October 11, 2019: MATERNITY OF MARY
October 11, 2019: 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)
“Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel.”
(Isaias, vii. 14)
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.
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.
Another account of Holy Mother of God.
It is to-day, that we, the children of the Roman Church, must pour forth all the love of our hearts for the Virgin-Mother, and rejoice with her in the exceeding happiness she feels at having given birth to her and our Lord. During Advent, we contemplated her as pregnant with the world's salvation; we proclaimed the glory of that Ark of the New Covenant, whose chaste womb was the earthly paradise, chosen by the King of Ages for his dwelling-place. Now, she has brought him forth, the Infant-God; she adores him, Him who is her Son. She has the right to call him, her Child; and He, God as he is, calls her in strictest truth, his Mother.
Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the enthusiasm and profound respect, wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin, and her prerogatives. Let us, on the contrary, be convinced, that all the praise the Church can give her, and all the devotion she can ever bear towards her, are far below what is due to her as Mother of the Incarnate God. No mortal will ever be able to describe, or even comprehend, how great a glory accrues to her from this sublime dignity. For, as the glory of Mary comes from her being the Mother of God, one would have first to comprehend God himself, in order to measure the greatness of her dignity. It is to God, that Mary gave our human nature; it is God, whom she had as her Child; it is God, who gloried in rendering himself, inasmuch as he is Man, subject to her: hence, the true value of such a dignity, possessed by a mere creature, can only be appreciated, in proportion to our knowledge of the sovereign perfections of the great God, who thus deigns to make himself dependent upon that favoured creature. Let us, therefore, bow down in deepest adoration before the Majesty of our God; let us, therefore, acknowledge that we cannot respect, as it deserves, the extraordinary dignity of Her, whom he chose for his Mother.
The same sublime Mystery overpowers the mind from another point of view—what were the feelings of such a Mother towards such a Son? The Child she holds in her arms, and presses to her heart, is the Fruit of her virginal womb, and she loves him as her own; she loves him because she is his Mother, and a Mother loves her child as herself, nay, more than herself:—but, when she thinks upon the infinite majesty of Him, who has thus given himself to her to be the object of her love and her fond caresses—she trembles in her humility, and her soul has to turn, in order to bear up against the overwhelming truth, to the other thought of the nine months she held this Babe in her womb, and of the filial smile he gave her when her eyes first met his. These two deep-rooted feelings—of a creature that adores, and of a Mother that loves—are in Mary's heart. The being Mother of God implies all this:—and may we not well say, that no pure creature could be exalted more than she? and that in order to comprehend her dignity, we should first have to comprehend God himself? and that only God's infinite wisdom could plan such a work, and only his infinite power accomplish it?
A Mother of God!—It is the mystery, whose fulfilment the world, without knowing it, was awaiting for four thousand years. It is the work, which, in God's eyes, was incomparably greater than that of the creation of a million new worlds, for such a creation would cost him nothing; he has but to speak, and all whatsoever he wills is made. But, that a creature should become Mother of God, he has had, not only to suspend the laws of nature by making a Virgin Mother, but also to put himself in a state of dependence upon the happy creature he chose for his Mother. He had to give her rights over himself, and contract the obligation of certain duties towards her. He had to make Her his Mother, and Himself her Son.
It follows from all this, that the blessings of the Incarnation, for which we are indebted to the love wherewith the Divine Word loved us, may and ought to be referred, though in an inferior degree, to Mary herself. If she be the Mother of God, it is because she consented to it, for God vouchsafed, not only to ask her consent, but, moreover, to make the coming of his Son into this world depend upon her giving it. As this his Son, the Eternal Word, spoke his FIAT over chaos, and the answer to his word was creation; so did Mary use the same word FIAT:—let it be done unto me (St. Luke, i. 38), she said. God heard her word, and, immediately, the Son of God descended into her virginal womb. After God, then, it is to Mary, his ever Blessed Mother, that we are indebted for our Emmanuel.
The divine plan for the world's salvation included there being a Mother of God: and as heresy sought to deny the mystery of the Incarnation, it equally sought to deny the glorious prerogative of Mary. Nestorius asserted, that Jesus was only man; Mary, consequently was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man, called Jesus. This impious doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world. The East and West united in proclaiming, that Jesus was God and Man, in unity of Person; and that Mary, being his Mother, was, in strict truth, “Mother of God.” This victory over Nestorianism was won at the Council of Ephesus. It was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith, which not only proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus, but was sure to result in the setting up of some solemn trophy, that would perpetuate the memory of the victory. It was then that began, in both the Greek and Latin Churches, the pious custom of uniting, during Christmas, the veneration due to the Mother with the supreme worship given to the Son. The day assigned for the united commemoration varied in the several countries, but the sentiment of religion, which suggested the Feast, was one and the same throughout the entire Church.
The holy Pope Xystus 3rd ordered an immense Mosaic to be worked into the Chancel-Arch of the Church of St. Mary Major, in Rome, as a monument to the holy Mother of God. The Mosaic still exists, bearing testimony as to what was the faith held in the Fifth Century. It represents the various Scriptural types of our Lady, and the inscription of the holy Pontiff is still legible in its bold letters: XYSTUS EPISCOPUS PLEBI DEI, (Xystus Bishop to the People of God:) for the Saint had dedicated to the Faithful this his offering to Mary, the Mother of God.
Taken from: The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as set forth in Her Litany, Chapter II. Holy Mother
Imprimatur. J. CARD. GIBBONS, Archbishop of Baltimore. 16 Feb, 1914.;
The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. I, Edition 1868.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
(Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431)