Virgin Mary

The deification of the Virgin Mary: A brief response

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He was made man that we might become god (Athanasius of Alexandria, De Inc, 54.3).

Many individuals these days, both in the Catholic Church (especially in America) and in Protestant ecclesial communities, tend to make the claim that the Virgin Mary is not deified, was not deified at the very instance of her conception, and has never been deified. Such a claim seems to be originating from the deep-seated fear, likely Protestant in origin, that the Holy Virgin is being worshipped with the worship that should be reserved for God alone, instead of just being honored as the Mother of God. Both, however, are wrong in their above-referenced claims. They are also wrong in their comprehension and use of the terms deification and worship.

What is worship?

Two kinds of worship exist: the worship of latreia and the worship of proskynesis (Bartolo-Abela, 2017). Latreia is the worship that is reserved only for God, whereas proskynesis is the relative worship that can be legitimately given to the saints. Proskynesis is more commonly understood by the people as veneration. However, it is still worship, even though not the kind of worship that should be reserved for God alone.

What is deification?

God, you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature, of course, like the One whom He begot but by His gift and by adoption (Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 166.4).

Through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature (Paul VI, Dei Verbum, 1965).

The Most High knew that Adam wanted to become a god, so He sent His Son who put him on in order to grant him his desire (Ephraim the Syrian, Nisb. Hymns, LXIX.12).

According to Dionysus the Aeropagite, deification is defined as “the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible” (EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a). Maximus the Confessor called deification “the invocation of the great God and Father, the symbol of the authentic and real adoption, according to the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the bestowal of which the saints become and will remain the sons of God” (Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C; Scholia 6, ibid. 644C). Thomas Aquinas stated that deification allowed “this name God [to be] communicable, not in its whole signification, but in some part of it by way of similitude so that those are called gods who share in divinity by likeness, according to the text I have said, ‘You are gods (Ps 82:6)’ (Summa Theologica, Response to I.13,9).

Gross (1938/2002) explained that deification, [the] “divinization of the Christian is not an identification with God [but] an assimilation, a very eminent restoration of the original divine likeness [whereby one] participates by grace in the perfections that God possesses by nature . . . The Spirit transforms the soul to the image of the Logos, the natural Son of God, thus making the Christian an adoptive child of God. Affecting, it seems the very essence of the soul, this mysterious conformation is not of a moral nature only but of a physical nature; it is a veritable partaking of the divine nature and of the divine life” (p. 272). Aquinas further elaborated that in deification “the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature . . . God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness” (Summa Theologica, 2.1:112.1).

The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

He has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature (2 P 1:4).

According to Pius IX (1854), “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints, so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

“And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son — the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart — and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds” (Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, para. 1-2).

Note: This would become known as the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church, a dogma that was implicitly and not-so-implicitly held also by the early Fathers of the Orthodox Church, namely the Byzantine Fathers.

Discussion

Is it not written in your Law: I said, ‘You are gods?’ (Jn 10:34).

We are gods, not so by nature, but by grace. ‘But as many as received him he gave power of becoming sons of God.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. ‘I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the most High’ (Jerome of Stridon, Hom, 14).

When God was born to be man, the purpose was not that the Godhead should be lost, but that, the Godhead remaining, man should be born to be God (Hilary of Poitiers, De Trin, 10.7).

As can be seen from the above, the Virgin Mary is deified, was deified at the very instance of her conception, and has always been deified. Otherwise, she would not have been sufficiently worthy of being the Theotokos, the bearer of the sinless Word. The eternal Father Himself attested to Mary’s deification at the beginning of all time (Gn 3:15), as did her Son during the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:4) and the Archangel Gabriel during the Annunciation (Lk 1:28).

That having been said, the Virgin Mary is not God, nor has she ever been (or claimed to be) God. Deification does not mean that one becomes a god by nature – that is an erroneous understanding of deification; a false understanding borne of fear if not miseducation.

Deification is “God’s perfect and full penetration of man” (Staniloae, 2002, p. 362) and “all who share in this [divine] light are referred to as deified . . . above nature and virtue and knowledge . . . [as] this grace effects this ineffable union” (Gregory Palamas, 1338/1983). Hence as the Virgin Mary is, was, and will always be the Immaculate Conception, she is, as Palamas (2005) stated, the epitome of deification.

References

  • Bartolo-Abela, M. (2017). Icons as resistance: Challenging the new iconoclasm in the Catholic Church.
  • Dionysus the Aeropagite. EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a.
  • Gregory Palamas. (1338/1983). The triads in defense of the holy hesychasts.
  • _____. (2005). Mary the Mother of God: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas.
  • Gross, J. (1938/2002). The divinization of the Christian according to the Greek Fathers.
  • Maximus the Confessor. Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C.
  • _____. Scholia 6, ibid. 644C.
  • Pius IX. (1854). Ineffabilis Deus. 
  • Staniloae, D. (2002). The experience of God: Orthodox dogmatic theology, Vol. 2, The world: Creation and deification.
  • Thomas Aquinas. (1225-1274). Summa Theologica.

Who is the Father of Jesus Christ? Response to a question

The question was asked, “Who is the Father of Jesus?” The answer is simple. The Father of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is God the Father, the First Person of the Holy Trinity. Christ, the Eternal Word and Second Person of the Trinity, is the only-begotten Son of the Almighty Father and the Incarnate Son of the Virgin Mary. Christ has two natures, one divine, one human.

The Father and the Mother sacrificed their only Son

Christ3

Return, O Israel, unto HaShem your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity (Hos 14:2).

Not even a spark of reverence exists in His Presence any longer. All is dead, despite the appearance of being alive, for love in the hearts of this people has grown cold and bitter. Love Himself is neglected and abandoned. Nothing is offered to Him that He desires and has ceaselessly begged for. Only that which He does not desire is given to Him, if at all.

The flame of true love and true life has gone out in the hearts of this people because love in Persona is unwanted. You who know Him, love Him “with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27). For the most beautiful, tender, patient and loving God is neither loved nor wanted any more.

How is God the Father if Jesus came from the Virgin Mary? – Response to a question

The question was asked, “How is God the Father if Jesus (Christ) came from the Virgin Mary?” The answer is simple and also refers to the previous post. Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, was begotten by God the Father before any creature – human or otherwise – was created:

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through Him. All that came to be had life in Him and that life was the light of men (Jn 1:1-4).

Jesus was, in His divinity, in His Father’s Divine Heart before His human mother, the Virgin Mary was created in the flesh. In fact, in the very beginning there was God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity) – and silence. Nothing else; no one else. God the Father always was, is, and will be (more…)

The icon of Our Lady of Longmeadow

Our Lady of LongmeadowThe new icon of Our Lady of Longmeadow has just been completed. It will be blessed and installed in its intended home at Saint Mary’s Parish Church, Longmeadow, MA later next month. This is a revealed icon, the story behind the icon can be found here.

 

The gift of God – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady the Protectress frontTo the left is the newly-written icon of the gratuitous gift of the Holy Trinity to mankind: the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady the Protectress; deified Mother of Jesus Christ, Queen of heaven and earth. This is a revealed icon which reflects the beauty and most common facial expression of Our Lady as seen in 2010 through 2012.

The icon was completed by Fr Richard G. Cannuli, O.S.A., based on the original icon painting done by the author. It was blessed at the altar with a regular icon blessing during the morning liturgy at the chapel of Clare Priory, Suffolk, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 2013.

Description of Jesus Christ – 3

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER

The Walking Furnace of Love

You came that Tuesday morning in church, when I was alone with You in the Blessed Sacrament after everyone left during Eucharistic adoration. You came in response both to your Mother’s request and to prove me wrong.

The day before I had directly challenged your Mother, the Virgin Mary, to prove that what She repeatedly said throughout the centuries all over the globe was true: namely, that we are not orphans in an indifferent world. Among other things, I said to Her, “Prove it to me or I will not believe it!” Despite everything which had transpired until then – all Your graces and visits by Your Family – I still harbored doubts about this particular issue. (more…)

Description of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God – 3

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER

The Virgin Mary sings

You stood at the right archway of my dining room late that weekday evening, once again without your crown; wearing your white, floor-length mantle with its blue ribbon traveling inside its borders. This time you came as the joyful Mother at work. Singing an incredibly beautiful albeit unknown song with boundless joy, happiness and love on your petite face, your luxuriously melodious and tonal singing made me feel as though liquid love was suddenly being drained all over me. It was as though Heaven itself was being poured out. No earthly voice or song can, in fact, compare to yours, as your infinitely sweet song was the song of joy of the Holy Trinity mediated through your deified body.  (more…)

Description of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God – 2

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER

The Virgin Mary, evil spirits and the Sacrament of Confession

You came out of your large statue which lies right above the tabernacle in the church which bears your name, when I was unknowingly surrounded by some evil spirits that Saturday afternoon while awaiting my turn in line to go to confession. I was already nervous at being there despite the priest-confessor being very good and thorough, kind and gentle, as it was only the second time I was attending after not having been for a significant period of time. Sitting in the pew waiting, I was hoping against hope that the person before me would get their confession over and done with, so that I could get in and out as quickly as possible. I had purposely sat at the end of the pew so if I felt I could not make it, I would be able to leave easily – hopefully unnoticed and without disturbing other people.  (more…)

Description of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God – 1

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER

Our Lady of LongmeadowYou came that weekday morning in response to my question, “Is this church a (spiritually) safe place to be in?” A question I had been repeatedly but silently asking myself when I decided to return to the Church, after having attended Mass in some neighboring churches but in which heterodoxy and illicitness were both prevalent to some degree or another and unashamedly passed off as the new norm.

There you, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God – given to me by your Son when you were at the foot of His Cross and by the Father’s Divine Will, to be also my Mother as the Mother of all mankind – suddenly stood, in the main aisle of the church; at the fifth pew from the (more…)