What We Believe about Mary the Mother of God

 

VATICAN 11 & THE BLESSED VIRGIN
(Cana 1)
 
Vatican 11’s “Constitution on the Church” has a special chapter on the Blessed Virgin. It does not add much to our knowledge of the Blessed Virgin.
 
But it does clarify a few areas, especially the differences between Christ and his Mother and their essentially different roles in the work of our salvation.
 
It promotes devotion to the Blessed Virgin but adds a few cautions with regard to that devotion.
 
The Council sees the Blessed Virgin as already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of the victory over the serpent, which was given to our 1st. parents after their sin.(no. 55, Gen. 3:14-15).
 
Likewise, she is the Virgin who shall conceive and bear a son who will be called Emmanuel.
(no. 55, Is. 7:10-14).
St. Matthew sees the virginal conception of Jesus as fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of a virgin conceiving & bearing a son. (Mt. 1:22-23).
 
The Council then goes on to speak of the Incarnation. When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal. 4:4-7).
 
The Fathers of the Church describe the Blessed Virgin as entirely holy and free from all stain of sin. (no. 56).
 
Comparing the Blessed Virgin to Eve, they call her “the Mother of the living” & still more often they say “death through Eve: life through Mary. (no. 56).
 
Because she is the Mother of God and the Mother of our Redeemer, she surpasses all creatures, both in Heaven and on earth.
 
At the same time, however, because she one of the descendants of Adam, she is one with all of us, who are saved, through the Blood of her Son,  shed on the Cross. (no. 53).
 
The Glorified Christ is the source of eternal  life and the giver of the Holy Spirit, not only for all believers, but also for his own Mother as well. (M. in NT p. 189).
Like the rest of humanity, the Mother of Jesus was redeemed, through the Blood of her Son shed on the Cross. (no. 52).
 
In order to make her worthy to become the Mother of the Incarnate Son of God, the Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin was kept free from the effects of  Original Sin from her conception.
I think that sums up,  who the Blessed Virgin is.
 
Christ -- The One Mediator (1Tim. 2:5-6).
 
The Council is at great pains to highlight the differences between Jesus and his Mother and their essentially different roles in the work of our salvation.
 
We know from 1st. Timothy that there is only One God &  one Mediator between God & mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for all. (1Tim. 2:5-6).
 
According to some authors, these verses are the Christian version of the Jewish schema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone”. (Deut. 6:4-5, Bible).
 
St. John also emphasizes that Christ is the One & only Mediator. (Jn. 14:6).
 
The role of Mary in no way obscures  or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, the Incarnate Son of God & our Redeemer. (no. 60).
 
No creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Son of God,  our Redeemer. (no. 62).
 
Christ is the One & only Mediator. Mary is the Mother of that One & only Mediator. (no. 56).
 
That sentence sums up the relationship between Christ & His Mother.
Christ is the One & only Mediator. Mary is the Mother of that One & only Mediator. (no. 56).
 
Although Christ is the One & only Mediator, many others have cooperated with Him in bringing about our salvation.
 
As the Mother of God & the Mother of our Redeemer, Mary's role is unique among all of those who cooperated with her Son. She is his Mother. She nursed & raised Him.
 
So, while the Church does not hesitate to profess the subordinate role of Mary, it also describes her positive role by using the titles Advocate, Helper, Benefactoress & Mediatrix of her. (no. 62, New Cat. No. 969). 
 
Although we use these titles of Mary, her role neither takes away nor adds anything  to Christ’s  role as the One & Only Mediator.
 
Veneration Of The Blessed Virgin
 
From the earliest times, the Blessed Virgin has been honoured under the title "Mother of God". (no. 66).
At the Council of Ephesus, the Blessed Virgin was declared "Mother of God".
 
Since that Council, devotion to the Mother of God has grown in accordance with her own words: "from now on, all generations will call me blessed.. because He that is Mighty has done great things for me". (Lk. 1:48).
 
This devotion to Mary differs essentially from the adoration & homage which is offered to the Incarnate Word of God, as well as to the Father & the Holy Spirit. (no. 66).
 
While the Mother is honoured, her Son is adored & glorified, because of whom he is – the One, through whom all things were made, and the One, who is equal to  the Father in all things. (no. 66).
 
The Council exhorts theologians & preachers  not to grossly exaggerate devotion to the Blessed Virgin. (no. 67).
They are to point out that all her privileges are the result of her relationship to her Son, who is also the Incarnate Son of God.
In other words, devotion to the Blessed Virgin must always be seen  in the light of her relationship with her Divine Son – the One & only Mediator between mankind & God, the Father.
 
The Council also urges us not to so exaggerate devotion to the  Blessed Virgin that  we offend  other Christian Churches. (no. 67).
 
Most other Christians concentrate on how Mary is portrayed in the New Testament. In the New Testament, Mary is portrayed as the Mother of the Lord and the servant of the Lord.
 
They give little or no emphasis to her Immaculate Conception, her sinlessness or her Assumption into Heaven.
So, when we are discussing the Blessed Virgin with other Christians, let’s start off with how she is portrayed in the New Testament.
But then to do that you have to know how the Blessed Virgin  is portrayed in the New Testament!
 
If you are to engage in dialogue with other Christians, you need to have a thorough knowledge of what the New Testament says about the Blessed Virgin.
How many of you feel confident enough to dialogue with other Christians on  how the Blessed Virgin is presented in the New Testament?
 
I can’t avoid the impression that the section on the Blessed Virgin was written with our separated brothers in mind.
 
It addresses 2 issues which are major concerns for them.
They feel that we Catholics so exaggerate the role of Blessed Virgin in the work of our salvation that we diminish the role of Christ, our One & only Mediator.
How did Vatican II address this concern?
 
Christ is the One & only Mediator. Mary is the Mother of that One & only Mediator. (no. 56).
The role of Mary in no way obscures  or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, the Incarnate Son of God & our Redeemer. (no. 60).
Although we use various titles of Mary, her role neither takes away nor adds anything  to Christ’s  role as the One & Only Mediator.
 
2.  They also feel that our devotion to Blessed Virgin takes away from the adoration &  homage that are due to her Son, as our Redeemer & Son of God.
How did Vatican II address this concern?
 
Devotion to Mary differs essentially from the adoration & homage which is offered to the Incarnate Word of God, as well as to the Father & the Holy Spirit. (no. 66).
 
While the Mother is honoured, her Son is adored and glorified, because of whom he is – the One, through whom all things were made, and the One, who is equal to  the Father in all things. (no. 66).
 
 
In other words, devotion to the Blessed Virgin must always be seen  in the light of her relationship with her Divine Son – the One & only Mediator between mankind & God, the Father.
 
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin surged in the long 19th. c. with apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima & other places. (Cana 1).
 But, with the Solemn Papal definitions of the Immaculate Conception in 1958 & the Assumption in 1950, devotion to the Blessed Virgin increased enormously.
1950 was called “The Marian year”.
 
Many shrines were erected in Ireland during that year.
 
The Preparatory Commission had prepared a special document (schema) on the Blessed Virgin.   
 
Many of the Council Fathers wanted to keep the schema on the Blessed Virgin  separate, while many others opposed a separate document on  the Blessed Virgin.
 
Those, who opposed a separate document,  felt that the Council’s focus should be centered on Biblical piety &  the public liturgy of the Church rather on devotions, including devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
 
They felt that devotion to the Blessed Virgin often had a life of its own, apart from Sacred Scripture & the Church’s liturgy.
In a word, many  felt that devotion to the Blessed Virgin had developed far enough at least for the present time.
 
They felt that including the document on the Blessed Virgin ,in the Constitution on the Church, would give a theological framework to devotion to Mary.
 
The vote on whether or not to include the schema on the Blessed Virgin in the Constitution on the Church won by only a margin of 40 votes.
This was the closest vote during the Council. (What pp. 188-189).

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