O God of ancient blessing,
your servant Mary pondered in her heart
the treasured words spoken about her Son,
our Savior Jesus Christ.
Bless us as we gather in his name,
and prepare our hearts to receive his Spirit,
that our tongues may confess him Lord,
every day of this new year,
and for ever and ever.
—Blessings and Prayers for Home and Family
The God who made heaven and earth, who created humankind in the divine image, who blessed all creation—this is the God we turn to in this prayer. Liturgical in its solemnity, the prayer recalls the person of Mary as the servant who pondered in her heart the words spoken about her Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
A seemingly simple declaration, the opening line is densely rich with its clear references to the mystery of the incarnation and the Marian role in it: Mary first received the Word in her fiat at the annunciation. She heard the words the angels had spoken to the shepherds about her newborn Son. She heard the words of Simeon and Anna when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple. And when Jesus began his public ministry, she heard the words spoken about him in the synagogues of Nazareth. Mary did more than hear these words. Luke tells us she pondered them in her heart, which is to say, she meditated upon them (see Luke 2:19).
In compact Trinitarian language, we in turn ask “the God of ancient blessing” to bless us as we gather in his same Son and to prepare our hearts to receive his Spirit. By inference we are asking to have hearts in tandem with that of Mary, to ponder the words of Jesus as she did. The reception of the words of Jesus in the heart then allows us to do something external: it frees our tongues to confess him Lord. Within that brief phrase is an echo not only of the Pentecost experience but also of the insistent urging of St. Paul that we confess Jesus as Lord: “God is faithful, by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ Our Lord” (1 Cor 1:9). And further: “[Let] every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).
This prayer is aptly called a “New Year’s Blessing” because it invokes both the eternity of God and the reality of the incarnation for the present time. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Church, in the course of the liturgical year, unfolds the whole mystery of Christ. January 1st is dedicated to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, as it is by her role in the life of Christ that we are able to enter his mysteries. This prayer, in its reverent simplicity, does fair justice not only to the intentions of the feast but to the reality which it attempts to express “every day of this new year, and for ever and ever.”