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 Mystery/Sacrifice.
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 (2006).
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 (547).
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 adults (1075).