Mary, Mother of God

Mary’s divine motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight. Mary has an important role to play in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. She consents to God’s invitation conveyed by the angel (Luke 1:26-38). Elizabeth proclaims: “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?” (Luke 1:42-43). Mary’s role as mother of God places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan.

Without naming Mary, Paul asserts that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Paul’s further statement that “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’” helps us realize that Mary is mother to all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

The precise title “Mother of God” goes back at least to the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos (God-bearer), it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching about the Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos. At the end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through the street shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!”

The earliest known Marian prayer is the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection, a text for which was rediscovered in 1917 on a papyrus in Egypt dated to c. 250. The papyrus contains the prayer in Greek and is the earliest known reference to the title Theotokos. It reads: “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.”

The tradition of venerating Mary, Mother of God continues today. As the First Disciple, Mary provides for us the most perfect example of following Christ, and brings us closer to, and with greater understanding toward her Son, Jesus Christ.

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God has been given the honor of a Holy Day of Obligation, in conjunction with the Octave of Christmas, as well as the World Day of Peace. May Mary, the Queen of Peace, intercede for us in our search for lasting peace!

For more information, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has put together a document to help answer, “How Are You Called to Promote Peace?” (PDF)
Pope Benedict XVI also has an address for the World Day of Peace (Vatican Website)

References: “Saint a Day,” by Franciscan Media; Last Accessed 12/2012
Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, page 178