Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not, as both non-Catholics and all-too-many Catholics often assume, unique to the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox (those Eastern churches that broke away from the universal Church in the wake of the Council of Chalcedon) continue to revere the Mother of God with a fervor that often puts Catholics to shame.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be celebrated on September 8 not only by Catholics but by Orthodox Christians of all stripes. Indeed, like so many other feasts of the Mother of God and of Christ, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary first arose among the Eastern Churches before spreading to Rome.
Thus it is appropriate, as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we pray for Christian unity, especially among those churches who all still revere the Mother of God. This Prayer for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which I have chosen as our novena of the week, reminds us of the necessity of Christian unity and asks Mary to intercede "to restore unity and peace once more to all the Christian people."
(Icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos, egg tempera on wood, Central Russia, mid-1800's. Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)
More on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
- Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- The Virgin Mary's Birthday
- When Is the Virgin Mary's Birthday?
- Wordless Wednesday: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary