Mother of Many Titles

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Oct 24, 2018)
This is the second article in a series on the Litany of Loreto. Every month, I will explain this popular prayer line by line, providing you with spiritual and theological insights.

View the previous article in this series.

In the previous article on the Litany of Loreto, we discussed the opening invocation of the Holy Trinity, as well as the first title of Our Lady that the Litany mentions: "Holy Mary."

This month, we continue with the next line:

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

So, by having said her name rather simply, "Holy Mary," we grab her attention, and she turns to us. Then, we go right into her greatest title, greatest role, greatest privilege — that she is the Mother of God. Many theologians believe that her being "Mother of God" stands as the main principle of all Mariology.

This truth finds its basis, quite clearly, in Scripture, when Elizabeth says, "But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43).

So clearly, this woman was more than merely a holy person. She became the very Mother of God — the one who brought God's Son into the world in the Incarnation. She's the God-bearer, and that alone shows her privileged place in our salvation history.

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

In this litany, in a certain sense, we're calling upon the Church's definition of doctrine regarding Our Lady chronologically. She was officially declared "Mother of God" in the fourth century. Although the Church had always called her that, they saw the need to state this fact definitively.

Then in the seventh century, the Church declared her a "perpetual virgin." So not only is she the "Mother of God," but she is a virginal mother, "the Virgin of virgins." In other words, she is the most pure woman of all time, set aside for God. That's what remaining a virgin, in the Christian sense, is for — being set aside for the Lord and His purposes alone. No one was more set aside for the Lord than Mary.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

Obviously, Mary is not the mother of the Holy Trinity. She's the mother of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who becomes man and takes on human nature.

Here, we're acknowledging her as the Mother of God, Mother of the Savior, the Messiah. She's not only the one who surrendered and said "yes" to God, but then through her — through her own flesh — she gave birth to the Savior of the world.

"Mother of Christ" has a lot of rich, biblical overtones, bringing to mind the fact that the Israelite people waited for the Messiah. And it's because of Mary's cooperation with God that the Messiah entered the world, and for that, we remain grateful.

Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Pope St. John Paul II added this invocation in 1980. He said,

This title was rather rarely used in the past, but has recently become more common in the pronouncements of the Church's Magisterium and in the devotion of the Christian people. The faithful first called upon Mary with the title 'Mother of God,' 'Mother of the faithful' or 'our Mother,' to emphasize her personal relationship with each of her children. ... Although the title "Mother of the Church" was only recently attributed to Mary, it expresses the Blessed Virgin's maternal relationship with the Church as shown already in several New Testament texts.

He goes on to talk about how the Blessed Mother was there at the beginning of everything, from the Annunciation to the wedding at Cana to the Cross and through Pentecost. She was there from the beginning and continues to be with us spiritually no matter where we are in the worldwide Catholic Church.

View the next article in this series.

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- Nov 2, 2018

When Gabriel appeared to our Mother In the Annunciation would it not make sense that he would appear to her again to prepare her for the crucifixion. Scripture does not tell us this but in Gods wisdom and Mercy this could be possible.

Sheila - Oct 25, 2018

Sometimes I wonder(actually a lot) what did Mary know and when did she know it. She ponders things in her heart.(Luke2:19,51.) She visits Elizabeth and learns more, then there are the Shepards and then the Presentation in the Temple. She must be gathering knowledge along her very Divine Path in life. Yet she is human and there was no way of preparing her for the crucifixion that would in human terms make sense. Does she really understand that She is the Mother of God or as she ponders things in her heart does she gradually come to a complete understanding of her role in Salvation?