“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God by Pope St. John Paul II

Yesterday, we celebrated one of great Marian Solemnities in the Catholic Church – Mary, Mother of God. As another year comes upon us, we begin our year focusing on Our Lord’s Mother, particularly in her role as Theotokos or God-Bearer.

As some of you know, this happens to be my favorite title for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I like this title for Mary so much that my home Wi-Fi is named Theotokos and my fantasy football team, which by the way won the league championship, is titled – The Theotokos Tide.

In the past, I have written on this title for Mary many times, if you are interested in reading some of those posts, I would encourage you to check those out here.

As many of you also know, Pope St. John Paul II is a major influence in my writing and work, not only here, but also at the parish. Next week and week after, I will be teaching on his life to the parents of our family formation program. So for today’s, “Mondays with Mary”, I am going to provide you 5 quotes from homilies written by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on Our Lady in this Solemnity – Mary, the Mother of God. Feel free to share these on your social media sites or with family and friends.

1. “Today’s liturgy celebrates the solemnity of the Mother of God. Mary is the one who was chosen to be Mother of the Redeemer, sharing intimately in his mission. In the light of Christmas, the mystery of her divine motherhood is illumined. Mary, Mother of Jesus who was born in the Bethlehem cave, is also the Mother of every man and woman who comes into the world. How is it possible not to commend to her the year that is beginning, to implore a time of serenity and peace for all humanity? On the day when this new year begins under the blessed gaze of the Mother of God, let us invoke the gift of peace for each one and all.” – 1997

Orans - Theotokos

2. “‘When the time had fully come’ (Gal 4:4). These words of the Letter of St Paul to the Galatians correspond very well to the character of today’s celebration. We are at the beginning of the New Year. According to the civil calendar, today is the first day of 1998; according to that of the liturgy, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God…The Virgin most holy, whom we address on this first day of the year by the title ‘Mother of God’, turns her loving gaze to the whole world. Through her motherly intercession, the people of all the continents can feel more like brothers and prepare their hearts to welcome her Son, Jesus. Christ is the genuine peace that reconciles man with man and all humanity with God.” – 1998

3. In a certain sense, the whole liturgical year follows in the footsteps of this motherhood, beginning with the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, exactly nine months before Christmas. On the day of the Annunciation, Mary heard the Angel’s words: ‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’ (Lk 1: 31-33, 35). And she answered:  ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ (ibid., 1: 38). – 2000

4. “Today the Church is celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. After presenting her as the One who offers the Child to the shepherds who sought him anxiously, Luke the Evangelist gives us an image of Mary, at the same time simple and majestic. Mary is the woman of faith, who made room for God in her heart, in her plans, in her body, in her experience as a wife and mother. She is the believer who is capable of understanding the unusual event of the Son as the coming of that ‘fullness of time’ (Gal 4: 4), in which God, choosing the simple ways of human life, decided to involve himself personally in the work of salvation.” – 2001

5. “Today, the liturgy of the Octave of Christmas presents to us the icon of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. The Apostle Paul points her out as the “woman” through whom the Son of God entered the world. Mary of Nazareth is the Theotokos, the One who “gave birth to the King of Heaven and earth for ever” (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Sedulius). At the beginning of this new year, let us place ourselves with docility at the school of Mary. We want to learn from her, the Holy Mother, how to accept in faith and prayer the salvation that God never ceases to offer to all who trust in his merciful love.” – 2004

As we begin this new year of 2017, let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of God, to intercede always for us by leading us closer to her Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us also pray that the Pope St. John Paul II will continue to watch over and pray for the Catholic Church from his place in Heaven. Amen.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Top Five “Mondays with Mary” Over the Past 365 Days

Being that next Monday is the fourth anniversary of “Mondays with Mary” and the 200th blog post of the series; I thought I would do something very simple and very short for #199. I can’t even fathom that I have written as much as I have in general about Catholicism, but being so close to #200 with this series on the Blessed Mother gets me very excited. With the collection and purchasing of some new Marian books, this series will continue on for the foreseeable future.

Mary and Eucharist

Below are the Top “Mondays with Mary” Over the Past 365 days –

The Flowers of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the most read “Mondays with Mary” post of all time)

10 Quotes from Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary

10 Memorable Quotes about the Blessed Virgin Mary from St. John Vianney

7 Benefits of Praying the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant

I hope you all have enjoyed these weekly posts and continue to share them with your family and friends.

I want to give a “shout out” to the Catholic Facebook Ministry group. Many of these Catholics have shared numerous posts from this series and other writings I have done in the past. It was this group that put me in contact with Annie and John-Paul Deddens and the PrayMoreRetreat.com. Thank you for your witness to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

Our Lady, Theotokos, Ever-Virgin…Pray for Us. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary is both Theotokos and Mother of God

Since this coming Friday is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, I wanted share with you the seven blog posts that I have written over the past few years on Mary as both the Theotokos, which means God-Bearer, the Mother of God, and the Incarnation. However, before we get to those blog posts, let’s quickly read what Pope St. John Paul II says in regards to Mary as the Mother of God.

In paragraph four of Redemptoris Mater, the Polish Saint says,

The Second Vatican Council prepares us for this by presenting in its teaching the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. If it is true, as the Council itself proclaims, that “only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light,” then this principle must be applied in a very particular way to that exceptional “daughter of the human race,” that extraordinary “woman” who became the Mother of Christ. Only in the mystery of Christ is her mystery fully made clear. Thus has the Church sought to interpret it from the very beginning: the mystery of the Incarnation has enabled her to penetrate and to make ever clearer the mystery of the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

The Council of Ephesus (431) was of decisive importance in clarifying this, for during that Council, to the great joy of Christians, the truth of the divine motherhood of Mary was solemnly confirmed as a truth of the Church’s faith. Mary is the Mother of God (= Theotókos), since by the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived in her virginal womb and brought into the world Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is of one being with the Father. “The Son of God…born of the Virgin Mary…has truly been made one of us,” has been made man. Thus, through the mystery of Christ, on the horizon of the Church’s faith there shines in its fullness the mystery of his Mother. In turn, the dogma of the divine motherhood of Mary was for the Council of Ephesus and is for the Church like a seal upon the dogma of the Incarnation, in which the Word truly assumes human nature into the unity of his person, without cancelling out that nature. [Paragraph separation is mine].

Theotokos, Orthodox

As you see, Mary’s role as the Mother of God, the Theotokos, is whole heartedly defined by the Catholic Church in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., but not only does it solidify Mary’s role in Salvation History, it most importantly clinches the dogma of the Incarnation – Jesus Christ is both God and Man.

I hope for your spiritual development and intellectual formation that over the next week you can read each of these posts, one for each day, on Mary as the Mother of God and how important her role is in the Mystery of Christ.

1. “Mondays with Mary” – The Mother of God in the Christmas Season

2. Mondays with Mary” – Benedict XVI, the Year of Faith, and the Mother of God

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God

4. “Mondays with Mary” – St. Anselm’s Prayer to Mary as Theotokos

5. “Mondays with Mary” – The Theotokos Brings Joy to the Whole World

6. The Declaration of the Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus

7. Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Son of God Became Man – The Incarnation

Mary, the Mother of God, the Theotokos…Pray for Us.

What was Mary Thinking the Week Before She Gave Birth to Jesus?

Historically, in the Latin calendar, December 18 was the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, however the feast is not in the current calendar. To learn more about the history of the feast, I encourage you to visit the Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent here.

Trying to understand what the Blessed Virgin Mary was feeling one week before giving birth to Jesus is difficult since nothing about her thoughts has been revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures. At this point, it’s purely speculative at best. We know what St. Luke tells us in Chapter 2 of his Gospel, however, we don’t know much more than this revelation.

Was it difficult on Mary to be away from her family and her mother during this time? Even though the birth of Jesus was miraculous, as was his conception, what was Mary feeling? Did she know what was to occur? Was she ready for it? Did she think she would be a good mother?

As tradition has shown us, the Blessed Virgin Mary completely put her trust in God, just as she had done nine months prior at the Annunciation. Mary is the great sign of perfect faith and joy for us, but especially during the Third Week of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), which we celebrated in the Latin Church this past Sunday.

We may not know exactly what Mary was feeling one week before the birth of Christ, but based on the 12 quotes below from mothers sharing what they were feeling one week prior to having their child, I would imagine Mary’s experience may not have differed much from some of these –

My daughter was actually born 3 weeks early, so I finishing my last week at work.  I do remember nesting really bad. Everything needed to be ready. I was a cleaning fool. I remember feeling anxious, nervous, excited and scared. I wanted nothing more than to be the perfect mom. I think that is why she came early, God’s sense of humor, I was the mom she needed. – Kristi

My first child was nine days post estimated due date, so with this in mind…I wasn’t anxious, nor fidgety, but very at peace, feeling good about being ready for the birth. We had a plan, we had things packed…I somehow knew, everything would be perfect, just because it was in God’s hands…prayer was my constant companion. There was a joy in waiting, knowing that it was just time, and this sense of treasuring every moment leading up to the big day. – Maggie

My last week of pregnancy was Christmas week and I was overdue. I loved being pregnant but was now more than ready to meet this little person God was entrusting me with. I was anxious and excited, what a wonderment pregnancy is! We didn’t know the gender of our baby so there was that added anticipation. We went to Midnight Mass that year, 10 days past my due date. I remember feeling so connected to Mary that night.  – Kristin

The week before my first child was born I was so anxious to see my baby’s face and hold the baby in my arms and learn if “Little K” was Kathleen or Kevin. At the same time, even though I had been reading and rereading a couple of books about babies, I felt as if I was not prepared for such an awesome responsibility. I placed my trust in The Lord and prayed to be a good mother and do His Will with His awesome blessing. – Helen

Madonna and Child - 16"x20" by Steve Bird. Please visit Steve's website for more of his works - http://www.stevebirdart.com

Madonna and Child – 16″x20″ by Steve Bird. Please visit Steve’s website for more of his works – http://www.stevebirdart.com

As the birth of my first child was approaching I was filled with a potpourri of emotions.  The anticipation of finally seeing his little face and learning about his personality filled most of my thoughts.  Mixed in that joy was some apprehension about being responsible for another human being. I wondered if I would be a good mother. – Kay

Just before having my son, I remember an overwhelming feeling of joy and entrustment. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby boy, but knew that once he was born, I would have to share him. Others would hold him, would smile at him, and yes, could hurt him. I couldn’t keep him in the safety of my arms forever. Today, he is four and this is still my heart’s desire: to simply hold, love, teach, and protect him. I know each day he grows he will be more independent. – Allie

My due date was May 22 and as that day came closer I was nervous, scared, and excited but never had that “done” feeling other moms talk about. Well-meaning friends and relatives were becoming increasing frustrated as each day came and went without a baby. The truth is I was not at all upset. I cherished every hour that I was allowed to assist God in this most precious creation. – Kim

One week before giving birth to my first born I was feeling anxiousness, excitement, and I was uncomfortable because it felt like his feet were lodged in my ribs, but the anticipation of pushing this gift from God, this little miracle out of my body was and still is the most overwhelming sense of happiness I’ve ever experienced. – Sydne

The week leading up to giving birth to my first child was a roller coaster of emotion. Fear, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, all wrapped up in the blessing that would soon arrive. Physically I was exhausted and I worried if my body could handle the natural childbirth I had opted for. So many questions ran through my mind…would I be a good mother? Would my baby be healthy? When that day came, there are no words to describe the experience of giving birth and feeling your newborn laid on your chest for the first time. It is truly a miracle and gift from God! – Kasandra

I was working full-time for an optometrist and on the go and on my feet most of days. Nothing really set in until my last workday, which happened to be 3 days before I had our son. I didn’t experience much honestly until I wasn’t working. I think once I finally relaxed from being on the go, my body decided it was time for a baby. – Christine

The anticipation was overwhelming as I waited for the birth of my first son. He would be 5 1/2 weeks early and a 72-hour labor. As a new Mom, the timing initially was scary but God provided me with a sense of peace knowing we would both be healthy. It was an exciting time but also a sense of nervousness, hoping and praying I was ready to take on this new role of Mommy that God was entrusting me with…pure excitement and joy! – Karyn

The final week leading up to the birth of my first child was filled with much anticipation, joy, excitement and exhaustion. It was also a time fear of the unknown. Fear about being ready to welcome a child into this world…It required so much trust in the Lord and placing it in His hands…The meaning of love had changed drastically after carrying a baby within my womb for 9 months. I was blessed to be given the gift of life. – Lindsey

Motherhood is so important. Thanks to the women above for hearing the call to be Mommies. If you are Mom and would like to share your experience of what you were feeling one week before giving birth, please do so in the comment box below. We would love to hear them.

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Anselm’s Prayer to Mary as Theotokos

Since tomorrow is the feast day of St. Anselm – The Father of Scholasticism, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you one of the three prayers written by the medieval saint to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In total, there were hundreds of prayers written by St. Anselm, however, today we have around nineteen of them and a few meditations. His prayers were specifically written to individual saints, as is this one below focusing on Mary as the Theotokos. This term for the Blessed Mother that happens to be my favorite title for her as well.

Writing with a superb scholastic intellect, the three prayers to Mary by St. Anselm follow a spiritual nature composed of three steps: first, and prayer below, focuses on the a situation of heavy distress on the mind in regards to sin, the second prayer is to expel fear when the mind is engaged in it because of anxiety, and third, this prayer culminates with the love of Christ and Mary together.

Specifically, this first prayer of the three focuses heavily on the sin that all humans beings find themselves when looking at the holiness of Mary. Her holiness is not to discourage us, but it is through her beauty and love for Christ, and the mercy He gives to her that assists us in finding Him. What often happens with sin is that it becomes hard like concrete and it must be broken and shattered. It is here at this moment of hardness that we need the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin as Theotokos.

Icon created by Ann Chapin -  http://www.faceofchrist.gallery/Saints-and-Angels/i-hqS9kFc

Icon created by Ann Chapin. To purchase this icon or many others, please click on her name.

Mary, holy Mary, among the holy ones the most holy after God, Mother with virginity to be wondered at, Virgin with fertility to be cherished, you bore the Son of the most High
and brought forth the Savior of the lost human race. Lady, shining before all others with such sanctity, pre-eminent with such dignity, it is very sure that you are not least in power and in honor.

Life-bearer, mother of salvation, shrine of goodness and mercy, I long to come before you in my misery, sick with the sickness of vice, in pain from the wounds of crimes, putrid with the ulcers of sin. However near I am to death, I reach out to you, and I long to ask that by your powerful merits and your loving prayers, you will deign to heal me. Good Lady, a huge dullness is between you and me, so that I am scarcely aware of the extent of my sickness.

I am so filthy and stinking that I am afraid you will turn your merciful face from me. So I look to you to convert me, but I am held back by despair, and even my lips are shut against prayer. My sins, my wicked deeds, since you have destroyed my soul with your poison, why do you make it a horror with your filth, so that no one can look on my misery? 
If your weight is so great that I have no hope of being heard, why by your shame do you block the voice of my prayer? 
If you have made me mad with love for you, 
why have you made my senses unfeeling with your torpor?

Alas, what a shameful thing is the filth of sin before the brightness of holiness. Alas, what confusion there is for an impure conscience in the presence of shining purity.You are blessed above all women, in purity surpassing the angels, in goodness overpassing the saints. Already dying I long to be seen by such kindness, 
but I blush before the gaze of such purity. 
What I want to ask you, Lady, is that by a glance from your mercy 
you will cure the sickness and ulcers of my sins, 
but before you I am confounded 
by the smell and foulness of them. I shudder, Lady, to show you all my foul state, lest it makes you shudder at the sight of me, but, alas for me, I cannot be seen any other way.

How disturbed and confused is the state of sin! 
How my sins tear my heart in pieces and divide it, gnaw at it and torment it! Because of these sins of mine, Lady, I desire to come to you and be cured, 
but I flee from you for fear of being cursed. My sins cannot be cured unless they are confessed, but to acknowledge them throws me into confusion. If they are concealed they cannot be healed, 
if they are seen they are detestable. 
They chafe me with sorrow, they terrify me with fear, they bury me with their weight, they press upon me heavily, and confound me with shame.

Mary, powerful in goodness, and good in power, from whom was born the fount of mercy, I pray you, do not withhold such true mercy where you know there is such true misery. 
The brightness of your holiness confounds the darkness of my sins, but surely you will not blush to feel kindness towards such a wretch? If I acknowledge my iniquity, surely you will not refuse to show kindness? If my misery is too great to be heard favorably, surely your mercy will be less than it ought to be? Lady, before God and before you my sins appear vile; and therefore so much the more do they need His healing and your help.

Most gentle Lady, heal my weakness, and you will be taking away the filth that offends you. Most kind Lady, take away my sickness, and you will not experience the dirt you shudder at. Most dear Lady, do not let what grieves you be, and there will be nothing to defile your holiness. Hear me, Lady, and make whole the soul of a sinner who is your servant, by virtue of the blessed fruit of your womb, who sits at the right hand of his almighty Father and is praised and glorified above all for ever. Amen.

Source:

“Marian Spirituality of St. Anselm.” Marian Spirituality of St. Anselm. University of Dayton, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God

Since we just celebrated the great Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God on January 1, for this week’s “Mondays with Mary” I want to share with you a major excerpt from a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI (now informally known as “Fr. Benedict” – his request) on January 1, 2008.

Drawing from his extensive knowledge of biblical history, exegetical knowledge, and the Doctors of the Church, specifically, St. Augustine of Hippo, Pope Benedict XVI, draws for us an excellent understanding of Mary’s divine motherhood as the Theotokos.

Dear Brothers and Sisters…

Our thoughts now turn spontaneously to Our Lady, whom we invoke today as the Mother of God. It was Pope Paul VI who moved to 1 January the Feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, which was formerly celebrated on 11 October. Indeed, even before the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council, the memorial of the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day after his birth – as a sign of submission to the law, his official insertion in the Chosen People – used to be celebrated on the first day of the year and the Feast of the Name of Jesus was celebrated the following Sunday. We perceive a few traces of these celebrations in the Gospel passage that has just been proclaimed, in which St Luke says that eight days after his birth the Child was circumcised and was given the name “Jesus”, “the name given by the Angel before he was conceived in [his Mother’s]… womb” (Lk 2: 21). Today’s feast, therefore, as well as being a particularly significant Marian feast, also preserves a strongly Christological content because, we might say, before the Mother, it concerns the Son, Jesus, true God and true Man.

The Apostle Paul refers to the mystery of the divine motherhood of Mary, the Theotokos, in his Letter to the Galatians. “When the time had fully come”, he writes, “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” (4: 4). We find the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Word and the Divine Motherhood of Mary summed up in a few words: the Virgin’s great privilege is precisely to be Mother of the Son who is God. The most logical and proper place for this Marian feast is therefore eight days after Christmas. Indeed, in the night of Bethlehem, when “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2: 7), the prophesies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled. “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son”, Isaiah had foretold (7: 14); “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son”, the Angel Gabriel said to Mary (Lk 1: 31); and again, an Angel of the Lord, the Evangelist Matthew recounts, appeared to Joseph in a dream to reassure him and said: “Do not fear to take Mary for your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son” (Mt 1: 20-21).

Mother of Jesus Christ

The title “Mother of God”, together with the title “Blessed Virgin”, is the oldest on which all the other titles with which Our Lady was venerated are based, and it continues to be invoked from generation to generation in the East and in the West. A multitude of hymns and a wealth of prayers of the Christian tradition refer to the mystery of her divine motherhood, such as, for example, a Marian antiphon of the Christmas season, Alma Redemptoris mater, with which we pray in these words: “Tu quae genuisti, natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem, Virgo prius ac posterius – You, in the wonder of all creation, have brought forth your Creator, Mother ever virgin”. Dear brothers and sisters, let us today contemplate Mary, ever-virgin Mother of the Only-Begotten Son of the Father; let us learn from her to welcome the Child who was born for us in Bethlehem. If we recognize in the Child born of her the Eternal Son of God and accept him as our one Saviour, we can be called and we really are children of God: sons in the Son. The Apostle writes: “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4).

The Evangelist Luke repeats several times that Our Lady meditated silently on these extraordinary events in which God had involved her. We also heard this in the short Gospel passage that the Liturgy presents to us today. “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2: 19). The Greek verb used, sumbállousa, literally means “piecing together” and makes us think of a great mystery to be discovered little by little. Although the Child lying in a manger looks like all children in the world, at the same time he is totally different: he is the Son of God, he is God, true God and true man. This mystery – the Incarnation of the Word and the divine Motherhood of Mary – is great and certainly far from easy to understand with the human mind alone.

Yet, by learning from Mary, we can understand with our hearts what our eyes and minds do not manage to perceive or contain on their own. Indeed, this is such a great gift that only through faith are we granted to accept it, while not entirely understanding it. And it is precisely on this journey of faith that Mary comes to meet us as our support and guide. She is mother because she brought forth Jesus in the flesh; she is mother because she adhered totally to the Father’s will. St Augustine wrote: “The divine motherhood would have been of no value to her had Christ not borne her in his heart, with a destiny more fortunate than the moment when she conceived him in the flesh” (De Sancta Virginitate, 3, 3). And in her heart Mary continued to treasure, to “piece together” the subsequent events of which she was to be a witness and protagonist, even to the death on the Cross and the Resurrection of her Son Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is only by pondering in the heart, in other words, by piecing together and finding unity in all we experience, that, following Mary, we can penetrate the mystery of a God who was made man out of love and who calls us to follow him on the path of love; a love to be expressed daily by generous service to the brethren. May the new year which we are confidently beginning today be a time in which to advance in that knowledge of the heart, which is the wisdom of saints. Let us pray, as we heard in the First Reading, that the Lord may “make his face to shine” upon us, “and be gracious” to us (cf. Nm 6: 24-7) and bless us. We may be certain of it: if we never tire of seeking his Face, if we never give in to the temptation of discouragement and doubt, if also among the many difficulties we encounter we always remain anchored to him, we will experience the power of his love and his mercy. May the fragile Child who today the Virgin shows to the world make us peacemakers, witnesses of him, the Prince of Peace. Amen!

“Mondays with Mary” – The Theotokos Brings Joy to the Whole World

Since this upcoming Thursday, January 1, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, I wanted, as I have done over the past couple of years on this Solemnity, to provide you with a blog post that focuses specifically on Mary’s Motherhood and the Eastern derived title, Theotokos. Knowing full well that I am repeating myself here, and not all that concerned with it either, I will say that this title for Mary, Theotokos or God-Bearer, has been most favorite title for the Blessed Virgin ever since studying about the Council of Ephesus in graduate school at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

It was at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. where this doctrine of Mary as God-Bearer was solemnly declared through the writings and teachings of this council, which was spearheaded by St. Cyril of Alexandria. For a brief introduction to the Council of Ephesus, I would encourage you to read two previous blog posts – The Declaration of the Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus and Saint Cyril of Alexandria – Defender of the Incarnation and the Theotokos.

Since St. Cyril of Alexandria played such an important role in the declaration of this dogma in the 5th century, I have chosen for today’s “Mondays with Mary” a homily he gave at the Council. It’s my hope that with this homily and the reading of the blog posts from above, that you will come to know the importance of this great Marian feast that begins each New Year – the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

Theotokos of Vladimir

Theotokos of Vladimir

Speaking against Nestorius at Ephesus, St. Cyril said,

I see the assembly of the saints, all zealously gathered together, invited by the holy Mother of God, Mary, ever-virgin. I was feeling very sad, but then the presence of the holy Fathers changed this sorrow into merriment. Now the sweet words of the hymnographer David have been fulfilled in our presence: “Behold how fair, and how it is, when brothers dwell together as one!” (Ps 133:1). Hail, we say, O holy and mystic Trinity, who have called us together in this church dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. We hail you, O Mary Mother of God, venerable treasure of the entire world, inextinguishable lamp, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, imperishable temple, container of him who cannot be contained, Mother and Virgin, through whom it is said in the holy Gospels: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt 21:9).

Hail, you who held the Uncontainable One in your holy and virginal womb! Through you, the Holy Trinity is glorified; the precious Cross is celebrated and adored throughout the world; heaven exults, the angels and archangels rejoice, the demons are put to flight, the devil, the tempter, falls from heaven, the fallen creation is brought back to paradise, all creatures trapped in idolatry come to know the truth.

Through you, holy baptism and the oil of gladness are administered to believers; through you, churches are established throughout the world; the peoples are led to conversion. What more shall I say? Through you, the only begotten Son of God shone forth as a light upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. Through you, the prophets made their predictions, the apostles preached salvation to the nations; through you the dead rise, sovereigns reign, and through you the Holy Trinity reigns.

But who among men is capable of celebrating Mary most glorious? The virginal womb: such a great wonder! This miracle has me enraptured. When has it ever been heard that a builder was prevented from dwelling in a temple that he built himself? Could he, who calls his own handmaid to be his Mother, be considered deserving of shame? Behold, now: the whole universe is rejoicing. The sea obeyed, recognizing [in the fathers] its fellow servants. For while the water surged in stormy billows, the passage of the saints made it smooth and calm. The creature water remembered the voice of the Savior: “Silence! Be still” (Mk 4:39). The passage of the fathers also subdued the earth, which previously had been infested with brigands. “How beautiful the feet of those who preach the good news of peace” (Rom 10:15). But what peace is this? Jesus, Our Lord, who was born from Mary, as he himself willed.

As we commemorate the great Solemnity on January 1, let us take to heart the words from St. Cyril of Alexandria, always desiring to be made humble, just as Christ Jesus was humble being born of a Virgin and becoming Man. In her role as Theotokos, let us ask the ever virgin to always lead us closer to her Son, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. She is the one, as our Mother, who leads us perfectly to Jesus Christ.