Skip to comments."Theotokos" sums up all that Mary is
Posted on 12/16/2007 4:05:55 PM PST by NYer
God has a mother and she was chosen before the beginning of time.
This is an amazing belief, one that is sometimes mocked and often misunderstood, and misrepresented, sometimes even by Catholics. Yet this truth is at the heart of Advent and Christmasas well as at the heart of the entire Christian Faith.
This belief is also captured in a short phrase in the Hail Mary: "Holy Mary, Mother of God." They are just five simple words, but words bursting with mystery and meaning. They tell us many things about Mary and about the Triune God and His loving plan of salvation for mankind, in which Mary has such a significant place.
Mary is holy. To be holy is to be set apart, to be pure, and to be filled with the life of God. The call to holiness, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, is summarized in Jesus' words: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48; CCC 2013). Mary's holiness comes from the same source as the holiness that fills all who are baptized and are in a state of race. But Mary's relationship with the Triune God is unique, as Luke makes evident in his description of Gabriel appearing to Mary:
And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:35)
Possessing perfect faith, itself a gift from God, Mary was overshadowed by God the Father, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and filled by the Son. She was chosen by God to bear the God-man, the One in whom the "whole fullness of deity" would dwell (CCC 484). Completely filled by God, she is completely holy. Chosen by God, she is saved. Called to share intimately and eternally in the life of her Son, she was, the Catechism explains, "redeemed from the moment of her conception" (CCC 49) and "preserved from the stain of original sin" (CCC 508).
The Pentateuch contains the account of how God chose a small, nondescript nomadic tribe, the Hebrews, to be His "holy people" for "His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deut 7:6). Many years later, in the fullness of time, God chose a young Jewish woman from a place of little consequence to be the Mother of God. This, in turn, would result in the birth of the Church, which Peter describes as a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession" (1 Pet 2:9).
Mary, faithful and holy, is chosen so that others can also be chosen and made holy, transformed by her Son into the sons and daughters of God and joined to the Body of Christ. Mary "is the Virgo fidelis, the faithful virgin, who was never anything but faithful," writes Fr. Jean Daniélou, "whose fidelity was the perfect answer to the fidelity of God; she was always entirely consecrated to the one true God."
It has been said many ways and in many places but bears repeating that "Mother of God" is the greatest and most sublime title that Mary can ever be given. It sums up all that she is, all that she does, and all that she desires. The title of Theotokos ("God-bearer", or "Mother of God"), far from being some late addition to Church teaching, is rooted in Scripture and the Advent story. The Catechism explains that Mary was "called in the Gospels 'the mother of Jesus'" and that she "is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as 'the mother of my Lord'" (CCC 495).
Mary, the Mother of God, is also the first disciple of her Son, the God-man. She is also the New Eve, whose obedience and gift of her entire being overturns the sin and rebellion of the first Eve. Her Son is the New Adam, who comes to give everlasting, supernatural life and heal the mortal wound inflicted by the sin of the first Adam (cf. 1 Cor 15:45).
The lives and the love of the New Adam and the New Eve fill the season of Advent. Mary quietly and patiently calls all men to Bethlehem to see and worship the Christ Child. Jesus waits for mankind to recognize Him as Lord and Savior. But He doesn't just wait for us; He comes to us. But His coming awaits completion, both in our individual lives and in the life of the world. Which is why James, in today's epistle, writes, " Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. . . . . You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm,because the coming of the Lord is at hand" (Jas 5:7-10).
Fr. Daniélou explains beautifully this paradox of Advent, of Jesus having come already and yet coming still:
"We live always during Advent, we are always waiting for the Messiah to come. He has come, but is not yet fully manifest. He is not fully manifest in each of our souls; He is not fully manifest in mankind as a whole; that is to say, that just as Christ was born according to the flesh in Bethlehem of Judea so must He be born according to the spirit in each of our souls."
Although young, poor, and faced with incredible challenges, Mary waited patiently on the promises and the coming of her Lord and Son. The Catechism says that because Mary "gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: 'Let it be to me according to your word.' By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: 'Thy will be done.'" (CCC 2677). That is indeed the perfect prayer, from the perfect woman and mother, for Advent: "Thy will be done."
Gods grace redeems the Virgin
The Church recently celebrated the great Feast of the Immaculate Conception, situated to draw Catholics more deeply into the mystery of God's grace, Mary's faith, and the plan of salvation. Although not formally defined as a doctrine of the Catholic Church until 1854 by Pope Pius IX, belief in Mary's sinlessness goes back to the earliest centuries of the Church and is rooted in Scripture, especially the first chapter of Luke's Gospel.
In the encyclical Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX formally stated the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. [135 Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854); CCC 491]
Although the Eastern Orthodox recognize and celebrate Mary's sinlessness, many Protestants do not. Some, in fact, take great offense with this belief, insisting that it makes light of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, and that it implies that Mary is more than a creature, perhaps even equal to her Son.
But the Church makes very clear that Mary's Immaculate Conception is a gift of God. After all, Mary was "redeemed from the moment of her conception," making it difficult for her redemption to be her own work. And Pope Pius IX's definition strongly states that the Immaculate Conception was "by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God" and by the work and merits of Mary's Son. Sadly, some Christians not only reject this truth, they even resort of saying that Mary "not special" or "not worthy of praise"even though Mary, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared that "from this time on all generations will count me blessed" (Lk 1:48).
John Cardinal Newman once noted that Catholic beliefs about Jesus and His Mother are intimately connected and cannot be torn apart from one another. "Catholics who have honoured the Mother, still worship the Son," he wrote, "while Protestants, who now have ceased to confess the Son, began . . . by scoffing at the Mother." It is a cautionary statement that all Christians, including Catholics, should take to heart during the Advent season.
If any human besides Christ the Lord was born without the stain of original sin, then the entirety of Christianity is for nothing. The reason Christ was born the way He was (immaculate) is to preserve His Holiness and proof of His being God. Every human born of this world has original sin imprinted upon us. This oviously includes Mary, the bearer of Christ.
that is simply not true...you can not have the perfect, sinless, God-man, inside the body stained with sin.
just as nothing unclean can enter heaven, nothing that is of heaven can dwell in something unclean.
the living tabernacle of Mary was immaculate, just as the old testament, the arc of the convenant contained the sinless word, and was designed by God and told to the builders how to make it perfect, so was Mary, made perfect, before all time, so that she could be the living arc of the convenant to contain the pure God-man.
so,it is biblical in every sense.
U heard Carl Olson speak recently. Very good.
Yep...This is right up there with walking under ladders, going back home if a black cat crosses your path, etc...It's amazing what they will tell you guys to keep you comin' and payin'...
Luk 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Joh 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Looks like you all got it a bit backwards...You've increased Mary over Jesus so much that it appears she is the one you guys worship over God...
You have any pictures of Mary kneeling at the feet of the full grown Jesus??? That'll shock me if you do...
Don't you read the scriptures??? The perfect, sinless God is in every actual Chritian that you ever met, in the form of the Holy Spirit...
NYer, the first part of this article is great. The second part, with that 19th century IC “dogma” is truly unfortunate. I understand tat within the last 50 years or so the Maronites have signed on with that notion, but in the past I understand it was not accepted. I further understand that in Lebanon it isn’t accepted except to the extent that it is necessary to “pay lip service” as one Lebanese fellow put it to me the other day, to the “Magisterium”. True?
“There is absolutely NO Biblical truth in this: ...and “preserved from the stain of original sin” (CCC 508).”
“that is simply not true...you can not have the perfect, sinless, God-man, inside the body stained with sin.”
Remarkable how the unfortunate Augustinian innovation of “Original Sin”, a thoroughly non-patristic notion, causes trouble in Western Christianity.
RGF, what vpintheak has posted is thoroughly patristic. The Most Holy Theotokos was completely human, not some goddess, though I will grant you that the “Co Redemptrix” crowd might lead one to believe otherwise. She was born like all the rest of us, burdened with the consequences of the Sin of Adam. She was in need of the Savior just like the rest of us. The Latin innovation of the IC is a necessary result of the Augutinian theology of “Original Sin” which contributed so much to the West’s departure from the patristic theology of The Church.
And vpintheak, as I said, your conclusion is correct, but there is no such thing as “original sin” staining anyone’s soul!
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Isn't it the hope of the elect that they will one day be washed clean of the stain of sin? And don't we profess that that washing is with the blood of Christ shed on the Cross? Is it correct to say that those among humankind who are saved by grace through Faith in Christ are saved in His blood and in that blood finally made unspotted?
Then all we are "adding" to that is that that eschatological effect of the Sacrifice in Christ "came true" in Mary at the moment of her conception. She was not, in other words, by her own inherent nature or act immaculate. She was immaculate by the "application" (so to speak) to her of the saving act of Christ at the moment of her conception. The cross is what made Mary immaculate, we say.
Every human born of this world has original sin imprinted upon us.
Seriously, does that include Adam and Eve?
I really mean that I am to trying to persuade you of this, but rather trying to show PART of how we think of it, in hopes that that will clarify that, as we think of it, the Immaculate conception so far from vitiates Christ's sacrifice that it is, rather, one of the most gracious fruits of it.
Thank you for this. Think I’ll skip most of the comments on this one.
uhmmm, so...how does a sinless Christ come from a sinful mother?
Isn’t there something like if it’s Greek, it’s orthodox. Fact is that the Greeks never understood the nature of the conflict between Pelagius and Augustine, heace what Augustine or the Latin Church meant by “Original Sin.” Not understanding the history of the contraversy, the Greeks were fooled by Pelagius and his disciples, whose doctrine is more “Jewish” than many think. At the extreme, it requires no redeemer at all.
The mythology surrounding Mary boggles the mind!
What is your proof of no original sin? I am interested.
Adam and Eve were not born of this world. God created them, first Adam, then Eve from Adam. Sin entered the world, all of humanity since that time has been born into sin except Christ.
You mind can get unboggled if it just separates the popular devotions to Mary from the Church doctrine. Even the former , however, can be instructive. however. As Queen of Angels, she is his messenger to millions, as a symbol ofHis mercy and of His justice.
***uhmmm, so...how does a sinless Christ come from a sinful mother?***
This leads to another question...How does a sinless mother come from sinful grandparents.