The Churches both in the East in Constantinople and in the West in Rome have been celebrating Mary’s birth since the 6th and 7th centuries.
The liturgy traces its origins to the consecration of a church in Jerusalem, known as St Ann’s Basilica, in the 6th century. Before that there had been a 5th century basilica in honour of Mary on a site known as the “Shepherd’s Field” and supposedly the home of Joachim and Ann. It was replaced by a new basilica in the 6th century which was consecrated to St Ann.
Monks from the East brought the feast to Rome in the 7th century. From there it spread through the western Church. By the 13th century it had been raised to a solemnity with a major octave and a vigil which was a fast day. Pope Sergius I (687-701) instituted a procession from the Roman Forum to the basilica of St. Mary Major for the feast.
Following the liturgical reforms of Pope St Pius X, the feast had just a simple octave for the feast and in 1955 Pope Pius XII abolished the octave altogether. The liturgy now has the rank of feast.
The date, September 8, was chosen as the octave day of the former Byzantine New Year. Although the feast was celebrated on various dates over the centuries, September 8 predominated. The feast celebrating Mary’s conception without sin on December 8, was later set to correspond to nine months preceding Mary’s birth (just as the Annunciation precedes the Birth of Jesus by nine months).
In the Eastern Church, Mary’s birthday is celebrated as one of the twelve great liturgies. The title for the liturgy in the East is: “The Birth of Our Exalted Queen, the Birth giver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary”.