Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The celebration on this day throughout the Western church of a feast in honour of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was enjoined by Pope Pius XI in the encyclical “Lux veritatis“, published on December 25, 1931, in view of the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus.
In the third lesson of the second nocturn of the office of the new feast mention is made of the arch in the basilica of St. Mary Major, which Pope St. Sixtus III (432-440) decorated with mosaics shortly after the council, and which has been restored in modern times by the care of Pius XI himself. This, we are taught, remains as a stricking monument of the proclamation of our Lady’s incomparable honour as Mother of God. But in the institution of the present festival, the pope, as his encyclical explains, had also other objects in view.
“One thing in particular”, he says, “and that indeed one of great importance, we specially desire that all should pray for, under the auspices of our heavenly Queen. That is, that she, who is loved and venerated with such ardent piety by the separated Christians of the East, would not suffer them to wander and be unhappily led further away from the unity of the Church, and therefore from her Son, whose vicar on earth We are. May they return to the common Father, whose judgement all the fathers of the synod of Ephesus most dutifully received, and whom they all saluted with concordant acclamations as the guardian of the faith; may they all return to Us, who have indeed a fatherly affection for them all, and who gladly make our own those most loving words which Cyril used, when he earnestly exhorted Nestorius that ‘the peace of the churches may be preserved, and that the bond of love and of concord among the priests of God may remain indissoluble’.”
Encyclical, Lux veritatis, in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. xxiii (1931)
The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will
Our Lady to the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta the Little Daughter of the Divine Will:
Lesson of the Queen of Heaven
Daughter (Luisa) most dear to Me, oh! how I yearn to confide My secrets to My daughter; secrets which will give Me much Glory, and that will Glorify that Divine Fiat which was the primary cause of My Immaculate Conception, of My Sanctity, Sovereignty and Maternity. I owe everything to the Fiat—I know nothing else. All of My sublime prerogatives for which the Holy Church so much honors Me, are nothing other than the effects of that Divine Will which dominated Me, reigned and lived in Me.
This is why I yearn so much that that which produced in Me so many privileges and admirable effects as to astonish Heaven and earth, be known.
My dear daughter (Luisa), today I await you more than ever. My maternal Heart is swollen; I feel the need to pour out My ardent love with My daughter: I want to say to you that I am the Mother of Jesus. My joys are infinite; seas of happiness inundate Me. I can say: I am the Mother of Jesus; His creature, His handmaid, is Mother of Jesus—and I owe this only to the Fiat. It rendered Me full of grace, It prepared the worthy dwelling for My Creator. Therefore, always glory, honor and thanksgiving be to the Supreme Fiat.
Now listen to Me, daughter of My Heart (Luisa): as soon as the little Humanity of Jesus was formed in My womb by the power of the Divine Fiat, the Sun of the Eternal Word incarnated Himself in It. I had My Heaven, formed by the Fiat, all studded with most refulgent stars which glittered with joys, beatitudes, harmonies of Divine beauty; and the Sun of the Eternal Word, blazing with inaccessible light, came to take His place within this Heaven, hidden in His little Humanity. And since His little Humanity could not contain Him, the center of this Sun remained in It, but Its light overflowed outside, and investing Heaven and earth, It reached every heart. And with Its pounding of light, It knocked at each creature, and with voices of penetrating light, It said to them:
“My children, open to Me (Jesus); give Me a place in your heart. I have descended from Heaven to earth in order to form My Life in each one of you. My Mother is the center in which I reside, and all My children will be the circumference, in which I want to form so many of My Lives for as many as are My children.”
And the light knocked and knocked again, without ever ceasing; and the little Humanity of Jesus moaned, cried, agonized, and within that light which reached into the hearts, He made flow His tears, His moans and His pangs of love and of sorrow.
Now, you must know that a new life began for your Mama. I was aware of everything that My Son was doing. I saw Him devoured by seas of flames of love; each one of His heartbeats, breaths and pains, were seas of love that He unleashed, enveloping all creatures to make them His own by force of love and of sorrow. In fact, you must know that as His little Humanity was conceived, He conceived all the pains He was to suffer, up to the last day of His life. He enclosed all souls within Himself, because, as God, no one could escape Him. His immensity enclosed all creatures, His all-seeingness made them all present to Him. Therefore, My Jesus, My Son, felt the weight and the burden of all the sins of each creature. And I, your Mama, followed Him in everything, and felt within My maternal Heart the new generation of the pains of My Jesus, and the new generation of all the souls whom, as Mother, together with Jesus I was to generate to grace, to light, to the new life which My dear Son came to bring upon earth.
My daughter, you must know that from the moment I was conceived, I loved you as Mother, I felt you in My Heart, I burned with love for you, but I did not understand why. The Divine Fiat made Me do facts, but kept the secret hidden from Me. But as He incarnated Himself, He revealed the secret to Me, and I comprehended the fecundity of My Maternity—that I was to be not only Mother of Jesus, but Mother of all; and this Maternity was to be formed on the stake of sorrow and of love. My daughter, how much I have loved you, and I love you.
Now listen to Me, dear daughter—what extent one can reach when the Divine Will takes operating life in the creature, and the human will lets It work without impeding Its step. This Fiat, which by nature possesses the generative virtue, generates all goods in the creature; It renders her fecund, giving her maternity over all, over all goods, and over He who created her. Maternity says and means true love, heroic love, love that is content with dying to give life to the one it has generated. If this is not there, the word maternity is sterile, is empty, and is reduced to words, but does not exist with facts. Therefore, if you (Luisa), My daughter, want the generation of all goods, let the Fiat take operating life in you, which will give you the maternity, and you will love everyone with love of mother. And I, your Mama, will teach you how to fecundate in you this maternity, all Holy and Divine.
The Divine Maternity
By Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI
Feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin
October 11, 1995
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
The feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was instituted by Pope Pius XI to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, the third Ecumenical Council of the Church. How appropriate it was for this feast to be instituted on such an anniversary, for it was at the Council of Ephesus that the doctrine of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was defended against the heresy of Nestorius and his followers, who denied that there was one Divine Person in Christ with two natures, and in consequence of this denial, refused to recognize Mary by the title — Theotokos — Mother of God. For Nestorius and his followers falsely believed that in Christ there were two Persons — one divine and the other human, so that Mary was only the mother of the human person.
In our times, we may not find very many Nestorians, but there are many who call themselves Christians, but who deny to the Blessed Virgin Mary this title, Mother of God. Let us consider in this pastoral letter the Divine Maternity of Mary, in order to be able to better defend the Mother of Jesus Christ and to increase our esteem, love and devotion to her.
When we consider the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, we must begin by a study of the Person of Jesus Christ. In the Nicene Creed which we recite every Sunday at Holy Mass, we profess our firm belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ:
“…And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God; Light of Light; true God of true God. Begotten not made; consubstantial with the Father….”
And this belief in Christ’s Divinity is firmly rooted in divine revelation. In Sacred Scripture, we find a multitude of passages which manifest the Divinity of Jesus. St. John the Evangelist tells us in the first Chapter of his Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh….” (John 1:1-14).
On this passage from St. John’s Gospel, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who staunchly defended the Faith at the Council of Ephesus, maintained in wonderful agreement with the Catholic Church:
“In no wise, therefore, is it lawful to divine the one Lord Jesus Christ into two Sons… For the Scripture does not say that the Word associated the person of a man with Himself, but that He was made flesh; that means nothing else but that He partook of flesh and blood, even as we do; wherefore, He made our body His own, and came forth man, born of a woman, at the same time without laying aside His Godhead, or His birth from the Father; for in assuming flesh He still remained what He was” (Mansi, 1.c.4. 891).
Furthermore, our Divine Lord Himself clearly claimed to be the Son of God, equal to the Father:
“I and the Father are One” (John 10:30).
“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am” (John 8:58).
To the questions put to Him by the High Priest, Caiphas:
“I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63-64).
Jesus answered simply and emphatically,
“Thou hast said it.”
And St. Paul reiterates the same belief in his Epistle to the Philippians:
“Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who though He was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men and appearing in the form of man” (Phil. 2:5-8).
Thus, Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Lux Veritatis of December 25, 1931, which commemorated the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, reiterated the Catholic Faith in this doctrine:
“For we are taught, by Holy Scripture and by Divine Tradition, that the Word of God the Father did not join Himself to a certain man already subsisting in himself, but that Christ the Word of God is one and the same, enjoying eternity in the bosom of the Father, and made man in time. For, indeed, that the Godhead and Manhood in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, are bound together by that wondrous union which is justly and deservedly called hypostatic, is luminously evident from the fact that in the Sacred Scriptures the same one Christ is not only called God and man, but it is also clearly declared that He works as God and also as man, and again that He dies as man and as God He arises from the dead. That is to say, He Who is conceived in the Virgin’s womb by the operation of the Holy Ghost, Who is born, Who lies in a manger, Who calls Himself the son of man, Who suffers and dies, fastened to the cross, is the very same Who, in a solemn and marvelous manner, is called by the Eternal Father ‘My beloved Son’ (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17), Who pardons sin by His divine authority (Matt. 9:2-6; Luke 5:20-24; 7:48; and elsewhere), and likewise by His own power recalls the sick to health (Matt. 8:3; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13; John 9; and elsewhere). As all these things show clearly that in Christ there are two natures by which both divine and human works are performed, so do they bear witness no less clearly that the one Christ is at once both God and man because of that unity of person from which He is called ‘Theanthropos’ (God-Man).”
Having considered that Jesus Christ is one Divine Person with two natures, let us continue in the Nicene Creed. We profess that Jesus Christ “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary.” This also is clearly found in Sacred Scriptures.
In the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaias predicted:
“Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel (God with us)” (Isaias 7:14).
In the Gospel of St. Luke, we find that the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary:
“Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bear a Son, and thou shalt call His Name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
And further on in the same Gospel, St. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” cried out to the Blessed Virgin:
“And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:44).
Not only do we find the reference for the Divine Maternity in Sacred Scripture, but also in Sacred Tradition. In the early Christian Church, there was no misunderstanding in the matter, for the early Fathers of the Church were very clear and firm on the Divine Motherhood of Mary.
In his Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Ignatius of Antioch (circa 110 A.D.) wrote:
“Our God Jesus Christ was born by Mary in her maternal womb.”
At another time, St. Ignatius wrote:
“There is only one Healer, composed at the same time of flesh and spirit, begotten and not-begotten… of God and of Mary, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
St. Irenaeus (202 A.D.) taught:
“This Christ, Who as the Word of the Father was with the Father… was born of a virgin.”
Tertuillian (220 A.D.) said:
“God is born in the womb of a mother.”
St. Athanasius (373 A.D.) taught:
“We confess that the Son of God became Man by the assumption of flesh from the virgin Mother of God.”
St. Gregory Nazianzen (circa 382 A.D.) declares:
“Let him who will not accept Mary as the Mother of God be excluded from God.”
These references from the early Fathers reflect the doctrine which was always held in the Catholic Church. And it was for this reason that when Nestorius had presented his false innovations, they were immediately rejected by the Catholic faithful of Constantinople. This rejection of the Nestorian heresy by the faithful manifests to us that even before Pope St. Celestine I and the Council of Ephesus formally deposed Nestorius from his See of Constantinople and condemned his errors, the faithful had already professed the true doctrine of the Divine Maternity of Mary.
All that has been quoted above from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition on the Person of Jesus Christ and the Divine Maternity of Mary, was neatly summarized by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Lux Veritatis:
“And, indeed, if the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary is God, assuredly she who bore Him is rightly and deservedly to be called the Mother of God. If there is only one Person in Christ, and this is Divine, without any doubt Mary ought to be called, by all, not the mother of Christ the man only, but Theotokos, or God-bearer. Let us all, therefore, venerate the tender Mother of God, whom her cousin Elizabeth saluted as ‘Mother of my Lord’ (Luke 1:43), who, in the words of Ignatius Martyr, brought forth God (Ad Ephes. 7:18-20); and from whom, as Tertullian professes, God was born; whom the Eternal Godhead has gifted with the fullness of grace and endowed with such great dignity.”
Let us never cease to honor the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, especially when we repeat that most ancient, simple and profound prayer of the Catholic Church to her — “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee… Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI