1 Jan 2016

1st January 2016 - Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Liturgically, we begin the new civil year on January 1st with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God which is an ancient feast we share the celebration of during the Christmas season with our brethern in some of the Orthodox communities.

The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek: Theotokos, the God-bearer. The term “Theotokos” was adopted at the
Council of Ephesus (431 AD) as a way to assert the Divinity of Christ, from which it follows that what is predicated of Christ is predicated of God. So, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the Mother of God. Therefore, the title “Mother of God” and the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God”, which celebrates her under this title, are at once Mariological and Christological. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ.In the 4th and 5th centuries debates about the nature of Christ raged in the Church. The debate was about the relationship of Christ's divine and human natures. At the center of this debate was a title of Mary. Since at least the 3rd century, Christians had referred to Mary as theotokos, meaning "God-bearer." The first documented usage of the term is in the writings of Origen of Alexandria in AD 230. Related to theotokos, Mary was called the mother of God. Referring to Mary this way was popular in Christian piety, but the patriarch of Constantinople from 428-431, Nestorius, objected. He suggested that Mary was only the mother of Jesus' human nature, but not his divine nature. Nestorius' ideas (or at least how others perceived his arguments) were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, and again at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. The Church decided that Christ was fully God and fully human, and these natures were united in one person, Jesus Christ. Thus Mary could be called "mother of God" since she gave birth to Jesus who was fully divine as well as human. Since this time, Mary has been frequently honored as the "mother of God" by Catholics, Orthodox, and many Protestants.
The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God falls exactly one week after Christmas, the end of the octave of Christmas. It is fitting to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, following the birth of Christ. When Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary "mother of God" is the highest honor we can give Mary. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honors Mary as the "Queen of Peace" This solemnity, falling on New Year's Day, is also designated the World Day of Peace.
The readings for the feast are:
5 Things You Might Not Know About January 1st - The day's religious roots run deep. 
Mary, Mother of God

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