Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Documents of Vatican II – Lumen Gentium - Part 3

Lumen Gentium ends with a loving tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The final chapter, which is split into five sections, explains Mary's role in salvation history and in the Church. In rich and beautiful language, the Vatican II Fathers introduce us to the Mother of Christ, the Mother who is our mother also, the Mother who loves us with a love second only to Christ's love, the Mother who helps her Son save us and who prays for us that we may one day join her in Heaven.

Here's a sampling of the topics and ideas you'll find in Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium.

I. Introduction

* The faithful must honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is truly the Mother of God.

* Mary was redeemed by Jesus and shares a “close and indissoluble” bond with Him. She is also the daughter of God the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

* The Blessed Virgin is closely united with the members of the Church; she is, indeed, their mother as well as a “wholly unique member of the Church.” Her children honor her with love and devotion and look to her as their “model in faith and charity.”

* Mary “occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and also closest to us.”

II. The Function of the Blessed Virgin in the Plan of Salvation

* The Blessed Virgin was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. She appears in the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 as the woman who would participate in the ultimate victory over the serpent. She is prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 as the virgin who will conceive and bear a Son. She is both a member of the “poor and humble of the Lord” and the “exalted Daughter of Sion.”

* Mary gave her consent to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. She had been prepared beforehand through her Immaculate Conception. Free from sin and entirely holy, Mary cooperated freely and gave herself wholly to the plan of God and the “person and work of her Son.”

* Mary's cooperation with Jesus in the salvation of humanity continued throughout His life and reached its climax at the foot of the cross where Mary consented to the sacrifice of her Son and suffered in union with Him.

* At the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven where she reigns as Queen beside her Son.

III. The Blessed Virgin and the Church

* Mary is the mother of the faithful in the order of grace. Her motherhood and mediation flow from and are subordinate to the one mediation of Christ.

* As Advocate and Mediatrix, the Blessed Virgin always brings the faithful closer to Christ and His saving sacrifice.

* The Church looks to Mary as the prime example of motherhood and virginity and seeks to imitate her in faith, love, virtue, holiness, and surrender to God.

IV. The Cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church

* Mary is exalted above all other humans and even above the angels; she is “second only to her Son, as the most holy mother of God who was involved in the mysteries of Christ.”

* From the Church's earliest days, the faithful have prayed to Mary for her help and protection.

* Mary is venerated by the Church, not worshiped.

* Honoring Mary helps the faithful love and glorify Jesus and keep the commandments.

* The faithful must honor Mary with true devotion that “proceeds from true faith” and leads to “filial love” and imitation of Mary's virtues.

V. Mary, Sign of True Hope and Comfort for the Pilgrim People of God

* The Blessed Virgin is both the “image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come.” She stands as “a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim people of God.”

* Mary intercedes for the unity of all humankind that they may be “one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.”

The full text of Lumen Gentium is available online at the Vatican website.

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