Lumen gentium EN 44
44 The faithful of Christ bind themselves to the three aforesaid counsels either by vows, or by other sacred bonds, which are like vows in their purpose. By such a bond, a person is totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things. In this way, that person is ordained to the honor and service of God under a new and special title. Indeed through Baptism a person dies to sin and is consecrated to God. However, in order that he may be capable of deriving more abundant fruit from this baptismal grace, he intends, by the profession of the evangelical counsels in the Church, to free himself from those obstacles, which might draw him away from the fervor of charity and the perfection of divine worship. By his profession of the evangelical counsels, then, he is more intimately consecrated to divine service.(4*) This consecration will be the more perfect, in as much as the indissoluble bond of the union of Christ and His bride, the Church, is represented by firm and more stable bonds.
(4) Paulus VI, l.c., p. S67.
The evangelical counsels which lead to charity (5*) join their followers to the Church and its mystery in a special way. Since this is so, the spiritual life of these people should then be devoted to the welfare of the whole Church. From this arises their duty of working to implant and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ in souls and to extend that Kingdom to every clime. This duty is to be undertaken to the extent of their capacities and in keeping with the proper type of their own vocation. This can be realized through prayer or active works of the apostolate. It is for this reason that the Church preserves and fosters the special character of her various religious institutes.
(5) Cfr. S. Thomas, (II-II 184,3 II-II 188,2). S. Bonaventura, Opusc. X, Apologia Pauperum, c. 3, 3: cd. Opera, Quaracchi, t. 8, 1898, p. 245 a.
The profession of the evangelical counsels, then, appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation. The people of God have no lasting city here below, but look forward to one that is to come. Since this is so, the religious state, whose purpose is to free its members from earthly cares, more fully manifests to all believers the presence of heavenly goods already possessed here below. Furthermore, it not only witnesses to the fact of a new and eternal life acquired by the redemption of Christ, but it foretells the future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom. Christ proposed to His disciples this form of life, which He, as the Son of God, accepted in entering this world to do the will of the Father. This same state of life is accurately exemplified and perpetually made present in the Church. The religious state clearly manifests that the Kingdom of God and its needs, in a very special way, are raised above all earthly considerations. Finally it clearly shows all men both the unsurpassed breadth of the strength of Christ the King and the infinite power of the Holy Spirit marvelously working in the Church.
Thus, the state which is constituted by the profession of the evangelical counsels, though it is not the hierarchical structure of the Church, nevertheless, undeniably belongs to its life and holiness.
45 It is the duty of the ecclesiastical hierarchy to regulate the practice of the evangelical counsels by law, since it is the duty of the same hierarchy to care for the People of God and to lead them to most fruitful pastures.(Ez 34,14) The importance of the profession of the evangelical counsels is seen in the fact that it fosters the perfection of love of God and love of neighbor in an outstanding manner and that this profession is strengthened by vows.(6*) Furthermore, the hierarchy, following with docility the prompting of the Holy Spirit, accepts the rules presented by outstanding men and women and authentically approves these rules after further adjustments. It also aids by its vigilant and safeguarding authority those institutes variously established for the building up of Christ's Body in order that these same institutes may grow and flourish according to the spirit of the founders.
(6) Cfr. Conc. Vat. I. Schema De Ecclesia Christi, cap. XV, et Adnot. 48: Mansi 51, 549 s. et 619 s. Leo XIII, Epist. Au milieu des consolations, 23 dec. 1900: AAS 33 (1900-01) p. 361. Pius XII, Const. Apost. Provida Mater, 1. c., p. 1145.
Any institute of perfection and its individual members may be removed from the jurisdiction of the local Ordinaries by the Supreme Pontiff and subjected to himself alone. This is done in virtue of his primacy over the entire Church in order to more fully provide for the necessities of the entire flock of the Lord and in consideration of the common good.(7*) In like manner, these institutes may be left or committed to the charge of the proper patriarchical authority. The members of these institutes, in fulfilling their obligation to the Church due to their particular form of life, ought to show reverence and obedience to bishops according to the sacred canons. The bishops are owed this respect because of their pastoral authority in their own churches and because of the need of unity and harmony in the apostolate.(8*).
(7) Cfr. Leo XIII, Const. Romanos Pontifices, 8 maii 1881: AAS 13 (1880-81) p. 483. Pius XII, Alloc. Annus sacer, 8 dec. 1950: AAS 43(1951) p. 28 8.
(8) Cfr. Pius XII, Alloc. Annus sacer, 1.c., p. 28. Pius XII, Const. Apost. Sedes Sapientiae, 31 maii 19S6: AAS 48 (1956) p. 355. Paulus VI, l.c., pp. 570-571.
The Church not only raises the religious profession to the dignity of a canonical state by her approval, but even manifests that this profession is a state consecrated to God by the liturgical setting of that profession. The Church itself, by the authority given to it by God, accepts the vows of the newly professed. It begs aid and grace from God for them by its public prayer. It commends them to God, imparts a spiritual blessing on them and accompanies their self-offering by the Eucharistic sacrifice.
46 Religious should carefully keep before their minds the fact that the Church presents Christ to believers and non-believers alike in a striking manner daily through them. The Church thus portrays Christ in contemplation on the mountain, in His proclamation of the kingdom of God to the multitudes, in His healing of the sick and maimed, in His work of converting sinners to a better life, in His solicitude for youth and His goodness to all men, always obedient to the will of the Father who sent Him.(9*)
(9) Cfr. Pius XII Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis, 19 iun. 1943: AAS 35 (1943) p. 214 s.
All men should take note that the profession of the evangelical counsels, though entailing the renunciation of certain values which are to be undoubtedly esteemed, does not detract from a genuine development of the human persons, but rather by its very nature is most beneficial to that development. Indeed the counsels, voluntarily undertaken according to each one's personal vocation, contribute a great deal to the purification of heart and spiritual liberty. They continually stir up the fervor of charity. But especially they are able to more fully mold the Christian man to that type of chaste and detached life, which Christ the Lord chose for Himself and which His Mother also embraced. This is clearly proven by the example of so many holy founders. Let no one think that religious have become strangers to their fellowmen or useless citizens of this earthly city by their consecration. For even though it sometimes happens that religious do not directly mingle with their contemporaries, yet in a more profound sense these same religious are united with them in the heart of Christ and spiritually cooperate with them. In this way the building up of the earthly city may have its foundation in the Lord and may tend toward Him, lest perhaps those who build this city shall have labored in vain. (10*)
(10) Cfr. Pius XII, Alloc. Annus sacer, l.c., p. 30. Alloc. Sous la maternelle protecrion, 9 dec. l9S7: AAS 50 (19S8) p. 39 s.
Therefore, this Sacred Synod encourages and praises the men and women, Brothers and Sisters, who in monasteries, or in schools and hospitals, or in the missions, adorn the Bride of Christ by their unswerving and humble faithfulness in their chosen consecration and render generous services of all kinds to mankind.
47 Let each of the faithful called to the profession of the evangelical counsels, therefore, carefully see to it that he persevere and ever grow in that vocation God has given him. Let him do this for the increased holiness of the Church, for the greater glory of the one and undivided Trinity, which in and through Christ is the fount and the source of all holiness.
48 The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which we acquire sanctity through the grace of God, will attain its full perfection only in the glory of heaven, when there will come the time of the restoration of all things.(Ac 3,21) At that time the human race as well as the entire world, which is intimately related to man and attains to its end through him, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ.(Cf Ep 1,10 Col 1,20 Col 3,10-13)
Christ, having been lifted up from the earth has drawn all to Himself.(Cf. Jn 12,32) Rising from the dead(cf. Rm 6,9) He sent His life-giving Spirit upon His disciples and through Him has established His Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. Sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is continually active in the world that He might lead men to the Church and through it join them to Himself and that He might make them partakers of His glorious life by nourishing them with His own Body and Blood. Therefore the promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ, is carried forward in the mission of the Holy Spirit and through Him continues in the Church in which we learn the meaning of our terrestrial life through our faith, while we perform with hope in the future the work committed to us in this world by the Father, and thus work out our salvation.(Cf. Ph 2,12)
Already the final age of the world has come upon us (Cf 1Co 10,11) and the renovation of the world is irrevocably decreed and is already anticipated in some kind of a real way; for the Church already on this earth is signed with a sanctity which is real although imperfect. However, until there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells,(Cf. 2P 3,13) the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions, which pertain to this present time, has the appearance of this world which is passing and she herself dwells among creatures who groan and travail in pain until now and await the revelation of the sons of God.(Cf. Rm 8,19-22)
Joined with Christ in the Church and signed with the Holy Spirit "who is the pledge of our inheritance",(245) truly we are called and we are sons of God(246) but we have not yet appeared with Christ in glory,(247) in which we shall be like to God, since we shall see Him as He is.(248) And therefore "while we are in the body, we are exiled from the Lord (249) and having the first-fruits of the Spirit we groan within ourselves(250) and we desire to be with Christ"'.(251) By that same charity however, we are urged to live more for Him, who died for us and rose again.(252) We strive therefore to please God in all things(253) and we put on the armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and resist in the evil day.(254) Since however we know not the day nor the hour, on Our Lord's advice we must be constantly vigilant so that, having finished the course of our earthly life,(255) we may merit to enter into the marriage feast with Him and to be numbered among the blessed(256) and that we may not be ordered to go into eternal fire(257) like the wicked and slothful servant,(258) into the exterior darkness where "there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth".(259) For before we reign with Christ in glory, all of us will be made manifest "before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive what he has won through the body, according to his works, whether good or evil"(260) and at the end of the world "they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; but those who have done evil unto resurrection of judgment".(261) Reckoning therefore that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us",(262) strong in faith we look for the "blessed hope and the glorious coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ"(263) "who will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of His glory(264). and who will come "to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed"(265).
245 Ep 1,14, 246 Cf. 1Jn 3,1 247 Cf. Col 3,4 248 Cf. 1Jn 3,2 249 2Co 5,6 250 Cf. Rm 8,23 251 Cf. Ph 1,23 252 Cf. 2Co 5,15 253 Cf. 2Co 5,9 254 Cf. Ep 6,11-13 255 Cf. He 9,27 256 Cf. Mt 25,31-46 257 Cf. Mt 25,41 258 Cf. Mt 25,26 259 Mt 22,13 Mt 25,30. 260 2Co 5,10 261 Jn 5,29 Cf. Mt 25,46 262 Rm 8,18 cf. 2Tm 2,11-12 263 (Tt 2,13, 264 Ph 3,21, 265 2Th 1,10
49 Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him (266) and death being destroyed, all things are subject to Him,(267) some of His disciples are exiles on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding "clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is";(1*) but all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him.(268) Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by communication of spiritual goods.(2*) For by reason of the fact that those in heaven are more closely united with Christ, they establish the whole Church more firmly in holiness, lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to its greater edification.(269)(3*) For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord,(270) through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us,(4*) showing forth the merits which they won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man,(271) serving God in all things and filling up in their flesh those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His Body which is the Church.(272)(5*) Thus by their brotherly interest our weakness is greatly strengthened.
266 Cf. Mt 25,31 267 Cf. 1Co 15,26-27 268 Cf. Ep 4,16 269 Cf. 1Co 12,12-27 270 Cf. 2Co 5,8 271 Cf. 1Tm 2,5 272 Cf. Col 1,24
(1) Conc. Florentinum, Decretum pro Graecis: (DS 1305) (693).
(2) Praeter documenta antiquiora contra quamlibet formam evocationis spirituum inde ab Alexandro IV (27 sept. 1958), cfr Encycl. S.S.C.S. Officii, De magnetismi abusu, 4 aug. 1856: AAS (1865) pp. 177-178, (DS 2823-2825) (1653 1654); responsioner S.S.C.S. Offici, 24 apr. 1917: 9 (1917) p. 268, (DS 3642) (218).
(3) Videatur synthetica espositio huius doctrinae paulinae in: Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis AAS 35 (1943) p. 200 et passim
(4) Cfr., i. a., S. Augustinus, Enarr. in Ps. 85, 24: PL 37, 1095 S. Hieronymus, Liber contra Vigilantium, b: PL 23, 344. S. Thomas In 4m Sent., d. 45, q. 3, a. 2. Bonaventura, In 4m Sent., d. 45, a. 3, q. 2; etc.
(5) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) p. 245.
50 Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead,(6*) and "because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins",(2M 12,46) also offers suffrages for them. The Church has always believed that the apostles and Christ's martyrs who had given the supreme witness of faith and charity by the shedding of their blood, are closely joined with us in Christ, and she has always venerated them with special devotion, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy angels.(7*) The Church has piously implored the aid of their intercession. To these were soon added also those who had more closely imitated Christ's virginity and poverty,(8*) and finally others whom the outstanding practice of the Christian virtues (9*) and the divine charisms recommended to the pious devotion and imitation of the faithful.(10*)
(6) Cfr. Plurimae inscriptione in Catacumbis romanis.
(7) Cfr. Gelasius I, Decretalis De libris recipiendis, 3: PL 59, 160, (DS 353) (165).
(8) Cfr. S. Methodius, Symposion, VII, 3: GCS (Bodwetseh), p. 74
(9) Cfr. Benedictus XV, Decretum approbationis virtutum in Causa beatificationis et canonizationis Servi Dei Ioannis Nepomuecni Neumann: AAS 14 (1922 p. 23; plures Allocutiones Pii X de Sanetis: Inviti all'croismo Diseorsi... t. I-III, Romae 1941-1942, passim; Pius XII, Discorsi Radiomessagi, t. 10, 1949, pp. 37-43.
(10) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl : Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) p. 581.
When we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the City that is to come (Cf. He 13,14 He 11,10) and at the same time we are shown a most safe path by which among the vicissitudes of this world, in keeping with the state in life and condition proper to each of us, we will be able to arrive at perfect union with Christ, that is, perfect holiness. (11*) In the lives of those who, sharing in our humanity, are however more perfectly transformed into the image of Christ,(cf. 2Co 3,18) God vividly manifests His presence and His face to men. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of His Kingdom,(12*) to which we are strongly drawn, having so great a cloud of witnesses over us (Cf. He 12,1) and such a witness to the truth of the Gospel.
(11) Cfr. He 13,7: Si 44-50, He 11,3-4). Cfr. etiam Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) pp. 582-583
(12) Cfr. Conc. Vaticanum Const. De fide catholica, cap. 3 (DS 3013) (1794).
Nor is it by the title of example only that we cherish the memory of those in heaven, but still more in order that the union of the whole Church may be strengthened in the Spirit by the practice of fraternal charity.(Cf Ep 4,1-6) For just as Christian communion among wayfarers brings us closer to Christ, so our companionship with the saints joins us to Christ, from Whom as from its Fountain and Head issues every grace and the very life of the people of God.(13*) It is supremely fitting, therefore, that we love those friends and coheirs of Jesus Christ, who are also our brothers and extraordinary benefactors, that we render due thanks to God for them (14*) and "suppliantly invoke them and have recourse to their prayers, their power and help in obtaining benefits from God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and Saviour."(15*) For every genuine testimony of love shown by us to those in heaven, by its very nature tends toward and terminates in Christ who is the "crown of all saints,"(16*) and through Him, in God Who is wonderful in his saints and is magnified in them.(17*)
(13) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) p. 216.
(14) Quoad gratitudinem erga ipsos Sanctos, cfr. E. Diehl, Inscriptiones latinae christianae veteres, 1, Berolini, 1925, nn. 2008 2382 et passim.
(15) Conc. Tridentinum, Sess. 25, De invocatione... Sanctorum: (DS 1821) (984) .
(16) Breviarium Romanum, Invitatorium in festo Sanctorum Omnium.
(17) Cfr. v. g., 2Th 1,10).
Our union with the Church in heaven is put into effect in its noblest manner especially in the sacred Liturgy, wherein the power of the Holy Spirit acts upon us through sacramental signs. Then, with combined rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine majesty;(18*) then all those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Cf. Ap 5,9) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and gathered together into one Church, with one song of praise magnify the one and triune God. Celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice therefore, we are most closely united to the Church in heaven in communion with and venerating the memory first of all of the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, of Blessed Joseph and the blessed apostles and martyrs and of all the saints.(19*)
(18) Conc. Vaticanum II, Const. De Sacra Liturgia, cap. 5, n. (SC 104).
(19) Canon Missae Romanae.
51 This Sacred Council accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who having died are still being purified; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea,(20*) the Council of Florence (21*) and the Council of Trent.(22*) And at the same time, in conformity with our own pastoral interests, we urge all concerned, if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, to do what is in their power to remove or correct them, and to restore all things to a fuller praise of Christ and of God. Let them therefore teach the faithful that the authentic cult of the saints consists not so much in the multiplying of external acts, but rather in the greater intensity of our love, whereby, for our own greater good and that of the whole Church, we seek from the saints "example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and aid by their intercession."(23*) On the other hand, let them teach the faithful that our communion with those in heaven, provided that it is understood in the fuller light of faith according to its genuine nature, in no way weakens, but conversely, more thoroughly enriches the latreutic worship we give to God the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit.(24*)
(20) Conc. Nicaenum II, Act. VII: (DS 600) (302).
(21) Conc. Florentinum, Decretum pro Graecis: (DS 1304) (693).
(22) Conc. Tridentinum Sess. 35, De invocatione, veneratione et reliquiis Sanctorum et sacris imaginibus: (DS 1821-1824) (984-988); Sess. 25, Decretum de Purgatorio: (DS 1820) (983); Sess. 6, Decretum de iustificatione, can. 30: (DS 1580) (840).
(23) Ex Praefatione, aliquious dioecesibus concessa.
(24) Cfr. S. Petrus Canisius, Catechismus Maior seu Summa Doctrinae christianae, cap. III (ed. crit. F. Streicher) pas I, pp. 15-16, n. 44 et pp. 100-101, n. 49.
For all of us, who are sons of God and constitute one family in Christ.(Cf. He 3,6) as long as we remain in communion with one another in mutual charity and in one praise of the most holy Trinity, are corresponding with the intimate vocation of the Church and partaking in foretaste the liturgy of consummate glory.(25*) For when Christ shall appear and the glorious resurrection of the dead will take place, the glory of God will light up the heavenly City and the Lamb will be the lamp thereof.(Cf. Ap 21,24) Then the whole Church of the saints in the supreme happiness of charity will adore God and "the Lamb who was slain",(Ap 5,12) proclaiming with one voice: "To Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb blessing, and honor, and glory, and dominion forever and ever".(Ap 5,13-14)
(25) Cfr. Conc. Vaticanum II Const. De Sacra Liturgia, cap. 1 n. (SC 8).
52 Wishing in His supreme goodness and wisdom to effect the redemption of the world, "when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, ..that we might receive the adoption of sons".(Ga 4,4-5) "He for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary."(1*) This divine mystery of salvation is revealed to us and continued in the Church, which the Lord established as His body. Joined to Christ the Head and in the unity of fellowship with all His saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory "of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ".(2*)
(1) Credo in Missa Romana: Symbolum Constantinopolitanum: Mansi 3, 566. Cfr. Conc. Ephesinum, ib. 4, 1130 (necnon ib. 2, 665 et 4, 1071); Conc. Chalcedonense, ib. 7, 111-116; Conc. Constantinopolitanum II, ib. 9, 375-396.
(2) Canon Missae Romanae.
53 The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth. At the same time, however, because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all those who are to be saved. She is "the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head."(3*) Wherefore she is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity. The Catholic Church, taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.
(3) S. Augustine, De S. Virginitate. 6: PL 40, 399.
54 Wherefore this Holy Synod, in expounding the doctrine on the Church, in which the divine Redeemer works salvation, intends to describe with diligence both the role of the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body, and the duties of redeemed mankind toward the Mother of God, who is mother of Christ and mother of men, particularly of the faithful. It does not, however, have it in mind to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified. Those opinions therefore may be lawfully retained which are propounded in Catholic schools concerning her, who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and yet very close to us.(4*)
(4) Cfr. Paulus Pp. VI, allocutio in Concilio, die 4 dec. 1963: AAS 56 (1964) p. 37.
55 The Sacred Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament, as well as ancient Tradition show the role of the Mother of the Saviour in the economy of salvation in an ever clearer light and draw attention to it. The books of the Old Testament describe the history of salvation, by which the coming of Christ into the world was slowly prepared. These earliest documents, as they are read in the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation, bring the figure of the woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light. When it is looked at in this way, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin.(Cf. Gn 3,15) Likewise she is the Virgin who shall conceive and bear a son, whose name will be called Emmanuel.(Cf Is 7,14 cf. Mi 5,2-3 Mt 1,22-23) She stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from Him. With her the exalted Daughter of Sion, and after a long expectation of the promise, the times are fulfilled and the new Economy established, when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that He might in the mysteries of His flesh free man from sin.
56 The Father of mercies willed that the incarnation should be preceded by the acceptance of her who was predestined to be the mother of His Son, so that just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life. That is true in outstanding fashion of the mother of Jesus, who gave to the world Him who is Life itself and who renews all things, and who was enriched by God with the gifts which befit such a role. It is no wonder therefore that the usage prevailed among the Fathers whereby they called the mother of God entirely holy and free from all stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.(5*) Adorned from the first instant of her conception with the radiance of an entirely unique holiness, the Virgin of Nazareth is greeted, on God's command, by an angel messenger as "full of grace",(Cf. Lc 1,28) and to the heavenly messenger she replies: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word".(Lc 1,38) Thus Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus, the one and only Mediator. Embracing God's salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption. Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she "being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."(6*) Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith."(7*) Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her "the Mother of the living,"(8*) and still more often they say: "death through Eve, life through Mary."(9*)
(5) Cfr. S. Germanus Const., Nom. in annunt. Deiparae: PG 98, 328 A; In Dorm. 2: col. 357. Anastasius Antioch., Serm. 2 de Annunt., 2: PG 89, 1377 AB; Serm. 3, 2: col. 1388 C. S. Andrcas Cret. Can. in B. V. Nat. 4: PG 97, 1321 B. In B. V. Nat., 1: col. 812 A. Hom. in dorm. 1: col. 1068 C. - S. Sophronius, Or. 2 in Annunt., 18: PG 87 (3), 3237 BD.
(6) S. Irenaeus, Adv. Hacr. III, 22, 4: PG 7, 9S9 A; Harvey, 2, 123.
(7) S. Irenaeus, ib.; Harvey, 2, 124.
(8) S. Epiphanius, Nacr. 78, 18: PG 42, 728 CD; 729 AB.
(9) S. Hieronymus, Epist. 22, 21: PL 22, 408. Cfr. S. Augwtinus, Serm. Sl, 2, 3: PL 38, 33S; Serm. 232, 2: col. 1108. - S. Cyrillus Hieros., Catech. 12, 15: PG 33, 741 AB. - S. Io. Chrysostomus, In Ps. 44, 7: PG SS, 193. - S. Io. Damasccnus, Nom. 2 in dorm. B.M.V., 3: PG 96, 728.
57 This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to His death it is shown first of all when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the precursor leaped with joy in the womb of his mother.(288) This union is manifest also at the birth of Our Lord, who did not diminish His mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it,(10*) when the Mother of God joyfully showed her firstborn Son to the shepherds and Magi. When she presented Him to the Lord in the temple, making the offering of the poor, she heard Simeon foretelling at the same time that her Son would be a sign of contradiction and that a sword would pierce the mother's soul, that out of many hearts thoughts might be revealed.(289) When the Child Jesus was lost and they had sought Him sorrowing, His parents found Him in the temple, taken up with the things that were His Father's business; and they did not understand the word of their Son. His Mother indeed kept these things to be pondered over in her heart.(290)
288 Cf. Lc 1,41-45
289 Cf. Lc 2,34-35
290 Cf. Lc 2,41-51
(10) Cfr. Conc. Lateranense anni 649, Can. 3: Mansi 10, 1151. S. Leo M., Epist. ad Flav.: PL S4, 7S9. - Conc. Chalcedonense: Mansi 7, 462. - S. Ambrosius, De inst. virg.: PL 16, 320.
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