Wednesday, June 16, 2010

St. Cyril of Alexandria and Marian Devotion

Here are some thoughts to ponder on the veneration of the Mother of God from some of the texts of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was the Patriarch of the Church in Alexandria from 412 to 444. He was a staunch defender of the Catholic faith and he fought with great fervor against the heresies of his day, which included those who opposed the proper theological titles of "Mother of God" or "Theotokos" in Greek, for The Blessed Virgin Mary.

"That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.

In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the holy Virgin as "Mother of God." I cannot resist quoting his own words: "As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Savior; namely, that he is and has always been God, and that for our sake in these latter days he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man."

Again further on he says: "There have been many holy men, free from all sin. Jeremiah was sanctified in his mother's womb, and John while still in the womb leaped for joy at the voice of Mary, the Mother of God." Athanasius is a man we can trust, one who deserves our complete confidence, for he taught nothing contrary to the sacred books."

“What! Nestorius dares to suffer men to say in public and in his presence that he who calls Mary the Mother of God is to be anathema! He hurls his anathema, by means of his partisans, at us, at the other Bishops of the Catholic Church, and at the ancient Fathers, who in all ages and places in one accord have acknowledged and honored the holy Mother of God! And have we not the right to repay him in his own coin and say, ‘If anyone denies that Mary is the Mother of God, let him be anathema’? ….

A Hymn to the Theotokos

Through you, the Trinity is glorified.
Through you, the Cross is venerated throughout the world.
Through you, angels and archangels rejoice.
Through you, the demons are driven away.
Through you, the fallen creature is raised to heaven.
Through you, the churches are founded in the whole world.
Through you, people are led to conversion.

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