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MAGI: The wise men who came from the East
to pay homage to the newborn Savior (528).
MAGISTERIUM: The living, teaching office
of the Church, whose task it is to give as authentic interpretation of the word
of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of
Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church's fidelity to the teaching of the
Apostles in matters of faith and morals (85, 890, 2033).
MARKS (NOTES) OF THE CHURCH: The four
attributes (marks or notes) of the Church mentioned in the
Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed: "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic Church" (811).
MARRIAGE: A covenant or partnership of
life between a man and woman, which is ordered to the well-being of the spouses
and to the procreation and upbringing of children. When validly contracted
between two baptized people, marriage is a sacrament (Matrimony) (1601).
MARTYR: A witness to the truth of the
faith, in which the martyr endures even death to be faithful to Christ. Those
who die for the faith before having received Baptism are said to have received a
"baptism of blood," by which their sins are forgiven and they share in the death
and Resurrection of Christ (1258, 2473).
MARY: The mother of Jesus. Because she is
the mother of Jesus--Son of God and second Person of the Blessed
Trinity--according to the flesh, she is rightly called the Mother of God (Theotokos)
(148, 495). Mary is also called "full of grace," and "Mother of the Church," and
in Christian prayer and devotion, "Our Lady," the "Blessed Virgin Mary," and the
"New Eve" (722, 726, 963). See Virgin Mary.
MASS: The Eucharist or principal
sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper,
in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial
death and glorious resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The Mass
renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church.
It is called "Mass" (from the Latin missa) because of the "mission" or
"sending" with which the liturgical celebration concludes (Latin: "Ite,
Missa est.") (1332; cf. 1088, 1382, 2192). See Eucharist; Paschal
MATRIMONY: See Marriage.
MEDIATOR/MEDIATRIX: One who links or
reconciles separate or opposing parties. Thus Jesus Christ is the "one
mediator between God and the human race" (1 Tm 2:5). Through his
sacrificial offering he has become high priest and unique mediator who has
gained for us access to God's saving grace for humanity. Moreover, Mary too is
sometimes called Mediatrix in virtue of her cooperation in the saving
mission of Christ, who alone is the unique mediator between God and humanity
(618, 1544; cf. 970).
MEDITATION: An exercise and a form of
prayer in which we try to understand God's revelation of the truths of faith and
the purpose of the Christian life, and how it should be lived, in order to
adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking (2705).
MERCY: The loving kindness, compassion, or
forbearance shown to one who offends (e.g., the mercy of God to us sinners)
(1422, 1829). See Works of Mercy.
MERIT: The reward which God promises and
gives to those who love him and by his grace perform good works. One cannot
"merit" justification or eternal life, which are the free gift of God; the
source of any merit we have before God is due to the grace of Christ in us
MESSIAH: A Hebrew word meaning "anointed"
(436). See Christ; Jesus Christ.
MINISTRY: The service or work of
sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the
sacraments by those in Holy Orders (893, 1536), or in determined circumstances,
by laity (903). The New Testament speaks of a variety of ministries in the
Church; Christ himself is the source of ministry in the Church (873-874).
Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained ministers in the Church (1548).
MIRACLE: A sign or wonder, such as a
healing or the control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power.
The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs of the presence of God's kingdom
MISSION: (1) Trinitarian missions:
To accomplish the divine plan of the triune God for the redemption of humanity,
the Son and the Holy Spirit were "sent" into the world: hence the Trinitarian
"missions" (Latin missus means "sent") (257, 689). (2) Apostolic
mission: Just as he was sent by the Father, Jesus sent his Apostles into
the world to continue his own saving mission (858). (3) Church as mission:
Thus the Church is missionary by its very nature, continuing the mission or work
of Christ through the Holy Spirit, according to the plan of God. This apostolic
mission of the Church is fulfilled according to their different states of life
by the clergy, laity, and religious (849, 863, 913). Missionary activity is
sometimes given in a more specific sense as the work of initial evangelization
and establishment of the Church in non-Christian lands.
MONASTIC LIFE: Consecrated life marked by
the public profession of religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and
by a stable community life (in a monastery) with the celebration of the Liturgy
of the Hours in choir (cf. 927).
MORALITY: Referring to the goodness or
evil of human acts. Human freedom makes a person a "moral subject" or agent,
able to judge the morality (goodness or evil) of the acts which are chosen. The
morality of human acts depends on the object (or nature) of the action, the
intention or end foreseen, and the circumstances of the action (1749; cf. 407).
MORTAL SIN: A grave infraction of the law
of God that destroys the divine life in the soul of the sinner (sanctifying
grace), constituting a turn away from God. For a sin to be mortal, three
conditions must be present: grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act,
and full consent of the will (1855, 1857).
MOSES: The leader chosen by God to lead
the Israelites out of their exile in Egypt. To him God revealed the divine name
(Yahweh) and the law on Mount Sinai (including the Decalogue), by which he
sealed the covenant with his people Israel (62, 204). As lawgiver, Moses was a
type of Christ, the lawgiver of the New Law.
MYSTAGOGY: A liturgical catechesis which
aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ. In a more specific sense,
the catechetical period following immediately after the reception of Baptism by
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