Only three birthdays are celebrated on the church's annual liturgical calendar: the birth of Jesus on December 25, the birth of John the Baptist on June 24 and the birth of Mary on September 8. None of the actual dates of births of these three are known but they are connected in interesting ways. (See below *)

Birthdays are happy days, Lord,
and so must this be a joyous day in heaven
when, with angels and saints, you celebrate
the birth of your Mother, Mary, who is our Mother too,
Mother of all who are sister and brother to you...

And so we pray this evening:

   Hail and Happy Birthday, Mary, woman full of grace:
   indeed, the Lord is with you!  

   Chosen and blest are you among all women
   and holy and divine is the fruit of your womb, Jesus:
   our Brother, our Lord and Redeemer...

   Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of all,
   pray for us now in the troubles we face:
   we are sinners who need all the help we can get;
   and pray for us too when our time here is done
   when Jesus your Son will review our lives
   and, we hope, come take us home to heaven 
   to be with him and with you
   and all who have gone before us,
   marked with the sign of faith... 

Protect us, Lord, as we lie awake
and watch over us while we sleep
that awake, we might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace,..


(Birthdays should be happy and joyful so I've chosen this piece 
of happy, joyful music for our prayer tonight.  It's the wonderful
Bobby McFerrin leading a large audience in singing with him 
the beautiful Bach-Gounod Ave Maria.  You'll recognize both 
tunes and I've added the lyrics for the Ave below if you want to
join McFerrin's audience.)

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

* The early church celebrated the Annunciation (when an angel announced to Mary that she was carrying the Christ child in her womb) on March 25, long before a date for Christmas was established, exactly 9 months after the Annunciation on December 25.

The early church celebrated the birthday of Mary on September 8, long before it began to celebrate the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and so the date of Mary's conception was determined by counting 9 months back from the feast of her birth.

In Luke's account of the Annunciation (March 25) he reports that Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, was "in her sixth month" and so John's birth was assigned to June 24th (not the 25th, owing to a discrepancy between what was then the Roman calendar and our calendar today).


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