Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Feast of the Maternity
of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Mother of God" -- this title for Mary was always known by Christians, but was formalized by the Church's third Ecumenical Council -- the Council of Ephesus -- in A.D  431. This Council was convened to solemnly decry Nestorianism -- the heresy that denies the hypostatic union, that is, the reality that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, but one single being. In Lord Jesus, the human and divine are in perfect hypostasis. He is One Divine Person with two natures, one of them a human nature which He received through His mother. From the Council:

If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, The Word was made flesh] let him be anathema.

Mary's being the mother of Christ means she is also our mother, and Jesus was explicit about this just before He died, when He clarified the relationship between His followers and His mother as recounted in John 19:26-27:

When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. 

After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Pope Pius X explains further in Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum:

For is not Mary the Mother of Christ? Then she is our Mother also. And we must in truth hold that Christ, the Word made Flesh, is also the Savior of mankind. He had a physical body like that of any other man: and again as Savior of the human family, he had a spiritual and mystical body, the society, namely, of those who believe in Christ. "We are many, but one sole body in Christ" (Rom. xii., 5). Now the Blessed Virgin did not conceive the Eternal Son of God merely in order that He might be made man taking His human nature from her, but also in order that by means of the nature assumed from her He might be the Redeemer of men. For which reason the Angel said to the Shepherds: "To-day there is born to you a Savior who is Christ the Lord" (Luke ii., 11). Wherefore in the same holy bosom of his most chaste Mother Christ took to Himself flesh, and united to Himself the spiritual body formed by those who were to believe in Him. Hence Mary, carrying the Savior within her, may be said to have also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Savior. Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Ephes. v., 30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is Mother of us all. Mother, spiritually indeed, but truly Mother of the members of Christ, who are we (S. Aug. L. de S. Virginitate, c. 6).

The book "The Fairest Flower of Paradise: Considerations on the Litany of the Blessed Virgin" (pdf), from this site's Catholic Library, goes into even more detail:

The human mind can never fully comprehend all that is contained in the title "Mother of God." It is the title by which the faithful love to address Mary, and the Church has sanctioned it by her infallible authority. All the beauties of nature, all the riches of grace, all the splendors of glory pale before the majestic grandeur of such a title as this. For, by the very fact of having conceived the Word Made Flesh, Mary has been united to God by the same ties which unite a mother to her true son.

Just as, therefore, the dignity of the human nature in Jesus Christ is immeasurably raised above all things created, by reason of the hpostatic union with the Divine Word, so also the dignity of Mary belongs to a superior order, on account of her position as the Mother of God. This title is precisely the source and measure of all those gifts of nature, grace, and glory, wherewith the Lord was pleased to enrich her. "The Holy Mother of God has been elevated above the choirs of angels in the heavenly kingdom." (Versicle of the Magnificat on the Feast of the Assumption)...

The title of Mother of God, with which the Catholic Church honors Mary, is not only the source of incomparable greatness in her, it is also a potent means to ground us firmly in the possession of true faith, and to bring us to a more perfect knowledge of the divine attributes.

In fact, the first step toward a recognition of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world is belief in the Divine Maternity: on the other hand, whosoever refuses to acknowledge Mary as true Mother of God, has by the very fact made shipwreck of the faith.

Further, Divine Wisdom shines forth the more clearly by the fact that God deigned to choose Mary for Mother of His Son. Of all God's works, the Incarnation is worthiest of the right hand of the Most High: but how can I sufficiently admire the counself of Thy wisdom, O my God, since Thou has willed to oppose to the work of destruction and death, begun in the sin of Eve and completed in the sin of Adam, a work of reparation, begun in the obedience of Mary, and consummated in the sacrifice of Jesus?

What glory accrues to the goodness of God from the Divine Maternity! For, in predestining Mary to be the Mother of the Word, God also decreed to give her to us as our Mother also. He willed that she should accomplish in union with her Son the work of our redemption, and that be regenerating us to the life of grace, she should become our Mother in the spiritual order...

The DIvine Maternity is indeed the starting point of the work of our salvation. It is therefore the duty of every Christian fearlessly to proclaim this truth. In believing Mary to be the Mother of God, we believe also that the Word was made Flesh. But in order that this faith be not barren, it must be accompanied by a sincere worship both internal and external; a worship consisting in acts of homage, of veneration and love for this peerless creature bound to us by so many titles.

Proclaiming this great truth is what the Feast of the Maternity of Mary is all about.


A lovely prayer for the day:

O Mary, I believe with all my soul that thou art the true Mother of God, through whom the work of our salvation has been accomplished. Grant, I pray thee, that with this faith deeply rooted in my heart, and with the good works springing therefrom, I may surrender my soul to my Lord: do thou thyself present it before the throne of thy Divine Son, for "my life is in thy hand." Amen.

And another one, this time by St. Thomas Aquinas:

O most blessed and sweet Virgin Mary, Mother of God, filled with all tenderness, Daughter of the most high King, Lady of the Angels, Mother of all the faithful, on this day and all the days of my life, I entrust to thy merciful heart my body and my soul, all my acts, thoughts, choices, desires, words, deeds, my entire life and death, so that, with thy assistance, all may be ordered to the good according to the will of thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

From thy beloved Son request for me the grace to resist firmly the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.

My most holy Lady, I also beseech thee to obtain for me true obedience and true humility of heart so that I may recognize myself truly as a sinner -- wretched and weak and powerless -- without the grace and help of my Creator and without thy holy prayers.

Obtain for me as well, O most sweet Lady, true charity with which from the depths of my heart I may love thy most holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and, after Him, love thee above all other things.

Grant, O Queen of Heaven, that ever in my heart I may have fear and love alike for thy most sweet Son. I pray also that, at the end of my life, thou -- Mother without compare, Gate of Heaven and Advocate of sinners -- will protect me with thy great piety and mercy and obtain for me, through the blessed and glorious Passion of thy Son and through thine own intercession, received in hope, the forgiveness of all my sins.

When I die in thy love and His love, mayest thou direct me into the way of salvation and blessedness. Amen.

When you're sad, troubled, or afraid, turn to Our Lady as your mother. She won't fail you!

The hymn Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of our Redeemer) is usually sung from Advent to Candlemas, but it's also a perfect fit for this feast. Marc-Antoine Charpentier wrote two musical settings for it, H. 21 and H.44:


H. 44

Alma Redemptóris Mater,
quæ pérvia cæli Porta manes,
et stella maris, succúrre cadénti,
Súrgere qui curat pópulo:
tu quæ genuísti,
Natúra miránte, tuum sanctum Genitórem
Virgo prius ac postérius,
Gabriélis ab ore Sumens illud Ave,
peccatórum miserére
Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
who remains the accessible Gateway of Heaven,
and Star of the Sea,
Give aid to a falling people that strives to rise;
O Thou who begot thy holy Creator,
while all nature marvelled,
Virgin before and after
receiving that "Ave" from the mouth of Gabriel,
have mercy on sinners.

There are no special foods for the day that I am aware of, but to keep your children busy and focused on Our Lady, you could introduce them to the craft of making little Marian shrines out of those little tins Altoid Mints come in. First, you empty the tin completely and then get rid of all the paint on them. This can be done in one of a few ways, two of them being to either use a blowtorch to burn the paint off, or to spray the tins with oven cleaner, place them in a paper bag, and leave them outside in the sun for a few hours. Rinse and scrub them clean and dry them thoroughly (if you use oven cleaner, wear gloves!), then spray them with a metal primer. Once the metal primer is dry, paint or stain them with a base color, then use glue to secure onto them thin scraps of cloth, decorative papers, crystals, ribbons, whatever little ornaments or gewgaws and doodads you like. The very crafty might even want to build up the top of the box with gesso to make a sculptural effect that can be gilded or painted as desired. Just find a painting of Our Lady and her Son that you like best, print it out so it will fit inside the tin (or use already printed materials, such as paper holy cards, etc.), and use it as the starting point to determine the colors of papers and ornaments you'll need to match. If you do a web search for "Altoid tin shrines," you'll find tons of inspiration. These little Altoid boxes can also be used to as a place to store smaller Rosaries or chaplets.Smaller children might like making larger shrines out of shoeboxes that they can decorate with paper, ribbons, etc.

Something else to consider is showing your children some of the world's greatest paintings of the Madonna and her Son. Have them see how Our Lady has been depicted throughout the centuries, the various ways we can recognize different art styles and different artists' work, the different symbols that such paintings sometimes depict and what they mean, etc. Which paintings are their favorites? Which are yours? Can you guess each other's favorites before you're told?


From The Liturgical Year
By Dom Prosper Gueranger

In the sixteenth century, even amidst their many divergences, the so-called Reformers agreed in utterly rejecting all the honors paid by the Catholic Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the grounds that such veneration of the Mother detracted from the supreme worship due to her Divine Son. Four centuries have more than sufficed to show the result of so doing: the Son has followed the Mother! The descendants of those who refused to Mary the title and rights of Theotokos –Mother of God—refuse to Jesus the title of Son of God in the traditional sense of the term. Many reject His Godhead altogether, placing Him merely at the head of the line of great moral and social world-teachers; others still retain the word “divinity” with respect to Him, but for them it is no longer synonymous with “deity.”

Holy Scripture tells us that those who first came to adore Him Who is Son of God and Son of Mary found Him “with Mary his Mother.” At the scene of the first miracle at Cana, which marked the opening of his public life, “the Mother of Jesus was there.” In the tremendous hour when all was consummated, when types and shadows gave place to the mighty reality, “there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother.” And when the little flock who were to be the nucleus of the Church of God awaited in prayer the coming of the Paraclete, Who would teach them all truth, again it was in company with “Mary the Mother of Jesus.” Far from taking from the honor and love due to the Word Incarnate, devotion to Mary is a strong bulwark protecting the central doctrine. He is ever found with His Mother; where Mary is denied her rights, sooner or later Jesus is denied His; they stand or fall together.

This was realized in the year 431 when, at the General Council of Ephesus, the Church condemned the Nestorian heresy, whereby the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, had taught that, since in Christ there are two persons, a Divine and a human, Mary was mother only of the Man “Christ”, and therefore could not be called “Mother of God.” He therefore denied “that wondrous and substantial union of the two natures which we call hypostatic.”

On the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus, the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius XI, issued the Encyclical Lux Veritatis (link added by SF, note: Lux Veritatis was written in 1931)) recalling the history of the heresy and commenting thus upon the dogma of the hypostatic union: “When once the doctrine of the hypostatic union is abandoned, whereon the dogmas of the Incarnation and of man’s Redemption rest and stand firm, the whole foundation of the Catholic religion falls and comes to ruin.  . . . When once this dogma of the truth is securely established, it is easy to gather from it that, by the mystery of the Incarnation, the whole aggregate of men and of mundane things has been endowed with a dignity than which certainly nothing greater can be imagined, and surely grander than that to which it was raised by the work of creation.”

Proceeding to speak of the special dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope emphasizes that, “because she brought forth the Redeemer of mankind, she is also in a manner the most tender Mother of us all, whom Christ our Lord deigned to have as His brothers; wherefore we may confidently entrust to her all things that are ours, our joys, our troubles, our hopes; especially if more difficult times fall upon the Church —–if faith fail because charity has grown cold, if private and public morals take a turn for the worse.”

In this last connection we are reminded of another result of the loss of devotion to the Mother of God. Frequently and truly we hear and speak of the “paganism” of the present age. The decay of faith has been followed inevitably by a decline in morality, and our elaborate and complex civilization is threatened with the dissolving agent which contributed in no small measure to the overthrow of the magnificent civilization of old Rome: namely, the loss of the domestic virtues, the disappearance of healthy, normal family life, consequent upon the abandonment of the Christian ideals of marriage and parenthood.

It is a truism that one of the greatest social effects of Christianity was to raise the status of womanhood. Her legal position in the Ancient World was little better than that of a slave, and although classical literature furnishes us with examples of women who, in pagan homes, yet enjoyed high honor and affection, such are few indeed, and but serve to prove the rule. Divorce, infanticide, general degradation of womanhood, and not infrequently of childhood, were accepted features of pagan social order. The ideal and model of the “new woman ” of the Christian dispensation was the Mother of God. It was Mary, “Mother of fair love,” “Madonna,” “our Lady,” who ennobled the degenerate old civilization, just as she tamed the fierce barbarian peoples; she it was who inspired the ideals of the later chivalry. In Mary, all her sex was uplifted; in her motherhood all motherhood became blessed. Now again the world needs the hallowing influence of the Mother of God and of men, if “the life of the family, the beginning and the foundation of all human society” is to be preserved in all its nobility and its purity.

Desirous “to mark the commemoration, and help to nourish the piety of clergy and people towards the great Mother of God,” His Holiness concludes the Encyclical by establishing the new feast of the Divine Motherhood, to be celebrated on October 11 by the universal Church.

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