Lo, the star which the Wise Men had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2: 9-11
We fly to your patronage,
O holy Mother of God;
Despise not our prayers in our necessities,
But ever deliver us from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.
James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore from 1877 to 1921, explained to his flock why Catholics delight to honor Mary with the title Mother of God:
When we call the Blessed Virgin the Mother of God, we assert our belief in two things: First – That her Son, Jesus Christ, is true man, else she were not a mother. Second – That He is true God, else she were not the Mother of God. In other words, we affirm that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word of God, who in His divine nature is from all eternity begotten of the Father, consubstantial with Him. He was in the fullness of time again begotten, by being born of the Virgin, thus taking to Himself, from her maternal womb, a human nature of the same substance with hers.
But it may be said the Blessed Virgin is not the Mother of the Divinity. She had not, and she could not have, any part in the generation of the Word of God, for that generation is eternal; her maternity is temporal. He is her Creator; she is His creature. Style her, if you will, the Mother of the man Jesus or even of the human nature of the Son of God, but not the Mother of God.
I shall answer this objection by putting a question. Did the mother who bore us have any part in the production of our soul? Was not this nobler part of our being the work of God alone? And yet who would for a moment dream of saying “the mother of my body,” and not “my mother?”
The comparison teaches us that the terms parent and child, mother and son, refer to the persons and not to the parts or elements of which the persons are composed. Hence no one says: “The mother of my body,” “the mother of my soul”; but in all propriety “my mother,” the mother of I who live and breathe, think and act, one in my personality, though uniting in it a soul directly created by God, and a material body directly derived from the maternal womb. In like manner, as far as the sublime mystery of the Incarnation can be reflected in the natural order, the Blessed Virgin, under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, by communicating to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, as mothers do, a true human nature of the same substance with her own, is thereby really and truly His Mother.
It is in this sense that the title of Mother of God, denied by Nestorius, was vindicated to her by the General Council of Ephesus, in 431; in this sense, and in no other, has the Church called her by that title.
God, our Almighty Father, by becoming a man your Son revealed the goodness and holiness of human conception, pregnancy, and birth. With tender maternal love, the Virgin Mary conceived your eternal Son, carried him beneath her heart, and brought him to birth. No intervention of yours in human history illustrates more clearly the greatness and dignity of woman than the Incarnation. May Mary help all to believe that the man she bore, Jesus Christ, is truly your eternal Son-made-man. May she help all to appreciate the wonder of conception, pregnancy, and birth. Draw all women in our society to her motherly embrace. Help them understand that their children are created by you at the moment of their conception and belong to you in this life and in the next. Father, protect all women from attacks against their maternal fecundity. Guard them from those who war against them and their dignity through the promotion of contraception, sterilization, and abortion. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.