God has one Only-Begotten Son by nature. By grace, he has called a multitude to participate in the Divine Sonship, and thus become his children, so that the Son of God “might be the first-born amongst many brethren.” The Divine Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, become incarnate, is the only-Begotten of Mary according to His Human nature. He is the only child born of her physically, the only being to whom she communicated her most pure flesh and blood. Jesus was the Only-begotton of the Father according to Divine generation. He as the only-begotten of Mary according to human generation.
The second concept is that of a very close moral union consisting not only in a perpetual indwelling of the divinity in the humanity of Christ, but also in the faithful co-operation of this humanity of Christ, but also in the faithful co-operation of this humanity with the divinity. This seems to have been the doctrine of Nestorius, according to which the humanity in Christ would have been, from the very first moment of its existence, the temple of the Divinity and the two natures would have always acted together in perfect harmony. Consequently, this humanity had a right to special honor. In the final analysis, however, the union so understood could be only a moral one, so that Mary could indeed have been called the mother of Christ, but not the Mother of God, which is false.
The first false conception is that of a purely superficial union constituted by the temporary inhibition of the divinity in the humanity of Christ. This was the idea of certain heretics of the first centuries of Christianity. For them, Jesus was nothing more than a man upon whom the Spirit of God descended at the moment of the Baptism in the Jordan and from whom this Spirit went out shortly before the Passion, leaving the man Jesus to suffer and to die. In this theory, Mary was the mother of a man who was destined to be the temporary dwelling of God, but she was not the Mother of God, and this is false.
To understand what we mean by the divine maternity, we must understand – as well as is possible when we are concerned with a mystery – the union of two natures, the Divine and the human, in the person of Jesus Christ. For the sake of greater exactness, before we give the Catholic conception of this mystery, we will mention two inexact ideas which we meet in the history of dogma, in the following posts.
Despite the claims of Nestorius in the fifth century and the accusations which certain protestants and rationalists make against us even today, the title Mother of God does not signify and never has signified in the minds of the faithful, that we consider Mary as Mother of the divinity, or as some for of goddess after the manner of the goddesses of mythology. We affirm that Mary is the Mother of God, not that she is Mother of a person who is God, and not Mother of that person inasmuch as He is God.
The exceptional importance of the divine maternity immediately create the necessity of clearly comprehending its meaning; for to comprehend it poorly is to misunderstand all the privileges of the Blessed Virgin. On the other hand, more so than with any other glory of Mary, the mind here faces a mystery – the mystery of the Incarnation in all its depth. Therefore, the question extends beyond the domain of Marian Doctrine strictly so called, and reaches into the field of Christology. For as Cardinal Newman could well say, basing his assertion on the ancient and modern history of Christianity, “The Virgin Mary is the guardian of the Incarnation.” Indeed, here all the teachings relative to the Incarnation converge, as at their center. Mary’s divine maternity is the touchstone of Christological orthodoxy; and to a certain extent, orthodoxy with regard to the divine maternity guarantees the orthodoxy even of our statements relative to the Most Holy Trinity and to many other revealed truths.
The fundamental raison d’être of all the other functions of the Blessed Virgin, is the divine maternity. According to Common Opinion, the divine maternity is the raison d’être of her very existence, let alone her other privileges; that is to say, Mary was created only in order to become the Mother of GOd. In fact, Pope Pius IX, in the bull Ineffabilis, defining the Immaculate Conception of Mary, teaches that “by one and the same decree the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of divine Wisdom were decided.” Consequently, the divine Maternity explains all that there is in Mary, and without it, nothing in her can be understood.
The prerogatives that are Mary’s can be divided into two groups. The first are those which are primarily functions, and those which are privileges accorded to mary either in view of or consequent upon her functions. The distinction is not an absolute one, for Mary’s functions are also privileges, and privileges functions. Nevertheless, certain of her prerogatives are primarily functions and vice versa.
An announcement is going to be made here about the Blessed Virgin as Co-Redemptrix.