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We present this account of the birth of Our Lord, followed by a commentary on the account by Our Lady herself, from The Poem of the Man-God. The Poem of the Man-God remains a legitimate mystical/spiritual source for Christian meditation regarding the life of Jesus as recorded by the Italian mystic, Maria Valtorta (see article, In Response to Various Questions Regarding “The Poem of the Man-God” in the Marian Private Revelation section). – Ed.

6th June 1944

I still see the inside of the poor stony shelter, where Mary and Joseph have found refuge, sharing the lot of some animals.

The little fire is dozing together with its guardian. Mary lifts Her head slowly from Her bed and looks round. She sees that Joseph’s head is bowed over his chest, as if he were meditating, and She thinks that his good intention to remain awake has been overcome by tiredness. She smiles lovingly and making less noise than a but­terfly alighting on a rose, She sits up and then goes on Her knees. She prays with a blissful smile on Her face. She prays with Her arms stretched out, almost in the shape of a cross, with the palms of Her hands facing up and forward, and She never seems to tire in that position. She then prostrates Herself with Her face on the hay, in an even more ardent prayer. A long prayer.

 

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In her interesting article “Reproductive Science and the Incarnation” (Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 4, Fall 2002, 11-25) Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz offers a number of interesting correlations between the discoveries of reproductive science and the Church’s belief in the mystery of the Incarnation. Just as the Holy Spirit has continued to bring forth deeper insights into the meaning of this mystery (cf. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, #8), so also the data of biological science, evaluated in the light of Scripture and Tradition, can help us to marvel at the inexhaustible richness of the mystery. The point is, of course, that the mystery can never be simply explained either by theology or by modern science. At the end of her essay Dr. Tkacz appropriately comments that “the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation remains ineluctable and eternal” (p. 22).

Without taking away from the valuable insights which her article provides, I would nonetheless take issue with Dr. Tkacz’s treatment of Mary’s virginity in giving birth to Christ (commonly referred to as the virginitas in partu) on p. 21 and in endnotes #76 and #78 on p. 25. It must be admitted that the datum of the faith that Mary gave birth as a virgin, unfortunately, receives virtually no attention in contemporary catechesis or preaching.

Indeed, who can remember having heard of the “virgin birth” of Jesus, and not of his “virginal conception” or of his Mother’s “life-long virginity,” in a homily in the last forty years?

I. Datum of the Tradition

The fact is that the mystery of Mary’s virginity in giving birth to the Savior was preached and taught consistently by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. One finds beautiful expositions of it in the homilies and catecheses of St. Gregory of Nyssa (+ c. 394), (1) St. Ambrose (+ 397), (2) St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), (3) St. Proclus of Constantinople (+ 446), (4) Theodotus of Ancyra (+ before 446), (5) St. Peter Chrysologus (+ 450), (6) Pope St. Leo the Great (+ 461), (7) Severus of Antioch (+ 538), (8) St. Romanos the Melodist (+ c. 560), (9) St. Venantius Fortunatus (+ c. 600), (10) and Pope St. Gregory the Great (+ 604) (11).

This preaching and teaching was not a mere matter of pious fantasizing, but rather it was a careful “handing on” of what had been received. The miraculous birth of Jesus in time was seen as a reflection of the mystery of his eternal generation by the Father. (12) As with all of the most important data which touched on the person of the Son of God, it became progressively clarified by the magisterium. Already during the pontificate of Pope St. Siricius (384-399) this matter was dealt with in the Plenary Council of Capua (392) and in the Synods of Rome and Milan in 393 (13) with St. Ambrose’s teaching on Mary’s “incorruption” in giving birth emerging as authoritative. (14)

In his De institutione virginum St. Ambrose introduced this mystery by quoting the beginning of the forty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel:

“Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, facing the east; but it was closed. He said to me: ‘This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed.'” … Who is this gate, if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when he was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity (quando virginali fusus est partu, et genitalia virginitatis claustra non solvit). (15) … There is a gate of the womb, although it is not always closed; indeed only one was able to remain closed, that through which the One born of the Virgin came forth without the loss of genital intactness (per quam sine dispendio claustrorum genitalium virginis partus exivit). (16)

St. Ambrose’ defense of the “virgin birth,” especially in this treatise, is so definitive that those who have subsequently sought to “re-interpret” the doctrine in the light of the criticism of Dr. Albert Mitterer (17) have found it necessary to take him on. (18)

II. The Magisterium

In 649 the Roman Synod which convened at the Lateran, whose teaching was approved as authoritative by Pope St. Martin I, anathematized anyone who would deny that Mary “gave birth to (God the Word) without corruption.” (19) In his Constitution Cum quorumdam hominum condemning the errors of Unitarianism Pope Paul IV admonished all those who deny that the Blessed Virgin Mary “did not retain her virginity intact before the birth, in the birth, and perpetually after the birth.” (20) The Roman Catechism also known as The Catechism of the Council of Trent followed suit with this clear teaching:

For in a way wonderful beyond expression or conception, he is born of his Mother without any diminution of her maternal virginity. As he afterwards went forth from the sepulcher while it was closed and sealed, and entered the room in which his disciples were assembled, although “the doors were closed” (Jn. 20:19), or, not to depart from natural events which we witness every day, as the rays of the sun penetrate the substance of glass without breaking or injuring it in the least: so, but in a more incomprehensible manner, did Jesus Christ come forth from his mother’s womb without injury to her maternal virginity. …

To Eve it was said: “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). Mary was exempt from this law, for preserving her virginal integrity inviolate, she brought forth Jesus the Son of God, without experiencing, as we have already said, any sense of pain. (21)

The Second Vatican Council presented this mystery succinctly by speaking of “the birth of Our Lord, who did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it” (22) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats that statement after clarifying that

The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. (23)

Those who would say that these recent professions of the mystery are minimal and non-binding need only examine the footnotes appended to each of them to discover that they are based on previous major declarations of the magisterium which have been considered definitive since the Patristic era. The text of Lumen Gentium cites the Lateran Synod of 649, the Tome of St. Leo the Great to Flavian (24) and the De institutione virginum of St. Ambrose. The Catechism gives two citations to the Tome to Flavian, (25) as well as citing the Second Council of Constantinople, (26) the Letter of Pope Pelagius I to Childebertus, (27) the Lateran Synod of 649, the Profession of Faith of the Synod of Toledo of 693 (28) and Pope Paul IV’s Constitution Cum quorumdam hominum.

III. Dr. Tkacz’ Comments

A. The Miraculous Nature of Christ’s Birth

Now back to Dr. Tkacz. She states that:

He (Christ) chose to traverse the birth canal. … He passed through her (Mary’s) cervix. Its strength had kept him securely in the uterus throughout gestation and now it widened to deliver him to wider life. He passed through the vagina, the organ with which every wife knows her husband. Jesus emerged through the labia, the vulva (21).

The good doctor reports as if she were an eye-witness, precisely on the assumption that there was nothing miraculous in the birth process of the Son of God. On the other hand Father Peter Damian Fehlner makes this very trenchant comment:

But on this question, viz. whether the virginity of our Lady in childbirth involves miraculous elements distinct from the virginal conception, there is an even more basic consideration. The Church has always insisted on this, antecedently to any theological reflection on the point. Belief precedes analysis; indeed sets very severe limits on our intellectual curiosity about the details of this singular birth. (29)

In this he is in fact echoing a major address which Pope John Paul II gave on 24 May, 1992, in Capua where he had gone to address a Mariological Congress organized to commemorate the 16th Centenary of the Plenary Council of Capua which had dealt specifically with Mary’s virginity in childbirth. On that occasion the Pope stated:

The theologian must approach the mystery of Mary’s fruitful virginity with a deep sense of veneration for God’s free, holy and sovereign action. …

The theologian, however, who approaches the mystery of Mary’s virginity with a heart full of faith and adoring respect, does not thereby forego the duty of studying the data of Revelation and showing their harmony and interrelationship; rather, following the Spirit, … he puts himself in the great and fruitful theological tradition of fides quærens intellectum.

When theological reflection becomes a moment of doxology and latria, the mystery of Mary’s virginity is disclosed, allowing one to catch a glimpse of other aspects and other depths. (30)

B. The Patristic Testimony

In Dr. Tkacz’ endnote #76 she rather lightly dismisses an article by Father Stanley Jaki on the virgin birth because he does not cite any Patristic texts in making his case. She opines that the miraculous nature of the birth of Christ “seems to me essentially modern, based on a pietistic thought that to honor Jesus one must dissociate him from human birth, as if birth were indecent” (p. 25). I trust that by now the reader will recognize that this doctrine is clearly taught by the Fathers (for reasons of space we must forego discussion of the Scriptural bases of the doctrine). Further, the miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth is not an indictment of human birth as being “indecent,” but rather fully congruent with the saving purposes of the Incarnation. As Pope St. Leo the Great preached:

The Lord Jesus Christ came to take away our maladies, not to contract them; to bring a remedy to our vices, not to succumb to them. … That is why it was necessary for Him to be born in new conditions (propter quod oportuit ut novo nasceretur ordine). … It was necessary that the integrity of the One being born preserve the pristine virginity of the one who gave birth. (31)

John Saward’s excellent study, Cradle of Redeeming Love, provides several illuminating pages on the fittingness of the miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth. (32)

C. The Seal of Virginity

In endnote #78 Dr. Tkacz states “Legend attributes an intact hymen to the Theotokos” and then goes on to quote from Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary that the “rupture or absence (of the hymen) is not evidence of loss of virginity.” While a certain sense of delicacy, inspired by the 1960 Monitum of the Holy Office of 1960, (33) makes me hesitate a moment before taking issue with this statement, it needs to be dealt with. On this matter the late Father Juniper Carol, O.F.M. summarized quite clearly how the approach of the Fathers and the magisterium had come to be understood:

At the appropriate time, Our Blessed Lord left the womb of His Mother through the natural channels but in a miraculous way, that is, without in any manner opening any part of Mary’s body. In other words, there was no dilatation of the normal passage, no opening of the vagina, no breaking of the virginal hymen. (34)

In less specific biological language the Holy Father treated this issue in his discourse at Capua in 1992. He stated:

It is a well-known fact that some Church Fathers set up a significant parallel between the begetting of Christ ex intacta Virgine
(from the untouched Virgin) and his resurrection ex intacto sepulcro (from the intact sepulchre). In the parallelism relative to the begetting of Christ, some Fathers put the emphasis on the virginal conception, others on the virgin birth, others on the subsequent perpetual virginity of the Mother, but they all testify to the conviction that between the two saving events—the generation-birth of Christ and his resurrection from the dead—there exists an intrinsic connection which corresponds to a precise plan of God: a connection which the Church, led by the Spirit, has discovered, not created. (35)

With regard to Dr. Tkacz’ specific insistence, John Saward provides clarification from the Angelic Doctor:

St. Thomas says that the hymen pertains to virginity only per accidens, and that its rupture by any means other than sexual pleasure is no more destructive of virginity than the loss of a hand or foot (cf. ST 2a2æ q. 152, a. I, ad 3). However, he also holds that bodily integrity belongs to the perfection of virginity (see Quæstiones quodlibetales 6, q. 10, prol). (36)

Could we expect that God would do less for His Virgin Mother?

IV. Virginity of Flesh—Virginity of Heart

What does this doctrine mean? It certainly shouldn’t be taken in any way as lessening “the value and dignity of marriage” (37) asserts the Holy Father. Rather, he insists, it should be seen as pointing to the fact that the bodily integrity of Mary is a physical sign of her total spiritual virginity, that the virginity of her flesh is an indication of the virginity of her heart:

Therefore, she fulfils in herself the ideal of perfect adherence to God’s plan, without compromise and without the defilement of falsehood or pride; the ideal of faithful fulfillment of the covenant, the violation of which on the part of Israel is compared to adultery by the prophets; the ideal of sincere acceptance of the Gospel message, in which the single-hearted are called blest (cf. (cf. Mt. 5:8) and virginity for the kingdom is extolled (cf. Mt. 19:12); the ideal of rightly understanding the mystery of Christ—the Truth par excellence (cf. Jn. 14:6)—and his doctrine, because of which the Church is also called a virgin since she preserves the deposit of faith whole and incorrupt. (38)

While remaining a mystery, the Virgin Birth is also a sign. It points back to the mystery of the eternal generation of the Son in the bosom of the Father and forward to the mystery of his Resurrection. It is a datum which it is beyond the capacity of science to explain, but it also underscores the profound truth of what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated about Our Lady: “Having entered deeply into the history of salvation, Mary, in a way, unites in her person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith” (Lumen Gentium 65). Where a truth about her is denied—deliberately or not—the fullness of Redemption is not proclaimed, God is deprived of the glory that belongs to him and the most perfect work of his creation, who is meant to be “a sure sign of hope and solace to the pilgrim people of God” (Lumen Gentium 68) is demeaned.

 

Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins is an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome, a contributing member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the author of Totus Tuus. He is internationally known for his numerous articles on Our Lady and for his scholarly work in the fields of dogmatic and spiritual theology.

 

Notes

(1) Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999) 154-156, 158-159.

(2) Gambero 192.

(3) John Saward, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002) 209.

(4) Gambero 252-253.

(5) Gambero 265.

(6) Gambero 294-295.

(7) Gambero 304-309.

(8) Gambero 314.

(9) Gambero 331-332.

(10) Gambero 364.

(11) Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., Virgin Mother The Great Sign (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1993) 13.

(12) Cf. John Saward, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002) 212-213.

(13) Cf. Fehlner, Virgin Mother 6-9.

(14) Cf. Fehlner, Virgin Mother 8-11.

(15) Domenico Casagrande, Enchiridion Marianum Biblicum Patristicum (Rome: Figlie della Chiesa, 1974) 368 (W. A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2 (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1979) 172 (#1327)).

(16) Casagrande 369, Fehlner, Virgin Mother 9 (trans. slightly altered).

(17) Cf. Fehlner, Virgin Mother 1.

(18) Cf. Karl Rahner, S.J., “Virginitas in Partu: A contribution to the problem of the development of dogma and of tradition” in Theological Investigations 4 (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1966) 134 ff. and the response by James T. O’Connor, “Ambrose and Karl Rahner: Reflections on the “Virginitas in Partu” in Mater Fidei et Fidelium: Collected Essays to Honor Theodore Koehler on His 80th Birthday (Marian Library Studies) (n.s.) Vol. 17-23 (1985-1991) 726-731; John R. Meyer, “Ambrose’s exegesis of Luke 2, 22-24 and Mary’s virginitas in partu” Marianum 62 (2000) 169-192 and the response by Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., “Virginitas in Partu” in Immaculata Mediatrix 2 (2002) 241-246.

(19) Heinrich Denzinger, S.I., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum: Edizione Bilingue (XXXVII) a cura di Peter Hünermann (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2000) #503 (henceforth referred to as D-H); J. Neuner, S.J. & J. Dupuis, S.J. (eds.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church Sixth Revised and Enlarged Edition edited by Jacques Dupuis (NY: Alba House, 1998) #703 (henceforth referred to as TCF). For commentary, cf. Fehlner, Virgin Mother 14-16.

(20) D-H #1880; TCF #707.

(21) Robert I. Bradley, S.J. and Eugene Kevane (eds.), The Roman Catechism (Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, 1985) 49-50.

(22) Lumen Gentium #57.

(23) Catechism of the Catholic Church #499.

(24) D-H #294; TCF #612.

(25) D-H #291; TCF #609; D-H #294; TCF #612.

(26) D-H #427; TCF #620/6.

(27) D-H #442.

(28) D-H #571.

(29) Fehlner, Virgin Mother 4.

(30) Acta Apostolicæ Sedis (henceforth referred to as AAS) 85 (1993) 664, L’Osservatore Romano (English edition, henceforth referred to as ORE) 10 June 1992, p. 13.

(31) In nativitate Domini, sermo 2, no. 2. Enchiridion Marianum 924, English translation in Saward 213, n. 133.

(32) Cf. Saward 212-217.

(33) Cf. Ephemerides Mariologicæ 11 (1961) 137-138, René Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary trans. Charles Neumann, S.M. (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1991) 328-329, and commentary in Fehlner, Virgin Mother 19-21.

(34) Homiletic & Pastoral Review 54 (1954) 446.

(35) AAS 85 (1993) 665, ORE 10 June 1992, p. 13.

(36) Saward 212, n. 128.

(37) AAS 85 (1993) 669, ORE 10 June 1992, p. 14.

(38) AAS 85 (1993) 668-669, ORE 10 June 1992, p. 14.

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Virginity During the Birth

Published on December 16, 2011 by in General Mariology

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It is of divine faith for Catholics to hold that our Lady not only conceived the divine Word as man “without seed, by the Holy Spirit” but also gave birth to Him “without corruption.” (1) According to the Church’s Doctors, this freedom from corruption means that the God-Man leaves His Mother’s womb without opening it (utero clauso vel obsignato), without inflicting any injury to her bodily virginity (sine violatione claustri virginalis), and therefore without causing her any pain. (2) Pope St Leo the Great teaches the doctrine of our Lady’s virginity in partu in his famous Tome, which was read and approved at the Council of Chalcedon: “Mary brought Him forth, with her virginity preserved, as with her virginity preserved she had conceived Him.” (3) The Catechism speaks of our Lady’s virginity being preserved “even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God” (etiam in partu Filii Dei) and quotes the strong reaffirmation of the dogma by the Second Vatican Council: “Christ’s birth ‘did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it’.” (4) In 1992, on the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Capua, Pope John Paul II vigorously proclaimed the virginity of our Lady in partu, comparing our Lord’s birth from the “intact virgin” with His Resurrection from the “intact tomb.” (5)



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In her interesting article “Reproductive Science and the Incarnation” (Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 4, Fall 2002, 11-25) Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz offers a number of interesting correlations between the discoveries of reproductive science and the Church’s belief in the mystery of the Incarnation. Just as the Holy Spirit has continued to bring forth deeper insights into the meaning of this mystery (cf. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, #8), so also the data of biological science, evaluated in the light of Scripture and Tradition, can help us to marvel at the inexhaustible richness of the mystery. The point is, of course, that the mystery can never be simply explained either by theology or by modern science. At the end of her essay Dr. Tkacz appropriately comments that “the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation remains ineluctable and eternal” (p. 22).

Without taking away from the valuable insights which her article provides, I would nonetheless take issue with Dr. Tkacz’s treatment of Mary’s virginity in giving birth to Christ (commonly referred to as the virginitas in partu) on p. 21 and in endnotes #76 and #78 on p. 25. It must be admitted that the datum of the faith that Mary gave birth as a virgin, unfortunately, receives virtually no attention in contemporary catechesis or preaching.

Indeed, who can remember having heard of the “virgin birth” of Jesus, and not of his “virginal conception” or of his Mother’s “life-long virginity,” in a homily in the last forty years?

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The Mother of God

Published on December 24, 2010 by in General Mariology

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org. Visit books.google.com and search on “Mariology: A Guide” to view the book in its entirety, or simply click here.
Asst. Ed
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The Divine Maternity as a Constituent of the “Fundamental Principle” in Mariology

The Virgin Mary … is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. Redeemed by reason of the merits of her son and united to him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth (1).

These words, taken from the Second Vatican Council, show very well the central importance of Mary as the Mother of God. The most relevant Marian dogma, the divine maternity, is essentially linked to the most important Christological dogma, the hypostatic union: in the person, or hypostasis, of the eternal Son of God are united the divine and the human nature of Christ. The definition of the title Theotókos (God-bearer) at the Council of Ephesus (431) underlines the unity of the two natures of Christ in the same personal subject: as Jesus Christ is one person, the Son of God who assumed a human nature from the Virgin Mary, she must be the Mother of God. Obviously Mary does not generate God in his divinity, but she generates the Son of God in his humanity, because he takes his human nature from her. For this reason her dignity is above that of the whole of creation. She is truly “Mother of God.”

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I see this joyful assembly of holy bishops who, at the invitation of the blessed Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, have gathered here with enthusiasm. And although I am sad, the presence of these holy Fathers fills me with joy. Among us is fulfilled the sweet words of the psalmist David: “Behold how good and sweet it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.”

 

Hail Mary Theotókos, venerable treasure of the whole world, star who never sets, crown of virginity, scepter of the orthodox law, indestructible Mother and Virgin, for the sake of the one who is called “blessed” in the holy Gospels, the one who “comes in the name of the Lord.”

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The Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, most fully understood as flowing from her place at the foot of the cross, is a mystery cherished by all who find themselves under her motherly care, protection, and overabundant love. Dr. John Roskoski, in this article, traces this mystery through scripture and shows it wondrously fulfilled on Calvary in the words of the dying Lord. Dr. Roskoski is an Adjunct Lecturer at both St. Peter’s College and Middlesex Community College, and is a professor of Theology, Exposition, and Exegesis at the Omega Bible Institute and Seminary. –Assistant Ed.

INTRODUCTION: JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS
     Roman crucifixion was a brutal method of executing prisoners. It was designed to illustrate the power of Rome and humiliation of the crucified. The places of crucifixion were always heavy with intense emotions and the drama of the last moments of life. All four Gospels reflect these aspects when they recount the crucifixion of Jesus. However, the Gospel of John, 19:25-27, places a particular focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus and the “Beloved Disciple.” In his last moments, Jesus speaks a powerful couplet of phrases; “Woman, behold your son” and to the Beloved Disciple Jesus states “Behold your mother.”

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The doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary reveals the role of the Mother of Jesus in relation to Christ and his Church. Authentic doctrine regarding Mary is, in fact, a revelation of the person of Mary herself. That is why by truly understanding what Mary’s role is in God’s work of Redemption, we can know better who Mary is. Authentic love of Mary must be based on the truth about Mary.

This matter of Mary’s self-revelation is exemplified at Lourdes during her apparitions in 1858. To Bernadette’s question concerning who she was, Mary responded, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

In this article we will look at the central Catholic truth, known as “dogma,” regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Motherhood of God. A dogma is a Church doctrine that has been solemnly defined as constituting the highest level of revealed truth and something directly revealed by God, whether by an infallible declaration by a pope, or by an ecumenical council confirmed by the Roman Pontiff. 

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Mary, “Mother of God”

Published on December 19, 2009 by in December 2004, Papal Excerpts

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Contemplation of the mystery of the Savior’s birth has led Christian people not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God. This truth was already confirmed and perceived as belonging to the Church’s heritage of faith from the early centuries of the Christian era, until it was solemnly proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

In the first Christian community, as the disciples became more aware that Jesus is the Son of God, it became ever clearer that Mary is the Theotokos, the Mother of God. This is a title which does not appear explicitly in the Gospel texts, but in them the “Mother of Jesus” is mentioned and it is affirmed that Jesus is God (Jn 20:28; cf. 5:18; 10:30, 33). Mary is in any case presented as the Mother of Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (cf. Mt 1:22-23).

Read more: Mary, “Mother of God”

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This article will begin by examining the titles of Queen Mother and Advocate found in the Old Testament Scriptures and most importantly, the Kingdom of David. It will then focus on the Queen in the words of God’s messengers. Next we will examine her roles in relation to the New Covenant and our final goal will be to demonstrate her Queenship and Advocacy in light of Sacred Tradition and the magisterial documents.

I wish to begin with a statement from an encyclical of Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam:

Already from the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church, the Christian people have addressed suppliant prayers and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven, both when they had reason to rejoice and particularly when they were beset by serious troubles. The hope placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ, has never failed. There has never been a weakening of that faith by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with her maternal heart over the entire world, just as she is crowned with the diadem of royal glory in heavenly blessedness. {footnote} Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, p. 1 {/footnote}

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The following article is an excerpt from the Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org. Visit books.google.com and search on “Mariology: A Guide” to view the book in its entirety, or simply click here.
Asst. Ed
.

The First Step Toward Her Mystery

The Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is an enormous subject in the Orthodox Church. At the same time it is rather modest, dogmatically speaking. In the Orthodox Church the presence of Mary is defined by only two dogmas, but she is advocated by a thousand names or images.

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On the day after the Annunciation Mary’s many guardian angels appeared before her visibly, and with deep humility they adored their incarnate King in His Mother’s womb, saying to her: “Now, O Lady, thou art the true Ark of the Testament. We wish to obey thee as servants of the supreme Lord whose Mother thou art.” And indeed when Mary was alone, they helped her in her household work, and whenever she ate alone they served her the modest meals which she took at her poor table.

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Mary the “God-bearer”

Published on May 19, 2009 by in Mariology

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Mary the “God-bearer” from Mother of All Peoples on Vimeo.

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A Creature Gives Birth to Her Creator from Mother of All Peoples on Vimeo.

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Spiritual Motherhood

Published on March 16, 2009 by in Audio - Mariology

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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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To Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

1. History, the light of truth, and the witness of the ages, if only it be rightly discerned and diligently examined, teaches us that the divine promise of Jesus Christ: "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20), has never failed the Church His Bride, and therefore that it will never fail her in time to come. Nay, further, the more turbulent the waves by which the divine bark of Peter is tossed, in the course of ages, the more present and powerful is her experience of the help of heavenly grace. This happened more especially in the first age of the Church, not only when the Christian name was regarded as an execrable crime, to be punished by death, but also when the genuine faith of Christ, confounded by the perfidy of the heretics who were spreading, chiefly in the eastern regions, was placed in grave jeopardy. For even as the persecutors of the Catholic name, one after another, perished miserably, and the Roman Empire itself came to ruin, so all the heretics, as withered branches (cf. Jn 15:6) torn from the divine vine, could neither drink the sap of life nor bring forth fruit.

2. The Church of God, on the contrary, in the midst of so many storms and the vicissitudes of things that perish, trusting in God alone, has ever gone on her way, with firm, secure steps, and has never ceased from her strenuous defense of the integrity of the sacred deposit of Gospel truth, entrusted to her by her Founder.

3. These things come to our mind, Venerable Brethren, when we are about to speak to you, in these letters, concerning that most auspicious event, namely, the Ecumenical Synod which was held at Ephesus, fifteen hundred years ago; for there, assuredly, the crafty perversity of those who erred was exposed, and there, too, was manifest the most firm faith of the Church upheld by heavenly aid.

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The first part of this article appeared in the previous Mother of All Peoples bi-monthly edition.

Ecumenical Aspects

The Council of Ephesus, at least in a general sense, contributes to a global consensus between the great Christian denominations. This is evident for the Catholic Church, but also for the Orthodox Churches, which count Ephesus as the third ecumenical council. Ephesus is also accepted by the Coptic churches (Egypt, Ethiopia), which very much honor the tradition of St. Cyril of Alexandria, even if they have been separated from the universal Church since the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

The title Theotókos, on the other hand, is not used by the spiritual heirs of the Antiochene tradition, who did not accept the Council of Ephesus and today constitute the Assyrian Church of the Orient, a group that has become very small (about 400,000 members). They call Mary "Mother of the Lord" and "Mother of Christ" (92). On November 11, 1994, the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II signed a Joint Christological Declaration which affirms that Catholic and Assyrians "today are united in the profession of the same faith in the Son of God." The document uses the Christological formulations of Chalcedon: "his divinity and his humanity are united in one person, without mixture and without separation." The Assyrians venerate Mary as "Mother of Christ, our God and Savior." "In the light of the same faith, the Catholic Tradition is calling the Virgin Mary ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Mother of Christ’. We both recognize the justification and correctness of these manifestations of the same faith" (93). In other words: the "ex-Nestorians" now also recognize the Catholic doctrine concerning the Mother of God, even if their liturgical tradition does not use the title Theotókos.

In Protestantism (especially among traditional Lutherans), we encounter the reference to the "consensus of the first five centuries" (consensus quinquesaecularis), which recognizes the Trinitarian and Christological councils of the Ancient Church. The theologians of the Reformation accepted the title Theotókos because it manifests the Christological dogma of the hypostatic union (and of the communication of idioms). Luther, for instance, insisted on the importance of Mary’s divine maternity:

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The Mother of God, Part I

Published on September 20, 2008 by in General Mariology

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org. Visit books.google.com and search on "Mariology: A Guide" to view the book in its entirety, or simply click here.
Asst. Ed
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The Divine Maternity as a Constituent of the "Fundamental Principle" in Mariology

The Virgin Mary … is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. Redeemed by reason of the merits of her son and united to him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth (1).

These words, taken from the Second Vatican Council, show very well the central importance of Mary as the Mother of God. The most relevant Marian dogma, the divine maternity, is essentially linked to the most important Christological dogma, the hypostatic union: in the person, or hypostasis, of the eternal Son of God are united the divine and the human nature of Christ. The definition of the title Theotókos (God-bearer) at the Council of Ephesus (431) underlines the unity of the two natures of Christ in the same personal subject: as Jesus Christ is one person, the Son of God who assumed a human nature from the Virgin Mary, she must be the Mother of God. Obviously Mary does not generate God in his divinity, but she generates the Son of God in his humanity, because he takes his human nature from her. For this reason her dignity is above that of the whole of creation. She is truly "Mother of God."

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Eucharistic Celebration for the Sick – Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI

Esplanade in front of the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Rosaire, Lourdes, Sept. 15, 2008

Dear Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood,
Dear Friends who are sick, dear carers and helpers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Yesterday we celebrated the Cross of Christ, the instrument of our salvation, which reveals the mercy of our God in all its fullness. The Cross is truly the place where God’s compassion for our world is perfectly manifested. Today, as we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we contemplate Mary sharing her Son’s compassion for sinners. As Saint Bernard declares, the Mother of Christ entered into the Passion of her Son through her compassion (cf. Homily for Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption). At the foot of the Cross, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: her mother’s heart is pierced through (cf. Lk 2:35) by the torment inflicted on the Innocent One born of her flesh. Just as Jesus cried (cf. Jn 11:35), so too Mary certainly cried over the tortured body of her Son. Her self-restraint, however, prevents us from plumbing the depths of her grief; the full extent of her suffering is merely suggested by the traditional symbol of the seven swords. As in the case of her Son Jesus, one might say that she too was led to perfection through this suffering (cf. Heb 2:10), so as to make her capable of receiving the new spiritual mission that her Son entrusts to her immediately before "giving up his spirit" (cf. Jn 19:30): that of becoming the mother of Christ in his members. In that hour, through the figure of the beloved disciple, Jesus presents each of his disciples to his Mother when he says to her: "Behold your son" (cf. Jn 19:26-27).

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She Gave the Word Flesh

Published on July 26, 2008 by in General Mariology

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Divine providence often furnishes Catholic converts with ironic stories about the twists and turns on their journeys home to the Catholic Church. In my case, as a former Protestant minister, with deep anti-Catholic convictions, it was my Saul-like crusade against Mary that was wondrously transformed by God’s grace into a deep filial love for the Mother of God. As they say, the bigger they come, the harder they fall—in love.

But if, prior to my entry into the Church at Easter, 1986, I had encountered a movement like Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, The "Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix," I would have been quite appalled, my worst suspicions confirmed. Indeed, I can almost hear myself loading the cannon fodder, "What do you mean, Mary as ‘Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate for the people of God?’ At last, proof positive that Catholics supplant Christ’s prerogatives with Mary!"

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The following article is from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. – Asst. Ed.

When pondering the Church’s teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary, one may be immediately inclined to think about her Divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, and Assumption—and rightly so, given that these truths have been defined as dogmas of the Catholic faith. (1) Yet, there are other Church teachings concerning Our Lady that are also important because they, too, glorify God and assist in the salvation of souls. One such doctrine is the spiritual maternity (or spiritual motherhood) of Mary. (2)

The purpose of this article is to present this doctrine, which “is one of the most certain and most universally accepted doctrines of Mariology.” (3)

Definition

The spiritual maternity of Mary is “a particular and unique cooperation of Mary, as Mother of God the Savior, with the redemptive work of her Son, in restoring supernatural life to immortal souls.” (4) The spiritual motherhood of Mary means that the ever-Virgin is my Mother in the spiritual order, often called “the order of grace,” in a similar fashion to the way in which the woman who conceived and bore me is my Mother in the natural order or “the order of nature.”

The great Mariologist Fr. Emil Neubert (+1967), a religious of the Society of Mary (Marianists), in his Mary in Doctrine, writes: “Even the least instructed among Catholics know that Mary is their Mother. Before he has heard the words Immaculate Conception, virginity, Assumption, any child who can lisp a prayer knows that the Mother of Jesus is also his Mother.” (5) Eschewing as “incomplete” the ideas that the spiritual maternity is “metaphorical” and/or “adoptive,” (6) Fr. Neubert, seconding the previous remark, continues: “This spiritual maternity means that Mary has given us supernatural life just as truly as our mothers have given us natural life. What our mothers do for our natural life, Mary does in the supernatural order, nourishing, protecting, increasing, and developing our life so as to bring it to maturity.” (7) […]

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The following account of the Resurrected Jesus’ appearance to his Mother and Co-redeemer is an excerpt from the revelations received by Maria Valtorta, as contained in the work, The Poem of the Man-God. The Poem of the Man-God remains a legitimate mystical/spiritual source within the Church for Christian meditation regarding the life of Jesus as recorded by the Italian mystic, Maria Valtorta (see article, In Response to Various Questions Regarding “The Poem of the Man-God” in the Marian Private Revelation section). – Ed.

Mary is prostrated with Her face on the floor…

The closed window is opened with a violent banging of the heavy shutters, and with the first ray of the sun, Jesus enters.

Mary, Who has been shaken by the noise and has raised Her head to see which wind has opened the shutters, sees Her radiant Son: handsome, infinitely more handsome than He was before suffering, smiling, lively, brighter than the sun, dressed in a white garment that seems woven of light, and Who is advancing towards Her.

She straightens Herself up on Her knees and crossing Her hands on Her breast, She says with a sob that is joy and grief: “Lord, My God.” And She remains thus, enraptured in contemplating Him, with Her face all washed by tears, but made serene, pacified by His smile and by the ecstasy. […]

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After the departure of the Magi, the Mother of God said to St. Joseph:

“My master, dispose of all the offerings of the Kings as belonging to my Son and to yourself—I deserve nothing.” Together they divided the gifts into three parts: one for the Temple (the incense and myrrh and some of the gold), another for the priest who had circumcised the Child, and the rest for the poor.

A devout woman whom Mary had helped urged the Holy Family to move into her modest home, and they humbly accepted her invitation. Sadly they took leave of the holy stable, after cleaning it thoroughly.

During the days that remained before the Purification, when alone with His beloved Mother, the Infant Jesus often murmured to her:

“My Dove, My Chosen One, My dearest Mother, make thyself like unto Me!” […]

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Early on in my priestly ministry a woman who is a very good friend of mine confided to me about her state of frustration and annoyance when she discovered that she was pregnant with one of the “middle number” of her six children. Being a good Catholic, she never entertained the thought of abortion and surely never deliberately “rejected” this new life in her womb. Her attitude seems to have been characterized by that Stoicism which many of us try to pass off as “abandonment to Divine Providence,” but which, in reality, represents a rejection of God’s will for us together with those people or situations which He has brought into our lives without our permission.

The invitation to say with Mary “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) was not readily accepted. Rather, she “resigned” herself to the presence of a child whose “timing” did not coincide with her’s or her husband’s. It may seem a bit harsh to describe her stance as one of rejection, but at base that is what it was: an unwillingness to accept God’s plan and this new life. On the other hand, with three little ones already “under foot” and vying for her attention along with her husband, her attitude was quite understandable. No doubt the rejection was not a conscious refusal, but for all of that it was nonetheless real.

Surely one of the great contributions of modern psychology to child-rearing in our century has been to highlight the importance of the relationship of the mother with the child in her womb from the very time when she becomes conscious of its existence. No doubt mothers have always grasped this intuitively. Still, it is one of the merits the nascent disciplines of psychology and psychiatry in our times to have underscored with ever greater clarity the inestimable importance of the mother/child bonding process which begins in the womb. […]

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A Position Paper on the Motherly Role of Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother in the Church and in the World

Hanging on the Cross, Jesus sees his mother and John standing at the foot of the Cross … Looking at them, Jesus says: “Woman, behold your son … Behold your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). Thereby Jesus gave Mary his mother to the Church. It was a pure gift and grace of our Lord Jesus to make available to humanity the maternal role of Mary.

This bequest of Jesus at the most solemn moment of his “hour” on the Cross to the Church refers us back to the very beginning of the public life of Jesus when he received Baptism from the hands of John the Baptist in Jordan. At that moment the Father from heaven declared, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22; cf. Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; and also Lk 9:35; Ps 2:7).

What the Father declared him to be at the moment of his Baptism

Now Jesus declares what his mother has to be at the moment of his Passion! […]

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The Church calls Mary Mother of the Savior as well as Mother of God. In the Litany of Loreto, for example, after the invocations, “Holy Mother of God,” and “Mother of the Creator,” we find the other, “Mother of the Savior, pray for us.” Though some have thought the contrary, (1) the fact of these two titles is no reason for believing that Mariology labors under the defect of a duality of distinct principles: “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Savior, who is associated with His redemptive work.” Mariology is a unity, for Mary is “Mother of God the Redeemer or the Savior.” In much the same way the two mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption do not take away from the unity of Christology, for its central point is the redemptive Incarnation. The motive of the Incarnation is sufficiently indicated in the Creed which says that the Son of God came down from heaven for our salvation.

Let us now see how Mary became Mother of the Savior by her consent, and how, as Mother of the Savior, she was to be associated with His redemptive work. […]

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The Mother of God

Published on January 6, 2007 by in Marian Apologetics

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The first and foremost revealed truth about the Virgin Mary from which all her other roles and all her other honors flow, is her providential role as the Mother of God. This dogma proclaims that the Virgin Mary is true Mother of Jesus Christ, who is God the Son made man. The dogma of Mary’s Divine Motherhood, as it is commonly referred to, was solemnly defined at the third ecumenical council of Ephesus (431 A.D.).

Mary’s role as the Mother of God is revealed in Sacred Scripture. At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel declares to Mary: “Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus… therefore, the holy one who shall be born of you shall be called Son of God” (Lk 1:31; Lk 1:35).

The angelic message which originates from the Heavenly Father himself attests that Mary becomes the true Mother of Jesus and secondly, that Jesus is the true Son of God. From these words of the angel, we can derive the following simple theological syllogism: Mary is Mother of Jesus; Jesus is God; therefore, Mary is Mother of God. Since Jesus is truly God the Son, and Mary is repeatedly referred to in Scripture as the “Mother of Jesus” (cf. Mt 2:13, 2:20; Jn 2:1, 3; Acts 1:14, etc.), then Mary must be the true Mother of God made man. […]

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This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect.

This, the first sentence of Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII, article 62 is a statement from which we can extrapolate the progressive interrelation of the five Marian doctrines. We see that the Council is saying that her role as “Mother of God,” which began with her freely willed cooperation at the Annunciation, has led her to providentially and rightly be called the “mother in the order of grace,” or our “spiritual mother,” in the unceasing mediation of salvific grace for the people of God. Regardless of whether the position of this statement in the order and organization of the document  is viewed as positive or negative in its effect on clarity for the faithful and ecumenism with our separated brethren, it can be asserted that the efforts of the Council have opened up “new avenues of approach” in the continuing understanding of Mary’s role as Mediatrix. These are the thoughts of Pope Paul VI in a letter to the Fifth International Mariological Congress at Lisbon in August of 1967:

Although it refrained from establishing any new basis for Marian doctrine, the Council nevertheless made such excellent and clear statements concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary that we can say that it has opened new avenues of approach both for a more profound theological study and for the promotion of a sounder and healthier Christian piety toward the Mother of God. (1) […]

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From the beginning, the Church has confessed, in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, that the only Son of God was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” At the Council of the Lateran in 649, she taught that “at the end of the ages” the Mother of God “conceived without seed by the Holy Spirit God the Word, who was begotten of God the Father before all ages.” (1) This is the fact prophesied by Isaiah and reported by St Matthew and St Luke:

Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel (Is 7:14).

When Mary His Mother was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18).

The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee (Lk 1:35).

The Virgin conceives not by male seed but by the Holy Spirit. (2) “Mankind’s only Lover,” says St John Damascene, “was conceived in the immaculate womb of the Virgin, not by will or desire, not by congress with a man or generation joined with pleasure, but by the Holy Spirit.” (3) […]

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II. The Essence of the Divine Motherhood

Thus far we have only made a beginning in our study of the divine motherhood. We have seen that both Scripture (at least implicitly) and Tradition teach that Mary is truly the Mother of God, and that this doctrine has been the object of the infallible teaching authority of the Church for over 1500 years. But if we are to understand more fully why the divine motherhood is the greatest dignity that can be conferred on a created person, why it is Mary’s greatest privilege, and the reason for all her other privileges, (54) then it is necessary to probe more deeply into the nature of the divine motherhood in order to determine its very essence.

Here we are at the very heart of Mariology. For… the divine motherhood is the basic principle of Mariology. If a principle is to be used with the precision demanded by science, its essential content must be clearly determined. But, surprising as it may seem, not all theologians agree on what constitutes the essence of the divine motherhood. […]

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“My soul is glorifying the Lord and my spirit rejoicing in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:46). With this antiphon Our Blessed Mother herself began an everlasting hymn of praise to the Majesty of God for the wondrous mystery of divine motherhood which God had worked in her. Each succeeding generation has added its voice to the chorus according to Mary’s prophecy, to glorify the divine goodness “whose mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk. 1:50). In making Mary His Mother, God has poured forth on her all the treasures which His loving omnipotence could confer on a person who is not God Himself. Because Mary is God’s Mother, she stands next to her divine Son, at the summit of creation, above the angels and saints, having within her the very fullness of divine grace and purity and holiness. As Pius XII wrote in his encyclical Fulgens Corona, “A higher office than this (the divine motherhood) does not seem possible; since it requires the greatest dignity and sanctity after Christ, it demands the fullest perfection of divine grace and a soul free from every sin. Indeed, all the privileges and graces with which her soul and her life were endowed in so extraordinary a manner and measure, seem to flow from this sublime vocation of Mother of God, as from a pure and hidden source.” (1)

The divine motherhood is not only Mary’s greatest privilege, but it is the key to the understanding of all her other privileges. Not only does this truth hold the primacy in Mariology, but it is so intimately connected with the whole economy of salvation in Christ that for the past 1500 years the recognition of Mary as Mother of God has been a touchstone of Christian orthodoxy. For if Mary is not truly the Mother of God, then her Son, Christ Our Redeemer, is not true God as well as true man; moreover, His salvific work for the Redemption of mankind would be nothing more than vapid imaginings of a restoration that had never taken place.

In one brief article it is obviously impossible to treat adequately of this great privilege of Mary which seems to exploit the very omnipotence of God Himself. (2) We shall limit ourselves here to the following points: 1. the revealed fact of the divine motherhood in Scripture, Tradition, and history: 2. an attempt at delineating the essence of the divine motherhood; 3. some reflections on the relationship of Mary’s motherhood to her other privileges. […]

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In the February 17, 1952 message from the Lady of All Nations (Church approval May 31, 2002, see “Church Approves Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations,” Marian Private Revelation Category), Our Lady offers a warning to the Church of the imperative for a new evangelization, and a new application of Church doctrine for our times (in prophetic anticipation of the Second Vatican Council). Our Lady also explains that she “stands here before you in this time as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate” and that “the Lady of All Nations may and shall bestow Grace, Redemption and Peace upon all the peoples of this world who have recourse to her.” To all, however, falls the task of “introducing the Lady of All Nations throughout the entire world.” – Ed.

The Lady is there again. She comes very close to me, and says,

Listen carefully and tell the theologians and peoples of this world to interpret my message well and to seek to understand it. The Lord Jesus Christ came and brought the Church and the Cross as a gift from the Lord and Creator. The Church is, and will remain. The Lord and Creator desires gratitude from the creature. The Church is the community of peoples who shall adore and honor the Lord and Creator, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All those who have been placed over the community shall see to it that the Church remains and expands. […]

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The Blessed Virgin was predestined to be the Mother of God in the eternal plan for the incarnation of God’s Word. By decree of God’s providence she was, here on earth the loving mother of the divine Redeemer, the noblest of all his companions, and the humble servant of the Lord. In conceiving Christ, in bearing him, in nursing him, in presenting him to the Father in the temple, in sharing her Son’s passion, as he was dying on the cross, by her obedience, her faith, her hope and burning love, she cooperated, in a way that was quite unique, in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. She is therefore a mother to us in the order of grace.

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The theology of the body as taught by Pope John Paul II during the Wednesday audiences from September 5, 1979 to November 28, 1984 is becoming more and more acclaimed as a revolutionary approach to understanding the embodiedness of human persons. (1) In offering to the Church and the world a catechesis of the body, a theology of the body, John Paul II proved himself a true shepherd by responding to the twentieth century scandalum carnis. There can be no doubt that the body was perceived as an enigma by much of twentieth century thought. For example, Caryll Houselander, fully aware of the twentieth century infatuation with the body, wrote in 1944: “There has surely never been an age in which so many people were so particularly preoccupied with their bodies as this age, and yet to so little profit.” (2) For this reason, the theology of the body as taught by John Paul II is a theological response, in the form of a theological anthropology based in Divine Revelation, to the modern quest to understand the origin, meaning and destiny of the human body. (3)

Part of the reason for why this aspect of revelation—God’s knowledge shared with us concerning the human body—lay dormant for so many centuries is because the twentieth century, perhaps unlike any century in human history, with all of its technological advances, came to view the human body as a mere instrument to be used in the never ending quest for self-gratification and pleasure. For example, one has only to think of the various types of sins—all bodily sins—that became commonplace, many even becoming legal, during the twentieth century: abortion, euthanasia, pornography, prostitution, drugs, wars, suicide, terrorism, homosexual acts, adultery, contraception, concentration camps, genocide, sex changes, cloning, and the list goes on and on. Some philosophers have even ventured to label the current era in history the “post-human” era. Thus, a theology of the body could not have come at a more apropos epoch in history. God has saved a great treasure for our times. […]

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The early Christians had a lively devotion to the Blessed Virgin. We find evidence of this in their surviving literature and artwork and, of course, in the New Testament, which was their foundational document. While the Mariology of the first three centuries was at a primitive stage of development (compared to that of a later age, or even our own), it was perhaps more consciously scriptural than many later expressions, and more consistently presented in the theological context of creation, fall, incarnation, and redemption. So it sometimes can speak to us with greater clarity, immediacy, and force. For Mary’s role makes no sense apart from its context in salvation history; yet it is not incidental to God’s plan. God chose to make His redemptive act inconceivable without her.

Mary was in His plan from the very beginning, chosen and foretold from the moment God created man and woman. In fact, the early Christians understood Mary and Jesus to be a reprise of God’s first creation. Saint Paul spoke of Adam as a type of Jesus (Rom 5:14) and of Jesus as the new Adam, or the “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:21-22, 45-49). […]

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The Eucharist is the Bread of the Mother of God, our Mother. It is Bread made by Mary from the flour of her immaculate flesh, kneaded with her virginal milk. St. Augustine wrote, “Jesus took His Flesh from the flesh of Mary.”

“You Are My Son”

We know, too, that in the Eucharist, together with the Divinity, are the entire Body and Blood of Jesus taken from the body and blood of the Blessed Virgin. Therefore, at every Holy Communion we receive, it would be quite correct, and a very beautiful thing, to take notice of our holy Mother’s sweet and mysterious presence, inseparably and totally united with Jesus in the Host. Jesus is ever her adored Son. He is Flesh of her flesh and Blood of her blood. If Adam could call Eve when she had been formed from his rib, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23), cannot the holy Virgin Mary even more rightly call Jesus “Flesh of my flesh and Blood of my blood”? Taken from the “intact Virgin” as  St. Thomas Aquinas says, the Flesh of Jesus is of the maternal flesh of Mary, the Blood of Jesus is of the maternal blood of Mary. Therefore, it will never be possible to separate Jesus from Mary. […]

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Let us…turn to the realization, in point of time, of the unique mission assigned to (Our Blessed Lady) by the Almighty, namely, to be the worthy Mother of the Son of God. (1) In treating this subject we will discuss briefly:

I. The errors in this connection;

II. The official teaching of the Church;

III. The argument from Sacred Scripture;

IV. The teaching of Tradition;

V. The theological explanation of the Catholic dogma;

VI. The objective dignity resulting from it.

I. Errors Concerning the Divine Maternity.

The Docetae, Anabaptists, and other heretics held that Christ was true God, but not a true man; hence, in their opinion, Mary could not be said to have begotten Him. On the contrary, the Ebionites, Arians, Rationalists and others hold that Christ was a true man, but not God; hence, Mary may be called the Mother of Christ, but in no way the Mother of God. The third error is that of the Nestorians, who claim that there were two persons in Christ (one divine and one human), and that Mary gave birth only to the human person; therefore, she cannot be called Mother of God. […]

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By the time Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, was released in movie theaters on Ash Wednesday 2004, the movie had already polarized viewing audiences worldwide. Detractors (who for the most part studiously avoided making their religious beliefs known) focused on the film’s rather harsh characterization of the Sanhedrin and the bloodthirsty Jewish mobs in order to label the movie anti-Semitic; or they focused on the very graphic nature of the film, claiming that the extreme violence took away from Christ’s central message.

Advocates of the film (who made no secret of their Christianity) argued that this violence was necessary, given how much the modern world had grown desensitized to the sufferings of Our Lord; and they pointed out that the Passion was Christ’s central message. They also dismissed the charges of anti-Semitism, pointing out that what was portrayed in the movie was an accurate reflection of what is recorded in the Gospels, that all of the heroes in the story were themselves Jewish, that all of humanity (not just the Jews) bore the responsibility for what happened to Jesus, and that the true villain was not the Jews, but the amorphous Satan who corrupted their hearts and orchestrated the sequence of events that followed. […]

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St. Lawrence was a man of prodigious activity. He constantly obeyed the call of his Capuchin superiors for service to his own order, to the Church, and to the world. His work brought him into contact with the most noble persons of his era from princes of the Church to princes of state. Despite the demands of his duties, he never abandoned the call of the pulpit. Above all else, preaching was St. Lawrence’s real lifework. He preached everywhere and on all occasions, from prestigious pulpits in Europe to local parish churches. He prepared for each sermon in the same laborious way no matter how many times he had previously spoken on a topic. He would retire in seclusion before a picture of the Blessed Virgin, meditate on Scripture, jot down insights, and structure a written text around these thoughts. Eyewitnesses have reported that his love of God and hatred for sin were palpable in his preaching. In the following excerpt from the same series of Lenten reflections presented in the previous two installments, St. Lawrence considers how St. John’s vision of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars establishes the nobility of Mary as something extraordinarily greater than the nobility of the princes of this world.

In a characteristic spirit of fraternal love St. Lawrence presents St. John’s text to his audience as a place of hidden spiritual treasures: […]

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Mother of Mercy

Published on February 26, 2005 by in February 2005, Papal Excerpts

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These words of the Church at Easter re-echo in the fullness of their prophetic content the words that Mary uttered during her visit to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah: “His mercy is…from generation to generation.” (1) At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and of the resurrection and “sealed” (2) with the sign of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman’s house: “His mercy is…from generation to generation.” (3) […]

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St. Lawrence’s reflections on the angelic salutation—”Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”—extends over ten sermons. In the seventh of these he preaches in particular upon the angel’s claim that God is with Mary, a theme which he introduces as follows:

By the words of his greeting the angel signaled Mary’s greatness. If we should speak about a king or an emperor who deals with business in his own chamber with his own assistant, counselor, and chief general, we would not say that the king is with the assistant but that the assistant is with the king. The pope is not with the cardinal or the bishop, but the bishop with the pope. The master is not with the servant, but the servant with the master. However, we do say that the king is with the queen or with his mother or with his most beloved and only daughter.

Thus St. Lawrence notes that “the angel of the Lord … said, ‘the Lord is with you’ just as one would say that the king is with the queen, the husband with the most beloved bride, the son with his dear mother. O marvelous, O divine consortium! Who will be able to grasp the meaning of these words: the most high and almighty God with Mary!”
[…]

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