CLASS 8B - THE MARIAN DOGMAS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
I. Mary as the Mother of God
A. Jesus is the divine
person, the Son of God, who has from all eternity a divine nature and
took a human nature. Mary is the mother of this divine person
through His human nature. The human nature cannot be separated
from the divine Son of God.
B. After a heated
dispute this dogma was defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Elizabeth describes Mary as "the mother of my Lord." Luke
1:43. Although the term "Lord" could have more general meanings,
that term as used by Luke and Elizabeth refers to God.
D. In order to refute
a heresy called Nestorianism, which said that Jesus is an entirely distinct
person from the Son of God, the Council of Ephesus declared in 431 that
Mary is the Mother of God. Pope Sixtus III approved of the Council
as an ecumenical (universal and binding) council in 432.
II. Mary as Ever Virgin
A. Mary was and is
a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus. Although
it was not a common practice, Mary probably took a vow of virginity
at an early age.
B. Mary asked the angel how she could bear a son, probably because she had taken this vow. See Luke 1:34. Scripture clearly says Mary was a virgin until the birth of Jesus. Matt. 1:25, Luke 2:7.
- The word "until"
did not mean that the situation changed afterward. See, e.g.,
Gen. 28:15; Psalms 110:1; Matt 28:20 ("I will be with you always until
the end of the age.")
C. The references
to Jesus as the first born son of Mary does not imply that there were
more sons. The "first born" was a title given regardless of
whether there were other children. See Ex. 12:2; Lev. 18:15.
D. The references to Jesus' "brothers," see e.g., Mark 3:31-35, 6:3, 1 Cor. 9:5, do not imply Mary had other children. The Greek word used (adelphos) mean close relatives generally. See Gen. 13:8, 14:14; 29:15.
- The Gospel
according to Matthew describes the mother of two of Jesus' brothers,
James and Joseph, as "the other Mary." See Matt 13:55, 28:1.
- Some Catholic
theologians, although a minority, argue that Joseph was a widower and
had children by his previous marriage. See, e.g., Eusebius,
Ecclesistical History, Book II, ch. 1.
E. Mary as ever virgin
is the model for both the married and the single. There is a connection
between the two vocations. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Jerome, the patron saint of Scriptural scholars, wrote a treatise on
The Perpetual Virginity of Mary.
2. The Second
Council of Constantinople (554), an ecumenical (i.e. universal and binding)
council of the Church referred to Mary twice as ever-virgin, although
that was not the issue that the council was called to address.
3. The Lateran
Synod of Rome (which was not an ecumenical council, but was still very
prestigious) said in 649 that Mary was ever virgin, a phrase that is
in a Eucharistic Prayer used at Mass at least from the 4th
century to the present.
4. In the last
chapter of Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, the
Vatican II Council confirmed this teaching, referring to Mary as "ever
Virgin." Lumen Gentium 52.
III. Mary as Immaculately Conceived
A Mary was conceived without
original sin and remained sinless her entire life. That is why
Gabriel called her "full of grace." As the thirteenth century
Franciscan theologian Blessed Duns Scotus explained, Jesus saved her
by "preventative grace," which kept sin from her, rather than redeeming
her from sin already incurred. In a similar way, it is a greater
work for a doctor to prevent a sin than to cure it.
B. This belief rose
first on the popular level, and then was debated by theologians.
It was celebrated in a universal feast, starting in 1708. In 1854,
after consulting the bishops of the Church, Pope Pius IX defined this
dogma in Ineffabilis Deus.
C. Mary is the new
Eve, conceived without original sin and, unlike the first Eve, remaining
sinless. She draws us to her sinlessness by her example and our
devotion to her.
IV. Mary as Assumed into Heaven
A. At the end of
her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.
Jesus ascended of His own power into heaven.
B. Part of the idea
is that Mary as the new Eve would naturally be assumed. Jesus
also wanted the Queen and Mother to be in heave, body and soul with
C. Psalms 45 and
132 refer to the Queen and the Ark of the Covenant being brought to
the King and to God. In addition to their historical meaning,
these images are prefigurements of the Blessed Virgin May. Thus,
Revelations 13 refers to the opening of the new and final Ark of the
Covenant in heaven and the woman clothed with the sun in the same breath.
Both are images of Mary.
D. After requests
from 113 cardinals, 1500 bishops, 82,000 priest and religious, and about
8 million laity, Pope Pius XII defined this dogma in 1950 in the encyclical
A. And so we venerate and call upon the Blessed Virgin Mary above all the angels and saints, as the Mother of Jesus and thus the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. Jesus performed His first miracle at her request and, being a good son, would want His people to give her honor. See John 2:1-11. The Book of Revelation presents "the woman clothed with the sun" who bears the Son and who is the mother of all the faithful. See Rev. 12:1-8. We identify this woman with both Mary and the Church, of whom she is the Mother. "By her motherly love she cares for her Son's brothers and sisters who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties. . . . She shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the people of God." Lumen Gentium 62, 69.