Mother of Mercy, the Echo of God – Premium Content


Nothing but things essential for us are revealed to us about the Mother of God: the fact that she was wed to the Holy Spirit and bore Christ into the world. Our crowning joy is that she did this as a lay person and through the ordinary daily life that we all live; through natural love made supernatural, as the water at Cana was, ar her request, turned into wine. ~ Caryll Houselander

Mary as Mother of Mercy

Mary is the Mother of Mercy because Jesus is the Face of God’s Mercy (see Made for Mercy, God’s Presence is Mercy).

Marian teachings are not new, they are as old as the Church. Church councils formalized specific teachings when they began to be challenged by heresies. Marian doctrines were formalized at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD because there were challenges to Jesus’s divinity and humanity.  All Marian beliefs flow from the truths of Jesus. What is true of her is true because of her Son.

St. Cyril of Alexandria at the Council of Ephesus (Third Ecumenical Council) in A.D. 431:
“Hail Mary Theotokos{Mother of God}, venerable treasure of the whole world, light unextinguished, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, indestructible temple, which contains the uncontainable…it is through you that the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored, through you, the precious cross is venerated and adored throughout the whole world, through you that heaven is in gladness, that angels and archangels rejoice, that demons are put to flight, through you that the tempter, the devil is cast down from heaven, through you that the fallen creature is raised up to heaven, through you that all creation, once imprisoned in idolatry, has reached knowledge of the truth, that the faithful obtain baptism and the oil of joy, churches have been founded in the whole world, that peoples are led to conversion.”

Catholic beliefs about Mary:

  • Mary, as are all who are saved, was saved by the blood of Christ. She is the greatest of Saints and her prayers for us are efficacious. She is a fully human creature and not in any way a goddess.
  • She is the Immaculate Conception who was filled with grace from her first moments, she is the Ark of the New Covenant and the New Eve
  • Mary is the “Theotokos,” or the “God-bearer,” i.e., the Mother of God
  • Mary remained both sinless and a virgin her entire life

Mary as Ark of the New Covenant

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant because Jesus is the New Covenant.

Genesis 1:2, “…and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the deep…”

Exodus 40:35, “And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

Luke 1:35, “And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”

These three words are closely related in the Septuagint; the exact same Greek word is used in both the Exodus and Luke passages.

Hebrews 9:4, The OT “ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” Each of these elements foreshadowed and is symbolic of Jesus, Whom Mary carried in her womb: the Word made flesh (John 1), the resurrection from the dead (Joh 11:25, 1 Pet 1:3), and the Bread of Life (Joh 6:52-58).

Luke parallels his account of Mary with an OT account of the ark of the covenant:

  • 2 Samuel 6:2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah
  • 2 Samuel 6:9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
  • 2 Samuel 6:11 And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months… Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months…
  • 2 Samuel 6:16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD [His Presence over the Ark] Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

Revelation 11:19-12:1, When the heavenly temple is opened, the lost ark is seen, and it is said to be the Woman who bore the Child, none other than Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant.

For comprehensive explanations of Marian teachings (Jesus’ “brothers and sisters,” sinless, ever-virgin etc., go here.

For a list of the church fathers quotes on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant with the years they lived and were quoted, go here. 

Mary as New Eve

Mary is the New Eve because Jesus is the New Adam.

Protoevangelium (first gospel), Genesis 3:15, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

  • enmity = complete separation
  • you = satan
  • the woman = Mary
  • her seed = virgin birth, Christ

A few church fathers on the New Eve:

Approximately A.D. 155, St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Christ “became Man by the Virgin so that the course which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent, might be also the very course by which it would be put down. For Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent, and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the powers of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her would be called the Son of God. And she replied: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.'”

St. Justin Martyr therefore parallels the Virgin Mary with the Virgin Eve. Just as the word of the serpent bore fruit through the Virgin Eve, so the word of God came into the world through the Virgin Mary. Eve believed the word of an evil angel and death was brought into the world, while Mary believed the word of a good angel and Life Himself was brought into the world.

Around the A.D. 190, St. Ireneus, Against Heresies, “Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying: “Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.” Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a virgin, she did not obey…. having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race…. Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith.”

So again we see the second century fathers contrasting Mary and Eve, saying that the evil done through Eve was undone through Mary.

Around the A.D. 210, Tertullian, On The Flesh of Christ, “…it was while Eve was still a virgin that the word of the devil crept in to erect an edifice of death. Likewise, though a Virgin, the Word of God was introduced to set up a structure of life. Thus, what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex, was by the same sex re-established in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight.”

Why all this emphasis on Mary? Next week we’ll answer the question, “So what”?

Image – @ljnovascotia

One thought on “Mother of Mercy, the Echo of God – Premium Content

  1. Thank you for sharng this study I too can telate with you , coming back to the catholic church after being gone so lng and doing or attending other non catholic bible stidies I was left bran wash about Mary.
    Had a diffcult time understanding why catholic pray tooher , but will g to learn I pray forand his stud has help meout .
    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>