1 NTRODUCTION TO MARY The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion
3 NTRODUCTION TO MARY The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion Mark Mir avalle Foreword by Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, P.s.s. New Revised Edition QUEENSHIP PUBLISHING
4 NIHIL OBSTAT Father James Dunfee Censor Librorum IMPRIMATUR Most Reverend Gilbert Sheldon Bishop of Steubenville January 12, 1993 Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D. All rights reserved. Library of Congress Number: First Edition 1992 Second Edition March, 2006 Third Edition June, 2006 Queenship Publishing P.O. Box 220 Goleta, CA (800) , (805) , Fax: (805) Printed in the United States of America ISBN
5 DEDICATION To the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples; and to my wife, Lysbeth, and our precious children, John-Mark, Michael, Sr. Maria, Mariana, Joseph, Annaleah, Mary-Bernadette and Philumena.
7 Contents Foreword by His Eminence, Edouard Cardinal Gagnon... 1 Preface... 3 Chapter One: The Truth About Mary... 5 Chapter Two: What Is Devotion to Mary? Chapter Three: Mary in Scripture Mary in the Old Testament Mary in the New Testament Chapter Four: Mary in the Early Church Chapter Five: The Four Marian Dogmas The Mother of God The Perpetual Virginity The Immaculate Conception The Assumption of Mary Chapter Six: Mother of All Peoples Spiritual Motherhood Maternal Mediation Co-redemptrix Mediatrix of All Graces Advocate Mary and the Church...119
8 Chapter Seven: The Greatest Marian Prayer What Is the Rosary? Brief History of the Rosary Essential Qualities of the Rosary Fruits of Praying the Rosary The Family Rosary Chapter Eight: Consecration to Jesus Through Mary What Is Marian Consecration? St. Louis Marie de Montfort Marian Consecration in Modern Papal Teaching Marian Consecration and the Brown Scapular Chapter Nine: Mary in Private Revelation Nature and Purpose of Private Revelation Criteria for Evaluation of Reported Apparitions Marian Message to the Modern World Miraculous Medal Lourdes Fatima Medjugorje Amsterdam Chapter Ten: Responding to Ten Common Objections Conclusion Appendix: Marian Prayers How to Pray the Rosary Total Consecration Prayer to Jesus Through Mary Index
9 Foreword How important it is for us all to turn to the Mother of God and our Mother in our present historical moment for the Church and for the world. The more we know of the extraordinary prerogatives of the Mother of God, the more we will love this Mother as our own. The more we will love this Mother, the more we will go to her with true confidence and hope in the midst of our daily needs: in the face of our numerous domestic and national situations which cause us anxiety and worry, in the presence of world concerns of fratricidal struggle and terrorism, of poverty and plague, of global events of significant historic magnitude. We must also keep in mind that Our Lady bears the ancient title and role of Conqueror of All Heresies. Do we not also have great need for the exercise of this role in our present era of the Church when strange and concerning ideas are being voiced, doctrinal and moral positions which deny basic truths of divine revelation and the natural law, such as human life beginning at conception; the intrinsic evil of contraception; that marriage is only possible between a man and a woman; the divinity and celibacy of Jesus Christ, and many more? We need our Lady, who protects the Church by protecting the depositum fi dei and by guarding the Tradition and Life of the People of God in faithful discipleship to the Crucified and Risen Lord. Dr. Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, is internationally renowned for his unquestioned fidelity to the Church s Magisterium and for his outstanding scholarship and love in honor 1
10 2 Introduction to Mary of the Blessed Mother. You can rest assured that the Mariology contained in his excellent work, Introduction to Mary, is a true and faithful summary of Catholic teaching on the Mother of the Lord, and at the same time will inspire you to a greater devotion to the Mother that the Crucified Jesus gave personally to each one of us from the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:25-27). Introduction to Mary is a must for every Catholic library, at school and at home. Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, P.s.s. President Emeritus, Pontifical Council for the Family President Emeritus, Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses
11 Preface Introduction to Mary comes as a response to repeated requests from Mariology students, Marian conference members, and friends in and out of the Catholic Faith, for a contemporary book that would present the fundamental elements of both authentic Catholic doctrine and devotion regarding Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Far from being a comprehensive treatment of Mariology (the study of the theology of Mary), the goal of this work is rather to synthesize Marian doctrine and devotion so as to serve as a basic introduction for both the parish study group and the college classroom, for both the inquiring non-catholic and the long standing Catholic. For a more extensive work on Marian doctrine and devotion, I would refer you to the three volume Ameri can work, Mariology, edited by the late Juniper Carol, O.F.M. (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., ), the Irish study by Fr. Michael O Carroll C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclope dia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1983), or the Italian work by Fr. Gabriel M. Roschini, O.S.V., Maria Santissima Nella Storia Della Salvezza (Editrice M. Pisani, 1969, 3 volumes). We find ourselves in the midst of a Marian reawakening. Any authentic renewal of the heart towards the Mother of Jesus must be firmly based on the truth about Our Lord s Mother as taught by the Church s Magisterium. I pray that this work will in some small way help to articulate the proper doctrinal and devotional foundation to what many of our contemporaries see as a climax of our presently designated Age of Mary. Mark Miravalle Professor of Theology and Mariology Franciscan University of Steubenville 3
12 4 Introduction to Mary
13 Chapter One THE TRUTH ABOUT MARY Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your Son the Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God s call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which fl ows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world. Pope Benedict XVI Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, No. 42 In discussing the person and role of Mary, Mother of Jesus, two extremes must always be avoided. The first extreme is Marian excess. This is to place the Blessed Virgin on the level of a goddess, to ascribe to Mary a divine nature that would grant her equality with God himself. This excess radically violates the revealed biblical truth about the singularity of God and the complete though exalted humanity of Mary. Although historically there have been very few occasions when the Mother of Jesus has been posed as a goddess, nonetheless, it remains a Marian excess that is obviously a grave rejection of and danger to the Christian faith. The second extreme regarding the person and role of the Blessed Virgin is what we can call Marian defect. This is to 5
14 6 Introduction to Mary minimize the role of the Blessed Virgin, to ascribe to Mary less than what the sources of divine revelation reveal about her. Marian defect, for example, would limit the Mother of Jesus to being only a good disciple, a sister in the Lord, a mere physical channel of Jesus, but nothing more. Unfortunately it is this second extreme of Marian minimalization that is encountered more widely today. This extreme also violates the revealed truth of the role of the Blessed Virgin, for Mary is revealed, as we shall discuss, both as intercessor and as Spiritual Mother to all humanity. To deny Mary the role of Spiritual Mother is to deny that aspect so central to her own identity, and to her relationship with Christ and his Body, the Church. As we will examine, examples of Mary s role as intercessor and Spiritual Mother are clear in Scripture in such places as John 2:1, at the Wedding of Cana, where Mary intercedes for the first miracle of Jesus, as well as in John 19:26, where at the foot of the Cross Mary is given the role of Spiritual Mother of John, the beloved disciple, and all later disciples of the Lord. We can find warnings concerning these extremes, Marian excess and Marian defect, generally referred to in a statement from the Second Vatican Council regarding the proper balance of devotion to the Mother of Jesus: It [the Council] strongly urges theologians and preachers of the word of God to be careful to refrain as much from all false exaggeration as from too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God. Following the study of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, the doctors and liturgy of the Church, and under the guid ance of the Church s magisterium, let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always refer to Christ, the
15 The Truth About Mary 7 source of all truth, sanctity, and devotion (Lumen Gentium, No. 67). What then safeguards the Christian from these two Marian extremes? What protects us from a false exaggeration in Marian excess or too summary an attitude in forms of Marian defect? The answer is the full truth and corresponding love properly attributed to the Mother of the Lord as officially taught and preserved by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The Magisterium is that official teaching authority that Our Lord has granted to his Apostles and their successors, who, guided by the Holy Spirit, have the crucial responsibility to safeguard, interpret, and serve divine revelation, which is the revelation of God as contained in both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Let us return to the words of the Second Vatican Council to see how God s full Word is revealed to us: In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. This sacred Tradition, then, and the sacred Scripture of both Testaments, are like a mirror, in which the Church, during its pilgrim journey here on earth, contemplates God... Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles...so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Hence, both Scripture
16 8 Introduction to Mary and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence. 1 The Council points out that there is one twinfold source of God s revelation to humanity. The first aspect of this one twinfold source is Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition comprises the oral truths and acts of Jesus Christ transmitted to the Apostles and their successors (the pope and the bishops in union with the pope) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Vatican II describes Sacred Tradition in the following way: The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. Hence, the apostles, in handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to maintain the traditions which they had learned either by word of mouth or by letter (cf. 2 Thes 2:15); and they warn them to fight hard for the faith that had been handed on to them once and for all (cf. Jude 3). What was handed on by the apostles comprises everything that serves to make the People of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith. In this way the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes. 2 Sacred Scripture is the other aspect of that one twinfold source. Scripture comprises the divine truths of God written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The books of Scripture, as the Council notes, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures. 3
17 The Truth About Mary 9 The Second Vatican Council strongly points out that both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture must receive equal rever ence as aspects of God revealing himself to humanity for our salvation. This understanding of the unity of Tradition and Scripture is extremely important in the proper study of Mariology. Many of the truths that God has revealed about the Mother of Jesus are strongly contained in Sacred Tradition, but at the same time, Marian doctrine will also be contained at least implicitly in the apostolic preaching that came to be written down and today is known as the New Testament. The role of safeguarding this deposit of faith in Scripture and Tradition is given to the Magisterium of the Church, the official teaching body. Again from the Council we read: But the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedica tion and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith [Tradition and Scripture]. 4 The Magisterium, then, has the unique responsibility of safeguarding the deposit of faith that Christ gave to his Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit. Why is a discussion about divine revelation so crucial for a proper understanding of the doctrine and devotion concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary? Because Marian orthopraxis is based on
18 10 Introduction to Mary Marian orthodoxy. Orthopraxis is a Greek word which means the right practice, or correct devotion. Orthodoxy means the right or correct doctrine. Devotion to Mary will be authentic and spiritually fruitful only when it is based on the authentic doctrine that comes from the Word of God entrusted to the Church. Marian devotion will then be authentic and, as such, an instrument of grace and ultimate union with Jesus Christ, only when it avoids both Marian excess and Marian defect, and has sound Marian truth as its foundation. True doctrine about Mary is revealed in Scripture and Tradition, as safeguarded by the Magisterium. The truth of Christ and his Church is the only legitimate foundation for a balanced and legitimate devotion to the Mother of Jesus. In short, we can say that true devotion to Mary must be based on true doctrine about Mary. It is also critically important to establish the twinfold source of Tradition and Scripture when discussing the presence and development of Marian doctrine. The question is sometimes posed, How can a Catholic believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, or her Perpetual Virginity, or her Assumption when these doctrines are not explicitly contained in the Bible? We must remember that the Bible is not the only source of God s revelation. In fact, to believe that the Bible is the only source of Revelation is in itself a non-scriptural position since nowhere in the Bible does it state that Scripture is the only source of Revelation. Rather, Scripture and Tradition constitute the full revelation of God entrusted to the Church, 5 and therefore a Christian truth need not be explicitly revealed in the Bible to be an authentic Christian doctrine. This includes the Church s doctrine about Mary. Nonetheless, every Church doctrine about the Mother of Jesus has at least an implicit presence in Sacred Scripture, and this scriptural seed is then nurtured and developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church s Tradition and history, until it becomes the great tree of a Marian doctrine or dogma.
19 The Truth About Mary 11 On this journey of Marian doctrine and devotion we will begin by discussing the nature of devotion to Mary and its origins in the first centuries of the Church. In Chapters Three through Six we will examine the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin as found in the sources of divine revelation and as taught by the Church s Magisterium. After we have a solid understanding of Marian truth, we will then examine the expressions of authentic Marian love. This will include treatments on the Rosary, the greatest Marian prayer; consecration to Jesus through Mary, the crowning of Marian devotion; and Mary s message to the modern world through private revelation. We will end with a discussion in defense of Mary, responding to basic objections both to the doctrine and to the devotion of the Blessed Virgin. We begin our journey of Marian doctrine and devotion with the most complete ancient Marian prayer, re corded and dated at approximately 250 A.D. It is known as the Sub Tuum Praesidium ( Under Your Protection ): We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.
20 12 Introduction to Mary Notes 1 Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, November 18, 1965, Nos. 7, 9. 2 Ibid., No Ibid., No Ibid., No Cf. Ibid., No. 9.
21 Chapter Two W HAT IS DEVOTION TO MARY? The Nature and History of Devotion to Mary Let us carry on and imitate Mary, a deeply Eucharistic soul, and all our lives will become a Magnifi cat. Pope Benedict XVI Closing of Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican, May We begin our inquiry into the person and role of Mary, Mother of Jesus, by addressing a most fundamental question: What is devotion to Mary? To answer this question we must first make a basic theologi cal distinction. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, adoration, which is known as latria in classical theology, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone. It is the manifestation of submission and acknowledgement of dependence appropriately shown towards the excellence of an uncreated divine person and to his absolute Lordship. 1 It is the worship of the Creator that God alone deserves. Although we see in English a broader usage of the word adoration which may not refer to a form of worship exclusive to God (for example, when a husband says that he 13
22 14 Introduction to Mary adores his wife ), in general it can be maintained that adoration is the best English denotation for the worship of latria. Veneration, known as dulia in classical theology, is the honor and reverence appropriately due to the excellence of a created person. 2 Excellence exhibited by created beings likewise deserves recognition and honor. We see a general example of veneration in events like the awarding of academic awards for excellence in school or the awarding of olympic medals for excellence in sports. There is nothing contrary to the proper adoration of God when we offer the appropriate honor and recognition that created persons deserve based on achievement in excellence. 3 We must make a further clarification regarding the use of the term worship in relation to the categories of adoration and veneration. Historically, schools of theology have used the term wor ship as a general term which would include both adoration and veneration. They would distinguish between worship of adoration and worship of veneration. The word worship (in a similar way the liturgical term cult is traditionally used) was not synonymous with adoration, but could be used to introduce either adoration or veneration. Hence Catholic sources will sometimes use the term worship not to indicate adoration, but only the worship of veneration given to Mary and the saints. Confusion over the use of the term worship has led to the misunderstanding by some that Catholics offer adoration to Mary in a type of Mariolatry, or idol worship given to Mary. Adoration of Mary is a grave rejection of Christian revelation and has never been nor will never be part of authentic Catholic faith and life. 4 Under the category of veneration we see the honor and reverence that the saints rightly receive. Why? Because the saints manifested a true excellence in the pursuit and attainment of Christian holiness, and in light of this excellence, Our Lord grants the saints in Heaven an ability to intercede for those on earth who are in the process of pursuing holiness. This is a basic principle of the Mystical Body of Christ and the communion of saints.
23 What is Devotion to Mary? 15 St. Thomas Aquinas points out a further truth regarding veneration of the saints. The devotion a person has to God s saints does not end with the saints themselves, but rather reaches ultimately to God through the saints. 5 For to give honor to a saint who has excelled in loving union with God is also to honor the object of his loving union: God himself. For example, if we praise a beautiful piece of artwork then we are ultimately praising the artist who created the artwork. So too, when we honor the saint we are ultimately giving honor to God himself, who is both Author and object of their holiness and their love. In short, we can say it is pleasing to God and, ultimately, it gives him glory when we honor those who excelled in love of him. This is especially true about honoring the Mother of Jesus, who is the Heavenly Father s greatest masterpiece and the Queen of all saints. Within the general category of veneration we can speak of a unique level of veneration, an exalted level of honor that would be appropriate for honoring a created person whose excellence rises above that of every other created person. It is in this special level of veneration, classically called hyperdulia, that we find the proper devotion ascribed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hyperdulia, or the entirely unique devotion given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remains essentially different and inferior to adoration that is due to God alone. Devotion to Mary is never to rival in nature or in degree the adoration proper only to God. While veneration of the Blessed Virgin will always be inferior to the adoration given uniquely to God, it will always be superior and higher than devotion given to all other saints and angels. This distinction between adoration and veneration and the unique veneration due to Mary is discussed by the Second Vatican Council: This cult [veneration of Mary], as it has always existed in the Church, for all its uniqueness, differs
24 16 Introduction to Mary essentially from the cult of adoration, which is offered equally to the Incarnate Word and to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and it is most favorable to it. The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being (cf. Col 1:15-16) and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell (cf. Col 1:19) is rightly known, loved and glorified and his commandments are observed (Lumen Gentium, No. 66). Mary s Exalted Devotion Why does the Blessed Virgin deserve a unique and a higher level of veneration and love than all of the other saints and angels? There are at least three fundamental reasons an exalted devotion is appropriate to the Virgin of Nazareth. First of all, Mary was granted by God a fullness of grace. From the greeting of the Angel Gabriel in the words, Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you (Lk 1:28), we get an indication of God s special gift to Mary at the moment of conception. Mary received God s gift of being free from original sin from the first instant of her conception, which prepared her to be the fitting Mother of the Word made flesh. This unique gift allowed a plenitude of grace for the Virgin, since this fullness of grace was in no way limited by a fallen nature. All other saints, on the other hand, have shared to an excellent degree in grace, but they did not possess a plenitude of grace, due to the limitations of their fallen nature. Even St. John the Baptist, who was sanctified in the womb, as Tradition tells us, 6 started with a fallen nature and was then sanctified in the womb.
25 What is Devotion to Mary? 17 Only a nature free from all stain of sin allows for a true fullness of grace. Mary s unique freedom from original sin and its effects, coupled with an exalted perfection in grace, rightly calls for an unparalleled recognition amidst the communion of saints. Secondly, Mary alone had the privilege of being the Mother of God. The humble virgin of Nazareth alone became the Theotokos, or God-bearer in giving flesh to the Second Person of the Trinity who became man for our salvation. In giving flesh to the Word made flesh, Mary is properly recognized with an excellence and a dignity beyond any other creature. We can only imagine the intimate union and the extraordinary spiritual effects of having God physically present in her for nine months and of giving Jesus his human nature. Because Mary gave to Jesus what our mothers gave to us, that is, a nature identical to her own, she is rightly the Mother of God. Theologians have explained the singular dignity of Mary in her Divine Motherhood by stating that the Blessed Virgin Mary alone had an intrinsic relationship with the Hypostatic Union. 7 The Hypostatic Union is the union of the divine nature and the human nature in the one divine person of Jesus Christ. Only Mary, of all creatures, had an interior and essential role in Jesus taking on human nature in the Incarnation. In short, the Blessed Mother gave the carne to the Incarnation. She gave flesh to the Word made flesh who dwelt among us (Jn 1:14). Only the Church in its fullness can ponder the unfathomable depths of how closely united Mary was, and still is, to her divine Son. This inestimable experience of having the physical presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary for nine months would be like having the Holy Eucharist, the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, constantly present within us for nine complete months, constantly sanctifying its human tabernacle day and night by its physical and real presence. All other saints, even St. Joseph, no matter how closely associated with the Incarnation, had at best an external relation ship with God becoming man for our salvation.
26 18 Introduction to Mary The third reason for an exalted devotion to the Mother of Jesus is Mary s perfect obedience to the will of God throughout her life on earth. Mary s fi a t, her yes to the will of God, was her response to God s will not only at the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1:38) but throughout her earthly life. By freely cooperating with her God-given enmity against Satan (cf. Gen 3:15), his seed of sin, Mary gave her yes to God s manifest will at every moment of her earthly life, and never said no to the will of God during her earthly sojourn. It is for this reason that the Council of Trent (the universal council of the Church in the sixteenth century) de clared: No justified person can for his whole life avoid all sins, even venial sins, except on the grounds of a special privilege from God, such as the Church holds was given to the Blessed Virgin. 8 Only one creature was granted the grace to be free from original sin, to cooperate in perfect obedience to God s will, and never to commit even one venial sin. Because of this, the Mother of Jesus is the perfect model of all Christian virtue. She is the perfect model not only of obedience, but also of humility, of faith, hope and charity. She is referred to as the Model of the Church, or the person the Church seeks most to imitate in her pursuit of Christian virtue and holiness. 9 For these reasons and many more, the Blessed Virgin rightly receives a singular and unique place of special devotion in the Church which is higher than that of the saints and angels, but always humbly below the adoration due to God alone. This is summarized in the words of Vatican II: Joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the fi rst place reverence the memory of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary has by grace been exalted above all angels and men to a place second only to her Son, as the most holy mother of God who
27 What is Devotion to Mary? 19 was involved in the mysteries of Christ: she is rightly honored by a special cult [devotion] in the Church (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 52, 66). Since God has willed that the Blessed Virgin have such an important role in the work of God becoming man and saving the human family, devotion to Mary should not be considered either arbitrary or extraordinary. Rather, devotion to Mary is an ordinary part of the Christian journey to Christ and eternal salvation. Pope St. Pius X, the pontiff at the beginning of the twentieth century, confirms this truth about the singular privilege of Mary as being not from necessity, but part of the providential will of God, and therefore calling for our proper acceptance and response: God could have given us the Redeemer of the human race and the Founder of the Faith in another way than through the Virgin, but since Divine Providence has been pleased that we should have the God-man through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit and bore Him in her womb, it remains for us to receive Christ only through the hands of Mary. 10 As is true of so many of the aspects of our faith, including our very salvation, the role of the Blessed Virgin and the proper devotion that comes as a result of her role are not from necessity, but rather from the manifest will of God whose divine ways are perfect. God did not have to use the Blessed Mother either in terms of the Incarnation or in terms of Redemption. Yet, the fact of divine revelation is that it was God s will that Mary have this central role. Because it was God s will that Jesus Christ come to us through Mary, and that he redeem the world with the unique cooperation of Mary, it calls for an appropriate response by the human family: We as the human family should rightly and justly offer a response of special devotion to the woman and mother
28 20 Introduction to Mary chosen to be at the heart of the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption. Devotion to Mary should not be on the same level as a preferred devotion to an individual saint, like St. Jude, St. Thérèse, or St. Francis, as valuable and praiseworthy as devotions to individual saints are. Rather, our devotion to the Mother of Our Lord should be more generous and heartfelt than our devotion to all other saints. This superior devotion to the Blessed Mother will never take away the primacy or the dignity of Jesus Christ as the one Savior and Redeemer. Her role and her corresponding devotion will always be subordinate to the adoration proper to Jesus Christ. St. Louis Marie de Montfort, one of the Church s greatest Marian enthusiasts of all times, illus trates this point well in his very first paragraph of his famous treatise, True Devotion to Mary: I avow, with all the Church, that Mary, being a mere creature that has come from the hands of the Most High, is in comparison with His Infinite Majesty less than an atom; or rather, she is nothing at all, because only He is He who is (Ex 3:14); consequently that grand Lord, always independent and sufficient to Himself, never had, and has not now, any absolute need of the holy Virgin for the accomplishment of His glory. He has but to will in order to do everything. Nevertheless, I say that, things being as they are now that is, God having willed to commence and complete His greatest works by the most holy Virgin ever since He created her we may well think He will not change His conduct in the eternal ages. 11
29 What is Devotion to Mary? 21 Notes 1 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 103, a. 3, 4. 2 Ibid., II-II, Q. 84, a. 1; Q 304, a Ibid. 4 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, November 21, 1964, No Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II, II, Q. 82, a Ibid., III, Q. 27, a Cf. Suarez, S.J., Disputationes, 10, all III. 8 Council of Trent, Denzinger s Enchiridion Symbolorum (DS), Lumen Gentium, No St. Pius X, Encyclical Ad diem illum, February 2, 1904, No. 6; Acta Sanctae Sedis (ASS) St. Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, beginning of Ch. 1.
30 22 Introduction to Mary
31 Chapter Three M ARY IN SCRIPTURE Like all central Christian mysteries, the doctrine and the devotion to the Blessed Virgin started in seed form in Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, doctrinal seeds planted by the Divine Sower. These doctrinal and devotional seeds revealed in the Bible and Tradition then develop and blossom over time through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the dynamic life of the Church to become the more developed and specified dogmas and doctrines which we learn today. Here we want to look briefl y at the beginnings of Marian truth and love from its foreshadowings in the Old Testament, to its more complete revelation in the New Testament, to its initiation in the infant Church, and its continued growth up to the Church Council of Ephesus in 431. After the Council of Ephesus, where Mary is proclaimed Mother of God, we will see that the history of Marian devotion is basically as widespread and ubiquitous as the history of Christian civilization itself. The following survey of Marian references in Scripture seeks only to briefl y identify and introduce three principal Marian passages, while a more in-depth discussion of the major passages will take place when examining the dogma or doctrine relevant to the Scripture reference. 23
32 24 Introduction to Mary Mary in the Old Testament The role of Mary, like other Catholic truths, was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In Genesis the very fi rst book of the Old Testament, which has been called the Protoevangelium, meaning first gospel the woman and the serpent are put in enmity : I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, and you shall bruise her heel (Gen 3:15). Enmity means a complete and entire mutual opposition. We see in this passage that God places the same enmity, as radical opposition between the woman and the serpent (who represents Satan), as he does between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (which represents sin). Since the seed of the woman must be Jesus Christ, the seed of victory who will triumph over the seed of sin, therefore the woman must ultimately refer to Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that this is a great prophetic verse which foretells a victory over sin in the future, a victory only possible through Jesus Christ, and hence the woman who is to be future mother of this victorious seed must refer to Mary. Her absolute enmity with Satan granted by God himself also reveals the scriptural grounds for her freedom from all stain of sin and the fullness of grace obtained in her Immaculate Conception. There has been some modern biblical discussion over whether the pronoun referring to the person who crushes the head of the serpent should be he or she. St. Jerome, the linguistic genius and saint who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin based upon ancient Old Testament manuscripts no longer available in our day, translated the pronoun, ipsa, or she. The documents of the Church and the Papal Magisterium, based on the Latin Vulgate by St. Jerome, have perennially used she as the pronoun referring back to the Woman, who is also the original antecedent subject who is placed in enmity with the serpent in the passage. Since some male Hebrew pronouns from the Old
33 Mary in Scripture 25 Testament can be also understood in the feminine sense, the feminine translation of she remains a legitimate translation. 1 Nonetheless, some recent translators have changed the traditional translation of she to he. Regardless of the gender of the pronoun, what is clear in the text is that the Woman is integrally involved with the seed of victory, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of humanity, in the defeat of the serpent and his seed of sin. In the papal document which solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Ineffabilis Deus, Bl. Pope Pius IX offers the following papal explanation of the Genesis 3:15 passage: The Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, enlightened by instruction from on high, taught that the divine prophecy I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed clearly and plainly foretold how there was to be a merciful Redeemer for mankind, namely, the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. They also taught how the prophecy pointed to His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and how it clearly expressed at the same time their common enmity toward the devil. Just as Christ, the Mediator between God and men, by taking our nature, cancelled the decree of condemnation against us, triumphantly nailing it to the cross, so too the most holy Virgin, intimately and indissolubly united to Christ, became with Him the everlasting enemy of the venomous serpent, and thus shared with her Son His victory over the serpent, crushing as she did the serpent s head with her virginal foot. 2 The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 speaks of the Virgin-Mother of Emmanuel : Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
34 26 Introduction to Mary Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Later in Isaiah, Emmanuel is referred to as the future Savior of his people (cf. Is 8:8-9). The prophet Isaiah foretells an extraordinary future sign: that a virgin, without the cooperation of a man, will give birth to a child who will be the God-with-us, the Messiah who will be the remedy for the great trials of division and infidelity to the Covenant facing the people of Israel. Isaiah s prophecy directly predicts the Virgin of Nazareth and the birth of the Christ child. The prophecy of Micah 5:2-3 foretells the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem from a woman who will bring forth the ruler of Israel : But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. The mother, introduced so suddenly in Micah and so specifically designated without a husband, conveys the same virginal sense as we see in Isaiah 7:14. The fact that she is clearly designated as a woman without a husband, something most unusual in Jewish genealogy and identification, represents an implicit reference to that same virgin birth. Numerous other models or types of the Blessed Virgin Mary are present in the Old Testament. The definition of a biblical type is a person, a thing, or an action, which has its own independent identity, but at the same time is intended by God to prefigure a future person, thing, or action. Bl. Pope Pius IX, in his dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, refers to several
35 Mary in Scripture 27 Old Testament types of Mary which were recognized by the early Church Fathers. 3 Mary was seen as the Ark of Noah, built by divine command who escaped the effects of sin (cf. Gen 6:9). Jacob s Ladder, which reached from earth to heaven and witnessed the ascent and descent of angels, was seen as a type of the future intercession of the Blessed Virgin (cf. Gen 28:12). The Fathers saw the Burning Bush of Moses as a type of Mary, because it held the presence of God within itself, but did not experience material corruption (cf. Ex 3:1). In the Canticle of Canticles, Mary is depicted as the impenetrable Tower of David and as the enclosed and inviolable garden (cf. Cant 4:4,12), which reflects her purity and perpetual virginity. The Temple of God in 1 Kings 8 represented a sanctified house of God which foreshadowed Mary as the future tabernacle of Jesus. 4 And references to created wisdom in the feminine gender from the book of Wisdom are also seen to foreshadow Our Lady, who is the Seat of Wisdom Arguably the greatest of the Old Testament types of Mary is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was the sacred chest which held the presence of God for the people of Israel. The Ark contained the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written (cf. Deut 10:5), a gold vessel holding manna which fed the Israelites during the Exodus (cf. Ex 16:34), and the rod of Aaron which blossomed (cf. Heb 9:4). God himself gave the description of the ark to be built (cf. Ex 25:10-22), and the Ark was the visible sign of God s presence and protection. The presence of God in the form of a cloud would also overshadow the Ark, which came to be known as the shekinah, meaning the Divine Presence or Divine Glory. The humble Virgin of Nazareth becomes the New Ark of the Covenant, an eternal covenant between God and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. As the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary (symbolized by the shekinah overshadowing the Ark), Mary becomes the sacred container directly and immaculately fashioned by God himself to bear Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of the
36 28 Introduction to Mary Law of the Ten Commandments, the Eternal High Priest, and the Eucharistic manna which feeds unto life eternal. Mary as the New Ark of the Eternal Covenant should also be seen as a true sign of God s presence and protection for the Church in every age. Beyond these types, there are a number of strong and faithful women of the Old Testament that serve as glimpses or prefigurings of the Mother of Jesus. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, overcame her sterility in her old age through a miracle of God (cf. Gen 17:16; 21:1-2). She is referred to as mother of nations (cf. Gen 17:16). Mary, as a virgin, bears Jesus through a miracle of God, and later is given by Jesus on the Cross to all humanity as Mother of all nations and peoples (cf. Lk 1:38; Jn 19:25-27). Rebecca is the wife of Isaac who dresses Jacob in the clothes of his older brother Esau to secure the blessings of Isaac (cf. Gen 27:15-29). Mary clothes Jesus in human flesh and offers him to the Father in order to secure his blessing of Redemption upon us and the entire human race. Rachel, the beautiful wife of Jacob, is the mother of Joseph, who is sold into slavery for twenty pieces of silver (cf. Gen 37:28), but who then saves his people. Mary is the entirely beautiful Mother of Jesus, who saves humanity after being sold for thirty pieces of silver (cf. Mt 26:15). Miriam (whose name is the Hebrew word for Mary ) is the sister of Moses, the great Patriarch and Liberator for the people of Israel, and sister to Aaron, the priest of the Old Covenant. Miriam is also present with Moses and Aaron at the Tent of Meeting in the presence of the Ark (cf. Num 12:4). Mary is Mother of Jesus, the Eternal Law Giver and High Priest, and is herself the New Ark of his Eternal Covenant, who bears the presence of God. Deborah is the prophetess who helps the people defeat Sisera, who is eventually killed by a spike driven through his head by another woman, Jael (cf. Judges 4). Mary is the woman in total enmity with Satan, who participates in the crushing of his head (cf. Gen 3:15).
37 Mary in Scripture 29 The heroic efforts of Judith in defending her people leads to the cutting off of the head of Holofernes (cf. Judith 8-15), in another pre-figuring of Mary s role in the crushing of Satan s head. Esther is the Queen who, by risking her life in entering the chamber of King Ahasuerus, succeeds in saving her people from death (cf. Esther 4:16; 7:1-10). Mary, Queen and Mother of Jesus Christ the King, cooperates in the redemptive mission of her Son which saves humanity from eternal death and loss. The heroic mother of Maccabees watches and supports her seven sons during their martyrdom in order to be true to the Covenant (cf. 2 Mac 7:1-41). Mary, Mother of Jesus, watches and shares in the death of her Son, to redeem the world, and thus to bear seven sorrows in her Immaculate Heart (cf. Lk 2:35; Jn 19:26-27). Other Old Testament typologies foretelling the Mother of the Redeemer in her multiplicity of roles and prerogatives include the themes of the Daughter Zion and the Queen Mother. The Daughter Zion (sometimes also referred to as Mother Zion, cf. Is 66) represents the faithful servant to the Old Testament Covenant of Yahweh, the daughter who remains faithful to the Covenant even amidst trials and persecutions. 5 Mary is indeed the fulfillment of the Daughter Zion, as the Jewish maiden who gives her fiat to Yahweh and his invitation to participate in the new and eternal Covenant which fulfills and brings to perfection the Old Testament alliance between God and his people. The Queen Mother tradition (which will be further discussed in the treatment on Mary as Advocate ) refers to the tradition among the Davidic kings of appointing their mothers as their queens of the Kingdom, which meant they became the principal advocates for the people of Israel to their kingly sons (cf. 1 Kings 2:19). The Queen-Mother was referred to as the Gebirah or Great Lady of the Kingdom, who gave the people of the kingdom their greatest intercession to the King. In the New Testament, we have a new and eternal King in Jesus Christ,
38 30 Introduction to Mary who takes over the throne of his father, David (Lk. 1:32). We therefore have a new Queen-Mother in Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who becomes the Great Lady of all nations and peoples within the universal kingdom of her divine Son. These Old Testament references reveal the repeated foreshadowings of the Mother of the Redeemer. The Old Testament is rich in foretelling, through references, types, and models, the future role of the Mother of Jesus. As the Second Vatican Council confirms: She is already prophetically foreshadowed in the prom ise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin (cf. Gen 3:15). Likewise, she is the virgin who shall conceive and bear a son, whose name shall be called Emmanuel (cf. Is 7:14; Mic 5:2-3; Mt 1:22-23). She stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfi lled in her, the exalted Daugh ter of Sion and the new plan of salvation is established, when the Son of God has taken human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his fl esh free man from sin (Lumen Gentium, No. 55). Mary in the New Testament The New Testament reveals the fulfillment of the woman prophesied in the Old Testament in ways beautiful, mysterious, and profound. The greatest events of the New Testament, in particular the Incarnation and the Redemption, manifest the central role played by Mary in intimate cooperation with and under her Divine Son in the historic work of human salvation.
39 Mary in Scripture 31 The question may be asked, Why is there not a greater quantity of references or degree of development concerning Mary in the New Testament? For several reasons, the New Testament revelation of the Mother of Jesus had to be both profound and concise. The complete attention of the faithful in the infant years of the one Church of Christ had first to be directed pre-eminently to Jesus Christ himself. The proper adoration of Jesus had to be established before any secondary veneration of Mary would be appropriate or fitting. Her honor, of course, arises first and foremost from her being the Mother of Jesus. Further, the comparative obscurity of Mary was important to avoid any rash conclusion of an all too human conception of Jesus. In other words, to avoid concluding that the wise, pure and holy Jesus was simply the product of a very wise, pure and holy mother. Mary s obscurity protected and focused the attention of the Apostolic Church towards the single primacy of Jesus and his heavenly origins. Of great importance in the appropriate biblical revelation of Mary was the avoidance of anything that would support any perception of her as a goddess. An immediate full revelation of all the extraordinary prerogatives and roles of Jesus Mother could inadvertently encourage seeing her as a goddess along side Jesus himself. Since it was commonplace for many pagan religions of the time to deify woman in representing a particular virtue or power, the revelation of the roles and virtues of Mary had to be revealed both in truth and in humility. Moreover, it was important that during Mary s lifetime her humility was rightly respected and protected. Mary was to be the perpetual example of hidden holiness, of interior sanctity a model for Christians of all future ages. For these reasons, it was very fitting that Mary, as the humble handmaid of the Lord, not receive a more developed treatment in the New Testament, so as not to diminish the primacy of her Son and the efficient preaching of the Good News.