Today’s feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary probably passes most of us by. September 8 simply is not a date that evokes our deepest devotion any more, although it is one of the oldest Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar. The feast’s origins date back at least to the fifth century when a church was dedicated in Jerusalem at the site of what was assumed to be Mary’s parental home and the place of her birth. The Eastern churches to this day claim the feast of the Nativity of Mary as one of the twelve most solemn feasts in their liturgical calendar. Its elaborate title speaks to its importance: “The Nativity of our most Holy Lady, the God-Bearer and Ever-Virgin Mary.”
I have a suggestion for how to mark the day: If you do nothing else but ponder the beautiful medieval English text, “Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day,” as sung by Kathleen Lundquist (available from Amazon, and through the audio Divine Office App), you will have marked this feast day well.