The Year of Faith with Mary
John Paul II’s Teaching on Mary's Faith
 
RM refers to the encyclical Redemptoris Mater by John Paul II.  His weekly audiences in John Paul II, Theotokos Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on the Mary, Mother of God (Boston, Pauline Media, 2000) provided additional background.
 
IMPORTANCE OF MARY'S FAITH
  • Mary is fully exceptional and unique because of her election to be the Mother of God.
  • Her election places her within the mystery of Christ. RM 9
  • This is implied in the double meaning of the expression "full of grace" as a greeting and a name. RM  9
  • God willed that the consent of the predestined mother should precede the Incarnation and Mary gives this consent after she hss heard what he Angel says to her. RM 13
  • Mary's fiat was decisive for the accomplishment of the divine plan of salvation.  She spoke in complete harmony with the words of the Son in Hebrews 10:5 – 7.  RM 13
  • Mary's fiat was uttered in faith. She entrusted herself completely to God and devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to God.  RM 13
  • Mary's faith marks the beginning of the new and eternal covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ.  Her faith precedes the apostolic witness of the Church.  RM 27
  • The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience and loosened by Mary's faith.  RM 19
  • Eve brought death , but Mary brings life, so that Mary becomes the mother of the living  RM 19
  • Mary had a profound role in the history of salvation.  When she is preached and venerated, she summons the faithful to her Son.  In this way, Mary's faith continues to become the faith of the Pilgrim People of God. RM 28
  • From the depths of the virgin’s faith at the Annunciation and Visitation, the Church derives the truth about the God of the covenant -  He does great things and holy is His Name.  RM 37
 
SPECIFIC CONTEXTS

Events – Annunciation

  • Mary's faith responded to the gift of grace at the Annunciation.  RM 12
  • Mary's fiat was decisive for the accomplishment of the divine plan of salvation. RM 13
  • Mary's fiat was uttered in faith, as she entrusted herself completely to God and devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to God. RM 13
  • The decisive moment of Mary’s obedience was the Annunciation; the words of Elizabeth “Blessed she who believed” refer to that moment.  RM 13
  • Mary gave herself to God completely with full submission of intellect and will and demonstrated the obedience of faith at the Annunciation.  RM 13
  • She responded with all her human and feminine I. This response of faith includes perfect cooperation with the grace of God and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit.  RM 13
  • Mary gave herself to God completely with full submission of intellect and will. She demonstrated "the obedience of faith." RM 13
  • Mary may have perceived through faith at the Annunciation that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. 
  • Nevertheless, she abandoned herself to the meaning which was given to the words of the Annunciation by God through the angel, and not to the messianic expectations of the culture in which she lived.  RM 15
  • Because she accepted the announcement of the Angel in faith, Mary became the mother of the Lord and the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished in her. RM 13
  • The Annunciation was the culminating moment in Mary's faith; it is also the point from which her whole journey towards God commences. RM 14
  • Mary at the Annunciation believed that she would have a child despite her profession of virginity. RM 14
  • Simeon appears at the beginning of Mary's journey of faith to confirm the truth of the Annunciation that her child will be the Savior.  RM 16
  • Simeon also gives new meaning to the Annunciation, when he says that Jesus would be a light for revelation to mankind.  RM 16

Events – Visitation

  • Elizabeth’s greeting “Blessed is she who believed” indicates that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.  RM 12
  • The greeting of Elizabeth can be linked with the Angels greeting “full of grace.”  This reveals the truth about Mary, that because she has believed she has become present in the mystery of Christ.
  • The decisive moment of Mary’s obedience was the Annunciation and the words of Elizabeth “Blessed is she who believed” refer to that moment.  RM 13
  • Mary praises God - the Magnificat arose from the depths of Mary's faith at the Visitation. RM 35
  • The Magnificat shows that Mary is deeply imbued with the spirit of the poor of Yahweh, who awaited from God their salvation.  RM 37
  • The Magnificat is an inspired profession of Mary's faith , in which her response to the revealed word is expressed in exultation toward God.  RM 36
  • In Elizabeth's greeting at the Visitation, Mary's faith acquires a new consciousness and a new expression of her faith, because what was hidden in the depths of the obedience of faith at the Annunciation is now expressed openly.  RM 36


Events – Presentation

  • Mary heard the words of Simeon at the presentation in the Temple of Jerusalem with the obedience of faith. 
    RM 16
  • Simeon appears at the beginning of Mary's journey of faith to confirm the truth of the Annunciation that her child will be the Savior.  RM 16
  • Simeon also gives new meaning to the Annunciation, when he says that Jesus would be a light for revelation to mankind.  RM 16
  • Jesus will also be a sign who is spoken against.  Mary will have to live her obedience of  faith at the side of the sufferings of her Son and her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.  RM 16


Circumstances – The Hidden Life of Jesus at Nazareth

  • Mary is a singular witness to the years of Jesus' infancy and hidden life at Nazareth, when she "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk. 2:19; cf. Lk. 2:51).  RM 26
  • During the long period of the hidden life in Nazareth, Mary lived the reality of “Blessed is she who believed” on a daily basis.  RM 17
  • Mary knows Jesus is God’s Son and that she has given birth to Him without a husband, so during His hidden life in Nazareth Mary's life is hidden with God in Christ (Colossians 3:3) through faith.  RM 17
  • Faith is contact with the mystery of God and every day Mary made contact with God made incarnate in her Son.  RM 17
  • Although the Son was revealed to Mary at the Annunciation, she is in contact with the truth of her Son only through faith.  Therefore she is blessed because she has believed and continues to believe day after day during their hidden life in Nazareth.  RM 17
  • As the mother of Jesus, she bore within herself the beginning of the new covenant and the beginning of the Gospel.  But this was a kind of “night of faith” for her, with a particular heaviness of heart, because there was a veil over Jesus during His hidden life, during which Mary went forward in her pilgrimage of faith but Jesus increased in wisdom and favor with God and man.  RM 17
  • During the story of the Finding in the Temple, Jesus's answer reveals that He is aware that "no one knows the Son except the Father."  Therefore, even His mother, who had received the revelation of Christ's divine sonship, had to live within this mystery only through faith.  RM 17


Events –Cana

  • At Cana, Mary appears as one believing in Jesus. Her faith evokes His first sign and helps to build up the faith of the disciples. RM 21
  • A mediation is established which places Mary between Christ and mankind and in this mediation Mary intercedes for mankind.  RM 21


Events – Calvary

  • At Calvary she stands in the center of the Paschal mystery. RM 23
  • Mary's blessing reaches its fullness when she stands at the Cross. RM 18
  • The blessing which Mary received because of her faith radiates and spreads out from the mystery of Redemption at the Cross and goes right back to the beginning. In a certain sense, her faith is a counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief which resulted in the sin of our first parents.  RM 19
  • Mary faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross; this union was through faith.  RM 18
  • The Cross seems to be a complete negation of the Angel’s words of promise at the Annunciation regarding Jesus’ Davidic descent and future kingdom. RM 18
  • Despite this apparent negation, Mary shows a heroic obedience of faith and abandons herself to God without reserve in the face of God's unsearchable judgments on Calvary. RM 18
  • As part of the divine plan, she suffered deeply with her Only Begotten Son and joined herself through her maternal spirit to His sacrifice and consented to His immolation.  RM 18
  • At the foot of the Cross, Mary shares through faith in the self -emptying and redeeming death of her Son.  RM 18
  • In contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, Mary’s was much more enlightened.  RM 18


Events –Pentecost

  • Mary's journey of faith is longer than that of the others who pray in the Upper Room, since hers began at the Annunciation.  Mary therefore goes before them and leads the way. RM 26
  • The moment of Pentecost in Jerusalem has been prepared by the moment of the Annunciation as well as at the Cross.  In the Upper Room, Mary's journey of faith meets the Church’s journey of faith. RM 26
  • In faith Mary is present with the apostles as they pray together in the Upper Room.  She is present at the birth of the Church on Pentecost, just as she was present at the birth of Christ at the Annunciation.  Thus she is a link between the Annunciation and Pentecost.  RM 24


Relationships- Abraham

  • Abraham's faith constitutes the beginning of old covenant, just as  Mary's faith is the beginning of the new covenant. RM 14
  • Just as Abraham in hope believed against hope that he should become the father of many nations, so Mary at the Annunciation believed that she would have a child despite her profession of virginity. RM 14
  • Mary's faith is like Abraham’s - trusting God in obedience even when one does not understand.  RM 38

Relationships – Christ

  • Mary is present in the mystery of Christ precisely because she “has believed”.  RM 12
  • Mary is the one who is has gone before and is a model of the Church in faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. RM 5
  • From the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus, Mary followed Him step-by-step in her maternal pilgrimage of faith.  RM 16
  • Mary advanced in a pilgrimage of faith and throughout it she persevered in her union with Christ. RM 5
  • Mary is the one who is has “gone before” and is a model of the Church for faith, charity and perfect union with Christ.  RM 5
  • Mary's fiat was decisive for the accomplishment of the divine plan of salvation, in complete harmony with the words of the Son in Hebrews 10:5-7.  RM 13
  • Mary belongs indissolubly to the mystery of Christ. RM 27
  • In the pilgrimage of faith of the Church, Mary is present as the one who is blessed because she believed and as the one who advanced along the pilgrimage of faith, joined like no other creature to the mystery of Christ.  RM 25
  • Mary faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross; this union was through faith.  RM 18
  • Mary is eternally present in the reality of Christ, so she shares in that reality in every extension of her journey of faith.  She continues to do so through the mystery of Christ.  RM 19


Relationships – Church

  • Mary is the one who is has gone before and is a model of the Church in faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. This going before is a model for the mystery of the Church since Mary is a virgin and a mother just as the Church is virgin and a mother. RM 5
  • Because of Mary's twofold bond with Christ and the Church, her pilgrimage of faith has more than simply a personal meaning but takes on a historical meaning for all the People of God who are on the same pilgrimage of faith.  RM 5
  • As the Mother of God, Mary is the eschatological fulfillment of the Church. RM 6
  • The Church’s pilgrimage of faith is a historical process, which indicates the interior history of the story of souls. In that sense, Mary continues to go before the people of God - her pilgrimage of faith is a reference point for the Church both for individuals and communities.  RM 6
  • She exists in the full perfection of humanity in heaven and so the followers of Christ can raise their eyes to her as a model of the virtues. RM 6
  • Mary's pilgrimage of faith is completed but she does not cease to be the Star of the Sea for all those who are still on the journey of faith. RM 6
  • Mary is given as the mother of all humanity as she stands in the center of the Paschal mystery. RM 23
  • Mary, who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother, becomes-by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit-present in the mystery of the Church.  RM 24
  • In the Church, Mary continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the Cross: "Woman, behold your son!"; "Behold, your mother."  RM 24
  • The motherhood she receives is a result her faith and her love which is brought to perfection at the foot of the cross. RM 23
  • Mary's motherhood is a gift to every believer. RM 23
  • The members of the church draw on Mary's faith in support for their own faith. This lively sharing in Mary's faith determines her special place in the Church’s pilgrimage as the people of God. RM 27
  • In the Magnificat Mary shows that in a special way she is present in the journey of faith of the people of God, because her song of praise reflects the heart of the Church down through the centuries  RM 35
  • In the pilgrimage of faith of the Church, Mary is present as the one who is blessed because she believed and as the one who advanced in the pilgrimage of faith, joined like no other creature to the mystery of Christ.  RM 25
  • In the Upper Room, Mary's journey of faith meets the Church’s journey of faith. RM 26
  • The veneration of Mary as the Mother of God includes a blessing of her faith.  RM 27
  • Mary had a profound role in the history of salvation.  When she is preached and venerated, she summons the faithful to her Son.  In this way, Mary's faith continues to become the faith of the Pilgrim People of God. RM 28
  • Mary, through the same faith which made her blessed beginning at the Annunciation, is present today in the Church’s mission of introducing the world to the Kingdom of her Son.  RM 28
  • Marian devotion is expressed in different ways in different places because through Mary's faith, first at the Annunciation and later at the foot of the Cross, an interior space was opened within humanity through which the Eternal Father can bestow at every spiritual blessing.  RM 28
 
STRUCTURE OF MARY'S FAITH

QUALITIES:

Love

  • At Cana, a mediation is established which places Mary between Christ and mankind and in this mediation Mary intercedes for mankind.  RM 21
  • Through faith, Mary became the bearer of the Son and in that same faith she discovered and accepted the other spiritual dimension of motherhood, motherhood of the Church, revealed by Jesus during his public ministry.  RM 20
  • Mary's motherhood shows her solicitude for human beings as she comes to them in their wants and needs and brings to them the power of Christ.  RM 21
  • As part of the divine plan, she suffered deeply with her Only Begotten Son and joined herself through her maternal spirit to His sacrifice and consented to His immolation.  RM 18


Obedience

  • Mary is the first of those who hear the word of God and obey it; therefore the response of Jesus to the woman in the crowd refers primarily to Mary.  RM 20
  • Jesus will be a sign who is spoken against.  Mary will have to live her obedience of faith at the side of  the sufferings of her Son and her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.  RM 16
  • The description of faith by Vatican II - as the obedience of faith which entrusts one’s whole self to God - finds perfect realization in Mary.  RM 13
  • The decisive moment of Mary’s obedience was the Annunciation and the words of Elizabeth "blessed is she who believed" refer to that moment.  RM 13
  • Mary shows a heroic obedience of faith and abandons herself to God without reserve in the face of God's unsearchable judgments on Calvary. RM 18
  • Mary's faith is like Abraham’s – trusting God in obedience even when one does not understand.  RM 38
  • Mary is worthy of blessing, because at the Annunciation she accepted the word of God, believed it and was obedient to Him. This was accomplished by her whole life.  RM 20


Perseverance

  • Mary stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord who confidently await and receive salvation from Him.  
    RM 8
  • Mary advanced in a pilgrimage of faith and throughout it she persevered in her union with Christ. RM 5
  • Mary faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross; this union was through faith.  RM 18


IDENTITY:

Self-determination

  • Although Mary did not perceive the apostolic mission which was given to the apostles, she was the first to believe.  RM 16
  • Mary conforms herself to the inscrutable ways and unsearchable judgments of God through the dim light of faith and accepted fully and openly everything that was to happen to her in the divine plan of salvation.  RM 14
  • As the mission of Jesus became clear to Mary, she became more open to the new dimension of motherhood which was to be her role alongside her son.  RM 18


Sees herself as believer

  • In faith she conceived a Son in her mind before she conceived Him in the womb. RM 13
  • Mary said from the very beginning: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." RM 20
  • Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed toward Him.  RM 37
  • Mary gave herself to God completely with full submission of intellect and will and demonstrated the obedience of faith at the Annunciation.  RM 13


BEHAVIOR

Contemplation

  • Mary is a singular witness to the years of Jesus' infancy and hidden life at Nazareth, when she "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk. 2:19; cf. Lk. 2:51).  RM 26
  • Through faith, Mary continued to hear and ponder the word of God and in this way she was in a sense the first disciple of her son.  RM 20


Action

  • In faith she entrusted herself completely to God and devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to God. RM 13
  • Mary praises God - the Magnificat arose from the depths of Mary's faith at the Visitation RM 35
  • Mary gave herself to God completely with full submission of intellect and will and demonstrated the obedience of faith at the Annunciation.  RM 13
  • She responded with all her human and feminine I.  This response of faith includes perfect cooperation with the grace of God and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit.  RM 13
  • Because she accepted the announcement of the Angel in faith, Mary became the mother of the Lord and the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished in her. RM 13
  • Faith is contact with the mystery of God and every day Mary made contact with God made incarnate in her
    Son
    .  RM 17


Kenosis

  • At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the self-emptying and redeeming death of her Son.  RM 18
  • Mary's consent to motherhood is the result of her total self-giving to God in her virginity.  RM 39
 
JOHN PAUL II'S TEACHING COMPARED TO THE CATECHISM

CCC 273 Mary is the supreme model of faith in God’s providence.
This statement is consistent with John Paul II’s teaching regarding Mary’s great faith at the Annunciation, when she says “yes” to God’s plan, and on Calvary, when she continued to believe despite the apparent negation of the Cross.

CCC 144
Mary is the most profound embodiment of the obedience of faith.
Obedience and the obedience of faith is a recurring theme in John Paul II’s teaching.  See the section of this paper on Mary's obedience for examples.

CCC 494 Mary responded with the obedience of faith to the words of the Angel at the Annunciation.  She did so wholeheartedly and gave herself entirely to the person and work of her Son.
John Paul II also emphasizes Mary's obedience of faith at the Annunciation and her commitment with her entire intellect and will.  In addition, the Pope describes on several occasions how Mary remained united with the work of her Son ( see Events – Annunciation and Relationships – Christ  above.)

CCC 511
Mary cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation. By her obedience she became the New Eve.
RM 22 describes how Mary cooperated through her faith and obedience in human salvation.  Similarly, RM 19, 37 and 47 discuss Mary as the New Eve.

From these examples, it is clear that John Paul II’s teaching on Mary's faith is wholly consistent with the Catechism.  He does treat the topic in greater detail, especially in terms of Mary's pilgrimage of faith throughout her entire life and continuing into her existence in heaven.  He also expands on the close relationship her faith creates for her with her Son and with the Church.

– Richard Lenar


ROBBIA, LUCA DELLA, 1399/1400-1482 MADONNA AND CHILD ROBBIA, LUCA DELLA, 1399/1400-1482 MADONNA AND CHILD

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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Ann Zlotnik , was last modified Wednesday, 10/23/2013 09:36:56 EDT by Ann Zlotnik . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.