St. Mary’s Patronal Feast Day

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Celebrating St. Mary’s Patronal Feast Day
Mother’s Day, May 10

St. Mary’s Laguna Beach begins a new tradition this year by setting aside a Sunday to celebrate our patronal feast day.

The custom of having a patron saint can be traced to the practice of building churches over the tombs of martyrs. Patron saints may be chosen for a variety of reasons. For example, a church that was founded on a saint’s day might have that saint as patron. Some patron saints are associated with particular countries, regional or ethnic backgrounds, or forms of ministry. St. David is the patron saint of Wales, and St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians. The patronal festival is usually the feast of the church or organization’s title, but in some cases the patron is not mentioned in the title of the church or organization. The feast of a church’s patron or title may be observed on or transferred to a Sunday, taking precedence over the usual Sunday observance in the calendar of the church year. This substitution may not be made in the seasons of Advent, Lent, or Easter (BCP, p. 16).

Our Mary has many dates as options for a Sunday celebration.

We might choose March 25, known as the Annunciation described in Luke’s Gospel (1:26-38).  However, as mentioned above, because it may not take precedence over Sundays in Lent or Easter, March 25 will fall in Lent, and some years coincides with the date of Palm Sunday and Easter Day. So, not a good choice.

A second choice is to celebrate The Visitation (Luke 1:39-49) on May 31. While not the case this year, May 31 would transfer to Memorial Day weekend, and holiday weekends are not ideal for a parish wide celebrations.

The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin is celebrated on August 15, the traditional accepted day of Mary’s death. It also is not an ideal date since many people vacation in August, including the rector!

Then an idea emerged to use Mother’s Day as our celebration.  As the body of Christ, it seems very appropriate to remember Mary on our country’s celebration of all mothers. When I made this suggestion to the Vestry, they liked the idea. I then began to be curious about our history. Why was this name chosen for our church? It is not recorded in any history we have.  We do know that the first service of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Laguna Beach was held on May 9, 1929.  (Mother’s Day in the United States was first celebrated in 1908.) Is it possible that St. Mary was chosen because it was close to the day of Mother’s Day?!

We will use the texts for St. Mary the Virgin as we celebrate Mary, who is called:

Mary, the Mother of Jesus,
The Virgin
The Queen of heaven,
Prophet
(who like Moses responded YES to God’s call, saying, here I am, the servant of the Lord)
Theotokos
(the Greek word meaning, the mother of God),
and my favorite,
The first disciple.

I hope to see you Sunday to celebrate all the mothers of our lives and how they have helped us become the people we are.

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