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What the Holy Fathers Say About Mary, Mother of God

On January 1, the Church celebrates the feast day of Mary, Mother of God, honoring her for her role in bringing the Savior into the world. When an angel told Mary that God had chosen her to bear and raise the Christ Child, she responded in grace and obedience. As we observe this feast day, we invite you to read and reflect on what the Holy Fathers have to say about Mary’s role as the Mother of God. 

Mary’s Role in Salvation

The Visitation depicted in the Great Upper Church

“The title of ‘Mother of God’ … stresses the unique mission of the Blessed Virgin in the history of salvation: a mission that is at the root of the worship and devotion which the Christian people reserve for her. Indeed, Mary did not receive God’s gift for herself alone, but in order to bring him into the world: in her fruitful virginity, God gave men and women the gifts of eternal salvation.” — from Pope Benedict XVI’s message on January 1, 2011

Mary is Blessed as the Mother of God

“Today we are reminded of the words of blessing which Elizabeth spoke to the Virgin Mary: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?’ (Lk 1:42-43).

This blessing is in continuity with the priestly blessing which God had given to Moses to be passed on to Aaron and to all the people: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace’ (Num 6:24-26). In celebrating the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, the Holy Mother of God, the Church reminds us that Mary, more than anyone else, received this blessing. In her the blessing finds fulfilment, for no other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary. She gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him.” — from Pope Francis’ address on January 1, 2015

The Mystery of the Mother of the Divine

“But did not the eternal Word enter time precisely through Mary? … [T]he Apostle Paul recalls this by saying that Jesus was born ‘of woman’ (Gal 4:4).

In today’s liturgy the figure of Mary, true Mother of Jesus, God-man, stands out. Thus, today’s Solemnity is not celebrating an abstract idea but a mystery and a historic event: Jesus Christ, a divine Person, is born of the Virgin Mary who is his Mother in the truest sense.” — from Pope Benedict XVI’s address on January 1, 2007

“Today is also a day to be amazed by the Mother of God. God appears as a little child, held in the arms of a woman who feeds her Creator. The statue before our eyes depicts the Mother and Child so close as to appear as one. That is the mystery we celebrate today, which gives rise to boundless amazement: God has become one with humanity forever. God and man, always together, that is the good news of this new year. God is no distant lord, dwelling in splendid isolation above the heavens, but love incarnate, born like us of a mother, in order to be a brother to each of us, to be close to us: the God of closeness.” — from Pope Francis’ address on January 1, 2019

Mary’s Heart as Mother of God

Mary portrayed as Mother in the Our Lady of Hungary Chapel

“The first day of the new year… is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, venerated as the Mother of God. The Gospel reminds us that she ‘kept all these things, pondering them in her heart’ (Lk 2:19). So she did in Bethlehem, on Golgotha at the foot of the cross, and on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room.

And so she does today too. The Mother of God and of human beings keeps in her heart all of humanity’s problems, great and difficult, and meditates upon them. The Alma Redemptoris Mater walks with us and guides us with motherly tenderness towards the future. Thus she helps humanity cross all the ‘thresholds’ of the years, the centuries, the millenniums, by sustaining their hope in the One who is the Lord of history.” — from Pope John Paul II’s message on January 1, 1999

“The Evangelist Luke describes her as the silent Virgin who listens constantly to the eternal Word, who lives in the Word of God. Mary treasures in her heart the words that come from God and, piecing them together as in a mosaic, learns to understand them.

Let us too, at her school, learn to become attentive and docile disciples of the Lord. With her motherly help, let us commit ourselves to working enthusiastically in the ‘workshop’ of peace, following Christ, the Prince of Peace.

After the example of the Blessed Virgin, may we let ourselves be guided always and only by Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever!” — from Pope Benedict XVI’s address on January 1, 2006

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