The Person of Mary: Humanness©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary's Humanness. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
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Human Personality / Freedom / Knowledge / Human Weakness & Limits / Human Development

Documents V. The Person of Mary
5. Humanness
Lumen Gentium, 1964 Human Personality
  • joyfully showed (nativity) 57
  • moved with pity (Cana: cf. Jn 2:1-11) 58
  • pondered in her heart (cf. Lk 2:34-35) 57
  • sought him sorrowing (cf. Lk 2:41-51) 57
  • lovingly consenting to the immolation 58
  • imploring the gift of the Spirit 59

  • assent on the part of the predestined mother 56
  • consenting to the word of God 56
  • consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross 62
  • not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating...through faith and obedience 56
  • associated herself with his sacrifice and lovingly consenting to the immolation 58
  • they [Mary and Joseph] sought him sorrowing 57
  • They [Mary and Joseph] did not understand the words of their Son. 57
  • pondered in her heart 57
Human Weakness and Limitations
  • subordinate role 62
Human Development
  • faithfully persevered 58
Mense Maio, 1965 Human Weakness and Limitations
  • who knows the sufferings and troubles of life here below, the weariness of everyday work, the hardships and privations of poverty, the suffering of Calvary 10
Signum Magnum, 1967 Human Personality
  • How Mary's maternal heart must have rejoiced as she looked down from heaven on those pastors and faithful! [Ephesus celebration] 3
  • her "maternal and compassionate heart" [Pius XII, May 13, 1946] 4
  • She freely and earnestly heeded the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit at all times. 16
  • It was this perfect harmony between divine grace and her own human activity that gave honor to the Blessed Trinity and made her the crowning glory of the Church. 16
  • Chosen by God to be the spotless Mother of his only begotten Son, she immediately accepted this role which would tax every ounce of strength in her frail nature [harmony of grace and freedom] 17
  • in God's kind dispensation, her freely proffered assent and her generous efforts under God's inspiration have greatly contributed - and still do - to man's attainment of salvation 21
Human Weakness and Limitations
  • [see frail nature above] 17
Human Development
  • her enduring and ardent love 19
  • loyally and steadfastly she carried out her new role 19
Recurrens Mensis October, 1969 Human Personality
Human Weakness and Limitations
  • The Gospel teaches us that Mary is sensitive to the needs of men. (Cana) 7
General Catechetical Directory, 1971 Freedom
  • who was freely and fully faithful to the Lord 68
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973 Human Personality
  • He [God] chose Mary, prepared her, guided her to a fully human consent. 15
  • the totally unselfish person 143
  • By thus consenting to the divine utterance (LG 56) 55
  • Mary consented in faith to become the Mother of Jesus. 71
  • By God's call and her free response in the power of His grace... 114
  • Entrusted with this precious life of her Child, Mary loved it, and defended it against all dangers. She protected Jesus before and after He was born. 135
Human Weakness and Limitations
  • her poverty seemed to exclude her 126
Human Development
  • the brave young woman who could face and accept the hidden future bound up with being Virgin Mother of the Messiah 143
  • [Cana] We see her quick grasp of the situation, her concern over the embarrassment of the young couple, her willingness to make compassionate intercession. "She was moved by pity, and her intercession brought about the beginning of miracles by Jesus the Messiah." (LG 58) 36
  • Because... Mother of all the living, ... guardian of the child in the womb, ... the child that enters this earth alive. More than any other person, the Blessed Mother understood that the beginning of human life is attributable to God's creative love, as well as to the parents' action. 135
Marialis Cultus, 1974 Human Personality
  • ...Advent, by thinking about the inexpressible love with which the Virgin Mother awaited her Son, (Advent Preface) 4
  • March 25: These liturgies [of East and West] celebrate it as a culminating moment in the salvific dialogue between God and man, and as a commemoration of the Blessed Virgin's free consent and cooperation in the plan of redemption. 6
  • her active and responsible consent," (LG 56) 37
Catechesi Tradendae, 1979 Knowledge
  • She received from Him lessons that she kept in her heart. (cf. Lk 2:51) 73
Dives in Misericordia, 1980 Knowledge
  • Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. 9
Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986 Freedom
  • When the Triune God opens himself to man in the Holy Spirit, this opening of God reveals and also gives to the human creation the fullness of freedom. This fullness was manifested in a sublime way precisely through the faith of Mary, through the "obedience of faith:" (cf. Rom 1:5) truly, "Blessed is she who believed!" 51
Redemptoris Mater, 1987 Human Personality
  • This fiat of Mary - "let it be to me" - was decisive, on the human level, for the accomplishment of the divine mystery. 13
  • At the Annunciation Mary entrusted herself to God completely, with the "full submission of intellect and will," manifesting "the obedience of faith" to him who spoke to her through his messenger. (DV 5) She responded, therefore, with all her human and feminine "I," and this response of faith included both perfect cooperation with "the grace of God that precedes and assists" and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, who "constantly brings faith to completion by his gifts." (LG 56) 13
  • "Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him, and at the side of her Son, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission." ("Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 22, 1986) 37
  • Incarnation of his Son, entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of a woman 46
  • Mary knows she has conceived and given birth to him "without having a husband," by the power of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Most High who overshadowed her (cf. Lk. 1:35), just as at the time of Moses and the Patriarchs the cloud covered the presence of God (cf. Ex. 24:16; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-12). Therefore Mary knows that the Son to whom she gave birth in a virginal manner is precisely that "Holy One," the Son of God, of whom the angel spoke to her. 17
  • She does not know him as the Father does; and yet she is the first of those to whom the Father "has chosen to reveal him" (cf. Mt. 11:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:11). If though, from the moment of the Annunciation, the Son -whom only the Father knows completely, as the one who begets him in the eternal "today" (cf. Ps. 2:7) - was revealed to Mary, she, his Mother, is in contact with the truth about her Son only in faith and through faith! 17
  • [lived in same home, "knew" and yet]" And they (Joseph and Mary) did not understand the saying which he spoke to them." (Lk. 2:48-50) Jesus was aware that "no one knows the Son except the Father" (cf. Mt. 11:27); thus even his Mother, to whom had been revealed most completely the mystery of his divine sonship, lived in intimacy with this mystery only through faith! 17
Human Weakness and Limitations
  • [limitations] The birth had taken place in conditions of extreme poverty. 16
Human Development
  • [human dignity] In creating man, God gives him the dignity of the image and likeness of himself in a special way as compared with all earthly creatures. Moreover , in his desire to give, God gives himself in the Son, notwithstanding man's sin: "He so loved the world that he gave his only Son." (Jn. 3:16) Mary is the first witness of this marvelous truth, which will be fully accomplished through "the works and words" (cf. Acts 1:1) of her Son and definitively through his Cross and Resurrection. 27 [See also 45]
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988 Human Personality
  • "willed that consent of the predestined mother should precede the Incarnation" (LG 56) 6
  • The popes have repeatedly presented Mary of Nazareth as the supreme expression of human freedom in the cooperation of man with God, who "in the sublime event of the Incarnation of his Son, entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of women". (RM 46). 15
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988 Freedom
  • [grace, but also] through her response of faith Mary exercises her free will and thus fully shares with her personal and feminine "I" in the event of the Incarnation. ... All of God's action in human history at all times respects the free will of the human "I." And such was the case with the Annunciation at Nazareth. 4
Veritatis Splendor, 1993 Freedom
  • Mary lived and exercised her freedom precisely by giving herself to God and accepting God's gift within herself. 120
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994 Human Personality
  • Never in human history did so much depend, as it did then, upon the consent of one human creature. (cf. St. Bernard) 2
  • The Virgin Mary responded to God's call with complete openness. 54
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992

490 ... in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly born by God's grace.

494 ... giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus

511 The Virgin Mary "cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation." (LG 56) She uttered her yes "in the name of all human nature." (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1) By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.

Vita Consecrata, 1996 Human Personality
  • Having given her assent to the divine Word made flesh in her, Mary is the model of the acceptance of grace by human creatures. 28
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002 Human Personality
  • In my testimony of 1978 mentioned above, where I described the Rosary as my favorite prayer, I used an idea to which I would like to return. I said then that "the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life."

    In the light of what has been said so far on the mysteries of Christ, it is not difficult to go deeper into this anthropological significance of the Rosary, which is far deeper than may appear at first sight. Anyone who contemplates Christ through the various stages of his life cannot fail to perceive in him the truth about man. This is the great affirmation of the Second Vatican Council which I have so often discussed in my own teaching since the Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis: "It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man is seen in its true light." (GS 22) The Rosary helps to open up the way to this light. Following in the path of Christ, in whom man's path is "recapitulated," revealed and redeemed, believers come face to face with the image of the true man. Contemplating Christ's birth, they learn of the sanctity of life; seeing the household of Nazareth, they learn the original truth of the family according to God's plan; listening to the Master in the mysteries of his public ministry, they find the light which leads them to enter the Kingdom of God; and following him on the way to Calvary, they learn the meaning of salvific suffering. Finally, contemplating Christ and his Blessed Mother in glory, they see the goal towards which each of us is called, if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. It could be said that each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated upon, sheds light on the mystery of man.

    At the same time, it becomes natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all the problems, anxieties, labors and endeavors which go to make up our lives. "Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you." (Ps 55:23) To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. Twenty-five years later, thinking back over the difficulties which have also been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, I feel the need to say once more, as a warm invitation to everyone to experience it personally: the Rosary does indeed "mark the rhythm of human life," bringing it into harmony with the "rhythm" of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing. 25


  • Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of "learning him." In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ (cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother. 14

Human Weakness and Limitations

  • The revelation of his mystery as the Son wholly dedicated to his Father's affairs proclaims the radical nature of the Gospel, in which even the closest of human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom. Mary and Joseph, fearful and anxious, "did not understand" his words. (Lk 2:50) 20
  • The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. The sequence of meditations begins with Gethsemane, where Christ experiences a moment of great anguish before the will of the Father, against which the weakness of the flesh would be tempted to rebel. There Jesus encounters all the temptations and confronts all the sins of humanity, in order to say to the Father: "Not my will but yours be done." (Lk 22:42 and parallels) ...the Lord is cast into the most abject suffering: Ecce homo! ... The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power. 22

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

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