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Sunday 27 October 2013

Mission Goals and Budget set for St. Thomas More, Toronto

Sacré-Coeur Church, Sherbourne at Carlton, Toronto - next to Ryerson University
At a meeting of the Sodality of St. Thomas More, Toronto (STM), mission goals and a seven month budget  Dec. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 were reviewed in advance of a formal application for the development of a mission parish of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (CSP).

The Toronto STM (Anglican Use) Sodality would become, initially, an "Association of the Faithful" within the CSP Canadian Deanery while continuing its association with the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and sharing Sacré-Coeur Church during the coming year.

Outreach to Ryerson University students in conjunction with "Ryerson Catholics" the campus ministry and to the local community was discussed along with plans for:

-   Sung Mass with Parish Choir every Sunday at 1:45 pm 

-   Christmas Eve Sung Midnight Mass at 11:30 pm

-   Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Dec. 31 at 5:00 pm 

-   Epiphany Evensong and Benediction on Sunday, January 5 at 5:00 pm.

2014 Corpus Christi celebrations were also discussed in light of the STM patronal festival and the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the feast of title of the parish church all falling within the same week.

Following is an excerpt from the proposal which is being forwarded to the CSP  Deanery of St. John the Baptist (Canada). Names of the over thirty founding members of the Ordinariate mission in Toronto will be recorded and others who are received will be added in the coming months with a view to establishing the mission parish within the next five years.


Jesus prayed:  “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”        John 17: 20 – 21

The goals of S.T.M. Mission are:

1.    To worship and serve the Triune God in the beauty of holiness, promoting Catholic worship in accord with the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, A.D. 2009.

2.    To develop the Anglican musical tradition and Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church in Toronto, in the service of Christian unity.

3.    To support mission and outreach in the New Evangelization in partnership with the Catholic Chaplaincy at Ryerson University, Sacré-Coeur parish and ecumenical partners, as a witness to those seeking the Christian unity to which our Lord calls us.

Income, Expenses and Establishment of Mission Parish

Having approved our mission goals, Fr. Lee Kenyon, VF, Deanery of St. John the Baptist has reviewed and approved the following estimates, budget and financial campaign for STM with the following notes:

1.  An administrator/ priest is to work 40%  and, with the approval of Cardinal Collins, 60% for the archdiocese.

2.  The fiscal year for the CSP Ordinariate runs July 1 – June 30.  Quarterly reports to the CSP Ordinariate are to be made with submission of the Cathedraticum (10% of offerings) September 30, December 31, March 31 and an annual report in June 30.

3. STM would be formally erected as a mission parish in 2018 or before if membership and income meet the canonical criteria .


                                                                                                     Avg. Monthly          
Pledges,  charitable givings                    Oct/2013          2014 – 2019      Over 5 Years

Attenders @ $ 25 /month                       8  =  $ 200         10  =  $  250        $  15,000

Contributors  @ $ 100 / month             2  =  $ 200          5  =   $  500         $  30,000

Supporters @ $ 200 / month                 1  =  $ 200           3   =  $  600        $   36,000

Sustaining Members  $ 400 / mo.         0  =          0           2   =  $  800         $  48,000

Patrons, gifts, bequests, etc.                         $ 2,100                 $  2,734          $164,000                          
TOTAL  INCOME                                             $ 2,700                $  4,884       $ 293,000

Saturday 26 October 2013

Ordination in the Catholic Church of those previously ordained as Anglicans

I have been giving much thought and prayer to the topic of Anglican orders and the ordination of former Anglican clergy in the Catholic Church. What exactly do they bring with them? Their wives, of course, are the most visible and talked-about feature of married Anglicans being ordained to the priesthood in the Ordinariates of the Catholic Church.

Then there is the question of the meaning of former ministry and the character of ordination in the Anglican Communion. Candidates for Catholic ordination after many years in Anglican ministry must deal with this question of moment for them and for their friends who remain in Anglican orders. As well, the question continues to be asked of those who made the journey across the Tiber years ago. To date over 1000 former Anglicans have been ordained Catholic priests over the past 20 years (most in the UK).

Some of the more than one thousand former Anglicans ordained to the Catholic priesthood.

In an insightful article,"Anglican Orders – Recognised or Received?" (The Messenger No. 292, April-August 2010), Fr. Mark Woodruff reflects upon the theology of Catholic ordination as well as the experience of the  now thousand plus former Anglican priests. 

Fr. Woodruff states that the Catholic Magisterium affirms liturgically that:

"Anglican clergy are ordained 'in some sense'. 

For those received in 1994 and throughout Cardinal Hume’s  tenure [Catholic Primate of England and Wales], this continued to be recognised officially and liturgically. We were told that we were free to petition for conditional ordination like Dr Graham Leonard (the retired Anglican Bishop of London, who had been ordained to the Catholic priesthood in April of that year), in case there might be sufficient evidence to establish a “prudent doubt” as to our ordination’s invalidity too. But we were also warned that the process was complex and verification could take some time. Given this array of considerations, each of us was satisfied that a request to be ordained absolutely was the right course. 

If there were any doubts in our minds, they were allayed by the spirit of the preamble and prayer devised by Cardinal Hume and inserted prior to the Litany of the Saints leading up to the prayer of conditional ordination for Dr Leonard. This remarkable interpolation, which constitutes a part of the “absolute” ordination rite for former Anglican clergy, at the discretion of the ordaining bishop, is worth giving in full: 

Oratio ad gratias agendas pro ministerio ab electo in Communione anglicana expleto [Prayer for giving thanks for the ministry of the candidate completed in the Anglican Communion] 

Deinde omnes surgunt. Episcopus, deposita mitra, stans manibus iunctis versus ad electum dicot   [Then all rise. The bishop, having set down his mitre, standing with his hands joined and turned toward the candidate, says:]

N., the Holy Catholic Church recognizes that not a few of the sacred actions of the Christian religion as carried out in communities separated from her can truly engender a life of grace and can rightly be described as providing access to the community of salvation. And so we now pray.

Et omnes, per aliquod temporis spatium, silentio orant. Deinde, manus extensis, Episcopus orat dicens [And all pray in silence for a while. Then, with hands extended, the Bishop prays, saying]:

Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the X years of faithful ministry of your servant N. in the Anglican Communion, whose fruitfulness for salvation has been derived from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church. As your servant has been received into full communion and now seeks to be ordained to the presbyterate in the Catholic Church, we beseech you to bring to fruition that for which we now pray. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Populus acclamat [The people acclaim]: Amen."

Deacons during the Litany of the Saints at their ordination to the Catholic priesthood.

Fr. Woodruff goes on in his article to explore how these ordinations and future Catholic ordinations of Anglicans will affect the call to unity to which many Anglicans and Catholics seek to be faithful to. 

He refers to Father Paul Couturier who was responsible for re-founding of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Lyon, France, in much the spirit of the former Anglican American Franciscan, Fr. Paul Wattson of Graymoor, NY.  

Fr. Couturier had imagined how unity could be achieved by different traditions “vying” with each other i.e.  imitating and outdoing each other in the pursuit of ever greater holiness – towards union with God in Christ and unity with each other (Decree on Ecumenism §11). 

He called this spiritual emulation which did not envision the extinction of Anglicanism or other traditions of separated brethren in ecclesial communities. Fr. Couturier looked for what he saw as the interplay of distinct traditions within the one Great Church of Jesus Christ with the traditions shared not absorbed. He called this parallélaboration.  

However, each Christian tradition has suffered because of the sin of separation and so each is deprived of the fullness of the riches that God gives for his people. By taking steps towards unity in repentance each tradition learns to need the other and the patrimony which each brings to the one Church. This humility to learn involves a self-emptying after the pattern of Jesus himself . 

Ordination of former Anglican clergy in the Catholic Church brings together two shards of the one Church of Christ, into which we have all been baptized. The one vessel, from which the shards come, was broken at the time of the Reformation. This is how Fr. Aidan Nichols, in his prophetic address to the 2011 Toronto Anglican Ordinariate Conference, envisioned a healing of the Church with the Ordinariates bringing people from both sides of the Reformation rift together in unity while retaining their own patrimony of Christian life and culture.

Such a vision helps all of us see what God is doing through the Ordinariates and the ordinations which are to serve the greater unity of Christ's one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Thursday 24 October 2013

St. Thomas More honoured at Tower of London Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula (in Chains)

The Catholic Church in England has reported as follows:

. . . 22 October [2013], at the Tower of London, The [Catholic] Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and The [Anglican] Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and General the Lord Dannatt launched The 1535 Society.

Side of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, viewed from near the place of execution on Tower Green Tower,perhaps St. Thomas More's last view, on earth, of the Chapel.

St. Thomas More Prayer, The Bishop of London         

O Lord, give us a mind

that is humble, quiet, peaceable,
patient and charitable,
and a taste of your Holy Spirit
in all our thoughts, words and deeds.
O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope,
a fervent charity, a love of you.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation
and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight in thinking of you,
your grace, and your tender compassion toward us.
Give us, good Lord,
the grace to work for
the things we pray for.

The Archbishop of Westminster's Prayer        

O God, who in martyrdom,
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
graciously grant that,
strengthened through the intercession of Saint Thomas More,
we may confirm by witness of our life
that faith we profess with our lips,
and our unity be ever deepened.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

Photo:  stpeteradvincula.comflickr.com/photos/catholicism

The 1535 Society aims to promote an understanding of the role within British history of St Thomas More and the other Christian martyrs who lost their lives in pursuit of their religious beliefs. Its members will also, together, contribute to the restoration of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London and its Crypt of St Thomas More.

The Archbishop and the Bishop, together with the Chaplain of the Chapel Royal HM Tower of London, The Rev Canon Roger Hall, said prayers both written by and for St Thomas More as part of proceedings.

The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula is the parish church to the Tower of London and is a Chapel Royal, directly under the jurisdiction of The Queen. It's the final resting place of three queens of England as well as St Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.St Thomas More was Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII and was imprisoned in the Tower of London between 1534 and 1535. He was held in the Bell Tower, where some of yesterday’s proceedings were conducted, and his opposition to the Reformation led to his execution on Tower Hill on 6 July 1535. The 1535 Society is named in his honour.In 2012, The Constable of the Tower of London, General the Lord Dannatt, launched an appeal to restore the chapel and to secure the future of the Choral Foundation. Contributors to The 1535 Society will help the appeal reach its £1.5m target and will, in particular, enable the restoration of the Crypt of St Thomas More.

General the Lord Dannatt said:"The Chapel is a vital focal point for the Tower community and St Thomas More is a key figure in the Tower’s history. I am enormously grateful to the Archbishop of Westminster and the Bishop of London in joining together in honouring a saint of both main Christian traditions and other Christian martyrs, and in helping us give the Chapel and the Crypt the care that they deserve."

The Archbishop of Westminster and The Bishop of London released a joint statement saying:"We must never forget our past if we want to walk wisely into the future. That is why it is so important that we preserve this shrine to remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance and to recall men and women of faith to the primacy of love for God which leads to love of neighbour".

You can view a set of images from the launch of The 1535 Society on  Flickr photo stream:


Thursday 17 October 2013

Correspondence with a young person being received into full communion

The following is correspondence with a young person who has just completed EVANGELIUM and is preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church in Toronto on November 3.

She had read the recent posting here on the Blessed Virgin Mary and was wondering about some of her Protestant friends' questions and how best to respond to them.

As I write this, it is a great grace and a true joy to report that the lady, of very advanced years, who was the subject of postings some years ago on PEREGRINATIONS was received into full communion last Sunday.

She is my mother and at age 97 is now the senior member of the Ordinariate in Canada.  I am told that there is a 100 year old member recently received in Philadelphia.

In 2011,  a posting here "Letter to Margaret: To an Evangelical Anglican Friend" was actually correspondence with Mum about the call to unity in the Catholic Church. With prayer and conversation she came to a clear-minded decision to be received into full communion.
Fr. Lee Kenyon of St. John the Evangelist, Calgary, after receiving Mum (97)  into full communion.
Baptized in the Pentecostal church 80 years ago, she has had a remarkable journey!

It was a great privilege to be present as Fr. Kenyon anointed her and we then shared in Holy Communion in unity with the universal Church for the first time on Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  I can only quote my mother, Marjorie, a CWAC (Canadian army) veteran of the Second World War. She served in England where she met another Canadian, a dentist, my father.

As she said, we are left "in wordless wonder at the mysterious grace of God."

"And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase . . . "  
         from the hymn "I VOW TO THEE MY COUNTRY" in which Sir Cecil Spring-Rice refers to "another country" whose capital is the City of God.

Now, here is the correspondence with one in her 20's.


Hello Elizabeth (not her real name)

I thought you might find this of interest in light of our conversations at EVANGELIUM:



Happy to hear from you!  . . .  :)

I read with interest the subject on Peregrinations. I never have asked that question, myself, and it is a very good one!  I enjoyed reading the response!

Pertaining to Mary's perpetual virginity, I must ask your opinion on this counter article:


Of course, this organization preaches predestination, which I have never concurred with; hence, I do not hold much (if anything) of what they say as gospel.  However, their argument against Mary's perpetual virginity is certainly one I've heard before from many other Prostestant organizations.  I would love to know your thoughts on it, whenever you get a chance to have a browse.  There is no urgency :)

God bless,


Hello again Elizabeth,

Here is a brief response to your e-mail and the attached article re. the BVM (see attached).

Better still, here are a couple of links to An Essay on the Development of Doctrine that you may want to read or at least you may want to look at a couple of chapters. It is the standard Catholic work on the development of magisterial teaching by that famous former Anglican, Cardinal Newman:

This is a related article form a recent lecture:

Independent of his theology, Newman is valued and read by many because he is one of the greatest English stylists of all time.  If you haven't already, sometime you will want to read his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, a classic of Catholic apologetics and personal witness.

We keep you in our prayers and hope to see you this Sunday for our STM general meeting.


Our Lady of Walsingham, St. Peter, St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, St. John Houghton, St. Thomas More, St. Edmund Campion, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

"Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony" by Fr Aidan Nichols, O.P.

If you have not yet read Fr. Nichols little book published recently giving the history of the Anglican Ordinariates and their raison d'être, do get a copy.

He begins with an insightful analysis of the three streams in Anglicanism and how they have ebbed and flowed from the 16th century to the present. The High Church (later Anglo-Catholic), the Evangelical (Low Church) and the Latitudinarian (liberal) streams have each held the ascendency in different periods and in various parts of the world.

In the words of Fr. Stephen Smuts:

"The book is an extended essay and arose from a remarkable lecture delivered under the auspices of the Ordinariate, as part of a conference on its place and purpose with the work of New Evangelisation. Fr Nichols revisited a familiar and resonant theme of his, that proclamation and evangelisation do not concern only the personal individual but groups and traditions of people, including entire cultures and histories. This understanding, incidentally, lay within Pope Benedict’s presentation of evangelisation on his visit to Great Britain in 2010. Faith alone, he said, answers humanity’s profoundest questions and longings; hence the need and benefit for the constant and public dialogue of faith and reason, between the Church of Christ and society, the state, politics, commerce and culture."

The constant Erastian tendency which would allow the state and secular power to dominate the Church is highlighted as Fr. Nichols describes what has led to the last stand of Anglo-Catholics in the C of E and elsewhere. This struggle is discussed in light of the now obvious fact that as Evangelicals continue to split with the liberal establishment in the erstwhile Anglican Communion, the only place for Catholic Anglicans to survive and grow is within the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Nichols provides an outline of how the various elements of the 500 year Anglican patrimony can be joined with the 1000 previous years of Catholic mission and witness in Britain and elsewhere. He sees not only Romanizing Anglo-papists coming into the Ordinariates but inner city pastors and Anglicans seeking the stability of the magisterium. Evangelicals like Fr. Gibson at St. John's in Calgary are also leading historically aware people into full communion. As Blessed J.H. Newman tell us "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."

Anglican Ordinariates are a small but growing fact in the UK, North America and Australia as they bring their patrimony of music, pastoral care and liturgy into the service of the universal Church. The roots of this idea of Anglican communities united with but not absorbed by the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church  has come to fruition over the past thirty years.

Fr. Nichols pays tribute to Pope Benedict XVI for his vision and determination to move ecumenical relations forward after the impasse with official liberals in the West.  He explores the liturgical gifts that the Holy Father was keen to bring into the broad landscape of Catholic liturgies which include many Eastern and Western rites.

This book by the magisterial Fr. Nichols is a must-read for those coming into the ordinariates providing, as it does, a vista of the history and potential for Anglican culture and ministry fully in communion with  the Church, it's Catholic witness and the New Evangelization.

Saturday 5 October 2013

"All generations shall call me blessed." . . . What were the generations before the Blessed Virgin Mary?

In conversation at a dinner party with a non-practising Jewish man (he had been raised in an Orthodox Jewish family), the question of Jesus' genealogy came up. 

He told me that he had, some time before, gone to the Toronto School of Theology with a request to have the Luke 3 and Matthew 1 genealogies explained since neither, in his view, referred directly to Mary's genealogy.

After saying that the Luke genealogy was that of Mary's lineage, the somewhat embarrassed TST official failed to prove his point from the text and had to concede that the Luke 3 text was traced to Joseph as well.

The point this man was trying to make was that Mary may not have been Jewish. I had never heard such a claim. He went on to say that there was no evidence and that she might well have been from one of the many other tribes or cultural groups in and around Galilee. 

This got me to do some searching and thinking. The following are some thoughts that I have collected from various sources on the lineage of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Marian theology generally.

BTW - My Jewish friend insisted that the practice of tracing Jewish lineage traced from the mother's line has not always been the custom in Judaism. He claims that this was a later development and was not the practice in the time of Jesus earthly ministry since people looked to their tribal male ancestors as witness the lists of ancestors in both Matthew and Luke. 

The following are some responses to questions about Mary's heritage and her theological role.

Questions about Marian Theology                  
A.  How is the Blessed Virgin Mary connected to the claim that she is the Messianic “Daughter of Zion”, uniting in herself the three principal aspects of the Messianic People of God – spouse of Yahweh, Mother-Zion, Virgin Israel?
The Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1: 48) is the Messianic “Daughter of Zion” as:
1)   Spouse of Yahweh:  Blessed Mary is the Jewish woman who co-operated with God, making possible the Incarnation of the eternal Son of God. In light of this co-operation Mary is both the daughter of Zion and the Jewish mother of the longed-for Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth (Catechism of the Catholic Church, hereafter CCC, 488-489). She fulfills the call and hope of Israel by uniting her will with that of the one and eternal God known to her Jewish community as Yahweh.
This same God reveals to humanity through the action of the Incarnation the three persons of the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mary’s son, the only begotten of the Father, is Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua) the Saviour of humanity, both fully human and fully God. By the will of the eternal Father through the action of God the Holy Spirit and in co-operation with Mary, the Daughter of Zion, Christ came to be born of the immaculate flesh of Blessed Mary, becoming the long-expected Messiah promised by Yahweh.

2)  Mother-Zion: Blessed Mary embodies Zion, the holy city, through whom God reveals the fullness of his grace and mercy in the person of Jesus. Mary, the daughter of Zion participates as Mother-Zion in the fulfillment of the messianic promise in time and space.
Jesus, who himself replaces the Temple of Jerusalem (Zion), is the son of the daughter of Zion. In his person, Jesus, as son of Mother-Zion, embodies humanity in complete union with God. Jesus, as son of Israel (Zion), through Mary (if Jewish identity is being traced through the female line) and/or Joseph (as adoptive father) brings salvation to Israel.
The Gospel according to Luke affirms what was generally known, namely, that Mary was a cousin of Elizabeth, who was the Jewish wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah. Elizabeth was part of the lineage of Aaron and so both she and Mary were of the tribe of Levi (Luke 1:5;1:36).
We know from the Hebrew tradition that Moses’ brother Aaron was married to Elisheba of the tribe of Judah, so all his descendents are from both the tribes of Levi and Judah (Numbers 1:7 & Exodus 6:23). The relationship of Mary with Elizabeth on the maternal side (hence Mary’s visit to Elizabeth while pregnant) shows that Mary, like Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, was of the House of David and so of the tribe of Judah. Marriage within the tribe was common and even expected in that period. The genealogy of Jesus through Mary is from Nathan, the third son of King David and Bathsheba (Luke 3). Joseph has his genealogy from King Solomon (Matthew 1).
The independent sources of evidence for this genealogy and the life of Jesus generally are as strong and in many cases stronger than evidence for most personages in the ancient world. The main Jewish source, Josephus, is independent of the Roman source, Tacitus, who is independent, in turn, of the Christian sources i.e. the Synoptic Gospels and the Pauline letters (The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, Markus N. A. Bockmuehl, ed. 2001, pages 122-126).
As St. Paul tells us: salvation is for the Jews first and then for all (Epistle to the Romans).  Consequently, Mary is also Mother of the Church (Lumen Gentium, hereafter LG, Chapter 8: 53, 63) in fulfillment not abrogation of the Law of Israel. She is the “New Eve” of the House of King David (Luke 1:27) and is the fulfillment of the promise to the daughters of Zion (Zephaniah 3: 14, 17a). She becomes the “Mother of Christians” (hodigitria), the one who “shows the way” (CCC 2674).
3)  Virgin Israel: The purity of the daughter of Israel provides the essential condition for the Immaculate Conception i.e. a means for the eternal and all good God to become incarnate through flesh that is untainted by sin.
Mary is a virgin of the Chosen People so that the revelation of God to the People of Israel is for the Jews first and then for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). As noted, Mary –  the Virgin Israel – becomes the Mother of the Church (LG, Chapter 8). This belief is of ecclesiological significance in that Mary provides the bridge from Israel to all humanity by bringing God into the world for her own people and then for all (the universal salvific will of Yahweh). This is the fulfillment of the Messianic Promise, the will of God to bring salvation to all people by means of the co-operation of a human person, the Daughter of Zion.

B.  If Mary’s life is an example for us by her response to God, what is the ultimate meaning of her virginity?
Mary developed her intimate relationship with Christ as a virgin preserved from Original Sin (Irenaeus, Ambrose of Milan, Tertullian and Augustine). She chose to obey the will of God by responding “yes to God” when asked to bear the incarnate son of God. The incarnation of Jesus was made possible by her purity in that she was filled with grace and so through her immaculate body Christ, the Messiah of Israel, took flesh in the Incarnation by the power of the Holy Spirit (Nicene Creed). By virtue of her own Immaculate Conception (CCC 490) Mary was prepared to make her fiat (Luke 1: 28-38). By her response Mary became, by grace, was able to become the mother of Jesus the Christ (Messiah) by means of the Virgin Birth (CCC 495 - 511).
Therefore, Mary shares in Jesus' victory over sin (Immaculate Conception – CCC 491- 492 ) and death (Assumption – CCC 966). As Mother of the Church (CCC 975), she shares this great victory with all who say “yes to God” in Christ by prevenient grace. We become her children by grace and we grow in faith by responding to her Son, Jesus Christ, who has redeemed our flesh by the perfection of his sacrifice in and through his immaculate flesh, which is possible because Jesus is “born of the Virgin Mary” (Nicene Creed).
In Blessed Mary we see the unity of virginity and motherhood with the understanding that Mary's spousal relationship to God is that of a virgin – her total gift to God. Her motherhood in relationship to the Church is, then, a result of the grace of her virginal self-giving to God. Mary’s blessing for us is due to her faith in Christ. She is, as a result of her affirmation, the first Christian and as such shows us the way to our own victory over sin and death through grace. She is the exemplary realization of the Church responding to God by grace and working in the world to redeem the whole human person in the flesh and spirit.

C.  How can we explain the connection between the revealed truth of Mary’s divine motherhood (Theotokos) and her other special gifts: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption?
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception affirms that Mary, preserved from original sin, becomes by virtue of her fiat, Mother of God Incarnate (Council of Ephesus), the Theotokos (CCC 495). Being the “All-Holy”, Panagia (LG 56), Mary is preserved from sin in order that she may be a fit vessel for the incarnation of God (CCC 490). 

Her virginal motherhood is “accessible only to faith” (CCC 498), a faith which, in the words of Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Ephesians, is understood through the “connection of these mysteries with one another” (Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians 1, 1: AF II/2, 76- 80). The virginal motherhood of Mary is confirmed in the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary as the Aeiparthanos (Ever-virgin). In this doctrine we see that the virginal motherhood is sanctified in the Dormition of Blessed Mary (CCC 966).
The Church holds together these teachings about the gifts of Mary despite the fact that people at the time of the Apostles, as they are today, were sceptical and unbelieving (1 Corinthians 2:8). 
The unified doctrine of Blessed Mary points to the working of God’s grace (“we have received all these things by grace.” – John 1:16), grace given to humanity from our conception until our entrance into the Kingdom of God after death. As it has been for Mary, by grace, so it may be for all those baptized into the life of God the Holy Trinity. Mary prays for her children as Mother of the Church while all generations call her blessed (Luke 1:48) and seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix (LG 62).

CCC          Catechism of the Catholic Church
LG             Lumen Gentium (Documents of Vatican II)
CCJ           The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, Markus N. A.                          Bockmuehl, ed. 2001
LE             Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians