Pause for Prayer: Who’s in this painting?

 Who’s in the painting?
No, it’s not Mary holding the baby Jesus.

Rather, it’s St. Ann, the grandmother of Jesus,
    holding her baby daughter Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Do we know the actual date of Mary’s birth? Well, certainly not from any birth certificate! But if you count back exactly nine months from September 8, you’ll find yourself at another important date on the church calendar: December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. (This is a good way to remember that the feast of the Immaculate Conception is not about the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb but rather about the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, Ann.)
The church calendar celebrates the birthdays of only three people: Jesus, his mother and John the Baptist. The  history of the church calendar tells us that the feast of Mary’s birthday was observed centuries before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined in 1854. The longstanding September 8 commemoration of Mary’s birth led to choosing December 8 as the day for celebrating her conception.
Let us pray…
Hail Mary, Happy Birthday, 
    woman full of grace

       indeed, the Lord is with you!  

Chosen and blessed are you among women,

   blest and divine is the fruit of your womb:
        Jesus, your Son, the Anointed of God,
        our Brother, our Lord and Redeemer…

Holy Mary, 
    Mother of God, Mother of all,

pray for us now in the troubles we face,

    we’re sinners who need all the help we can get.

Pray for us, too, at the hour of our death

    when Jesus your Son will call us home
to be with him, to be with you
    and with all who’ve gone before us…