~ CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS ~
According to Sacred Scripture, Mary is present at almost every major event in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ:
• Jesus conception
• Jesus development in the womb
• Jesus birth
• Offering Jesus to God
• Jesus early childhood
• Jesus confirmation at age12
• The beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and the first of His miracles, which she prompted.
(Wedding at Cana John 2:3)
• Jesus death on Calvary
• The birth of the Church at the Pentecost
■ MARY AS THE MOTHER OF GOD
The word Theotokos is Greek which means “God-bearer”.
The Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 declared Mary the Mother of God. This was to safeguard the divinity of Christ, which was being attacked by the Nestorians heretical group. Mary is the Mother of God the Son since Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.
“The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that He is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it.”
(§464, CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH)
Some Scripture proves of this include:
• “And whence is this to me [Elisabeth], that [Mary] the mother of my Lord should come unto me?”
(Luke 1:43, ASV)
• “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
(John 1:1, ASV)
• “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am.”
(John 8:58, ASV)
• “Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
(John 20:28, ASV)
• “[Jesus] who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped”
(Philippians 2:6, ASV)
• “for in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”
(Colossians 2:9, ASV)
■ THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY
Scripture says “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ASV) and also “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
(1 Corinthians 15:22, ASV)
The word for “all”, in the above passages are παντες (pantes, Greek) as it occurs in the ancient authorities or πας (pas, Greek) as in the case of the KJV.
It literally means “all, any, each, every, the whole, many.” We know from Scriptures that not “all” people died, for example Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11).
Also Scripture tells us that the man Jesus Christ was without sin, hence He was an exception for the “all have sinned” argument. The word “all” has been demonstrated not to mean all in the above passages, rather it means “many”.
Just as the man Christ Jesus is an exception from original sin (cf. Hebrews 4:15), so is Mary. One well-known verse that shows this is Luke 1:28
In a papal encyclical Ineffabilis Deus (The Ineffable God, Latin) issued in 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
Immaculate is derived from the Latin word Macula which means “stain, mark, spot, blemish, fault, flaw”. To support this dogma, attention is drawn to the Annunciation in Luke 1:28, in which the Angel Gabriel greets Mary with the words “Hail [Mary], full of grace.” “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
(Luke 1:28, DRB)
We should note that angels speak on behalf of God; here it is God revealing through Sacred Scripture that Our Lady is full of grace, because of her extraordinary role to God the Son and Holy Spirit. The original word used for “full of grace” in this passage is κεχαριτωµενη (kecharitōmenē, Greek).
It is a perfect passive participle of charitoō and means endowed with grace (charis). The Greek tense indicates that the grace started somewhere in the past, before the announcement of the angel of God and it continues in the present. Here is what some modern, English-speaking scholars tell us “Kecharitomene” denotes, based purely on the definition of the word and its grammatical usage:
• “It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.” (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament).
• However, Luke 1:28 uses a special conjugated form of “charitoo.” It uses “kecharitomene,” while Ephesians 1:6 uses “echaritosen,” which is a different form of the verb “charitoo.” Echaritosen means “he graced” (bestowed grace).
Echaritosen signifies a momentary action, an action brought to pass. (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament, p.166).
Whereas, Kecharitomene, the perfect passive participle, shows a completeness with a permanent result. Kecharitomene denotes continuance of a completed action (H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968], p. 108109, sec 1852: b; also Blass and DeBrunner, p.175).
Scripture again indicates the blessedness of Our Lady:
“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’ And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.'”
(Luke 1:41-48, RSV)
We read that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. As a Jewish woman, she cannot pronounce the name of God (Yahweh) because it is forbidden, hence; she has to say Lord (Adonai). This is why with a loud cry, she said “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
The Holy Spirit affirms through Elizabeth that Mary is truly the Blessed mother of God the Son.
■ MARY AS THE ARK OF THE NEW COVENANT
It is very clear from Sacred Scripture that the closer one is to God, the holier one must be.
• “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place where on thou standest is holy ground.”
(Exodus 3: 5, ASV)
• “for Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy, that he may not see an unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”
(Deuteronomy 23:14, ASV)
The presence of God imparts holiness:
• “If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.”
(1 Corinthians 3:17, ASV)
• “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God.”
(1 John 3:9, ASV)
The Jewish high priest entered the “Holy of holies” in the Tabernacle or Temple only once a year, under pain of death:
• “and Jehovah said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy-seat which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.”
(Leviticus 16:2, ASV)
The Ark of the Covenant was so holy only a few could touch it:
• “And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the furniture of the sanctuary, as the camp is set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch the sanctuary, lest they die.
These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting.” (Numbers 4:15, ASV) “And when they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”
(2 Samuel 6:6-7, ASV)
Sacred Scripture compares Mary to the Ark (Luke 1:35 and Exodus 40:34-8 / Luke 1:44 and 2 Samuel 6:14-16 / Luke 1:43 and 2 Samuel 6:9).
If mere inanimate objects can be so “holy” due to closeness with God; how much more our Lady Mary, who bore God the Son?
■ THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
Our Lady Mary’s Assumption follows from her sinlessness. This is because bodily decay results from sin.
Sacred Scripture demonstrates this:
• “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”
(Genesis 3:19, ASV)
• “For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.”
(Psalm 16:10, ASV)
The absence of sin allows for instant bodily resurrection at death (i.e., Assumption). “and I [God] will put enmity between thee [the serpent / Satan] and the woman [Eve, or Mary the New Eve], and between thy seed [sin /death] and her seed [the Messiah: Jesus]: he [the Messiah: Jesus] shall bruise thy head [i.e., crush your power], and thou shalt bruise his heel [the Crucifixion].” (Genesis 3:15, ASV)
This verse, according to both Jews and Christians, is the Proto-Evangelion: the first prophecy of the Messiah. And it reveals to us that the Mother of the Redeemer will be placed in opposition to Satan, and not under his dominion. Thus, this New Eve could pass a sinless humanity onto her Son, the New Adam.
Scripture shows how Enoch and Elijah assumed into heaven:
• “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God.”
(Hebrews 11:5, see Genesis 5:24, RSV)
• “And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli’jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
(2 Kings 2:11, RSV)
The strongest evidence for Mary’s Assumption is a complete lack of evidence. What I mean by this is that, there is no early Christian who ever claimed to have a bodily relic of our Lady Mary, and no city ever claimed to have her remains. The tombs of the Apostles and many Martyrs were known. For example, the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul were at Rome.
■ THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY
In the Old Testament, the title Queen is properly applied to the queen-mother, since in an Oriental household; it is not the wife, but the mother of the master, who exercises the highest authority.
Strange as such an arrangement at sight appears, it is one of the inevitable results of polygamy. “Bath-sheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a throne to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand.”
(1 Kings 2:19, ASV)
“Say thou unto the king and to the queen-mother, Humble yourselves, sit down; for your headtires are come down, even the crown of your glory.”
(Jeremiah 13:18, ASV)
“(after that Jeconiah the king, and the queen-mother, and the eunuchs, and the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem,)”
(Jeremiah 29:2, ASV)
“And also Maacah his mother he removed from being queen, because she had made an abominable image for an Asherah; and Asa cut down her image, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.”
(1 Kings 15:13, ASV)
If Jesus Christ is the legitimate Messianic King of the true Israel (the Church / Heaven), then what stops Mary from being the Queen Mother?
■ MARY AS CO-REDEMPTRIX AND MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACE
The title Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all grace is basically the aspect of redemption that is shared by our Lord Jesus Christ with His Church, and is exercised by all Christians to one degree or another.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24, ASV)
Here what St. Paul is saying is that he is offering up his own sufferings on behalf of his fellow Christians in order to make up for the one and only thing that is “lacking” in Christ’s redeeming Sacrifice on the Cross, which is OUR CONTINUAL ACCEPTANCE of that Sacrifice.
This is why Catholics believe that our struggles, sufferings, and hardships can be offered up for the good and salvation of other Christians; and that the merits of the saints in Heaven (that is, their loving and willing total acceptance of Christ) can be applied to others via their prayers.
■ MARY OUR MOTHER & MOST POWERFUL INTERCESSOR
The idea of our Lady Mary as the Mother of all believers is derived from the Crucifixion account of our Lord Jesus Christ where He tells St. John to “Behold, thy mother!” “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold, thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:26, ASV)
Mother Mary is also the symbol of the Church as shown in the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelation:
• “And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”
(Revelation 12:1, ASV)
• “And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne.”
(Revelation 12:5, ASV)
• “And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus”
(Revelation 12:17, ASV)
Mother Mary neither takes the place of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor any of the Saints.
Their mediatorship is secondary to Jesus Christ; and is only possible because of Jesus Christ, and their relationship to us through His Mystical Body, the Church.
Scripture shows this:
“I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus”
(1 Timothy 2:1-5, ASV)
“We have but one Mediator, as we know from the words of the Apostle: ‘For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all’
(1 Tim 2:5-6).
The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. For all the saving influences of the Blessed Virgin on men originate, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure.
They flow forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rest on His mediation, depend entirely on it, and draw all their power from it. In no way do they impede the immediate union of the faithful with Christ. Rather, they foster this union.”
(Lumen Gentium, §60; from The Documents of Vatican II, c 1966 by The America Press; Walter M. Abbott, S.J., General Editor)
Our Lady intercessory role was demonstrated in Sacred Scripture.
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when the wine failed, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. And Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
(John 2:1-5, ASV)
We Catholics believe that our Mother Mary is our most powerful intercessor because of her sinlessness.
“Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.”
(James 5:16, ASV)
St. Paul asked his fellow Christians to intercede for him: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, ASV)
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in Judaea, and that my ministration which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; that I may come unto you in joy through the will of God, and together with you find rest.”
(Romans 15:30-32, ASV)
Our Lord Jesus Christ must particularly approve of our going to Him through Mary, His Blessed Mother, because He chose to come to us through her.