WITH ST. MARY'S
SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
God unites Himself to us through a human mother.
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
The passage from Scripture that most perfectly encapsulates the meaning of Christmas comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of the John: in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The perfection of Christmas comes from the Word becoming flesh and entering into our world as one of us. This Word was with God and was God from the very beginning. However, the most perfect union we have with God came from Him taking on flesh, which was done through flesh already created and already living. Through Mary, Christ received his human flesh and God became man. This is why, on this holy Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we venerate her with her most important title: Mother of God.
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To call Mary the “Mother of God” was scandalous from the very beginning of the Church; in fact, many Christians today are greatly bothered that we would dare call a mere human being the Mother of God. This was one of the most significant issues in the early Church, which led to it being addressed in one of the earliest Church Councils, the Council of Ephesus. The issues began with the Patriarch of Constantinople named Nestorius, who questioned multiple stances that were widely held in the Church, including the naming of Mary as Mother of God. In a response, the Patriarch of Alexandria named Cyril attempted to clarify why it was appropriate to bestow her this title. He explained that giving her the title was not an indication that the nature of the Word received its origin from Mary, but that “there was born from her his holy body rationally ensouled, with which the Word was hypostatically united and is said to have been begotten in the flesh.” The Council of Ephesus agreed with Cyril and defined that Mary was the Mother of God because God underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb. The reason why so many might still be uncomfortable with the title despite it being clarified and formally defined by a united Church is that we have extensive experience and understanding on what it takes to be a mother. A mother creates life, she brings her child into this world, and forms him into who he becomes; for God, it is possible for Him to both create life and to even bring Himself into this world supernaturally. In fact, He did so many times before the Incarnation. But in the person of Christ, God deeply desired to become one of us in all things but sin. He wanted to express His solidarity with creation by experiencing joy and sorrow, pain and delight, friendship and family, all through the flesh of a human being. As humans, we elevate motherhood to the most significant role a human can possibly have, but it is strictly human. God very much desired to be a human in all things, not a divine Person just posing as a human being; therefore, He desired to have a mother who united human flesh to His Spirit, and to enter into the world through her. For this role, he chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, who rightly deserves to be called the Mother of God.
Family activity to do at home: The first day of the New Year is filled with activities that the family can do. While the world around us starts to make New Year resolutions, we can do the same thing as Christians by working on our prayer life and looking at this New Year as an opportunity for us to be holier and more dedicated to God.
More importantly, though, this is the day to venerate Mary as the Mother of God. From Marian hymns to praying the psalms, there are plenty of ways in which you can express your gratitude to her for saying yes to God and for bringing Christ into this world. Below, you can find an outline of all the things to remember and pray on this Solemnity, as well as different activities to do with the family to celebrate our Lord, his mother, and the opportunities this New Year will bring.