The Mater Dei Plaque presents us with a paradox about where true power is to be found. What seems powerless and insignificant in this world turns out to be the actual portal through which human history and the very cosmos itself is transformed. A young virgin, probably still but a teenager, says “Yes!” to God’s invitation for her life and for the life of the whole world through her. In Mary – a simple young woman living in a remote corner of the vast Roman Empire – God “has brought down the mighty from their thrones but has lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52). When Mary said “Yes!” to God’s plan, she became, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Theotokos, the Mater Dei, the very Mother of God! The Mater Dei Plaque is indeed a most appropriate gift for Mother’s Day, of course, but also for a birthday, first communion, confirmation, and Christmas (a great stocking stuffer).
The Mater Dei Plaque – A Moving Labor of Love, Faith, and Hope
The Mater Dei Plaque is 2 inches high. This small plaque of highly polished dolomite stone and resin has the heft, feel, and shimmer of a seemingly priceless heirloom that could have been carved from ivory. A religious community of nuns in France design, mold, and finish by hand each and every plaque in their monastery’s atelier. Each nun in this community lives as a true “contemplative in action” by prayerfully fulfilling a designated task necessary to the completion of each and every Mater Dei Plaque. Where, how, and by whom each plaque is made shows us the true meaning of a religious gift that is indeed “culturally authentic” as well a most moving labor of love, faith and hope!
Mater Dei – Theotokos – “God-Bearer”
In 431 a.d., the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus solemnly defined the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος – Latin: Mater Dei), in English, the “God-Bearer” or “Mother of God”. The Virgin Mary is the Theotokos or Mater Dei, because she gave birth not just to a baby human being, but to God as a baby human being! The four Greek letters on the left of this plaque (ΜΡ ΘΥ) are a syncope (contraction) of two Greek words: ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΟΥ – METER THEOU (“Mother of God”). The middle part of each word is removed (syncopated): Μ[ΗΤΗ]Ρ Θ[ΕΟ]Υ becomes ΜΡ ΘΥ. The four Greek letters on the right of the plaque (ΙΣ ΧΣ) are also a syncope (contraction) of two other Greek words: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ — IESOUS CHRISTOS — JESUS CHRIST. The center part of each word is removed (syncopated): Ι[ΗΣΟΥ]Σ Χ[ΡΙΣΤΟ]Σ becomes ΙΣ ΧΣ. The syncopation of each of the four Greek words is indicated by the symbol ~ over each pair of Greek letters.