Marian Devotion: "Right Measure," "Correctness"©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Marian Pastoral and Catechetical Aspects. 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 VIII. Pastoral and Catechetical Aspects / 2. / "Right Measure," "Correctness"
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • The faithful must in the first place reverence the memory [of Mary] [Canon of the Roman Mass]. 52
  • Those opinions may be lawfully retained which are propounded in Catholic schools concerning her. 54
  • She is rightly honored by a special cult in the Church. 66
  • The sacred synod teaches this Catholic doctrine advisedly [Marian cult subordinate to honor paid Christ]. 67
  • that those decrees, which were given in the early days regarding the cult images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin...be religiously observed. 67
  • [the synod] strongly urges theologians and preachers...to be careful to refrain as much from all false exaggeration as from too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God...let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always refer to Christ... 67
  • [theologians...] let them carefully refrain from whatever might by word or deed lead the separated brethren or any others whatsoever into error about the true doctrine of the Church 67
  • Under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium, let them [theologians...] rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always refer to Christ. 67
Mense Maio, 1965
  • make provision for special prayers in each diocese and every parish during...May, devoting...the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Heaven to solemn public prayers 11
  • Do not fail to lay careful stress on the saying of the Rosary. 11
Christi Matri Rosarii, 1968
  • It is right for us to direct our attention, yours, venerable brothers, and that of all the faithful to her. 12
  • It will be your task, venerable brothers...to prescribe the observances [Oct 4,1966] through which [all]... may be joined together in generous prayer to her 19
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • We wish...to remind all members of the Church of the close and enduring connection between Mary's spiritual motherhood ...[LG 60-65] and the duties of all redeemed men toward her as Mother of the Church 4
  • Jesus gave us Mary as our Mother, and proposed her as a model to be imitated. Now it is quite fitting that children should think the same way as their mothers, and reflect their praiseworthy virtues in their own behavior 31
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • Religious instruction should lead
  • the teacher should explain
  • In religious instruction there should be veneration due ...should be taught 24
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • We urge the restoration and renewal of the ancient love of Christendom for the Mother of the Lord as a tribute to lay tenderly at her feet. 11 To venerate Mary correctly means to acknowledge her Son, for she is the Mother of God.... (LG 66) 82
  • [concerning cult/devotion] A middle way is recommended between the extremes of too much and too little. 91
  • With the Vatican Council we remind true lovers of our Lady of the danger of superficial sentiment and vain credulity. (LG 67) 100
Marialis Cultus, 1974
    [Devotion to Mary must have these aspects:] Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial 24-25f.
    • This devotion fits - as we have indicated above - into the only worship that is rightly called "Christian," because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father. (In)
    • In the sphere of worship this devotion necessarily reflects God's redemptive plan, in which a special form of veneration is appropriate to the singular place which Mary occupies in that plan. (LG 66) (In)
    • Indeed every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord. (In)
    • Moreover, the history of piety shows how "the various forms of devotion towards the Mother of God that the Church has approved within the limits of wholesome and orthodox doctrine" (LG 66) have developed in harmonious subordination to the worship of Christ, and have gravitated towards this worship as to their natural and necessary point of reference. (In)
    • it is useful to return to [LG, SM themes] in order to remove doubts and, especially, to help the development of that devotion to the Blessed Virgin which in the Church is motivated by the Word of God and practiced in the Spirit of Christ. (In)
    • by linking the awaiting of the Messiah and the awaiting of the glorious return of Christ with the admirable commemoration of His Mother, presents a happy balance in worship. This balance can be taken as a norm for preventing any tendency (as has happened at times in certain forms of popular piety) to separate devotion to the Blessed Virgin from its necessary point of reference - Christ. It also ensures that this season, as liturgy experts have noted, should be considered as a time particularly suited to devotion to the Mother of the Lord. This is an orientation that we confirm and which we hope to see accepted and followed everywhere. 4
    • [Church regarding development of Marian devotion] with careful attention to truth and with an ever watchful nobility of expression 15
    • ... the liturgy ... constitutes the golden norm for Christian piety ... the Church when she celebrates the sacred mysteries assumes an attitude of faith and love similar to that of the Virgin, we realize the rightness of the exhortation that the Second Vatican Council addresses to all the children of the Church, namely "that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin be generously fostered." (LG 67) This is an exhortation that we would like to see accepted everywhere without reservation and put into zealous practice. 23
    • ... subject to the ravages of time, show the need for a renewal that will permit them to substitute elements that are transient, to emphasize the elements that are ever new and to incorporate the doctrinal data obtained from theological reflection and the proposals of the Church's Magisterium. This shows the need for episcopal conferences, local churches, religious families and communities of the faithful to promote a genuine creative activity and at the same time to proceed to a careful revision of expressions and exercises of piety directed towards the Blessed Virgin. We would like this revision to be respectful of wholesome tradition and open to the legitimate requests of the people of our time. It seems fitting therefore, venerable Brothers, to put forward some principles for action in this field. 24
    • Expressions of devotion should reflect God's plan 25
    • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin must explicitly show its intrinsic and ecclesiological content: thus it will be enabled to revise its forms and texts in a fitting way. 28
    Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical and Anthropological [Articles 29-39]

  • These are to be borne in mind in any revision of exercises of piety or in the creation of new ones, in order to emphasize and accentuate the bond which unites us to her who is the Mother of Christ and our Mother in the communion of saints. 29
  • other forms of devotion ... the criteria on which they should be based... the norm laid down in the Constitution Sacrosanctum concilium. ... while wholeheartedly approving of the practices of piety of the Christian people ...: "...it is necessary however that such devotions with consideration for the liturgical seasons should be so arranged as to be in harmony with -.,the sacred liturgy. They should somehow derive their inspiration from it, and because of its pre-eminence they should orient the Christian people towards it." (DV 13) 31
  • recall the rule laid down by the Council prescribing that exercises of piety should be harmonized with the liturgy, not merged into it. 31
  • Wise pastoral action should, on the one hand, point out and emphasize the proper nature of the liturgical acts, while, on the other hand, it should enhance the value of practices of piety in order to adapt them to the needs of individual communities in the Church and to make them valuable aids to the liturgy. 31
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin must also pay close attention to certain findings of the human sciences. [Need to] help to eliminate one of the difficulties experienced in devotion ... the discrepancy existing between some aspects of this devotion and modern anthropological discoveries and the profound changes which have occurred in the psycho-sociological field in which modern man lives and works. 34
  • The picture of the Blessed Virgin presented in a certain type of devotional literature cannot easily be reconciled with today's life-style, especially the way women live today.
    - In the home, woman's equality and coresponsibility with man in the running of the family are being justly recognized by laws and the evolution of customs.
    - In the sphere of politics women have in many countries gained a position in public life equal to that of men.
    - In the social field women are at work in a whole range of different employments, getting further away every day from the restricted surroundings of the home.
    - In the cultural field new possibilities are opening up for women in scientific research and intellectual activities. 34
  • In consequence ... some people are becoming disenchanted with devotion to the Blessed Virgin and finding it difficult to take as an example Mary of Nazareth because the horizons of her life, so they say, seem rather restricted in comparison with the vast spheres of activity open to mankind today. In this regard we exhort theologians, those responsible for local Christian communities and the faithful themselves to examine these difficulties with due care. 34
  • It is now up to episcopal conferences, to those in charge of local communities and to the various religious congregations prudently to revise practices and exercises of piety in honor of the Blessed Virgin, and to encourage the creative impulse of those who through genuine religious inspiration or pastoral sensitivity wish to establish new forms of piety. [Nevertheless the Angelus and the Rosary are discussed here.] 40
  • [Note: Exhortation addressed to the bishops]
Sharing the Light of Faith (USA), 1979
  • should be taught by word and example [see above] 106
  • the Hail Mary...should be known by all 143
Catechesi Tradendae, 1979
  • What kind of catechesis would it be that failed to give their full place? 301
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • [in context of discussion on Magnificat] there is a duty to safeguard carefully the importance of "the poor" and of "the option in favor of the poor" in the word of the living God. These are matters and questions intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation. 37
  • For every Christian, for every human being, Mary is the one who first "believed," and precisely with her faith as Spouse and Mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the "unsearchable riches of Christ." (Eph. 3:8) And to the same degree they recognize more and more clearly the dignity of man in all its fullness and the definitive meaning of his vocation, for "Christ ... fully reveals man to man himself." (GS 22) 46
  • Paul VI said: "Knowledge of the true Catholic doctrine regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be a key to the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church." (Nov 21,1964) 47
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • The dignity and importance of Mariology, therefore, derive from the dignity and importance of Christology, from the value of ecclesiology and pneumatology, from the meaning of supernatural anthropology and from eschatology: Mariology is closely connected with these tracts. 22
  • The data expounded in the first part of this Letter show that Mariology is alive and active in relevant questions in matters doctrinal and pastoral. However, it is necessary that the study of Mariology, together with attention to the pastoral problems which are emerging gradually, attend to rigorous research, conducted according to scientific criteria. 23
  • The study of the sacred Scriptures, therefore, must be the soul of Mariology (DV 24; OT 16). 24
  • Research into Scripture and Tradition ... must also integrate and be strengthened by the more secure fruits of learning in anthropology and the human sciences. 27
The Teaching of Mariology

  • Considering the importance of the Virgin in the history of salvation and in the life of the people of God, and after promptings of Vatican Council II and of the Popes, it would be unthinkable that the teaching of Mariology be obscured today: it is necessary therefore that it be given its just place in seminaries and theological faculties. 27
  • Such teaching, consisting of a "systematic treatment" will be:
    a) organic, that is, inserted adequately in the program of studies of the theological curriculum;
    b) complete, so that the person of the Virgin be considered in the whole history of salvation, that is in her relation to God; to Christ, the Word incarnate, Saviour and Mediator; to the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier and Giver of life; to the Church, sacrament of salvation; to man - in his origins and his development in the life of grace, and his destiny to glory;
    c) suited
    - to the various types of institution (centres of religious culture, seminaries, theological faculties...) and
    - to the level of the students:
    future priests and teachers of Mariology,
    animators of Marian piety in the dioceses,
    those who are responsible for formation in the religious life, catechists,
    those who give conferences, and
    the many who want to deepen their knowledge of Mary. 28
  • Teaching thus given will avoid one-sided presentations of the figure and mission of Mary, presentations which are detrimental to the whole vision of her mystery. Sound teaching will be a stimulus to deep research B in seminaries and through the writing of licence and doctoral theses B into the sources of Revelation and the documents. Mariological study can also profit from interdisciplinary teaching. 29
  • It is necessary, therefore, that every centre of theological study B according to its proper physiognomy B plan that in its Ratio studiorum the teaching of Mariology be included, having the characteristics listed above; and, consequently, with the teachers of Mariology being properly qualified. 30
  • With regard to this latter point, we would draw attention to the Norms of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana which provide for licences and doctorates in theology, specializing in Mariology. 31
  • the Congregation for Catholic Education wishes to reaffirm the necessity of furnishing seminarians and students of all centres of ecclesiastical studies with Mariological formation which embraces study, devotion and life-style.
    They must:
    a) acquire a complete and exact knowledge of the doctrine of the Church about the Virgin Mary which enables them to distinguish between true and false devotion, and to distinguish authentic doctrine from its deformations arising from excess or neglect; and above all which discloses to them the way to understand and to contemplate the supreme beauty of the glorious Mother of Christ;
    b) nourish an authentic love for the Mother of the Saviour and Mother of mankind, which expresses itself in genuine forms of devotion and is led to "the imitation of her virtues" (Lumen Gentium, 67), above all to a decisive commitment to live according to the commandments of God and to do his will (cf. Mt 7:21; Jn 15:14);
    c) develop the capacity to communicate such love to the Christian people through speech, writing and example, so that their Marian piety may be promoted and cultivated. 34
  • There are numerous advantages to be derived form an adequate Mariological formation in which the ardour of faith and the commitment to study are harmoniously composed:
    - on the intellectual level, so that the truth about God, about Man, about Christ and about the Church are understood the more in understanding the "truth about Mary";
    - on the spiritual level, so that such information will help a Christian to welcome the Mother of Jesus and "bring her into everything that makes up his inner life" (RM 45);
    - on the pastoral level, so that the Mother of the Lord may be strongly felt as a presence of grace among the Christian people. 35 (Document is meant for educators and stresses the "doctrinal" in the first place.
To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988
  • I exhort you to respond to this desire of Mary's with a community act of dedication, which is precisely "the response to the love of a Mother." (RM 45) 39
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • In effect, the Rosary is simply a method of contemplation. As a method, it serves as a means to an end and cannot become an end in itself. All the same, as the fruit of centuries of experience, this method should not be undervalued. In its favor one could cite the experience of countless Saints. This is not to say, however, that the method cannot be improved. ... Otherwise there is a risk that the Rosary would not only fail to produce the intended spiritual effects, but also that the beads, with which it is usually said, could come to be regarded as some kind of amulet or magic object, thereby radically distorting their meaning and function. 28
  • This need for concreteness finds further expression in the announcement of the various mysteries of the Rosary. Obviously these mysteries neither replace the Gospel nor exhaust its content. The Rosary, therefore, is no substitute for lectio divina; on the contrary, it presupposes and promotes it. Yet, even though the mysteries contemplated in the Rosary, even with the addition of the mysteria lucis, do no more than outline the fundamental elements of the life of Christ, they easily draw the mind to a more expansive reflection on the rest of the Gospel, especially when the Rosary is prayed in a setting of prolonged recollection. 29


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

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