Mary, Mother of God


The grotto in the garden seen during the Vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. – pix by Douglas Yu and Thomas Lee

World Day of Peace

KOTA KINABALU: On New Year’s Eve, the St Simon Church Likas parishioners and churchgoers bid farewell to 2015 with a very traditional service on the vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Mother Mary’s statue in the Chapel. 

The rector, Fr Cosmas Lee, gave a brief account on how the day came to be and its roots from the Council of Ephesus, in present day Turkey, circa 431.

“We celebrate this great Solemnity (of Mary, Mother of God) – oldest of all the celebrations of Mary. The oldest and the greatest title we have given to Mary: Mary, Holy Mother of God (‘Theotokos’)… ‘God-bearer’,” he said.

He added that “there was some rumour that the people, citizens of Ephesus, would not let the bishops go unless they would proclaim Mary ‘the Mother of God'”.

“The same Council thought that since we could not separate the humanity of Jesus from His divinity then She (the mother) should be the Mother of God.

The procession into the Church during the Mass.

“You heard a lot of me in the Mass last Sunday. Very long sermon. So today I will give you the Pope’s sermon… the text is out so I read to you and it’s not as easy to understand as my sermon.

“So I hope you ask Mother Mary to give you a better listening ear, and a more pondering heart. You’re hearing it before the people in Rome,” he said.

Some excerpts from the Pope’s text:

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).

May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family. On this, the World Day of Peace, we especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among the nations. The message for the Day of Peace this year is “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 own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces. May he guide and sustain us, who, in order to make us all brothers and sisters, became our servant.

(For the Pope’s full text which was read to the New Year’s Eve crowd at the parish, please click HERE)

Before concluding the celebration, the rector also joked that there was no need for the churchgoers to go to Tanjung Aru or Tanjung Lipat, Likas, for the local culture of “cleansing” ahead of the New Year because they have attended the Mass.

“Go home and shower” will do, he said, to a chorus of laughter from the crowd.

A woman praying at the grotto in the garden.

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