Catholic Online Launches Virtual Pilgrimage Site Dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God
The Mother of God Calls us to be 'Bearers of God' for the whole world
There is a treasure found in the life example and message of the little Virgin of Nazareth. Mary, Mother of God is a virtual pilgrimage site inviting pilgrims to reflect on the mysteries of the faith, pray and encounter the most beautiful artwork from our history. Mary's "Yes" (Fiat) not only changed history - but reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation.
Eastern Christian icons, Catholic and Orthodox, usually depict the Child Jesus in the womb of Mary. They reveal a profound insight into the mystery of Mary and the mystery of the Church.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Let me begin with a quotation from a Christian leader who is often not associated with honoring Mary: "Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees." It was Martin Luther, one of the Protestant Reformers, in his commentary on the "Magnificat".
From antiquity, Mary has been called "Theotokos", or "God-Bearer" (Mother of God). The term was woven into the liturgical worship and popular piety of the undivided Church of the first millennium. This title was a response to the early threats to 'orthodoxy' or the preservation of authentic Christian doctrine.
A pronouncement of an early Church Council, The Council of Ephesus, in 431 A.D., insisted ". If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the holy virgin is the "Theotokos" (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the word of God become flesh by birth) let him be anathema."
The reason for the Council's insistence on the use of the title was the preservation of the teaching of the Christian church that Jesus the Christ was - and is - both Divine and Human. The doctrine was "Christological", meaning that it had to do with Jesus Christ. No one has ever claimed that Mary gave birth to Christ's Divinity, but rather, that His human and divine nature could not - and cannot - be separated.
Not only was this truth under assault then, it is under assault now. The teaching lies at the heart of the Christian claim concerning the implications of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It must be protected as the unique distinctive and contribution of Christianity.
Continued disagreements concerning this title, "Mother of God" throughout Christian history have led to a diminution in the role of Mary in some Christian circles. Subsequent reaction and counter reactions have made it all very complicated.
Sadly, this has impeded some Christians from grasping a deeper truth concerning the meaning of Mary's life, her response to God's selection and invitation, her role in the plan of salvation, her exemplary humility and her deference to God's Will - she is the type, the living blueprint, of the Christian vocation for all believers. She is a gift to be opened and received, given to us all by the Lord Himself. (John 19:26,27)
It is time to re- examine the deeper implications of the treasure that is found in the life example and message of the little Virgin of Nazareth in this critical hour in human history. Mary, Mother of God is a virtual pilgrimage site inviting pilgrims to reflect on the mysteries of the faith, pray and encounter the most beautiful artwork from our history. It will also become a place where we pray together, and grow together.
Among the multiple references to Mary, the Mother of God, found in the writings of the early Church Fathers is one of my favorites from the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa who died in 356 A.D:
"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."
The early Christians knew that Mary's "Yes" (Fiat) not only changed history -but reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. Contemporary Christians need to understand this as well. During the praying of the Angelus while he was visiting Germany in 2011, Pope Benedict called the faithful to join their yes to the "Yes" of Mary:
"The Archangel Gabriel presents God's plan of salvation to the Virgin Mary, by which she was to become the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary was fearful, but the angel of the Lord spoke a word of comfort to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." So Mary is able to respond with her great "yes".
"This "yes", by which she accepts to become the handmaid of the Lord, is the trusting "yes" to God's plan, to our salvation. And she finally addresses her "yes" to us all, whom she received as her children entrusted to her at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn19:27). She never withdraws this promise. And so she is called happy, or rather blessed, for believing that what was promised her by the Lord would be fulfilled (cf. Lk 1:45).
"As we pray this Angelus, we may join Mary in her "yes", we may adhere trustingly to the beauty of God's plan and to the providence that he has assigned to us in his grace. Then God's love will also, as it were, take flesh in our lives, becoming ever more tangible."
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