Monti fest 2016 (Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary)– Mother of all humanity
We celebrate the Nativity or simply the birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary on Thursday 8th of September 2016. This feast is celebrated by Catholic communities residing in West coast of India specially Konkani speaking people which we devoutly call as Monti fest. The feast of Mother Mary also coincides with the Harvest Festival.
The grand celebration of Monti fest is held with traditional gaiety and religious fervor at all the Churches with solemn high mass, and festivities in churches, parishes and homes. On this special day, the community members take the freshly grown paddy stalks to their respective churches in a procession as an offering of the first bounty of nature to Mother Mary. Special prayers are offered to plead the Holy Mother to keep the fertility of nature and provide all the bounties of nature to the children of the world. Monti fest evokes a flood of fond nostalgic memories in their minds of sugarcane, sweets, borrowing flowers from the neighborhood, delicious meals from freshly harvested vegetables, vorn and so on. Also includes Blessing of the new corn, showering of flowers to Infant Mary, consuming the grains of the new harvest in a cup of milk or sweet “Vorn”, and eating a variety of vegetarian dishes at the festive meal. This heartwarming harvest feast celebrates and culminates the hard work of people of the region to the birthday of dear Mother Mary.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin. Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously through the Holy Spirit. This took place when she was already betrothed to Saint Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. The New Testament begins its account of Mary’s life with the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. The angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah by conceiving him through the Holy Spirit. Bible records Mary’s role in key events of the life of Jesus from his conception until his death on the Cross and resurrection on the third day.
Today we are reminded of the words of blessing which Elizabeth spoke to the Virgin Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? (Lk 1:42-43). In celebrating the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, the Mother of God, the Church reminds us that Mary, more than anyone else, received this blessing. In her blessing finds fulfillment, for no other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary. She gave a human face to the eternal word, so that all of us can contemplate him. In addition to contemplating God’s face, we can also praise him and glorify him, like the shepherds who came way from Bethlehem with a song of thanksgiving after seeing the child and his mother. The two were together, just as they were together at Calvary, because Christ and his mother are inseparable: there is a close relation between them, as there is between every child and his or her mother. This is the start journey of our salvation. The flesh of Crucified and resurrected Christ was knit together in the womb of Mary chosen beforehand to be the Mother of the Redeemer, shared intimately in his entire mission, remaining at her Son’s side to the end on Calvary.
Mary is so closely united to Jesus because she received from him the knowledge of the heart, faith, nourished by her experience as a mother and by her close relationship with her Son. The blessed Virgin is the woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plans, she is the believer capable of perceiving the gift of her Son the coming of that “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4) in which God by choosing the humble path of human existence entered personally into the history of salvation. That is why Jesus cannot be understood without his mother. Likewise inseparable are Christ and the Church – because Church and Mary are always together and this is precisely the mystery of womanhood in the ecclesial community – and the salvation accomplished by Jesus cannot be understood without appreciating the motherhood of the Church. It is not possible to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church. For Church is itself God’s great family which brings Christ to Us. Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God who became man, was put to death, rose from the dead to save us, and is now living in our midst. Where can we encounter him? We can encounter him in the Church, in our hierarchical, Holy Mother Church. It is the Church which says today: “Behold the Lamb of God”, it is the Church which proclaims him it is the Church that Jesus continues to accomplish his acts of grace and mercy which are the Sacraments.
Dear brothers and Sisters! Jesus Christ is the blessing for every man and woman and for all humanity. The Church is giving us the fullness of the Lord’s blessing. This is precisely the mission of the people of God: to spread to all peoples God’s blessing made flesh in Jesus Christ. And Mary the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus, the first and most perfect believer, the model of the pilgrim Church, is the one who opens the way to the Church’s motherhood and constantly sustains her maternal mission to all mankind. Mary’s tactful maternal witness has accompanied the Church from the beginning. She the Mother of God, is also the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of all men and women and of every people.
May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family. On this day of Monti fest or Nativity, we especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in our hearts; peace in our families, peace among the nations. The message for this festival of Monti fest is that we are no Longer slaves, but brothers and sisters” All of us are called to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join together our forces. May she guide and sustain us, who in order to make us all brothers and sisters, became our servant.
Throughout Christian history, devotion to Mary represents and manifests the Christian recognition of the intimacy of the bond between Mary and her son Jesus and her unique and determining role in the unfolding of God’s plan. We venerate Mary because she is the mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our mother. Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”. (Luke 1:38) sets the stage for all the events that will follow: Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the establishment of his Church; and the ongoing work of redemption in which we are caught up today by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s trust in God her “yes” to following God’s will, is something all of us should emulate.
As the new creation began to take form and as the beginning of the kingdom of God began to be manifested in a way that would endure century after century, Mary was present. As a mother, Mary brought Christ to the world. As our spiritual mother, she leads us to Jesus. And as the mother of the New Evangelization, she helps us as we lead others to know and love her son.
Mary the mother of Jesus, is the mother of God because Jesus is God with us. Mary, the Mother of God is also our mother because we are caught up through the power of the Holy Spirit in adopted sonship with God. She is the mother of the Church in particular and to whole humanity in General to whom we turn in intercession in asking to become more closely identified with her son – God’s Son – Our Lord and Saviour.) God who so loves us that he sent his only Son Jesus Christ to us through Mary taking a human form that we might share in his divine life. “At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith stands Mary.
In a special way, every day is Mother’s day when we turn to Mary and deepen our love for Christ. Mary, who held baby Jesus in the manger and who prayed for him at the foot of the cross, shows us the way to her son. As the new creation began to take form and as the beginning of the kingdom of God began to be manifested in a way that would endure century after century, Mary was present. As a mother, Mary brought Christ to the world. As our spiritual mother, she leads us to Jesus. And as the mother of the New Evangelization, she helps us as we lead others to know and love her son.
Let us come closer to Mother Mary during this Monti fest and show our faith in her who intercedes for us through her Son Jesus Christ to our everyday needs on this earth, also let us lead a holy and faithful and devoted life like that our Heavenly mother, mother of God, mother of the Church above all mother of all humanity. Let us start our journey of life here on earth which is pleasing to God and awaiting for God’s promised eternal everlasting life through faith hereafter in Heaven for all eternity with God. Let it be…………
A very Happy Monti fest 2016 to all and May all be blessed. Amen.
Alban D’Souza – Udyavara / Bajjodi