May, the Month of Mary


May is the Month of Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Faithful

Affirmation of Mary’s maternal role toward Christians is one of the main focal points in chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution of the Church, a chapter which names Mary as the “Mother of all Human Beings,” or “Mother of the Faithful.”

The development of the doctrine of Mary’s spiritual motherhood was gradual; earlier testimonies from Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, and others were present but sparse. It was in the high Middle Ages that real theological development on the idea of Mary’s motherhood began to occur. More and more, the Scriptural passage of Mary at Calvary (John 19:25-27) came to be seen as the pericope expressing Mary’s spiritual motherhood toward the disciples of Jesus:

So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

The broader implications of this passage were realized gradually, by theologians, who came in time to understand its significance in expressing the presence and action of Mary in our lives. It was found that the best and universal expression of this presence was in the analogy of motherhood, which in this case is a spiritual motherhood, with all that such a mother/child relationship means for both Mary and us.

From The Dictionary of Mary:

When we call Mary “our mother,” we grasp instinctively the essential meaning of the title, since it evokes memories of a human experience that is universal and runs deep. But when it comes to explaining clearly and precisely the content of the title, the matter is not so simple. Primarily, this is due to the wealth of content, including as it does practically all aspects of Mary's activity toward us. Furthermore, Mary is our “Mother” in a way that is necessarily analogical. Theologians are well aware of what this imports, namely certain limitations that have to be remembered, and a transcendence that also must be kept in mind. The limitations come from the obvious fact that as far as we are concerned, we cannot apply to Mary all the realities of natural motherhood, since we are children of Mary not by the flesh, but “in the order of grace.”

Nevertheless, if in certain ways Mary's motherhood toward us says less than natural motherhood, in other ways it says much more. For example, the quality of our life as children of God, a life Mary helps to obtain for us, ennobles and enriches incomparably our purely human life. And the perfection with which Mary dedicates herself to her maternal mission surpasses the best mothers on earth, plus the fact that Mary's maternal vocation is universal and calls for her forming a personal bond with each one of us. . . Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . The purpose of Mary's maternal activity is to unite us with Christ so completely that each might say: “The life I live is not my own; Christ is living in me” (Gal 2:20).

Article Source: The Dictionary of Mary and The Patron Saint index.


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