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July 22, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: This series on Apologetics is based on the book Catholicism & Reason. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. You can send them either to the postal mailing address or to the email address below, and we will interrupt this series to answer them.

Special Course On Catholicism And Reason (Chapter 22)

Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but also Mother of the Catholic Church. It was Pope St. Paul VI who gave her that latter title during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). While non-Catholics do not understand why Catholics have such a devotion to Mary (we venerate and honor her, but we worship only God), there are three reasons: (1) She is unique among all women in history in that she was conceived without original sin, gave birth to a Child without losing her virginity, and was taken up, body and soul, into Heaven at the end of her life. (2) She was chosen by Jesus to be His Mother and had the greatest of all relationships with Him — that of mother to son. (3) She has demonstrated her deep love and concern for us, her spiritual children, by numerous appearances on Earth.
Because of her unique role in salvation history, Mary was accorded three special privileges. They are her freedom from original sin, which we call her Immaculate Conception; her conceiving a child without a human father, which we call her Divine Maternity; and her bodily ascent into Heaven at the end of her life, which we call her Assumption.
We know that Mary was free from original sin because the Angel Gabriel addressed her as “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) when he asked her to be the mother of Jesus. “Full of grace” means sharing in God’s divine life, something that excludes all sin, including original sin. Since there is no record of Mary being baptized to wash away original sin, the Church teaches that God prevented Mary from even contracting this sin when she was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.
We know that Mary conceived Jesus without the cooperation of her husband, St. Joseph. When Mary asked Gabriel how she could have a child without violating her vow to remain a virgin all through her life, the angel said that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (1:35). Once assured that her vow of virginity would not be compromised, Mary said yes to Gabriel’s request that she become the mother of the Messiah after the angel said that “nothing is impossible for God” (1:37). Mary then went to visit her elderly relative Elizabeth, who was expecting John the Baptist, who would announce the coming of the Messiah.
The references in the Gospels to the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus refer to “cousins” of our Lord, for Jesus was Mary’s only child.
The third privilege was that Mary was spared the decay of the grave after she died. Since burial in a grave is one of the consequences of original sin, and Mary did not have original sin, she was taken up to Heaven, body and soul, at the end of her life. It was fitting that the body which sheltered Jesus for nine months should be immediately taken to Heaven and not suffer corruption. We call this privilege her Assumption.
The reason Catholics pray to Mary is because she can intercede for us with her Son, who would not say no to anything the Blessed Mother asked. We know this from the wedding at Cana when Jesus changed water into wine. He was not ready to perform this miracle, but He did so at His mother’s request. Mary’s last words in the Gospels were spoken at that time when she told the headwaiter, and us as well, to “do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5). That is the surest way to get to Heaven.
The Blessed Mother’s love and concern for us has been shown many times in her repeated appearances on Earth at such places as Guadalupe in Mexico City, Lourdes in France, and Fatima in Portugal. Her message is always the same: turn away from sin and pray, especially the rosary. She has promised peace in the world if people pray the rosary daily. It is the greatest devotion of all to Mary, and its recitation has brought about stunning victories over the enemies of the Church.
Mary is the indispensable woman in salvation history. Whereas Eve said no to God at the beginning, Mary said yes and allowed Jesus to enter into history, atone for our sins on the cross, and open the gates of Heaven. Let us never hesitate to call on Mary’s help for our own problems and those of the whole world. She will always listen to her children on Earth.

List of Answers:

ASSUMPTION
CONCEPTION
COUSINS
FATIMA
GABRIEL
GRACE
JESUS
PAUL VI
PRIVILEGES
ROSARY
SPIRIT
VENERATE
WOMAN

Quiz:

  1. Pope St. ___________ named Mary Mother of the Church.
  2. Catholics _________________ and honor Mary; we do not worship her.
  3. Mary was accorded three special __________________ by God.
  4. The Angel ________________ asked Mary to be the mother of Jesus.
  5. He said that Mary was “full of ______,” which means free from original sin.
  6. That privilege is called her Immaculate ____________________.
  7. Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy _____________.
  8. Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” were really His _______________.
  9. The _______________ means that Mary was taken to Heaven, body and soul.
  10. Mary told the headwaiter to “do whatever he [____________] tells you.”
  11. Mary has appeared at Guadalupe, Lourdes, and _______________________.
  12. The greatest devotion to Mary is the __________________.
  13. Mary truly is the indispensable _____________ in human history.
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