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Our Lady, Mary, the Mother of God.

Mary (1)

Called in the Gospels ‘the Mother of Jesus’, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her Son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 495)

The mother of the Messiah has been called many things in the last 2000 years – the Virgin Mary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother, the  Mother of God, ‘Theotokos’ meaning God-bearer or mother of God. The latter name being used by the early Church Fathers.

In 431, the Council of Ephesus met, under Cyril’s leadership, and solemnly proclaimed that Mary is indeed rightly to be honoured as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.  It proclaimed that from the moment of His conception, God truly became man.  Of course Mary is a creature and could never be the origin of the eternal Trinity, God without beginning or end.  But the second person of the blessed Trinity chose to truly become man.  He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for a while, ascend back to heaven, and discard it like an old car.  No, at the moment of His conception in the womb of Mary, an amazing thing happened.  God the Son united Himself with a human nature forever.

Mother of God icon.

Mother of God icon
Photo by: Klášter Pražského Jezulátka

The Council of Ephesus, once confirmed by the Pope, became the third ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, and its teaching in this matter is dogma, truth revealed by God which all are bound to accept.

So why does the Roman liturgy celebrate the Octave of Christmas as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God?  Because this paradoxical phrase strikes at the very heart of Christmas.  The songs we sing and the cards we write extol the babe of Bethlehem as Emmanuel, God-with-us.  He is so with us that after Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin of Nazareth, the Divine Word can never again be divided from our humanity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect woman — hand-picked and created by God to be His mother. She is the ‘highly favoured one’. She knows the fullness of God’s love and passes this beautiful blessing onto to us. For, she is not only God’s mother, but our mother, too. She is the gentle, concerned mother who watches over us day and night, and cares for our every need. Every pain, every worry, every joy we feel she wants us to share it all with her. The love that God manifests toward her, she shares abundantly with us. The Holy Spirit dwells within her heart, and she is a conduit of love, grace, and tender mercy for us. She also serves as a wonderful model of love to emulate.

Just as Christmas honours Jesus as the Prince of Peace, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honours Mary as the Queen of Peace. Like the holy Infant, we are forever safe within her arms.

Mary is worth honouring and emulating because she is the ideal example of perfect obedience to God. Knowing that she could be stoned to death for carrying a baby conceived out of wedlock, she still said ‘yes’ to God: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38). When she said ‘yes’ to God she demonstrated perfect courage, perfect obedience and perfect faith.

Mary is a pillar of strength. She stands, not faints, at the base of the cross as her son’s life is taken from her. Mary understands human suffering. Her own life was full of suffering: a problem pregnancy, a difficult delivery in a faraway land. Mary bore her suffering with strength, dignity and perfect faith.

There are countless reasons to honour the Mother of our Lord and our blessed Mother:

  • The Archangel Gabriel honoured Mary.
  • St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, honoured Mary.
  • Of all the people ever created, God choose Mary to bear His Son.
  • Thanks to Mary’s fiat, the gates of Heaven were opened for us.
  • Jesus gave us Mary as our spiritual mother.
  • The fourth commandment requires that we honour our mother.
  • Mary loves Jesus perfectly and also loves each of us perfectly.
  • No Mary, no Jesus. (Although Jesus, as God, always existed) 
  • By honouring Mary, we are imitating Jesus – who will honor his mother for all eternity.
  • From Mary came the Eucharistic Body and Blood.
  • God chose Mary as His way to come to us.
  • Mary helps defeat Satan.
  • The early Church Fathers offered high praise for Mary.
  • Mary was a part of the most significant events in Jesus’ life.
  • God entrusted His own Son to Mary.
  • God has honoured Mary above all creatures.
  • Mary’s consent was required to bring Jesus into the world – Her permission was essential to our redemption.
  • Mary worked and suffered for our salvation and it would therefore be ungrateful not to honor and reverence her.
  • Mary’s consent made reparation to God for the disobedience of our first parents.
  • Mary is a perfect example of obedience.
  • Mary is sinless.
  • Mary is full of grace.
  • Mary is blessed among women.
  • Mary is the mother of our Lord.
  • Mary has found favor with God.
  • Mary said all would call her blessed.
  • Mary is the greatest of all saints.
  • Mary is the Queen of heaven.
  • Mary underwent intense sufferings on our behalf.
  • Mary is our Mother by the Will of Christ.
  • Mary is the greatest example of virtue in a creature.
  • Surely someone worthy of being the mother of the Jesus – that is, God! – is worthy of our honor. 
  • Jesus’ humanity was drawn from Mary – without her, we could not be Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
  • If the Ark in the Old Testament which held the written words of God was to be so revered, how much more should the Ark which contained the living Word be revered?
  • If one would “carefully handle a plant that brought forth the choicest of flowers”, how much more ought one to show devotion to Mary, who brought forth Christ?
  • Mary is our best guide to Christ.
  • Without Mary there would be no: Christmas, Easter, Salvation, Eucharist, New Testament…
  • Without devotion to Mary, one loses out on knowing their Mother!
  • It’s a privilege to have Mary pray for us, and those who honor her may ask for this privilege.
  • Would a wise person show great honour to an earthly king, yet snub his mother?
  • When one loves God, one should also love those whom God loves. “For it is the nature of love, to love when it feels itself loved, and to love all things loved of its beloved. So when the soul has by degrees known the love of its Creator toward it, it loves Him, and loving Him, loves all things whatsoever that God loves.” (St. Catherine of Siena)
  • If someone you knew gave up their own child so that you and your loved ones could live, would you not honour that person? Wouldn’t it show much ingratitude to not honour such a person? Well, Mary did give up her Son so that you and your loved ones might live!
  • If you want Mary to be there for you at your death, as she was for Jesus, you should be devoted to Mary during your life.
  • Jesus’ body – without which we could not be redeemed – was taken from, nourished by, and cared for by Mary.
  • Jesus’ plan for our redemption was totally dependent upon the Blessed Virgin’s participation – Any chance we have of salvation was totally dependent upon the Blessed Virgin’s participation.

And, since Scripture commands us to honor our mother and father, how could we fulfill this commandment if we don’t honor Mary, our spiritual Mother? As Scripture says…

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth…. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne… Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” (Rv. 12:1-2,5,17, emphasis added)

Spiritual warfare!

 

Guido Reni's painting . St. Peter's in Rome.

This is a subject that deserves more attention and recognition than it gets, and I intend to post more thoughts on  this area of interest.

The topic of Spiritual Warfare doesn’t come up much in mainstream conversation. Indeed, any faith related talk or references to Christian beliefs seems to be accepted only as fiction or legend.  Secular society stares down her pointy nose at any mention of the possibility of another realm of life alive and well, in a place called Heaven. The proposition then, of daring to utter a word about Spiritual warfare is sure not to be  received in ‘polite’ conversation with any kind of acknowledgement or nod of appreciation.

However, Spiritual warfare continues to this day, with satan eager to call us from our duty to God through enticing means, lies and deception in order to win souls for himself in hell.

Here is the story of how satan was defeated and why:

After the creation of the heavens and earth, there was a battle in heaven.  Lucifer, the “light-bearer”, the “morning star”, who was the chief among angels, rebelled against God.  Because of Lucifer’s envy, pride, and desire to sit upon God’s throne, he did not want to be subject to God or to serve Him.  He took a third of the angels into revolt with him.  Michael however, was loyal to God, and declared he would serve God, for “who is like unto God” (“Michael”).  With the other two-thirds of the angels he defeated Lucifer and cast him and his supporters out of heaven.  Lucifer now became called Satan (“adversary”) and those angels who supported him became devils.  As a reward for his loyalty Michael was made the chief angel.  Due to this leadership role the Church named theArchangela Saint, and the Eastern Liturgy assigned him the title of the “Archistrategos” (“highest general”).

Feastday: September 29
Patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness
The name Michael signifies “Who is like to God?” and was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan  and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as “one of the chief princes,” and leader of the forces of Heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honoured and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

Although he is always called “the Archangel,” the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels – as Prince of the Seraphim.

St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.