Splendor of Truth - What We Believe


Was Mary a virgin when she conceived Jesus? (CCC 496-498)

Yes. Mary 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 7:14).

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 example, cousins).

It is 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? (CCC 490-494)

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 life.

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?

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 Son.

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)

First, we 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?

It is 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.

Mary is “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 way.

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.

In summary, 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.”




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