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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.

Is the Holy Father’s prayer intentions answered in this Evangelical priest in Brazil?

Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of ...

The Vatican has released the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict XVI for November 2012.

The Holy Father’s general intention is:

“That bishops, priests, and all ministers of the Gospel may bear courageous witness of fidelity to the crucified and risen Lord.”

His missionary intention is:

“That the pilgrim Church on earth may shine as a light to the nations.”

Brazil still has more Catholics than any other country in the world, with about 65 percent of its 192 million people identifying themselves that way in the 2010 census. But that is down from 74 percent in 2000 and is the lowest since records began tracking religion 140 years ago. That’s shy Father Marcelo Rossi’s Mother of God sanctuary takes centre stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The not-yet-finished structure will seat 6,000 people and have standing room for 14,000 more, church leaders say. In addition, the grounds outside can hold 80,000 people who could watch Mass on outdoor video screens.

It is said to be one of the world’s 10 biggest churches. Anyone know which the other 8 are. I’m sure the Vatican would feature in the top 10 biggest churches in the world?

The Mother of God sanctuary was designed by noted Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake, it has a wide-open layout.  With the church several years away from completion, white plastic chairs were in the place of pews for a lucky few thousand to grab a seat. The rest had to stand over during the Masses held over this past week-end.

The “pop-star priest” is seen by Brazilian Catholicism as its biggest weapon against the lack of interest, and his new sanctuary adds to his tools of best-selling books and music recordings to keep worshippers interested in what many complain has become a staid institution.

Brazil was the first nation outside Europe that Pope Benedict XVI visited, during a five-day tour in 2007 largely aimed at stopping losses in Latin America. During the trip, the pope canonized Brazil’s first native-born saint.

Then Benedict announced last August during the church’s World Youth Day, which drew 1.5 million people to Spain, that the next version of the gathering would be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. The pope is expected to attend.

For now, Rossi hopes his big church will bring together tens of thousands of faithful for every Mass, giving new energy to the Catholic faith.

An estimated 50,000 people attended the inaugural Mass at the Mother of God sanctuary in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The church, which seats 6,000, has additional standing room for 14,000; an additional 80,000 can stand outside on church grounds.

The church was built by Father Marcelo, a priest active in the charismatic movement and a Latin Grammy award nominee.

“People want big spaces. They want grand places for prayer,” he said. “One candle illuminates, 10 candles illuminate — and 100,000 candles light up so much more.”

Perhaps not the most conventional priest around, but the Brazilian people love him and are flocking to hear the Word of God as part of this Evangelical priest’s flock. They are flocking to learn more about Jesus.