October 10, 2017

Feast of the Divine Maternity of Our Lady

Madonna and Christ Child

Feast Day - October 11th

According to the 1962 Missal of Saint John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The theological controversies regarding the divinity of Christ which disturbed the Church during the fourth and fifth centuries led to a denial of the divine maternity of Mary. The heretics refused to honor Mary as Mother of God. The Council of Ephesus in 431 declared that the Blessed Virgin "brought forth according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh" and that in consequence she is the Mother of God. Thus, Mary, our holy mother, is rightly given the title of divine maternity.

In the year 1931, a jubilee marking the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus was celebrated to the great joy of the whole Catholic world. The fathers at that Council, under the guidance of Pope Celestine, formally condemned the errors of Nestorius and declared as Catholic faith the doctrine that the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, was truly the Mother of God. Prompted by holy zeal, Pope Pius XI determined that the memory of so important an event should continue alive in the Church. Accordingly, he ordered the renovation of Rome's famous memorial to the Council of Ephesus, namely, the triumphal arch and transept in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on the Esquiline. His predecessor Pope St. Sixtus III (432-440) had embellished that arch with a beautiful mosaic.

It was Pope Pius XI who solemnly instituted the feast. By this act, he wished to emphasize not only Mary's divine maternity, but also her motherhood of all the members of Christ's Mystical Body. In an encyclical Lux Veritatis (The Light of Truth), Pius XI, moreover, underscored the principal teachings of the General Council at Ephesus, developing in detail and with loving affection the singular privilege of divine Motherhood granted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He believed that so sublime a mystery should be firmly anchored in the hearts of the faithful.

At the same time the Holy Father singled out Mary, the Mother of God and the one blessed among women together with the holy Family of Nazareth as the foremost model for the dignity and sanctity of chaste married life and for the religious education of youth. Holy Mother of God, Immaculate Mary, to you I dedicate my body and soul, all my prayers and deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am and all that I have. With a joyful heart I surrender myself to you for the salvation of mankind and for the Universal Church whose Mother you are. Amen.

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