Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord:
Mother of God, Daughter of her Son

A. The Major Marian Doctrines
(1) Immaculate Conception – “Full of Grace”
Mary is the “New Eve,” who was redeemed and given the life of grace from the first moment of her conception, so that she was preserved from Original Sin or other sin in her life. The grace won by Christ on the Cross was applied to Mary in anticipation of this saving event. In this way, Mary could be a proper and pure “living temple” for the Son of God in her womb. "She is the living house of God, who does not dwell in buildings of stone but in the heart of living man." – Pope Benedict XVI. It was this fullness of grace that gave Mary the total freedom, unimpaired by the errors of sin, to say “yes” to God at the Annunciation and throughout her life.

(2) Ever Virgin
The virgin birth of Jesus goes beyond merely demonstrating that the true Father of Jesus is God, not a man. Mary gave herself to God completely, in the entirety of her being, soul and body, including her perpetual virginity. This means that Mary was a virgin before the conception and birth of Jesus, during these events, and after these events. At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church, our pure and holy mother of all on earth.

(3) Theotókos, the Mother of God
Mary is not merely mother of Jesus in His humanity or merely mother of the Christ, but is rightly called the Mother of God because Jesus is one, both fully human and fully God. The Lord dwelling within her, she is a living temple and Ark of the Covenant.

(4) Bodily Assumption into Heaven
At the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. She did not experience the corruption of the grave. Jesus being eternal, just as He is forever on the Cross, so too is He forever in the womb of Mary, and she is forever joined to Christ, so that if He is in heaven in the entirety of His being, soul and body, so too must Mary be in heaven in the entirety of her being, soul and body. The bodily assumption of Mary also points the way to all the faithful in the resurrection of the body.
B. Mother of the Church, wholly united with her Son
(1) The Annunciation
"This scene is perhaps the pivotal moment in the history of God's relationship with his people. During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel's message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said ‘yes.’” – Pope Benedict XVI
In Jesus, God literally merged into mankind, becoming small, defenseless, and vulnerable while dwelling within the Virgin Mary’s womb, in the most intimate of relationships. Just as the first Eve was formed out of the first Adam, so Jesus, Son of God and the new Adam, was formed out of the new Eve, flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone.

(2) The Nativity of Our Lord
In the birth of Jesus, we not only see a God who has made Himself small, we see a God who has a face, and it is the face of His mother, Mary, who had carried Him in her womb. To show that such an intimate relationship with Jesus was not meant to be Mary's alone, to show that all the faithful are called to intimately receive Him into our own bodies, the newborn Jesus was placed in a manger. As with the straw that was food for the animals, so too Jesus is shown to be food for us in the Eucharist. And by becoming small in this way, the all-powerful God who needs nothing chose to need us, chose to need our help in bringing about the salvation of man.

(3) The Hidden Life of the Holy Family
The persons closest to Jesus are Mary and Joseph, who raised Jesus, fed Him, clothed Him, taught Him, including instruction in the Faith, and who comforted Him when He needed comforting. They devoted the entirety of their lives to guarding and protecting Jesus, and thereby join in His mission of redemption.

(4) Wedding at Cana
Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, by becoming His mother, became our mother too. As our Mother, like at Cana when the wine ran out, Mary is sensitive and attentive to our needs, and she intercedes and asks her Son to provide for us. (Jn. 2:1-5)

(5) Mother of Sorrows – Mother of Mercy
When the baby Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Temple, the righteous Simeon came to Mary and prophesied that a “sword would pierce her heart,” that is, she would know sorrow. Indeed, soon thereafter, Herod sought to kill Jesus and they were forced to flee to Egypt. During the Passion of her Son, Mary and faithfully persevered in her union with Him. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, joining herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart.

(6) Pentecost and the Early Church
Mary is the New Eve, the mother of all who live according to the life of grace. Jesus gave Mary to His followers to be our mother. She is the mother of the Church. Mary was present, praying with the Apostles and other disciples at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the faithful and the Church was born. “Mary is so interwoven in the great mystery of the Church that she and the Church are inseparable, just as she and Christ are inseparable. Mary mirrors the Church, anticipates the Church in her person, and in all the turbulence that affects the suffering, struggling Church she always remains the Star of salvation.” – Pope Benedict XVI

(7) Mary and Us
“Dear young people, we too must remain faithful to the ‘yes’ that we have given to the Lord's offer of friendship. We know that He will never abandon us. We know that He will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord's ‘proposal’ in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship that God has established with each one of us. She is our example and our inspiration, she intercedes for us with her Son, and with a mother's love she shields us from harm.” – Pope Benedict XVI

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