“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.’”
What We Believe about Our Blessed Mother
Chosen by God
The Lord Himself selected Mary, a Jewish handmaiden, to become the Mother of God. Both Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) and Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) wrote that the Almighty, in one and the same act from all eternity, “predestined” the Son of God to become man, and Mary—a fully human person, a true daughter of Adam—to be His Mother.
Foretold in the Old Testament
Many Sacred Scripture passages written prior to the time of Jesus refer to Mary. Genesis 3:15, sometimes called the “First Gospel” (Protoevangelium), acknowledges the sin of Adam and Eve and declares the future coming of the Redeemer Who will be born of Mary. Isaiah 7:14 predicts that a virgin will conceive and, while remaining a virgin, bring forth Emmanuel—“God-with-us.” Several women mentioned in the Old Testament—Eve, Hannah, Deborah, Ruth, Judith and Esther—especially prepared the way for Mary and her mission.
Mother of God
During the Church’s Third General Council held in 431 at Ephesus (located in present-day Turkey) with the help of Saint Cyril of Alexandria (370-444), the Church solemnly declared Mary to be the Theotokos (“Mother of God”). The Second Person (Jesus Christ) of the Most Blessed Trinity, Who is known as the Word (Logos), became man when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s virginal womb. Jesus Christ is one Divine Person Who possesses two natures—one is a divine nature, while the other is a human nature. In His Divine Person and nature, He already existed before His conception in Mary’s womb. What Our Lady did at the moment of the Incarnation—especially remembered on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation—was to supply Him with human flesh. Jesus is true God and true man, and Mary is His Mother. This dogma is the Divine Maternity (Divine Motherhood). We emphasize this belief especially during the Mass on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Mother of Angels
How can Mary be honored as the Mother of the Angels—those spirits without bodies which were created by God? She did not bring forth the angels from her womb as she did Jesus; however, in view of her cooperating with Jesus in giving grace to souls she is their Mother.
Mother of Human Beings
There are two “levels” on which we live: the natural (“earthly”); the supernatural (“spiritual”). When we received the Sacrament of Baptism, we became unique children of God and members of His Church. Our mother in the “order of nature” is the woman who conceived us with the assistance of our father and bore us. Our mother in the “order of grace” is Mary because she has communicated to us, due to her
divinely-given role as Mother and partner in the Redemption wrought by Christ her Son, the grace which makes us holy sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus the Son of the Father, temples of the Holy Spirit, and sons and daughters of Mary. Our Lady’s Spiritual Maternity means that she is our Spiritual Mother.
Intimate Participant on Calvary with Christ in His Sacrifice and Mediatrix
Mary’s offering of her Son dying on the Cross was secondary and subordinate to His but was real nonetheless. As the Mother of the Redeemer, she cooperated with Jesus as He sacrificed Himself to His Beloved Father for us! Mary lovingly consented to her Son’s Death. The Church honors Mary as the Co-Redemptrix because she took part with Jesus in our Redemption, and the Mediatrix because it is through her, now in Heaven, that grace comes to us. The events of the Annunciation, Cana and Calvary prepared Mary to distribute God’s grace to His sons and daughters.
Sinless Disciple of the Lord
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception maintains that Mary never contracted Original Sin. Furthermore, she never committed any “actual” sins, whether mortal or venial. She was exempt from concupiscence (“the tendency to sin”) and the slightest moral imperfection or willful transgression of God’s law. Yet, she remained free to choose between good and evil. That Mary was full of grace means that she obediently heeded and pursued His every command.
The Church has taught for centuries that Mary was a virgin before, during and after the Birth of the Savior. Both Sacred Scripture (Isaiah 7:14) and the Apostolic Tradition express this unchangeable truth. The title “Ever-Virgin” is used in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) of the Mass. Our Lady is the only woman venerated as both “Virgin” and “Mother.”
Eve, the first woman, lived with Adam in the Garden of Eden. She and Adam lost the divine inheritance of sanctifying grace by their sin; Mary received the long-expected inheritance—Jesus Christ, the New Adam—by her acceptance of God’s wise plan for her life. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), quoting Saint Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200), affirmed: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience. What the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosed by her faith.” Saint Jerome (c. 342-420) exclaimed: “Death through Eve. Life through Mary.” Our Blessed Mother is the “New Eve”—the “Second Eve” who, moved by the Holy Spirit, particularly represents all women in her commitment to the Lord.
Wife of Saint Joseph
Mary and Joseph were really married in the sight of God. That Mary and Joseph never participated in the marital embrace does not mean that their union was invalid. They freely renounced the exercise of this right. The true marriage of Mary and Joseph never witnessed the birth of any children except for the Child, Who was miraculously conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and miraculously born of Mary, who retained her Virginity in the process of giving birth to Jesus.
Pattern and Exemplar
Mary, the Daughter of Sion who waited with all the poor and lowly children of the Lord in anticipation of the Messiah, provides the exalted pattern of sanctity. Full of faith, hope, obedience and charity, she is our fellow companion on the
challenging pilgrimage to the Father’s House in Heaven. Our Lady is the Morning Star who unfailingly points to the Son of Justice, Christ her Son.
Daughter of the Father and Temple of the Holy Spirit
As the Mother of the Redeemer, Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. She is the Favorite Daughter of the Father Who created her from nothing, making her a worthy tabernacle in order to house for
nine months His Beloved Son. Our Lady is the Temple of the Holy Spirit Who sanctified her by filling her with His life.
Mother of the Church
Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), on November 21, 1964 in his concluding address to the Bishops gathered in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City at the third session of the Second Vatican Council, proclaimed Our Lady to be the Mother of the Church with these words: “. . for the glory of the Blessed Virgin and our consolation, we declare most holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people, both faithful and pastors, who call her a most loving Mother.” Jesus is the Head of His Mystical Body, of which we are the members united to Mary, His Mother and ours. She is the Mother of the Church and a member of the Church; Mary assists the faithful—as she did in the days before the first Pentecost Sunday—with her fervent prayers.
Heart Pure and Immaculate
The human heart represents the center of the human person where decisions are first made. In her Heart, Mary sought after and served God; this choice blossomed into her cooperation on Calvary with our Redemption. She has a pure and sinless Heart because she was preserved from Original Sin and avoided actual sin in all its forms. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is explicitly referred to twice in the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke (2:19; 2:51). The liturgical Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the Second Sunday after Pentecost.
Unifier Among Christians
Jesus prayed during the Last Supper on the first Holy Thursday evening “that all may be one” (Saint John 17:21). Some may think the Mother of God to be an obstacle to unity among Christians. Yet, she is, along with her Son, the unifying factor. Her proximity to Christ is unparalleled. That Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh finds tangible expression in Mary. It is impossible to understand the Sacred Humanity of Jesus without appreciating His Mother. Authentic comprehension of Our Lady will eventually result in Christian unity.