The level of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary at our parish is very encouraging to me, because that devotion will help keep us close to our Lord Jesus Christ. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has helped protect the Catholic Church from some of the most dangerous heresies in the history of the Church, even if powerful people supported them and many Christians fell for them. This devotion can also help us and our families stay close to Jesus Christ, stay true to the faith as it’s been handed down to us from the Apostles, and, eventually, be united to God in heaven, because the Blessed Virgin Mary always says to us, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).
One of these heresies in the early Church was called Nestorianism, taking its name from the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius. Nestorius taught that the Blessed Virgin cannot be called the Mother of God, but only the Mother of Christ, because she was only the mother of the human nature of Jesus and not the mother of His Divine Nature. He was opposed by St. Cyril of Alexandria who taught that Jesus has a divine nature and a human nature, God and man, which are inseparably united in the one person Jesus Christ. So, if Mary is the Mother of the person Jesus Christ, which she clearly is, then she must be the Mother of God, not that she is the source of the Godhead, but that she bore Him in her womb and gave birth to Him. Nestorius, convinced that he was correct, called for the bishops of the Church to gather at the Council of Ephesus to decide. The people gathered outside of the Church where the council was held, and when St. Cyril came out to make the announcement, that Mary is “Theotokos,” Mother of God, they began to celebrate. That Church is now called the Church of the Theotokos.
The great heresy today is Protestantism, and many protestants denigrate Catholics for our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying that giving reverence to Mary is a form of idolatry, and criticize some of the Church’s teachings on Mary, because they rely more on Tradition than on the Bible. Catholics believe that honoring the Mother of God gives honor to God, and that honoring Mary as the greatest follower of Christ, because of her great love for Him, teaches us how to better follow Jesus Christ ourselves. The Rosary is the perfect example of Marian devotion, because as we pray the Rosary we not only ask Mary to pray for us, but we also meditate on the mysteries of the conception, birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Christ.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, has helped to keep our Catholic family centered on her Son, Jesus Christ, through her prayers and example. We should all ask her to pray for our own families, that we may remain in the one true faith, and dedicate ourselves to her prayer, the Rosary, by praying the family Rosary regularly.
This Tuesday, February 11, is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, our patronal feast, but Archbishop Aymond has allowed us to move the celebration of the Feast to this weekend, so that more parishioners can participate in it. This weekend, let’s ask her to keep our Church family together and focused on Jesus.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.