The Person of Mary:
Religious Dimension (faith, faith development)

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, God the Father and Mary. 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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Documents V. The Person of Mary / 7. Religious dimension ( faith, faith development)
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • received Word of God in heart and body 53
  • outstanding model in faith and charity 53
  • blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation 57
  • The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith 58
  • cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity 61
  • a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ [divine virtue is meant] 63
  • Through her faith and obedience she gave the manner of a new Eve who placed her God's messenger without wavering in doubt 63
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • "pilgrimage of faith" [LG 58] which she once made 11
  • [we observe] her unshakable faith, her ready obedience, her simple humility, her joyous praise of the Lord, her ardent love, the brave and steadfast performance of her duty 20
  • who always adapted herself to God's will 23
  • [Augustine] "Mary was more blessed in receiving the faith of Christ than in conceiving the body of Christ....Her motherly closeness to Christ would have meant nothing if she had not carried Christ more happily in her heart than in her womb." [ftn 42: Serm 215, 1: PL 38, 1074] 24
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • Believing and obeying, she brought forth... (LG 63) 5
  • The Holy Spirit led the Second Vatican Council to describe our Lady's life on earth as a pilgrimage of faith. 12 [See also 77 ]
  • Her faith opened the way for Jesus to perform His salvific mission. 15
  • For St. Luke and St. John the Mother of Jesus is the typical, the perfect believer. 20
  • Salvation comes through Mary's flesh, through Mary's faith. 27
  • The episode of the Annunciation concludes with a double tribute to Mary's faith. 28 [also see 69]
  • Her maternal "yes" was also her act of faith. 28
  • Abraham, our father in faith, can teach us much about Mary, our mother in faith. 30 [More on the Abraham-Mary parallel: 31-33]
  • In the strength of her faith, Mary consents to the merciful Father's invitation, and in the power of the Spirit becomes the Mother of Jesus, Son of God in human flesh. 33 [See also 71]
  • [Cana] It is striking that no sign is done to help Mary believe. The Mother of Jesus requires no miracle to strengthen her faith. At her Son's word, before "this first of his signs," she shows her faith. 35 [See also 69]
  • The Gospels portray her as a woman who walked by faith from the time of the Annunciation to Pentecost.... In the Scriptures, "faith" means surrender of heart and body as well as of mind and intellect. 69
  • woman of faith 106
  • Through her faith and love, Mary's maternity reached out to include all the members of her Son's Mystical Body. 115
  • Her humble circumstances left little choice but to accept what life brought, but her splendid obedience made her an associate of her Son's saving work. 126
  • As a woman of faith, she inspires all mothers to transmit the Christian faith to their children. 137
  • Mary's obedience to God [inspires children] 137
  • Mary's obedience to the Law and to the traditional prayer life of her people. This is evident, for example, in her annual trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. Faithful to the Law of Moses, the holy couple brought Jesus to the temple, His Father's house, for the presentation. Such obedience was the flower of Mary's faith. Because of it, God found her worthy to be the Mother of His Son. 137
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • [As model of the Church's response, esp. in the liturgy]
    the attentive Virgin, who receives the word of God with faith, that faith which in her case was the gateway and path to divine motherhood. [paragraph discusses Mary's faith using Augustine's quote, Lk 1:34-37, Lk 1:38, Lk 1:45, Lk 2:19, 51] 17
  • the Virgin in prayer... in the visit to the mother of the precursor, when she pours out her soul in expressions glorifying God, and expressions of humility, faith and hope. This prayer is the Magnificat (cf. Lk. 1:46-55), Mary's prayer par excellence, the song of the messianic times in which there mingles the joy of the ancient and the new Israel. [quotes Irenaeus' analogy to Abraham's rejoicing, Cana, Pentecost] 18
  • the Virgin-Mother - she who "believing and obeying ... brought forth on earth the Father's Son. This she did, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit." (LG 63) 19
  • the Virgin presenting offerings [in the Temple, on Calvary] 20
  • [The Fathers] attributed to the Spirit the faith, hope and charity that animated the Virgin's heart, the strength that sustained her acceptance of the will of God, and the vigor that upheld her in her suffering at the foot of the cross. (Paulus Diaconus) 26

    [See also 35, she is held up as example of one who fully and responsibly accepted the will of God]

  • her holiness, already full at her Immaculate Conception yet increasing all the time as she obeyed the will of the Father and accepted the path of suffering (cf. Lk. 2:34-35, 41-52; Jn. 19:25-27), growing constantly in faith, hope and charity. 56
Ephesus, 1550th Anniversary, 1981
  • And it is wonderful that, just as Mary awaited with faith the coming of the Lord, so also in this last part of the second millennium she should be present to illuminate our faith as we await this "advent." 4
Gaudete in Domino, 1975
  • manifests her joy before her cousin Elizabeth who celebrates her faith #
Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986
  • The Holy Spirit, who with his power overshadowed the virginal body of Mary, bringing about in her the beginning of her divine Motherhood, at the same time made her heart perfectly obedient to that self-communication of God which surpassed every human idea and faculty. "Blessed is she who believed!" (Lk 1:45) thus Mary is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth, herself  "full of the Holy Spirit." (cf. Lk 1:41) In the words of greeting addressed to her "who believe" we seem to detect a distant (but in fact very close) contrast with all those about whom Christ will say that "they do not believe." (cf. Jn 16:9) Mary entered the history of the salvation of the world through the obedience of faith. And faith, in its deepest essence, is the openness of the human heart to the gift: to God's self-communication in the Holy Spirit 51
Redemptoris Mater, 1987 [Note: pilgrimage of faith - Mary/Church - is the central mark of this document]
  • [the Church] proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary, who "advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and loyally persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross." (LG 58) 2 [See also 5; LG 52]
  • The pilgrimage of faith indicates the interior history, that is, the story of souls. But it is also the story of all human beings, subject here on earth to transitoriness, and part of the historical dimension. 6
  • Her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church. 6
  • The pilgrimage of faith no longer belongs to the Mother of the Son of God: glorified at the side of her Son in heaven, Mary has already crossed the threshold between faith and that vision which is "face to face." (I Cor. 13:12) 6
  • [Article 13 discusses "obedience of faith."] "'The obedience of faith' (Rom. 16:26; cf. Rom. 1:5; 2 Cor. 10:5-6) must be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man entrusts his whole self freely to God." (DV 5) This description of faith found perfect realization in Mary. 13
  • And--as the Fathers of the Church teach--she conceived this Son in her mind before she conceived him in her womb: precisely in faith! (LG 53) 13
  • [Article 14 discusses Mary/Abraham parallel] Just as Abraham "in hope believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations" (cf. Rom. 4:18), so Mary, at the Annunciation, having professed her virginity ("How shall this be, since I have no husband?") believed that through the power of the Most High, by the power of the Holy Spirit. she would become the Mother of God's Son in accordance with the angel's revelation: "The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." (Lk. 1:35) 14 [See also 26]
  • To believe means "to abandon oneself" to the truth of the word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognizing "how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways." (Rom. 11:33) Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High stands, one may say, at the very center of those "inscrutable ways" and "unsearchable judgments" of God, conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith, accepting fully and with a ready heart everything that is decreed in the divine plan. 14
  • Although through faith she may have perceived in that instant that she was the mother of the "Messiah-King," nevertheless she replied: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Lk. 1:38) 15 [See also 26]
  • bears within herself the radical "newness" of faith: the beginning of the New Covenant. ... [yet also] a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of "night of faith"- to use the words of St. John of the Cross - a kind of "veil" through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. 17
  • Standing at the foot of the Cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of these words. [Son, Savior]. 18
  • Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying ... At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest "kenosis" of faith in human history. 18
  • In the expression "Blessed is she who believed," we can therefore rightly find a kind of "key" which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary, whom the angel hailed as "full of grace." If as "full of grace" she has been eternally present in the mystery of Christ, through faith she became a sharer in that mystery in every extension of her earthly journey. 19
  • In the Upper Room Mary's journey meets the Church's journey of faith. 26 [reasons]
    - Some had been called by Jesus gradually from the beginning of his mission in Israel [but] Mary did not directly receive this apostolic mission. She was not among those whom Jesus sent "to the whole world to teach all nations" (cf. Mt. 28:19) when he conferred this mission on them. 26
    - [However] she was in the Upper Room, where the Apostles were preparing to take up this mission with the coming of the Spirit of Truth: she was present with them. In their midst Mary was "devoted to prayer" as the "mother of Jesus" (cf. Acts 1: 13-14) [and she] a unique witness to the mystery of Jesus. 26
    - Thus, from the very first moment, the Church "looked at" Mary through Jesus, just as she "looked at" Jesus through Mary [for infancy and hidden life, but most of all because] she was the first to believe. 26
    - She followed him [from Annunciation to Upper Room]. 26
    - It is precisely Mary's faith which marks the beginning of the new and eternal Covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ; this heroic faith of hers "precedes" the apostolic witness of the Church, and ever remains in the Church's heart, hidden like a special heritage of God's revelation. 27
    - All those who from generation to generation accept the apostolic witness of the Church share in that mysterious inheritance, and in a sense share in Mary's faith. 27
    - It is a faith that is passed on simultaneously through both the mind and the heart. It is gained or regained continually through prayer. 28 [See more in this paragraph] [See 42]
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • Behold the agony of the heart of the Mother who suffered together with him, "consenting to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth." Here we reach the high point of Mary's presence in the mystery of Christ and of the Church on earth. This high point is on the path of the "pilgrimage of faith" to which we make special reference in the Marian Year. (RM 33) 2
  • Dear Brothers: who more than we has an absolute need of a deep and unshakable faith - we, who by virtue of the apostolic succession begun in the Upper Room celebrate the sacrament of Christ's sacrifice? We must therefore constantly deepen our spiritual bond with the Mother of God who on the pilgrimage of faith "goes before" the whole People of God. And in particular, when we celebrate the Eucharist and stand each day on Golgotha, we need to have near us the one who through heroic faith carried to its zenith her union with her Son, precisely then on Golgotha. 2
  • The Council teaches that Mary advanced in her pilgrimage of faith through her perfect union with her Son unto the cross and goes before, presenting herself in an eminent and singular way to the whole People of God, which follows the same path, in the footsteps of Christ in the Holy Spirit. Should not we priests unite ourselves with her in a special way, we who as pastors of the Church must also lead the communities entrusted to us along the path which from the Upper Room of Pentecost follows Christ throughout human history? 7
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • accepting with faith the message of the Angel (cf. LG 57,61) 7
  • Full of faith in the promise of the Son (cf. LK 24:49), the Virgin is present, praying in the midst of the community of disciples. (LG 59) 21
  • The Encyclical Redemptoris Mater confirms the Christological and ecclesiological approach to Mariology that clearly reveals the wide range of its contents. 17
  • Through a prolonged meditation on the exclamation of Elizabeth, "Blessed is she who believed," (Lk 1:45) the Holy Father thoroughly studies the multiple aspects of the "heroic faith" of the Virgin, which he considers " a kind of key which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary," (LG 19) and he illustrates the "maternal presence" of the Virgin in the pilgrimage of faith according to two lines of thought, one theological, the other pastoral and spiritual. 17
To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988
  • the Mother of God as the one who "precedes" the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. (LG 58, 63) 1
  • At the Visitation, Elizabeth, Mary's kinswoman, called her blessed because of her faith: "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Lk 1:45) 3
  • The Marian Year has become the time for a unique "pilgrimage" in the footsteps of her who "precedes" the whole People of God in the pilgrimage of faith: she precedes each individual and everyone together. 37
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • These words were the guiding thought of the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, in which I sought to deepen the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which stated: "The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the cross," [LG 58] "preceding" [LG 61] all those who follow Christ by faith. 4
  • Now at the beginning of this pilgrimage, the faith of Mary meets the faith of Joseph. 4
  • One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. 4
  • One can also say that Joseph is the first to share in the faith of the Mother of God, and that in doing so he supports his spouse in the faith of the divine annunciation. He is also the first to be placed by God on the path of Mary's "pilgrimage of faith." 5
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
Faith of Mary: 144, 148, 149, 165, 273, 494, 506, 511, 534, 964, 967, 968, 972, 2617, 2622, 2719 [BB]

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." (Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14) Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Lk 1:45) It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed. (cf. Lk 1:48)

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal (cf. Lk 2:35) when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.

165 It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who "in hope...believed against hope"; (Rom 4:18) to the Virgin Mary, who, in "her pilgrimage of faith," walked into the "night of faith" (LG 58) in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:1-2)

273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's power. (cf. 2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:13) The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that "nothing will be impossible with God," and was able to magnify the Lord: "For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." (Lk 1:37, 49)

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 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." (Lk 1:28-38) Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace: (cf. LG 56) [see continuation]

As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race." Hence, not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert...: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary." (LG 56, etc)

506 Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith "unadulterated by any doubt," and of her undivided gift of herself to God's will. (LG 63; cf. 1 Cor 7:34-35) It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Savior: "Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ." (Augustine)

Vita Consecrata, 1996
  • You who did the will of the Father, ever ready in obedience, courageous in poverty and receptive in fruitful virginity 112
Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2001
  • Together, we must all imitate the contemplation of Mary, who returned home to Nazareth from her pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem, treasuring in her heart the mystery of her Son (cf. Lk 2:51). 59
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • Contemplating the scenes of the Rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning from her to "read" Christ, to discover his secrets and to understand his message. This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that she teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example of her own "pilgrimage of faith." (Lg 58) 14
  • As we contemplate each mystery of her Son's life, she invites us to do as she did at the Annunciation: to ask humbly the questions which open us to the light, in order to end with the obedience of faith: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38). 11
  • Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. Jn 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers. 21
  • The Rosary is at the service of this ideal; it offers the "secret" which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary's way. It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. 24
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
  • Mysterium fidei! If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition. 54

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

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