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Why do we celebrate Mary, as Mother of the Church?

The theological roots of this title go back to the early Church. The Fathers of the Church, holy and studious bishops of the first centuries, often spoke of Mary as the New Eve. Just as the Woman Eve was “the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20), the Woman Mary was mother of all those living in Christ. In Revelation 12:17, St. John says that this Woman’s offspring are “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

The popularity of the specific expression “Mother of the Church” grew especially in the 20th and 21st centuries. In 2018 Pope Francis added a feast day under this title for the Monday following the solemnity of Pentecost – considered the birthday of the Church. In 2022, the memorial is on June 6


MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH

What does Mother of the Church mean?

Pope St. John Paul II said,

The title “Mother of the Church” … reflects the deep conviction of the Christian faithful, who see in Mary not only the mother of the person of Christ, but also of the faithful. She who is recognized as mother of salvation, life and grace, mother of the saved and mother of the living, is rightly proclaimed Mother of the Church.

What feast day is the Monday after Pentecost?

The memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, is celebrated the Monday after Pentecost. On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the birthday of the Church, and on the memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, Catholics celebrate the fact that Mary, as the mother of Our Lord, is intrinsically linked to the Church as her mother.


What does Mater Ecclesiae mean?

Mater Ecclesiae is Latin for “Mother of the Church.”

“We declare Mary Most Holy Mother of the Church, that is, of all the Christian people.” - Pope St. Paul VI

Is the title “Mother of the Church” found in the Bible?

The title “Mother of the Church” is not found in Sacred Scripture, but Pope St. John Paul II covered several ways that the Bible alludes to this title: Although the title “Mother of the Church” was only recently attributed to Mary, it expresses the Blessed Virgin’s maternal relationship with the Church as shown already in several New Testament texts. Since the Annunciation, Mary was called, to give her consent to the coming of the messianic kingdom, which would take place with the formation of the Church. When at Cana Mary asked the Son to exercise his messianic power, she made a fundamental contribution to implanting the faith in the first community of disciples, and she co-operated in initiating God’s kingdom, which has its “seed” and “beginning” in the Church (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 5). On Calvary, Mary united herself to the sacrifice of her Son and made her own maternal contribution to the work of salvation, which took the form of labour pains, the birth of the new humanity. In addressing the words “Woman, behold your son” to Mary, the Crucified One proclaims her motherhood not only in relation to the Apostle John but also to every disciple. The Evangelist himself, by saying that Jesus had to die “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn 11:52), indicates the Church’s birth as the fruit of the redemptive sacrifice with which Mary is maternally associated. The Evangelist St Luke mentions the presence of Jesus’ Mother in the first community of Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). In this way he stresses Mary’s maternal role in the newborn Church, comparing it to her role in the Redeemer’s birth. The maternal dimension thus becomes a fundamental element of Mary’s relationship with the new People of the redeemed. (General Audience, September 17, 1997)

How did Mary become the Mother of the Church?

The Father chose Mary from among all women to be the mother, according to human nature, of His Divine Son. As she is Mother of Christ in the natural order, she is also the Mother of His Mystical Body, the Church, of which He is the Head in the order of grace. In the Book of Hebrews 2:9-13, the author makes it clear that Jesus is our brother: [W]e see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” (emphasis added) Since Jesus is our brother, and Mary is His mother, it follows that Mary is our mother as well. Finally, when Jesus was on the cross, we see the tender moment when He gave Mary to the Apostle John. In the Gospel of John 19:26-27, we read: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. Thus, the Tradition of the Church, coming from the Apostles, teaches us to understand that the Lord was entrusting all of His disciples to Mary, in the person of St. John.

“We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ.” - Pope St. Paul VI

What is the role of the Virgin Mary in the Church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 964-965) teaches us, Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion: Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your son.” After her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.” In her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.” Also, Pope St. Paul VI, in “Credo of the People of God,” said the following: Joined by a close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all the just; and we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.

“You are the mother of justification and of the justified, the Mother of reconciliation and of the reconciled, the mother of salvation and of the saved.” - St. Anselm