Blessed Virgin Mary

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Patron-Saints of the Philippines
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Name: Mary
Description: The Blessed Vigin Mary
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The Blessed Virgin Mary is known as the the Mother of God, Mother of Jesus and the wife of St. Joseph, and is said to have been conceived without sin.

This belief is not merely in the virginity of Mary, but in her continuing role within the Church and in the life of ordinary Catholics, for which Catholicism in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (21 November 1964) passed during the Second Vatican Council, granted her the title Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. Colloquially, she is often referred to as Our Lady.

Contents

The Blessed Virgin Mary in Catholicism

Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy focus on Mary as a living person who can intercede to her Son, Jesus, on behalf of humanity. From the beginning of the Church, Catholic theology has maintained that Christ is the sole Mediator between God and Man. Yet as theologian Ludwig Ott observes, "there is nothing to prevent others in a certain way (secundum quid) from being called mediators between God and man, in so far as they, by preparing or serving, cooperate in uniting men to God" Mary's willed obedience is contrasted with Adam and Eve's disobedience, an idea with roots in the writings of the Church Fathers. Mary herself required redemption and is not equal to Jesus in Catholic theology. Nonetheless her role was pivotal, as emphasized by Jerome, Irenaeus 180–199 (see Jurgens §224), Tertullian c.212 (see Jurgens §358) and others including herself in scripture: "behold the handmaid of the Lord." Mary is also described by Ambrose as "the prototype of the Church."

Marian devotions play a key part in the ritual and liturgy of Western and Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. While many of the traits attributed to her and devotions given her within Western Catholicism are not found among the Eastern Orthodox, the opposite is also true. For instance, in the Paraklesis service of the Byzantine liturgy, Eastern Christians appeal to her: "O most holy Theotokos, save us!" This appeal to her to save us is not used in Western Christianity, but it is explained by the Eastern Orthodox as "ask(ing) the Most Holy Theotokos to 'save us' not in the sense of the eternal salvation found only through Christ, but in the sense that those drowning call out to those on dry land for assistance in their plight."For more on the place of Mary in Eastern Orthodox tradition and theology, see The Ever-Virgin Mother of God by Archpriest George Florovsky

Marian Theology

Marian theology or Mariology is the area of Christian theology concerned with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It not only deals with her life but her veneration through Roman Catholicism, and her aspect in modern and ancient Christianity.

Divine motherhood

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Highly venerated image in Mexico.
The Divine Motherhood of Mary is the teaching that Mary was predestined from all of time to be the Theotokos, which translates from Greek as "God-bearer" or more commonly, Mother of God. The title of Theotokos is documented throughout the history of the early Church, and was officially given to the Blessed Virgin at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The title does not emphasize Mary, but puts focus on the inseparable dual nature of Jesus Christ, both man and God. Scripturally, this is supported by St. Elizabeth's inspired salutation to Mary from Luke 1:43: "And how [have I deserved that this honor should] be granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" The designation of Mary as the Mother of God stands in stark contrast to the pagan notion of God and emphasizes the miracle of the incarnation: the uncontainable God of creation containing himself within the womb of the Virgin.

Perpetual virginity

It is a fundamental Catholic and Orthodox teaching that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. Several explanations are offered regarding verses such as Matthew 13:55 and Gospel of Mark|Mark 6:3, which list "adelphoi" of Jesus. Jerome translated the ambiguous Greek term "adelphoi" to possibly mean certain types of close relatives such as "cousins".<ref>"The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary" from the Catholic Encylopedia</ref> Several early writers (the Clementine literature, Hegesippus-Eusebius of Caesarea) suggest that they were stepbrothers of Jesus, sons of a previous wife of Joseph.<ref>Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae|The Book of the Birth of Saint Mary</ref><ref>The Protoevangelium of James</ref><ref>Liturgy of St. James</ref> It is important to note that the perpetual virginity of Mary is linked to the belief in her Immaculate Conception, or sinlessness: her physical virginity is reflective of her spiritual virginity. Mary's perpetual virginity also stresses her exclusive love and dedication to her offspring, Jesus Christ.

This teaching is rejected by the majority of Protestant theologians and some academic New Testament scholars, who interpret "adelphoi" in the usual sense of "brother."

Immaculate Conception

Since the Middle Ages, Catholic theologians had argued the question of whether or not Mary had been subject to original sin. In general, the Franciscans argued in favor of her "immaculate conception", the doctrine that she, from the moment of her conception, had been preserved by God from all sin and all tendency to sin; the Dominicans, on the other hand, including most notably Thomas Aquinas, argued that Mary's sinlessness is a grace granted to her at some time after her conception. In 1854, Pope Pius IX effectively ended the debate for Catholics by proclaiming the dogma of the "Immaculate Conception", stating that "the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race." ("Ineffabilis Deus", issued on 8 December 1854). It was subsequently claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary during her sixteenth appearance in Lourdes on March 25 1858 announced to Bernadette Soubirous "I am the Immaculate Conception". The term Immaculate Conception is also widely used within Catholicism to refer to the Virgin Mary.

Assumption

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven by GB Piazzetta

In 1950, speaking ex cathedra, in his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary, in which he stated that "at the end of her earthly course, Mary was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul". This was a long held belief by Christians since the time of the early Church, despite its recent definition as dogma. Pope Pius XII also stated that he was relying both on scripture and on "apostolic tradition". As an infallible pronouncement, the Dogma of the Assumption is thus a mandatory belief for Catholics. No pope since has issued an infallible dogma.

Co-Redemptrix

Some Catholics in the late twentieth century urged Pope John Paul II to infallibly declare Mary Co-Redemptrix, not meaning by this title that Mary herself redeems mankind, but that she cooperates with Jesus in His redemption of the world; as a co-pilot is not equal to the pilot of an airplane, so is the case with Jesus and His Mother as well as with any other Christian faithful who, by the Baptism, becomes member of the Mystical Body of Jesus and, as such, "co-redemptor".

Professor Mark Miravalle of the Franciscan University in Steubenville in the United States launched a petition to urge Pope John Paul to make such a move, by defining the teaching of the Church that Mary is Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God. More than six million signatures were gathered from 148 countries. Signatories included Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, 41 other cardinals and 550 bishops. However, such a proposal was also heavily criticized by many Catholics who suggested that only Jesus could be a Redeemer and that such an act would drive a wedge in relationships with other apostolic tradition Christian faiths, notably the Orthodox Church and Anglicanism, neither of whom would accept such a designation. Though both Pope Pius XI in 1935 and Pope John Paul II himself in 1985 did use the word co-redemptrix to refer to Mary, no formal infallible dogma supporting such a designation has been issued, notwithstanding the petition.

Mary as Co-Redemptrix is entirely tied to her role in the Incarnation of Jesus. Because Jesus was miraculously incarnated in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the physical, human nature of Jesus was thus derived from Mary. In a very real sense, the blood Jesus shed on the Cross was the blood he received from Mary. And since Jesus saved mankind by his incarnation, and this was made possible by the obedience of Mary, this becomes a source of understanding Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Mary's role, however, is totally dependent upon her relationship to the redeemer, Jesus, and her total obedience to the Will of the Spirit.

Marian Venerations

Marian prayers

The earliest known Marian prayer is the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection, dating from late 2nd century. A papyrus dated to c. 250 containing the prayer in Greek was discovered in Egypt in 1917, and is the earliest known reference to the title Theotokos. This title was authorized at the Council of Ephesus in 431 commemorating the Virgin's role in the incarnation of Jesus as the Word of God, and her place in the History of Salvation.

Beneath your compassion, We take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.

Other famous Marian prayers include the "Magnificat," the Angelus and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Marian hymns include O Mary, we Crown Thee With Blossoms Today, O Purest of Creatures, the Queen of Heaven|Regina Coeli, and the Hail Mary|Ave Maria. May and October are traditionally seen within Roman Catholicism as Marian months.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary is a well known Catholic prayer which celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and focuses on that event and its implications for those of us who believe. The words of this scriptural and inspired prayer are directed to Mary, who is the mother of Jesus and the first Christian. As we ask other Christians to pray for us, so too we can ask the first Christian, who has experienced the fullness of our Lord's Resurrection, to pray to her Son for us.

Holy Rosary

Rosary beads

Since the Rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of the prayer of Christ and the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, it was without doubt the first prayer and the principal devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries, from the time of the apostles and disciples down to the present. It was only in the year 1214, however, that the Church received the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by St. Dominic, who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners. After that, St. Dominic preached the Rosary for the rest of his life.

A popular Marian devotional is the Rosary of St. Dominic, a form of prayer in which an Our Father, ten Hail Marys and a Glory Be to the Father (together forming a "decade of the Rosary") are recited five times while meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious) to be followed by a prayer called the "Hail Holy Queen" and perhaps the "Litany of Loreto". The decades may be separated, if the entire chaplet is completed on the same day. Each Mystery may be meditated "bead by bead" for every Hail Mary of the decade.

Joyful Mysteries (Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation at the Temple, Finding in the Temple) are recited every Monday and Saturday; Sorrowful Mysteries (Agony of Jesus in the Garden, Scourging of Jesus at Pillar, Crowning with Thorns, Carrying the Cross, Crucifixion), every Tuesday and Friday; Glorious Mysteries (Resurrection of Jesus, Ascension of Jesus, Descent of the Holy Spirit, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary}, every Wednesday and Sunday; and Light Mysteries (Baptism of Jesus, Wedding of Cana, Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, Transfiguration, Institution of the Eucharist), every Thursday.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed during the Middle Ages. The place of honor it now holds in the life of the Church is due to its faithful use at the shrine of the Holy House at Loreto. It was approved by Sixtus V in 1587, and all other Marian litanies were suppressed, at least for public use. Its titles and invocations set exalts Mary's privileges, her holiness of life, her amiability and power, her motherly spirit and queenly majesty.

Memorare

The Memorare (Remember) is a sixteenth-century version of a fifteenth-century prayer that began "Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria." Claude Bernard (1588-1641) popularized the idea that the "Memorare" was written by Saint Bernard. It is a long-beloved personal prayer of petition for Mary's intercession. The Catechism observes that "Mary is the perfect Orans (prayer), a figure of the Church."

Marian Apparitions

Our Lady of Fatima

From the very first days after her Dormition to the present time, the Most Holy Virgin has been giving succor to Christians. This belief is substantiated by accounts of her appearances and especially by the multitude of miracles performed by her icons.

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Unborn) - Mary appeared in Mexico in the year 1531 to an Indian named Juan Diego.
  • Our Lady of Lourdes - Mary appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a poor and sick young girl in the grotto of Masabielle, close to Lourdes in France in 1858.
  • Our Lady of Fatima - Mary appeared to three children -- namely Lucia dos Santos, age 9, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 8 and 6 respectively -- on May 13, 1917.
  • Our Lady of Akita - In 1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in Akita, Japan three messages through a statute of Mary.

Marian Titles

The following are some of the well-known Marian titles:

  • Mary, the Immaculate Conception (Principal Patroness of the Philippines)
  • Mary Help of Christians (Patroness of Australia)
  • Mary, Queen of Heaven
  • Mary, Queen of the World
  • Mary, Seat of Wisdom
  • Our Lady of Aparecida (Patroness of Brazil)
  • Our Lady of Fatima
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Americas and the Islands Philippines)
  • Our Lady of Doctrine (celebrated in Tarxien, Malta)
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel
  • Our Lady of Good Health
  • Our Lady of Good Success
  • Our Lady of Lebanon
  • Our Lady of Loreto
  • Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Mother of Perpetual Help
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
  • Our Lady of Aranzazu
  • Our Lady of The Miraculous Medal
  • Our Lady of the Pillar
  • Our Lady/Mother of Perpetual Help
  • Our Lady of Prompt Succor
  • Our Lady, Queen of Ireland
  • Our Lady of Combermere
  • Our Lady of Solitude of Porta Vaga, (Patron of Cavite City)
  • Our Lady of Salambao, (Patron of Obando, Bulacan)
  • Our Lady of the Wayside (Patron Saint of California)
  • Our Lady, Help of Christians
  • Queen of the Angels
  • Queen of Peace
  • The Madonna of Consolation
  • The Madonna del Ghisallo
  • The Virgin of the Charity of Cobre (Patron Saint of Cuba)
  • Our Lady, Queen of Croats
  • Star of the Sea (Stella Maris)
  • The Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron and Queen of Poland
  • The Rose
  • Ark of the Covenant
  • Our Lady of the Rule or Nuestra Señora Virgen Regla de Opon (Patron Saint of Lapu-Lapu City,Cebu)

Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary--15 August

The following are some of the well-known Marian feasts:

  • January 1 Theotokos|Mary, Mother of God
  • January 8 Our Lady of Prompt Succor
  • February 2 Purification of the Virgin
  • February 11 Our Lady of Lourdes
  • March 25 Annunciation by Archangel Gabriel
  • April 26 Our Mother of Good Counsel
  • May 1 May crowning|Queen of Heaven
  • May 13 Our Lady of Fatima
  • May 24 Mary Help of Christians
  • May 31 Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces
  • June 27 Our Lady of Perpetual Help
  • August 15 Assumption of Mary|Assumption into Heaven
  • August 21 Our Lady of Knock
  • September 8 Our Lady of Good Health, Our Lady of Charity
  • September 9 Our Lady of Aranzazu
  • September 15 Our Lady of Sorrows
  • October 7 Feast of the Most Holy Rosary
  • December 8 Immaculate Conception|Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • December 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • November 21- Our Lady of the Rule (Nuestra Señora Virgen de Regla de Opon)

Marian Shrines

Side altar--Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin

A shrine to the Virgin Mary or Marian shrine is a shrine marking a Marian apparition or other miracle ascribed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or a site on which is centered a historically strong Marian devotion. Such locales are often the destination of pilgrimages.

Many of the shrines have acquired a symbolic value for patriotism and nationalism in their area.

Among the shrines considered most significant for their apparitions:

  • Basilica of the Holy House, Loreto, Italy
  • Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal
  • Our Lady of La Salette in La Salette, France
  • The Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Our Lady of Knock|The Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland in Knock, Ireland
  • The Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain
  • The Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Czestochowa, Poland
  • The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France
  • The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France
  • Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Orani, Bataan, Philippines
  • The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Manila, Philippines
  • Tne Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas, Philippines

Controversy

Prominent atheists, such as Richard Dawkins [1] and Richard Carrier [2], Jewish apologists [3] and some Christian researchers claim that the Virgin Mary arose from a single mistranslation. The original Hebrew stated that the mother of Jesus would be an almah ("young girl" or "virgin") but the translation to Greek made it into parthenos ("virgin"). This alleged mistranslation would have occurred up to three centuries before the time of Jesus, since the Septuagint was translated over the 3rd to 1st centuries BC.

The tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church is thus: one of the translators of the Septuagint hesitated over the translation of Isaiah 7:14 "Behold a virgin (almah) shall conceive", doubting the possibility of a virginal conception. Instead of translating 'almah' with 'parthenos' (virgin), he translated it with 'gyne' (young woman) - also admissible from the Hebrew. According to this same tradition, an angel appeared to him and advised him that 'virgin' was the correct translation, and that he would not die until he had seen the Christ born of a virgin. Thus the scholar-translator remained in the Temple of Jerusalem for over three hundred years, awaiting the sign. This was Simeon the Righteous, the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who, according to Luke 2:25-35, met the Virgin Mary and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the fortieth day from Jesus' birth. On taking Jesus into his arms he uttered the prayer Nunc dimittis, about having finally seen the promised salvation.

Cult of the Virgin

Early image of the Virgin and child from the Roman catacombs, 4th century

The Council of Ephesus in 431 sanctioned the cult of the Virgin as Theotokos, Mother of God, allowing the creation of icons bearing the images of the Virgin and Child. Devotion to Mary was, however, already widespread by this point. The early Church Fathers saw Mary as the "new Eve" who said "yes" to God as Eve had said no. The non-canonical Gospel of James, written around 150, is an example of early devotion to Mary, advocating her perpetual virginity. Mary, as the first Christian Saint and Mother of Jesus, was deemed to be a compassionate mediator between suffering mankind and her son, Jesus, who was seen as King and Judge. Biblical support for this position was found in the story of the Marriage at Cana whereat Mary entreated Jesus to turn water into wine (Gospel of John, Chapter 2). Elizabeth's praise of Mary "blessed art thou among women" and "who am I that the mother of my Lord would visit me?" in Luke 2 are also cited, among other passages of Scripture.

Early representations show Mary as the "Throne of Heaven" with Mary and the Child Jesus both crowned as Royalty. She was further identified with the Bride in the Old Testament Song of Solomon, by such noted theologians as St. Bernard of Clairvaux. She became the prototype for the Church itself. During the Middle Ages, and especially in France, the great Cathedrals were thus named for Mary. The Marian Rosary was popularized by the followers of St. Dominic. mage:Fra Angelico 082.jpg|thumb|right|256px|Coronation of the virgin by Fra Angelico The image of Mary as Queen was softened somewhat by Mary as Mother of the Child Jesus. St. Francis of Assisi popularized the image of the Nativity scene using live animals. This representation of the helpless Jesus suckled by his mother brought Christmas into the hearts and homes of the people. And, as journeys to the Holy Land became difficult, Mary's role in the Passion (Christianity) story became part of the popular Stations of the Cross as the Mother of the suffering Jesus. During the great plagues such as the Black Death, Mary became greatly popular as a compassionate intercessor and protector of mankind against the just judgment of God.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary as the "new Eve" lent much to the status of women during the Middle Ages. Women who had been looked down upon as daughters of Eve (first woman), came to be looked upon as objects of veneration and inspiration. The veneration of Mary both as woman and prototype of the Church was greatly responsible for transforming the Germanic Warrior code into the Code of Chivalry. This reinterpretation of women flowered in the Courtly Love poetry of Medieval and Renaissance France. Mary, as the original "vessel of Christ" may have also influenced the legends of the Holy Grail. Her selflessness, obedience and virginal humility were reinterpreted in the literary figure of Sir Galahad, finder of the Grail.

Accusations of idolatry

Some Protestants have accused Catholics and Eastern Orthodox of "Mariolatry," suggesting that Catholics adore the Virgin Mary in breach of the Ten Commandments, which condemn keeping "false gods." This point was offered especially by John Calvin. In Catholic theology there is a clear distinction drawn between the worship or latria (adoration, which may be offered only to God), and veneration and praise, or dulia. Catholicism has traditionally accorded to the Virgin Mary the veneration of hyperdulia, which rests in part upon the angelic salutation, "Hail, full of grace" (Lk 1:28), a phrase with momentous theological impact. Over the centuries, according to the Catholics, the nature of Mary within theology became clearer. By 403 we find Epiphanius refuting a sect called the Collyridian who adored Mary, telling them: "Mary should be honoured, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost should be adored. Nobody should adore Mary" (in Ott, Bk III, Pt 3 Ch. 3, §8). Thus we find, from the third century Church, veneration of Mary. Later, the belief that Mary intercedes for us with her Divine Son, and a clear distinction between latria and dulia together with a rejection of the notion of giving latria to Mary. The saints, for their part, receive dulia. This distinction between latria, hyperdulia, and dulia, is key to understanding Catholic Tradition (the Orthodox do not distinguish hyperdulia from dulia).

These proclamations by the Catholic Church, in addition to calling Mary the mother of God, which echoes the term Theotokos, instituted by an Ecumenical Council (instead of the mother of the human body of Jesus, which may echo the term Christotokos, specifically condemned as Nestorian by an Ecumenical Council), the Queen of Heaven, and the Queen of the World has led to such accusations. However, Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe that Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and that He is both God and man. Catholics counter the Protestant attack by stating that many Protestants have fallen into the Nestorian heresy which claimed that the "man Jesus" is not both fully divine and fully human, two natures (ousia) united inextricably in one person (hypostasis). Instead, Nestorianism claims that the "man Jesus" had Divine nature bestowed upon him at some time later than His conception and, therefore, Mary could not have been the Mother of God. Instead, the Nestorian doctrine was that she was merely the "mother of his humanity". Catholics do not believe Mary is the source of Jesus' Divine nature, but the source of his human nature. Yet as a person He is truly God and truly man, thus making her His mother. This has led to disagreement between Catholics and Protestants.

"Marianism" describes the excessive veneration of Mary, as opposed to Jesus. The term was first used in the 19th century to condemn the "perversion of Christianity into Marianism".

See also

References

External links

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