Skip to content

Mary the Mother of God in the Documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965): Another Look Four Decades Later

+J.M.J.+

by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council has induced countless publications to offer analysis of the Marian references located in the conciliar texts.

Almost forty-two years after the solemn opening of the Council on the Feast of the Maternity of Mary (October 11, 1962), we readily look again at the explicit mention of Our Lady in eleven of the sixteen official documents.

1. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: 103.
2. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: 15, 46, 50, 52-69.
3. Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches: 30.
4. Decree on Ecumenism: 14-15, 20.
5. Decree on the Up-To-Date Renewal of Religious Life: 25.
6. Decree on the Training of Priests: 8.
7. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: 3-4.
8. Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People: 4.
9. Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity: 4, 42.
10. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests: 18.
11. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: 22.

We now use four of the five headings employed in Chapter Eight of Lumen Gentium to identify what the Council said about Mary.

1. Mary's function in Jesus' salvific work. Both Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition illustrate the part Mary--the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Temple of the Holy Spirit--played in salvation. She, foreshadowed in the promise of victory given by the Lord after the Fall, was the Virgin whose Son would be called Emmanuel. Mary, the Daughter of Sion and the Mother of the Redeemer, is one of the Lord's poor and humble ones.

Free from all sin and full of grace, Mary, who is closest to Jesus and closest to us, gave her consent (fiat) to the Father's plan of Redemption. As a woman (Eve) brought about death, a woman (Mary) helped usher in life. This daughter of Adam became, in the fullness of time, the Mother of Jesus. Her faith and obedience she employed for our everlasting benefit.

From Christ's conception until His Death, Mary was inseparably linked with Jesus in His salvific work, especially in the Visitation, the Nativity, the Arrival of the Shepherds and the Magi, the Presentation and Finding in the Temple, the Wedding Feast of Cana, Christ's Preaching of the Kingdom and the Crucifixion. While on earth, Mary's life was like any other, filled with the labors and cares of the home.

Even after Jesus' Resurrection, Mary did her part. She prayerfully assisted the early Church as she, the Apostles, the holy women and Jesus' brethren actively awaited the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. After her Assumption, Our Lady was crowned by the Lord as Queen of the Universe, signifying that Mary is more fully conformed to her Divine Son.

2. The Madonna's relationship with the Church. Jesus, Who is the one Mediator between God and men, has associated Mary to Himself. The influence of the Mother of men cannot compete with that of her Son. All she does draws from Christ's merits as she leads her children to Him.

When God decided that the Son would become the Word made flesh, He chose Mary to be His Mother. Our Lady is not only the Mother of the Redeemer but also the Lord's associate and handmaiden. As Mother, she conceived, bore and nourished Christ, as well as presented Him in the Temple and stood near His Cross. By her obedience, faith, hope and charity, she helped to restore God's life to us. She is Our Mother "in the order of grace."

Mary's Motherhood proceeds unceasingly from the Annunciation until her sons and daughters enter Paradise. From Heaven she assists her beleaguered children on earth. No wonder she is saluted as Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix--titles that do not disturb the truth of Christ's unique office as Mediator. The role of Mary, who aids the Faithful in following Christ, is secondary to that of Jesus, Who freely invited Mary to cooperate with Him.

Mary is intimately united to Christ's Church, thanks to Jesus for all He has given to her. She is a pattern (type) of the Church in faith, charity and perfect union with Jesus. Both Mary and the Church are virgin and mother. In her faith and obedience, Mary was empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear the Father's Son, Who is the first among the Faithful. Our Mother participates in the generation and formation of the Faithful.

In contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and by doing the Father's will, the Church becomes a mother. The Church--a virgin who keeps the faith she pledged to Jesus--brings forth children by preaching and baptism. By emulating Mary and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church is steadfast in faith, hope and charity.

In Mary the Church has already reached perfection. The Faithful realize their sinfulness and turn to Mary--the model of virtues. By meditating on her, the Church as the Spouse of Christ becomes more herself. Mary encapsulates the Church's doctrines and takes her children to Jesus, particularly when she is the subject of preaching and devotion. The apostolic work of the Church, which strives to imitate Mary's virtues, is enriched by pondering the Woman who bore Christ. Those who labor in the Church's mission should be enlivened with Our Lady's motherly love. Priests, who should always devotedly venerate and love Mary as the Mother of the High Priest, Queen of the Apostles and Protectress of their ministry, find a stirring example of docility in her who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, dedicated herself to the redemption of men. Through the gentle and poor Virgin's prayers, the number of religious increases and their apostolate flourishes.

3. The Ever-Virgin is lovingly--and rightly--venerated by the Faithful. Due to divine grace, Mary has been lifted higher than angels and men to a place second only to that of Jesus. From very early, the Faithful have honored in the first place Mary, using the title Mother of God, and have sought her protection. After the Council of Ephesus, there was astonishing growth in veneration, love, invocation and imitation of the Virgin. The cult towards the glorious Ever-Virgin is diverse from that adoration offered to each Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. The Church has approved forms of piety towards Our Lady ensuring that Jesus is known, love and glorified, and His commandments kept. Seminarians should reverence the Woman whom was given by the dying Christ to His disciples. And the Laity should venerate and entrust their lives to the care of Mary--the perfect model of the apostolic spiritual life.

The Council Fathers, who with the Sovereign Pontiff prayed that through the Virgin the nations might soon be led to the Truth, urged that veneration of Mary, especially the liturgical cult, be fostered, that devotion be cherished and that the Church's traditional practice regarding images of Jesus, Mary and the Saints be followed. In the annual liturgical cycle of Christ's mysteries, the Church honors Mary with a special love. Both exaggeration and understatement concerning Mary are to be avoided by theologians and preachers who, based on their study of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, the Doctors and the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, and under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium, are to explain Mary's duties and privileges as they relate to Christ--the Source of truth, holiness and devotion. Theologians and preachers must be careful not to lead baptized non-Catholics into error about the Church's authentic teaching. The Faithful recall that true devotion to Mary is not mere affection or belief based on the slightest evidence but is rooted in faith by which we acknowledge Our Mother's excellence and strive to imitate her virtues. In Mary the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption.

4. The Mother of Jesus gives hope and solace to her wayfaring sons. To contemplate Mary, who is in Heaven body and soul, is to see the faultless image and beginning of the Church as the Church desires, hopes and truly will be. The influence on earth of Our Lady, who is a sign of hope and comfort to the People of God as they progress along the way to Everlasting Life, will continue until the Second Coming of her Divine Son.

Among those separated from the Catholic Church, the Council Fathers noted, are those who honor Mary, especially the Orthodox and the members of the Eastern Christian Churches. Eastern Christians use beautiful hymns to honor Mary, whom the Council of Ephesus proclaimed as Mother of God. True, differences exist between some Christians and the Catholic Church concerning Mary's role in the work of salvation, but all Christians of the East and West are to pray daily that through Mary's assistance all may be one. Muslims honor Mary and at times devoutly invoke her. Christians pray to the Mother of God and Mother of men who by her prayers helped the Church at her beginning and is now exalted above the Angels and Saints. In union with the Saints Mary intercedes with her Son until all peoples--Christians and non-Christians--may be gathered in peace and harmony into the one People of God for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. Without question, Mary the Mother of God figured prominently in the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. More than four decades after the Council opened, we ask the Lord for a deeper appreciation of Our Lady's position in the life of Jesus and in the life of His Chaste Bride the Church.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

Contact

Mary's Field
www.catholic.org/featured/insert_headline.php , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125

Email

fathermangan@catholic.org

Keywords

Mary the Mother of God; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.