Recollection On Our Lady
In the Catholic Church, Mary is accorded the title “Blessed” (Latin: beata, Greek: μακάρια, romanized: makaria) in recognition of her assumption to Heaven and her capacity to intercede on behalf of those who pray to her. There is a difference between the usage of the term “blessed” as pertaining to Mary and its usage as pertaining to a beatified person. “Blessed” as a Marian title refers to her exalted state as being the greatest among the saints; for a person who has been declared beatified, on the other hand, “blessed” simply indicates that they may be venerated despite not being officially canonized. Catholic teachings make clear that Mary is not considered divine and prayers to her are not answered by her, but rather by God through her intercession. The four Catholic dogmas regarding Mary are: her status as Theotokos, or Mother of God; her perpetual virginity; her Immaculate Conception; and her bodily Assumption into heaven.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus has a more central role in Roman Catholic teachings and beliefs than in any other major Christian group. Not only do Roman Catholics have more theological doctrines and teachings that relate to Mary, but they have more festivals, prayers, devotional, and venerative practices than any other group. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”
For centuries, Catholics have performed acts of consecration and entrustment to Mary at personal, societal and regional levels. These acts may be directed to the Virgin herself, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Immaculate Conception. In Catholic teachings, consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God.
Following the growth of Marian devotions in the 16th century, Catholic saints wrote books such as Glories of Mary and True Devotion to Mary that emphasized Marian veneration and taught that “the path to Jesus is through Mary”. Marian devotions are at times linked to Christocentric devotions (e.g. the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary).
The chapel based on the claimed House of Mary in Ephesus
Key Marian devotions include: Seven Sorrows of Mary, Rosary and scapular, Miraculous Medal and Reparations to Mary. The months of May and October are traditionally “Marian months” for Roman Catholics, e.g., the daily Rosary is encouraged in October and in May Marian devotions take place in many regions. Popes have issued a number of Marian encyclicals and Apostolic Letters to encourage devotions to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary.
Catholics place high emphasis on Mary’s roles as protector and intercessor and the Catechism refers to Mary as “honored with the title ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs”. Key Marian prayers include: Ave Maria, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Sub tuum praesidum, Ave maris stella, Regina caeli, Ave Regina caelorum and the Magnificat.
Mary’s participation in the processes of salvation and redemption has also been emphasized in the Catholic tradition, but they are not doctrines. Pope John Paul II’s 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater began with the sentence: “The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation.”
In the 20th century both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have emphasized the Marian focus of the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the “whole truth about Mary,” writing:
“It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that ‘truth about Jesus Christ,’ ‘truth about the Church’ and ‘truth about man.'”
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