THE VIRGIN MARY
Was Mary a virgin when she conceived Jesus? (CCC 496-498)
was a virgin before, during and after the Incarnation. The
conception of Jesus was a virginal conception, done solely by
the power of the Holy Spirit. It fulfills the prophecy in
Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Is
Did Mary remain a virgin after she had Jesus? If so, doesn’t the
Bible say Jesus had brothers and sisters? (CCC 499-507)
Yes, it is
well understood that the “brothers of Jesus” referred to in
Scripture are close relations of Him, according to the language
of the Old Testament. The word translated as “brother” does not
strictly mean brother in the way we use it today, but instead
could refer to those who shared close relationships (for
extremely important to comment on the use of the word “virgin.”
Unfortunately today, the word “virgin” refers only to the
non-completion of a physical act, something done with the
body. However, the true sense of the word “virgin,” as it
was originally intended, is a person solely dedicated to loving
God and doing His will. It is a total self-gift – mind
and body – to His designs and plans. Thus Mary is a perfect
virgin in her undivided and love of God. The word virgin
first refers to a disposition of mind and heart, and
secondly to a physical act committed or not committed. Mary
is virgin in all senses of the word - first in her heart and
mind and secondly in body.
What does is mean to say that Mary is the Immaculate Conception?
To say that
Mary was immaculately conceived means she was preserved from the
stain of original sin. Besides Eve, she is the only woman in
history to be born without original sin. Because she was to bear
God in her womb, the Lord granted her a singular gift to free
from the stain of sin. This grace was only possible through the
death and resurrection of her Son Jesus. The merits of Christ,
because they are eternal, were applied to Mary before his
entrance into the world.
Did Mary ever sin? (CCC 490-494)
No. Mary was
born without sin, and she remained free from sin her entire
Does Mary have her body in Heaven? (CCC 966)
Yes. At her
death, she was also taken up body and soul to participate in the
glory of her Son. This grace was given to her in anticipation of
the resurrection of all Christians on the Last Day. In Heaven,
God has made her Queen of Heaven and earth.
Why is Mary considered the Mother of the Church? (CCC 964-965)
It is worth
quoting the Gospel of John. “When Jesus saw his mother and the
disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman,
behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your
mother’” (John 19:26-27). The Church has always interpreted
these words to be an entrustment of Mary to humanity as a whole.
Theologically it is most fitting. Christ is the head of the
Church, and we are the body. A mother does not give birth to
only a head, but an entire body. We being brothers and sisters
of Jesus, also have Mary as our Mother.
What is the Rosary?
is a meditation on the mysteries (events) of Christ’s life that
we contemplate with the help of our Blessed Mother. A complete
rosary consists of 20 mysteries of the life of Jesus. A mystery
is an event in the life of Christ which lends deep insights into
His heart and His love for us. Each mystery is contemplated
while reciting 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s and 1 Glory Be. This
is commonly called a decade. While we are reciting these
prayers, we meditate on one of the 20 mysteries or events in the
life of Jesus. The rosary is especially Marian for multiple
reasons. First, it was given to the world (specifically St.
Dominic) by our Blessed Mother. She revealed to him its deeper
meaning and its efficacy. She revealed that each Hail Mary is
like a rose that we presents to Mary as a gift, and each Rosary
is a crown of roses we make for the Blessed Mother. This is the
origin of the name. We walk with Mary through the events of her
Son’s life because no one knows the heart of her Son better than
His Mother. We are learning about the Heart of Jesus in the
school of Mary. She reveals to us the Heart her Son. Many of the
20 mysteries are events in which Mary is present or is the
central figure. Because she is the perfect model of faith for
the Church, we look to her as an example, and we ask her to help
us increase and augment our own faith and understanding of the
mysteries of Christ. We honor and look to imitate especially her
faith and her unquestioning “yes” to the Lord in all moments.
The Rosary is an especially efficacious devotion to Mary in
which we honor her as the Mother of the God, our perfect
Advocate and Mediatrix of grace. The Mother brings us to the
What do we mean when we call Mary “Mediatrix”? Doesn’t Scripture
say that there is only one Mediator who is Christ? (CCC 967-970)
must understand the role of Christ as Mediator. Christ is the
only possible Mediator between man and God. Through sin, we
created an inseparable chasm between man and God. God, by
assuming humanity, was able to “connect” us to God again. Jesus
united – in His Person – both man and God. Imagine Him as the
bridge between heaven and earth, God and man. This is an
oversimplified explanation of a more complex topic, but it
explains one facet of the nature of His mediation. Mary is a
creature, only human. She does not have this ability to bridge
in the gap between God and man. So what does she do?
important to understand first our role in the world. God
has chosen to allow us to participate in the salvation of the
world – we are not simply bystanders who watch souls (including
ours) being saved like we are watching a movie. We help,
and in fact, God will not bring about salvation without it. This
is amazing and humbling. Through our prayers and our actions,
we act as channels of grace to the world. (Peter calls us
“generous distributors of God’s manifold grace” (1 Pt 4:10).)
God chooses to bring His love into the world through our hands,
our hearts, our lips. If you have a hard time with this, ask
yourself why you pray. We pray because we believe it has an
effect in our lives and in the lives of others. This means
that we have helped to bring the presence of God into the world.
The more we abide by the will of God, the more effective
channels of grace we become.
His grace is
always available to us, but we often do not choose to accept it.
The more we accept it, the more we become unhindered channels
through which light can pass. Imagine a window. When a window is
dirty (sinful), no light can pass through it. However, the
cleaner the window becomes, the more light is able to pass
through. We are windows. The graces of God (light) affect both
us and the people we encounter, just like light heats up both
the window and the surface it strikes after it passes through.
The less sin we have, the cleaner the window we are.
“full of grace.” She is a clear window, without stain or sin,
possessing all the graces of God. Moreover, she brings Jesus
into the world in an even more unique way. God allowed her to
participate in salvation in an unprecedented way. She, by her
“yes” to the angel Gabriel, brought the whole,
complete, full and total Person of God into
the world. Without her, Jesus would not have walked the earth.
It is incredible that God chooses to use us in such a powerful
God does not
change. He came into the world through Mary then, and He comes
into the world through Mary now. This is why we call her the
Mediatrix of all grace. Imagine her as the first channel through
which all graces flow. These graces then get passed onto to many
little channels (us) and go into the world, to the hearts of
men. The less we block the grace, the more we transmit to
others. Because Mary was without sin her entire life, she never
blocked any grace, and she remains today as she was then – the
passage God chose to take on His decent to earth. Mary’s role as
Mediatrix is not due to her power or her own merit, but it comes
from the mysterious power of God who desires our participation
in our own salvation and that of others.
the mediation of Christ is necessary for our salvation;
we cannot be saved without it. Mary as the Mediatrix of all
grace is not necessary, but it is the way God chooses to
bring about the salvation that He made possible.
Therefore, it becomes necessary in that it is the path He
has given us to follow, with Him being the first to walk it. We
are to “follow Him.”