During the Octave of Christmas celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God and our mother makes for a perfect New Year’s Day
January 1 is much more than just New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day is the octave day of Christmas on which the Church universal celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The celebration was added in 1969 during the liturgical calendar’s reform.
“This date of January 1, which places the feast of Mary Mother of God in relation to the Christmas mystery is well-chosen and corresponds to the most ancient tradition,” notes Mariologist Father Manfred Hauke.
As the Holy See’s Directory of Popularity Piety explains, “The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her powerful glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because ‘through her we have received the ‘Author of life.’”
In fact, every time we pray the Hail Mary, we declare Mary as the Mother of God: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Anytime we use this wondrous title as we pray the Hail Mary, we sing in chorus with the third ecumenical Council of Ephesus which convened in 431 to once and for all settle and declare that Mary is truly “Mother of God.” It was the first Marian dogma.
Scripture tells us clearly in the Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary at the Annunciation. And so too with Elizabeth’s words at the Annunciation as the Catechism reminds us (495) adding, “Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).” Later, Paul in Galatians (4:4) declares, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…”
Why the Dogma
There would be little need to broadcast this authoritative opinion at that third ecumenical committee in 431 if not for an assault by the underhanded Nestorius. He would not call Mary “Mother of God” “not fundamentally due to a mariological blunder, but rather on account of a Christological mistake (a blunder concerning the genuine convention of Jesus),” Miravalle expresses. Nestorius partitioned Jesus into two separate people, one human and one divine.
At the point when at Ephesus the Church fathers characterized this authoritative opinion announcing the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God or Theotokos (literally “God-carrier”), they were really ensuring reality that Jesus is “one divine individual with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature, and that the two natures are indistinguishably joined in the one, and just a single, divine individual of Jesus. We see then at Ephesus an a valid example of the reality that genuine Marian regulation will dependably secure and shield true convention about Jesus Christ.”
The gathering ventured to such an extreme as to articulate and avow: If anybody doesn’t admit that the Emmanuel (Christ) in truth is God and that on this record the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) in as much as she brought forth the Word of God made tissue… let him be an abomination.”
Not long after, Father and Doctor of the Church St. Gregory Nazianzen freely accepted it, saying: “In the event that anybody doesn’t trust that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is disjoined from the Godhead. In the event that anybody ought to attest that He went through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not immediately supernaturally and humanly framed in her (supernaturally, on the grounds that without the intercession of a man; humanly, in light of the fact that as per the laws of incubation), he is in like way atheist.”
Holy people and a Venerable Have a Say
One holy person — St. John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church) — helps us to remember another holy person and Doctor of the Church, John Chrysostom. In the Eucharistic Prayer of [the ritual of] St. John Chrysostom, directly after the epiclesis the network sings respecting the Mother of God: “It is genuinely just to declare you favoured, O Mother of God, who are most honoured, all unadulterated and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more decent than the Cherubim and exceptionally more wonderful than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, brought forth the Word of God. You who are genuinely the Mother of God.”
In a similar encyclical, John Paul II noticed that “the authoritative opinion of the awesome parenthood of Mary was for the Council of Ephesus and is for the Church like a seal upon the creed of the Incarnation, in which the Word really accept human instinct into the solidarity of his individual, without counteracting that nature.”
Respected Fulton J. Sheen wanted to compose and talk much on the Blessed Mother. He has this excellent appearance in his sublime book suitably titled The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God:
“At the point when Whistler painted the image of his mom, did he not have the picture of her in his brain before he at any point assembled his hues on his palette? On the off chance that you could have preexisted your mom (not creatively, but rather truly), okay not have made her the absolute best lady that at any point lived — one so excellent she would have been the sweet jealousy all things considered, and one so delicate thus lenient that every single other mother would have looked to mimic her temperances? Why, at that point, would it be advisable for us to believe that God would do something else? At the point when Whistler was complimented on the representation of his mom, he stated, ‘You know how it is; one attempts to make one’s Mummy similarly as decent as possible.’ When God progressed toward becoming Man, He as well, I accept, would make His Mother as pleasant as possible — and that would make her an ideal Mother.
“She existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any moms. She is the Mother of moms — she is the world’s, first love.”
In a similar book, Sheen expresses:
“Any complaint to considering her the ‘Mother of God’ is on a very basic level a protest to the Deity of Christ. The blessed expression ‘Theotokos,’ ‘Mother of God,’ has as far back as 432 been the touchstone of the Christian confidence… As [Doctor of the Church] John of Damascus stated: ‘This name contains the entire puzzle of the Incarnation’… It infers a twofold age of the Divine Word: one everlasting in the chest of the Father; the other worldly in the belly of Mary. Mary in this way did not shoulder an ‘unimportant man,’ but instead the ‘genuine God.'”
There are endless bits of knowledge, clearly, from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church onwards who sing the gestures of recognition of Mary in her title of Mother of God.
As the Catechism (509) briefly announces in the notorious nutshell, “Mary is really ‘Mother of God’ since she is the mother of the unceasing Son of God made man, who is God himself.”
Mother of God and Us
We must not forget Mary is both Mother of God and our mother too. Jesus gave her to us, and us to her, from the Cross. Bishop Fulton Sheen had a wonderful way of describing this in The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God.
“If Mary were only the Mother of another man, then she could not also be our mother, because the ties of the flesh are too exclusive. Flesh allows only one mother…But Spirit allows us another mother. Since Mary is the Mother of God, then she can be the Mother of everyone whom Christ redeemed.”
Here’s just a tiny taste from the sumptuous banquet of advice saints have given us over the centuries about our relationship to the Mary the Mother of God.
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did,” St. Maximilian Kolbe, among others, tells us.
But do not disregard Mary in this title or in any of her other titles, as many saints have cautioned, including Doctor of the Church St. Bonaventure who said, “He who neglects the service of the Blessed Virgin will die in his sins…He who does not invoke thee, O Lady, will never get to Heaven…Not only will those from whom Mary turns her countenance not be saved, but there will be no hope of their salvation…No one can be saved without the protection of Mary.”
But always take heart, for the Mother of God is always listening and ready to assist us. As Doctor of the Church St. Robert Bellarmine counsels, “It seems unbelievable that a man should perish in whose favour Christ said to His Mother: ‘Behold thy son’, as long as he has not turned a deaf ear to the words, which Christ addressed to him: ‘Behold thy Mother.’”
So recall what we pray in both the Angelus and the Hail Holy Queen — “Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.”