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A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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MOTHER OF THE CHURCH

A title of the Blessed Virgin, formally recognized by the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, 60-65) and solemnly proclaimed by Pope Paul VI at the closing address of the third session of the Council on November 21, 1964. Mary is Mother of the Church by a fivefold title: 1. she gave human life to the Son of God, from whom the whole People of God receive the grace and dignity of election; 2. Christ on the Cross explicitly extended his Mother's maternity, through the disciple John, to all the faithful; 3. the Holy Spirit came upon her, together with the Apostles, when on Pentecost Sunday the Church was born in visible form; 4. since then all generations of Christ's followers, such as John, spiritually took Mary as their Mother; 5. she continues to exercise her maternal care for the Church by her presence and powerful intercession in heaven before the throne of God.

Pope John Paul II further identified Mary's motherhood of the Church with her Immaculate Heart. "This heart," he said, "the heart of both a virgin and a mother, has always followed the work of her Son and has gone out to all those whom Christ has embraced and continues to embrace with inexhaustible love" (Redemptor Hominis, 22).

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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