Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mary, Mother of God is No Doormat--Part Two, Early Church Fathers

"If Jesus is the Door, than Mary must be the doormat..." was the silly, and rather insulting quip.  Mary, the Mother of God Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is certainly no doormat.  Just because many modern protestants want to make sure that they are seen as separate from the mother Church, it does not give them the right to denigrate the mother of Christ the King.  Does anyone really like someone to insult their mother?  I highly doubt Jesus Christ is ever pleased by so-called Christians insulting His mother either.  At the very least, Mary's name should be honored for being the Mother of God the Son.  And, as many protestants lately seem to be trying to, no matter how tenuously, find some kind of commonality between their innovative, individualistic unscriptural 'church' and the early Christian church, it is odd that most don't even understand what the Early Church taught.  (Or is it odd, really?  Most 'Christian' cults have no real understanding of the Scripture, let alone history, in context).

Here is a sampling of just how the early Church felt about Mary:

Mother of God:

  "After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead."   Alexander of Alexandria,
Epistle to Alexander, 12 (A.D. 324).

"Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness."   Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19
(c. A.D. 350).

"And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God."
Athanasius, Orations III, 14  (A.D. 362).

"To the question: 'Is Mary the bearer of Man, or the bearer of God?' we must answer: 'Of Both.'" Theodore of Mopsuestia, The Incarnation, 15 (ante A.D. 428).


The early Church called Mary "Mother of God" because, despite His becoming a real human, Jesus Christ "suffered no diminution of His Godhead."  As His Church says, Jesus Christ was true God and true man.  Mary was not merely the mother of a human shell, she was the mother of the whole person.  Even if you don't believe she is special in any other way (and obviously Catholics don't agree), she did do something very, very special--She bore GOD in her body.  That deserves some respect, doesn't it?

Mary's Assumption into Heaven:

“If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world." 
Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23 (A.D. 377).

"[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..."
Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4 (inter A.D. 575-593).

"It was fitting ...that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory ...should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God."
Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption (ante A.D. 650).

"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."
John of Damascene, Dormition of Mary (PG 96,741), (ante A.D. 749).

Obviously the early Church felt that Mary, God's mother, deserved to be bodily assumed into heaven; that is her body was never corrupted by rotting in the ground.  That can't be true, you say, because no one but Christ has gained their bodily 'resurrection' yet.  Ever heard of Elijah?  Although I have heard one silly protestant try to argue that Elijah was taken up in a chariot, according to Scripture, but we don't know where he went.  Really?  Guess she's never read the Gospel account of the Transfiguration.  Elijah and Moses were there standing next to Jesus.  Is Mary any less important in the history of the salvation of the world than Elijah or Moses?  I don't believe so and neither did the early Church.  Christendom was nearly unanimous on this point until well after the 'reformers' started their destruction of the Church Christ built (Many 'reformers' such as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others continued to honor Mary despite their split from the True Church).  Mary, the Mother of God, was honored by her Son with the assumption (taking up of) her body into Heaven.  Can't one see that he/she is really very presumptuous to insult the Mother of God while God and His Church honor her?

Mary honored by the Church:

"[T]hey blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever." 
Protoevangelium of John, 6:2 (A.D. 150).

"And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity." 
Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 10:17 (A.D. 244).

"And when he had taken her, 'he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son.' He hath here used the word 'till,' not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man."
John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew, 5:5 (A.D. 370).

"Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair; for there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother. Of these two fair ones, to whom are my children similar?"
Ephraem, Nisbene Hymns, 27:8 (ante A.D. 373).

The early Church honored the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She is the "utmost" blessed, the "first-fruit" among women, and the "first-fruit of virginity."  For no other reason than she is the Mother of Jesus, God the Son, she at the very least deserves a little respect.  I will conclude with the following quote:

"Whoever honors the Lord also honors the holy [vessel]; who instead dishonors the holy vessel also dishonors his Master.  Mary herself is that holy Virgin, that is, the holy vessel"
Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:21 (A.D. 377).

Quotes from Scripture Catholic.
Classical art with no copyrights.

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