MARY IS THE MOTHER OF GOD
It is often the case that one would hear the title of "Mother of God" as applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary disparaged as "Mariolatry" or blasphemy. Such an attack is normally coupled with the opinion that Catholics give too much honor to the Virgin Mary, and that She is not so important because little is said of Her in Sacred Scripture. What justification, therefore, can there be for such a title?
In the first book of the Old Testament we read the following: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen. 3, 15). This verse, called the "protoevangelion," is the first promise of the redeeming Messiah. The woman in this verse is the Virgin Mary, Her offspring is, of course, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that there is distinct controversy among Biblical scholars as to whether the text should read "she", "he" or "it shall bruise"(or crush), the meaning is the same, as it is through Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, that the Virgin Mary crushes Satan.
Genesis 3, 15, together with the following passages, form the basis for venerating the Virgin Mary as Mother of God:
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, His name shall be called Emmanuel (i.e., God with us)" (Is. 7, 14 [Douay]);
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Is. 9, 6);
"And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (St. Luke 1, 28 [Douay]);
"(St. Elizabeth to Our Lady) And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?" (St. Luke 1, 43);
"...for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (St. Luke 1, 48);
"...Woman, behold your son...(Son) behold your mother" (St. John 19, 26-27);
"Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" (Rev. 11, 19). The Ark of the Covenant was a symbolic type of the Virgin Mary. The original Ark was overladen with gold and contained within itself a pot of manna, Aaron's priestly rod, and the two tables of the Ten Commandments (Heb. 9, 4). It was overshadowed by a propitiatory, or mercy seat, upon which God Himself dwelt (the Shekinah) between two statues of Cherubim (Exod. 25). It was forbidden for anyone to touch the Ark on pain of death. The Virgin Mary, in comparison, was a greater Ark, being a human creature immaculately conceived who carried within Her womb not simply the symbols of Christ, but Christ Himself. God, likewise, overshadowed Her, when the Holy Spirit conceived Christ within Her. Being a perpetual virgin, no one could, or did, "touch" Her. Joshua prostrated himself and venerated the Ark for hours (Josh. 7, 6). As "Joshua" means "Jesus" we have a type of Jesus venerating a type of Mary. Applying this to the New Testament figures themselves, it symbolically represents Jesus Christ paying veneration to His Mother.
"A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev. 12, 1);
"And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne" (Rev. 12, 5);
"Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12, 17).
The Church distinguishes clearly between dulia, or "the homage of veneration," and latria, which signifies "the worship of adoration." Veneration is paid to the Saints; a higher form of it, called hyperdulia, is given to the Virgin Mary; but adoration is given only to God. Any attempt to give adoration to a creature would certainly be idolatrous - but the Catholic Church has never given it. She adores God and God alone.
Most Protestants abhor the title of "Mother of God" because to them it insinuates that Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary existed before God, and that God only came into existence after being born from Her. Such, of course, is an absurdity. In fact, the term "Mother of God" was defined by the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) in response to the Christological controversy ignited by Nestorius, then Patriarch of Constantinople. Nestorius asserted that in Christ there existed not one divine Person with two natures, human and divine, but two Persons, one human and one divine, with two natures, human and divine. Further, these two persons were not hypostatically united, but separate, the human being insignificant compared to the divine. Consequently, the Virgin Mary, as She supplied only Christ’s human flesh and not His divinity, was only mother of Christ’s humanity and therefore in no sense could be called Mother of God. The Church, upholding that Christ was one divine Person only, and noting that Mary was the mother of this divine Person (St. John 19, 25), defined dogmatically that She could properly be called "Mother of God":
"If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is in truth God, and that the Holy Virgin is Mother of God, because she bore according to the flesh of the Word of God when He became flesh: let him be anathema."
St. Cyril of Alexandria would continue defending of the title "Mother of God" in the years after Ephesus:
"The Word, then, was God, and He became also Man; and since He was born according to the flesh for the sake of mankind, it is necessary that she who bore Him is the Mother of God. For if she did not bear God, neither is He that was born of her to be called God. If the divinely inspired Scriptures name Him God, as God having been made man and incarnate, He could not become Man in any other way than through birth from a woman: how then should she who bore Him not be the Mother of God?"
For the past fifteen centuries the Church has steadfastly continued to bestow the title "Mother of God" upon the Virgin Mary:
"Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. Then began the fulfillment of the splendid promise made by God to Abraham, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should one day be blessed; for Mary, whom we truly proclaim and venerate as Mother of God, because she brought forth Him who is at once God and man, was descended from King David.""The Virgin Mary…is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer.""Glorious Theotokos…""Called in the ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her Son, as ‘the mother of my Lord.’ In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)."
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Our Lady at Fatima told us: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” There are three elements here to be analyzed: What is the Heart of Mary? How does the term immaculate apply to it? How will it triumph?
My Immaculate Heart will triumph
I believe that in this case to triumph is to reign. Thus, the triumph of Our Lady will be established when she will reign over the world. Let us look at the titles, then, that allow Our Lady to be Queen of all of Creation and how this reign will become effective through her Immaculate Heart.
The right of Our Lady to be Queen
We know that Our Lady by right is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. She has this right for two reasons: First, because she is the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of all creation. Her situation is somewhat similar to a queen mother in countries with a monarchical structure. Second, Our Lady is Queen because God granted her an actual rule over Heaven and earth. She has power over the Angels, Saints, souls in Purgatory, everyone on earth, and even over the devils and condemned souls in Hell.
A queen mother is not properly speaking a reigning queen. She receives royal honors, but she does not reign. For example, Queen Mary in England, the late mother of Queen Elizabeth II, was the Queen-Consort because she was married to George VI. When the King passed away, the royal power passed to her daughter, and she became the Queen-Mother. Her whole life she received royal honors, but she never exercised the royal power. On the other hand, Queen Elizabeth is a Queen who reigns; that is to say, she reigns with that small amount of power still remaining to the Sovereign of England.
Our Lady is not only a Queen-Mother because she is the Mother of Our Lord, but also she is a Queen who reigns because God granted her this royal power.
A power exercised from heart to heart
How does she exercise this power? She applies it by the action of her heart over the hearts of all rational creatures. The heart, as you know, is a physical organ that symbolizes the mentality of a person, the way a person sees and does all things.
Our Lady reigns over the Church Triumphant, Suffering and Militant
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an expression of the most wise and pure mentality of Our Lady that, among other things, symbolizes her ineffable goodness, her incomparable sweetness and her endless mercy. For these reasons, the Angels and Saints of Heaven love her intensely, as much as it is proper to love someone other than God.
The result of this love is such that she reigns over them, her heart wields a power over their hearts, her mentality exerts an influence over their mentality so that her way of seeing and doing things become a norm of wisdom for them to follow. Her most pure will, immaculate and spotless, becomes the rule to guide their wills, so that even if God’s command to obey her should cease to exist, they would continue to love her with the same intensity.
By an action of her heart over other hearts, Our Lady dominates Heaven. She also dominates Purgatory. Indeed, the souls of Purgatory also can no longer sin. They have the guarantee of Heaven. There is no risk that a soul in Purgatory could revolt against the extreme sufferings it endures. Those souls are confirmed in grace and strive to model their lives on Our Lady, to think what she thinks and to wish what she wishes. They live for her, and when at times she appears in Purgatory, they have an indescribable joy and sing her glory amidst their sufferings. She always returns to Heaven with many of these souls in Purgatory, and leaves behind for the souls who remain a supernatural dew that diminishes their chastisements, increases their hope and softens their pains. It is also from heart to heart that Our Lady reigns over those souls, and not just by a decree of God.
The authority of the Immaculate Heart over the world
What about things on this earth? On earth we have the sad liberty, which in fact is slavery, to not do the will of God. Like tyrants, our passions drag us to do things we know we should not do. They generate that sad liberty we have to say ‘no’ to God.
Her Immaculate Heart overcomes the dominion of our passions over our wills
Notwithstanding, these passions exist and we have to fight against them. We can only be liberated from our slavery to these passions by a grace coming from Our Lady. Only with her help can we diminish and even extinguish the dominion of our passions over our wills. Without it, we are the slaves of our defects and vices.
On earth, then, there is the fight between those who obey and those who do not obey Our Lady. She has the right, however, to be obeyed by everyone. She is by right the Queen of the entire world. But because of free will, persons can choose to disobey her, and many actually do so.
How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary make its authority effective throughout the world? Our Lady touches the hearts of people, sending them abundant graces so that many will follow her. This is not an automatic process, of course. Many persons resist those graces; but countless others, because of those graces, stop sinning and move toward the service of Our Lady.
These graces invite our hearts to see the Heart of Mary, to know and love the wisdom and adamantine purity that emanate from her entire person. This is the way she makes herself obeyed by us.
Her Heart, therefore, is the scepter by which she governs all those who obey her on this earth..
Her power over the Devil and his cohorts
It is clear that Our Lady also exerts her power over the Devil. For example, Anne Catharine Emmerick reports this horrible fact. When Our Lord was crucified, the Devil wanted to impose a final humiliation on Him. After Our Lord had been nailed on the Cross and as it was being raised up to stand before the sight of all, for a moment the Cross vacillated and seemed as if it might fall forward. The Devil was planning to push the Cross down to the ground so that with the weight of His Person plus the heavy wood, Our Lord would fall on His Face and completely smash it.
The Immaculate Heart: wisdom and purity
When Our Lady realized the plan of the Devil, she simply gave the command: “No. This I do not permit.” That is, the case was finished. There was no more discussion. Satan was forbidden to make this affront, and so the horrible deed was not done. She permitted everything that was necessary for the Redemption of mankind, but that supreme humiliation was not necessary. So she gave the command that the Devil had no choice but to obey. She has power over the Devil and his cohorts.
By right Our Lady has power over all. At times she compels this empire by her will and none can resist. At other times her rule becomes effective not by an action of her will over the evil ones, but through the love she communicates to many good souls.
The devotion of the Counter-Revolution
This is how Our Lady reigns through her Immaculate Heart. When her reign over the good will spread throughout the world, we will have the triumph predicted in Fatima. This will be the victory of the Royal, Wise and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Being wise Our Lady is against all vain pride; being immaculate she is against sensuality. Therefore, devotion to the Heart of Mary from this perspective is par excellence the devotion of the Counter-Revolution, since the Revolution is moved forward by pride and sensuality. Those two points that the Revolution hates most, wisdom and purity, must be the points that are most strongly affirmed by the counter-revolutionaries.
Our prayer on this feast day should be: “Make our hearts like unto thy Heart.” This does not imply some vague similarity. It means to make our hearts as closely identified as possible to her Immaculate Heart, insofar as it is in the plans of God. “Make me wise, according to thy wisdom. Make me pure with a purity partaking of thy own purity.”
We may add: “My Mother, I am not strong enough to give myself to thee. Enter into my soul with graces that I am unable to resist, shatter this door that in my misery I do not want to open. I will be awaiting thee behind that door with all my appreciation and gratitude.”
October 12 is not only the day on which we honor the pious Christopher Columbus, but to the good citizens of Mexico, October 12 is also the day the "Traveling Lady of Zapopan" comes "home" to spend the Autumn and Winter months in her stately basilica.
South of the border, this crisp Autumn day is actually "The Dia de la Raza", an important national holiday, since it marks for these people the new flood of human blood which rose in New Spain as one of the major effects of Columbus' voyage. As a result of the conquest, Mexico became predominately populated by "mestizos", or Spanish-Indians. To foretell the physical characteristics of the mestizo came the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, when the portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Spanish-Indian woman appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego.
Guadalajara, capital and jewel of the state of Jalisco, celebrates "The Day of the Mestizo" by rendering ecstatic homage to "The Little Virgin" as Our Lady of Zapopan. She is Spanish in origin, but completely Mexican in the tradition of more than four hundred years that surround her cult. Brought to Zapopan by Father Antonio de Segovia in 1541, the "Little Virgin", less than fourteen inches high, found herself in the heart of a territory, then called New Galicia, still under the conquest of Nuñe de Guzman. The precious statue, which the warm heart of the Mexican personifies, was the instrument by which Heaven vouchsafed to turn the fears and animosities of the natives into a confidence and love which enabled the zealous Franciscan to gather them into the fold of the Good Shepherd. The story is told that, as he preached, the little statue of Our Lady that he always carried with him, emitted rays of light. The miraculous radiance seemed to penetrate the souls of the Indians and convert them into vessels ready for the waters of grace.
"The Little Virgin" was at once installed in a place of honor at the Zapopan Church of the Franciscans which was replaced by the present stately basilica. If the "Day of the Mestizo" is one of jubilation in Guadalajara, it is more than that in Zapopan, for on that day their cherished Lady comes home! For four months she has been in Jalisco, where she has traveled from parish to parish, amid memorable scenes of piety and rejoicing. Zapopan's history notes the fact that when its beloved Queen started on her first trip to the neighboring city in 1734, the townsfolk witnessed her departure with consternation, fearing that the proud "Sultana of the West", as the Jaliscan capital has been called, would hold her captive.
But the Franciscans who had a Friary at Zapopan since the sixteenth century, have kept faith with their parishioners, and each year the Great Lady has been brought home in triumph, an instrument of special graces for her faithful Mestizos.