“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Trinitarian Perspective

On January 10, 1996, Pope St. John Paul II focused on, as part of his Marian Catechesis during the years of 1995 to 1997, Mary in the Trinitarian Perspective. Beginning with the 8th chapter of the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium, the Polish saint lays out the importance Mary plays in regards to the Most Holy Trinity. As the greatest creature of all creatures, she has a distinct relationship with each of the persons of the Holy Trinity. Quoting paragraph #53 from the aforementioned document, John Paul II says,

“Mary’s threefold relationship with the divine Persons is confirmed in precise words and with a description of the characteristic relationship which links the Mother of the Lord to the Church: “She is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Coronation of the Virgin – Diego Velázquez

He further explains in the same catechesis how Mary is the Mother of the Son of God, beloved daughter of the Father, and temple of the Holy Spirit. He says,

“Mary’s fundamental dignity is that of being “Mother of the Son”, which is expressed in Christian doctrine and devotion with the title “Mother of God”.

This is a surprising term, which shows the humility of God’s only-begotten Son in his Incarnation and, in connection with it, the most high privilege granted a creature who was called to give him birth in the flesh.

Mother of the Son, Mary is the “beloved daughter of the Father” in a unique way. She has been granted an utterly special likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood.

And again: every Christian is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”, according to the Apostle Paul’s expression (1 Cor 6:19). But this assertion takes on an extraordinary meaning in Mary: in her the relationship with the Holy Spirit is enriched with a spousal dimension. I recalled this in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: “The Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful spouse at the Annunciation, welcoming the Word of the true God…” (n. 26).”

Pope St. John Paul II concludes his short catechesis on Mary’s role with the Trinity with these words,

 “…the authentic meaning of Mary’s privileges and of her extraordinary relationship with the Trinity: their purpose is to enable her to co-operate in the salvation of the human race. The immeasurable greatness of the Lord’s Mother therefore remains a gift of God’s love for all men.”

To read the full catechesis from January 10, 1996, click HERE.

I have also written on Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium in the past, to read the paragraphs spoken from this catechesis, please click HERE. If you have never read the Second Vatican Council document, I would highly encourage you to do so.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament: Among the “Poor of Yahweh” (Part 6)

After a couple of weeks focusing on other Marian topics, I want to turn my gaze back onto Mary in the Old Testament and focus on the Marian liturgical symbol – Among the “Poor of Yahweh”. Today’s blog post coincides perfectly with Saturday’s Solemnity of the Annunciation.

According to the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium, “She [Mary] stands out among the humble and the poor of the Lord, who confidently await and receive from him their salvation” (#55). Here the Council Fathers, with biblical recollection, focus on the “anawim” of God. They are considered the truest of the “poor of Yahweh” – the God-fearing and humble children of God who trust in the Lord to save them from the oppression of men. From these “anawim” come the poorest of the poor – the “remnant of Israel”, who will now form the chosen people of God. This chosen people will be lead by Christ and His Church on pilgrimage to the Kingdom of heaven.

Being the “handmaid of the Lord”, we know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is shown to us as being of a poor disposition. In her song of praise, the Magnificat, Mary includes herself in the humble and poor of the Lord – “he has looked upon the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lk 1:48) and “he has lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:52).

The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Focusing on these words from the Sacred Scriptures, in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope St. John Paul II, focuses on and asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary was undoubtedly saturated in the “poor of Yahweh.” In paragraph 37, John Paul II says,

“The Church’s love of preference for the poor is wonderfully inscribed in Mary’s Magnificat. The God of the Covenant, celebrated in the exultation of her spirit by the Virgin of Nazareth, is also he who “has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, …filled the hungry with good things, sent the rich away empty, …scattered the proud-hearted…and his mercy is from age to age on those who fear him.” Mary is deeply imbued with the spirit of the “poor of Yahweh,” who in the prayer of the Psalms awaited from God their salvation, placing all their trust in him (cf. Pss. 25; 31; 35; 55). Mary truly proclaims the coming of the “Messiah of the poor” (cf. Is. 11:4; 61:1). Drawing from Mary’s heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus.

The Church is thus aware-and at the present time this awareness is particularly vivid-not only that these two elements of the message contained in the Magnificat cannot be separated, but also that there is a duty to safeguard carefully the importance of “the poor” and of “the option in favor of the poor” in the word of the living God. These are matters and questions intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation. “Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him, and at the side of her Son, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission.”

As we commemorate the fourth week of Lent, the fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare Sunday, let us rejoice with the Heavenly Jerusalem that the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us hope, even in her poor disposition, that she is with us always and ready to lead us closer to her son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Source:

Burke, Raymond L., Stefano M. Manelli, Luigi Gambero, Manfred Hauke, Peter M. Fehlner, Arthur Burton. Calkins, Paul Haffner, Alessandro M. Apollonio, Edward P. Sri, Charles M. Mangan, Enrique Llamas Martínez, Neil J. Roy, Etienne Richer, Vladimir Zelinskiĩ, and Mark I. Miravalle. Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons. Goleta, CA: Queenship Pub, 2008. Print.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part III

Today we pick up right we where left off in Part II and finish our discussion on the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. For the final post on this short series, we will focus our attention on paragraphs 65-69.

# 65: Although Mary, the perfect creature in God’s creation is free of all sin, the faithful of the Church are not and must strive to reach holiness by overcoming the sin that entrap them. As the faithful seek to rid themselves of sin and strive for personal holiness, they should do so by living the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, which are rooted in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the perfect example of all virtues, the faithful should desire to be like Mary in their daily lives. Mary, in her love for Jesus Christ, looks to bring the faithful in relationship with Him by being the everlasting Mother of all humanity – “The Virgin in our own lived an example of that maternal love, by which it behooves that all should be animated who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church for the regeneration of men.”

#66 and #67: Paragraph #66 says, “…Hence after the Synod of Ephesus the cult of the people of God toward Mary wonderfully increased in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: ‘All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me.’ This cult, as it always existed, although it is altogether singular, differs essentially fro the cult of adoration which is offered to the Incarnate Word, as well as to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and it is most favorable of it.”

The cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church that the Council Fathers profess is a theological term, which means devotion. The devotion we show to the Blessed Virgin is not the same we show to God. As Catholics, we don’t worship or adore Mary since worship and adoration are meant for God alone (latria), however, being that she is the great Mother of God, we give her honor and veneration in a higher degree (hyperdulia) than the saints who we give recognition and reverence (dulia).

To avoid against excess and defect, as the faithful we must refrain from false exaggeration towards the Blessed Virgin. By following the Magisterium, who has the final word on all matters of faith and morals, we will come to know authentic doctrine in regards to the many teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary given to us throughout the centuries. The knowledge of authentic knowledge protects us from the extremes when it comes to the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “…True devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God…” (#67).

Theotokos - Orthodox

# 68: To provide hope for the faithful of the Church, the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus, the great Blessed and Immaculate Virgin is assumed into Heaven and Crowned the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Mary is “a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth.” She shines as a beacon of hope until the Lord returns someday.

#69: To conclude Lumen Gentium and this chapter on Our Lady, the Council Fathers make an appeal for unity to the Eastern Orthodox (“separated brethren”), since they are our brothers and sisters in the same faith, and who give honor to the great Mother of God. Just as Mary aided in the early church with her prayers, we now pray that Mary, as the Mother of Unity, will unite us once again. In the end, mothers unite children far better than children unite children.

Knowing full well the impact that this document would make on the Church and the impact of Mary, Mother of the Church, Blessed Pope Paul VI solemnly declared on the closing day of the third session in Saint Mary Major,

“For the glory of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our own consolation, we declare most Holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people, both faithful and pastors, who call her a most loving Mother; and we decree that henceforth the whole Christian people should, by this most sweet name, give still greater honor to the Mother of God and address prayers to her.”

It’s been my hope that this series focusing on Our Lady from the Second Vatican Council’s document, Lumen Gentium, has taught you some things you did not know before. Please feel free to pass this part as well Parts I and II on to your family and friends.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part II

Today we pick up right we where left off in Part I and continue to discuss the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. For today’s post, we will focus our attention on paragraphs 58-64.

#58: Although the term, Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redemption are not used in this document, it does mean that the Council Fathers do not teach it – they do. However, because of the ecumenical nature of the Council, the Council Fathers chose not to use the term, but when you read this paragraph carefully, you clearly see Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix is here.

Within this paragraph, we see three elements of Calvary. First, the Council Father’s say that Mary endured with her only begotten son the intensity of his suffering. She endured the pain of the crucifixion. Second, Mary associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart – one sacrifice from two hearts. Finally, lovingly she consented of the annulation, destruction of the victim being offered, of this victim born of her. She not only tolerated the crucifixion, but also consented to it – “enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her.”

It was this paragraph that became the foundation for Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church, Redemptoris Mater. John Paul II says that Mary’s consent to this sacrifice is not only a “spiritual crucifixion” for her, but it’s also her second “fiat” – the second sorrowful fiat of Mary. As she consented at the Annunciation to the Mother of the Redeemer, so too here she consents during his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

#59: Drawing from Pope Pius IX’s Papal Bull, Ineffabilis, and Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissiumus Deus, and his Encyclical, Ad coeli Reginam, the Council Father’s state,

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords, (cf. Apoc 19:16) and conquer of sin and death.”

Queen Mother

This paragraph speaks of how the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a clear sign that she was Immaculately Conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. In the Kingdom of God, Mary’s role would then be the Queen Mother. She is Queen over all things – here on Earth and in Heaven.

#60: Drawing from St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, the Council Father’s explain a point that is often brought up against Mary as being a mediator – “for there is but one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all (2:5-6).

So how does Mary’s mediation work in relation to St. Paul’s words? First, Mary’s mediation does not compete or obscure the mediation of Jesus Christ. Second, our Lady’s mediation is not an inner necessity. God does not have to use a woman, but He does since it is His will (Gen 3:15). Third, the mediation of Mary is dependent on the one mediation of Christ and fosters union with Christ and the faithful.

#61: Here we see the combination of Our Lady as Co-Redemption, which in turn leads to Mediation. This role is a supernatural role. She is a mother to us in the order of grace – she is Co-Redemptrix and then Mediatrix. It does not make any sense that she would distribute grace, unless she herself first acquired it. In her Immaculate Conception, she receives grace. In her role as Mediator, the term that is often used, and it’s the most ancient title for Mary is Advocate. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the first to use this term.

#62: This paragraph continues to focus on the role of mediator. Mary’s saving office on earth is always subordinate to that of Christ. This saving office in Heaven, where she intercedes for the gifts of eternal life, is still given to her. Through her intercession, we receive protection and sanctification. Although some disagree that these titles should have been added to this paragraph, we see the titles of: Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. In the original schema (the working document), the only term was Mediatrix of all Grace. Some at the Council objected to this term, however, the Council Fathers insisted that this term was included.

#63 & 64: These paragraphs are transitional paragraphs where we see the Blessed Virgin and Mother as the “type” of the Church. It was St. Ambrose of Milan who first defined Mary as a “type” of the Church. Everything that is true of Mary will apply to the Church in its own degree. The terms, virgin and mother, are two examples of the Church. As a mother, The Church gives birth to the sacraments. As a virgin, the Church is entirety and pure – she is pledged to her spouse, Jesus Christ. The Church is both Mother and Bride – “The Church indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother” (#64).

Next week, we will conclude with Part III and examine paragraphs 65-69.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part I

I have been waiting 2 ½ years to write these next three blog posts featured in the “Mondays with Mary” series. Why have I been waiting three years? Well it’s because the next three “Mondays with Mary” will focus on Chapter VIII of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, which will celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary on November 21.

Chapter 8 is composed of five sections – a. Introduction (#52-54); b. The Function of the Blessed Virgin in the Plan of Salvation (#55-59); c. The Blessed Virgin and the Church (#60-65); d. The Cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church (#66-67); e. Mary, Sign of True Hope and Comfort for the Pilgrim People of God (#68-69). For Part I, we will examine paragraphs 52-57.

#52: Drawing upon the richness found in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (4:4), this paragraph first focuses on how God sent his Son to adopt sons under the law. As the subordinate, the Blessed Virgin serves the adopted in this central role of salvation. It is in Galatians 4:4-6 that we see the summary of salvation. Second, the Father sends the Son, however it’s the Father who is the initiator of human redemption. Next, the Son is the Redeemer. The keystone and recapitulation of salvation lies with Him. Fourth, God send his son born of a woman. Mary is identified as the secondary mediator. As Mediatrix, she mediates the Mediator to the world. Fifth, the fruit of this mission are adopted sons, the entire human race. Lastly, the indication that we are adopted sons, in the presence of the Spirit, He calls us the to call out to Him – Abba, Father!

Furthermore, central to the Son’s mission is the woman, the “glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” This first paragraph is defending the highest conceivable devotion of any creature.

#53: “Redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son and united to him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God…” In this paragraph the Council Fathers make reference to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, celebrated by the universal Church on December 8. The Immaculate Conception is the highest form of redemption. Through the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, we know that Mary was conceived in an immaculate way. It is here she becomes the Mother of God and soon the Mother of All Humanity.

#54: “It does not, however, intend to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified.” Overall, it seems that this statement (paragraph 54 in its entirety) drew battle lines among the Council Fathers. At the time of the Council, the primary discussions focused on the roles and titles of Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. Some argued that the term, mediatrix, was not clear enough. Although these terms never appear in the document, the Council Fathers understand Mary to fulfill these roles. It was thought an ecumenical disaster would appear if Mediatrix of All Graces was contained in the documents since there were Protestant observers present.

Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Graces

#55: Focusing on the references of Mary as a type in the Old Testament, the Council Fathers concentrate on three primary statements: first, that the woman in Genesis 3:15 (the Protoevangelium – first Gospel) is Mary. Second, the Virgin Birth of Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14 also points to Mary. Finally, the woman in travail who gives birth and brings forth the child in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2-3 is again Mary. In all three references, there is no mention of a husband. They are virgin women.

The Council Fathers discuss the image of “Daughter Zion” in regards to Mary. This daughter is a faithful servant of Israel and faithful to the covenant even onto to death. “The exalted Daughter of Sion and the new plan of salvation is established, when the Son of God has taken human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his flesh free man from sin.” This quote also points to the understanding that Jesus’ DNA comes from Mary.

#56: As the previous paragraph focuses on the Old Testament, here we see the Council focusing on Mary in the New Testament. Drawing from the primary scripture verse, Luke 1:28, where the Angel Gabriel says, “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace’, the Lord is with you!” the Council Fathers declare that it states Mary’s role in Salvation History. This event points to the past in her Immaculate Conception and points to the future where she will dispense graces as Mediatrix.

The Council Fathers draw upon Patristic Commentary and turn to St. Irenaeus and St. Jerome. This is the antithetical parallelism – “Death through Eve, life through Mary” (St. Jerome). Mary is the cause of salvation “for herself and the whole human race.” (St. Irenaeus). The whole mystery of the Immaculate Conception is the cause herself. Mary’s fiat, her “yes” allows for Jesus’ death, her first fruit is done in the Immaculate Conception, outside of time, and then the New Adam and New Eve work together to save humanity. She is the first to receive salvation.

#57: An important paragraph since it focuses on the bonding nature between Jesus and Mary. Here we see that the Son and Mother are united for the goal of Redemption. Referencing the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, this paragraph also points to the traditions in the Church such as the Stations of the Cross. Because of her Immaculate Conception, Mary has infused knowledge that is supernatural, but still has tests of faith (three days Jesus is lost).

For Part II, next week’s blog post, we will examine paragraphs 58-64.