Today is September 8th and we celebrate Blessed Virgin Mary’s birth.
Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to all the world. For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice, Christ our God.
Destroying the curse, He gave blessing; and damning death, He bestowed on us life everlasting.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. For from thou hast risen of Sun of justice, Christ our God.
– – – from The Divine Office – Matins (Morning Prayer)
The birth of Mary was also miraculous. She was conceived without sin as a special grace because God had selected her to become the mother of His Son (the feast of her Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8). The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, though generally believed throughout the Church for many centuries, was formally declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
There is nothing contained in Scripture about the birth of Mary or her parentage, though Joseph’s lineage is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, a book dating from the 2nd Century AD, not part of the authentic canon of Scripture. According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child.
St. Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.”
If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.
Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.
Prayer: Father of mercy, give your people help and strength from heaven. The birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son was the dawn of our salvation. May this celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace. Grant this though our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Catholic Belief about Virgin Mary : The attention Catholics pay to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and other saints can seem strange and excessive. Many Catholics light candles and pray kneeling in front of statues of Mary. They pray rosaries and novenas to Mary. They hold large and elaborate processions, carrying crowned statues aloft amid a carpet of flowers.
To some this attention goes beyond what Christians should pay to another Human being. To some, Catholic devotion to Mother Mary is Idol Worship.
Mary, The Mother of God
In fact, the unique and special place Catholics assign to Jesus’ mother, Mary is clearly grounded in Scripture. The attention Catholics give to Mary is based on her role as the Mother of God.
Mary is the fulfillment of the Old testament prophecy (Is 7:14) Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. His name shall be called Emmanuel (which means God is with us). (Mt. 1:23)
Mary is the Mother of Him who is God-with-us. Mary is therefore the Mother of God. Because of the hypostatic union, the inseparable union between the two natures of Jesus, Mary is rightfully the Mother of God. She is the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. This is what the angel Gabriel announced to Her : ‘Behold, you conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High’ and that he ‘will be called holy, the Son of God…’ (Lk 1:30,34)
While many mothers act as though their children are divine, in Mary’s case, her son really is GOD.
In scripture, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth affirms she is the Mother of God : ‘When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with holy spirit, cried out in aloud voice and said : ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the Mother of My Lord should come to me?’ (Lk 1:41-43)
Mary’s special position as the Mother of God is a unique grace which she received from God. The angel Gabriel addresses her, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you’ (Lk 1:28) He tells her ‘you have found favor with God’ (Lk 1:30) And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. For He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name’ (Lk 1:46-49)
Catholic devotion to Mary is the fulfillment of this scripture, to call her the Blessed Mother in every generation. Mary was blessed by God in this unique way in order that she would be worthy to bear in herself and raise the Son of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) declares : ‘To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary was enriched by God with Gifts appropriate to such a role’. The angel Gabriel at the moment of annunciation salutes her as ‘full of grace’. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (CCC 490)
Mary is the Mother of God, not as existing before God, or as the source of God in Himself. Mary is the mother of God when He was born on earth in Bethlehem.
In order to be the the Mother of the Son of God who would redeem the world from sin, Mary was kept free from sin by the very redemption her Son would bring about on the Cross.
Through the centuries, the church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854 : ‘The most blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by the virtue of Jesus Christ, Saviour of human race, preserved immune from all stain of Original sin. (CCC 491)
The redemption Mary received from God comes through the merits of Her Son, Jesus Christ. Our redemption repairs the damage of the sin we have committed. Her redemption preserved Her from committing any sin.
Although sinless, Mary did not cast the first stone, much to the relief of the woman caught in adultery.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
As a result of being preserved by God’s grace from sin, Jesus also gave His Mother a share in His Resurrection.
‘Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of Her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.
The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians. (CCC 966)
The Intercession of Mary
Since Mary was most blessed by God, and lives now with Him in glory, Catholics turn to Her for help.
At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus shows He listens to and fulfills the requests of His mother. ‘When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you’ (Jn 2:3-5) Mary had faith in her Son, and He responded to her request.
Furthermore, Jesus, on the cross, gave His Mother Mary, to St.John to be his mother, and thereby to be the blessed Mother of the Church. When jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then He said to the disciple ‘Behold,your mother.’ And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:26-27)
Thus the Book of Revelation describes Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant in heaven : ‘A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. The rest of Her offspring are those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus…(Rev 12:1-2,5,17)
The honor given to Mary, the Mother of God, should not be confused with the worship which is reserved for God alone. The Church honors her for the grace God showed her in preserving her from sin, in choosing her to be the earthly mother of His son, and her obedience to and faith in His Word.
We also ask for Her to pray to God on our behalf. Read the article Should we pray to Mary. But the Church never offers her praise, adoration, sacrifice or worship; All the honor given to her is on account of the favor God showed her. ‘The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times, the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God’, to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…This very special devotion… differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration. (CCC 971)
Please watch the Mother Mary Video given at the top of this article, which explains all this through the video clip. But for those, who are not able to play the Mother Mary Video, don’t worry. Every word in the video clip is already written as text on this page.
Mary is the mother of Jesus. I know all agree to that. But is she the mother of God? How can Mary the Mother of Jesus, a mere human being, be the Mother of God? Many people question Catholics and do we have the right answers to them?
First, we are going to provide enlightenment to those who are in doubt or completely do not believe that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God. Second, for those who believe in Mary’s Divine Motherhood — To you we provide the necessary insights needed to be able to answer the questions of those who doubt, particularly our non-catholic brethren.
The Nestorian Heresy
Many of our non-Catholic brethren question the dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary by inadvertently reechoing the Nestorian heresy which was condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431. Nestorius claimed that in Christ Incarnate, there are two distinct persons — one divine and the other human. With this premise, Nestorius concluded that Mary was mother only of the human person of Jesus. Thus, according to Nestorius, Mary cannot be considered “Mother of God”.
The Council, attended by around 150 bishops and presided over by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, condemned the teachings of Nestorius. Specifically, the council argued in clear terms that in Jesus is one person (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) with two natures (Divine and Human). The union of the two natures of Christ is called hypostatic union since one cannot be without the other.
Because of the hypostatic union, the inseparable union between the two natures of Jesus, Mary is rightfully the Mother of God. She is the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
The Catholic Church teaches what she received from the Lord through the Apostles, that Mary the mother of Jesus was a virgin before and after giving birth to Jesus. Furthermore, that Mary was ‘full of grace’ from the moment of her conception and that every grace received by Christians passes somehow through her hands.
Some say that Mary cannot be the Mother of God because it is inconceivable for a mortal human like Mary to be “above” God. How can the Creator “come from” Mary, a mortal? Motherhood, somehow, gives a certain degree or perception of superiority on the part of the mother over her child, for the reason that the child has to rely on the mother for its conception. Therefore, how can Jesus “rely” on Mary for His conception and birth?
The answer, I think, lies in the word “Immanuel”. Jesus wanted to be truly “one with us” and the only way for Him to do that was to become human himself by being born of a Mother. In other words, the Divine Motherhood of Mary was an essential element of God’s plan to come into the world and restore the intimate relationship between God and Man, by becoming human through the Person of Jesus.
Mary’s Motherhood does not mean that Mary is “superior” to Jesus. Because Jesus is both God and Man (hypostatic union of the two natures), Jesus still retained His Divinity, and therefore superiority over Mary, even if He had to rely on a human vessel in Mary to come into the world.
The Way of Mary
Jesus could have chosen other ways of coming into the world. He could have come in all His glory, bearing with all His Divine Power and coming down from the clouds. But the fact is that He chose to go through Mary, and to be born into the world as a helpless little infant in the arms of Our Lady. He chose to have a Mother. He chose to give His all to Mary: to rely on her for His safety, for His food and nourishment, for His upbringing and growth.
And perhaps herein lies the best answer to the question on whether Mary is truly Mother of God. Mary is Mother of God because God wanted it to be so! Dare we question this Divine decision?
Mother of God, Mother of All Christians
In the same way as the woman who bore you is called your mother and not the mother of your body only, Mary is the mother of the whole person of Jesus Christ, who is God (cf. Colossians 2:9). The Church proclaimed this truth in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. – – –
Therefore, because the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with the flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh (for “the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and the Word was with God”, and he made the ages and is coeternal with the Father and craftsman of all things), but because, as we have said, he united to himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb.– (Third letter of Cyril to Nestorius)
Similarly, the body of believers, the Church, are Christ’s body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Ephesians 4:1-6, 15-16; Colossians 1:18; etc.) and since Mary is the mother of Christ, she is also the mother of all us believers. And, as if these facts would not be enough, Jesus himself gave us Mary as our mother as he hung dying on the cross (cf. John 19).