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Daily Catholic Question

How can Mary be the "Mother of God"?

God as Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) cannot have a mother. Catholics have never understood the title “Mother of God” in that sense.

If we deny this title to Mary, however, are we also denying that Jesus Christ was divine? We may not make that link, but many people in the fifth century did. This title became official then as a way of settling that issue.

“Mother of God” is the popular translation of the title Theotokos (literally, "God-bearer"). A Concise Dictionary of Theology, by Gerald O’Collins, S.J., and Edward Farrugia, S.J., says that this title was used as early as the third century. The authors add, “When Nestorius of Constantinople called into question this popular title, the Council of Ephesus (431) condemned him and, in upholding the unity of Christ’s person, proclaimed the legitimacy of the title Theotokos.”

What is at stake here is not so much honoring Mary as acknowledging the uniqueness of Jesus—one person, who is fully God and fully human. Nestorius denied that Jesus was, in fact, one person and said that Mary should be called the Christotokos (Christ-bearer) but not Theotokos.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 6/15/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 6/17/2013


Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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