The life of Mary

Mary is known by many titles: Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, Wife of Joseph, and the greatest of all Christian saints. She was exalted by divine grace above all angels and men, and is venerated as the highest of God’s creatures, which St. Thomas Aquinas called “hyperdulia”. Mary’s life and role in the history of salvation is suggested in the Old Testament, while many of the events of her life are recorded in the New Testament.

Short History
  • She is the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne.

  • She was born in Jerusalem, presented in the Temple, and took a vow of virginity.

  • While Mary was living in Nazareth, the archangel Gabriel visited her and announced that by the power of The Holy Spirit, she would become the Mother of Jesus.

  • She became betrothed to Joseph.

  • She visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was carrying in her womb John the Baptist. Elizabeth recognized her as the Mother of God, and Mary responded with the “Magnificat”.

  • When Emperor Augustus declared a census throughout the Roman Empire, Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, his city of lineage because he belonged to the House of David. Mary gave birth to Jesus and was visited by the shepherds and the Three Kings.

  • Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, where St. Simeon rejoiced that he had seen the salvation of God.

  • Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to Egypt to escape the madness of King Herod. They remained in Egypt until the death of King Herod and then returned to Nazareth.

  • Jesus, Mary and Joseph visited the Temple of Jerusalem where Jesus was lost for three days. He was found among the High Priests talking to them and asking them questions, and they were amazed at his intelligence and his replies.

  • The first recorded miracle of Jesus was performed at a wedding in Cana, where Mary was influential in calling Christ’s attention to the need for more wine.

  • Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there she was given into the Apostle John’s care by Jesus.

  • She was with the disciples at Pentecost.

  • It is believed that she was present at the Resurrection and the Ascension.

  • According to most traditions, she went to Ephesus with the Apostle John, where she experienced her assumption into heaven.

 

Some Feast Days
  • The Birthday of Mary is celebrated on September 8.

  • The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8.

  • The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15.

 

Doctrinal Accounts (Ideas taught as Truth)
  • Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception Catholic dogma in 1854. This doctrine is that Mary, as the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was free of original sin at the moment of her conception.

  • Mary was joined in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice because of her part in accepting Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her influencing Jesus to perform his first miracle, and her place at the foot of the Cross.
    Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: “To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ”.

  • Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire human race to Mary in 1944. The Church has long taught that Mary is truly the Mother of God. St. Paul observed that “God sent His Son, born of a woman," expressing the union of the human and the divine in Christ.

  • By God’s grace, Mary is called “Queen”.  Pope Pius XII expressed in 1946: “Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election.”

  • The belief that Mary’s body was assumed (bodily transference of an individual person, either living or dead, from earth to heaven) was declared by Pope Pius XII Catholic dogma in 1950.

  • As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine, Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature. This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly depicted in the Gospel in which she is seen constantly at her son’s side during his soteriological (salvation) mission.

  • Mary holds a unique bond with all three Persons of the Trinity. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son, God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son, and God the Son chose her to be his mother.

  • She is our Mother. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she is called a spiritual mother. From the moment of spiritual birth at baptism to the moment of death, she is ever present at our side, giving nourishment and hope.

 

Lastly, confidence in Mary was expressed by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum: “The foundation of all our confidence . . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.”

© 2020 by Robert Barnett