I’m not who you think I am…
My name is Daniel, and if Laura likes my work, you may be seeing a little more of me.
Laura, aka, Miss Catholic Cravings, is a good friend of mine. I think quite a bit about this complicated and gorgeous Catholic Church, and so, she has agreed (with VERY little blackmail involved) to have me contribute to this blog- an already perfect platform for all things Good, True and Beautiful.
(Ordinarily, I would post here however, as a journalist, it’s becoming increasingly confusing mixing posts entitled the “Arab Spring” with Gregorian Chants and contemplations on Divine Motherhood.)
Today, I’ll be re-posting the first of a series of posts on Marian Dogmas, informed by a series of books by Mark Shea entitled, Mary, Mother of the Son.
But first, a little about me. The stranger who has hijacked your beloved Catholic Cravings.
I was christened Coptic Orthodox, lived as a Protestant and will be received into Catholic communion in September. My journey home has taken something of a scenic route, needless to say.
The main draws home, although, to be frank, I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel totally “immersed,” have been the Eucharist and the Communion of the Saints: especially the realities, not just of the local church, but of the entirety of the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant too.
I completed my fifth and final year of a Media and Communications degree at Sydney University last week, I majored in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and have written a thesis about Social Media use in Egypt’s Tahrir Square.
The Sacred Heart of Christ, that burning furnace of Charity, and Our Lady: the Seat of Wisdom and succour of her people, have been my refuge and solace in time of need.
I offer this series of posts to Our Lady, I hope that they please her and her purposes.
Ok Laura, here we go…
Dogma #1: “Divine Motherhood”
Catholic apologist, Mark Shea’s trilogy, entitled, “Mary, Mother of the Son” has been really helpful to me, however, these posts also derive from the combination of sense, the Church, scripture and the Holy Spirit.
The Catholic church holds to four dogmas about Mary. A dogma, and I’m paraphrasing Shea here, is basically the assertion that “hey, we’ve thought about this, we’ve tested this, this is the basic amount necessary for belief. Now, let’s talk about more interesting things…” Dogmas are intentionally as concise (while sufficient for the truth) and inclusive (but not lax) as possible. Furthermore, as we shall see, a dogma isn’t a “new idea.” If it’s dogmatic, it has always been true, and has always been widely believed by the Church.
There are four declarations concerning Mary: Her being the “Mother of God,” Her Perpetual Virginity, Her Immaculate Conception and Her Assumption.
The first is that of her divine motherhood, the dogmatic title of Mary as Theotokos, “God Bearer” or the “Mother of God.”
This doctrine comes out of Typical Roman Catholic perversion that goes something like this 1) Jesus is God 2) Mary birthed Jesus and therefore 3) Mary is the Mother of God! Catholic theology is famous for such inbred reasoning.
-Dr. Mal Couch, President of Tyndale Theological Seminary
From the outset, it’s important to understand something: If this dogma isn’t true, then it’s meaningless. “If Mary is not, in fact, preserved from all stain of sin by the grace of Christ or assumed into heaven, there’s no point pretending otherwise so we can yak about an emotionally and psychologically rewarding myth” (Shea, Volume 2, “First Guardian of the Faith,” p18)
Secondly, and this is so important, Marian dogmas are not explicit in scripture. “They have the same descent as the canon of scripture itself.” (Shea, 19) Just “Like the doctrine of the trinity, the rejection of polygamy and the teaching that human life is sacred from the moment of conception” (Shea, 19)
You know what? I kind of get the opposition to Mary being called “the Mother of God.” Doesn’t that make her somehow, God’s creator? And though such misconstrued logic would be a crazy longshot (We don’t actually worship Mary, that’s creepy) it’s still worth recalling what G.K Chesterton says here,
“It was no flock of sheep the Christian shepherd was leading, but a herd of bulls and tigers, of terrible ideals and devouring doctrines, each one of them strong enough to turn to a false religion and lay waste the world” (Shea, 28)
So, is it a little risky talking about this stuff? Yes, it certainly is. Indeed, only this week, while reading Shea’s book about Marian dogmas, a kind person approached me explaining “See, this is why you get yourself into trouble…reading this stuff” (or something to that effect)
But, and here’s the clincher- is this stuff important? To this question, there must be a resounding YES! The dogma of the Theotokos is SUPREMELY IMPORTANT for ALL Christians.
Why the Dogma of Theotokos Matters
Firstly, the reality that God chose a woman to be his mother (and not just his incubator, or some kind of of human-tissue-battery) lays waste the theory that human actions aren’t important. God might find another kind of vessel or mere tank for his son, but the idea that God would have simply “found another mother,” that she, and by extension, we aren’t that important to God’s supreme will, is harder to swallow.
And it should be! Mary’s “yes” (Luke 1:38, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. “) was absolutely necessary for our salvation. Note, “the angel departed from her” directly after this. God seems to have required, waited, for her consent. Would he have simply found another woman, spontaneously ready and consenting to his will at the exact right moment? We cannot know. No Mary, No Jesus. “Theotokos” means that man can and should cooperate with the divine, and the divine (gulp) with man!
And, secondly, Mary as Theotokos means that God took on human nature (and in the words of Saint Gregory of Naziansus “what is not assumed is not saved”) She gave him humanity, he became man from her humanity.
It follows then, that Mary as God’s mother isn’t just the means to salvation, but also opposes the bogus and inhumane theory that “Human beings have value but matter doesn’t” (Shea, 40) “That worth is infused into human beings, but not human tissues” (John Medina, The Outer Limits of Life, (Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1991, pp. 48-49)
No, “The truth is that we are an inseparable and valuable unity of body, soul and spirit” (Gen 2:7, 1 Thess 5:23) (Shea, 45)
“This means, as St Thomas Aquinas observed, that grace (the grace that brings every baby into existence) perfects rather than destroys, supplants, or ignores nature” (Shea, 45)
GOD BECAME MAN! The Theotokos, the liberating, gorgeous possibility that Christ was fully God and fully man at the earliest moment of his conception (not simply God infused into a genetic bag called Mary) protects human value, the sanctity of human life, and (this is a really good bit) exalts and sanctifies humanity!!!
“God has hallowed matter to a staggering degree. He has not only declared it good, he has entered into it bodily, eaten, drunk, and bathed in it, accomplished the salvation of the world through it, and promised it a place in the eternity of a “new heaven and new earth” (Shea, 49)
“That is the picture- not of unmaking but remaking. The old field of space, time, matter and the senses is to be weeded, dug and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field: God is not” (C. S Lewis, Miracles, 149)
And so, for all this, and so much more, we praise and thank God for her, that most important, most blessed, and most lovable of his creation.
“Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Next post, Dogma 2, Mary’s perpetual Virginity, more than a creepy medieval obsession with sex.