For Catholics, January 1st is probably one of the most liturgically confusing dates in the calendar. For the secular world in which we all live, it is New Year’s Day. According to the Vatican II liturgical calendar, it is the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. The Vatican has also named it the annual World Day of Prayer for Peace. Those of us of a certain age will also remember that in the pre-Vatican II Church it was known as the Feast of the Holy Name or the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord.
What to make of all these designations? For those interested in Catholic LGBT issues, I suggest we focus on the first three designations, and I’d like to suggest a connection for the three of them.
Dan Fogelberg, the soft rock star of the 1970s and 1980s has a song I like called “To the Morning.” For me, it is like a prayer of acceptance. The singer describes the feeling of uncertainty that people face in the early hours of each day. But as the song progresses, the singer decides to welcome the challenge of the unknown that we all are faced with each day. I invite you to spend a few quiet moments listening to this song by watching the video at the end of this post.
That song always reminded me of Mary, the Mother of God. At the Annunciation, when asked to become the Mother of God, Mary had no idea what lay ahead of her. Yet, with bold courage, she said “Yes.” The plan had not been laid out for her, and if she knew anything else about her future it was that the situation she was being asked to accept had great possibility of her being treated as an outcast. Yet, with bold courage, she said “Yes.”
What always amazes me when I hear the story of Mary’s “Yes” is that it always sounds not like a statement of hesitation or trepidation, but of peace. It’s not a surprise then that this feast day of Mary is also the World Day of Prayer for Peace. One way to create peace is to say “Yes” with bold courage.
Our new year is dawning like a new morning. Who knows what unexpected ups and downs, surprises, pains, joys, struggles, achievements await us. For those who work for justice and equality for LGBT people in the Catholic Church, today can be a time to renew our resolve to work together with courage and faith. No doubt there has been a lot of hurt, and no doubt the road ahead is uncertain. I suggest that on this day, we greet the new year with Dan Fogelberg’s greeting to the new day:
“And it’s going to be a day.
There is really no way to say ‘No’ to the morning.
“Yes it’s going to be a day. There is really nothing left to say but
‘Come on, morning!’ “
Or perhaps Mary said it more eloquently with a simple: “Yes.”
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, January 1, 2019