The Mother of God

Discussion in 'Basic Catechism' started by Traditional Catholic, Jun 2, 2018.

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    I. The Mother of God

    Mary is truly the Mother of God. As Catholics we profess in the Apostles Creed that Christ, the Son of God, was “born of the Virgin Mary.” In the Nicene Creed we read [He] …”was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.”

    In the Greek Orthodox Church, she is known as the Theotokos or God bearer. Even Elizabeth in Luke (1:42, 43) says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

    If we look to sacred tradition we find the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) proclaiming Mary, the Holy Virgin, to be the Mother of God (Theotokos).

    Even Saint Irenaeus says, “This Christ who as Logos of the Father was with the Father… was born of a virgin.” St. Ignatius of Antioch says, “For our God Jesus Christ was carried in Mary’s womb according to God’s resolve of salvation.”

    “The dogma contains two truths-

    • Mary is truly a mother, that is, she contributed everything to the formation of the human nature of Christ, that every other mother contributes to the formation of the fruit of her body.
    • Mary is truly the Mother of God, that is, she conceived and bore the second person of the Divinity, not indeed according to the Divine Nature, but according to the assumed human nature.”(Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p. 196)


    II. Immaculate Conception

    Mary was conceived without stain of original sin. Pope Pius IX in his Bull “Ineffabilis” promulgated that Mary “was, in the moment of her conception, by the unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin.”(December 8, 1854)

    From the Catechism we see the following:

    “490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

    491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaims in 1854:

    The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

    492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is enriched from the first instant of her conception…”

    So, we can see in these excerpts from the Catechism that Mary holds a very high place in heaven. Mary’s fullness of grace and her dignity are derived from her “Motherhood of God.”

    These would be considered the privileges of the Mother of God, of whom St. Augustine writes, “all men must confess themselves sinners except the Holy Virgin Mary, whom I desire, for the sake of the honor of the Lord, to leave entirely out of the question, when the talk is of sin.”

    As the mother of Jesus, the second person of the trinity, Mary transcends the dignity of all other created persons, angels, and men; for the nearer to God a creature is, the greater is it’s dignity. She is actually related by blood to the Son of God through the hypostatic union they share in the human nature of Christ.

    Scripture alludes to the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Jeremiah 31:22- “How long will you continue to hesitate, rebellious daughter? The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: woman encompasses man.” Jerome, for example saw the image as a reference to the infant Jesus in Mary’s womb. Could this “new thing” that was created be Mary? A woman without sin, saved from birh.

    St. Thomas Aquinas rejected the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. His difficulty was that he could not yet find a way to reconcile Mary’s freedom from original sin with the universality of original sin(“all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.”-Romans 3:23), and that all men need a savior. A solution was first achieved by the Franciscan theologian William of Ware and his pupil John Duns Scotus. Through the introduction of the concept of praeredemptio (preredemption), he was successful in reconciling Mary’s being free from original sin and her need to be redeemed. [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p.202]

    Mary also was free from evil concupiscence and from every personal sin. From her conception she was without all motions of inordinate desire which came into the world for the punishment of sin. It would be incompatible for Mary, with her fullness of grace and perfect purity and immaculate state to be subject to moral imperfection.

    According to the Council of Trent in consequence of a special privilege of grace from God, Mary was free from every personal sin during her whole life.

    III. Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

    Mary was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ. According to the Lateran Synod of 649 A.D. she conceived without seed, of the Holy Spirit, generated without injury( to her virginity), and her virginity continued unimpaired after the birth.

    Isaiah 7:14 says,” Therefore the Lord Himself shall give a sign: behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel(God with us).”

    Perpetual Virginity was given to Mary by the Fifth General Council at Constantinople (553 A.D.)

    IV. The Bodily Assumption of Mary into Heaven

    The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p.209]

    The dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s (B.V.M.) Assumption shows some historical development over time. St. Gregory of Tours first spoke of these narratives in 594 A.D. The feast of Mary’s entry into heaven are those of Ps. Modestus of Jerusalem (aprox. 700A.D.). Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58) declared the doctrine of the Assumption to be a pious and probable option, but in so doing, did not declare it belonged to the deposit of the faith. In 1849 the first petitions for dogmatization were addressed to the Apostolic See. At the Vatican Council nearly 200 Bishops signed a motion for dogmatization. [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p.210] This did not happen until Pope Pius XII defined it into dogma (November 1, 1950).

    “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular participation of other Christians:

    In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.” (CCC 966)

    V. The Mediatorship of Mary

    1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God. There is only one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus…” And he is the sole mediator between God and man, by his death on the cross he fully reconciled man with God. But this does not exclude a secondary mediator. There is nothing to prevent others from being called mediators, subordinated to Christ, as they prepare or serve by co-operating in uniting men to God.

    Mary is known by the Church Fathers as the “Go-between”(mediatrix). The title Mediatrix has even been received into the liturgy of the Church by the introduction of the Feast of M. Mariae Virginis omnium gratiatum Mediatrics (1921).

    1.Mary is Mediatrix of all graces by her co-operation in the Incarnation.Mary is mediatrix of all graces in a double sense :

    a.Mary gave the Redeemer, the source of all graces, to the world, and in this way she is the channel of all graces.

    b.Since Mary’s Assumption into Heaven no grace is conferred on man without her actual intercessory co-operation.

    Mary freely cooperated in the Incarnation by her response to Gabriel when she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done unto me according to thy word.”(Luke 1:38) In the Annunciation, the Incarnation, and the Redemption of mankind by the vicarious atonement of Christ, were all dependent upon her consent. In one moment in history Mary represented all humanity. St. Jerome said, “By a women the whole world was saved”

    Mary’s co-operation in the Redemption.

    In the 15th century, under Pius X, some Church documents contained the title: Corredemptrix (Coredemptrix). This term has been misunderstood by some Protestants and lay people as Mary being made equal to Christ. But we must not conceive of the term Coredemptrix in the sense of an equation of efficacy of Mary with the redemptive activity of Christ, the sole Redeemer of humanity. [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p.212] Because she herself was in need of redemption and was indeed redeemed by Christ. She, in principle, could not be both the redeemer and the redeemed. THE AUTHOR OF AN ACT OF MERIT CANNOT BE A RECIPIENT OF THE SAME ACT OF MERIT. (Principium meriti non cadit sub eodem merito) So we see that her act of co-operation in the objective redemption is an indirect, remote co-operation. For she devoted her life to the service of the redeemer, and under the cross, suffered and sacrificed with Him. In the same sense she co-operates in the subjective redemption of mankind.

    2.Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces by her intercession in Heaven.

    “According to the view of the older, and of many of the modern, theologians Mary’s intercessory co-operation extends to all graces, which are conferred on mankind, so that no grace accrues to men, without the intercession of Mary. The implication of this is not that we are obliged to beg for all graces through Mary, nor that Mary’s intercession is intrinsically necessary for the application of the grace, but that, according to God’s positive ordinance, the redemptive grace of Christ is conferred on nobody without the actual intercessory co-operation of Mary.” [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p. 213]

    Pope Pius X calls Mary “the dispenser of all gifts, which Jesus has acquired for us by His death and His blood” Theologians express scriptural proof by Christ’s words in John 19:26, “Woman behold thy son, son behold thy mother.” In the mere literal sense, this only means that Jesus was committing his mother to John’s care. But in the mystical interpretation we see in John the representation of the whole human race. In him Mary was given as a mother to all the redeemed. Through Mary’s intercession she procures children in need of help, to which are imparted the grace to eternal life.

    VI. The Veneration of Mary

    Mary the Mother of God, is entitled to the Cult of Hyperdulia.

    1. Theological proof
    Because of the dignity that she has as the Mother of God, a special veneration is due to Mary. Less than the adoration which is given to the God alone; (cultus latriae) and that which is due the angels and other saints; (cultus Dulia) The special veneration given to Mary is called cultus hyperdulia. Mary should be honored, but the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit should be adored. Nobody should adore Mary.

    “The veneration of Mary achieved its richest development in the middle ages. The feast of the Home-Going(Assumption) of Mary, were originally celebrated as feasts of the Lord, came about during Patristic times… Luther was sharply critical of the veneration of Mary, fearing that divine honor would be paid to a creature and that the unique mediatorship of Christ would be prejudiced… Zwingli also acknowledged the Church’s belief in Mary, and held to the veneration of Mary, but rejected the practice of making petition to her… Under the influence of rationalism the religious veneration of Mary deteriorated and sank to the level of regarding her as a sublimely moral model but a merely natural person.” [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma p.216]


    ‘In all that we have learned about Mary, I think her motherhood stands out as a continuing grace that is uninterrupted because of the consent she loyally gave at the Assumption and at the cross. When she was taken up into Heaven she did not lay aside this saving office, but by her intercession, continues to bring us to eternal salvation. The Church calls her under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. ‘ (Lumen gentium 62) “Mary functions as a mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power.” (CCC 970)