Why do Catholics honor and love Mary?

 A1. She brought the Savior into the World.

Mary said Yes!  In Luke 1:26-35 The Angel Gabriel appeared to the young Mary and said that she would conceive a child and he will be called “The Son of the Most High.”  Now Mary has free will, like all of us, she could have said no. She could have said find someone else, but what did she say? In Luke 1:38 Mary answered “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  By her consent, by her free will Mary united her will to the will of the Father and brought the salvation of the human race into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Think about it, without Jesus Christ there would be no salvation for mankind. Mary carried the God-Man, the creator of time and space himself in her womb. She agreed to provide him with flesh and blood, carried him for 9 months and nurtured him throughout his life.

A2. “Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you!”

 When the Angel Gabriel came to Mary she was greeted with a royal greeting. Luke 1:28 recounts Gabriel greeting Mary by proclaiming “Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” The Greek word for Hail that is used here is a word that is used to address royalty. Think of it, an Angel, a being far superior to a human, greeting a young girl with such respect and awe; in other cases when an angel approaches a human this is not the case. This would imply that Mary is no normal human being; God created her and prepared her to carry his son, to be a living tabernacle of the Lord.

“Full of Grace”, this is said by Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:38 before she even agreed to be the Mother of God. This would imply that she was full of Grace (God’s own life and love) even before she had Jesus in her womb. Like the pure and untouchable Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament that held symbols of God; Mary was made pure and full of grace in order to hold the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ

Mary was even given the grace she needed for the encounter with the Angel Gabriel. In Revelation 19 and 22 when an Angel appears to John, he is confused and mistakes him for God and begins to worship him. When Gabriel appears to Mary in Luke 1 something very different happens. Mary has the grace to recognize that this Angel isn’t God and Gabriel acknowledges that Mary isn’t just some ordinary girl but a girl that has been prepared by God from her conception to be the Mother of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

A3. “Blessed among women”

 After the Angel Gabriel left Mary she went to see her cousin Elizabeth who in her old age was pregnant with John the Baptist. In Luke 1:41 after Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist leaped in her womb in joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. The Holy Spirit talking through Elizabeth said to Mary “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  The 3rd person of the blessed Trinity inspired Elizabeth to deem Mary blessed amongst all women; Mary isn’t just some ordinary woman. These words of the Holy Spirit talking through Elizabeth make up the middle of the Hail Mary “blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus”

A4. She is the Mother of the Lord

 Jesus wasn’t created, as the Nicene Creed proclaims, “He was begotten, not made, one in being with the Father, through him all things were made.” So how is Mary, a creation of God, the mother of God? This answer is intertwined with the mystery of the Trinity and the Incarnation. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of the same substance but are unique persons. The 2nd person of the trinity, Jesus Christ, entered time and space and took on Mary’s flesh in the incarnation; when this happened Mary became the mother of Jesus. Since Jesus is God, this makes Mary the Mother of God. Mary is not the mother of the trinity, she did not exist before the trinity; she is the mother of the 2nd person of the trinity in the flesh, Jesus Christ.

Many protestant Christians today say that Mary was not the mother of God but just the mother of Jesus. If Mary is not the mother of God, but just the mother of Jesus then who is Jesus? This assumes that Jesus is not God. This ideology repeats a 1600 year old heresy that was disputed and resolved at the Council of Ephesus in 431AD. The heretic Nestorius claimed that Jesus Christ wasn’t divine and that Mary should be called the Christotokos (Christ bearer) instead of the Theotokos (God-bearer) since Jesus isn’t God. The Church at this council reaffirmed that Jesus is divine and since he is divine that makes Mary the Mother of God, so rightfully so she was to be called the Theotokos, God-bearer.

A5.  “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”

 After Elizabeth declares that Mary is blessed amongst women, Mary sings what is known as the Canticle of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). In verse 46 Mary sings that her soul magnifies the Lord. Think about that. The beauty and purity of Mary’s soul magnifies or intensifies the presence of the Lord. It has been said that Jesus is like the sun; the source of light and Mary is like the moon, reflecting that light of God.  Mary is not just a vessel that held Christ. Mary’s body and soul was created particularly by God to be a living tabernacle of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. To say that Mary was just a mere vessel is undermining that majesty of God by undermining the greatness of his creation.

Mary then says in verse 47 that her “spirit rejoices in God my savior” Mary is rejoicing in God because he has created her and destined her to be the Mother of his Son. God has granted Mary particular graces that no other human has…. the graces needed to be the Mother of God.  The Catholic’s honor and love for Mary reflects their deep love of God, who made Mary who she is.

A6. The Blessed Mother

In Luke 1:48 Mary proclaims that “All generations will call me blessed..” God created Mary as such a pure, graced filled creation that from then until all eternity she will be called blessed.  This is where Catholics get the title of  “The Blessed Mother”; it’s straight out of the Bible.

A7. She is the Mother of Humanity

 Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus but she is also our Mother. In John 19:26-27 when Jesus is on the Cross he looks at his mother and says “Woman, behold your son!” and then he looks at John and says “Behold, your mother!” Since early in the history of the Church this has been interpreted as Jesus extending Mary’s motherhood to all of humanity. This can be better understood in relation to the belief that all Christians are children of God. God the Father has one son, Jesus Christ, but by extension of our baptism Jesus’ son ship is extended to all Christians, so we truly become sons and daughters of God.  In a similar yet different situation, by Jesus’ words on the cross, Mary’s Motherhood is extended to all of us. Although Mary is human and the Father is divine, by the power of Jesus’ words we now have Mary as Our Mother.

 A8. She suffered with Christ

Mary suffered with Jesus as only a mother could when seeing her child being mocked, humiliated, beaten and put to death in the most demeaning form of the day. Mary’s suffering was foreshadowed by Simeon when he said to her (after she presented the baby Jesus in the temple)“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 1:34-35).

Mary is considered a co-redeemer with Christ due to the unique role she played in salvation history; by saying yes and taking on the role as the Mother of God. In fact every baptized Christian is called to offer up their suffering with that of Christ for the salvation of souls. Paul supports this in Colossians 1:24 where he writes “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.”  Since we are members of the Body of Christ we share in the life and mission of Christ. Mary has a particularly important share in this due to her unique and intimate role as the Mother of God.