CCC 64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.1 The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.2 Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.3
CCC 148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”4 Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”5 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.6
CCC 269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the “Mighty One of Jacob”, the “LORD of hosts”, the “strong and mighty” one. If God is almighty “in heaven and on earth”, it is because he made them.7 Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will.8 He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: “It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?”9
CCC 273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power.10 The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and was able to magnify the Lord: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”11
CCC 332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.12 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.13
CCC 430 Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.14 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”.15 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.
CCC 437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”16 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.17 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.18
CCC 484 The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates “the fullness of time”,19 the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the “whole fullness of deity” would dwell “bodily”.20 The divine response to her question, “How can this be, since I know not man?”, was given by the power of the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”21
CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.22 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”23
CCC 488 “God sent forth his Son”, but to prepare a body for him,24 he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary”:25
The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.26
CCC 490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”27 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.28 In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.
CCC 491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,29 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.30
CCC 494 At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”31 Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace:32
As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”33 Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. ..: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”33 Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”35
CCC 497 The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility:36 “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee.37 The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”38
CCC 505 By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. “How can this be?”39 Participation in the divine life arises “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”.40 The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit’s gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God41 is fulfilled perfectly in Mary’s virginal motherhood.
CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.42 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.43 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.44 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.45 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,46 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.
CCC 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai,47 at the tent of meeting,48 and during the wandering in the desert,49 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.50 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.51 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”52 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.53
CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.54 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,55 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”56 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”57
CCC 709 The Law, the sign of God’s promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham’s faith gave birth. “If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant,. .. you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”58 But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David,59 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.
CCC 723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father’s loving goodness. Through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit’s power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.60
CCC 2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him,61 the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise.62 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.63
CCC 2617 Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.64 In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” “Fiat”: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours.
CCC 2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”65 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.”66 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing67 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
CCC 2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.68 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: “Holy Father. .. for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”69 Because he “sanctifies” his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.70 At the end of Christ’s Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”71
CCC 2827 “If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”72 Such is the power of the Church’s prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God73 and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone:
It would not be inconsistent with the truth to understand the words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” to mean: “in the Church as in our Lord Jesus Christ himself”; or “in the Bride who has been betrothed, just as in the Bridegroom who has accomplished the will of the Father.”74
CCC 2856 “Then, after the prayer is over you say ‘Amen,’ which means ‘So be it,’ thus ratifying with our ‘Amen’ what is contained in the prayer that God has taught us.”75
1 Cf. Isa 2:2-4; Jer 31:31-34; Heb 10:16.
2 Cf. Ezek 36; Isa 49:5-6; 53:11.
3 Cf. Ezek 2:3; Lk 1:38.
4 Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.
5 Lk 1:45.
6 Cf. Lk 1:48.
7 Gen 49:24; Is 1:24 etc.; Pss 24:8-10; 135 6.
8 Cf. Jer 27:5; 32:17; Lk 1:37.
9 Wis 11:21; cf. Esth 4:17b; Prov 21:1; Tob 13:2.
10 Cf. 2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:13.
11 Lk 1:37, 49.
12 Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called “sons of God”); Gen 3:24; 19; 21: 17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Is 6:6; 1 Kings 19:5.
13 Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.
14 Cf. Lk 1:31.
15 Mt 1:21; cf. 2:7.
16 Lk 2:11.
17 Jn 10:36; cf. Lk 1:35.
18 Mt 1:20; cf. 1:16; Rom 1:1; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16.
19 Gal 4:4.
20 Col 2:9.
21 Lk 1:34-35 (Greek).
22 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.
23 Acts 10:38.
24 Gal 4:4; Heb 10:5.
25 Lk 1:26-27.
26 LG 56; cf. LG 61.
27 LG 56.
28 Lk 1:28.
29 Lk 1:28.
30 Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803.
31 Lk 1:28-38; cf. Rom 1:5.
32 Cf. LG 56.
33 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.
34 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.
35 LC 56; St. Epiphanius, Panarion 2, 78, 18: PG 42, 728CD-729AB; St. Jerome, Ep. 22, 21: PL 22, 408.
36 Mt 1 18-25; Lk 1:26-38.
37 Mt 1:20.
38 Is 7:14 (LXX), quoted in Mt 1:23 (Greek).
39 Lk 1:34; cf. Jn 3:9.
40 Jn 1:13.
41 Cf. 2 Cor 11:2.
42 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.
43 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.
44 Cf. Jn 18:37.
45 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.
46 Cf. Ps 118:26.
47 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.
48 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.
49 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.
50 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.
51 Lk 1:35.
52 Lk 9:34-35.
53 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.
54 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.
55 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.
56 Cf. In 11:52.
57 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.
58 Ex 19:5-6; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9.
59 Cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Lk 1:32-33.
60 Cf. Lk 1:26-38; Rom 4:18-21; Gal 4:26-28.
61 Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 f.
62 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38.
63 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.
64 Cf. Lk 1:38; Acts 1:14.
65 Lk 1:43.
66 Lk 1:38.
67 Cf. Jn 19:27.
68 Cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31, Jn 8:28; 17:8; 17:17-19.
69 Jn 17:11, 19.
70 Cf. Ezek 20:39; 36:20-21; Jn 17:6.
71 Phil 2:9-11.
72 Jn 9:31; Cf. 1 Jn 5:14.
73 Cf. Lk 1:38, 49.
74 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. 2, 6, 24: PL 34, 1279.
75 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. myst. 5,18: PG 33, 1124; cf. Cf. Lk 1:38.