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Theotókos (a Greek word meaning God-bearer) is the ancient Eastern title for Mary, Mother of God, prominent especially in liturgical prayer in the Orient down to our time (1). It was formally sanctioned at the Council of Ephesus (2). It makes into one word the Lucan title "Mother of the Lord" (1:43) with 2:12, where Lord is taken in a transcendent sense; it is the counterpart of John’s "the Word was made flesh" (1:14). From the second century, Mary’s Son was called God by the Fathers; a Christian interpolation in a Jewish book of the Sibylline oracles reads "a young maiden will bear the Logos of the highest God." The precise origin in time of the word itself is difficult to establish. It is attested by a unique piece of evidence: the papyrus fragment in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, on which, in the vocative case, it is clearly discernible (3). If this papyrus can be dated in the third century, the title must have existed for some time, possibly a generation, before. A word of such significance would not be invented in a popular prayer.

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The kingship of Christ is the official teaching of the Church and is honored in the Liturgy. The queenship of Mary is parallel to and subordinate to Christ’s office. (1) It too has been officially taught, in Pius XII’s Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, which gave doctrinal substance to an idea that recurred frequently in church teaching, notably in the same Pope’s address to pilgrims at Fatima, 13 May, 1946. The queenship has a feast which is retained in the reformed Liturgy.

The Pope reproduces texts from the Fathers, Doctors and Popes on the queenship, and also draws on the Liturgy and popular prayers for similar supporting quotations. The testimonies are cited from east and west; the witness of iconography since the Council of Ephesus is mentioned. […]

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The Assumption of Our Lady

Published on August 11, 2006 by in General Mariology

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Dogma: By the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Pius XII on 1 November, 1950, defined the Assumption of Our Lady as a dogma of faith. (1) The essential passage was: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” (2) The dogma was part of a program planned by Pius XII, as he confided to Msgr. (later Cardinal) Tardini shortly after he had become Pope. It came as a climax to a movement of piety and theology centered on Our Lady, and prompted continuity and expansion of this movement. Literature on the subject had increased in the twentieth century; in the decade prior to the definition, two works—by Fr. M. Jugie, A.A. and Fr. C. Balic, O.F.M.—were conspicuous for exhaustive, scientific scholarship. Theological congresses, notably those organized by Fr. Balic in different countries and by the French Society for Marian Studies, stimulated research and reflection with a considerable corpus of writing as a result.

Due largely to Fr. Jugie’s expertise and influence, the question of Mary’s death was removed from the scope of the dogma. The idea of tracing a historical tradition from apostolic times was abandoned. It was thought better to concentrate on the whole of divine revelation so as to bring to an explicit stage what it contained implicitly. Again, though the Pope said that all the “proofs and considerations of the Holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Scriptures as their ultimate foundation,” (3) he appealed principally to the faith of the Church rather than any particular biblical text as the basis of the definition. A drafting committee, whose names are known, worked on Munificentissimus Deus. The proceedings were kept secret but the members were known publicly to differ as to what the biblical argument should be. […]

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A Holy Ghost father is understandably drawn to any important event unfolding in Nigeria. I refer to the apparitions of Our Lady in Nigeria under the title Mediatrix of All Graces. I have had the opportunity of speaking to the priest and the spiritual director of the visionary, Father John Beirne, C.S.Sp., and of reading his book on the events in which he played a notable and altogether laudable part.

The locality of the apparitions is Aokpe, in what has been called the Middle Belt of Nigeria. I pass at once to the heart of the events. The visionary, Christiana Inehu Agbo was born on 29th March, 1980, and baptized a few days later by Fr. Patrick Gaffney, C.S.Sp., from Hamilton in Scotland. Her mother, Regina, had been for a long time the President of the Catholic Women’s Society and was involved in all the activities of the Church in Aokpe. […]

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In this year of the Holy Spirit, as we approach Pentecost Sunday, I rejoice to discuss one most intimately united with the Spirit of all human beings. Vatican II calls Mary “the temple” (sacrarium) of the Holy Spirit, that which St. Paul says of all Christians (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). Saints and four Popes have sought to express this mysterious relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit by the word “Spouse,” and even this word scarcely expresses the amazing relationship between this unique creature and the divine Person.

We are dealing with an aspect of Our Lady’s life which concerns us beneficiaries of the Redemption achieved by her divine Son. I will note and discuss the opposition to a papal definition of Our Lady as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, and I ask those so opposed to pause and reflect a little. These titles relate to Our Lady’s relationship to us, sinful creatures. How far is this from the title entirely justified in the Church’s teaching, one that has her intimately related to a divine Person incarnate as his Mother, and bound also to the third divine Person?

Is human arrogance at work? Is it not arrogant that we should object to so entitling her when God himself gave her a far more meaningful title? Surely to be Mother of God means far more, infinitely more, than to be Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, on our behalf! […]

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