October 11, 2017: MATERNITY OF MARY
October 11, 2017: THE MATERNITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Rank: Double of the II Class.
“There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him.”
(Isaias, xi. 1,2)
a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel.”
(Isaias, vii. 14)
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.
O God who didst will that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an angel, in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary; grant unto us Thy suppliants that we who believe her to be indeed the Mother of God may be aided by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“If any one does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel [God with us] and that the Holy Virgin is therefore Mother of God — for she brought forth according to the flesh the Word made flesh — let him be anathema.”
(Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431)
In the year 1931, amid the applause of the whole Catholic world, solemn rites were celebrated to mark the completion of the fifteen centuries which had elapsed since the Council of Ephesus, moving against the Nestorian heresy, had acclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus was born, as Mother of God. This acclamation had been made by the Fathers of the Church under the leadership of Pope Celestine. Pius XI, as Supreme Pontiff, wished to commemorate the notable event and to give lasting proof of his devotion to Mary. Now there had existed for many years in Rome a grand memorial to the proclamation of Ephesus, the triumphal arch in the basilica of Saint Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill. This monument had already been adorned by a previous Pontiff, Sixtus III, with mosaics of marvellous workmanship, now falling to pieces from the decay of the passing ages. Pope Pius XI, therefore, out of his own munificence, caused these to be restored most exquisitely and with them the transept of the basilica. In an Encyclical Letter Pius set forth also the true history of the Council of Ephesus, and expounded fervently and at great length the doctrine of the prerogatives of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God. He did this that the doctrine of this lofty mystery might sink more deeply into the hearts of the faithful. In it he set forth Mary, the Mother of God, blessed among women, and the most holy Family of Nazareth as the exemplars to be followed above all others, as models of the dignity and holiness of chaste wedlock, as patterns of the holy education to be given youth. Finally that no liturgical detail be lacking, he decreed that the feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary be celebrated annually on the 11th day of October by the universal Church with a proper Mass and Office under the rite of a Double of the Second Class.
O Virgin Mother of God, He Whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed Himself in thy womb, and became man.
“Blessed are the eyes that see the things that you see” (St. Luke, x. 23). These words were spoken by the Divine Master to His disciples, in order that they might understand how privileged they were to believe Him to be the Messiah promised to the Patriarchs and Prophets, and to accept His teachings, as He unfolded to them, the secrets of His Father and the eternal truths of heaven.
Verily may we address these same words, “blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see,” to the children of the household of the faith, who acknowledge holy Mary to be the Mother of God, seeing as they do, by the eye of faith, the truth of this sublime mystery.
One day our Lord, interrogating His Apostles, asked them: “Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?” But they said: “Some John the Baptist, and others, some Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Jesus saith to them: “But whom do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus answering, said to him: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who is in Heaven” (St. Matth, xvi. 13-18).
The question propounded to the Apostles by Christ, concerning Himself, may likewise be put to the world today, in regard to Holy Mary. Whom do men say that she is? And the answer comes: some, an ordinary woman, and others, some a good woman, and others, “man's tainted nature's solitary boast.” But whom do you say that she is? And the child of faith responds: “She is the Holy Mother of God.”
Flesh and blood did not reveal it to him, but our Father who is in Heaven. “Blessed are the eyes that see the things that you see.”
It is by the unerring eye of faith that we believe Mary to be the holy Mother of God.
No man will disown his mother. To him she is the best, the greatest, the loveliest of women. And yet, though she be the mother of his body, she is not the mother of his soul, for God Himself breathes the soul into every man born into the world.
Man's soul is as independent of his mother as creation is of him. Nevertheless, we rightly call her mother, as in truth she, who bore us in her womb, is our mother.
Mary, albeit, one of God's creatures like ourselves, is His holy Mother. While she is not the Mother of the Godhead, she is the Mother of the Word made flesh, who is God, equal to the Father from all eternity; hence she is in very truth the Mother of God.
Confess your faith in the Incarnation and, in the same breath, you affirm that Mary is the Mother of God. In the Incarnation, God takes unto Himself, human nature, remaining always God, therefore He is perfect man, as well as true God. But in His human nature, He is verily the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from whose most chaste womb He took unto Himself that flesh and blood, whereby He became man. The relationship, therefore, between God, as to His human nature, and Mary is the same as that between any mother and her son.
While stoutly proclaiming this intimate union between God and the Blessed Virgin, we as solemnly declare that she is not the Mother of God in His divine nature, for in this He is her Creator, as He is of all other creatures, and not her Son. She is none the less His holy Mother, albeit, in His human nature, for this human nature is the human nature of God, of which she is the Mother. Mary is, therefore, in very deed, the holy Mother of God, since from her the Eternal Son of God borrowed His flesh and blood and became man.
It was this Divine Person, who, by the power of the Holy Ghost, was conceived in her virginal womb and was born of her. Through this ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, Mary holds a unique place in the plan of man's redemption and salvation. For God has redeemed us in His human nature, and not in His divine nature—in that nature, therefore, which He took from His holy Mother, Mary.
In this, God has honored and exalted her above all other creatures, having endowed her with all the beauty and graces a creature is capable of receiving.
Our great love and devotion for Mary, the holy Mother of God, springs from her relationship with God, and this keeps alive in our breasts the great mystery of a God becoming man, through whom every blessing of Heaven comes to us. We honor Mary as the holy Mother of God, for God Himself so honors her, having chosen her from all eternity to be His Mother. No higher dignity could the Creator confer upon His creature, than the one He bestowed upon Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord. We would fail in our duty to God did we neglect to give the respect and pay the homage to His holy Mother that she deserves at our hands.
Who that does not love his mother above all others? Who that would not shed to the last drop of his heart's blood for her sake? Is God to be eclipsed by His own creatures in the veneration that a mother claims from her child? God's love for Mary tells us no. He favored her above all women, when He bestowed upon her from the first moment of her conception, an incomparable beauty of both body and soul, that of her immaculateness. With complacency did He regard her, and with a child's love and devotion for His Mother, has Jesus at all times honored her as His holy Mother.
Mary is also our Mother, and every true child of the Church considers himself favored in being able to invoke her as his holy Mother. She is not, it is true, our natural Mother, but she is our spiritual Mother, since she gave voluntarily of her substance to the Son of God, Christ Jesus, through whom we have been redeemed and begotten, so to speak, to a higher and better life, the spiritual life in Christ Jesus.
All who accept the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, cannot, in reason or justice, fail to recognize this spiritual relationship between Mary, the Mother of the Divine Person, Jesus Christ, and those ransomed through His precious blood, shed for them on Calvary.
As her loving children, let us honor her as God honors her; let us love her as He loves her; let us magnify her name on earth, as the blessed do in Heaven. From the depths of our soul, let us call upon her as our most sweet, most loving Mother Mary, that we may be privileged throughout the endless ages of eternity to mingle our praises with those of all the Angels and Saints in Heaven, to honor her as God Himself honors her, as His holy Mother and ours, through Jesus Christ.
Taken from: The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as set forth in Her Litany,
Chapter II. Holy Mother of God.
Imprimatur. J. CARD. GIBBONS, Archbishop of Baltimore. 16 Feb, 1914.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
(Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431)