Holy Scripture affirms the divine maternity in an eloquent manner: “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end.” (Lk. 1:31-33)
St. Paul also said: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Gal.4:4)
A dogma of the faith
Therefore, this is a dogma of our Catholic faith: the Holy Virgin Mary is the Mother of God. The dogma was formulated by Cyril of Alexandria in the first of The Anathemas of the Chapter of Cyril.
The text was taken up by the Council of Ephesus in 431: “If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema [i.e., excommunicated],” Sources of Catholic Dogma, Denzinger, no. 113, Lareto Publications.
Some may ask how a creature can be called “Mother of God”? But if this name seems to be extraordinary, it is absolutely true. It is useful to understand the profound reason that justifies this eternal title of glory of the Virgin.
Human language can designate the same being differently according to its various aspects. Thus, we can say “this man is a theologian” to say “St. Thomas Aquinas is a theologian,” since St. Thomas is a man, today in Heaven.
Now, the name “God” can designate every divine person: the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost, or the whole Trinity.
This is why everything that is said of the Son can be said of God. To say “the Son incarnated,” is to also say “God incarnated.”
Yet, the holy Gospels speak of Jesus Christ as the “Son of Mary.”
This maternity is the result of a truly natural generation: Our Lady really conceived and gave birth to Jesus; she really gave Him His human body. It is a very real relationship: Mary organized herself as a mother to her son.
The dogma of the divine maternity destroys the Nestorian heresy
Pope St. Pius X said of the Most Holy Virgin, in Pascendi dominici gregis, the encyclical against modernism, that she is “the destroyer of all heresies.” We have a magnificent example of that in the divine maternity.
The proclamation of the Virgin as “Mother of God,” Theotokos in Greek, was done to refute the Nestorian heresy. This Patriarch of Constantinople (428-431) claimed that there were two persons in Jesus Christ: a divine person and a human person. This heresy divided Christ and ruined the dogma of the Incarnation. The consequence was the refusal of the title of Theotokos.
The heresiarch was fought by St. Cyril of Alexandria. The Church’s approval of the formula “Mother of God,” in the church of St. Mary of Ephesus, definitively refuted the Nestorian heresy. It was in this way that Mary triumphed victoriously over this grave error and she again crushed the head of the serpent.
Let us welcome the wish of St. Pius X: “may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid.”