Grow in the love of the Blessed Mother

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We hope that this special resource will help remind you of a different aspect of our Mother, opening your heart and drawing you closer to her maternal arms and also to her Son, Jesus Christ. We trust that the following pages will bring your heart closer under her mantle, as we share a few of the beautiful and befitting names bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Is New Year's Day a Catholic holiday?

Yes, but only because it is the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on the Church’s liturgical calendar. On many civil calendars, those which adopted the Gregorian Calendar, it is also New Year’s Day.

Why is Mary called the Mother of God?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 495) teaches,

Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus," Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos).

When was Mary declared the mother of God?

She was declared the Mother of God (Theotokos) in 431 AD at the Council of Ephesus.

When did the Church decide that Mary was the Mother of God?

The Gospels teach that He whom we call Jesus Christ was true God and true man (Jn. 1:14). St. John tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14), and thus of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to his martyrdom in Rome in 107 A.D., wrote to the Ephesians insisting on it,

“For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Spirit” (Ignatius, Eph. 18)

As with most Church dogmas, the teaching is already present in Revelation, enters ordinary teaching, but becomes a dogma only when there is serious opposition to believing it, or error in expressing it. In this case, the Council of Ephesus declared the dogma in 431, to settle the Christological controversy created by Nestorius.

"We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour His Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son." - St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Why is Mary called Theotokos?

The Greek word Theotokos used by the Council of Ephesus means "God-bearer." In the period leading up to the Council in 431, Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, tried to argue that Mary was only Christotokos, meaning “Birth Giver of Christ.” This implied that Jesus could be divided—with Mary as the mother of Christ as man, but not the mother of a Divine Person who became man. The Council rejected this notion and declared Mary the Theotokos, the “God-bearer,” and not merely the Christotokos.

Why is “Theotokos” important?

Even though it might sound like a slight difference, the titles Christotokos (“Birth Giver of Christ”) and Theotokos (“God-bearer”) indicate completely different views of Jesus. With Christotokos, we are saying that Christ can be divided (part Man, part God), but with Theotokos we see that Jesus is fully God and fully Man.

What are the 4 dogmas of Mary?

  • Mary is the Mother of God (Council of Ephesus, 431).
  • She was immaculately conceived (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).
  • She maintained her virginity throughout her life (Lateran Council, 649).
  • She was assumed into Heaven (Munificentissimus Deus, 1950).
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Do Catholics worship Mary?

No, Catholics only worship the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It would, in fact, be sinful to worship Mary. Theologians call divine worship latria, or the adoration due only to God.

However, in English the word worship is equivocal. In Britain it is often used of high personages, with the meaning of revering or honoring them due to the dignity of their office. David gave such honor to Saul, for example, because God had placed him as king over Israel. Such “worship” is derivative, sourced in the Father, as St. Paul taught (Eph. 3:14-15), analogous to that which the Decalogue commanded for parents (Ex. 12:20; Dt. 5:16).

Unfortunately, the English word “worship” doesn’t convey the subtlety of the Latin used by the Church, and in the United States is reserved for God. The Church’s theological term is dulia, from the Latin word for service. It is the reverence and respect owed to all the faithful servants of God (Mt. 24:21-23), the angels and saints whom God Himself honors with crowns of glory (Prov. 16:31; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 4:4). We honor them and, in turn, join with them in honoring God, the source of all holiness (Rev. 4:9-11).

Yet, Mary is not just any other saint. She is the Theotokos, the God-bearer, or Mother of God (Luke 1:43; Council of Ephesus, “Against Nestorius”). She is the true Ark of the Covenant who carried the Word Himself, the Bread of Heaven, and the Good Shepherd (Heb. 9:3-5; Rev. 11:19-12:1). The Archangel told her that she was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, called her “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42).

For all these reasons and more, the Church renders to Mary an honor that is greater than is given to all the saints and angels, termed hyperdulia, or the greatest honor. Yet, it is not still that adoration, latria, which we give to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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Is the “Hail Mary” idolatry?

The prayer of the Hail Mary is rooted in Scripture, but is also a response of the Church to the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and the role of Our Lord’s Blessed Mother in it (cf. John 2:3).

In Luke 1:28, St. Gabriel greets Mary with the words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”

In Luke 1:42, St. Elizabeth says these words to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

The last line (“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death”) reminds us that Mary is the mother of the Second Person of the Trinity become Man, and then the prayer asks her to pray for us.

In no way does the Hail Mary suggest that we should worship Mary or that she can do anything without God’s permission or aid. The fact that we ask for her prayers means that Mary needs to ask God to help us. She is not a goddess to be worshipped; she is a mother to be loved.

What are the holy days of obligation for the Catholic Church?

There are 10 universal holy days of obligation of the Church. However, Bishops Conferences may choose to not celebrate some of to transfer them to Sunday, with approval of the Apostolic See (Rome). The U.S. norm, if different, is indicated in parentheses.

  • Holy Mary Mother of God, January 1
  • Epiphany (U.S.: Sunday after January 1)
  • Ascension, Thursday 40 days after Easter (that Sunday in some dioceses)
  • Corpus Christi, Thursday after Trinity Sunday (Sunday after Trinity in some dioceses)
  • Assumption, August 15
  • Saint Joseph. March 19
  • Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (not observed)
  • All Saints, November 1
  • Immaculate Conception, December 8
  • The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, December 25