Day 132: Mary Mother of the Church (963-970)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Father in Heaven, we thank you. Thank you for every person who has been listening to this podcast. We thank you for every person on this journey with us. We thank you for giving us your Son as our Savior, for giving us your Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier, and also in that mission we thank you for giving us the Mother of Jesus to be our Mother as well. Help us to be faithful not only to you as our Father. Help us to be faithful to the Church as our Mother and help us to be faithful to Mary, our Mother in the order of grace. Above all else, Lord, we want to do your Will. Keep us close to your heart and never let us be parted from you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”


"Mary, Mother of the Church"

Notes compiled by Andrew Adamany

Catechism of the Catholic Church

963 Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. "The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church."

We know Mary is the mother of Christ, but some might ask, “how is Mary the Mother of the Church?

Ask yourself, “Am I a beloved disciple of Christ?  Do I keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus?" If your answer is yes, then Jesus gave you to his mother, and gave her to you to take into your home, just as he did to the beloved disciple at the cross.

As the Church is the mystical body of Christ, with Christ as it’s head, Mary is the mother of the Church because she was the first to say “yes” the Christ, becoming the first Christian through which Christ would come into the world, and with him his mystical Body, the Church:

"And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; 

and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 

and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; 

and of his kingdom there will be no end.”...

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her."(Luke 1:30–33,38)

“He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.” (Colossians 1:18)

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

"The Assumption of Mary"

Catechism of the Catholic Church

966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians"

While the Assumption of Mary did not formally become a dogma of the Church until 1950, it has been a long-held pious tradition based in historical truth, layered with precedence and foreshadowing by the Old and New Testament Scriptures, with eschatological significance.  Since the historical event of the Assumption of Mary is not recorded within the Bible like the resurrection and ascension of Christ, some of our Protestant brothers and sisters have trouble accepting this long-held tradition, discerning instead that Mary died and is buried in a tomb somewhere.  As Catholics, we don’t believe it needs to be told explicitly in the Bible because: 

A) we don’t believe all doctrines have to be found in Scripture alone, and

B) because the New Testament writings don’t begin with the birth of Mary, so there’s no reason that the end of her earthly life would be required to be recorded within them either.  The only lifespan the New Testament covers from start to finish is that of our Lord.  To then conclude that Mary was not assumed is a conclusion reached solely from silence– a logical fallacy.

To address the conclusion that Mary’s body are currently lying in a tomb somewhere, an important question on the topic arises:  


While there are two tombs known to have been prepared for the Blessed Virgin (one in Jerusalem and one in Ephesus where she lived with the apostle John) there is no body resting in either tomb, and the Church has no relics of Mary's body whatsoever.  While absence of evidence is normally not evidence itself, when we take into consideration that the Church is extremely good at preserving the relics of countless saints in church history spanning two millennia, particularly the location of the remains of prominent New Testament figures like all of the Apostles and Mary Magdalene, the absence of the remains of Christ's mother is strikingly noticeable and begs the question: 

Why doesn't the Church have any relics or know the whereabouts of the remains of Christ’s own mother?

The only explanation given throughout history via the writings of the Church Fathers is that Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was bodily assumed into heaven by her Son, Jesus Christ.  Every historical writing that does speak of the end of Mary’s earthly life attests to the belief that she was bodily assumed by her son into heaven, with none refuting it:

“If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: ‘Be it done according to your will’”  (Pseudo-Melito, The Passing of the Virgin 16:2–17 [A.D. 300]).

Like the bodies of the saints, however, she has been held in honor for her character and understanding. And if I should say anything more in her praise, she is like Elijah, who was virgin from his mother’s womb, always remained so, and was taken up, but has not seen death (St. Epiphanius, Panarion 79 [A.D. 350]).

Ephipanius compares Mary to Elijah in that they both remained ever-virgin and were bodily assumed by God in the heavens.  In fact there are two instances in the Old Testament that others were bodily assumed into the heavens, Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12).  If two can be taken up long before Christ's death and resurrection, the precedence is certainly there that one could be assumed into heaven after. Of anyone, who would be most fitting to take up than his own mother?

Even more of the Church Fathers wrote of Mary’s bodily Assumption as that of a historical truth. Likewise, there is no record of any Church Fathers that refuted or rejected the belief in Mary’s assumption.  And if there is anything the Church Fathers were really good at writing about, it was defending the faith against heresies with passion and rigor.  Simply put, while they wrote of the assumption, they didn't have to write in defense of it, because this tradition was never attacked or objected to, not even by the several heretical sects the Church Fathers were often defending the faith against.

Another common topic the Church Fathers also commonly wrote about  Mary was her being “the Ark” of the New Covenant.  One may wonder:  What did the Church Fathers see from Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition that was passed down to them that would draw this conclusion?  

Perhaps it was the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, in which he records the events surrounding Mary (that only Mary would be able to bear witness to) when she conceived and carried Christ in her womb.  A first-century Jewish Christian with knowledge of the pre-existing Scriptures might notice how Luke's narrative of Mary's visitation to Elizabeth sounds very familiar to the narrative surrounding the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6, when David brings the Ark into Jerusalem:

The various parallels between Mary and the Ark in the Scriptural texts are too similar for Luke to have done so by mere coincidence.  He was conveying to the reader familiar with the history of King David, that the mother carrying the Christ served as his ark.  Luke’s parallel serves to show that the view of Mary as the “New Ark” is a tradition held by the Church from its infancy.

There are additional details of John’s Gospel and the author of the letter to the Hebrews that point to Mary as the "New Ark": the identity of Jesus as 1) the Word of God made flesh,2) the Living Bread Come down from heaven, and 3) the heavenly high priest,  three parallels to the three items that dwelled in the Ark of the Old Covenant:  1) the manna, 2) the rod of Aaron the high priest, and 3)  the Word of God written on the stone tablets.

Another instance is found in the book of Revelation, also written by the apostle John, when he records seeing “the ark of his covenant” in the temple in heaven. With this vision, he is given a great sign in heaven: a woman who gave birth to a child who can only be identified as Jesus Christ.  Since all the other figures in Revelation 12 are identified as individual figures (Christ, Satan, and Michael the archangel), there is no reason to believe that the woman mentioned is the only figure who is not an individual as well.  And there is only one woman who gave birth to the Christ – the Blessed Virgin.  And considering that Scripture did not originally contain any separation by chapters and verses, the vision of the ark in heaven is revealed to be the woman, Mary, now also seen in heaven. 

With Mary being depicted as the Ark of the New Covenant, we can see it alludes to Mary being assumed into heaven in the book of Revelation, and even foreshadowed in the Old Testament passage of David and the Ark.  For a first-century Christian familiar with the history of King David, reading of John seeing Mary as the ark in heaven in his vision, might realize that not only was David bringing the Ark into Jerusalem a type of Christ entering the heavenly Jerusalem, but that Psalm 132:8 is a messianic prophecy of the Christ ascending bodily into Heaven, and assuming his ark– his mother– bodily into heaven with him.

Putting together the facts that the Old Testament foretold of the Lord arising and going to his resting place with his ark, Luke and John (at the very least) saw Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant (John having also seen a vision of her in heaven), the Early Church Fathers uncontested belief she was bodily assumed in heaven, there are no relics of her remains anywhere to be found, and  no historical evidence to prove all of this false, we are left without any reason (other than lack of faith) to doubt that God indeed assumed Mary, the blessed mother of our Lord, into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

Why Does Mary’s Assumption Matter?

Mary’s Bodily Assumption is a sign of God’s promise that awaits all the faithful in Christ at the Second Coming: our bodies will be resurrected into a glorified state reunited with our souls.  As a result we will be bodily in heaven, immaculately pure.  And where Jesus, who Ascended bodily by his own power, serves as the first fruits to what we have to look forward to at his Second Coming in these same ways, Mary, who was assumed by God (not her own doing) is his gift of added assurance that these promises are not just for the divine like Jesus, but also for us mortal humans.

"Mediatrix of all Graces"

Catechism of the Catholic Church

963 "This 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 . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."

The term "Mediatrix" can be confusing, (even offensive) to some of our Protestant brothers and sisters when it's meaning is not understood, because Paul writes that there is one mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).  It is a good and honest question to ask, “how can Mary be “Mediatrix of all Graces” when we have one mediator in Christ, through whom we are saved by grace?”  Well, we can say both are true because Paul also wrote that what we ourselves can impart grace on others and save others (as well as James):

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

"I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)

“My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

How is it that Paul can personally save some, that we ourselves impart grace through our words, and save others by bringing those who wander from the truth back? How is it that we act as mediators ourselves, when we have one mediator?  To understand how, we should first explain what Paul specifically means for Christ to be our one mediator.  First, Paul specifies why Christ is our one mediator in the passage:

 "there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time." (1 Timothy 2:5)

Christ is our one Mediator of the New Covenant in that only his blood through his sacrifice can atone for the sins of the world as a ransom and reconcile us to God:

“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

“And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

In this way, no one else can be our mediator of the New Covenant, to ransom us from sin.  However, as Paul and James show, we each  can be "co-mediators" with Christ, imparting his grace upon others because we are members of his body and fellow workers:

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:15–17)

In the New Testament, we are shown how the members of his body participate in the imparting of his grace in various ways, just as Jesus did during his earthly ministry:

Proclaiming the Gospel

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God” (Mark 1:14)

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16)

Healing the Sick

“And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagiges and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:14–16)

Interceding for Each Other

“Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?” (Romans 8:34)

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time." (1 Timothy 2:1-5)

Suffering With Him

The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 

And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:22–23)

“you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:15–17)

Grace ultimately is given to us Christ, his incarnation, death and resurrection.  As members of his Body, the Church, having received the spirit of his sonship,  Christ commissions the members of his body to participate in his sonship as co-laborers, imparting his grace and bringing his salvation to others.  This makes each member of the body of Christ a participant in his mediation.  

When we refer to Mary as “Mediatrix of all Graces,” we are highlighting that Mary, in her son’s mediation, ministry and imparting of grace, had a very unique participation in his mediation as his mother:

Grace originates from God.  Christ became flesh to save us by grace.  God entrusted Mary to say yes to Christ, and bring him bodily into the world through her womb and motherhood, to save us by his grace.

Christ's miracles are gifts of manifested grace.  His first miracle was turning water to wine at the Wedding of Cana.  This first miracle did not happen without the intercession of his mother to give this grace to those at the wedding.  All the while instructing the servants to do what Jesus tells you.

“When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”…Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it.  When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:3–11)

When Christ suffered and died at the Cross, Mary united her suffering with Christ at his feet, as it was foretold to her by Simeon:

“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, 

and for a sign that is spoken against 

(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), 

that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35)

For reasons such as these, Mary’s role as the mother of our Lord is accompanied by a unique role in his body of imparting his grace to others. Just as when Paul states he might save some, he wrote "I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:23), so too does Mary, as Mediatrix, give all glory to God:

My soul magnifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. 

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 

for he who is mighty has done great things for me

and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46–49)

As such, the Catechism makes this point clear in paragraph 970: 

 "Mary's 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 . . . 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." "No 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."


The Holy Bible (RSVCE)

“Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary”- Dr. Brant Pitre

“Behold Your Mother” - Tim Staples Church Fathers on Mary as Ark of the New Covenant