In 431 A.D. the Blessed Virgin Mary was decreed by the council of Ephesus as Theotokos because her son Jesus is both fully God and fully man; that is, as 100% God and 100% man, Jesus is one Divine Person with two natures (Divine and human) intimately, hypostatically united without confusion. Theotokos (θiəˈtɒkəs) originates in Greek from Θεός, meaning God, and τόκος, meaning parturition, childbirth. Together Theotokos literally means that Mary is the God-bearer or the one who gives birth to God..
By decreeing Mary to be Theotokos it helped the Catholic Church to resolve a number of heresies that denied either the full divinity or the full humanity of Christ Jesus; in particular Nestorianism, which taught that Mary could not have been the mother of God, but only the mother of a human being conjoined to God.
This decree from the Council of Ephesus not only enabled us to better understand the mystery of Jesus Christ, but it also paved the way for us to better understand the mystery of the Virgin Mary. For, if Christ is truly 100% man, but without the stain of the original sin, how is that? What does that say about the human condition of Mary from whom He received His humanity and flesh? This question was resolved on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, where he lays out the divine, theological, and historical reason for the infallible definition of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary:
- “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
Altogether the Immaculate Conception of Mary points us to God’s loving providence. It perpetually reminds us that God will continue to insert Himself and His Holiness into our little space in time so that we will have a bridge to dwell in happiness with Him forever. The Immaculate Conception of Mary reminds us we truly are significant to God; that He continues to give us more than we deserve; that sin is no bearer to Him. In Mary, as the one immaculately conceived, we witness the person like who we were created to be like. She herself is the image of what we were like before sin entered the world, and who we are destined to be like after our final rebirth through resurrection In Christ.
Therefore, of all the dogmas, doctrines, and decrees of the Catholic Church, the Immaculate Conception of Mary is the one that is the perfect image of theological virtue of Hope.