There are four Marian (related to Mary) Dogmas. Dogmas are those doctrines of the Church which have been defined by the Pope and the teaching authority of the Church. Dogmas are teaching, or doctrines, of the Church that have been bolded, underlined, and italicized, so to speak. They are proposed for our belief and faithful Catholics are not free to dissent from them.
The Four Marian Dogmas Explained
Mary, Mother of God
Mary is truly the Mother of God, since she gave birth to the Second Person of the Trinity who became man for our sake.
In the East, this Dogma is referred to by the original Greek title of Mary: Theotokos, which means “God-bearer.” Mary of Nazareth is clearly the mother of Jesus. She bore Him in her womb, gave birth to Him, and raised Him with the help of her chaste spouse, Joseph. How can we say then that Mary is the mother of God Himself then? Because God is, in fact, a Trinity: One God in Three Persons. Is Mary the Mother of the Trinity?
No, Mary is not the Mother of the Trinity, she is only the Mother of the Second Person of the Trinity because it is only the Second Person of the Trinity who took on flesh. What the Church teaches about Mary safeguards the more central teachings concerning Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His eternal divine nature was united perfectly to the human flesh offered from Mary’s own human flesh. Jesus has a human nature and a divine nature, but we say truly that He is a Divine Person. However, mothers do not give birth to natures, but to persons. And so, we can say rightly that Mary is the Mother of God because Jesus is God and Mary is the Mother of Jesus.
The Church traditionally presents Mary as “virgin before, during and after giving birth”, affirming, by indicating these three moments, that she never ceased to be a virgin.
The angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she was to conceive and bear a child by the power of the Holy Spirit, despite her virginity. Her spiritual and physical virginity was consecrated to God and maintained for all time, what we call her perpetual virginity.
In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet says, “a virgin shall conceive AND bear a son(Isaiah 7:14).” Thus, she virginally conceived Jesus without physical corruption. It was also fitting that her birth should be virginal, also without physical corruption. Some of the Church Fathers hold that perhaps Jesus passed through the abdomen of the Blessed Virgin Mary as He passed through the wall into the Upper Room after His Resurrection. At any rate, the Second Vatican Council affirms this in saying, “Christ’s birth did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it(Lumen Gentium 57).”
Mary is a perfect model of purity, holiness, and cooperation with grace.
“…that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”
God, by the grace and merits of His Son Jesus on the Cross, outside of time, preserved Mary by a singular grace at the moment of her own conception. He preserved her from all stain of the original sin of Adam and Eve. This began the reversal of the Fall of man. The early Church Fathers said, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith,” and even more to the point: “death through Eve, life through Mary (Lumen Gentium, 56).”
Mary was tempted to sin just as any one of us are, but she was able to resist temptation and sin at every turn because of her heroic virtue and obedience to God in Faith. What a beautiful role model we have in our Blessed Mother. Not only was Mary the model of purity and holiness from the moment of her conception, she maintained this purity and increased in her union with God.
The Virgin Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
The Dogma of the Assumption is intricately related to Mary’s special privilege of being completely without sin, her Immaculate Conception. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, He opened the way to Heaven. However, when we die, we will have to wait until He comes again for the resurrection of the body.
Mary, at the end of her earthly life, being completely free from sin as she was, did not see the decay of her earthly body, which is fitting for the Mother of God. By virtue of her Immaculate Conception, God chose that His mother would be taken up body and soul into Heaven to reign as Queen.
While the Assumption is a special circumstance of Mary, her fate is open to be shared by all the faithful. When Christ comes again in glory, He will raise the living and the dead. This is what we call the general Resurrection and we profess it every Sunday Mass in the Creed or during the Rosary: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead” and “I believe… in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
Every human life is fashioned in the image and likeness of God. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary upholds the dignity of each and every human life. Our bodies and souls must work together to follow Jesus because our bodies and souls will hopefully be worshipping Him for eternity in Heaven, God willing.
The Marian Dogmas