Strand: Church and Tradition (CTL3-4E1)

Level 3 and 4

Mary the mother of God is an example of faith and self-giving love.

Explore how Mary's faith in demonstrated through courageous action that incorporates both contemplation and service as the model of discipleship.


From the Catholic perspective Mary, along with the Communion of Saints, is a model for living. The human experience of Mary, her love and actions for others and for the good of the world provide people of faith with a window into the loving inter-relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Catholics look to Mary as a courageous woman and first disciple. As theologian Elizabeth Johnson writes of Mary in 'Truly Our Sister,' Mary is "a radical visionary who sees a more equitable world as God’s desire for humanity.” Mary stood at the foot of the cross when others fled.  Mary is a model of prayerful and reflective discernment towards purposeful action, whose life of service inspired other women of courage e.g. Mary McKillop who suffered ex-communication because she refused the Bishop’s orders. Other examples of lives led in faith and self-giving love are Catherine McAuley, Mary Ward, Caroline Chisolm and Elizabeth Stein. 

The Catholic Christian tradition, in honouring Mary Mother of God and the saints, also includes holy days of obligation and special feast days to celebrate the importance of these people in the life of the Church. In addition, the month of May is known as Mary’s month and the month of October has a particular focus on the Rosary.‘Mary Help of Christianshas been the official patroness of Australia since 1844, with her feast day celebrated on 24th May. 

While most Christian denominations honour Mary as the Mother of God, she is given particular prominence in both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The Islamic tradition also gives reverence to Mary as the mother of the prophet, Jesus.

See Learning Lites: Mary, the Mother of God, Mary and the Saints, Mary – Immaculate Conception and Assumption, Saints.

Examples in Scripture:

  • Luke 1:26-38. The Annunciation. Mary as the first true disciple who does the will of God.
  • Luke 1:39-56. Mary visits Elizabeth.  
  • Luke 1:4-56. Mary’s Song of Praise.
  • Luke 2:1-24. Mary gives birth to her son.
  • Luke 2:25-40. The presentation of Jesus in the temple. Jesus was raised in a faith-filled family.
  • Luke 2:41-52. Jesus in the Temple. Mary is asked by God to search for understanding of what God is asking her.
  • Matthew 2:13-15. The Escape to Egypt.
  • John 2:1-11. The Wedding at Cana. Jesus answers Mary’s pleas for others.
  • John 19:25-27. At Jesus’ Crucifixion. Jesus gives his mother Mary, to all as their spiritual mother, Mother of the Church.
  • Acts 1:1-14. Mary gathering and praying with the disciples during the coming of the Holy Spirit.

See Learning Lites: Mary

More Information

Examples in Scripture include but are not limited to:

Despite very few references to Mary in the New Testament, Catholics look to Mary as a model of prayerful and reflective discernment towards purposeful action e.g. Luke Chs 1 & 2; Matt 13: 53-58; John 2:1-11; John 19:25-27.

See Learning Lites: Mary

External Links

Mary: Our often reimagined, always radical, mother (K. Oakes / National Catholic Reporter).