Excerpts from CHAPTER VIII: OUR LADY, from
Role in the Church
function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique
mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed
Virgin's salutary influence on men originates not in any inner necessity
but in the disposition of God. It flows forth from the superabundance of
the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and
draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate
union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it.
predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated
with the incarnation of the divine word: in the designs of divine
Providence she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on
earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate
and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and
nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared
her Son's sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular
way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in
the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this
reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.
motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from
the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she
sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal
fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside
this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring
us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she
cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded
by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home.
Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles
of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is
so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything
to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.
creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and
Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways
both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God
is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique
mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a
manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.
does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it
constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the
faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more
closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.
type or figure of the Church
of the gift and role of her divine motherhood, by which she is united
with her Son, the Redeemer, and with her unique graces and functions,
the Blessed Virgin is also intimately united to the Church. As St.
Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order
of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. For in the mystery
of the Church, which is itself rightly called mother and virgin, the
Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar
both of virgin and mother. Through her faith and obedience she gave
birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, not through the knowledge
of man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in the manner of a
new Eve who placed her faith, not in the serpent of old but in God's
messenger without waivering in doubt. The Son whom she brought forth is
he whom God placed as the first born among many brethren (Rom. 8:29),
that is, the faithful, in whose generation and formation she cooperates
with a mother's love.
indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and
faithfully fulfilling the Father's will, by receiving the word of God in
faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and baptism she brings
forth sons, who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a
new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its
entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse. Imitating the
mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she keeps
intact faith, firm hope and sincere charity.
in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that
perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph. 5:27),
the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And
so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community
of the elect as the model of virtues. Devoutly meditating on her and
contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church
reverently penetrates more deeply into the great mystery of the
Incarnation and becomes more and more like her spouse. Having entered
deeply into the history of salvation, Mary, in a way, unites in her
person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith: and when
she is the subject of preaching and veneration she prompts the faithful
to come to her Son, to his sacrifice and to the love of the Father.
Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church becomes more like her
lofty type, and continually progresses in faith, hope and charity,
seeking and doing the will of God in all things. The Church, therefore,
in her apostolic work too, rightly looks to her who gave birth to
Christ, who was thus conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin,
in order that through the Church he could be born and increase in the
hearts of the faithful. In her life the Virgin has been a model of that
motherly love with which all who join in the Church's apostolic mission
for the regeneration of mankind should be animated.
15. Cfr. Kleutgen, textus reformatus De
mysterio Verbi incarnati, cap. IV: Mansi 53, 290. Cfr. S. Andreas
Cret.,In nat. Mariae, sermo 4: PG 97, 865 A. - S. Germanus
Constantinop., In annunt.
Deiparae: PG 98, 321 BC. In
dorm. Deiparae, III: col. 361 D.S. Io. Damascenus, In
dorm. B. V. Mariae, Hom. 1, 8: PG 96, 712 BC - 713 A.
16. Cfr. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Adiutricem
populi, 5 sept. 1895: ASS 15 (1895-96), P. 303. - S. Pius X, Litt.
Encycl.Ad diem illum, 2 febr. 1904: Acta, I, p. 154; Denz. 1978 a
(3370). - Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Miserentissimus,
8 maii 1928: AAS 20 (1928) P. 178. Pius XII, Nuntius Radioph., 13 maii
1946: AAS 38 (1946) P. 266.
17. S. Ambrosius, Epist. 63:
PL 16, 1218.
18. S. Ambrosius, Expos.
Lc. II, 7: PL 15, 1555.
19. Cfr. Ps.-Petrus Dam., Serm. 63:
PL 144, 861 AB. - Godefridus a S. Victore. In
nat. B. M., Ms. Paris, Mazarine, 1002, fol. 109 r. - Gerhohus
Reich., De gloria et
honore Filii hominis, 10: PL 194,1105AB.
20. S. Ambrosius, l. c. et Expos.
Lc. X, 24-25: PL 15,
1810. - S. Augustinus, In
lo. Tr. 13, 12: PL 35,
1499. Cfr. Serm.191,
2, 3: PL 38, 1010; etc. Cfr. etiam Ven. Beda, In
Lc. Expos. I, cap. 2: PL
92, 330. - Isaac de Stella, Serm. 51:
PL 194, 1863 A.
21. Sub tuum praesidium.
22. Conc. Nicaenum II, anno 787: Mansi 13, 378-379; Denz. 302 (600-601)
.conc. Trident., sess. 25: Mansi 33, 171-172.
23. Cfr. Pius XII, Nuntius radioph., 24 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) P. 679.
Litt. Encycl. Ad coeli
Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) P. 637.
Excerpted from Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the
Church Lumen gentium,
21 November 1964
complete text of Lumen
gentium from the EWTN
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