Summary of Doctrine on Mary; Notes

About this section

A great deal of thought has been put into preparing the Marian section of EWTN's presentation of "The Catholic Faith." This is because the Church's teaching concerning Mary and great devotion to her is very often misunderstood and even attacked by non-Catholic Christians, and is sometimes poorly understood even by Catholics. It may seem to some that a disproportionate amount of space has been devoted to Marian doctrine. However, in an attempt to give a clear exposition of Catholic teaching and to answer common objections to it, it is essential that no confusion be left as to what the Catholic Church teaches about the Mother of God, and what grounds there are for this teaching.

Summary of Marian Doctrine

The Catholic Church teaches that by a free decision of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary was elevated to become the Mother of His Son Jesus Christ and Jesus' worthy associate in redeeming mankind. She was prepared for this role by being preserved by God's grace from all sin, original and personal, throughout her entire life, and was rewarded at the end of her life for her cooperation with God's plan by being taken up, body and soul, into Heaven, where she reigns with her Son as Queen of the Universe, and whence she distributes to men all the graces which, with, through and under her Son, she helped to merit on Calvary.

Mary and Her Son

However, Catholics do not at all make Mary equal to her Son, for He is true God, and she, though the most exalted of all creatures, is still only that-a creature. Only Jesus Christ, because he is both God and man, can be the perfect Mediator between God and men, and could offer to the Father a sacrifice of infinite value on behalf of the human race of which he was fully a member. The sacrifice which He offered was completely sufficient to redeem mankind; Mary's cooperation was added not out of any necessity, but completely out of the marvelous generosity of our heavenly Father, His great love for us and for her. Finally, only Jesus Christ is Redeemer and Mediator by his own power. In all things, Mary works with, through, and under to her Son, completely dependent on Him.

Notes

Mary's subordination to her Son, and her dependence upon Him, is expressed in various places and in various ways in the files found in this section. If it is not repeated at every step, this is because for Catholics, this subordination is so clear, so obvious, that it does not need to be repeated at every turn. Catholics' great joy at the privileges granted to Mary rests ultimately in wonder that God could, and did, raised a mere creature to such heights.

In order to understand the grounds for the Church's teaching on Mary, it is necessary to understand the Church's teaching on Sacred Tradition. Those who believe that the Bible is the only source of divine revelation will certainly have trouble understanding where Catholic teaching on Mary has come from. Eventually, "The Catholic Faith" will add a section explaining what the Church believes about divine revelation, including Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Although files by Fr. William G. Most are used throughout "The Catholic Faith," special thanks are due to Father Most for his writings on Mary. The present section is largely, thought not entirely, the result of his years of tireless effort in defending and elucidating Catholic truth concerning the Mother of God.

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