God the Father

My children of the world, look for Me. Look for the signs in your world that I am present. Some would have you believe that I am no longer actively directing the outcome of this time. Children, can you believe that I would lovingly lead My children for centuries, since the beginning of the world, and then leave? Would I really turn away from My precious creatures? This idea is fooling many souls today. They proceed in their lives as though I do not exist and as though there will be no reckoning for decisions against Me, against others, and at times even against nature, as I created nature. I see all. I will judge every action. I will reward every decision made by one soul for the benefit of another. In the same way, I will challenge every decision made by one soul to the detriment of another. Children, all is being recorded. You will account for your life. I am merciful. I am merciful to a degree that will astound you. But you must allow Me to be merciful. You must accept My mercy. You cannot scorn My mercy, child. Allow Me to exercise My mercy in your life. “How must we do that, Father?” you ask. I will tell you. You must say this to Me: “God, my Father in heaven, You are all mercy. You love me and see my every sin. God, I call on You now as the merciful Father. Forgive my every sin. Wash away the stains on my soul so that I may once again rest in complete innocence. I trust You, Father in heaven. I rely on You. I thank you. Amen.” I am acting as the merciful Father in these days, children. Pray this prayer to Me and I will respond in mercy. Your soul will be washed clean. Little children of My Church on earth, you must not neglect the sacraments. Experience the sacramental graces of the confessional, and say this prayer. In this way the residue of sin will be removed from your souls painlessly. Trust My words, children. Do as your Father says. The wise one under- stands that a Father acts only in the best interest of His children. And so I act at this time.

My children of the earth, remain in the awareness that I am with you. You should always know that God, your heavenly Father, is present. In every action, know that I am with you. In every joy and in every suffering, I am with you. I am not just watching, dear ones. I participate with you if I am allowed. To clarify, I live your life on earth intimately united with you if I am welcomed. What benefits does this union with God give you? You make holy and wise decisions. You treat other souls justly. You keep to the path that leads you to spiritual advancement. And most mercifully for you, you serve the Kingdom of God and obtain eternal benefit for your soul. My presence in your life does not guarantee that you will not suffer. Suffering is part of your experience in exile. It means, though, that you view suffering with clarity and wisdom. You view suffering as transient, understanding that it passes. You should be at peace with every earthly experience, even the experiences that cause you pain. Children, a reality that you should grasp is that suffering does not pull you away from Me. It can pull you closer if you are far from Me because it pulls you away from things of this world. I created this world for your joy, as I have told you. But the misuse of My gifts can confuse you and lead you away from your path to Me. It is then that I allow suffering for some souls. Do not be angry with Me when you suffer. Unite your suffering to the suffering of My Son and you will find that your ascent to holiness is swift and consoling. Children of God, children of the light, you are Mine. All that occurs in your life has a heavenly purpose. If you do not see the purpose in what you are experiencing now, it is a good sign that you are far from Me and not in communication with Me. Come back to Me and I will explain all of these experiences for you. I want you to have faith, it is true. But I will reveal Myself to you in such a way as to help you to understand what I am attempting to do through you. I am a fair and just God. I will treat all with divine wisdom and mercy if I am asked.

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I wish to speak to you today about love. I am all love. All love is Me. My children of this world must learn about love again, because, for many, the essence of love has been so distorted, they do not recognize it as valuable, or seek to obtain it. Love is quiet and steady, My children. Love can be relied upon. Love does not diminish in the face of temptation. There are many kinds of love upon earth and all genuine love has its place. I want My children to examine the genuine opportunities for love in their lives. Certainly a family is a primary source of love. But many families have failed in love and their members drift away in bitterness. Children, the obligation to love someone does not mean you will not be hurt. On the contrary, often, and I must say usually, this obligation to love insures that you will be hurt and it carries with it another obligation and that is the obligation to forgive. If you would like to see an example of someone who has been hurt, look at Me.


You did not deserve to be hurt, little one. I understand and I see everything. I also did not deserve to be hurt. I tell you now, dearest ones, that you have hurt Me many times. Your neglect alone wounds Me terribly. But I love you. I understand you are not perfect. I look upon you and truly, I forgive you. Please accept My forgiveness and let Us begin Our walk together anew. Please, dear wounded child, take My forgiveness into your heart and let it make a home there. If a guest is welcome, a guest causes little trouble to his host because a guest who feels truly welcome will make himself at home and not cause his host any trouble. A welcome guest sees to his own needs and seeks to help his host. Isn’t that true, dear one? I am your Guest. I am a Guest in your soul. Make Me welcome and I will heal, nourish, and recover your soul. Your heart will beat only with love. I will cleanse the bitterness and permanently remove the hurt. I will leave such a surplus of forgiveness that you will have plenty to lavish upon those who have hurt you. Dear children of this one true God, seek out people who have hurt you, especially in your family, and offer your forgiveness. You don’t need to look for it.


Ask Me where it is, dear child, and indeed, I will hand forgiveness to you. If you do this, you will heal. You may say, “Jesus, it is too hard. I cannot do this as I have been hurt too badly.” My child, again I counsel you to practice. Say these words of forgiveness in your head. Then say them aloud. Become used to the sound of them. With My graces, it will not only be possible, it will be easy. Trust Me, who loves you with a genuine love and seeks your peace. I want no barrier of bitterness between Us. I want to heal you. I want to heal families. Do not be afraid. If someone rejects your forgiveness, that is their loss. You will heal, and you will be rewarded. It matters not to Me what a recipient does with a gift you have given. I look only at the fact that you have given when I examine your life. So welcome Me as your Guest, My beloved one. I will put so much love and forgiveness in your heart that you will not be able to give it away fast enough. I am your God. Believe in Me.

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July 19, 2003 | Volume One

I want to speak to My children about trust. We are practicing trust at this time, because there will come a time in your life when trust will provide you with all manner of comfort and spiritual safety. Indeed, there will come a time when children of the light will flee to their trust and wrap it around them like a protective blanket. In the time of upheaval, trust in God will come naturally to My chosen souls who have practiced. I am seeking a fullness of union with My children. In this way, service to your God becomes easy. You would not trust someone you did not know, who is a stranger. Therefore, you must come to know Me.

Through prayer, you will develop an easiness with Me, despite My divinity. It was never intended that mankind live apart from his God. It is for this reason the world experiences such profound darkness. The world has moved away from My heart. The world is deluded into thinking union with God is unattainable, and even sadder, unimportant. Spirituality and your relationship with the God of All is not something extra, like a hobby. It must be the defining compass in your life, always directing your journey. You need only look around to see the result of living without this love and direction.

Man, who professes to be so aware of seeing to himself and addressing His own needs, is starving to death in a loveless wasteland. A person who has a genuine love for himself sees God as his friend, his ally, and loves all those around him. A person who has a genuine love for himself forgets about himself in the service to others. Ponder that thought, children, for in it lies the answer to the universe. I will clarify it for you if you ask Me in prayer. Be happy, dear children, for your Jesus loves you, and guides you with joy.

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Listen to the beauty, gentleness, and maternal solicitude contained in the following message of Our Lady though Anne a Lay Apostle, as they appear in Volume I from the Direction For Our Times message to the world – Ed.

The Blessed Mother adds: “My heart aches for my little ones. I see them twisting and turning in despair. How I hover near them, waiting for them to glance at me so that I may rush in to comfort and guide them. Alas, they look everywhere but to heaven. It was never this way to such a degree in the world. People are ashamed to ask God for help because they feel it is a sign of weakness. They fear trust. They think it makes them like children.

So it does. And that is what they must be to enter in the kingdom of heaven, which is their eternal home. We must help souls to realize that it is time to come back to Jesus now. Time is short. There is no other way to say that. I want all souls to convert in the silence of their hearts and Jesus and I will lead them by the hand. No harm shall come upon them if they turn to us in their hearts. My heart is soft and forgiving. Like any good mother, I forget the mistakes of my children almost immediately. I can help poor sinners to forgive them- selves and seek the forgiveness of my Son, a forgiveness that heals and strengthens. Sinners must not be afraid. They must simply close their eyes and say, ‘God, I have made mistakes. I’m sorry. I am Your child, though, and seek to be united to You.’ My child, all of heaven weeps for joy when even one soul makes this act of humility and love. How we rush in to assist this soul, and protect him from the attacks of the evil one. We nurture and guide this soul until he is back walking the path to Christ with confidence. Don’t be afraid, dear souls. You will find no recriminations. Only love. Be reconciled to the loving heart of my Son, who will lead you to the Father. What joy will be mine, to see you safely with Jesus.”

Our Mother adds: “See the beauty of my Son’s plan? Do you not feel it in your hearts, little children? There is no room for sadness and despair when you walk toward heaven, only happiness and hope, regardless of your earthly concerns. We are in every cross you carry. Jesus’ plan is perfect and allows for every eventuality. You may question Him at times, my small ones, but never doubt Him. You will know no disappointment if you follow us. Jesus is concerned about the fast- ness of today’s world. It provides distraction and causes the spirit to move constantly, never pausing and recollecting itself. This is why so many of our children struggle with anxiety. Remember that anxiety never comes from God and is a sure sign that something is amiss in the way you are living. We seek to change this now. You chosen ones are the beginning of our movement of silence, peace, and love. What you feel in your heart right now is my gift to you. Be joyful, my little ones. Your mother is with you and loves you immeasurably.”

Jesus is waiting for you, my little one. I will help you and show you the way. Pray more, even when you do not feel like praying. Pray always, even if it is just a simple sentence, a simple thought. We are slaves to your prayers, my dear little struggling souls. We hear a plea from you and we hasten to provide every assistance. Look closely for the answers to your prayers and you will find them. Never be fooled into thinking your prayers fall on deaf ears. We work quietly and sometimes our time is not like earthly time. But we hear your pleas and share in your concerns. Be certain that we have the answers. They are here for you and we will not leave you without guidance. Spend little time discussing problems with others. Often it is best if you listen to others. When you have a problem, come to me, your heavenly mother, and I will listen to you and help you find the best solution. You are not alone, my little ones. We long to help you and listen carefully to your petitions. The nicest prayers are the prayers of humble acceptance. You are right when you think that sometimes God must make decisions for your well-being and those things we cannot change. Acceptance moves you closer to God in a swift and beautiful manner. Strive for that always, but do not be afraid to ask for anything you want or need. Above all, we will give you peace in this journey. Our heavenly companionship provides you with a quiet certainty that you walk in the light and toward the light. Do you feel it, my little one? Truly, I am with you today, asking for your obedience to my Son. You will not be disappointed, little soul of my heart.

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My child, with such gratitude I view your efforts. I am here, waiting in the tabernacle to thank you and encourage you. You are trying to serve Me in your life and it is not always easy to do this. Until a complete union or surrender occurs, you continue to wrestle with the pull of the world and worldly attractions and distractions. This creates conflict in you because I am calling you in another direction.

This conflict makes you feel discouraged, dear one, but you should not allow this feeling. There is not growth without some bit of discomfort. So, when you feel unsettled and you long for old habits, remember that you used those habits to console yourself in emptiness. I am now filling that emptiness for you so you do not need to rely on these things anymore. Worldly habits or addictions did not make you happy, My little soul. You felt unrest and bitterness without Me. Now, with Me, you are beginning to experience true peace, the peace which comes from Heaven.

This is a sign that your soul is directing the movement and action of your body, which is how man is intended to live. The body is under your dominion, or the dominion of your soul, and the soul, your 68 precious and irreplaceable soul, is under My dominion. In this way, in this small corner, the world is as it should be. You belong to Me, My child, and I have defended you fiercely, despite your temporary indifference to Me. We will keep moving forward now with our movement toward unity. You may feel as though you are moving quite swiftly in these spiritual matters.

Do not fear this haste as I am personally determining the speed at which I need you to ascend. In days past, perhaps your conversion would be more gentle and leisurely. I do not will that now and it is not what I require. I need My soldiers prepared quickly. Because I am God, and all created things bow to Me, I can do this with a soul like yours who seeks to assist Me and please Me.

My child, never be afraid of holiness.

When you doubt, look to your duty and remain calm until I desire to erase your doubts. You will carry small crosses of fear and doubt at times, but that is, again, more practice, and these little exercises are good for your soul. Make small acts of faith to Me and the doubts will lose their power to distract you from My service during your days. I am with you, My little souls, and we have Volume Two 69 discussed exactly what I mean when I say that. You are with Me and we move purposefully through your life together. Look for opportunities to serve Me in the people I place in your path. If you sense that I need you to assist a soul, let your spirit go quiet while I place the proper inspirations in your heart and mind.

Then you may respond to the need in this soul for Me, and My word, My presence, will have been achieved. Dear little soul, so willing to serve Me, can you imagine your world if even a small number begin to live this way? Your world would change and that is what I am seeking to accomplish. Be at peace. Your God is pleased.

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Dear apostles, it is with hope that I come to you today, speaking these words to your heart. I am hoping that the plans I have for your life will come to fruition. Do I require that you be powerful? Important? Do I need you to be people of great wealth or great influence in the eyes of the world? Will My plan be threatened by your imperfection or your difficulty maintaining holiness in every moment? Do I need only angels? Or do I need apostles of good will serving exactly where I have placed them?


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My dear apostles, I am with you. I am with you when you are working, and I am with you when you are resting. I am with you when you are at peace, and I am with you when you are unsettled. You are unsettled less and less, though. As I watch you, struggling for holiness and struggling for My will, I can see that you are advancing. You are becoming stronger and more sure of Me. Even allowing for your human doubts, I can see that you are accepting My comfort daily, which makes it easier for you to come through your trials with less suffering. The greatest suffering is, after all, abandonment.


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The following presents the initial messages from Jesus to Anne regarding his own Eucharistic presence. The messages are both sublime and powerful, and we share them with you. Anne, a visionary from Ireland, has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the distribution of messages which she receives from Jesus, God the Father, Our Blessed Mother, the angels and saints (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section).
– Ed.

September 2, 2003


Today We must talk about purity. My children, lack of purity is a very significant problem in your world. I search for purity and only find it in rare pockets. Because the tolerance for impurity is so profound, We are going to have to work very hard on this problem. Purity must be restored to every aspect of existence on earth. First, I speak of purity of dress. Do not dress in such a way as to indicate that you will behave sinfully. Dress as though you are a servant of Mine and seek My will. It is never My will to dress in clothes that lead others astray. Children, you know what I am referring to and I want this to stop. Modesty must be restored. Use these words often in your speech to remind people that purity and modesty are to be valued and applauded.

Next I speak of purity of speech. You must speak like a Christian, keeping your language worthy of your soul, and the work I am doing in your soul. Language is often the method used by the enemy to spread the contagion of impurity. Use words that glorify Me. If you use My name to curse, My child, I will be personally offended and you will have to make amends to Me. […]

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July 24, 2012

Dear friends and fellow apostles,

It is with great rejoicing that I write to you today. I am writing to tell you that the last monthly message will be given in August 2012. This is good news because it means that Jesus has given us all that we will need for our prayer groups.

 “…on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2)

We may be tempted to feel a loss because we certainly anticipated these words with longing each month. But that would be short-sighted. Instead we should rest in the privilege that has been ours in receiving these words which will direct and console apostles for many years to come.

Additionally, if you are like me, you will acknowledge that each message is deserving of a great deal of contemplation. Sometimes I felt that I did not give enough consideration to the message of the month. This is human nature, though, and the grace that is present is fresh each time we rest in the words. We will begin in September with the first September message we received and start what will be a seven year rotation of messages for reading and contemplation each month. We at DFOT will send them out as usual.

We will all be reading the same message together around the world monthly. This is the Lord’s wish and we will be faithful to all that He asks of us. We will be a united apostolate of love, made up of people serving God in every vocation and in every language. Truly, only God could unite us as we have been united.

Dear apostles, there is so much to be done to secure renewal with Jesus. We at DFOT have tried our best to be faithful to the call God has given us. Without your support this would have been impossible. Now we embark together upon a new time, very likely a busier time. We have so much to do to reach God’s children with the words and graces we have been given. I believe that these last years were the prelude to the mission and I believe the mission really begins now.

As part of our apostolate’s obligation, we have been entrusted with three charisms. One is compassionate listening. The second is both learning and teaching the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The third is promoting unity within the Church. It is an exciting thing to anticipate how we will advance into these goals so let us each begin contemplating how we can further God’s wishes in these matters.

My friends, we have always been calm and grateful about the gift that God was giving us in these words. Just as we accepted the first message, let us accept the last, with thanksgiving. I must tell you that I was not surprised that the messages were finishing. There is nothing wrong. The completion of these monthly messages is the same as one of the Volumes being completed. Nothing is ending. A task is simply finished and now we must begin both using them at a more advanced level and spreading them even further. We have the tools for an extraordinary blessing for people’s faith lives. Remember the hope and consolation that we were each given by Christ in these words. Truly, so many are thirsting for such comfort. Personally, I feel grateful to be a Catholic at this time and blessed to be a part of God’s renewal.

I anticipate that there may be questions around this and I want to assure everyone that I am delighted to answer any that I can. Please write the office or call and we will take your questions and answer them with another letter. Additionally, I will be speaking at St. Anne’s Church in Bailieborough on the first Thursday of September, God willing, and will talk about our future as an apostolate.

Also, I am being strenuously urged to communicate to you that we are experiencing our annual financial crisis. Please consider contacting the office and helping us here. We really need help fundraising and we are forming a team for this purpose.

With love from your sister,
Anne, a lay apostle

*editor’s note.- Anne is not speaking in August at the Lay Apostle Prayer Group meeting in Bailieborough. She will be speaking in September, God willing.

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My dear apostles, it is time for Me to announce Myself as King.  I am truly the King of heaven and I am the King of all God’s children on earth.  I am the King of all that is good and I am the King of love. Most of all, and most importantly for you, I am your King.  Yes, it is to Me that you owe allegiance as a follower and servant.  I ask that you speak of Me in relation to your contribution to the good of humanity and also in relation to your contribution to the good of the Church.  Why do you serve?  Is it not because you believe in the power and the goodness of your King?  Do you serve Me because you trust Me to care for you and to care for that which is important to you?  I believe this is true.  I believe that you understand something about both My power and My goodness and I believe that you rely on Me to care for your loved ones even in their sufferings and rebellions.  Dearest apostles, to make way for your King you will have to fall back from drawing attention to yourself.  One falls back, in this instance, by giving constant credit to the One who is fighting the battles and winning the souls. And the war is for souls, dear apostles.  I am craving allegiance from all of God’s children because I am craving what is good for them.  Those who are away from Me must see the goodness in you.  You are truly offering the best possible message for everyone you encounter.  Your message is one of love and welcome and you give the message as the messenger of the King.  Be at peace.  I am all powerful and you are on the side of heaven.

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My dear apostles, you remain faithful to Me and I guide you through every change. Can it be said that the Lord devised a plan for you yesterday and again today but that the Lord will fail to make His plan for tomorrow known to you? Will I hide My needs from you? Will I abandon the work and the workers? You know that this will never happen. My friends desire a relationship with Me and truly I make Myself available to all who sincerely seek Me. And those who know Me, through a desire to know Me, understand that My ways do not always look the same as the ways of the world. Therefore, true followers must be alert to the desires of the Lord when events around them alter earthly plans. I am constructing an edifice of humility in the world. I am committed to My Church and it is My desire to bring an abundance of grace into the world through My Church. Dear apostles, do you see that this cannot be accomplished through the ways designed by humanity? Which human being can embrace the scope of change necessary to bring God’s children into humility and into love for the Father? Only God can do this and only God understands the ways of both earth and heaven. It will always be a heavenly directed plan which brings individuals back to peace through holiness. Together, we are accomplishing this, person by person. I am pleased that our efforts are securing fruit, which we offer to the Father as evidence of a true desire for holiness in His children. Please, dear apostles, remain faithful to Me. Allow Me to direct your contribution and you will be blessed and consoled. Through your fidelity, others will also be blessed and consoled. When we are finished with your work on earth, you will come to Me in fullness and you will understand all that I accomplished through your willingness. I will not steer you into what is bad for you but into what is good for you. Continue on in trust and be grateful that I have chosen you to serve God’s Renewal.

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Dear apostles, your faith makes you beautiful.  I am watching you as you receive graces from heaven.  Your heart is transformed, little by little, and your service to Me is purified and becoming more unblemished by self interest.  Your life is changing in many ways.  Perhaps you are leaving one type of service for another or completing a task that has held your attention for a long time.  Perhaps you are laying down a heavy cross of suffering and being released from it so that you can serve more freely in another way.  Perhaps, dear apostle, you are awaiting your next heavenly assignment and you are eager to move on to it.  Or you are simply serving faithfully as best you can in the work that is yours each day.  Regardless, you believe, and you are trying to live that belief.  This makes you beautiful to Me.  Yes, faithfulness to Me consoles the world.  The little pocket of faithfulness you contribute is like a sign that directs the eyes of others to the next life.  Others look at you and understand that not everyone lives for this life.  They understand that even if you are wrong about eternity, hope in eternity exists.  My friends, you do not realize the value of that hope for someone in a moment when all hope seems lost.  Poor humanity.  We must bring hope to the world through our committed service to the Father.  And if you find your hope challenged, then you must explain to Me the source of your pain.  Come to Me in the silence of your heart and I will listen to your grief.  I will console you.  I will show you that the power of heaven can heal the gravest hurts and the cruelest sufferings.  I will restore you.  Please believe Me.  It is in the interest of all of humanity that you possess the hope needed for others.  Yes, you are beautiful to Me, dear apostles.  You are beautiful.

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May the peace of heaven continually surround each of my beloved apostles. My friends, there are times when the peace of heaven must pursue you, because, despite its best efforts, you elude peace. My peace then follows you, waiting for you to pause long enough to accept it. When you bring yourself into My presence, then My peace can absorb you and saturate you so that where you go, it can follow. If you are alert to Me, you will see that others are blessed by Me through you. Dear apostles, please accept that this is happening and be reverent about what I am seeking to do. Are you with Me in this effort of renewal? Do you seriously consider that I am determined to bring light to others through you? If you will accept this more fully, I can work more freely. If you move too quickly through your days, convinced that you are not achieving as many actions and tasks as you would like, then you may be missing what is obvious to heaven, that is, that you are surrounded by grace and protected by light. When you rest into this reality, you will see how effectively I am serving the world through you. Truly, I am loving people and comforting them through your soul because each day, Heaven moves into the world through the souls of those who are willing to serve. Allow Me please, to continue, and allow Me please, to sustain you personally. It is not My plan that you become dispirited and hopeless. It is My plan that if you suffer, you suffer peacefully, confident about My presence in your cross. I want you to work calmly, confident of My effectiveness in your work. You must be brave enough to love completely, confident of the benefit the world feels because of your decision to serve Me in whatever place you have found yourself on each day. Rejoice, dear apostles. Look forward with Me to greater holiness.  I will protect My plan for you, but you must make a decision to accept heaven’s peace.

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All is well, dear apostles. Does this statement console you, even as you look at the changes occurring in the world? Why do I tell you that all is well when you can see clearly that difficulties have arisen in many areas? I hear the prayers of My children asking that I send relief from the sufferings that afflict them and cause them to question their security and even their faith. How often I have to teach mankind that I am the only true security and that reliance on Me will bring peace and all possible benefit to each man and to the intentions of each man. In heaven’s eyes, all is well, even as many suffer. Are God’s children suffering with the benefit of the truth? Do they understand that I am with them and that I have overcome even death? My friends, if there are those remaining who do not understand the extent of My love, then your work is not finished. If there are those remaining who do not understand that joy is possible, even in suffering, and indeed especially in suffering, then your work is not finished. If there are times when you are afraid, then you must come to Me. I will protect you from anything that is outside of My will for you and for your work. Will you be overcome? Consider My authority, dear apostles, and do not consider the extent of your weakness. Never be distracted by the strength of your enemy because the enemy’s strength is an illusion and even the illusion is fleeting. Be assured that I will compensate for your weaknesses as I compensate for your beautiful humanity which so endears you to Me. Where you are weak, I am strong. Where you are frail in your humanity, I add my divinity and what goes out from you is blessed and protected, but only if you are relying on Me. You will know when you are relying on yourself because you will be afraid. Consider how I conducted Myself on earth. I trusted the Father and I was gentle, going about My tasks in the day with conviction. If the Father willed it for Me, then I accepted it and saw to it as best I could. When I was rejected, I quietly moved on. When I was accepted, I offered the Father’s love and gave to the fullest extent of the Father’s will. Do the same, beloved ones. Do the same. I am with you and all is well.

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Dear apostles, it is with joy that I speak with you today.  When I contemplate your fidelity to My plan for mercy, I feel joy.   When I contemplate your fidelity to holiness, I feel joy.  Do not pause in your commitment to becoming holier.  This calm movement into the Spirit of gentleness and kindness should help you to view others with compassion, yes, but also yourself.  Do you view yourself with compassion?  Do you offer kindness and mercy toward yourself when you contemplate your condition?  My friends, My dearest friends, be careful to view yourself as I view you.  Be careful not to view yourself in harsh light that seeks to condemn.  If you are tempted against mercy for yourself, then truly, you are tempted against truth.  Because it is only with mercy and love that I greet your present condition and your attempts to advance in holiness.  I am love.  I could hardly ask you to love others and then withhold love from you.  That would be a flawed plan, destined to fail.  My plan is perfect.  I give you a receptive heart, you receive My love in abundance, and then stand for Heaven to be a well on earth which both stores and distributes love.  Beloved apostle, search your heart today.  If you do not find mercy and compassion for yourself in your heart, come to Me at once and ask Me to give these things to you.  My plan for you and for the world will not advance as quickly as necessary if you do not accept your present condition and understand My perfect love for you.  Your potential for holiness has not yet been fully achieved, of course, and I want you to advance.  And I ask that you do so in confidence, joy and hope.  Rejoice.  I am with you.

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Dear apostles, you are friends of My heart. As such, please be patient with Me as I bring you along in holiness. Would you like to be holier? Perhaps you identify My teachings as good but you feel frustrated because you see that you fall short on some days. This is when you must be truly patient and trust that I am bringing you along as quickly as is needed. Remember that you may see very little progress on some days, but your decision to remain with Me in the process of becoming holier creates a disposition for heaven that keeps the light where it should be, that is, on the need to examine yourself for failure instead of examining others. How easy it is to see the flaws of another. How much more difficult it is to identify which pain in you creates the disposition for repeating a mistake, perhaps again and again. Yes, patience is necessary, both with oneself and with others. I, Jesus, am patient with you. And so you must be patient with yourself. And then you must be patient with others. Do not be distracted by events around you. Do not be drawn into thinking that many events or big events mean that you can take your eyes off of the process of becoming holier. No, dear apostles. I speak gravely when I say to you that you must concentrate seriously on becoming holier because your holiness and your commitment to holiness is a crucial part of My plan to bring comfort to others. Allow Me to see to the world. If you see daily to the condition of your soul and if you love others then you will have fulfilled My plan for you. Rejoice. You are committed to Me and I am eternally committed to you.

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My dear apostles, do you see how I am working through you? Be alert to My presence in your day and, as a grace, I will give you a glimpse of what I am accomplishing. Look for little blessings going out to others. Look for flashes of consolation in suffering or calming of your heart when your heart feels anxious. You see, dear apostles, not only do I move through you to others, but I minister to you in a continuous way so that you are sustained. I want you to be peaceful. I want you to be calm. I want you to understand that if you say no to Me, there are others who will not be comforted and others who will not be blessed and instructed through you. You, My beloved apostles who remain firm in service, act as holy hands and hearts. Your holy hands and your holy hearts are used to gently tap others, into service, into healing and into love for Me and all of the Father’s children on earth. How earnestly I ask the Father for greater blessings for you. How earnestly I prompt you, through the Spirit, to continue on in service. I know that there are times when you need encouragement, so at this time, I will send you evidence of either your progress or of the effect of your willingness to serve on others. Look for this, dear apostles, and then you will know that I am with you and that I am using your presence on earth. When you see this, be at peace. Gird yourself in holiness and prepare for further service, not less service. You are important to Me and I count you as an asset in this time of change.

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Dear apostles, humanity suffers. If you have eyes to see, then you will see that all around you there are children of God who have become disconnected from their Father. When a child suffers, that child is consoled if his Father is nearby and engaged with him. The child feels understood, even in his great pain.


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Dearest apostles, I speak to you today with a heart filled with love. I am grateful for your steady service. I am grateful for your fidelity to My plan for Renewal. If there is something that is keeping you from total abandonment to My cause, I will show you. Will you accept My light? Will you allow Me to direct you to even greater holiness? I want this for you. I want you to make additional gains in holiness. Perhaps you are afraid of this because you fear I will ask you to give more than you can give. I assure you, dear apostles, I will not ask you for anything you cannot give to Me. I will ask you to serve Me in a reasonable manner that is consistent with the gifts I have given to you. What I am urging you toward is greater intimacy with Me and with My heart. My heart beats with love for humanity in an uninterrupted beat. The rhythm of My beating heart provides you with a steady source of zeal for the spread of the gospel message. Too many of God’s children are without hope. This lack of hope brings them to actions that hurt themselves and others. There is no need for this, dear apostles, and you can change the experience of many if you do as I ask. You will have to be alert in order to hear My instructions, though, and it is for this reason I call you to concentrate on what is good about your life. I call you to concentrate on what I am seeking to do through you. Be at peace. I will help you in everything and, together, we will offer the Father the gift of your ongoing conversion.

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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.


Dearest apostles, you are serving Me despite trials and temptations. That is why you are called apostles, because you follow Me and serve Me. No life is easy or without strife, and I know, dear apostles, that you experience your share of difficulty. These difficulties are important for you because through the suffering of them you gain mastery over yourself. When you conquer a difficulty, using the holiness you have received from Me, you become stronger spiritually and then when the next difficulty comes, you both view it differently and treat it differently. You view it as expected, because your experience tells you that life in general, and service to Me specifically, will include these difficulties. You treat it differently because you know that I am with you today as I have been with you in the past. Additionally, you understand that all difficulty passes. What is it that remains, dear apostles, when the difficulty passes? Your commitment to Me remains and the work I will for you remains. You are not overcome and I need your help. And so we go on, Jesus and His apostles. The work continues and comfort and salvation are brought to God’s children.  Be at peace, dear friends. I am with you and I am factoring in your presence as I plan for the advancement of the Renewal.

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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.

March 1, 2011


Be at peace, dear apostles. I urge you to strive daily to be at peace. All that surrounds you will benefit from your understanding that while the world changes, God remains the same. I am the same. I am with you and the reason I urge you toward a peaceful countenance is because the enemy of peace sows fear in God’s children. You may think that I am asking you to be at peace but that this is too difficult. Dear friend of My heart, consider for a moment. What diminishes your peace? Which people? Which habits? Which activities? Ask yourself why these people or things diminish your peace? You must find these answers in contemplation of Me and contemplation of heavenly concepts. Only then will you be able to readily identify the contrast between the feeling of peace that heaven offers to you and the feeling of agitation that the world offers to you. The Spirit within you directs you to quiet, even in the midst of what might necessarily be a busy life. If you work from Me, you will retain your peace in activity and interaction with others because you will be giving and receiving Me. When you are with someone who is unable to accept My love, My love will surround that person until that person can receive it and you will not have wasted love because My love blesses you even as it moves through you. By working from Me, you are disciplining yourself to remain peaceful because I am peace. I am calm. I am love. How often I ask you to provide the world with a contrast and it is in remaining peaceful that you will do so. Be alert to My presence and you will spread peace.

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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.

February 1, 2011



Dearest apostles, I am here, waiting to listen to your pleas. I hear your hearts as they groan in the loneliness of serving heaven when around you others do not serve heaven. You serve alongside those who either live according to the standards of the world or live serving out a call that is different from yours. Truly, I know that there are times when you wonder why I have placed you where I have placed you. I hope, dear apostles, that these times are brief. I hope that you will spend less time wondering why you are serving in a given role and more time wondering how to serve more completely in the role given to you. You see, comparisons to others will never bear fruit. You are unique. The work I have for you is unique and you must beware of the habit of dragging your vocation behind you as though it were something so heavy that it destroyed your joy. This is not how an apostle lives out a vocation. An apostle views his vocation as a prism through which opportunities for holiness and joy splash out in countless beautiful and varied ways. Truly, others should view you and your vocation as inseparable. You should become your vocation. Oh dear apostles, I know that you carry crosses associated with your holy vocations, but do you not see that these crosses, carried with dignity, illustrate My presence in your life and indeed in the world more than anything else? In every circumstance, I bless you and receive you into My heart where you find the direction and reassurance you require. In every moment there is grace available for you and for others through you. The more grace I flow through you, the more the world is blessed and the more you are sanctified. Move toward Me, closer and closer in your hearts and in your actions and, truly, the world will find the love it craves. Look at how God’s children drink in kindness, as though they were parched for want of it. Yes, you are sacrificing in order to answer My call but the plan is working and the world is being renewed through the efforts of all men of good will. Rejoice then, despite your cross. We are advancing the one righteous cause, that is, the cause of love.


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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.

January 1, 2011



My friends, do you hear My voice? Can you feel My presence? I want to assure you that I am present. I desire to assure you of this so that you can be confident about the plan I have chosen for your life. I know that you feel temptations against the plan I have arranged for you. Perhaps not today, but on other days, or perhaps you experience this temptation every day. Perhaps you are suffering and you wonder why I allow this for you given that you feel you would be more productive without the crosses in your life. Consider for a moment what would have happened if I had rejected the cross and went on to preach. What would have remained after My life? Consider the absence of the Passion in the faith life that exists today. How can we preach the Gospel if we are unwilling to accept the crosses which inevitably accompany it? No, dearest friends. In order to accurately represent the Kingdom of God to others, we have to be willing to sacrifice, even to death in some cases. The glory of your work is seen in the souls of those whom you have touched directly or those who have been touched by others because you have agreed to My plan. My plan for you will bring the greatest benefit to those suffering loneliness and separation from joy. Such sadness! If you are serving Me, I thank you. If you are considering service to Me, I need you. If you are suffering great crosses because of your commitment to heaven, I rejoice in you. In all cases, I am with you. I urge you to believe this and live this truth. When you are finished with your time on earth you will gaze at My kingdom and view the benefits that you brought to it through your service. Life is not easy for any person and temptations come to all. Be assured that you can use My strength when you feel weak. You will not always feel conviction but you must live conviction. I will ignite fires of love through you if you do this for Me. Do not be afraid of your human struggle because it is through this struggle that others see the force of the One who works through you.


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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.

December 1, 2010



My dear apostles, together, we are making advances. Humanity groans with the changes coming upon them and yet heaven’s servants become holier and holier. The project that is your holiness is on track. Dear apostles, this is the most important thing and this should be your greatest concern. I want you to be aware of your progress. Instead of being distracted by the changes occurring in the world, you are actively participating in the changes through your personal commitment to remain connected to My will in each day. You are offering your service through your allegiance prayer and I am accepting your service and using you to teach others what true holiness looks like. From the outside, you probably look as though you are working hard. From the outside, it is probably evident that your commitment has cost you something, meaning, your own plan. You have submitted your plan to Me and I have handed you My plan in return. Accepting My plan for your life is not easy and some moments are more difficult than other moments, and yet, you continue. You strive for total acceptance of My will. This is what I am asking of you and this is what the Father asked of Me. Abandonment. If you want to learn about abandonment, simply look to My figure on the cross. My Passion offers you a glimpse of where abandonment took Me. Your joy in service offers others a glimpse of where abandonment has taken you. Please be joyful. Your joy offers the world hope. Joy is infectious. And hope is infectious. Suffering passes away and what remains is your offering. I am returning. I tell you this because it is true and I want you to be prepared and to help others to be prepared. All is well. The infant King looks out upon a world which craves Him. Bring Me to others, that they may also herald My return.


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On the first of every month, Our Lord gives “Anne, a Lay Apostle” a new message about His call to service. This month, He tells of His steadfast and unchanging love. The messages to “Anne,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.

November 1, 2010


Dearest apostle, be assured of My good will toward you. At times, I see that you forget that you have a beloved and constant friend. I am a friend who never finds you tiresome or difficult. I am with you during your calm periods and during your storms. I find you a precious companion regardless of your disposition in any moment. Think of someone whose companionship you crave or whose companionship you craved in the past. Just the thought of spending time with that person could bring you consolation. With that person, you felt comfortable, safe and there was joy. You could be yourself and felt that you fit well with this other. Dear apostle, for you, I am that other. For Me, you are that other. We fit together. When you are with Me, you are with the one who completely understands you and completely loves you. My love for you is sympathetic, understanding and unchangeable. My love for you will weather any strain or pain, any mistake or any emotional storm you experience. I will never leave you. I will always love you and welcome you in My heart. Your answers and your clarity will be found with Me. Sometimes, dear apostle, you fear that I am not giving you the answers you require. This is not true. If you need an answer from Me, you will receive it. If a course correction is necessary, I will direct you to it. Your prayers are instantly at home in My heart and I rejoice that you have come to Me with these requests. It is not possible that a beloved apostle will be rejected. Do not think that I ignore your pain or that your pain leaves Me indifferent. You, dear apostle, have shown Me that you are interested in My pain which will always involve the pain of humanity. This moves My heart to the greatest generosity. I answer your prayers in a mystical way. Some day you will see that I answered your prayers in the most beneficial way possible, given the intention. Many unnecessary calamities are avoided because of prayer. The greatest mercy flows down to your loved ones through your prayers, even though you suffer terribly when you see your loved ones hurt or when you must be separated from them, particularly when you do not expect to be separated from them. I am the merciful Christ in all of these situations. Understanding will come, dear friend. Believe in your prayers. Believe in My merciful presence with you. Believe in the impact of your service and believe in the gratitude I have for you, even when you do not feel it.

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September 1, 2003


I am with My children. My presence is silent but constant. I am directing many of the seemingly unimportant events in your lives, so that My will can be accomplished. My children are practicing faith, and that pleases Me. But My protection is so great that My children could have an infinite amount of faith in Me and still more would be justified. My faithful ones, who are struggling to serve Me and be holy, please trust Me for I am with you. I have pledged My protection to you and I will not leave you vulnerable. Offer Me small little prayers when you are frightened or unsure and I will place My calming hands upon you, steadying and reassuring you. You will look back at this time of service to Me and you will be so grateful that you said “yes” to your God. My children, you will look upon so many souls sharing eternity with you who would be absent if not for your service. Can you imagine the joy you will share with these souls? So be brave and continue in My service, walking the path I have illuminated before you. It is there you will find your peace and your key to eternity.

For today, I want to warn you about a snare or a trap. My children often want to do big things for Me, and truly, big things are necessary and big things will be asked of you. But your holiness lies in the small, dear soul. It is in the small unseen tasks and duties that I whisper to your soul, that I mold a bit here, reform a bit there. You do not feel these changes because they are so subtle, but changes occur, My child, in the small things. So do not begrudge Me the mundane. Complete small, humble acts with love and patience so that I may do My work in your soul as quickly as possible. Yes, We are going to save many souls, and bring the world back to the Light, but We are going to do that one soul at a time and right now, I am starting with you. So give yourself to Me that I may change the world. Together, you and I must perfect your beautiful soul, insuring that it reaches its fullest potential, both here and in heaven. Do you trust Me, My child? Trust can be difficult but this is one time when you can step out in complete trust and confidence because I will not let you fall. I am here, ready to save you. I have waited for this day, My child, for so long. My heart aches with love for you and watching you read these words creates an even stronger love in My heart. I will take care of you and you can close your eyes and rest in My heart. You have suffered because of the distance between Us. Often you did not know where the pain originated, but I assure you, the pain began when you turned away from Me. Our standards must be high now, as I desire your happiness. I want you to remain in My heart, where I place you today. I will help, My dear child. You are infinitely precious to Me and if you show Me the smallest desire, I can keep you firmly joined to Me, despite the winds that try to tear you away. Have every confidence that the smallest bit of faith will be rewarded in these days of difficulty. Heaven is united with earth in this mission of salvation for souls. All assistance is available to each soul who seeks to be saved. Be at peace, now, My little soul. I am holding you tightly. […]

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The messages from “Anne, a Lay Apostle,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). On the first of every month, Our Lord gives Anne a new message about His call to service.- Asst. Ed.



September 1, 2010

Be at peace in your day, dear apostles. Perhaps you are learning to move more slowly, and perhaps this has helped you to be more connected to My presence in your service. How blessed you are if this lesson has taken root in your life. Strive to achieve this way of life because you will have the greatest gifts available to you if you move methodically, with Me. Sometimes, people are unaware of the nature of My grace flowing into the day through their cooperation. This is best, dear apostles. Be like little children who throw many leaves from a bridge into a stream and then walk away. The impact of their action flows down the stream without any help from the child and the impact from your daily service flows into the greater stream of the Church without any further action on your part. Truly, your consistent service impacts the entire Church in some way, both in the day you are spending your time and in the future where you may not be spending time.

Each of you serves as a result of the service of many people. You were formed and directed in your faith by the sacrifice of those who went before you in service. Be grateful for their sacrifice and then you, also, give willingly and generously for those around you and those who will come after you. Dear friends, I am sending formation through each of you that is very specific for this time. It is for this reason that I implore you to remain fixed on Me and all that I am asking you to do. I want you to be holy. I can bring the greatest amount of mercy into the world if My beloved friends help Me. Be disinterested when the enemy of unity brings you reasons to disagree with those around you. Be interested when your Jesus begs you to overlook the flaws of others and serve alongside them in harmony.

Dear apostles, we have nothing without unity. Our campaign of love will only be successful if we concentrate on love. Love overcomes everything, even the most profound suffering. Because, when one of God’s children has nothing and he is bereft, the smallest bit of love is like the greatest feast. I, your Jesus, am now a beggar. I am begging you to love. Allow Me to see to justice because only I am equipped to pass judgement. You must see to loving, despite any wounds you have suffered. I am the greatest victim of injustice so I am the best consoler. Bring your suffering to Me and I will send you away with love, which you will then continue to distribute on My behalf. Be serious about My work, dear apostles. It is important. 

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Mary, Queen of Apostles

Published on August 22, 2009 by in General Mariology


The following article, “Mary, Queen of  Apostles,” is the title chapter excerpted from the book of the same name written by Rosalie Marie Levy. Here also is the preface from that book. –  Asst. Ed.


After God, the Blessed Virgin Mary occupies first place in the universe. In Heaven she is Queen of angels, archan­gels, and all the other glorious hierarchies. On earth she is Queen of patriarchs and prophets, Queen of apostles and martyrs, Queen of confessors and virgins, Queen of all saints. The Church of Christ has always proclaimed her praises. After the devotion to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is none more dear to truly Christian hearts than that to His Mother.

The central devotion to Mary is the Divine Maternity, which is the source of her ineffable dignity and fullness of grace. The privileges of her Immaculate Conception, her freedom from all sin, her perpetual virginity, her assump­tion into Heaven, her special mediatorship between the Re­deemer and the redeemed, and her exclusive right to an exaltation of honor and love above that which may be of­fered to anyone other than her Son, arise in that maternity, because of the Divinity of her Son, Jesus Christ.

We must always remember that devotion to the Mother of God was publicly proclaimed by Jesus Himself when, nailed to the Cross, He pronounced the words: “Son, be­hold thy Mother; Mother, behold thy Son”. It is a bequest of His will and testament; one which He consecrated with His Blood.

Just as Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on the day our redemption was wrought, so has she continued to stand by the Church which Jesus established. Just as she prayed those ten days with the Apostles and was with them when they received the Holy Ghost, so has she always prayed with the Church. And through the centuries Mary has been regarded as the Queen of Apostles, the Help of Christians, the Tower of David.

Since Jesus came to us through Mary, she cannot be dissociated from Him; she cannot be ignored by those who profess to follow Christ. Therefore, Catholics venerate and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary because the Creator of all mankind honored and blessed her by choosing her to be the Mother of mankind’s Savior.

Prior to the so-called “Reformation” in the sixteenth century all Christians honored Mary. Since that time it has been charged that Catholics adore the Mother of Christ as they adore God; that they insult the Son by honoring His Mother. We honor Mary because she was honored by Him. We do not adore Mary, because adoration is due to God a-lone, but we do honor her. We cannot honor her too much, since she is the one whom God honored and blessed above all other creatures. However, let us keep the language of the early Church: “Let her be honored and esteemed; let Him be worshipped and adored”.

No mortal is able to portray, worthily and accurately the virtues of the Virgin Mary. Her majesty is too glorious; her virtues too grand.

Therefore, humbly prostrate at your feet, dear Mother, we acknowledge the inability of our intellect, and our inca­pacity to appreciate your greatness and your sanctity. We implore your motherly assistance in the stupendous task undertaken.


Mary was not only the Mother, the inspiration, the consoler, the help of the first Apostles; she was their Queen. For thirty years she had lived with Jesus, and like a clear crystal she was filled with His light and holiness. Her very presence and example edified all who had the happiness to approach her. No one could converse with her or gaze upon her without feeling near to God. As she was helpful in the life of the Savior, so was she helpful in that of the Apostles during the public life of Christ and after His Ascension. She encouraged them in their efforts to spread the truths Jesus had taught and commanded them to preach in order to win souls for Him and His Kingdom.

Whilst the Apostles preached Jesus, the Light of the World, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, it was Mary who brought Him forth. She is His Mother. But for Mary there would be no Gospel for the Apostles to preach; but for Mary there would be no Christ, Who sent the Apostles; but for Mary the world would never have seen any Apostle nor heard the words of salvation. How much greater then is Mary than the Apostles! The Apostles labored for the conversion of nations by word and deed; Mary encour­aged them in their work and assisted them by her prayers, which obtained for them God’s blessings. Yet, Mary was more important than the Apostles; she never intruded between them and her Divine Son. She was a gentle, humble Queen. In the same manner, as during Christ’s earthly life, she remained with the Apostles, always present, yet in the background.

It is the opinion of the most renowned Fathers of the Church that Mary is ever zealous to enkindle the light of faith in the hearts of all who sit “in darkness and in the shadow of death”, and to save their souls from perdition. St. Augustine and St. Ambrose praise Mary as the teacher of nations; St. Cyril says that through her the Gentiles were rescued from idolatry, and the Church herself ex­claims: “Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, who alone hast destroy­ed all heresies throughout the world”. Many countries, such as Poland, Hungary, France, and the United States, owe the gift of Faith especially to the Blessed Virgin, and she is venerated as their Patroness. Thus Mary is the Queen of Apostles on account of her Apostolic zeal.

Mary is also Queen of Apostles because, beginning with the Apostles themselves, all apostolic men have loved and honored her as their Queen. After the Ascension of Jesus Mary became Queen of the Apostles, their “stay and their prop”. She encouraged them in their Apostolic labors, and comforted them in their persecutions and sufferings.


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The messages from “Anne, a Lay Apostle,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section).

The following message comes from Volume II, entitled Conversations with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. I strongly encourage our readers to download these messages and, if possible, read them prayerfully before the Blessed Sacrament in the presence of our Eucharistic Jesus. They have been of untold spiritual benefit to me.

September 5, 2003

Blessed Mother

Dearest children, nestled in my Immaculate Heart, you must live your lives joyfully. Jesus, my beloved Son, has given you everything you need to become true servants. In order to have peace on this earth, you must serve Him, who is all light, all goodness. I am His mother. I am also your mother. Call on me often, little children of this world. I have helped many souls reach heaven and I will help you. Confide your fears to me and I will console you. A motherly heart understands each weakness in her children and can help her children overcome habits that distract them from their union with God. Children, let me help you. Run to me when you fear you are not serving Jesus and I will lead you straight back to His holy path, the path He has marked especially for you. We are near you always, in everything. Truly, heaven and earth are joined as never before. Take full advantage of this. Heaven is happy, dearest children, because God is there. But you can be happy on earth also, because God is with you now. The more you seek Him, the more He will reveal Himself to you personally. All is well. We guard you and your loved ones without tiring, and you will see that your service to heaven brings you joy and more joy. Be with Jesus, children.

For further information regarding the Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King, or to purchase Heaven Speaks booklets, please contact Direction for Our Times on the Web at www.directionforourtimes.com, or mail inquiries to the following address: 9000 West 81st St., Justice, IL 60458, U.S.A.

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Anne” has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the spreading of her messages, as well as his own personal endorsement below, that her writings are “orthodox.” Anne has also submitted all her writings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We encourage, (as the Church herself permits), the prayerful reading of these messages.

To Whom It May Concern:

Direction For Our Times (DFOT) is a religious movement founded by “Anne,” a lay apostle from our diocese who wishes to remain anonymous. The movement is in its infancy and does not as yet enjoy canonical status. I have asked a priest of the diocese, Fr. Darragh Connolly, to assist in the work of the movement and to ensure that in all its works and publications it remains firmly within the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church.

I have known “Anne,” the founder of the movement, for several years.  She is a Catholic in good standing in the diocese, a wife and mother of small children, and a woman of deep spirituality. From the beginning, she has always been anxious that everything connected with the movement be subject to the authority of the Church. She has submitted all her writings to me and will not publish anything without my permission. She has submitted her writings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and I have done so, as well.

In so far as I am able to judge, she is orthodox in her writings and teaching. Her spirituality and the spiritual path that she proposes to those who wish to accept it are in conformity with the teachings of the Church and of the great spiritual writers of the past and present.

+Leo O’Reilly
Bishop of Kilmore
16 June 2006

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Anne first started receiving messages from Jesus and Mary years ago. In fact, so subtle were these messages that at first she didn’t recognize them as interior locutions. On her 40th birthday, her husband gifted her with a trip to Medjugorje, one of her long-time dreams. There she experienced a more profound relationship with Jesus and Mary. Receiving communion in St. James Church in Medjugorje, Anne began to converse freely with heaven.

“I did not know these were locutions,” she states. “It felt like the most natural thing in the world.”

Over the next few months, Anne had many conversations with Jesus and Mary. It became obvious that Jesus was preparing her to work for Him. One day, after morning Mass, Anne shared a conversation she had with Jesus with a religious sister she knew. The sister, her close friend and confidante, urged her to write down the words of Jesus. And very gently Jesus drew her into daily recording. Anne’s “yes” was the beginning of a series of writings that today are known as the Volumes.

On Wednesday July 23, 2003, Our Lord indicated to Anne His desire that these writings be published and disseminated: […]

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Without in any way seeking to anticipate the final and definitive judgment of the local bishop and of the Holy See (to which we owe our filial obedience of mind and heart), I wish to manifest my personal discernment concerning the nature of the messages received by “Anne,” a Lay Apostle.

After an examination of the reported messages and an interview with the visionary herself, I personally believe that the messages received by “Anne” are of supernatural origin.

The message contents are in conformity with the faith and morals teachings of the Catholic Church’s Magisterium and in no way violate orthodox Catholic doctrine. The phenomena of the precise manner of how the messages are transmitted (i.e., the locutions and visions) are consistent with the Church’s historical precedence for authentic private revelation. The spiritual fruits (cf. Mt. 7:17-20) of Christian faith, conversion, love, and interior peace, based particularly upon a renewed awareness of the indwelling Christ and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, have been significantly manifested in various parts of the world within a relatively brief time since the messages have been received and promulgated. Hence the principal criteria used by ecclesiastical commissions to investigate reported supernatural events (message, phenomena, and spiritual fruits) are, in my opinion, substantially satisfied in the case of “Anne’s” experience.

The messages which speak of the coming of Jesus Christ, the “Returning King” do not refer to an imminent end of the world with Christ’s final physical coming, but rather call for a spiritual receptivity to an ongoing spiritual return of Jesus Christ, a dynamic advent of Jesus which ushers in a time of extraordinary grace and peace for humanity (in ways similar to the Fatima promise for an eventual era of peace as a result of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or perhaps the “new springtime” for the Church referred to by the words of the great John Paul II).

As “Anne” has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the spreading of her messages, and has also submitted all her writings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I would personally encourage, (as the Church herself permits), the prayerful reading of these messages, as they have constituted an authentic spiritual benefit for a significant number of Catholic leaders throughout the world.

For further information regarding the Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King, please contact Direction for Our Times on the Web at www.directionforourtimes.com, or mail inquiries to the following address: 9000 West 81st St., Justice, IL  60458, U.S.A.

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St. Louis Marie de Grignion was born 31 January 1673 in the small town of Montfort-sur-Meu, just west of Rennes in Brittany, France. He was the eldest surviving child of the large family of Jean-Baptiste Grignion and his wife Jeanne Robert.

Louis Marie passed most of his infancy and early childhood in Iffendic, a few miles from Montfort, where his father had bought a farm known as “Le Bois Marquer.” According to those who knew him at this early stage, he showed signs even then of a spiritual maturity uncommon in one of his age.

At the age of 12, he entered the Jesuit College of St. Thomas Becket in Rennes, where, as well as doing well in his studies, he developed some of the enthusiasms which were to mark his later life. Listening to the stories of a local priest, the Abbé Julien Bellier, about his life as an itinerant missionary, he was fired with zeal to preach missions. And, under the guidance of some other priests he began to develop his strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At the same time, he began to experience the deprivations suffered by the very poor, and his love and care for them grew, not only in theory but in a practical way. […]

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The messages of “Jesus Christ, the Returning King” as conveyed through Anne A Lay Apostle continue to be the source of untold graces of conversion, peace, and joy on all five continents. In August, 2011, Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore reiterated his official permission for the worldwide distribution of these anointed messages. By their fruits, you will know their supernatural source –Ed.

December 21, 2006

I am Jesus. I am God. I am complete in Myself. I am present in your world and I am present in heaven. You see, I am omnipresent. Even if you wish to, you cannot remove yourself from My presence on earth. I created earth. You might say the earth belongs to Me. All in it, are also My creation. You, dear beloved one, were created by Me. Do I say that you belong to Me? I say it in another way. I say, I want you to belong to Me. I want to possess your heart. Why do I use the word heart when truly it is your soul that I seek? I use the word heart because people characterise the heart as the place where people hold the love they possess. If you have love, people say you have it in your heart. The heart is known as the source of love and the receptacle of love, so I, Jesus, tell you that I want to possess your heart. When it is all simplified, as it should be, I am saying that I want you to love Me. I love you. There is no problem there. I love you today and I will always love you. A difficulty we have is that you do not know Me. The only way for Me to teach you to love Me is for Me to reveal Myself to you, to allow you to know Me. For that reason, I come to you today. I reveal Myself to you through these words and through the graces attached to them. If you read these words and sit in silence, you will begin to know Me. If you begin to know Me, truly, you will begin to love Me. Forget anything that tempts you to move away from these words and graces. Rest. Be with Me. Allow Me to teach you about Me.


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It has been brought to my attention that a few individuals have publicly questioned the messages of Anne a Lay Apostle and the subsequent spiritual movement of the Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King as distributed by Direction For Our Times.  I would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm in the strongest possible way my own belief in the supernatural character of these messages.  I do so based on the appropriate criteria used by the Catholic Church for an authentic  evaluation of reported private revelation: 1. the messages being in complete theological and doctrinal  conformity with the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium; 2. the phenomena of the locutions and other forms of message transmittance being  consistent  with the mystical tradition of the Church; and 3. the spiritual fruits of  conversion, healing, peace, joy, and return to Jesus and to the Church which have been experienced on five continents  as fruits of  these messages.



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The following message from Jesus through Anne a Lay Apostle (Local Church permission for distribution, August, 2011, Diocese of Killmore, Ireland) is the first in a series of sublime messages from Vol 2 entitled, “Conversations With The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus  (see www.directionforourtimes.com).  Do not miss the graces conveyed in this authentic heavenly message, from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus directly to your heart. -Ed.

August 17, 2003


My children I am speaking to you from the depth of My Eucharistic heart. My dearest little souls of this world, you must come back to Me. I want your love now, as never before, and I want to protect you, as never before. Because Our time is not like your time, I can communicate with you in a timeless manner. This is what I wish to tell you. I am going to share My deepest secrets with you. I am going to remove the veil from the tabernacle as never before. I want you to know Me. I want you to know Me in My miraculous form of the consecrated host. I am the Bread of Life. Yes. And I am your Jesus, also. I was a humble Man, who walked your paths of difficulty, want, and hardship. Many treated Me badly, so I understand the pain of hurt. We had little money, so I understand the pain of hunger. I was different, so I understand the pain of isolation. Little ones, I am with you. I want to teach you things that souls of past times did not learn until they came to heaven. I am doing this because I am rising up a tidal wave of Christians to wash over the shore of badness that has taken control of this world, so lovingly created by My Father. This process will cleanse your world, making it safe once again for God’s children. I am going to bring you knowledge, wisdom, and love. I am going to introduce you to the divine to make your hearts burn like furnaces of divine love. You will be given the opportunity to work with Me. Children, come with Me now. Walk this walk of the divine with Me, your Savior. Together, We call out to others to join us. In this way, We rise up against evil and reclaim goodness for the world, for its people, and for God in heaven. I am omnipotent. By cooperating with Me and working with Me, you share in My power. You will learn to love in a way you have never known before. I am revealing Myself in a new way, such as I have never done. Come, let us together pay homage and pledge obedience to God the Father. It is He who decrees this work. Thank Him often and deeply for these graces, for with these graces, you will help Me to save the world.

For further information regarding the Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King, or to purchase Heaven Speaks booklets, please contact Direction for Our Times on the Web at www.directionforourtimes.com, or mail inquiries to the following address: 9000 West 81st St., Justice, IL 60458, U.S.A.

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We hold this marian symposium in Fatima, a sacred place where shepherd children communed with the Mother of God, and where the sun careened in the sky, confounding human certainties about what is possible and controllable. St. Augustine reminded us that all creation bears vestiges of the Trinity. Through human history, however, certain persons, places, and events, inexplicably chosen by divine intent, have occasioned deeper understanding of the mysteries of faith. Christ chose simple material things like bread, salt, and breakfast on a Galilean lakeshore to mark the giving of Revelation. In this sacramental place called Fatima, the Mother of God brought together ordinary shepherd tasks and a plummeting sun. In every era of history, there are concrete signs and events that open significant questions and evoke deeper understanding of the Faith.


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This article, which looks at the Marian dimension of John Paul II’s pontificate, elucidates his many beautiful and powerful words about Our Lady in her role as Coredemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. We are only now beginning to unravel the great teachings left us by our beloved Holy Father. This article was excerpted from Mary at the Foot of the Cross – VII: Coredemptrix, Therefore Mediatrix of All Graces, Academy of the Immaculate, 2008.– Assistant Ed.


I. Introduction: The Post-Conciliar Situation

The Servant of God Pope John Paul II has left to the Church a huge body of Marian teaching, which, in its quantity alone, is greater than that of all of his predecessors and which, in its quality and consistency, I believe is his greatest single legacy to the Church. While various aspects of this vast output have already been the object of numerous scholarly and popular studies, I would hazard to say that its rich doctrinal content, its inner coherence, and its clarity have barely begun to be appreciated. And perhaps even less appreciated is the fact that this vast and rich corpus of Marian teaching is not just the work of a noted theologian or preacher, but that, 1) when it occurs in a document of major importance, 2) when it can be shown to constitute a consistent and frequently repeated theme, or 3) when it is stated in a deliberate way which unmistakably indicates his intention to teach, it constitutes the ordinary magisterium of the Supreme Pontiff {footnote}Cf. Lumen Gentium #25. Cf. also Arthur Burton Calkins, Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 1992) hereafter cited as Totus Tuus 265-270; Totus Tuus: Il Magistero Mariano di Giovanni Paolo II. Scelta antologicee introduzioni di Arthur Burton Calkins (Siena: Cantagalli, 2006) hereafter cited as TTMM 33-35.{/footnote}.


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This month’s message from Medjugorje that Our Lady gave to visionary Mirjana Soldo on the
second of the month strongly alludes to an important theological doctrine, so prominent in the
writings of the popes, the saints, and the mystics: that of Mother Mary’s role as the Co-
Redemptrix. Part of the message from Medjugorje, transmitted on March 2, 2018, read:

“Pain lived and offered to God raises up. Did my Son not redeem the world through His
painful sacrifice? As His mother I was with Him in the pain and suffering, as I am with
all of you. My children, I am with you in life, in suffering, in pain, in joy and in love.
Therefore, have hope.”

In this message, Our Lady speaks of the unique sufferings that she shared with Jesus,
suffering with Him at Calvary, and she speaks to the reality that suffering is redemptive when it
is united with the sufferings of her Son. “As His mother I was with Him in the pain and
suffering, as I am with all of you.” These words further show us that not only were Our Lady’s
sufferings united with Jesus in first-century Palestine, but also that mystically, in her Spiritual
Motherhood, she accompanies us, her children, throughout time, during our sufferings on earth
(alongside our times of joy, pain, and love)—the message from Medjugorje, therefore, conveying
both her role as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix, articulating a Mariology that can be read as an
implicit support for the truths underscored in the Fifth Marian Dogma.

The doctrine of the Co-Redemptrix, referring to Mary’s secondary and dependent,
although unique, participation with Jesus in the acquisition of graces for our Redemption, is most
vividly seen at Calvary: in the understanding that Our Lady not only played a unique role in
salvation history through her Immaculate Conception and her role in the Annunciation and the
Incarnation, but also through her sufferings alongside Jesus at the foot of the Cross. Pope St.
John Paul II put it poignantly, once reflecting that, “Mary was spiritually crucified with her
crucified son.”

I have been blessed this semester to teach a graduate course at the Franciscan University
of Steubenville on the Franciscan mystics. One of the mystics we have studied is the late-
medieval Italian poet Jacopone da Todi, the Franciscan who has given us the Marian masterpiece
The Stabat Mater, which speaks of Mary’s sufferings at the foot of the Cross and which is
considered one of the greatest hymns of the Latin Church. Jacopone is also known as the author
of the Lauds, 93 writings – songs, poems, morality plays, and letters – tackling various Christian
themes. He begins the Lauds with a beautiful plea to the Virgin Mary and concludes them with a
Marian writing that speaks to the doctrine of the Co-Redemptrix. Invoking the voice of the
Virgin Mary, he writes from her perspective, as Our Lady is speaking to John the Apostle the
moment after Jesus dies on the Cross:

John, my new son, your brother is dead:
The sword they prophesied has pierced my heart,
They have killed both mother and son,
One cruel death for both,
Embracing each other and their common cross!

Jacopone highlights here something that John Paul II would and that the recent message from
Medjugorje has: the significance of Our Lady’s sufferings alongside Jesus—her spiritual
crucifixion alongside her Son’s crucifixion. It is a common cross that Mother and Son embraced
at Calvary. As His heart was pierced by the lance so was hers by the spiritual sword Simeon
prophesied. This speaks to the reality that since Jesus is the Redeemer and the only mediator
between God and man, Our Lady participates in His mediation in a secondary but unique
manner, for the salvation of souls, being united with His Cross.

-Brother Daniel Maria Klimek, TOR

 Adjunct Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville

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In the following article by Fr. John Saward from his text The Mysteries of March: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Incarnation and Easter, the author underscores the patristic tradition of the Annunciation and Good Friday both taking place on March 25th, and the theological and liturgical complementarity of these two great liturgical events. Indeed, Mary’s “fiat” at the Annunciation is also the yes which leads to the Redemption of the world and to her role as Co-redemptrix at the foot of the Cross on that “Good” Friday. – Ed.

There are years when, by date, the Annunciation falls during Holy Week, even on Easter Sunday; in 1989, for example, the twenty-fifth of March was Holy Saturday. In the Latin Church the problem of such double booking is solved by transferring the feast to a day outside the privileged Paschal period. However, in the Churches of the Byzantine rite, the solemnity of the Incarnation Stands its ground alongside the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. If the Annunciation coincides with “Great Friday” or “Great Saturday,” these cease to be the two days of the year when the Eucharist is not celebrated; the divine liturgy is served in honor of the Incarnation, and there is a hectic duplication of offices. This custom may look like just another example of oriental delight in complication, but it is much more than that. First, it reflects a tradition going back at least as far as Tertullian, according to which Our Lord died on the Cross on the eighth day before the Calends of April, that is to say, the twenty-fifth of March, the very day on which, by a later reckoning, he had been conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin. (1) Secondly, both the eastern liturgical practice and the calendrical tradition upon which it is based express an intuition of faith, the Church’s sense that the “mysteries of March”—the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection—are inseparably connected. Christian poets have always loved to entwine them. For example, St Ephrem, the fourth century Syriac writer, speaks of the new and everlasting springtime inaugurated by the coincidences of the month to which he gives the Semitic name of “Nisan.”

In the month of Nisan, when the seed sprouts in the warm air, the Sheaf sowed itself in the earth. Death reaped and swallowed it up in Sheol, but the medicine of life, hidden within, burst Sheol open. In Nisan, when lambs bleat in the meadow, the Paschal Lamb entered His Mother’s womb. (2)

In 1608 the Annunciation also fell on Good Friday and in England inspired one of John Donne’s finest Divine Poems. Donne looks at the Virgin Mother, “Reclus’d at home, Publique at Golgotha,” and considers the strange simultaneity of conception and crucifixion:

At once a Sonne is promis’d her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, Shee’s in Orbitie,
At once receiver and the legacie.
All this, and all betweene, this day hath showne,
Th’Abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plaine Maps, the furthest West is East)
Of the Angel’s Ave and Consummatum est. (3)

The mysteries of March meet in Mary, the Virgin Mother of God. At the Annunciation she says Yes to the Incarnation of God the Son in her womb. On Calvary she consents to the Sacrifice he offers for the sins of the world. When he rises in glory from the tomb, her fiat flows into a jubilation beyond words. Mary gives her undivided assent to the whole mission of Jesus, from Lady Day to Easter Day and to the ages of ages:

At the beginning, at the very heart of the Incarnation event, stands Mary, the perfect Virgin, who “let it be done unto her,” who was prepared to enter into a physical and spiritual motherly relationship with the person and also the whole work of her Son. (4)

For Balthasar, there can be no Christology without Trinitarian doctrine, but there can likewise be no Christology without Mariology, neither Incarnation nor Cross without the Virgin who said Yes. Adrienne von Speyr said to Balthasar a year or two after her conversion, “if (Mary) is taken away, all you are left with is an abstract Redeemer.” (5) She knew from her own experience that the “Christ alone” (solus Christus) principle of Protestantism threatened to dehumanize Christ. There are no solitary stars in the human galaxy; every man “belongs to a constellation with his fellow men” (einer mitmenschlichen Konstellation). (6) If it is “not good for a man to be alone” (cf. Gen. 2:18), it is not good for the God-Man to be alone. (7) The divine person of the Son is a “subsistent relation”: being Son is “being towards the Father.” Now when he becomes man, he enters the world of human relationships, sanctifying them, raising them, through his relational Trinitarian personality, to a dignity beyond compare. Jesus’ relations with other human beings can never be routine, merely neutral or casual, least of all his relation with Mary, his Mother and Handmaid. As the history of the Reformed denominations proves, to sever the Son from the Mother in whose flesh and by whose faith he became man produces a Christology of unsustainable abstraction. And that is not all: a Maryless doctrine of Christ inevitably means a coldly impersonal or masculine picture of the Church. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have always seen the Church personified in Mary, the Ever-Virgin Theotokos; the Church is “she,” a person, a woman, Christ’s Bride and our Mother. But, for Protestantism, the Church tends to be an “it” or a “he,” not a surrounding maternal presence but an oppressive institution or a gang of interfering clergymen. In a collection of essays published nearly twenty years ago, commenting on Karl Barth’s “jovially malicious” remark that he had never heard a Roman Catholic sermon on Mary on Swiss radio, Balthasar warned his fellow Catholics of the calamitous effects of their losing “the Marian principle”:

Without Mariology Christianity threatens imperceptibly to become inhuman. The Church becomes functionalistic, soulless, a hectic enterprise without any point of rest, estranged from its true nature by the planners. And because, in this manly-masculine world, all that we have is one ideology replacing another, everything becomes polemical, critical, bitter, humourless, and ultimately boring, and people in their masses run away from such a Church. (8)

Mary’s Yes at the Annunciation

The bond between Jesus and his Mother is Spiritual as well as bodily. The idea that it could be merely biological is humanly as well as theologically unthinkable. (9) Mary “devotes herself totally as Handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son,” (10) in soul as well as body, and throughout the whole of her life. St. Augustine, followed by St. Leo, expresses the totality of this mothering by the adage that the Virgin conceived Jesus in her mind by faith before she conceived him in her womb. (11) Everything about Mary is Catholic, “according to the whole.” Her consent to the Incarnation is wholehearted and wholepersoned, without reservation and engaging every fiber of her being:

The full consent of the Mother was already required at the time of the Incarnation of the Son . . . this Yes of Mary had to be a consent of total faith, without limit, without any restriction. For at least three reasons: first, because God, in becoming incarnate in the Virgin, does not violate his creature; secondly, because this Mother had to be capable of introducing her Son into the plenitude of Israel’s religion, into perfect Abrahamic faith; thirdly, because the Incarnation of the Word requires precisely a flesh which itself welcomes him perfectly; in other words, because the faith of this Mother had to encompass her whole person, body and soul, it had to be an incarnate faith. (12)

In the Mariological section of the Theodramatik, Balthasar states as a principle: God “could not use force on his free creation.” (13) The Father does not inflict salvation, does not impose the Savior-Son. He turns to Mary, appeals to her will, waits for her reply. Our God, as Julian of Norwich liked to say, is a courteous Lord. (14) So Mary is not “passively used by God but helps in free faith and obedience, to effect the salvation of men.” (15) She cooperates, in a humble, handmaidenly way, with the saving work of the Trinity.

For Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr, Marian consent is the “fundamental attitude” of all Christian faith and love, of contemplative prayer and active service, “the original vow, out of which arises every form of definitive Christian commitment to God and in God.” (16) If we want to know what it means to know and love and follow Jesus in the Church, then we must turn in loving devotion to Mary, his Mother and ours. By contrast with all the aggressively masculine, Promethean pictures of what it is to be a Christian, Hans Urs and Adrienne refer us to the heart of the matter, to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother. There, for example, is to be found the secret of prayer. (17) Praising God in the Magnificat, contemplating Jesus in her heart, prayerfully awaiting the Spirit with the apostles, Mary is the supreme model in prayer as she is in everything else that is Christian. To be Mary is to be prayer. (18)

Mary’s Yes is virginal, the assent of a woman who looks to God’s omnipotence alone for new life and fruitfulness. The virginity of her body is the exact sacrament of her poverty of spirit, her unresisting readiness to receive what God gives her:

Mary’s life must be regarded as the prototype of what the Ars Dei can fashion from a human material which puts up no resistance to him. It is a feminine life which, in any case more than masculine life, awaits being shaped by the man, the Bridegroom, Christ, and God. It is a virginal life which desires no other formative principle but God and the fruit which God gives it to bear, to give birth to, to nourish and to rear. It is at the same time a maternal and a bridal life whose power of surrender reaches from the physical to the highest spiritual level. In all this it is simply a life that lets God dispose of it as he will. (19)

Mary’s virginal Yes is representative. She gives her consent to the Incarnation on behalf of all Israel. She sums up and fulfils but then surpasses all the faith and obedience of her people since Abraham. Israel’s faith was constantly failing, regularly flawed by hesitation, doubt, even flagrant infidelity. Here at last, by the, grace of the Immaculate Conception, is the all-pure Daughter of Zion, unreservedly ready to give herself to God:

God looked on “his servant in her lowliness” and did in her the “great things” he promised to “Abraham and his seed,” as Mary herself says in her hymn to grace. But this means that her Yes to the angel summed up and surpassed all the faith and all the obedience of the Old Testament from Abraham onwards. It means, too, that it integrated the Old Covenant with the New, Judaism with the Church. (20)

Mary is Israel in person, Israel at its most perfect and beautiful, the Old Testament fulfilled in the New.

It is not only Israel that Mary represents by her Yes. At the Annunciation she gives her assent on behalf of all mankind, indeed of all creation. To see how this is so, we must follow Balthasar in regarding revelation as a nuptial mystery. Many of the Church Fathers speak of the hypostatic union as a marriage (connubium) of the divine and human natures. In the earliest expressions of this, Mary’s womb is seen as the “bridal chamber” in which the Son of God espouses human nature. Eventually, however, the tradition begins to see that she is more than the venue of the nuptials:

Mary cannot be the impersonal “place” where the marriage bond of the two natures is tied. God does not do violence to his creature, especially not to the woman who represents his covenant. He treats her with respect as a person, as embodying that human nature which his Word and Son will assume and, in that sense, as endowed with a coresponsibility. (21)

Since the Incarnation is not an invasion but a wedding, God wants mankind gladly to say “I will,” to give him its nature freely by a responsive and spousal love. Mary fulfils that role for us all at the Annunciation. Balthasar cherishes St Thomas’ way of saying it:

In order to show that there is a certain spiritual wedlock (matrimonium) between the Son of God and human nature, in the Annunciation the Virgin’s consent was besought in lieu of that of the entire human nature. (22)

In other words, the marriage of divinity and humanity in the one person of Christ does not derive its matrimonial character exclusively from the side of the Bridegroom-Son. No, says Balthasar, it is “a real two-sided mystery of love through the bridal consent of Mary acting for all the rest of created flesh.” (23)

It is precisely as a woman, because she is a woman, that Mary can represent all humanity at the Incarnation. Woman by nature is receptive, responsive, reflective: the womb that receives the seed of man, the answer to his word, the face that shines back its love to him. (24) Now Balthasar argues that, in Old and New Testaments, the relation between God and his creatures is presented in the light of this nuptial mystery. God in his transcendence, as the primary actor and initiator, is analogically male with regard to the creature; the creature in its dependence on God is open and receptive, capax Dei, and therefore, in a certain sense, feminine. (25) It is true, says Balthasar, that modern physiology has demonstrated that, in the act of generation, the female contribution is as active as the male:

It is nonetheless undeniable that the woman is the one who receives and that it is the man who gives. Conclusion: receiving, consenting, accepting, letting happen can be an attitude no less active and creative than that of giving, fashioning, imposing. And if in the Incarnation the part of man is taken by God, who is essentially the Giver, indeed the Imposer, the part of woman, who as a creature accepts the divine gift, is far from being passive. Let us say rather that this assent is the highest and most fruitful of human activities—in Pauline terms, faith is required more fundamentally than works. (26)

Woman is the classic creature. It is supremely fitting, therefore, that a woman on her own, a virgin in fact, should have represented creation in consenting to the Incarnation. For the Yes asked of her is ein geschehenlassendesja, a fiat, a letting-it-be-done-in-her according to God’s will. Men are men, but at that great moment Man was a woman. (27)

Mary’s Yes to the Cross

Like her consent to the Incarnation, Mary’s faithful Yes to her Son’s Sacrifice on the Cross is feminine, at one and the same time virginal, motherly, bridal, representative. It is a fiat, a “letting it be done” of womanly and handmaidenly humility, which accepts its distance from the male and priestly self-oblation of the God-Man.

This is the only way the New Eve can be the helpmate of the New Adam. He bears the guilt of all mankind before the Father. . .He makes room for the very different contribution of his Mother. What she has to do is painfully let his suffering happen, by her own suffering, letting his suffering happen in her. Mary’s fiat beneath the Cross is the archetypal fiat for all faith in the Church, not least in the Eucharist. . . (28)

In the Holy Spirit, who has filled her from her conception, and who overshadowed her at the Incarnation, Mary on Calvary gives the Son back to the Father, or rather she lets the Son return to the Father. And in that gesture she is the model for the faith of the Church and the individual Christian:

The more seriously Christians take this letting-it-happen-in-me for themselves and their whole life of following Jesus, the more Marian is their baptismal faith. But because of that they are also linked with Mary’s gesture of giving back her Son, from the beginning as far as the Cross, to the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Son has to do all the work that the Father wants him to do, and so into that work he fits Mary and all mankind. (29)

In the Patristic eyes of Balthasar, the Lady who stands by the Cross is indistinguishably both Mary and the Church. When, like Vatican II, he says that Mary is the Church’s “type” or “model,” he means much more than that she is a poetic symbol of the Church. In an important sense, she is the Church, a Realsymbol, as the Germans say, a symbol which contains the very thing it symbolizes. Precisely as the historical person she is, the Blessed Virgin is the Church’s embodiment and personification, the “concrete universal (universale concretum) of the Church as Jesus is of divine sonship.” (30) By her virginal mothering of Christ, she is the first person to live in the bodily, believing relationship to him to which his whole Church is predestined. At the foot of the Cross Mary personifies the Church as described by St Paul: “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing . . . holy and without blemish” (cf. Eph. 5:27). Through the sanctifying grace of her Son, received at the first moment of her conception, she is “the only member of the real pilgrim Church to correspond fully to the ecclesial attribute ‘immaculate.'” (31) Mary is immaculate through the anticipated merits of Christ. At the foot of the Cross she stands as already redeemed through the Cross. In other words, as Adrienne points out, “pre-redemption” makes “co-redemption” possible. It is only by the grace of the Redeemer, given her from her beginning, that she can cooperate with him. “She is not pre-redeemed through co-redemption, but through pre-redemption she becomes Co-redemptrix.” (32) Our Lady does not in any sense redeem herself, nor on Calvary does she merit the grace to be pre-redeemed. No, through her Son’s grace, bestowed in advance, she is empowered to say Yes, in a humble and handmaidenly way, to the Sacrifice from which all grace flows.

It is on Calvary that the bridal aspect of Mary’s faith becomes most evident. “Mary begins by being the Mother, but at the Cross she finishes by becoming Bride, the quintessence of the Church.” (33) She somehow embodies the Church as the cherished spouse for whom Christ gives himself up on the Cross (cf. Eph. 5:25f). Balthasar treats this idea of Mary as “Bride of the Word” (Sponsa Verbi) with immense reverence and delicacy. It is Mary’s spiritual consent to the Sacrifice that is analogically bridal. She is Bride as the representative, the living summation, of humankind for whom Jesus lays down his life. She is Bride as New Eve, helpmate of the New Adam. On the Cross the Head and Bridegroom gives himself up Eucharistically for love of the Church, and the Church in Mary accepts the gift. Jesus does not want the Church’s faith to be given simply post factum. He wants a “simultaneous, instantaneous consent, so that his Sacrifice might be truly total: inseparably, the Sacrifice of the Head and the members.” (34) Even in the utter loneliness and dereliction of Calvary, forsaken by his Father, deserted by all but one of his disciples, Jesus does not want “to act alone, without the accompaniment of his Church.” (35)


Fr. John Saward, former Professor of Theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, was recently ordained a priest and is exercising his priestly ministry in England.



(1) Cf. the Adversus Judaeos attributed to Tertullian, 8; PL 2, 656. By the same ancient reckoning, 25th March is also the date of Adam’s creation and Fall. A medieval author enlaced the four anniversaries in three lines of undistinguished Latin verse:

Salva festa dies, quae vulnera nostra coerces,
Angelas est missus, est passus et in cruce
Est Adam factus, et eodem lapsus. (Summa Aurea vol. I, Paris, 1862, p. 602)

Even when Easter is late and Good Friday is not strictly a mystery of March, the Annunciation still falls deep within Lent, the season when the Church thinks specially of the Cross.

(2) Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen de Nativitate (Epiphania), tr. E. Beck, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Paris, 1903ff, Scriptores Syri, Louvain, 1959, p. 83.

(3) H. Grierson (ed.), The Poems of John Donne, London, 1933, p. 305. Donne’s “Holy Sonnets” show his appreciation of the unity of the mysteria vitae Jesu: the last line of the first sonnet is repeated as the first line of the next, and so on, from “Annunciation” to “Ascension,” the seven forming a “crown of prayer and praise” (ibid., pp. 289-292). Donne was fascinated by the reconciliation of opposites and all surprising unities. This is why maps attributed to him “as devices for making contraries meet”; John Carey, John Donne, London, 1981, p. 264.

(4) Hans Urs von Balthasar, Der antirömische Affekt: Wie lässt sich das Papsttum in der Gesamtkirche integrieren, Frieburg, 1974, p. 116.

(5) Adrienne von Speyr, Erde und Himmel: Ein Tagebuch, Einsiedeln, 1975-1976, vol. 1, par. 271. On the interrelation of Trinitarian doctrine, Christology, and Mariology, see von Balthasar, Elucidations, English translation, London, 1975, p. 66.

(6) Von Balthasar, Der antirömische Affekt, p. 115.

(7) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère rédempteur, Paris, 1980, p. 54.

(8) Von Balthasar, Elucidations, 72.

(9) Von Balthasar, Der antirömische Affekt, p. 164.

(10) Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 56, in Sacrosanctum Oecumenicum Vaticanum II: Constitutiones Decreta, Declarationes, Vatican City, 1966.

(11) St. Augustine, Sermo 215, 4; PL 38, 1074; St Leo the Great, In Nativitate Domini 1, 1; Sources chrétiennes, Paris, 1940ff, 22B, p. 68. Cf. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987, 13, 9; Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, pp. 55f.

(12) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, p. 55f.

(13) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, Die Personen des Spiels, part 2: Die Personen in Christus, Einsiedeln, 1978, p. 273.

(14) For example, Julian of Norwich refers to Our Lord’s “courtayse love”; A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, ed. E. Colledge and J. Walsh, Toronto, 1978, part 1, p. 211.

(15) Lumen Gentium, 56.

(16) Von Balthasar, First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr, English translation, San Francisco, 1981, p. 51.

(17) Von Speyr, The World of Prayer, San Francisco, 1985, pp. 97-125; von Balthasar, Christlich meditieren, Freiburg, 1984, pp. 53-66.

(18) “Mary’s being towards her Child (Das Hin-Sein Marias zum Kind) is essentially prayer”; von Balthasar, Christlich meditieren, p. 60.

(19) Cf. Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, vol. III: Die Handlung, Einsiedeln, 1980 , pp. 333f; von Speyr, Theologie der Geschlechter, Einsiedeln, 1969, pp. 162-188.

(20) Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, 1: Seeing the Form, English translation, Edinburgh, 1982, p. 564.

(21) Von Balthasar, with Joseph Ratzinger, Marie, première Église, French Translation, Paris, 1981, p. 8.

(22) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, vol. III: Die Handlung, pp. 329f.

(23) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3a 30, 1; cf. C. Feckes (ed.), Die heilsgeschichtliche Stellvertretung der Menschheit durch Maria , Paderborn, 1954, passim.

(24) Von Balthasar, Sponsa Verbi: Skizzen zur Theologie II, Einsiedeln, 1960, 171.

(25) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, Die Personen des Spiels, part 2, pp. 261f.

(26) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, Die Personen des Spiels, part 2, p. 264. Again developing an insight of Adrienne’s, Balthasar acknowledges that there is a certain analogical femininity about the Son’s relation to the Father, his eternal receiving of the divine essence from the Father. Since the eternal, uncreated Son is the archetype of all that is created in time, he is archetypal of both masculine and feminine—of the feminine by his passive receptivity towards the Father, of the masculine by his active gratitude for what he receives. However, when he becomes man, he becomes male, “because, as the One sent by the Father, he represents the Father’s authority within creation. With regard to creation and the Church, he is under no circumstances primarily the receiver but the producer (der Hervorbringende)”; “Die Wiirde der Frau,” Homo Creatus Est: Skizzen zur Theologie V, Einsiedeln, 1986, p. 140. Neither Father nor Son can be anything other than analogically male with regard to the creature. For Adrienne’s insights, see Erde und Himmel 3, par. 2039 and 2255.

(27) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, p. 58.

(28) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, vol. III: Die Handlung, p. 369

(29) Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, vol. III: Die Handlung, pp. 376f.

(30) Von Balthasar, Der antirömische Affekt, p. 164.

(31) Von Balthasar, Der antirömische Affekt, p. 150.

(32) Von Speyr, Maria in der Erlösung, Einsiedeln, 1979, pp. 42f.

(33) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, pp. 62f.

(34) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, p. 13

(35) Von Balthasar, Au Coeur du mystère, p. 54. Jesus’ relation to Mary as a woman has both individual and social aspects; Von Balthasar, Theodramatik, Die Personen des Spiels, part 2: Die Personen in Christus, Einsiedeln, 1978, p. 265. Balthasar does not speak, as Scheeben did, of Our Lady’s “spousal motherhood”; cf. his Handbuch der katholischen Dogmatik, Band III, Frieburg, 1933, p. 491f.

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“I wish to tell you, dear children, to renew living the messages I am giving you. Especially live the messages regarding your fasting, because your fasting gives me joy, and by fasting you will attain the fulfillment of the whole plan which God is planning here at Medjugorje. Thank you for having responded to my call” (Our Lady of Medjugorje, September 26, 1985).

The Madonna tells us in this message that fasting is a foundation for bringing forth into full flowering the message of Medjugorje. Note also how fasting has an integral role in bringing about the whole plan of God at Medjugorje. In this article I would like to talk about three aspects of this call of fasting. First of all, the general Medjugorje call to fast by the Gospa. Secondly, the nature and profound fruits of fasting, with an emphasis on understanding fasting in a positive light. Too often we have a negative notion of fasting, much like the negative notion of the Sacrament of Penance which we discussed earlier. This is a great injustice to the spiritual gift that fasting is to the seekers of Christian holiness. Thirdly, and most importantly, I’ll treat how fasting can be incorporated into our lives in a personal and family way, how we can prudentially, and in a way that sanctifies our family, incorporate this call to fasting.


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The following article is an excerpt from the Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org. Visit books.google.com and search on “Mariology: A Guide” to view the book in its entirety, or simply click here.
Asst. Ed

Two titles, two parts: Mary, mother and model, are two titles and two distinct concepts, although related to each other. One characteristic of a mother, even in the natural order, is to be a model and example for her children. Because these two concepts are formally distinct, I have divided this study into two parts:


I. Mary, Mother of the Church—Mary’s Spiritual Maternity.
II. Mary as Model of the Church—Her Exemplarity vis-a-vis the Church.


The relationship between these two titles or concepts is radically based in nature itself. The essential character of a mother makes her ever an example, and for her own children potentially the most perfect example. If she has given them their very being, it is only normal her example should exert a profound influence on everything which pertains to their perfection. If filii matrizant—as the old maxim goes (children resemble their mothers)—it is only logical that their mother be their example and model, obviously in the physical order, but especially in the moral order.

This observation is perfectly applicable to spiritual and supernatural realities. Mary as Mother of Grace, is also model and paradigm for all the children of God as they strive for the highest levels of perfection. Hence, it is quite reasonable to hold that in the supernatural order there exists a positive, dynamic influence of this Mother over her children, and in them an attraction towards their Mother. In a rightly ordered world, this is the natural, mutual relationship which should be found among those who participate in the same life, the same nature. All the more so should this be the case in the realm of grace and supernatural life.


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I. The Mystery

In his brilliant book, Cradle of Redeeming Love, John Saward states that

The human birth of the Son of God is a mystery in the strict theological sense: a divinely revealed reality that little ones can understand but not even learned ones can comprehend. Theological mysteries are truth and therefore light for the mind, but the truth is so vast, the light of such intensity, that the mind is dazzled and amazed. When a man meets a mystery of faith, he finds not a deficiency but an excess of intelligibility: there is just too much to understand. (1)

While Saward’s topic was specifically the “Christmas mystery,” his words are not at all inappropriately applied to the “mystery of the Immaculate,” the creature most intimately linked to the Redemptive Incarnation. […]

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The Pope of Mary Co-Redemptrix

Published on January 20, 2018 by in Mariology


In witnessing to most every aspect of the story of Mary Co-redemptrix, John Paul II, the “Totus Tuus” Pope, exceeded all papal predecessors. The quantity of such testimonies is vast; their depth profound; their love inspired.

As if before a wine cellar full of extraordinary wines, we do not have the opportunity to taste and appreciate every teaching of Pope John Paul concerning his Mother Co-redemptrix. (1) Rather, let us offer some of his most exceptional.

John Paul II and Usages of Co-redemptrix

John Paul II’s official and repeated use of the title, Co-redemptrix, quickly remedies the silence at the Second Vatican Council. Within his first years as Christ’s Vicar, the Pope invokes the Immaculate Mother as “Co-redemptrix” on repeated occasions and makes whole again the relationship between the doctrine and the title. The title is legitimate, and the Holy Father expresses his conviction about this.

On September 8, 1982, Feast of the Birth of Mary, within the context of a papal address to the sick (who so much need to know the power of co-redemptive suffering), John Paul calls Mary the “Co-redemptrix of humanity” for the first time: “Mary, though conceived and born without the taint of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the sufferings of her divine Son, in order to be Coredemptrix of humanity.” (2)

As is well known, John Paul didn’t celebrate his own birthday of May 18, but rather his “name day” on November 4, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, after whom he was named “Karol.” On this day in 1984 the Pope once again calls his Mother the “Co-redemptrix” in a general audience:

To Our Lady—the Coredemptrix—St. Charles turned with singularly revealing accents. Commenting on the loss of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple, he reconstructed the interior dialogue that could have run between the Mother and the Son, and he added, “You will endure much greater sorrows, O blessed Mother, and you will continue to live; but life will be for you a thousand times more bitter than death. You will see your innocent Son handed over into the hands of sinners . . . You will see him brutally crucified between thieves; you will see his holy side pierced by the cruel thrust of a lance; finally, you will see the blood that you gave him spilling. And nevertheless you will not be able to die!” (From the homily delivered in the Cathedral of Milan the Sunday after the Epiphany, 1584). (3)

The next usage of the Co-redemptrix title by John Paul is his most important. At a Marian sanctuary in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on January 31, 1985, he delivers a homily in which he professes the Co-redemptrix title within a penetrating theological commentary of scriptural and conciliar teaching on Coredemption:

Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the “yes” of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption; . . . Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she “lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58) . . . .

In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ “to gather into one all the dispersed children of God” (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity . . . .
The Gospels do not tell us of an appearance of the risen Christ to Mary. Nevertheless, as she was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of his Resurrection. In fact, Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son. (4)

The Guayaquil homily by Pope John Paul II cannot be dismissed as either marginal or devoid of doctrinal weight. (5) “Spiritually crucified with her crucified son . . .”; “she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church . . .”; “her role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son . . .”—all of these declarations constitute sublime confessions to the doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix. They are packed with doctrinal depth and conviction by the Pope, to whom the believing Catholic heart should assent with obedience, thanksgiving, and awe.

Only a few months later, John Paul confirms once again the legitimacy of Co-redemptrix. On Palm Sunday, during World Youth Day, the he addresses his “favorites,” his beloved youth, and invokes the aid of Mary under the title of “the Co-redemptrix”:

At the Angelus hour on this Palm Sunday, which the Liturgy calls also the Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, our thoughts run to Mary, immersed in the mystery of an immeasurable sorrow.

Mary accompanied her divine Son in the most discreet concealment, pondering everything in the depths of her heart. On Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, in the vastness and in the depth of her maternal sacrifice, she had John, the youngest Apostle, beside her . . . .

May Mary our Protectress, the Co-redemptrix, to whom we offer our prayer with great outpouring, make our desire generously correspond to the desire of the Redeemer. (6)

Again in context of the sick, (this time to volunteers of Lourdes) on March 24, 1990, the Pope calls upon the aid of Mary under the title “Co-redemptrix”: “May Mary most holy, Co-redemptrix of the human race beside her Son, always give you courage and confidence!” (7)

In commemorating the sixth centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden (October 6, 1991), the John Paul uses “Co-redemptrix” as a title and role understood by this fourteenth century mystic whose revelations did so much to stimulate the medieval development of the doctrine:

Birgitta looked to Mary as her model and support in the various moments of her life. She spoke energetically about the divine privilege of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She contemplated her astonishing mission as Mother of the Saviour. She invoked her as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Coredemptrix, exalting Mary’s singular role in the history of salvation and the life of the Christian people. (8)

Clearly, the Totus Tuus Pope affirms the authenticity of the Co-redemptrix title within the Church, both in the context of doctrinal treatments and in the order of prayerful invocation by the Church.

John Paul II’s contribution to the doctrinal advancement of Marian Coredemption is no less stellar. During the Marian month of May in 1983, the he highlights the Immaculate Virgin’s association with Christ as the “highest model of cooperation,” which is begun with her “yes” to the work of Redemption at the Annunciation:

Dearest brothers and sisters, in the month of May we raise our eyes to Mary, the woman who was associated in a unique way in the work of mankind’s reconciliation with God. According to the Father’s plan, Christ was to accomplish this work through his sacrifice. However, a woman would be associated with him, the Immaculate Virgin who is thus placed before our eyes as the highest model of cooperation in the work of salvation. . . .

The “Yes” of the Annunciation constituted not only the acceptance of the offered motherhood, but signified above all Mary’s commitment to service of the mystery of the Redemption. Redemption was the work of her Son; Mary was associated with it on a subordinate level. Nevertheless, her participation was real and demanding. Giving her consent to the angel’s message, Mary agreed to collaborate in the whole work of mankind’s reconciliation with God, just as her Son would accomplish it. (9)

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 5, 1983, Pope John Paul II again underlines Our Lady’s active part in the one Redemptive Sacrifice, which is continued in every Mass. In this sacrifice, Mary “offered him and she offered herself to the Father,” and as a result, every Mass puts us in intimate communion “with her, the Mother”:

Born of the Virgin to be a pure, holy and immaculate oblation, Christ offered on the Cross the one perfect Sacrifice which every Mass, in an unbloody manner, renews and makes present. In that one Sacrifice, Mary, the first redeemed, the Mother of the Church, had an active part. She stood near the Crucified, suffering deeply with her Firstborn; with a motherly heart she associated herself with his Sacrifice; with love she consented to his immolation (cf. Lumen Gentium, 58; Marialis Cultus, 20): she offered him and she offered herself to the Father. Every Eucharist is a memorial of that Sacrifice and that Passover that restored life to the world; every Mass puts us in intimate communion with her, the Mother, whose sacrifice “becomes present” just as the Sacrifice of her Son “becomes present” at the words of consecration of the bread and wine pronounced by the priest. (10)

In the same year (December 7, 1983), John Paul II elucidates the crucial pre-requisite for the Mother’s coredemptive mission as her Immaculate Conception (a truth of doctrinal interconnectedness which merits greater contemporary appreciation): “We must above all note that Mary was created immaculate in order to be better able to act on our behalf. The fullness of grace allowed her to fulfill perfectly her mission of collaboration with the work of salvation; it gave the maximum value to her cooperation in the sacrifice. When Mary presented to the Father her Son nailed to the cross, her painful offering was entirely pure.” (11)

In the 1984 Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), the Holy Father delivers an extraordinary teaching on the sufferings of Mary at Calvary:

It is especially consoling to note—and also accurate in accordance with the Gospel and history—that at the side of Christ, in the first and most exalted place, there is always His Mother through the exemplary testimony that she bears by her whole life to this particular Gospel of suffering. In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith but also a contribution to the Redemption of all . . . . It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. (12)

John Paul confirms the participation of the Co-redemptrix not only in the distribution of the graces of Calvary, but also in the obtaining of universal redemptive graces, when he declares that the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such a way that they were a “contribution to the Redemption of all.” (13) Moreover his description that the Mother’s sufferings at Calvary “reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view,” attests to the extreme human limits of suffering for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who watches and consents to the violent immolation of her innocent son, who is also God, so that humanity may be bought back. Because this unique sharing in the redeeming death of Christ is “supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world,” the Immaculate One willingly suffers in love for all mankind.

To the young pilgrims from Vicenza (reminiscent of Pius XI’s first use of Co-redemptrix to the Vicenza pilgrims in 1933), (14) John Paul elaborates extemporaneously that with the death of Jesus on the cross, Mary’s “very self, her heart, her motherhood,” were likewise “crucified” in the greatest “dark night” of human history: “. . . when Jesus died on the cross, her very self, her heart, her motherhood, all was crucified. When I wrote the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater I compared this moment in Mary’s life to a dark night, darker than all the nights which the souls of mystics have experienced throughout the Church’s history.” (15)

The teaching of John Paul’s ordinary Magisterium in the 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, acknowledges the lifelong “yes” of the Co-redemptrix given at the Annunciation which reaches its fulfillment at Calvary, where Mary “offers Jesus” so as to “receive and beget” his disciples as her spiritual children:

“Standing by the cross of Jesus” (Jn. 19:25), Mary shares in the gift which the Son makes of himself: she offers Jesus, gives him over, and begets him to the end for our sake. The “yes” spoken on the day of the Annunciation reaches full maturity on the day of the Cross, when the time comes for Mary to receive and beget as her children all those who become disciples, pouring out upon them the saving love of her Son: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” (Jn. 19:26). (16)

Remarkable in its synthesis of the story of Marian Coredemption is John Paul II’s General Audience of October 25, 1995, where the essential historical panorama of the development of Marian Coredemption is papally ratified:

Saying that “the Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer” (Lumen Gentium, n. 53), the Council draws attention to the link between Mary’s motherhood and Redemption.

After becoming aware of the maternal role of Mary, who was venerated in the teaching and worship of the first centuries as the virginal Mother of Jesus Christ and therefore as the Mother of God, in the Middle Ages the Church’s piety and theological reflection brought to light her cooperation in the Saviour’s work.

This delay is explained by the fact that the efforts of the Church Fathers and of the early Ecumenical Councils, focused as they were on Christ’s identity, necessarily left other aspects of dogma aside. Only gradually could the revealed truth be unfolded in all its richness. Down the centuries, Mariology would always take its direction from Christology. The divine motherhood of Mary was itself proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus primarily to affirm the oneness of Christ’s person. Similarly, there was a deeper understanding of Mary’s presence in salvation history.

At the end of the second century, St. Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, already pointed out Mary’s contribution to the work of salvation. He understood the value of Mary’s consent at the time of the Annunciation, recognizing in the Virgin of Nazareth’s obedience to and faith in the angel’s message the perfect antithesis of Eve’s disobedience and disbelief, with a beneficial effect on humanity’s destiny. In fact, just as Eve caused death, so Mary, with her “yes,” became “a cause of salvation” for herself and for all mankind (cf. Adv. Haer., III, 22, 4; SC 211, 441). But this affirmation was not developed in a consistent and systematic way by the other Fathers of the Church.

Instead, this doctrine was systematically worked out for the first time at the end of the 10th century in the Life of Mary by a Byzantine monk, John the Geometer. Here Mary is united to Christ in the whole work of Redemption, sharing, according to God’s plan, in the Cross and suffering for our salvation. She remained united to the Son “in every deed, attitude and wish” (cf. Life of Mary, Bol. 196, f. 123 v.).

In the West St. Bernard, who died in 1153, turns to Mary and comments on the presentation of Jesus in the temple: “Offer your Son, sacrosanct Virgin, and present the fruit of your womb to the Lord. For our reconciliation with all, offer the heavenly victim pleasing to God” (Serm. 3 in Purif., 2: PL 183, 370).

A disciple and friend of St. Bernard, Arnold of Chartres, shed light particularly on Mary’s offering in the sacrifice of Calvary. He distinguished in the Cross “two altars: one in Mary’s heart, the other in Christ’s body. Christ sacrificed his flesh, Mary her soul.” Mary sacrificed herself spiritually in deep communion with Christ, and implored the world’s salvation: “What the mother asks, the Son approves and the Father grants” (cf. De septem verbis Domini in cruce, 3: PL 189, 1694).

From this age on other authors explain the doctrine of Mary’s special cooperation in the redemptive sacrifice. (17)

The Woman of Calvary is also the Woman of Revelation. In the papal audience of May 29, 1996, the Pope identifies the suffering woman of the Apocalypse as the Mother at the Cross, who suffers to give mystical birth to the community of disciples:

Identified by her motherhood, the woman “was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for her delivery” (12:2). This note refers to the Mother of Jesus at the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:25), where she shares in anguish for the delivery of the community of disciples with a soul pierced by the sword (cf. Lk. 2:35). Despite her sufferings, she is “clothed with the sun”—that is, she reflects the divine splendor—and appears as a “great sign” of God’s spousal relationship with his people. (18)

In the same address, John Paul reiterates the role of the Immaculate New Eve as the Redeemer’s “faithful Collaborator” in her co-operation in the Redemption:

It was fitting that like Christ, the new Adam, Mary too, the new Eve, did not know sin and was thus capable of co-operating in the Redemption.

Sin, which washes over humanity like a torrent, halts before the Redeemer and his faithful Collaborator. With a substantial difference: Christ is all holy by virtue of the grace that in his humanity derives from the divine person: Mary is all holy by virtue of the grace received by the merits of the Savior. (19)

A landmark catechesis, part of the Pope John Paul II’s seventy catechetical teachings on the Blessed Virgin, (20) was delivered on April 2, 1997. During this General Audience, John Paul puts forth a moving commentary on the Council’s teaching on Coredemption and the Mother’s compassion at Calvary:

With our gaze illumined by the radiance of the resurrection, we pause to reflect on the Mother’s involvement in her Son’s redeeming passion, which was completed by her sharing in his suffering. Let us return again, but now in the perspective of the Resurrection, to the foot of the Cross where the Mother endured “with her only-begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her.”

With these words, the Council reminds us of “Mary’s compassion”; in her heart reverberates all that Jesus suffers in body and soul, emphasizing her willingness to share in her Son’s redeeming sacrifice and to join her own maternal suffering to his priestly offering.

The Council text also stresses that her consent to Jesus’ immolation is not passive acceptance but a genuine act of love, by which she offers her Son as a “victim” of expiation for the sins of all humanity.

Lastly, Lumen Gentium relates the Blessed Virgin to Christ, who has the lead role in Redemption, making it clear that in associating herself “with his sacrifice” she remains subordinate to her divine Son. (21)

The Holy Father has here penetrated deeply into the compassion of the Mother’s Heart at Calvary. “In her heart reverberates all that Jesus suffers in body and soul,” and thus she “shares in the redeeming sacrifice.” She does not share in the sacrifice formally as “priest,” but subordinately as “mother” in a united offering of the one Sacrifice. She offers her Son as “a victim of expiation” for all of humanity’s sins.

This catechesis is immediately followed by another inspired instruction on the Mother of God’s role as unique “Co-operator” in Redemption on April 9, 1997, which includes the imperative for Christians to participate as “co-redeemers” (22) in the work of distributing the spiritual fruits of Redemption. Only Mary as the Immaculate Co-redemptrix co-operated in the obtaining of graces of Redemption as the New Eve with and under the New Adam on behalf of humanity. The doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix becomes a crucial “type of the Church” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 63), for the People of God are likewise summoned to partake in the mysterious application of Redemption:

The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavour to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.

The Blessed Virgin’s role as cooperator has its source in her divine motherhood. By giving birth to the One who was destined to achieve man’s redemption, by nourishing him, presenting him in the temple and suffering with him as he died on the Cross, “in a wholly singular way she cooperated . . . in the work of the Savior” (Lumen Gentium, 61). Although God’s call to cooperate in the work of salvation concerns every human being, the participation of the Savior’s Mother in humanity’s Redemption is a unique and unrepeatable fact. (23)

The Mother’s meritorious cooperation in man’s Redemption originates in her role as “Theotokos,” (or God-bearer), for she gave birth to the Redeemer and remains “with Jesus” in salvation’s work unto the Cross. This is why the Mother of the Redeemer’s participation in Redemption is no optional theological speculation, but rather, as the Pontiff declares, a “unique and unrepeatable fact.”

Finally, in the Great Year of Jubilee, the Pope John Paul II compares the sacrifice of Mary with the monumental Old Testament sacrifice of Abraham, Father of Faith. But unlike the sacrifice of Abraham, the full execution of the Mother’s sacrifice of her Son was demanded of her:

Daughter of Abraham in faith as well as in the flesh, Mary personally shared in this experience. Like Abraham, she too accepted the sacrifice of her Son, but while the actual sacrifice of Isaac was not demanded of Abraham, Christ drank the cup of suffering to the last drop. Mary personally took part in her Son’s trial, believing and hoping at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:25).

This was the epilogue of a long wait. Having been taught to meditate on the prophetic texts, Mary foresaw what awaited her and in praising the mercy of God, faithful to his people from generation to generation, she gave her own consent to his plan of salvation; in particular, she said her “yes” to the central event of this plan, the sacrifice of that Child whom she bore in her womb. Like Abraham, she accepted the sacrifice of her Son. (24)

John Paul’s courageous testimony to Mary Co-redemptrix perseveres indefinitely, meriting for him the singular title of “Pope of the Co-redemptrix.”


This article is from the thirteenth chapter of “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003. The book is available from Queenship for the price of $3.00 U.S.D.



(1) For a more extended treatment, cf. Calkins, “Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption,” pp. 113-147; also “The Mystery of Mary Coredemptrix in the Papal Magisterium,” Mary Co-redemptrix: Doctrinal Issue Today, Queenship, 2002, pp. 41-47.

(2) John Paul II, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1978-, V/3, 1982, 404.

(3) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, November 12, 1984, p. 1.

(4) Ibid., March 11, 1985, p. 7.

(5) Unfortunately, these were the expressions used to describe the significance of the repeated papal usages of the title of Co-redemptrix by Pope John Paul II, as contained in an unsigned article which appeared in L’Osservatore Romano on June 4, 1997. This article accompanied the brief conclusion of an ad hoc ecumenical committee of theologians (sixteen Catholic and five non-Catholic), who met at the 1996 Czestochowa Marian Conference to study the possibility of a dogmatic definition of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate (a meeting estimated by the committee members to have lasted less than one hour).

Although the ad hoc committee members later stated that they were not informed that they were in any way acting as an official “papal commission,” their conclusions were nonetheless published some ten months later in L’Osservatore Romano as the conclusions of a “commission established by the Holy See” and released as a “Declaration of the Theological Commission of the Congress of the Pontifical International Marian Academy” (L’Osservatore Romano, June 4, 1997). This publication happened to immediately follow a meeting of some seventy bishops and one hundred theologians and international lay leaders at the Domus Mariae Conference Center in Rome (members of the international Marian movement, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici), who presented the Holy Father with a votum for the papal definition of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, based in part upon the theological foundations of the papal teachings of Pope John Paul II, and containing the petitions of over five-hundred-fifty bishops, including forty-five cardinals, and over six million petitions from the Catholic laity worldwide.

The commission’s statement was published while the Holy Father was on a pastoral visit to Poland. On several points, the conclusions of the commission directly contradict the Pope’s own teaching and practice regarding Marian Coredemption and the legitimate use of the title of Co-redemptrix. For an extended treatment, cf. M. Miravalle, In Continued Dialogue With the Czestochowa Commission, Queenship, 2002.

(6) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 9, 1985, p. 12.

(7) John Paul II, Inseg., XIII/1, 1990, 743:1.

(8) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, October 14, 1991, p. 4.

(9) Ibid., May 9, 1983, p. 1

(10) Ibid., June 13, 1983, p. 2.

(11) Ibid., December 12, 1983, p. 1.

(12) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 25.

(13) Classic terminology in expressing this participation in the acquisition of redemptive graces of Calvary include “Redemption in actu primo” or participation in “objective Redemption.”

(14) Pius XI, L’Osservatore Romano, December 1, 1933, p. 1.

(15) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, September 16, 1991, p. 4.

(16) John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, March 25, 1995, 103; AAS 87, 1995, p. 520.

(17) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, November 1, 1995, p. 11.

(18) Ibid., June 5, 1996, p. 11

(19) Ibid.

(20) From September 1995 to November 1997, John Paul II offered seventy Catechetical teachings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which have been assembled and published under the title Theotókos: Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God, Pauline Books and Media, 2000.

(21) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 9, 1997, p. 11.

(22) On at least three occasions, John Paul has underscored the call for Christians to become “co-redeemers” in the distribution of the graces of Calvary obtained by Jesus and Mary, and for Christians to participate in “coredemption.” Due to its importance to Mary Co-redemptrix as an authentic model for the Church, we here include the direct references: “Is it necessary to remind all of you, sorely tried by suffering, who are listening to me, that your pain unites you more and more with the Lamb of God, who ‘takes away the sin of the world’ through his Passion (Jn. 1:29)? And that therefore you, too, associated with him in suffering, can be coredeemers of mankind? You know these shining truths. Never tire of offering your sufferings for the Church, that all her children may be consistent with their faith, persevering in prayer and fervent in hope” (addressing the sick at the Hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli) on Rome’s Tiber Island on April 5, 1981, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 13, 1981, p. 6); “To the sick who are present and to those who are in hospital wards, in nursing homes and in families I say: never feel alone, because the Lord is with you and will never abandon you. Be courageous and strong: unite your pains and sufferings to those of the Crucified and you will become coredeemers of humanity, together with Christ” (spoken while addressing the sick after a general audience given January 13, 1982, Inseg., V/1, 1982, 91); “‘The candidate should be irreproachable’ (Tit. 1:6), Saint Paul admonishes again. Personal spiritual direction should cultivate in them (candidates for the priesthood) an unlimited love for Christ and his Mother, and a great desire to unite themselves closely to the work of coredemption” (addressing the Bishops of Uruguay gathered in Montevideo concerning candidates for the priesthood, May 8, 1988, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, May 30, 1988, p. 4).

(23) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 16, 1997, p. 11.

(24) Ibid., March 1, 2000, p. 11.

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Ineffabilis Deus

Published on December 7, 2017 by in Papal Excerpts


Ineffabilis Deus

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854)

God ineffable — whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom “reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly” — having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.


And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son — the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart — and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.[1]


The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit of God, is the pillar and base of truth and has ever held as divinely revealed and as contained in the deposit of heavenly revelation this doctrine concerning the original innocence of the august Virgin — a doctrine which is so perfectly in harmony with her wonderful sanctity and preeminent dignity as Mother of God — and thus has never ceased to explain, to teach and to foster this doctrine age after age in many ways and by solemn acts. From this very doctrine, flourishing and wondrously propagated in the Catholic world through the efforts and zeal of the bishops, was made very clear by the Church when she did not hesitate to present for the public devotion and veneration of the faithful the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin.[2] By this most significant fact, the Church made it clear indeed that the conception of Mary is to be venerated as something extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings — for the Church celebrates only the feast days of the saints.

And hence the very words with which the Sacred Scriptures speak of Uncreated Wisdom and set forth his eternal origin, the Church, both in its ecclesiastical offices and in its liturgy, has been wont to apply likewise to the origin of the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.


These truths, so generally accepted and put into practice by the faithful, indicate how zealously the Roman Church, mother and teacher of all Churches, has continued to teach this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Yet the more important actions of the Church deserve to be mentioned in detail. For such dignity and authority belong to the Church that she alone is the center of truth and of Catholic unity. It is the Church in which alone religion has been inviolably preserved and from which all other Churches must receive the tradition of the Faith.[3]

The same Roman Church, therefore, desired nothing more than by the most persuasive means to state, to protect, to promote and to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This fact is most clearly shown to the whole world by numerous and significant acts of the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors. To them, in the person of the Prince of the Apostles, were divinely entrusted by Christ our Lord, the charge and supreme care and the power of feeding the lambs and sheep; in particular, of confirming their brethren, and of ruling and governing the universal Church.


Our predecessors, indeed, by virtue of their apostolic authority, gloried in instituting the Feast of the Conception in the Roman Church. They did so to enhance its importance and dignity by a suitable Office and Mass, whereby the prerogative of the Virgin, her exception from the hereditary taint, was most distinctly affirmed. As to the homage already instituted, they spared no effort to promote and to extend it either by the granting of indulgences, or by allowing cities, provinces and kingdoms to choose as their patroness God’s own Mother, under the title of “The Immaculate Conception.” Again, our predecessors approved confraternities, congregations and religious communities founded in honor of the Immaculate Conception, monasteries, hospitals, altars, or churches; they praised persons who vowed to uphold with all their ability the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Besides, it afforded the greatest joy to our predecessors to ordain that the Feast of the Conception should be celebrated in every church with the very same honor as the Feast of the Nativity; that it should be celebrated with an octave by the whole Church; that it should be reverently and generally observed as a holy day of obligation; and that a pontifical Capella should be held in our Liberian pontifical basilica on the day dedicated to the conception of the Virgin. Finally, in their desire to impress this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God upon the hearts of the faithful, and to intensify the people’s piety and enthusiasm for the homage and the veneration of the Virgin conceived without the stain of original sin, they delighted to grant, with the greatest pleasure, permission to proclaim the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin in the Litany of Loreto, and in the Preface of the Mass, so that the rule of prayer might thus serve to illustrate the rule of belief. Therefore, we ourselves, following the procedure of our predecessors, have not only approved and accepted what had already been established, but bearing in mind, moreover, the decree of Sixtus IV, [4] have confirmed by our authority a proper Office in honor of the Immaculate Conception, and have with exceeding joy extended its use to the universal Church.[5]


Now inasmuch as whatever pertains to sacred worship is intimately connected with its object and cannot have either consistency or durability if this object is vague or uncertain, our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, therefore, while directing all their efforts toward an increase of the devotion to the conception, made it their aim not only to emphasize the object with the utmost zeal, but also to enunciate the exact doctrine.[6] Definitely and clearly they taught that the feast was held in honor of the conception of the Virgin. They denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church the opinion of those who held and affirmed that it was not the conception of the Virgin but her sanctification that was honored by the Church. They never thought that greater leniency should be extended toward those who, attempting to disprove the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, devised a distinction between the first and second instance of conception and inferred that the conception which the Church celebrates was not that of the first instance of conception but the second. In fact, they held it was their duty not only to uphold and defend with all their power the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin but also to assert that the true object of this veneration was her conception considered in its first instant. Hence the words of one of our predecessors, Alexander VII, who authoritatively and decisively declared the mind of the Church: “Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul’s infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception.”[7]

Moreover, our predecessors considered it their special solemn duty with all diligence, zeal, and effort to preserve intact the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. For, not only have they in no way ever allowed this doctrine to be censured or changed, but they have gone much further and by clear statements repeatedly asserted that the doctrine by which we profess the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is on its own merits entirely in harmony with the ecclesiastical veneration; that it is ancient and widespread, and of the same nature as that which the Roman Church has undertaken to promote and to protect, and that it is entirely worthy to be used in the Sacred Liturgy and solemn prayers. Not content with this they most strictly prohibited any opinion contrary to this doctrine to be defended in public or private in order that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin might remain inviolate. By repeated blows they wished to put an end to such an opinion. And lest these oft-repeated and clearest statements seem useless, they added a sanction to them.


All these things our illustrious predecessor, Alexander VII, summed up in these words: “We have in mind the fact that the Holy Roman Church solemnly celebrated the Feast of the Conception of the undefiled and ever-Virgin Mary, and has long ago appointed for this a special and proper Office according to the pious, devout, and laudable instruction which was given by our predecessor, Sixtus IV. Likewise, we were desirous, after the example of our predecessors, to favor this praiseworthy piety, devotion, feast and veneration — a veneration which is in keeping with the piety unchanged in the Roman Church from the day it was instituted. We also desired to protect this piety and devotion of venerating and extolling the most Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we were anxious to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the flock of Christ by putting down arguments and controversies and by removing scandals. So at the instance and request of the bishops mentioned above, with the chapters of the churches, and of King Philip and his kingdoms, we renew the Constitutions and Decrees issued by the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, especially Sixtus IV,[8] Paul V,[9] and Gregory XV,[10] in favor of the doctrine asserting that the soul of the Blessed Virgin, in its creation and infusion into the body, was endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and preserved from original sin; and also in favor of the feast and veneration of the conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as is manifest, was instituted in keeping with that pious belief. So we command this feast to be observed under the censures and penalties contained in the same Constitutions.

“And therefore, against all and everyone of those who shall continue to construe the said Constitutions and Decrees in a manner apt to frustrate the favor which is thereby given to the said doctrine, and to the feast and relative veneration, or who shall dare to call into question the said sentence, feast and worship, or in any way whatever, directly or indirectly, shall declare themselves opposed to it under any pretext whatsoever, were it but only to the extent of examining the possibilities of effecting the definition, or who shall comment upon and interpret the Sacred Scripture, or the Fathers or Doctors in connection therewith, or finally, for any reason, or on any occasion, shall dare, either in writing or verbally, to speak, preach, treat, dispute or determine upon, or assert whatsoever against the foregoing matters, or who shall adduce any arguments against them, while leaving them unresolved, or who shall disagree therewith in any other conceivable manner, we hereby declare that in addition to the penalties and censures contained in the Constitutions issued by Sixtus IV to which we want them to be subjected and to which we subject them by the present Constitution, we hereby decree that they be deprived of the authority of preaching, reading in public, that is to say teaching and interpreting; and that they be also deprived ipso facto of the power of voting, either actively or passively, in all elections, without the need for any further declaration; and that also, ipso facto, without any further declaration, they shall incur the penalty of perpetual disability from preaching, reading in public, teaching and interpreting, and that it shall not be possible to absolve them from such penalty, or remove it, save through ourselves, or the Roman Pontiffs who shall succeed us.

“We also require that the same shall remain subject to any other penalties which by us, of our own free will — or by the Roman Pontiffs, our successors (according as they may decree) — shall be deemed advisable to establish, and by the present Constitution we declare them subject thereto, and hereby renew the above Decrees and Constitutions of Paul V and Gregory XV.

“Moreover, as regards those books in which the said sentence, feast and relative veneration are called into question or are contradicted in any way whatsoever, according to what has already been stated, either in writing or verbally, in discourses, sermons, lectures, treatises and debates — that may have been printed after the above-praised Decree of Paul V, or may be printed hereafter we hereby prohibit them, subject to the penalties and censures established by the Index of prohibited books, and ipso facto, without any further declaration, we desire and command that they be held as expressly prohibited.”[11]


All are aware with how much diligence this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been handed down, proposed and defended by the most outstanding religious orders, by the more celebrated theological academies, and by very eminent doctors in the sciences of theology. All know, likewise, how eager the bishops have been to profess openly and publicly, even in ecclesiastical assemblies, that Mary, the most holy Mother of God, by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint, and hence she was redeemed in a manner more sublime.


Besides, we must note a fact of the greatest importance indeed. Even the Council of Trent itself, when it promulgated the dogmatic decree concerning original sin, following the testimonies of the Sacred Scriptures, of the Holy Fathers and of the renowned Council, decreed and defined that all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition. Indeed, considering the times and circumstances, the Fathers of Trent sufficiently intimated by this declaration that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from the original stain; and thus they clearly signified that nothing could be reasonably cited from the Sacred Scriptures, from Tradition, or from the authority of the Fathers, which would in any way be opposed to so great a prerogative of the Blessed Virgin.[12]


And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner — this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grow only within their own genus — that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning.


The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind — words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed”[13] — taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.[14]

This sublime and singular privilege of the Blessed Virgin, together with her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin, as well as the unspeakable abundance and greatness of all heavenly graces, virtues and privileges — these the Fathers beheld in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world;[15] in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned'[16] in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully;[17] in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong;[18] in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots;[19] as in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains;[20] in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendors, is full of the glory of God;[21] and in very many other biblical types of this kind. In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner.

In like manner did they use the words of the prophets to describe this wondrous abundance of divine gifts and the original innocence of the Virgin of whom Jesus was born. They celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish.


When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace[22] by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”[23]


Hence, it is the clear and unanimous opinion of the Fathers that the most glorious Virgin, for whom “he who is mighty has done great things,” was resplendent with such an abundance of heavenly gifts, with such a fullness of grace and with such innocence, that she is an unspeakable miracle of God — indeed, the crown of all miracles and truly the Mother of God; that she approaches as near to God himself as is possible for a created being; and that she is above all men and angels in glory. Hence, to demonstrate the original innocence and sanctity of the Mother of God, not only did they frequently compare her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocence, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent; but they have also exalted her above Eve with a wonderful variety of expressions. Eve listened to the serpent with lamentable consequences; she fell from original innocence and became his slave. The most Blessed Virgin, on the contrary, ever increased her original gift, and not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but by divinely given power she utterly destroyed the force and dominion of the evil one.


Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life — not of death — the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.


As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely.[24] They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for himself by the Most High, foretold by God when he said to the serpent, “I will put enmities between you and the woman.”[25] — unmistakable evidence that she crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace.


To these praises they have added very noble words. Speaking of the conception of the Virgin, they testified that nature yielded to grace and, unable to go on, stood trembling. The Virgin Mother of God would not be conceived by Anna before grace would bear its fruits; it was proper that she be conceived as the first-born, by whom “the first-born of every creature” would be conceived. They testified, too, that the flesh of the Virgin, although derived from Adam, did not contract the stains of Adam, and that on this account the most Blessed Virgin was the tabernacle created by God himself and formed by the Holy Spirit, truly a work in royal purple, adorned and woven with gold, which that new Beseleel[26] made. They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows the evil one; that she is beautiful by nature and entirely free from all stain; that at her Immaculate Conception she came into the world all radiant like the dawn. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness.

This doctrine so filled the minds and souls of our ancestors in the faith that a singular and truly marvelous style of speech came into vogue among them. They have frequently addressed the Mother of God as immaculate, as immaculate in every respect; innocent, and verily most innocent; spotless, and entirely spotless; holy and removed from every stain of sin; all pure, all stainless, the very model of purity and innocence; more beautiful than beauty, more lovely than loveliness; more holy than holiness, singularly holy and most pure in soul and body; the one who surpassed all integrity and virginity; the only one who has become the dwelling place of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit. God alone excepted, Mary is more excellent than all, and by nature fair and beautiful, and more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim. To praise her all the tongues of heaven and earth do not suffice.

Everyone is cognizant that this style of speech has passed almost spontaneously into the books of the most holy liturgy and the Offices of the Church, in which they occur so often and abundantly. In them, the Mother of God is invoked and praised as the one spotless and most beautiful dove, as a rose ever blooming, as perfectly pure, ever immaculate, and ever blessed. She is celebrated as innocence never sullied and as the second Eve who brought forth the Emmanuel.


No wonder, then, that the Pastors of the Church and the faithful gloried daily more and more in professing with so much piety, religion, and love this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as the Fathers discerned, was recorded in the Divine Scriptures; which was handed down in so many of their most important writings; which was expressed and celebrated in so many illustrious monuments of venerable antiquity; which was proposed and confirmed by the official and authoritative teaching of the Church. Hence, nothing was dearer, nothing more pleasing to these pastors than to venerate, invoke, and proclaim with most ardent affection the Virgin Mother of God conceived without original stain. Accordingly, from ancient times the bishops of the Church, ecclesiastics, religious orders, and even emperors and kings, have earnestly petitioned this Apostolic See to define a dogma of the Catholic Faith the Immaculate Conception of the most holy Mother of God. These petitions were renewed in these our own times; they were especially brought to the attention of Gregory XVI, our predecessor of happy memory, and to ourselves, not only by bishops, but by the secular clergy and religious orders, by sovereign rulers and by the faithful.

Mindful, indeed, of all these things and considering them most attentively with particular joy in our heart, as soon as we, by the inscrutable design of Providence, had been raised to the sublime Chair of St. Peter — in spite of our unworthiness — and had begun to govern the universal Church, nothing have we had more at heart — a heart which from our tenderest years has overflowed with devoted veneration and love for the most Blessed Virgin — than to show forth her prerogatives in resplendent light.

That we might proceed with great prudence, we established a special congregation of our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, illustrious for their piety, wisdom, and knowledge of the sacred scriptures. We also selected priests, both secular and regular, well trained in the theological sciences, that they should most carefully consider all matters pertaining to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin and make known to us their opinion.


Although we knew the mind of the bishops from the petitions which we had received from them, namely, that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin be finally defined, nevertheless, on February 2, 1849,[27] we sent an Encyclical Letter from Gaeta to all our venerable brethren, the bishops of the Catholic world, that they should offer prayers to God and then tell us in writing what the piety and devotion of their faithful was in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. We likewise inquired what the bishops themselves thought about defining this doctrine and what their wishes were in regard to making known with all possible solemnity our supreme judgment.

We were certainly filled with the greatest consolation when the replies of our venerable brethren came to us. For, replying to us with a most enthusiastic joy, exultation and zeal, they not only again confirmed their own singular piety toward the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, and that of the secular and religious clergy and of the faithful, but with one voice they even entreated us to define our supreme judgment and authority the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. In the meantime we were indeed filled with no less joy when, after a diligent examination, our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the special congregation and the theologians chosen by us as counselors (whom we mentioned above), asked with the same enthusiasm and fervor for the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.

Consequently, following the examples of our predecessors, and desiring to proceed in the traditional manner, we announced and held a consistory, in which we addressed our brethren, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. It was the greatest spiritual joy for us when we heard them ask us to promulgate the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God.[28]

Therefore, having full trust in the Lord that the opportune time had come for defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which Holy Scripture, venerable Tradition, the constant mind of the Church, the desire of Catholic bishops and the faithful, and the memorable Acts and Constitutions of our predecessors, wonderfully illustrate and proclaim, and having most diligently considered all things, as we poured forth to God ceaseless and fervent prayers, we concluded that we should no longer delay in decreeing and defining by our supreme authority the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. And thus, we can satisfy the most holy desire of the Catholic world as well as our own devotion toward the most holy Virgin, and at the same time honor more and more the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord through his holy Mother — since whatever honor and praise are bestowed on the Mother redound to the Son.


Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:

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.
[Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam.]

Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he thinks in his heart.

Our soul overflows with joy and our tongue with exultation. We give, and we shall continue to give, the humblest and deepest thanks to Jesus Christ, our Lord, because through his singular grace he has granted to us, unworthy though we be, to decree and offer this honor and glory and praise to his most holy Mother. All our hope do we repose in the most Blessed Virgin — in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: in her who is the glory of the prophets and apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the saints; in her who is the safest refuge and the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers. We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign “from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth,” and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquility and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that she will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that she will remove spiritual blindness from all who are in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that here may be one flock and one shepherd.

Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, the eighth day of December, 1854, in the eighth year of our pontificate.

Pius IX


1. Et quidem decebat omnino, ut perfectissimae sanctitatis splendoribus semper ornata fulgeret, ac vel ab ipsa originalis culpae labe plane immunis amplissimum de antiquo sepente triumphum referret tam venerabilis mater, cui Deus Pater unicum Filius suum, quem de corde suo aequalem sibi genitum tamquam seipsum diligit, ita dare disposuit, ut naturaliter esset unus idemque communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius, Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Siritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est, ut conciperetur et nasceretur ille, de quo ipse procedit.
2. Cf. Ibid., n. 16.
3. Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, book III, c. III, n. 2.
4. C.A. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Denz., n. 734.
5. Decree of the Sared Cong. of Rites; September 30, 1847.
6. This has been the constant care of the Popes, as is shown by the condemnation of one of the propositions of Anthony de Rosmini-Serbati (cf. Denzinger, nn. 1891-1930). This is how the 34th proposition runs (Denzinger, n. 1924): “Ad praeservandam B. V. Mariam a labe originis, satis erat, ut incorruptum maneret minimum sesmen in homine, neglectum forte ab ipso demone, e quo incorrupto semine de generatione in generationem transfuso, suo tempore oriretur Virgo Maria.” Decree of the Holy Office, December 14, 1887 (AAS 20, 393). Denz. n. 1924.
7. Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661.
8. Apost. Const. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Grave Nemis, September 4, 1483; Denz., nn. 734, 735.
9. Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, September 12, 1617.
10. Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, June 4, 1622.
11. Alexander VIII, Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661.
12. Sess. V, Can. 6; Denz. n. 792. Declarat tamen haec ipsa sancta Synodus, non esse suae intentionis, comprehendere in hoc decreto, ubi de peccato originali agitur, beatam et immaculatam Virginem Mariam Dei genitricem, sed observandas esse constitutiones felicis recordationis Sixti Papae IV, sub poenis in eis constitutionibus contentis, quas innovat.
13. Gn 3:15.
14. Quo circa sicut Christus Dei hominumque mediator, humana assumpta natura, delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decretia, illud cruci triumphator affixit; sic Sanctissima Virgo, Arctissimo et indissolubili vinculo cum eo conjuncta, una cum illo et per illum, sempiternas contra venenosum serpentem inimicitias exercens, ac de ipso plenissime triumphans, illus caput immaculato pede contrivit.
15. Cf. Gn. 6:9.
16. Cf. Gn 28:12.
17. Cf. Ex 3:2.
18. Cf. Sg 4:4.
19. Cf. Sg 4:12.
20. Cf. Ps 87:1.
21. Cf. Is 6:1-4.
22. Cf. Lk 1:28.
23. Ibid., 42.
24. Cf. St. Augustine: De Natura et Gratia, c. 36.
25. Gn 3:15.
26. Cf. Ex 31:2.
27. Cf. Ibid., n. 19ff.
28. Cf. Ibid., n. 27ff.

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In his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II invites us to penetrate into the depth of the Mystery of Jesus by uniting to “theological investigation” recourse to “that great heritage which is the ‘lived theology’ of the saints” (#27). This is immediately illustrated by citing two women Doctors of the Church, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux whose “lived theology” sheds notable light on the face of Jesus in his Passion: “blissful and afflicted” (ibid).

In this way, John Paul II indicates a new path for the theology of the third millennium, a path of reflection and of contemplation uniting inseparably the understanding of the Mystery of the faith (fides et ratio) and the loving experience of this same Mystery (fides et amor). (1)

From Francis of Assisi to Thérèse of Lisieux, the mystics are the great representatives of this lived theology of the saints. They transmit to the whole Church their profound knowledge of the Mystery of God the Trinity, of the God known and loved in Jesus Christ by means of the great work of his Love which is the Redemption of man. Immersed in the Infinite Love of Jesus, they are the best “knowers” (connaisseurs) they are authentically “theologians,” that is to say “knowers (connaisseurs) of God.” In fact, according to the words of the Apostle John, “he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is Love” (cf. I Jn. 4:7-8).

This theology of the saints is like a beacon which sheds light on the whole Mystery of Jesus, from the first moment of the Incarnation in the virginal womb of Mary until his exaltation in the glory of the Resurrection, through all of the mysteries of his earthly life, and especially his Redemptive Passion. In this same light it is also possible to contemplate the countenance of Mary and to understand better her place in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, VIII).

In the course of this brief article, we are going to utilize the “lived theology” of Thérèse of Lisieux in order to shed light on a delicate and important question, that of the cooperation of Mary and of the Church in the Mystery of the Redemption, which could also be called “coredemption.”

In order to better interpret the theology of Thérèse, we need to recall in the light of Vatican II the intimate and indissoluble bond which unites Jesus with Mary and the entire Church. Jesus is the New Adam, the God-Man, the Creator and the only Savior of all men, the Eternal Son of the Father who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, became in a completely virginal manner the Child and the Spouse of his creature, to the point that his creature became truly his Mother and his Spouse. Such is the Mystery of the New Eve in her ineffable communion with the New Adam: she is inseparably Mary and the Church, as Mother of God (theotókos) and Spouse of God (theonúmphos), Virgin-Mother and Virgin-Spouse. (2) Remaining always a mere creature, she is raised to an unparalleled dignity by this communion with the only Savior, an active and dynamic communion which is a true cooperation in the Economy of Salvation. (3)

As a consecrated virgin, Thérèse lived profoundly with Mary and in the Church, in this “Heart burning with Love” which is inseparably that of Mary and of the Church, (4) the heart of a Spouse given to Jesus alone and the heart of a Mother given to Jesus and open to all the men created and saved by Him. (5) It is in her Love as Spouse and as Mother that Thérèse sheds light on the Mystery of the cooperation of Mary and of the Church in the Redemption. All of her writings are characterized by a profound Marian and ecclesial spirit, whether explicitly or implicitly.

In this perspective, our article will be developed in three points:

1. Pranzini “My First child”
2. “The Heart of a Mother”
3. Communion in the Agony of Jesus

1. Pranzini “My First child”

The heart of Manuscript A, written in 1895, is the narrative of the “grace of Christmas” and the salvation of the criminal Pranzini, a double grace of communion in the Mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Redemption. The Holy Spirit leads the young Thérèse from the Crib to the Cross, from the admirable exchange of the Incarnation to the admirable exchange of the Redemption: in the Incarnation, God became man in order that man might become God; in the Redemption, He who was without sin became sin for us so that we might become in Him the righteousness of God (cf. II Cor. 5:21).

While the grace of Christmas was a purely personal grace of conversion, of liberation and of spiritual growth, this second grace concerns primarily the salvation of the neighbor, but in a union still more personal and more intimate with Jesus, a fruitful union of the spouse with the Crucified, who makes her mother of the man ransomed by his Blood. Leaving childhood behind at Christmas, Thérèse became a woman, she became spouse and mother at the age of 14, before her entry into Carmel. Charity made these two strongest and most beautiful “strings” (which are spousal and motherly love) resonate in her feminine heart: spousal love of Jesus and motherly love of neighbor. This grace is one of a new gaze at Jesus Crucified and at the neighbor, the poorest sinner for whom Jesus shed his Blood. It is a eucharistic grace, received during Sunday Mass by means of a simple image, which nonetheless becomes for Thérèse a genuine icon making her see the Mystery of the Redemption:

One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of the divine hands. I felt a great pang of sorrow when thinking this blood was falling to the ground without anyone’s hastening to gather it up. I was resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive the divine dew. I understood I was then to pour it out upon souls. The cry of Jesus on the Cross sounded continually in my heart: “I thirst!” These words ignited within me an unknown and very living fire. I wanted to give my Beloved to drink and I felt myself consumed with a thirst for souls. (6)

The image represents the Crucified with Mary Magdalene embracing his feet, (7) standing under the right arm of the Cross, where Jesus’ hand is nailed. In this loving contemplation of the Blood of Jesus, Thérèse joins Catherine of Siena, the Doctor of the Body and Blood of Jesus. For Catherine, Mary Magdalene is the “loving disciple” who shows all of her Love when she stays there on Calvary, embracing the Cross to which Jesus is nailed, “soaked in his Blood, inebriated and washing herself in his Blood.” (8) By her “resolution” to “remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross,” Thérèse identifies herself with Magdalene. (9) She ardently desires that the Blood of Jesus fall upon her for the salvation of others. Her fear is that it will fall “to the ground” without reaching sinful man for whom it was shed.

In its simplicity, this text sheds great light on the meaning of the coredemption and the mediation of Mary and of the Church. There is a real collaboration of the creature, as spouse and mother, in the work accomplished by Jesus, the sole Savior, the sole Redeemer, the sole Mediator. This collaboration does not consist in adding something to the Blood of Jesus, but in communicating the Blood to the men of all times and all places.

Thérèse remains close to the Cross as the spouse who wants to offer a drink to her “Beloved,” and it is then that she becomes mother because of the virginal fruitfulness of the Redeeming Blood which she receives. She recounts how immediately Jesus gives her the criminal Pranzini as “her first child” (Ms A 45v-46v). It is one of the most beautiful and most powerful pages on the meaning of hope in Divine Mercy. The criminal condemned to death is on the point of dying in impenitence. Thérèse is aware of the extreme danger of his position, but at the same time, she cannot resign herself to the loss of a brother for whom Christ died: “I wanted at all costs to prevent him from falling into hell,” she writes. (10) The only price is that of the Blood of Jesus. The young girl has Mass celebrated for him. She expresses her certitude about his salvation in an absolute manner: “even if he went to his death without any signs of repentance or without having gone to confession. I was absolutely confident in the mercy of Jesus.” (11) Before being executed, Pranzini embraces the Crucifix which the chaplain of the prison presents to him. This simple sign brings Thérèse to her point of departure, which was the contemplation of Jesus Crucified:

Wasn’t it before the wounds of Jesus, when seeing His divine blood flowing, that the thirst for souls had entered my heart? I wished to give them this immaculate blood to drink, this blood which was to purify them from their stains, and the lips of my “first child” were pressed to the sacred wounds! … What an unspeakably sweet response! … After this unique grace my desire to save souls grows each day, and I seemed to hear Jesus say to me what he said to the Samaritan woman: “Give me to drink!” It was a true interchange of love: to souls I was giving the blood of Jesus, to Jesus I was offering these same souls refreshed by the divine dew.” (12)

Jesus then gave Thérèse as her “first child” a most miserable sinner, one who, from a human point of view was a “desperate case.” For him the young girl hoped against every hope, in all the strength of her Love as Spouse and Mother. This experience is fundamental, foundational. Thérèse will express her desire to save “the souls who are on earth” (13); “the” souls, and not just “some” souls! She will even dare to formulate this prayer: “Jesus, allow me to save very many souls; let no soul be lost today.” (14) And it is finally with the same confidence that during her great trial against the faith, she will intercede for atheists and the enemies of the Church (cf. Ms C 5v-7v).

2. “The Heart of a Mother”

In all of this Thérèse is singularly close to Mary, Mother of all men redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, Mother of Mercy and Refuge of sinners. The profoundly Marian dimension of this experience of the Carmelite can be made clearer in the light of the little play on The flight into Egypt (RP 6), written immediately after Manuscript A. It is the most illuminating work of Thérèse on the mystery of motherhood and its setting is an imaginary dialogue between Mary the Mother of Jesus and Susanna the mother of Dismas, the future good thief of the Gospel. This fabricated history is a marvelous parable about motherly love. Mary, the All-Holy has “the heart of a mother,” but the poor pagan woman and sinner also has “the heart of a mother,” a heart capable of welcoming the Infant Savior and of obtaining the salvation of the sinner child. The little Dismas was a leper; he was miraculously healed when, at Mary’s request, Susanna bathed him in the water in which the Infant Jesus had been bathed. Susanna then speaks to Mary about her fear concerning the salvation of her child, foreseeing that he will become a bandit like his father. Mary’s response, which is the high point of the entire work, corresponds exactly to what Thérèse had lived with regard to Pranzini:

Trust in the infinite mercy of the Good God; it is great enough to wipe out the greatest crimes when it finds the heart of a mother who places all of her confidence in it. Jesus does not wish the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live eternally. This child who, through no effort of his own, has just been cured of leprosy, will be cured one day of a much more dangerous leprosy… Then a simple bath will not suffice, Dismas will need to be bathed in the blood of the Redeemer…. Jesus will die in order to give life to Dismas and he will enter the same day as the Son of God into the heavenly kingdom (RP 6, l0r).

Mary will be there, near the Cross, collecting the blood of Jesus by her prayer: she will pour it out on Dismas, on all sinners, on all men who will become then her children. Read in the light of the preceding narrative concerning Pranzini, these simple words that Thérèse attributes to Mary reveal an inexhaustible depth. The Carmelite had hoped for the criminal on the point of dying impenitent. She had hoped with all of her “motherly heart” for this “first child” whom the Redeemer had confided to her asking that she wash him in his Blood. Mysteriously, she had already understood deep in her own motherly heart the exhortation of Mary, the expression of the depth of her motherly heart: “Trust in the infinite mercy of the Good God.” She had shared all of the power of her motherly hope: “so much trust I had in the Infinite Mercy of Jesus.” From the theological point of view, these two texts provide us with a very living light on the mystery of the coredemption. The salvation of sinful man, which comes only from the Infinite Mercy given in the Blood of the Redeemer, calls for this motherly and spousal cooperation which turns everything upside down.

The most incarnate expression of this cooperation of Thérèse in the Mystery of the Redemption, as Spouse of Jesus and Mother of sinners, is found in her great christological poem: Jesus, My Beloved, Remember!(PN 24) in the two stanzas concerning the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The previous strophes place the accent on spousal love: “Jesus, my tender Spouse.” As Saint John at the Last Supper, Thérèse can rest on the Heart of Jesus:

I am not at all jealous of your beloved disciple.
I know your secrets, for I am your spouse.
O my divine Savior,
I fall asleep on your Heart.
It is mine! (15)

3. Communion in the Agony of Jesus

Far from being some kind of self-centered pseudo-intimacy, this intimacy of the spouse with her Spouse is the source of her motherly and virginal fruitfulness. Thérèse says so directly in ascending from the Heart to the Face of Jesus as she sees it revealed at Gethsemane. We must cite these two admirable strophes in their entirety:

Remember that on the night of your agony
Your tears mingled with your blood.
Dew of love, its infinite worth
Made virginal flowers spring up.
An angel, showing you this choice harvest,
Made joy reappear on your blessed Face.
Jesus, you saw me
Among your lilies,
Remember that your fruitful Dew
Made the flowers’ corollas virginal
And made them even in this world
To give birth to a great number of hearts.
I am a virgin, O Jesus! yet what a mystery.
When I united myself to you, I am the mother of souls.
The virginal flowers
Who save sinners,
Remember (str 21-22). (16)

Thérèse alludes to the sweat of blood (cf. Lk. 22:44) and to the tears (cf. Heb. 5:7) of Jesus in his Agony. The blood and the water which flow in abundance from his pierced Side after his death, flow already on his Face from the first instant of his Passion. In relation with the Face of Jesus, this symbol of the dew has spousal character at first sight, according to a verse from the Song of Songs particularly dear to Thérèse. It is the word of the Spouse: “Open to me, my sister, my beloved, for my Face is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of night.” (17) Jesus in his Passion is the Spouse who gives his “dew” to his spouse, this “dew of love” which flows from his suffering Body, the “fertile dew” of his Redemptive Blood mixed with the living water of the Holy Spirit. The “dew of love” that causes “these virginal flowers” to bloom on earth is also the “fertile dew” which makes them mothers in “virginizing” them. (18) In the heart of these stanzas bursts forth this splendid affirmation: “I am a virgin, O Jesus! yet what a mystery. When I united myself to you, I am the mother of souls.” Finally it is remarkable that Thérèse contemplates the Body and the Heart of Jesus inseparably: in his Agony Jesus “saw” Thérèse, just as in his infancy he “thought” of her. (19)

In this life, the virginal Love of Jesus finds its full expansion in the profoundly intimate communion in his redemptive Passion. It is there that the Virgin is fully Spouse and Mother. The testimony of Thérèse on this point is joined to that of so many other women saints and blesseds: Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Gemma Galgani, Dina Belanger, Faustina Kowalska, etc…

In one of her last Letters to her sister Céline, Thérèse expresses symbolically this fullness of the Spousal Love of the Crucified: “Often, like the spouse, we can say: ‘Our Beloved is a bundle of myrrh,’ that He is a Spouse of blood for us” (LT 165). (20) These two expressions come from the Scriptures. “Spouse of Blood” comes from Exodus 4:25. The other expression, the “bundle of myrrh” comes from the Song of Songs, (21) according to the Vulgate translation, when the Spouse says: “My Beloved is for me a bundle of myrrh that lies in my bosom” (Song 1:13). Thérèse loved this verse in an altogether special way; she welcomed it from the time of her novitiate and received it in its Marian context. (22) Actually, this verse of the Canticle was one of the antiphons of the office of the Compassion of Mary. It expresses in a privileged way the spousal relation with Jesus in his Passion, and especially with the Holy Face. The Carmelite concretizes this in a symbolic action, in constantly gazing on it in a very tiny image of the Holy Face framed by the words: “Make me Resemble you, Jesus” (Pri 11). (23) The “Bundle of Myrrh” is Jesus as the sorrowful Flower sweetly resting on the bosom and in the heart of his spouse. (24)

In his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, John Paul II remarks precisely about how Thérèse “lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus.” In this regard he cites one of the words of the Carmelite in her Last Conversations: “Our Lord enjoyed all the delights of the Trinity when He was in the garden of Olives, and still His agony was none the less cruel. It’s a mystery, but I assure you that I understand something about it by what I’m experiencing myself.” (25) As all the saints, Thérèse holds very firmly to the doctrine of the beatific vision of the soul of Jesus during his entire earthly life, the unique privilege of the Redeemer. On the contrary, for Thérèse as for Mary, earthly life is a “pilgrimage of faith.” Thus, she says to Mary: “Mother, your sweet Child wants you to be the example/ Of the soul searching for Him in the night of faith” (PN 54/15). (26) This night attains its maximum darkness in the Passion of Jesus, when the hour of darkness comes. Then, the “night of faith” truly becomes the “kenosis of the faith.” This so strong expression, employed by John Paul II with regard to Mary at the foot of the Cross, sheds undoubtedly the greatest light on understanding the Marian depth of the Passion of Thérèse. (27) It is evidently not a matter of the collapse or of the loss of the faith, but, on the contrary of extremely tried and heroic faith. The Carmelite leaves us the unsettling narrative of this trial in the first pages of Manuscript C (5r-7v), (28) in designating it very precisely as the “trial against the faith” (31r). (29) Thérèse communes then intimately in the Mystery of Him who being without sin became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (cf. II Cor. 5:21). Without ever consenting to a single fault against the faith, she sorrowfully carried the weight of the sin against the faith in being herself plunged in the darkness of modern atheism. Having become a sister of atheists, she intercedes for them with the greatest love and also with the greatest confidence concerning their salvation.

For Thérèse, then, as for Mary, “coredemption” means the greatest participation in the redemptive suffering of Jesus, in drinking the very bitter cup of his agony, in being willing to carry with Him the very sorrowful and dark weight of the sin of the world, in being willing to share the suffering of his soul and of his pierced heart.

By this “lived theology,” that of a woman of the Gospel who stays close to the Cross of Jesus with Mary the Immaculate Virgin, in the company of Mary Magdalene and of the other holy women, Thérèse helps us to better understand what chapter VIII of the Constitution Lumen Gentium affirms with regard to Mary’s cooperation in the work of our only Savior:

The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the Incarnation of the Divine Word: in the designs of divine Providence she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ. She presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a Mother to us in the order of grace. (30)

The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associating herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. (31)

Fr. Léthel is a Professor of Theology at the Teresianum in Rome, the author of many spiritual and Mariological works, and is a theological consultor to the Holy See. This article was originally published in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II: Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, Academy of the Immaculate, 2002.


(1) Cf. my recent study: “La teologia dell’Amore di Cristo nella Lettera Apostolica Novo Millennio Ineunte” (Rome: Edizioni del Teresianum, 2001). All of my own theological research is contained in the great perspective of this Apostolic Letter. Cf. in particular my thesis: Connaître l’Amour du Christ qui surpasse toute connaissance. La théologie des saints (Venasque: Editions du Carmel, 1989). It is in the same light of the theology of the saints that I have endeavored to present the doctrine of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort in my last two books: L’Amour de Jesus. La christologie de sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jesus (Paris: Desclée, col. “Jesus et Jesus-Christ,” n. 72, 1997) and L’Amour de Jesus en Marie (Geneva: Editions Ad Solem, 2000).

(2) Here it is appropriate to note that the name of Mother signifies the unique relation to the Person of the Son, while the name of Spouse signifies the relation with the entire Trinity (and thus with one or the other of the Persons by appropriation). Hence Bérulle calls Mary “Spouse of the Father,” because they have in common the same Son: “Daughter and Spouse of the Father, Mother and servant of the Son and sanctuary of the Holy Spirit” (Troisième Elévation). Saint Francis of Assisi calls her “Spouse of the Spirit”: “Daughter and servant of the Most High and Sovereign Heavenly Father, Mother of our most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit” (Antiphon of the Psalms of the Mystery of Jesus). This title of Spouse of the Holy Spirit is the most classic, taken up in particular by Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort, by Paul VI (Marialis Cultus #26) and by John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater #26). It could be said that Mary is the Spouse of her Son, without there being any impropriety. Just as the Church is the Mother of Jesus with Mary, so also Mary is the Spouse of Jesus with the Church. The all-beautiful Spouse of the Song of Songs is inseparably Mary and the Church. The Marian interpretation of the Song of Songs, which is traditional, identifies Mary with the Spouse of Christ, which is theologically exact, since Mary is the perfect image of the Church, the Spouse of Jesus without spot or blemish. One must remember in this regard that if the Name of the Son expresses the property of a Divine Person, the Name of Spouse is in reality common to the entire Trinity. In God, there is eternally a Father and a Son, and not a Husband and a Wife. The divine name of Spouse, which characterizes the relation between God and the creature as a relation of Love, can also be legitimately appropriated to each of the three Persons. It is especially appropriated to the Son because of the Incarnation, but it can justly be appropriated to the Father and to the Spirit, for truly, the three Persons are only one Spouse, and not three Spouses. The Trinitarian communion is always virginal; it is the source of unprecedented divine-human relations, radically new by comparison with simple, natural human relations. Thus, for Saint Francis, every person who lives in charity is at the same time spouse and sister and mother of Jesus, so that Jesus is truly his Spouse and his Brother and his Child (Letter to the faithful, first version), such an expression, which Saint Clare applies most particularly to a woman who is a consecrated virgin (first Letter to Agnes of Prague), applies eminently to Mary. One can still add that for Saint Francis, the title of Spouse of the Holy Spirit is not reserved to Mary; he also applies it to Clare and to her sisters, when he writes to them: “you have espoused the Holy Spirit in choosing to live according to the perfection of the holy Gospel” (Form of Life, to Saint Clare). Here again, the lived theology of the saints sheds a living light on the mystery of the virginal “Bridehood” and Motherhood of Mary and of the Church.

(3) Here it is appropriate to quote what Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote in his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin: “With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since he alone can say, ‘I am he who is.’ Consequently, this great Lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had and does not now have any absolute need of the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of his will and the manifestation of his glory. To do things he has only to will them. However, I declare that, considering things as they are, because God has decided to begin and accomplish his greatest works through the Blessed Virgin ever since he created her, we can safely believe that he will not change his plan in the time to come, for he is God and therefore does not change in his thoughts or his way of acting” (True Devotion, henceforth TD, 14-15). The same teaching is again summarized in an even clearer fashion: “Being necessary to God by a necessity which is called ‘hypothetical,’ (that is, because God so willed it), the Blessed Virgin is all the more necessary for men to attain their final end” (TD 39). Saint Louis-Marie, who is one of the essential sources of the christocentrism of John Paul II, should soon be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

(4) Cf. Ms B, 3v; PN 54/18. We cite these texts of Thérèse as they are cited in the critical edition: Thérèse of Lisieux: Oeuvres Complètes (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1992). We utilize these abbreviations: Ms to designate the three Autobiographical Manuscripts (A, B, C), LT for the Letters, PN for the Poems, RP for the Pious Recreations and Pri for the Prayers.

(5) Thérèse often utilizes the symbol of the lyre (or of the harp) to symbolize the human heart, created by the God of Love in his image and likeness, made to love and to be loved. The writings of the Carmelite reveal how, like this marvelous musical instrument, the human heart is comprised of four strings (like the violin). In the feminine heart of our saint, these four strings are the essential dimensions of the Love which makes her live: the Love of the Spouse and of the Mother, of the Child and of the Sister, Spousal and Maternal, Filial and Fraternal Love. This is a matter of the most profound anthropological truth, for every woman has the heart of a spouse and mother, of a child and of a sister, as every man has the heart of a spouse and of a father, of a child and of a brother. Every human being is called to love God and his neighbor with his whole heart, whether in the vocation of marriage or of consecrated virginity. Thérèse is a (woman) who has fully blossomed in the Love of Jesus the God-Man and of all of mankind in Him. As a consecrated virgin, she is an exemplary witness of the splendor of virginal Love, a love at the same time divine and human which is the most marvelous achievement of the human heart, this Love which was lived totally by Jesus, the New Adam, and by Mary, the New Eve.

(6) Ms A 45v. English translation Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., third edition (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996) 99.

(7) This image is reproduced in the Oeuvres Complètes between pages 128 and 129.

(8) Letters 61, 163.

(9) In another passage in Manuscript A, Thérèse compares herself to Magdalene declaring that: “Jesus has forgiven me more than St. Mary Magdalene, since he forgave me in advance by preventing me from falling” (Ms A 38v; Story of a Soul 83). Here again, we find the “implicit mariology” of Thérèse. What is relatively true for her is absolutely true for Mary in the Mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Still more than Thérèse, the Immaculate has been the object of the Merciful Love of the Redeemer as anticipating Love. She alone was redeemed in such a way that the obstacle of sin was never present in her life, not even at the first moment.

(10) Story of a Soul 99.

(11) Story of a Soul 100.

(12) Ms A 46v.  Story of a Soul 100-101.

(13) Pri 6. The Prayers of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux trans. Aletheia Kane, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1997) 58. In this case I have chosen to render a more literal translation.

(14) Pri 2. Prayers 38.

(15) English translation: The Poetry of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux trans. Donald Kinney, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996) 128, strophe 20.

(16) Poetry 128.

(17) Song 5:2. It is in this translation which Thérèse cites this verse for the first time during her novitiate (LT 108; English translation: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: General Correspondence, Vol. 1 (1877-1890) trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1982) 630). The same text will be cited in LT 158 (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: General Correspondence, Vol. 2 (1890-1897) trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1988) 843) et Pri 12 (Prayers 91). Henceforth referred to as General Correspondence, will be cited as GC.

(18) In the same sense, Thérèse speaks of “wine giving birth to virgins” (Zee. 9:17) (LT 156 (GC2:838); LT 183 (GC2:933); RP 2,7v).

(19) Cf. Pascal who has Jesus say: “I thought of you in my Agony” (Pensées. Le Mystère de Jésus).

(20) GC 2:862.

(21) On the theresian interpretation of this expression, I refer the reader to my book on the Christology of Thérèse (p. 217-234).

(22) She cites it for the first time in LT108 (GC1:632).

(23) Prayers 89.

(24) Cf. also LT 144 (GC2:804).

(25) Novo Millennio Ineunte, 27, citing the Carnet Jaune, under the date of 6 July 1897 (English translation: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Last Conversations trans. John Clarke, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1977) 75).

(26) Poetry 218.

(27) Redemptoris Mater, l8. Cf. the very beautiful thesis of P. Joseph Nguyen Thuong: La “kenose de la foi” de sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, lumière pour présenter l’Evangile aux incroyants d’aujourd’hui (Rome: Teresianum, 2001).

(28) Story of a Soul 210-214.

(29) Story of a Soul 250.

(30) Lumen Gentium, 61. English translation from Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1975) 418.

(31) Lumen Gentium, 58

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The Paradox of God’s Predilection

By Jonathan Fleischmann


Recently, Pope Francis, like so many of his predecessors in the Chair of St. Peter, has emphasized God’s special predilection for sinners. Indeed, not on one occasion only, but on many occasions, our Pontiff has taken great pains to make the fact of God’s particular love for sinners abundantly clear, as for example when he said that “the ability to acknowledge our own sins, to acknowledge our misery, to acknowledge what we are and what we are capable of doing or have done, is the very door that opens us to the Lord’s caress, his forgiveness.”[1] On another occasion, he said, “Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy truly knows the Lord. The privileged place of encounter is the caress of Jesus’ mercy regarding my sin. This is why you may have heard me say, several times, that the place for this, the privileged place of the encounter with Jesus Christ, is my sin.”[2]


It is precisely this acknowledgement of personal sin—this caress and encounter—which are exemplified by the woman, Mary Magdalene, who washed Christ’s feet with her tears, and caressed and dried them with her hair.[3] And it is precisely the self-emptying and self-accusing humility of this woman that the Pope has contrasted on numerous occasions to the self-referential and self-congratulatory pride of the Pharisees, one of whom was Jesus’ host when the woman approached Him. The Pope observed that this Pharisee “cannot understand the simple gesture [of Mary Magdalene]: the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother.”[4]


Significantly, Jesus does not rebuke the Pharisee in a harsh way for his lack of understanding, but rather He gently explains the woman’s actions to him by means of the following parable: “‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly’” (Lk 7:41-43). Thus, Jesus, in His own words, seems to tell us that the one who has sinned more, and subsequently been forgiven by the Heavenly Father, like the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11-32), will of necessity love God more than the one who, like the elder brother, has sinned less, and so has less need of the Father’s forgiveness. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47).


This familiar and beautiful passage of Scripture has enormous implications for us, and for the whole Church. It means, quite simply, that we have cause for hope, for who among us is without sin? (cf. Jn 8:7). Who among us does not long to hear the words of Christ, our Judge, addressed to Satan, very likely even as he lays his hands on us to drag us down to hell: “Leave her alone!” (Jn 12:7). “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much!” (Lk 7:47). It is precisely on account of this hope that the Church cries out in exultation, “O felix culpa! O happy fault!”[5] In the words of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet:[6]


There is nothing more touching in the Gospel than the way God treats his reconciled enemies—that is, converted sinners. He is not content to wipe away the stain of their sins. It is easy for his infinite goodness to prevent our sins from hurting us; he also wants them to profit us. He brings forth so much good from them that we are constrained to bless our faults and to cry out with the Church, “O happy fault! O felix culpa!” His graces struggle against our sins for the mastery, and it pleases him, as St. Paul said, that his “grace abound” in excess of our malice (cf. Rom 5:20).[7]


If we meditate on this truth of our Faith with complete honesty for very long, however, we must admit a seemingly unresolvable paradox. If God is pure Goodness, how can he prefer sin to preserved innocence? One may reply that “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner,” just as we are called to do in his image. However, this does not solve the difficulty, because one could still point out that the existence of “the sinner” presupposes “the sin” that has already been committed, and if God actually preferred that we would be sinners (so that we could love him more), then it would necessarily follow that he would prefer that we sin, rather than preserve our innocence.


Strange, and almost blasphemous, as this may seem, it is a tremendously important and recurrent topic of theological discussion, particularly within the Protestant denominations of Christianity. This very question, and the answer provided by Martin Luther,[8] is arguably, for better or for worse, the basis of Protestantism. One must not deny that there is much at stake in the answer to this question. Is it possible that God has “set us up” to sin, without any possibility of retaining the purity of soul that we had at the moment of our baptism, just so that He could make our sins profit us by forgiving them, by making us love him more than we would have if we had not sinned? Luther pondered this question, and he insisted (naïvely) on the following answer:


Here, then, is something fundamentally necessary and salutary for a Christian, to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely prostrated and shattered… From this it follows irrefutably that everything we do, everything that happens, even if it seems to us to happen mutably and contingently, happens in fact nonetheless necessarily and immutably, if you have regard to the will of God… This is the highest degree of faith, to believe him merciful when he saves so few and damns so many, and to believe him righteous when by his own will he makes us necessarily damnable, so that he seems, according to Erasmus, to delight in the torments of the wretched and to be worthy of hatred rather than of love.[9]


Here, Luther can perhaps be given credit for asking an honest question. His answer, however, that it is the highest degree of faith to believe at one and the same time that (1) God “saves so few and damns so many” necessarily by an arbitrary choice of his divine will, with no regard for their own freedom or ability to choose goodness over sin, or their own personal merit; and (2) God is worthy of love rather than hatred, seems more like lunacy than piety. For one thing, it makes a mockery of the familiar invocation of the Lord’s Prayer: “lead us not into temptation” (Mt 6:13). Indeed, with his view in mind, it is no surprise that Luther advised his disciples to “sin boldly”! What can be said in reply to this proposition of Luther’s? To answer Luther adequately, we must enter the theological realm of grace and merit, which is notoriously thorny and “dangerous” territory, as Fr. John Hardon affirms:


The theology of grace is not simple, as may be seen from the sequence of errors strewn along the path of the Church’s history. The complexity of the subject is due as much to its intrinsically mysterious character, since it deals with nothing less than the life of God shared by his creatures, as to our natural proneness to rationalize and explain everything in this-worldly terms. Yet a clear grasp of the basic principles is useful and may at times be indispensable, for directing oneself and others on the road to salvation. It is no coincidence that the great heresies on grace, like Pelagianism and Jansenism, had a profound influence on the morals and spiritual life of those who professed these errors; and that influence is still exerted centuries after the original aberrations arose.[10]


Despite the complexity of the theology of grace and merit, God has provided his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church with the answer key: the Holy Mother of God. It is no coincidence that Mary has been called from time immemorial The Destroyer of All Heresies. It is also no coincidence that the so-called great heresies of grace, including Pelagianism, Jansenism, and Protestantism in general, are overwhelmingly hostile to the Marian doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church, especially the unique grace of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. According to the Pelagians, Mary’s Immaculate Conception is unnecessary, because they believe that human nature is untainted by original sin, and therefore able to obtain salvation by its own power, without the necessity of grace. According to the Jansenists, Mary’s Immaculate Conception is impossible (a “pious exaggeration” at best, or “Mariolotry” at worst), because they believe that human depravity is absolute and irrevocable after the fall and, therefore, incompatible with any form of personal merit based on preserved innocence or freedom from sin.


For the Catholic, Mary provides a strikingly simple—humble—answer regarding the question of God’s preference: Does God prefer the repentant sinner or the one who has never sinned? While this would be a moot question for most of us, the question takes on concrete meaning and importance in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, in the words of Pope Francis, “by unique privilege, was preserved from original sin from the very moment of her conception. Even living in a world marked by sin, she was not touched by it: Mary is our sister in suffering, but not in evil or in sin. Instead, evil was conquered in her even before deflowering her, because God had filled her with grace (cf. Lk 1:28). The Immaculate Conception signifies that Mary is the first one to be saved by the infinite mercy of the Father, which is the first fruit of salvation which God wills to give to every man and woman in Christ. For this reason, the Immaculate One has become the sublime icon of the divine mercy which conquered sin.”[11]


It is not possible to imagine that Jesus Christ could love any creature more than His sinless Mother, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, on whom Eternal Wisdom chose to bestow His unchangeable predilection before the creation of the world; and this is the complete answer to our question! Once again, in the words of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet:


If this is the case, then should we say that repentant sinners are more worthy than those who have not sinned, or justice reestablished is preferable to innocence preserved? No, we must not doubt that innocence is always best…


Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is holiness itself, and although He is pleased to see at His feet the sinner who has returned to the path of righteousness, He nevertheless loves with a stronger love the innocent one who has never strayed. The innocent one approaches nearer to Him and imitates Him more perfectly, and so He honors him with a closer familiarity. However much beauty His eyes may see in the tears of a penitent, it can never equal the chaste attraction of an ever-faithful holiness. These are the sentiments of Jesus according to His divine nature, but He took on other ones for the love of us when He became our Savior. God prefers the innocent, but let us rejoice: the merciful Savior came to seek out the guilty. He lives only for sinners, because it is to sinners that He was sent…


And so this good Doctor, as Son of God prefers the innocent, but as Savior seeks out the guilty. Here is the mystery illuminated by a holy and evangelical doctrine. It is full of consolation for sinners such as we are, but it also honors the holy and perpetual innocence of Mary.[12]


Indeed, not only does this holy and evangelical (and, if we may reiterate, simple, and eminently humble) doctrine honor the holy and perpetual innocence of Mary, it also provides the fundamental argument in support of the dogma of her Immaculate Conception, which was first stated by the Franciscan theologian Bl. John Duns Scotus in his famous disputation with the Dominican theologians at the University of Paris in 1306 (or 1307).[13] In effect, there must be at least one perfect creature after the fall of Adam and Eve—with perfect innocence, perfectly redeemed from the moment of her creation—or else we must admit that Christ is not a perfect redeemer. This argument is essentially reiterated by Bossuet as follows:


For if it is true that the Son of God loves innocence so well, could it be that He would find none at all upon the earth? Shall He not have the satisfaction of seeing someone like unto Himself, or who at least approaches His purity from afar? Must Jesus, the Innocent One, be always among sinners, without ever having the consolation of meeting an unstained soul? And who would that be, if not His holy Mother? Yes, let this merciful Savior, who has taken upon Himself all of our guilt, spend His life running after sinners; let Him go and seek them in every corner of Palestine; but let Him find in His own home and under His own roof what will satisfy His eyes with the steady and lasting beauty of incorruptible holiness!…


He chose Peter, Matthew, and Paul for us, but He chose Mary for Himself. For us: “Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas… all are yours” (cf. 1 Cor 3:22); for Himself: “My beloved is mine,” and I am hers (cf. Song 2:16). Those whom He called for others, He drew forth from sin, so that they might the better proclaim His mercy. His plan was to give hope to those souls beaten down by sin. Who could more effectively preach divine mercy than those who were themselves its illustrious examples?…


Yet if He treated in this way those whom He called for the sake of us sinners, we must not think that He did the same for the dear creature, the extraordinary creature, the unique and privileged creature whom He made for Himself, whom He chose to be His Mother. In His apostles and ministers, He brought about what would be most useful for the salvation of all, but in His holy Mother, He did what was sweetest, most glorious, and most satisfying for Himself, and, consequently, He made Mary to be innocent. “My beloved is mine,” and I am hers…


We must not persuade ourselves that to distinguish Mary from Jesus we must take away her innocence and leave it to her Son alone… To distinguish Mary from Jesus, there is no need to put sin into the mix. It suffices that her innocence be a weaker light. That light belongs to Jesus by right, but to Mary by privilege; to Jesus by nature, to Mary by grace and favor. We honor the source in Jesus, and in Mary a flowing forth from the source… The innocence of Jesus is the life and salvation of sinners, and so the innocence of the Blessed Virgin serves to obtain pardon for sinners. Let us look upon this holy and innocent creature as the sure support for our misery and go and wash our sins in the bright light of her incorruptible purity.[14]


According to Bl. John Duns Scotus, “grace is the sole root of merit.”[15] However, besides the conditions for merit (de condigno) that are intrinsic to the act (such as “goodness, righteousness, conformity with reason, intensity of charity, etc.”) and intrinsic to the person performing the act (such as the conditions that the person must be “in the state of pilgrimage” and in the state of sanctifying grace), Bl. John Duns Scotus adds, “I believe that there is one other condition, to be verified as actual in fact, namely, the acceptability of such merit to God: not only in virtue of that common acceptance, whereby God accepts every creature… but in virtue of a special acceptance, which is the ordaining of this act by the divine will to eternal life, as condign merit worthy of reward.”[16]


The fact that merit depends on divine acceptance means essentially that merit, like grace, is not deterministic from our point of view as creatures, because merit, like grace, ultimately depends on the divine will—ergo, the demise of all forms of causal or natural determinism (such as Pelagianism).  The divine will, however, is not arbitrary, because once he has chosen, God contracts certain “responsibilities” consistent with who he is, such as his “duty” to honor his Mother—ergo, the demise of all forms of “theistic” or supernatural determinism (such as Jansenism, Calvinism, and Lutheranism), as well as Gnosticism, and all its “practical” variants (such as nominalism and voluntarism).  God cannot contradict himself—and this is no limitation on his omnipotence, but rather an expression of His infinitude, or limitlessness, since a contradiction is in fact a limitation—and so he cannot act in a way that is inconsistent with who he is. This fact is at the heart of the mystery of “why God has preferences,”[17] which is spoken of at some length by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Doctor of the Little Way, at the beginning of her autobiography:


Before taking up my pen, I knelt before a statue of Mary (the one that has given so many proofs of the maternal preferences of heaven’s Queen for our family), and I begged her to guide my hand that it trace no line displeasing to her. Then opening the Holy Gospels my eyes fell on these words: “And going up a mountain, he called to him men of his own choosing, and they came to him” (Mk 3:13). This is the mystery of my vocation, my whole life, and especially the mystery of the privileges Jesus showered on my soul. He does not call those who are worthy but those whom He pleases, or as St. Paul says: “God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will show pity to whom he will show pity. So then there is question not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God showing mercy” (Rom 9:15).[18]


In his monumental work, the Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus, Fr. Ruggero Rosini explains:


Once it is understood that merit depends upon divine acceptance, merit by its very nature is then intrinsically the same for everyone [that is, the term “merit” can be used univocally for everyone, though the degree of merit is not the same]: Christ, Mary and the just. The difference lies in its extension. Scotus explains this by the fact that merit, not consisting in the personal act alone, is in some way also constituted by the circumstances in which the person accomplishes the meritorious act; hence God, in accepting the act, also accepts the circumstances of the one who performs the meritorious work…


We saw that Christ merited for all [by His redemptive sacrifice on the Cross], Mary included; by virtue of His divine Person He was able to merit in an infinite manner. In Mary, of course, we do not have an infinite person; however, in her case there is a circumstance which intimately links her to the very Person of the Word; and it is her divine Maternity. And if one participates in Christ’s perfections according to one’s degree of closeness to Him, certainly nobody was nor ever shall be characterized by a more rigorous union with Christ Himself than Mary.[19]


It is precisely in her alliance with Christ that Mary is unique, chosen by Christ for Himself, set apart by eternal decree in the divine intention of God the Father before the creation of the world to be the Immaculate Mother of his Son; and at the same time it is precisely in her alliance with Christ that Mary is like us. Once again, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet eloquently explains:


Theology teaches us that the differences we see in things are a result of Divine Wisdom. As Wisdom establishes order in things, it must also bring about the differences without which there can be no order…


Thus, the Blessed Virgin was set apart, and in her separation she possesses something in common with all men and something all her own. To understand this, we must realize that we have been set apart from the rest of men and women because we belong to Jesus and have an alliance with Him. But Jesus made two alliances with the Blessed Virgin: one as Savior and another as Son. The alliance with Jesus as Savior means that she must be set apart like the other faithful; the special alliance with Jesus as her Son means that she must be set apart in an extraordinary fashion.


Divine Wisdom, in the beginning you separated the elements out of the original confusion; here too there is confusion to dispel. Here is the whole of guilty mankind from which one creature must be set apart so that she may become the Mother of her Creator. If the other faithful are delivered from evil, she must be preserved from it. And how? By a special communication of the privileges of her Son. He is exempt from sin, and Mary must also be exempt. O Wisdom, you have set her apart from the other faithful, but do not mix her together with her Son, because she must be infinitely beneath Him. How shall we distinguish her from Him, if they are both exempt from sin? Jesus was by nature, and Mary by grace; Jesus by right, and Mary by privilege and indulgence. See her thus set apart: “he who is mighty has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49).[20]


On a theological level, if one wishes to argue that God would prefer sin to innocence, even if the sin that he would prefer is only a “means to an end” to make us love him more, then one has no choice but to postulate a change in the very essence of the eternal Godhead. Rather than the divine nature being goodness, pure and simple, the divine nature would need to include at least some admixture of sin or evil, even if this “evil” is understood only as a privation of the objective “goods” of beauty, truth, love, etc. That is, one would have no choice but to understand the words of St. Paul—“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21)—to be taken in the literal sense, and to apply to the divinity of Christ as well as to His humanity.


We know that Christ suffered in His humanity. Indeed, we know that Christ’s merit in His suffering was infinite, in virtue of His Infinite Person, which His human nature shares with His divine nature (two natures, one person). However, if we claim that Christ’s suffering extended beyond His human nature to His divine nature, then we are actually claiming that a contradiction exists in the eternal Triune Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is one of the basic tenets of the heresy called Patripassianism, since if the Son suffered with His divine nature as well as with His human nature, then it must follow that the Holy Spirit and the eternal Father (Patri-) suffered (passio) with Him.


But here’s the rub: by definition, suffering is a privation of the objective goods of health and happiness, just as death is the privation of the objective good of life. Thus, in a formal sense, suffering is an evil. If one claims that the divine nature can admit any kind of suffering, then one must admit the existence of evil in God. This was effectively the position of Martin Luther, and it continues to hold an attraction, even among Catholic theologians of our own time (such as Karl Rahner).


Anyone who has loved another person deeply knows what it means to “love the faults” of another person. This means that one sees in the beloved person (perhaps in his or her physical appearance or in his or her behavior) unique traits that one considers truly beautiful and desirable, despite the fact that others who do not love that person may consider the same traits ugly and undesirable. This in no way means that we love things in our beloved that are objectively unlovable or evil! Indeed, unless we are disordered or selfish in our desires (in which case we cannot speak of love) then those special traits that we see and love in our beloved, and that the world may call faults, are undoubtedly objectively lovable, since the world rarely appreciates what is truly beautiful. God, above all, sees and loves the true goodness in every person he has created—more so than any human lover could.


Perhaps it is a misguided sort of romanticism, or a mistaken analogy between the true form of “loving the faults” of a person, which is really just another form of loving a person’s goodness, and a false notion of “loving the sin” of a person, that has led some theologians (ancient and modern) to try to force a love for sin on God, thereby embracing some form of Patripassianism. Be that as it may, it was for this reason that Bl. John Duns Scotus was reluctant to affirm that Christ’s suffering was infinite in itself, even though the merit of Christ’s suffering was infinite in value because of divine acceptance.


Ultimately, what is at stake here is the distinction of the human will of Jesus Christ and the divine will of the Eternal Word, which are not identical. Indeed, the heresy of Monotheletism, which claims that the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ have only one shared will, was condemned in the Lateran Council of 649, which was summoned by Pope St. Martin I (d. 655) expressly to deal with this heresy. The summoning of this council was one of Pope St. Martin I’s first official acts as Pope, and it resulted in his almost immediate exile and martyrdom, since the heresy had the support of the reigning Byzantine emperor Constans II. The heresy of Monotheletism, which at first sight may seem of little consequence (though Pope St. Martin literally gave his life to fight against it), is a serious error, because if Jesus has no free human will of His own, then His temptations in the desert (cf. Mt 4:1-11) can only be considered “symbolic.” And if the Master’s confrontation with and victory over temptation were merely symbolic, then where does that leave the Master’s servant when he or she is faced with temptation, except in a state of utter despair and subsequent abandonment to sin? (Hence, Luther’s advice to his disciples to “sin boldly.”) Moreover, historically, the heresy of Monotheletism leads quickly to another heresy, called Monophysitism, which claims that Jesus Christ has only one nature (divine), and not two natures (divine and human). This heresy was condemned in the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681.


According to Bl. John Duns Scotus, divine acceptance is a manifestation of the divine will (free, but not arbitrary); and, thus, the ordering of the “relative infinities” of both Jesus and Mary, which include their glories, graces, and merits, is ultimately a manifestation of divine love. In the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:


The human love of Christ, all perfect and sinless: viz., maximal, nonetheless remains formally and objectively finite. To claim otherwise is to confuse the human will of Christ with the divine (Monotheletism, ultimately leading to Monophysitism and some form of Patripassianism or suffering on the part of the divine nature to explain the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus, a position subsequently, effectively embraced by Luther and seemingly by Rahner in our times.[21]


It is by divine acceptance that Mary can merit grace with Christ, because of the unique intimacy of her union with Him. This Scotistic understanding of merit forms the theological foundation for the Catholic doctrine (not yet dogma) of Marian Coredemption with Christ. What may seem like an esoteric doctrine to Catholics who do not understand its importance, Marian Coredemption (which is necessarily related to Mary’s mediation of all graces) is actually a critical doctrine for a correct understanding of the God-Man Jesus Christ, in all His mystery and incarnate reality. Just as the Marian title “Theotókos” and the ascription of divine Maternity to Mary at the Council of Ephesus safeguarded the divine Personhood of Jesus Christ against the heresy of Nestorianism, which claims that the God-Man Jesus Christ and the Eternal Word are separate persons (or that Jesus Christ is two persons with two natures, rather than one person with two natures), so the Marian title “Coredemptrix” and the ascription of merit de condigno to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the work of the objective Redemption, on the basis of personal sanctity and divine acceptance, safeguard the human nature and free human will of Jesus Christ against the errors of Monophysitism and Monotheletism, which lead to the rejection of the possibility of merit for any human being, and consequently despair and abandonment of morality. In the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:


Either Mary is Mediatrix of all graces because She is Coredemptrix, or there is no fruitful mediation: magisterial, pastoral, sacramental, charismatic, by anyone in the Church.  In rejecting the maternal mediation of Mary in the Church and her invocation (not merely her veneration) in time of trouble and the practice of true devotion to her, the Protestant reformation logically also rejected the mediation of the Church, in particular priestly-sacramental. With this, it becomes clear that the slogan [of Luther], Christus solus, is simply a modern western version of the ancient Monophysitism and Monotheletism: a radical denial of the very possibility of creaturely, free cooperation (merit and good works above all) in the work of redemption, beginning with the divine Maternity and effecting of the Incarnation. The mystery of Mary as Mediatrix, whether affirmed or denied, becomes the center of a controversy over grace and justification, faith and good works, above all over the mission of the Holy Spirit and of life in the Spirit in the realization of the plan of salvation. The reason is this: at the center of the working of the Spirit is the maternal mediation of the Virgin Mother.[22]


Stephen Ray insightfully likens the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church to the moat around a castle: they are there to help define and defend the doctrines of Christ.[23] Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) goes even further:


Conversely: only when it touches Mary and becomes Mariology is Christology itself as radical as the faith of the Church requires. The appearance of a truly Marian awareness serves as the touchstone indicating whether or not the Christological substance is fully present. Nestorianism involves the fabrication of a Christology from which the nativity and the Mother are removed, a Christology without Mariological consequences. Precisely this operation, which surgically removes God so far from man that nativity and maternity—all of corporeality—remain in a different sphere, indicated unambiguously to the Christian consciousness that the discussion no longer concerned the Incarnation (becoming flesh), that the center of Christ’s mystery was endangered, if not already destroyed. Thus, in Mariology, Christology was defended. Far from belittling Christology, it signifies the comprehensive triumph of a confession of faith in Christ which has achieved authenticity.[24]


When discussing merit and grace, “safety” is found precisely in the arms of Our Mother, the Destroyer of All Heresies. Indeed, it is precisely by giving us His Mother as an example that God has provided us with an infallible “answer key” to the subtle problems of grace and merit, guiding the Barque of St. Peter with a sure rudder to the true “Catholic Middle-Ground” between “the two shoals of despairing of man’s native powers because of the fall, or ignoring original sin and so exalting human nature that nothing is supposed to be impossible to man.”[25]


Thus, while we rejoice ceaselessly that Christ came “not to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners” (Lk 5:32), we rejoice equally that it was the Holy Innocence of the Blessed Virgin Mary that pleased the Eye of the Thrice Holy Trinity, as does the same innocence in those who are most perfectly conformed to the pure image of the beloved Daughter, Spouse, and Mother of God. That is why, within the hagiography of the Catholic Church, for every penitent Augustine, there is a pure Agnes; for every convert Paul, there is a constant Pio. Great is Mary Magdalene, but infinitely greater is Mary, the Mother of God, and the Mother of us. For, in the words of Charles Péguy:


They say they’re full of experience; they gain from experience.

[D]ay by day they pile up their experience. Some treasure! says God.

A treasure of emptiness and of dearth…

A treasure of wrinkles and worries.

The treasure of the lean years…


What you call experience, your experience, I call dissipation, diminishment, decrease, the loss of innocence.

It’s a perpetual degradation.

No, it is innocence that is full and experience that is empty.

It is innocence that wins and experience that loses.

It is innocence that is young and experience that is old.

It is innocence that increases and experience that decreases.

It is innocence that is born and experience that dies.

It is innocence that knows and experience that does not know.

It is the child who is full and the man who is empty.

Like an empty gourd, like an empty beer-barrel.

So, then, says God, that’s what I think of your “experience.”[26]





This article originally appeared in the Marian catechetical review magazine Missio Immaculatae International, vol. 12, no. 5 (September/October 2016), pp. 7-15.  For more information, visit  http://www.marymediatrix.com/what-we-do/missio-immaculatae-magazine/.


[1] Pope Francis, Homily, Sept 18, 2014.

[2] Pope Francis, Address to the Communion and Liberation Movement, March 7, 2015.

[3] Cf. Lk 7:36-50, Mt 26:6-13, Mk 14:3-9, Jn 11:2 and 12:3. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons: the sinner of Luke 7:36-50; the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and Mary Magdalene. On the other hand, most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same.” Indeed, St. John leaves us little choice but to identify the first two as one and the same woman, when he clearly tells us that Bethany was the name of “the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill” (Jn 11:1-2).

[4] Pope Francis, Homily, Sept 18, 2014.

[5] From the Exultet, or Easter Proclamation, sung at the Easter Vigil Mass.

[6] Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (d. 1704) was a French bishop and theologian. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Bossuet was one of the greatest orators of all time, “the greatest, perhaps, who has ever appeared in the Christian pulpit—greater than Chrysostom and greater than Augustine; the only man whose name can be compared in eloquence with those of Cicero and of Demosthenes (1617-70).”

[7] Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Meditations on Mary, edited and translated by Christopher Blum, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH, 2015, p. 23.

[8] Martin Luther (d. 1546) initiated the Protestant reformation with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.

[9] Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will, from Luther’s Works vol. 33, pp. 37-63.

[10] John Hardon, SJ, History and Theology of Grace, Sapientia Press, Ave Maria, FL, 2002, pp. xiii-xiv.

[11] Pope Francis, Angelus for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 2015.

[12] Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Meditations on Mary, edited and translated by Christopher Blum, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH, 2015, pp. 24-25.

[13] Cf. Stefano Manelli, FI, Blessed John Duns Scotus: Marian Doctor, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2011.

[14] Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Meditations on Mary, edited and translated by Christopher Blum, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH, 2015, pp. 25-27.

[15] Ruggero Rosini, OFM, Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus, translated by Peter Damian Fehlner, FI, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2008, p. 173.

[16] Bl. John Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, I, d. 17, pars 1, q. 1-2, n. 129, in ibid., p. 167, footnote 77.

[17] St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, Third Edition, Translated from the Original Manuscripts by John Clarke, OCD, ICS Publications, Washington, DC, 1996, p. 13.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ruggero Rosini, OFM, Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus, translated by Peter Damian Fehlner, FI, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2008, pp. 173-175.

[20] Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Meditations on Mary, edited and translated by Christopher Blum, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH, 2015, pp. 12-14.

[21] Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., “Coredemption and the Assumption in the Franciscan School of Mariology: The ‘Franciscan Thesis’ as Key” in Mariological Studies in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe—I, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2013, p. 207.

[22] Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., “Opening Address” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross—VII: Coredemptrix, therefore Mediatrix of All Graces. Acts of the Seventh International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2008, p. 3.

[23] Cf. Stephen Ray, “Mary, the Mother of God” in The Footprints of God video documentary series, Ignatius Press, Ft. Collins, CO, 2003.

[24] Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief, translated by John McDermott, S.J., Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 1983, pp. 35-36.

[25] John Hardon, S.J., History and Theology of Grace, Sapientia Press, Ave Maria, FL, 2002, p. 76.

[26] Charles Péguy, “Le Mystère des Saints Innocents” in Oeuvres poétiques complètes, Paris, 1957, p. 787f, as quoted by John Saward, The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty: Art, Sanctity, and the Truth of Catholicism, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 1997, p. 83.

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In commemoration of the September 15 memorial of the Sorrowful Mother, the “feast day of Mary Co-redemptrix,”we are happy to send you the following article entitled, “Woman, Motherhood, Our Spiritual Mother, and the Synod on the Family.” It is written in preparation for the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family and in preparation for the 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family. It is only through a proper understanding of the nature of woman and motherhood and its appropriate appreciation that we can properly experience a renewal and restoration of authentic family life. Moreover, the sublime example and the powerful intercession of Mary, the world’s Spiritual Mother, is quintessentially needed for the sanctification of the family, the New Evangelization, and for the peace and grace so urgently needed for the family, for the Church, and for the world. -Ed.

I. Woman and Mother: Intercessor of Life and Love for the Family

Who is woman, and what is at the heart of the vocation of motherhood?

St. John Paul II captures both the nature and the vocation of woman when he writes that a woman is called to testify to the existence and the depth of the
love “with which every human being—man and woman—is loved by God in Christ.”1 The special
mission of every woman is “to welcome and to care for the human person.”2 Our time in
particular “awaits the manifestation of that ‘genius’ which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every

Woman, in a particular way, is orientated to the concrete love and nurturing of persons.4
St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) articulates the essential nature and vocation of woman: “…woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is
living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural and maternal longing.” 5 A woman most fully embodies her feminine charism in her motherhood. To be a
“mother” means to “protect and safeguard true humanity and to bring it to full development.” 6 In a Letter to the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, Blessed
Teresa of Calcutta writes: “The special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of
God to women.”7

A mother is a natural intercessor or “mediator” of life and love within the family, as one who intercedes or “acts as a means” of bringing greater unity
between others.8 Is this not the essential and perennial task of a mother? A mother
physically and morally intercedes between the Creator and her family in her unique role of bringing life to the world. After receiving the seed of life
from the human father, the body of the mother gives form and nourishment to the developing embryo, and thus works intimately as a “co-creator” with the
Creator to mediate the precious gift of human life to the family and to the world. The child is the transcendent gift that results from the extensive,
all-encompassing, moral and physical intercession of the mother, coupled with the necessary contribution of the father. Mothers uniquely intercede, both
physically and morally, to unite God and family through the gift of children.

A mother is not only the special intercessor of life for the family, but also a unique intercessor of love for the family.
Through the particularly feminine gifts of receptivity, sensitivity, warmth, understanding, compassion, long suffering, intuition and personal insight, a
mother becomes the principal means of unity between the father and the children, as well as between the children themselves. Interventions of communication
and empathy, understanding and wisdom, forgiveness and reconciliation, sacrifice and love, are constant manifestations of maternal intercession between all
other members of the family unit.

Authentic motherhood calls for at least three essential expressions of maternal intercession for her children. First, a mother suffers for her child. A
mother’s suffering is not limited to the physical pain experienced during gestation and birth, but also the profound “suffering of the heart” experienced
throughout her child’s life, as the mother compassionately shares in the trials and tragedies that constitute a part of the life of every child. Secondly,
a mother nourishes her child. The proper nourishing of a child extends far beyond the physical realm. A mother not only provides food and nutrition to her
offspring from the moment of conception through gestation and birth, but far beyond this throughout the years of childhood and adolescence—offering the
child the fundamental emotional, psychological, educational, and spiritual formation in the greatest and most complete manner of personal development
possible. Thirdly, a mother “pleads” or intercedes for the well-being of her child. These maternal acts of advocacy first begin within the home, and then
extend out into society as the child gradually enters the larger world. They are manifested in a variety of ways throughout the life of the child, which
include interceding for the best needs of the child at school, in social settings, in the areas of music, sports, and other cultural activities. A mother’s
advocacy for her child often includes aspects of protection and defense as the process of entrance into society can typically entail dangers and

All these are expressions of the loving and sacrificial intercession of a mother. Is it any wonder that motherhood may be the most universally cherished
vocation in the natural order, and that many a child, regardless of age, have ended their earthly life with the word, “mother” on their lips? It is for
these reasons and more that the papal documents have referred to the mother as the “heart” of the family, and as such “she may and ought to claim for
herself the chief place in love.”9

II. Mary, Mother of the Holy Family

It is a wonderment of nature that “a creature should give birth to her Creator.”10 This
liturgical antiphon reflects the mystery of Mary, who through her free consent to the sublime vocation of motherhood interceded in life and in love in
order to bring forth the most exalted child, and thus most exalted family, in human history.

As is the case with every mother, Mary plays an irreplaceable role by consenting to bring life into what will become her family. Conceived “full of grace”
through the foreseen merits of the future Redeemer and the sanctifying indwelling of the Holy Spirit, 11 the young virgin of Nazareth is providentially made ready to become the most important
mother of the human race. Still, Mary’s “let it be done” constituted an entirely free, active, and feminine “yes” to the heavenly Father’s mission of
motherhood: “Be it done to me according to your word”(Lk. 1:38).12 With this free
cooperation to the plan of God “as mother,” Mary brings the world its Redeemer and merits the title above all her other titles, “Mother of God,” 13 which contains within it the essence and vocation of her supreme motherhood.

As well as consenting to become a motherly intercessor of life in giving birth to Jesus, Mary also performs her duty as an intercessor of love within the
Holy Family. It is Mary that will intercede between Joseph, her chaste virginal husband, and Jesus, her child, within the natural familial flow of love
between father and child. Mary will mediate in the fulfilling of the usual motherly acts as heart of the Holy Family. We see this, for example, at
the finding of Jesus at the temple when, after three days of parental suffering and searching (cf. Lk. 2:46-51), it is Mary who intercedes by speaking to
the young Jesus on behalf of herself and Joseph: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously”
(Lk. 2:48).

Mary also fulfilled the innumerable acts of small, intercessory tasks in fidelity to her vocation as mother. Pope Francis describes here:

How did Mary live this faith? She lived it out in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and worries of every mother, such as providing food, clothing,
caring for the house…. It was precisely Our Lady’s normal life which served as the basis for the unique relationship and profound dialogue which unfolded
between her and God, between her and her Son.14

III. Mary, Spiritual Mother in the Family of God

In ways both sublime and ordinary, Mary fulfills her providential role as the motherly intercessor of life and love within the extraordinary designs of the
Holy Family. Yet her motherhood within the Holy Family would extend, due to the universal redemptive mission of her Son, to include the entirety of God’s
Family, and indeed to all peoples. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis refers to Mary’s motherhood both domestically and universally as a “mother
of all”:

…Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings
his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who
understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to
us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she
shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love (EG 286).

It is sometimes perceived that the traditional titles attributed to Mary’s motherly intercession came solely as a result of speculative theology, rather
than being founded in the Word of God.15 But in fact, the titles of maternal intercession
used by the papal magisterium have their solid basis in both Scripture and apostolic Tradition, as properly interpreted by the Church’s magisterium. Dei Verbum reminds us that Tradition makes progress in the Church through a legitimate development of doctrine under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit.16 Let us therefore examine a synthesized New Testament chronology of the
gradual revelation of the Mother of Jesus from the Annunciation just discussed, until the establishment of Mary by the crucified Jesus as “mother of us
all,”17 and the legitimate Marian titles and roles that organically develop and come to
light from their doctrinal seeds found in Scripture and apostolic Tradition. For Mary’s consent to the mission of redemption at the Annunciation will
remain unbroken, up to and including her historic participation in the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. 18

The mother who gave physical birth to Jesus, also gave spiritual birth to his Body, the Church. Jesus Christ is the “head of the body, the Church” (Col.
1:18). Therefore at the Annunciation, Mary’s fiat led not only to the physical conception of Jesus, Head of the body, but also to the spiritual conception of his mystical body, to which belong all the followers of Christ, and through the Church, all believers. St. Augustine tells
us: “She is really Mother of the members who we are, because she cooperated by charity so that there might be born in the Church believers, of whom he is
the Head.”19 St. John Paul II further explains: “Since she gave birth to Christ, the Head
of the Mystical Body, she also had to have given birth to all the members of that one Body. Therefore, ‘Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and
embraces each and every one through the Church’.”20

Within the profound mystery of the Word becoming flesh through her divine motherhood, Mary gave to Jesus the human “instrument” of redemption, which is his
body, for “we have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all” (Heb. 10:10). The Immaculate Virgin uniquely cooperated in
the mystery of Redemption, not only by giving birth to the Redeemer and providing him with the bodily instrument of the redemption, but also in virtue of
her unparalleled suffering with her Son throughout the entire mission of redemption.21
Insofar as Mary, as Mother of God, gave birth to the “Redeemer of man”,22 she is already
legitimately referred to as the human “Co-redemptrix” (“the woman with the Redeemer”), as her consent gave the Redeemer his body and consequently his human
nature through which he redeems the world—a contribution to the work of redemption unparalleled by any other creature. 23

Through her historic intercession at the Annunciation, Mary also mediates the “one Mediator” (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5) into human history. She acts as a human
“mediatrix,”24 as she uniquely intercedes as a mother to bring Jesus Christ into the human
race. Not only does Mary’s intercessory role as mother neither obscure nor compete with the one mediation of Jesus Christ upon which Mary’s secondary
mediation is entirely subordinate and dependent, 25 but her maternal
cooperation with God’s plan of the Incarnation is precisely what made the redeeming mission of the one Mediator possible. Once again, it is Mary, the Mediatrix who mediated the one Mediator to us. Moreover, since Jesus is the source and author of all graces, Mary, in virtue of this
first great act of motherly intercession, is already properly invoked in the Church and by at least ten modern popes as the Mediatrix of all graces.26

The Fathers of the Church captured the doctrine of Spiritual Maternity in the patristic concept of the “New Eve.” As the first Eve or “Mother of the
Living”27 was instrumental with the first Adam in the loss of grace for the human family,
so too Mary as the “New Eve” or “New Mother of the Living” was instrumental with Jesus, the “New Adam,”28 in the restoration of grace for the humanity. 29 Within the New Eve model, the Fathers captured the truth of Mary’s spiritual maternity
in a simple though essential formulation, which include dimensions of spiritual motherhood, mediation, and coredemption. Early Church testimony to her
intercession is exemplified in St. Irenaeus’ the second century teaching that Mary is the “cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race;”30 as well as in the famous maxim of St. Jerome: “Death through Eve, Life through Mary.” 31

When Mary visits Elizabeth (Lk. 1:39-56), she is the pregnant mother who physically “mediates” the unborn Christ into the presence of Elizabeth and the
unborn Baptist—a physical intercession which in turn leads to two events of grace: the pre-sanctification of John in the womb and the prophesying of
Elizabeth by the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk. 1:41-42). At the Presentation of the infant Jesus (Lk. 2:21-38), Simeon identifies Jesus as the “sign of
contradiction,” but also testifies to the coredemptive role of Mary—the woman who will suffer with the Redeemer: “…and a sword shall pierce through your
own heart, too” (Lk. 2:35) so that the “secret thoughts” of the redemption may laid bare.

The Wedding at Cana (Jn. 2:1-10) dynamically reveals the role of the motherly Mediatrix as Mary knowingly and willingly intercedes for the grace of the
first public miracle. As St. John Paul II comments of the Cana event: “She acts as a mediatrix, not as an outsider, but in her position as mother.” 32 The Cana event further discloses Mary’s motherly role as “Advocate,” as one who speaks
on behalf of humanity before the throne of her Son, Christ the King. At the wedding feast, Mary advocates for the newly married couple in what constitutes
an unequivocal biblical example of Marian intercession. The fact that the wedding couple is not known to be disciples of Jesus indicates the universality
of her role as humanity’s advocate—that her maternal intercession reaches beyond the limits of Christianity, and extends to the universal needs of all

It is only at Calvary, at the summit of the historic event of redemption, that Mary’s Spiritual motherhood is fully established and declared. Pope Francis

On the cross, when Jesus endured in his own flesh the dramatic encounter of the sin of the world and God’s mercy, he could feel at his feet the consoling
presence of his mother and his friend. At that crucial moment, before fully accomplishing the work which his Father had entrusted to him, Jesus said to
Mary: “Woman, here is your son”. Then he said to his beloved friend: “Here is your mother” (Jn. 19:26-27). These words of the dying Jesus are not
chiefly the expression of his devotion and concern for his mother; rather, they are a revelatory formula which manifests the mystery of a special saving
mission. Jesus left us his mother to be our mother. Only after doing so did Jesus know that “all was now finished” (Jn
19:28). At the foot of the cross, at the supreme hour of the new creation, Christ led us to Mary. He brought us to her because he did not want us to
journey without a mother, and our people read in this maternal image all the mysteries of the Gospel (EG 285).

In union with the Redeemer at Golgotha, it is the Mother who uniquely shares in the work of redemption by “sharing the intensity of his suffering” in her
mother’s heart. As Lumen Gentium expounds:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping
with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifices in her mother’s heart, and
lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim born of her (LG 58).

Once again, the single term from the Church’s tradition that best encapsulates Mary’s role as Spiritual Mother within the work of redemption is the title,
“Co-redemptrix.” The Marian title of Co-redemptrix, which was explicitly used six times by St. John Paul II, three times by Pius XI, and three times by
Vatican congregations under the pontificate of St. Pius X,34 never places Mary on a level
of equality with Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer of humanity. It refers, rather, to the unique cooperation of this woman and mother “with Jesus” in
the redemptive mission—the dimension of her spiritual maternity in the order of suffering.

At Golgotha, Mary is, in words of St. John Paul II, “spiritually crucified with her crucified son.” 35 Yet, as the Totus Tuus Pope continues, “her roles as Co-redemptrix did not
cease with the glorification of her son.”36 In virtue of her unparalleled role in the obtaining of the graces of redemption with Jesus, she is consequently proclaimed by the crucified Jesus as the spiritual Mother of all peoples,
whose task it is now to dispense the graces of redemption as the Mediatrix of all graces.” 37

Mary’s spiritual maternity actively continues in the distribution of the graces of redemption, precisely as the Mediatrix of all graces and as Advocate for
humanity. Mary’s role as the Mediatrix of all graces has been officially taught by most every pope of the last three centuries, from Benedict XIV in the 18 th century to Pope Benedict XVI.38 Her mediation of grace is, again, an outward
expression and practice of her spiritual maternity, as St. John Paul II explicates this key point: “Recognition of her role as mediatrix is moreover
implicit in the expression, ‘our Mother,’ which presents the doctrine of Marian mediation by putting the accent on her motherhood.” 39 The expression “our Mother,” contains within itself the truth and the role
of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces obtained at Calvary.

In the days before Pentecost (Cf. Acts. 1:14), Mary is there, interceding as a motherly advocate on behalf of the infant church for the Holy Spirit to
descend. In the same way, for a New Evangelization to be fully effective, the Church must again utilize Mary as the human Advocate, to implore the Holy
Spirit, the divine Advocate, to descend in our time in order to guide and sanctify our efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus today. Pope Francis
points out that Mary’s advocacy to the Spirit thus made possible the first evangelization: “With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of
the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which
took place at Pentecost (EG 284).”

Moreover, Pope Francis describes how Mary’s ongoing Advocacy for her earthly children is witnessed throughout the world’s Marian shrines, inclusive of her
most tender and maternal self-identification as Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Through her many titles, often linked to her shrines, Mary shares the history of each people which has received the Gospel and she becomes a part of their
historic identity.

Many Christian parents ask that their children be baptized in a Marian shrine,

as a sign of their faith in her motherhood which brings forth new children for

God. There, in these many shrines, we can see how Mary brings together her

children who with great effort come as pilgrims to see her and to be seen by

her. Here they find strength from God to bear the weariness and the suffering in

their lives. As she did with Juan Diego, Mary offers them maternal comfort and

love, and whispers in their ear: “Let your heart not be troubled… Am I not here,

who am your Mother?” (EG 286).

Finally, the New Testament testimony to Spiritual Maternity exposes its spiritually protective character as the Woman-Mother in the Book of
Revelation (Rev. 12:17). Here the Woman “clothed with the sun” and ‘crowned with twelve stars” courageously advocates for the Church, who makes up the
“rest of her offspring” under attack by the Dragon. Again, Pope Francis confirms: “The Lord did not want to leave the Church without this icon of
womanhood. Mary, who brought him into the world with great faith, also accompanies ‘the rest of her offspring,’ those who keep the commandments of God and
bear testimony to Jesus (Rev 12:17) (EG 285).”

Throughout the New Testament, therefore, the spiritual maternity of Mary is gradually unveiled and dynamically put into practice on behalf of God’s people.
We see the same spiritual battle for souls revealed in the Book of Revelation— the cosmic confrontation between the Queen-Advocate and the
Dragon-Adversary—raging in full intensity today. It is a battle for families, for society, and for the Church, and it presently calls for the strongest
possible advocacy by the world’s Spiritual Mother.

IV. The Signs of Our Time and the World’s Mother

Gaudium et Spes
reminds us that “at all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the time and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel,
if it is to carry out its task” (GS, 4). What, then, constitute the contemporary signs of the times, and what are their ramifications for the domestic
family, the family of the Church, and the entire human family?

On the domestic spectrum of human society, the family seems to be facing some of its most severe threats, particularly in the areas of marriage stability;
sexual and bio-ethical morality; and proper care for women, children, and the elderly.40
Even from the pope who perennially exhorted the Church to “be not afraid,” St. John Paul II openly acknowledges his concern regarding the present state of
family life:

A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society,
increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so to make us fear for the future of this fundamental
institution, and with it, the future of society as a whole.41

On the global front, the present nuclear capacity of several countries, along with its exponential power for the destructions of entire regions and even
nations, stands as a most serious global challenge unique to our times. As Cardinal Ratzinger remarked: “Today the prospect that the world might be reduced
to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword.” 42

Violent geo-political conflicts are ongoing in Palestine, Israel, Russia, the Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. World hunger is increasing, with one
out of every seven persons going to bed hungry.43 The false ideologies of “new atheism,”
western materialism, and secular humanism, are all on the rise. A dramatic increase of Christian persecution is taking worldwide particularly in Iraq,
Syria, Sudan, and Nigeria. Singularly concerning is the newly assembled terrorist group “ISIS” (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) which is initiating
extreme forms of Christian persecution (as well as to other ethnic minorities) in shocking forms which manifest its clearly diabolical origin. 44

What can the Church do in the midst of these seemingly unprecedented global attacks upon the family, society, and the Church herself?

Throughout its tradition and history, the Church as the Family of God has shown the wisdom to turn to Mary during its most dangerous and critical moments.
In the early Church, Christians fled to the Mother of God for deliverance and protection during times of Christian persecution as seen in the ancient
prayer, Sub Tuum Praesidium: “We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from
all danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.”45 At times of crisis during the late middle
ages and early modern period, the Church again sought the powerful intercession of the Mother, as seen at the battle of Lepanto (1571) through “Our Lady of
the Rosary,” and the Battle of Vienna through the “Holy Name of Mary”(1683). More recently, many have acknowledged the relatively bloodless fall of the
Communism in Eastern Europe and connected it to the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope St. John Paul II on March 25, 1984,
in fulfillment of the request issued by Our Lady of Fatima.46

Again, at the times of its greatest historical crises, the Church turns to Mary.

Is it not, once again time now, to follow the perennial wisdom of the Church and to definitively call upon the greatest possible intercession of
the world’s Spiritual Mother?

V. The Solemn Definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood

One hundred years ago, the renowned Belgian prelate, Desire-Joseph Cardinal Mercier, initiated a movement within the Church to support and petition for a
solemn definition of Mary’s Spiritual Maternity.47 The previous Marian definitions of Mother of God (431), Threefold Virginity (649), Immaculate Conception (1854), and Assumption (1950), have solemnly
proclaimed Mary’s relationship with Jesus and her unique gifts of grace in soul and body. A fifth Marian definition would infallibly declare Mary’s relationship with us, her children—both within God’s family of the Church, and to the entire human family. From its outset, the
motivation for this Marian dogma, beyond the appropriate recognition of the unparalleled role of the Mother of God as our Mother, was the firm conviction
that this papal definition would bring with it historic graces for the Church and for the world.48

Why would a dogma proclamation of Spiritual Maternity result in a new abundance of grace for humanity? For the pope to solemnly declare our Lady’s roles is
to offer God the greatest possible human acknowledgement of the truth and acceptance of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood on the part of humanity, and at the
same time, to request in full freedom for the maximum possible actuation of her maternal roles of intercession. While it can be said that every previous
Maria dogma has led to great graces for the Church, the papal definition of Spiritual Motherhood appears particularly disposed to such an outpouring of
grace. The more we freely acknowledge the providentially designed roles of our Spiritual Mother, the more she is “free” and welcomed by us – in conformity with God’s respect for our free will—to bring to full activation and power her roles of motherly intercession on our behalf.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta refers to this historic outpouring of grace as a result of this papal definition in her letter of petition for this fifth Marian
dogma: “…The papal definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate will bring great graces to the Church.” 49

In sum, the solemn papal definition of Mary’s spiritual maternity will permit and utilizethe fullest possible exercise of Mary’s motherly functions of intercession for the world. Since 1915, over eight hundred bishops50 and over seven million faithful 51 have petitioned the popes of the last hundred years for this dogmatic crown for Mary,
as was the Catholic precedence for the last two Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. 52 This should not be overlooked, especially in light of the legitimate consideration of
the sensus fidelium in the examination of appropriate conditions for a dogmatic definition. 53

In light of the foregoing, what reasonable spiritual fruit could we expect from the definition of Spiritual Maternity as a dogma? The following benefits
for the family, the Church, and the world benefits could certainly be foreseen:

  1. A renewal of family life and the mother’s role in the family as its quintessential “heart.” A definition of Spiritual Motherhood cannot but redound
    into a new championing of the sublime role of the motherhood in every family. A new solemn recognition of motherhood in the person of Mary would
    immediately result in restoring the proper reverence for the role of mother as the heart of every family, which would further result in a domestic
    transfusion of love and grace into the domestic church.

  2. A new respect for the dignity of the human person based on the radical respect that God placed on the free cooperation of one human person, Mary,
    to participate in the saving work of Christ. All human persons are raised in dignity through the victorious role given by God to one woman, which
    likewise effects the restoration of family life as a sacred communion of persons instituted by God.

  3. A new celebration of women in the Church, and a concrete feminine model that properly encourages the Church to integrate women more profoundly into
    the work of the New Evangelization, as well as into the overall life of the Church. This new recognition of women should include legitimate
    leadership positions in the Church which do not require ordination, nor conflict with the primary responsibility of Christian motherhood, but
    rather make use of it for the fullest extent for all God’s children. A definition of spiritual maternity would underscore that it was a woman who
    was predestined by God to accompany the one divine Redeemer and Mediator in his salvific work, and as such provide the authentic foundation for a
    true Christian feminism. A proclamation of Mary is at the same time a proclamation of woman. As Pope Francis underscored: “the Lord did
    not want to leave the Church without this icon of womanhood” (EG 285).

  4. A supernatural infusion of grace into the New Evangelization by its Mother and “Star.” As Christian history testifies at places like Guadalupe,
    when Mary leads the way in spreading the Gospel of Christ, whole regions or even continents can quickly be converted to or renewed in the Church.
    As Pope Francis reminds us: “She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the
    new evangelization” (EG 284).

In light of a new papal “fiat” to her titles and functions of intercession, Our Lady could profoundly fulfill the prayer of Pope Francis to “obtain a new
ardor born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the Gospel of life, which triumphs over death,” and thereby grant the Church “a holy courage to
seek new paths, that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman) (EG 288). It is because Mary, beyond all other
creatures, gave herself “completely to the Eternal One” that she can besthelp us to say our own ‘yes’ to the urgent call, as pressing
as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus”(EG 288).

It is moreover essential to the process of the New Evangelization that we fully incorporate a “Marian style” to our methods of spreading the Gospel. Pope
Francis expounds:

There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of
love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to
feel important themselves (EG 288).

Mary is, moreover, our model of service and evangelization for the poor and marginalized, and the solemn highlighting of her motherly example will only aid
the Church to better imitate its evangelizing exemplar: “She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out
from her town “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for
others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization” (EG 288). A definition of maternity would certainly highlight the
Church’s imperative to become more maternal in its methods of spreading the Gospel.

Additionally, Pope Francis has offered a new ecclesiological model of the Church as “home” (cf. EG 288). If the Church is truly to become “home’
for all peoples, we have all the more the imperative for the Mother of the Church to be more intimately involved— that the “heart” of the Family of God may
utilize her unique maternal gifts in transforming the Church evermore into a community where new inquirers and new believers will authentically see and
experience the Church as home.

  1. The renewal and “marianization” of the Church through the solemn recognition of its perfect model and member. Pope Francis reminds us that “Mary is
    the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith, and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the
    Church” (EG 287). The dogmatic crowning of the Mother would accentuate the sacred role of the Church as “mother” (LG 63, 64), in the mission of
    bringing supernatural life to souls. The declaration of Mary as Mother of all peoples would underscore the Church also as a “mother for all
    peoples,” which is incorporated into this prayer of Pope Francis to the Mother: “We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a
    home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world (E.V 288).” 54

The proclamation of her role as Co-redemptrix as the foundational and inseparable suffering aspect of her spiritual maternity reminds the Church of its
need to likewise be “co-redeemers in Christ”55, to use the expression of St. John Paul II,
in making up “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the Church” (Col.1:24). Pope Benedict likewise called the
Church to become “redeemers in the Redeemer.”56

  1. A new outpouring of grace for the world’s poor, suffering, hungry, elderly, and marginalized. The Magnificat reveals the special place in
    Our Lady’s heart for “the lowly” and the “hungry” (Lk. 1:52, 53). This definition would bring generous graces to the world’s most needy peoples,
    the poor and those on the “fringes” of the human family, and as such hold a preferential place in the Immaculate Heart of Mary:Star of
    the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the
    joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world” (EG 288).

  1. A contribution to authentic Christian ecumenism. True motherhood unites rather than divides children. So too, does the sublime spiritual maternity
    of the perfect Mother among her Christian children. Despite advancements in Christian unity through prayer and dialogue, ecumenism is still in need
    of new and profound graces to reach its goal of full unity in Christ’s Body. A new surge of grace into our present ecumenical efforts could first unite the hearts of her children, which could then subsequently lead to a new unity of minds amidst the Christian family—an
    ecumenical breakthrough through the intercession of the Mother of Christian unity. 57

A definition of Spiritual Maternity would also articulate in the clearest possible biblical and theological terms that Catholic Christians do not “adore”
Mary, but properly acknowledge her secondary and subordinate role with Jesus in salvation as “a mother in the order of grace.” 58 It would offer the ecumenical dialogue an invaluable tool as an accurate biblical and
theological formulation of what the Church believes about Mary. Christian truth in itself unites.

  1. Peace among nations. The Mother of all humanity is also the Queen of Peace, who seeks to bring the Prince of Peace to all lands, especially those
    most torn by war, hatred, and destruction. The definition would offer a new release of supernatural grace and wisdom towards the resolving of the
    most complex regional, national, and international geo-political conflicts, which at this point might appear beyond human or diplomatic remedy.
    Such is the special charism of the maternal “Undoer of Knots.”59

Potential Objections to a Marian Definition

Some might object that a dogma of Spiritual Maternity would not be appropriate in light of the scriptural teachings of 1Tim 2:5 that “there is only one
mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Yet it must again be emphasized that Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood is only a subordinate sharing in the
one mediation of Christ, as are the prayers and intercession of every Christian. Lumen Gentium reminds us:

But Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power…it flows forth from the
superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the
immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it (LG 60).

Mary intercedes, the Church intercedes, the saint intercedes, the angel intercedes, the priest intercedes, the lay faithful intercedes, each in their
diverse and proportionate degrees, yet all as secondary and subordinate participants in the one mediation of Jesus Christ.60 Mary shares in the one mediation of Jesus like no other, 61 due to her unique role with Jesus in the work of redemption, and in light of her
unparalleled role in the distribution of grace to humanity. But her motherly mediation is neither “parallel” nor does it “compete” with the one mediation
of Christ. St. John Paul II offers this exceptionally clear teaching on 1Tim. 2:5 and its authentic Catholic interpretation:

In proclaiming Christ the one mediator (cf. 1Tim 2:5-6), the text of St. Paul’s letter to Timothy excludes any other parallel mediation, but not
subordinate mediation. In fact, before emphasizing the one exclusive mediation of Christ, the author urges “that supplications, prayers, intercession, and
thanksgivings be made for all men” (2:1). Are not prayers a form of mediation? By proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ’s mediation, the Apostle intends
only to exclude any autonomous or rival mediation, and not other forms compatible the infinite value of the Savior’s work. 62

Just as the Pauline teaching that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) did not, despite first impressions, run contrary to the dogma of
the Immaculate Conception, so too the Pauline teaching of 1Tim 2:5 does not run contrary to the present doctrine and the potential definition of Mary as
Spiritual Mother and Mediatrix of all graces.

Still others might contend this Marian definition would impede ecumenical progress with other Christian ecclesial bodies, and thereby run counter to the
conciliar call for Christian unity. Authentic ecumenical activity within the Church identifies prayer as its soul and dialogue as its body in the true
seeking of unity within the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ.63 True
ecumenical efforts, however, can neither compromise authentic doctrinal teachings which include those concerning the Mother of God, nor should they be an
obstacle to legitimate doctrinal development,64 and this proposed Marian dogma would, in
fact, constitute a legitimate development of the perennial doctrine regarding Mary’s Spiritual Maternity. Marian truth properly articulated does not put up
walls, but rather builds bridges. All Christians need to know, with the same clarity of profession made by the Redeemer on Calvary, that they too have Mary
as their mother (cf. Jn. 19:26). Pope Francis has recently commented: “A Christian without the Virgin is an orphan.” 65

Another potential objection is that the Marian titles which comprise the specific expressions and functions of Spiritual Maternity such as “Co-redemptrix”
and “Mediatrix” should not be used in a potential definition since their etymological base is too close to those of the divine “Redeemer” and “Mediator,”
which are properly attributed to Jesus alone. Yet, Christian Tradition often uses the same root titles for Mary as for Christ, but with the clear
understanding that Mary is participating on a distinctly human dimension in a divine reality completely dependent upon Jesus Christ. Is this not fully
consistent with the Church’s theological tradition and its perennial use of the principle of analogy? Entirely different root titles would not fully
express the intimacy, beauty and coherency of the one plan of Salvation which God has specifically willed between the Son and the Mother, and ultimately
between God and humanity in the work of human salvation, as all members of the Church are called to participate in the divine actions of redemption and
grace. As married couples “co-create” with the Father in bringing children into the world; and priests “co-sanctify” with the Spirit in ministering the
sacraments of the Church, all Christians are called to “co-redeem” with Jesus in fulfillment of St. Paul’s call to “make up what is lacking in the
sufferings of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24). Mary’s title as Co-redemptrix not only illustrates the union of humanity
with divinity that God desires in the work of salvation, but also beckons the Church to follow her example as “co-redeemers in Christ,”66 and as well proclaims in itself the quintessential Christian message that suffering is redemptive.67

Still others may object that the Marian doctrine in question is not properly mature for a definition, and that elements associated with the doctrine remain
“ambiguous.” Yet, Spiritual Maternity, as well as its three essential maternal expressions in coredemption, mediation and advocacy, has been consistently
taught by the ordinary papal magisterium for over three centuries. Surely, this provides us a magisterial guarantee that all essential aspects of the
doctrine are intrinsically true and free from error.

In regards to ancillary questions that may remain in relation to Spiritual Maternity, a distinction must be made between essential questions intrinsic to the doctrine and secondary questions associated with the doctrine. Spiritual Motherhood is unquestionably a truth contained
within the body of Catholic doctrine, with a biblical, patristic, traditional and magisterial foundation that has led pope after pope in the last several
centuries to officially and confidently teach the doctrine. Questions closely related but nonetheless secondary to the doctrine in question need not be
fully answered before its definition. For example, the “death of Mary” issue which is closely related to the Assumption was not included in the eventual
definition of the Assumption by Ven. Pius XII, as it did not constitute an essential aspect intrinsic to the Assumption doctrine, not matter how closely

While a solemn definition indeed demands the verification of revealed truth at its essence, it does not require that all secondary questions related to the
doctrine must be explained prior to its solemn proclamation, nor that further understanding will not develop after its promulgation. This is evidenced by
the profound insights on the deeper meanings of the Immaculate Conception offered by St. Maximilian Kolbe over fifty years after the doctrine’s

Spiritual Maternity, furthermore, possesses stronger implicit biblical support than either the previous two Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception or
the Assumption, particularly in light of the scriptural testimonies found its Old Testament foreshadowing in Genesis 3:15; at the Annunciation (Lk. 1:38);
the Visitation, (Lk. 1:39), the Prophecy of Simeon (Lk. 2:35); the Wedding of Cana (Jn. 2:1-10); the Woman of Revelation 12:1; and, most of all, the direct
words of Jesus at Calvary (Jn. 19:25-27).

In sum, the clear doctrine of Spiritual Maternity, based on its implicit scriptural presence, explicit traditional development, and official magisterial
articulation, contains a foundation in the sources of divine revelation and theology that positively sustains its supports its immediate consideration for
a solemn definition.


Could now be the appropriate time to define solemnly the following Christian doctrine: that

Mary, the Immaculate, ever-virgin Mother of God, gloriously assumed into heaven, is the Spiritual Mother of all humanity as Co-redemptrix,
Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate?

Are we not bound by Christian conscience to utilize all the means at the Church’s disposal to bring a supernatural remedy into today’s exceedingly grave
signs of the times? Far from some type of sterile, abstract theological procedure, the defining of a Marian dogma would allow for the release of
supernatural power—a momentous spiritual outpouring of grace, peace, and healing that our present world drama urgently needs. As it was Mary who implored
the Spirit to descent at the first Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14), so now, once again, we must implore Mary as Advocate for a New Pentecost—for a new
descent of the Holy Spirit—in order to infuse the Church’s efforts towards family restoration and a new evangelization with heavenly aid that can only come
from the divine Sanctifier.

Should we, on the other hand, hesitate to define the Mother’s roles and thereby inhibit the full power of her motherly intercession, due to secondary
theological questions regarding a doctrine which has already been officially taught by the papal magisterium for centuries? Should we wait to definitively
invoke the Mother due to an incomplete understanding of 1Timothy 2:5? Should we resist the perennial practice of the Church to “turn to Mary” in our
presently grave historical moment due to the lack of support from other brother and sister Christian ecclesial bodies, the majority of whom deny a priori the office of the papacy from which a Marian definition would necessarily come?

Blessed Pope Paul VI followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, against considerable opposition from both council fathers and theologians, to conclude the
third session of the second Vatican Council with the proclamation that Mary is Mother of the Church. Would it not constitute a fitting parallel,
with even greater appropriateness and result as a climactic fruit of the Synod on the Family, that our beloved Pope Francis would define Mary’s Spiritual
Motherhood—and thus to foster an authentic renewal of family, the Church, and the human family as a whole?

Pope Francis reminds us that we need not be afraid of the struggle of our contemporary journey when we do so with the “help of the Mother”:

Jesus from the Cross says to Mary, indicating John: “Woman, behold your son!” and to John: “Here is your mother!” (cf. Jn. 19:26-27). In that disciple, we
are all represented: the Lord entrusts us to the loving and tender hands of the Mother, that we might feel her support in facing and overcoming the
difficulties of our human and Christian journey; to never be afraid of the struggle, to face it with the help of the mother. 69

When Jesus first proclaimed Mary “Mother,” from the cross (Jn. 19:27), grace, evangelization, and peace was brought into the world. May a second solemn
proclamation of Mary as “Mother” by the Vicar of Jesus advance the Church into a new grace, a new evangelization, and a new peace for the family, for the Church, and for the world.

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor of Theology and Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

September 15, 2014


St. John Paul II, Mulieres Dignitatem, n. 29.


St. John Paul II, General Audience, November 24, 1999.


St. John Paul II, Mulieres Dignitatem, n. 30.


St. Edith Stein, Essays on Woman, p. 45.




St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (St. Edith Stein), I. Guardini, “On the Education of Women”, L’Osservatore Romano, March 6, 1969,
English Edition, p. 9.


Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Letter to Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 1995.


Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, Q. 26, a. 1.


Cf. for example, Pius XI, Casti Connubi, December 31, 1930, n. 27.


Cf. Liturgical Antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater.


Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, Dec. 8, 1854; Lumen Gentium 56.


Lumen Gentium
, 56.


Council of Ephesus, 431.


Pope Francis, General Audience, October 23, 2013.


For example, titles already used by the papal magisterium for Our Lady’s intercession, including “Queen,” “Mediatrix of all graces,” “Co-redemptrix,”
and “Reparatrix.”


Cf. Dei Verbum, 9, 10.


Pope Francis, “Prayer of Consecration to Mary,” October 13, 2013.


Cf. Lumen Gentium, 58.


St. Augustine, De Sancta Virginitate, 6, 6; cf. St. Pius X, Ad Diem Ilum, 1904.


St. John Paul II, Allocution at Fatima, May 12, 1991; Redemptoris Mater, 47.


Cf. Lumen Gentium, 58.


Cf. St. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, n. 1.


Cf. Heb. 10:10.


Lumen Gentium,


Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 60, 61.


Cf. For example of most recent usage by a pope, cf. Pope Benedict XVI, use of “Mediatrix omnium gratiarum,” Letter for World Day of the Sick at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, Germany, Feb. 11, 2013.For documentation of the popes of the last
three centuries, cf. A. Apollonio,F.I., “Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces” in Mariology: A Guide For Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, pp. 444-464.


Genesis 3:20.


Cf. 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; Rom. 5:12, 21.


Cf. St. Irenaeus, Ad Haer III, 22, 4, PG 7, 959; ; LG 56.


St. Irenaeus, Ad Haer III, 22, 4. PG 7, 959.


St. Jerome, Epist. 22, 21; PL 22, 408. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 56.


St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 21


Cf. St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 21.


For the pontificate of St. Pius X: Congregation of Rites, AAS, 1, 1908, Holy Office, p. 409; AAS 5, 1913, p. 364; Holy Office, AAS, 6, 1914, p. 108.
For Pius XI: L.R., p. 1; Audience, Dec. 1, 1933, L.R., p. 1; Audience, March 25, 1934, L.R., p. 1; Audience, April 29, 1935.
For St. John Paul II: Audience, Sept. 8, 1982; Audience, Nov. 4, 1984, L.R., p. 1; Audience, March 11, 1985, L.R., p. 7; Homily, Jan. 31, 1985; Audience, April 9, 1985, L.R., p. 12; Audience, March 24, 1990.


St. John Paul II, Homily at Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan. 31, 1985.




Cf. St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum, 1904. Lumen Gentium, 57; Lumen Gentium, 62.


For a listing of papal references of “Mediatrix of all graces” from Pope Benedict XIV to Pope Benedict XVI, cf. , A. Apollonio, “Mary, Mediatrix of all
Graces in Mariology: A Guide For Priests, Deacons, Seminarians and Consecrated Persons, pp. 444-464.


St. John Paul II, “Mary, Mediatrix,” General Audience, October 1, 1997.


For example, abortion (presently approximated at 42 million annually); unprecedented divorce, contraception, abuse of women and children, human
trafficking of women and minors; large scale loss of Christian faith, particularly among youth; a decrease in respect for the elderly, and an increase
in euthanasia. For the soaring increase of Euthanasia, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium, cf.www.lifesitenews.com, June 27, 2011, September 24, 2013; also for current statistics, cf. www.euthanasia.com.


St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 6.


Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Commentary on the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima, June 26, 2000.


World Health Organization Statistics on Hunger and Starvation,


ISIS (or ISIL) forms of persecution include murder, sexual assault, crucifixion, beheading, and slavery—inclusive of women and children.


Sub Tuum Praesidium
, 3rd century.


Cf. July 13, 1917 Message of Our Lady of Fatima.


Initiation of the Movement for the Solemn Definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Maternity by Cardinal Mercier in April, 1915, cf. M. Hauke, Mary, Mediatress of Grace: Mary’s Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, Ch. I.




Petition Letter of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta for the Fifth Marian Dogma
, August 14, 1993, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com.


Cardinal Mercier submitted several hundreds of bishop petitions within the first few years of the movement from 1915 to 1920. The more recent Vox Populi Marie Mediatrici movement records 522 bishops and 57 cardinals from 1993 to 2010, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com.


Over 7 million petitions from over 180 countries for this fifth Marian dogma have been submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, since
1995, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com.


Both B. Pius IX and Pius XII thanked the Christian faithful for the outpouring of the petitions for these respective Marian dogmas as a legitimate
manifestation of the sensus fidelium; cf. Ineffabilis Deus,Dec. 8, 1854 and Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950.


Cf. John H. Newman, The Rambler, 1859; Ian Ker, John Henry Newman. A Biography, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, 463-489.


Emphasis mine.


Cf. for example, St. John Paul II, General Audience, Jan 13, 1982.


Pope Benedict XVI, Homily during Eucharistic Benediction at Fatima, May 12, 2011.


Cf. St. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, 21, 28.


Lumen Gentium
, 61.


Cf. Pope Francis, Allocution on the Eve of Consecration to Mary, October 12, 2013.


Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, ST III, Q. 26, a. 1; Lumen Gentium 60-61.


Cf. St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 21, 39.


St. John Paul II, General Audience, October 1, 1997.


Cf. St. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, 21, 28.


Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 11; Ut Unum Sint, 36, 18.


Pope Francis, General Audience, September 3, 2014.


Cf. for example, St. John Paul II, General Audience, Jan 13, 1982.


Cf. St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris; Pius XII, Mystici Corporis.


Cf. For example, Manteau-Bonamy, ed., The Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of Fr. Kolbe, Chapters I, II, IV.


Pope Francis, Allocution at St. Mary Major’s Basilica, May 4, 2013.

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Imprimatur for Direction for Our Times Materials
November 11th, 2013

Dear lay apostles,

We are happy to share with you today the news that Bishop Leo O’Reilly has granted an Imprimatur for all of the writings of Direction for Our Times. This is good news and is another step forward for the Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King. Below you will find the actual language, as well as the titles of the writings. Each reprint will now include the Imprimatur.


To appear in each book:

Nihil Obstat: Very Rev. John Canon Murphy, PP, VF

Imprimatur: +Most Rev. Leo O’Reilly

Bishop of Kilmore, Ireland.

The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are an official declaration that a book or pamphlet are free of doctrinal or moral error and that ecclesiastical permission for its publication has been granted.


The official Church diocesan commission is at a late stage of its process and therefore we are delighted to receive the Imprimatur now. We, along with you, peacefully await the outcome of that commission.

Apostles, thank you for your hard work, faithful support and kindness to us on the staff. We are seeing enormous growth in many areas so please continue to pray for us. We are here for you to support your good work in spreading this apostolate. Hopefully, the Imprimatur on the writings will make your jobs a little easier!


Fr. Darragh Connolly


p.s- as always if you have any questions, please contact the office.


Below are two letters from Anne’s bishop, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, bishop of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland. They contain statements on his position from June 2006 and September 2011. These statements reflect the current position of Bishop O’Reilly, who is the competent ecclesiastical authority in this matter.

For More Information – Clergy
Clergy members seeking further information may contact Fr. Darragh Connolly, Bishop O’Reilly’s designated representative in these matters, by calling the Direction for Our Times office – USA (708) 496-9300 or Europe +353(0)49 437-3040.

Letter from Bishop 2006

Letter from Bishop 2006

 Letter from Bishop 2011

Letter from Bishop 2011




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In the course of two millennia and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Catholic Church has come to an ever more focused understanding of the person and role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. The first Marian dogma stating that Mary is in fact the Theotókos, the God-bearer or Mother of God was solemnly declared by the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus in 431.1

Subsequently at the Lateran Council of 649 convoked by Pope St. Martin I the Church reached the certitude that Mary is ever Virgin: that she was a virgin before, during and after giving birth to Jesus.2 After centuries of debate the Catholic Church arrived at the assurance that Mary was immaculate from the first moment of her conception. 3 Finally in 1950, after ascertaining the Church’s long held belief, the Venerable Pius XII formally defined that the Virgin Mary was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.4 Each of these truths are mysteries of faith which means that they are so deep our human minds can never fully exhaust their richness.

All four of these dogmas refer to the person of Mary in relation to her Son, the God-man, Jesus Christ. But, in fact, Catholics believe even more about Mary than these profound mysteries regarding her person. They also believe that she played and continues to play an entirely unique role in the work of our salvation. In the course of the second millennium saints and theologians have been meditating, preaching and writing about Mary’s collaboration in the work of redemption and in the distribution of grace while for over one hundred fifty years the Popes have teaching about her maternal role.

I. The Mystery of Marian Coredemption

It is precisely this role or function that I would like to present today and I believe that there is no better place to begin than with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which devoted more space to the Mother of God than any other Ecumenical Council of the Church. Thus the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium speaks of Mary as “under and with him [Christ], serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” [sub Ipso et cum Ipso, omnipotentis Dei gratia, mysterio remdeptionis inserviens], as “freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation” [humanæ saluti cooperantem] (#56), of the “union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation” [ cum Filio in opere salutari coniunctio] (#57) and of how she faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan [non sine divino consilio], enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her [ vehementer cum Unigenito suo condoluit et sacrificio Eius se materno animo sociavit, victimæ de se genitæ immolationi amanter consentiens] (#58).

Likewise the Council Fathers state that Mary shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls [Filioque suo in cruce morienti compatiens, operi Salvatoris singulari prorsus modo cooperata est, oboedientia, fide, spe et flagrante caritate, ad vitam animarum supernaturalem restaurandam] (#61).

The twentieth century Popes had already clearly taught the doctrine upon which the Council Fathers could base themselves. In his great Marian Encyclical Ad Diem Illum of 2 February 1904, Saint Pius X stated:

It was not only the glory of the Mother of God to have presented to God the Only-Begotten who was to be born of human members the material by which he was prepared as a Victim for the salvation of mankind, but hers also the office of tending and nourishing that Victim, and at the appointed time of offering Him at the altar.

Hence the ever united life and labors of the Son and the Mother which permit the application to both of the words of the Psalmist: “My life is wasted with grief and my years in sighs”. When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the cross of Jesus there stood Mary, His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind; and so entirely participating in His Passion that, if it had been possible “she would have gladly borne all the torments that her Son underwent” [St. Bonaventure, I Sent, d. 48, ad Litt. dub. 4].5

In his Letter Inter Sodalicia of 22 May 1918 Pope Benedict XV wrote: According to the common teaching of the Doctors it was God’s design [non sine divino consilio], that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist Him when He was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and, as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind [ut dici merito queat, Ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse.]. 6

Several years ago I discovered that the same Latin phrase – non sine divino consilio – which occurs in Benedict XV’s document is also used in Lumen Gentium #58, which I have cited above, but without acknowledging the authorship of Benedict XV. The point being made in both places is that Our Lady’s active collaboration in the work of redemption was explicitly willed by God and we can affirm, along with Blessed Pope Pius IX in his Bull Ineffabiliis Deus declaring the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that this is clearly supported by the Catholic understanding of the role of
the “Woman” of Genesis 3:15 and her “Seed” who together are in an eternal state of enmity with the serpent. 7

The Venerable Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Ad Cæli Reginam of 11 October 1954 insists just as firmly that it is God’s will that Mary is joined with Jesus in the work of our redemption.

Mary in the work of redemption was by God’s will joined with Jesus Christ, the cause of salvation, in much the same way as Eve was joined with Adam, the cause of death. Hence it can be said that the work of our salvation was brought about by a “restoration” (St. Irenaeus) in which the human race, just as it was doomed to death by a virgin, was saved by a virgin.

Moreover, she was chosen to be the Mother of Christ “in order to have part with Him in the redemption of the human race” [Pius XI, Auspicatus profecto].

“She it was, who, free from all stain of personal or original sin, always most closely united with her Son, offered Him up to the Eternal Father on Calvary, along with the sacrifice of her own claims as His mother and of her own mother love, thus acting as a new Eve on behalf of Adam’s children, ruined by his unhappy fall” [Mystici Corporis].8

Pius XII would go on to continue to underscore Mary’s unique role in his great Sacred Heart Encyclical Haurietis Aquas of 15 May 1956:

By the will of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably joined with Christ in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption, so that our salvation flows from the love of Jesus Christ and His sufferings intimately united with the love and sorrows of His Mother [Cum enim ex Dei voluntate in humanæ Redemptionis peragendo opere Beatissima Virgo Maria cum Christo fuerit indivulse coniuncta, adeo ut ex Iesu Christi caritate eiusque cruciatibus cum amore doloribusque ipsius Matris intime consociatis sit nostra salus profecta].9

No pope has taught more clearly and more consistently about Our Lady’s role in the work of redemption than Blessed John Paul II. Here is an important text from his general audience address of 4 May 1983:

Dearest brothers and sisters, in the month of May we raise our eyes to Mary, the woman who was associated in a unique way in the work of mankind’s reconciliation with God. According to the Father’s plan, Christ was to accomplish this work through his sacrifice. However, a woman would be associated with him, the Immaculate Virgin who is thus placed before our eyes as the highest model of cooperation in the work of salvation. …

The “Yes” of the Annunciation constituted not only the acceptance of the offered motherhood, but signified above all Mary’s commitment to service of the mystery of the Redemption. Redemption was the work of her Son; Mary was associated with it on a subordinate level. Nevertheless, her participation was real and demanding. Giving her consent to the angel’s message, Mary agreed to collaborate in the whole work of mankind’s reconciliation with God, just as her
Son would accomplish it. …

The orientation toward the redemptive sacrifice dominated Mary’s entire life as a mother. Unlike other mothers who cannot know in advance the sorrows that will come to them from their children, Mary already knew from those first days that her motherhood was on the way to a supreme trial.

For her, participation in the redemptive drama was the end of a long road. After seeing how the prediction about the opposition Jesus would undergo was fulfilled in the events of his public life, she understood more keenly, at the foot of the cross, the meaning of those words, “And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword”. Her presence on Calvary, which allowed her to unite herself with the sufferings of her Son with all her heart, was part of the divine plan: the Father wanted her, called to the most total cooperation in the mystery of redemption, to be integrally associated with the sacrifice and share all the pains of the Crucified, uniting her will to his in the desire to save the world. 10

Let us note two very important points here. The first is that, like his predecessors, John Paul stressed the fact that Mary’s collaboration is “according to the Father’s plan”, that is willed by God from all eternity. The second is that Mary’s cooperation is always “on a subordinate level”, but nonetheless “real and demanding”. It is the highest participation in the redemption possible for a creature, but always secondary, subordinate to and entirely dependent on the redemption wrought by Christ, her Son. This is the way the Council Fathers put it in Lumen Gentium #60:

For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.

Two statements in the Catechism of the Catholic Church beautifully echo this conciliar teaching. The first occurs in #616:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible hi redemptive sacrifice for all.

The second in #618:

Because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. … In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.

Here is a carefully balanced outline of the Church’s teaching on this matter that Blessed Pope John Paul II gave in his general audience address of 9 April 1997.

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary’s cooperation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. St. Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title “cooperator” in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary’s joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer.

Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the 15th century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church’s teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin’s subordination, as cooperator, to the one Redeemer.

Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to cooperate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.

However, applied to Mary, the term “cooperator” acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity. 11

Here, once again the Pope highlights the uniqueness of Mary’s cooperation in the work of redemption. She “cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother”, the mother specially prepared in advance for this unique role.

Blessed John Paul II again maintains a marvelous balance in presenting Mary’s unique function in the work of redemption in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris of 11 February 1984. He speaks first of the “unique and incomparable depth and intensity of suffering which only the man who is the only-begotten Son could experience” (Salvifici Doloris #18), a mental, emotional and physical suffering beyond our ability to comprehend.
Commenting on Colossians 1:24, in which St. Paul states “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church”, the Pope goes on to say:

The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world’s Redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it

. But at the same time, in the mystery of the Church as His Body, Christ has in a sense opened His own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. Insofar as man becomes a sharer in Christ’s sufferings – in any part of the world and at any time in history – to that extent he in his own way completes
the suffering through which Christ accomplished the Redemption of the world.

Does this mean that the Redemption achieved by Christ is not complete? No. It only means that the Redemption, accomplished through satisfactory love, remains always open to all love expressed in human suffering. In this dimension – the dimension of love – the Redemption which has already been completely accomplished is, in a certain sense, constantly being accomplished. Christ achieved the Redemption completely and to the very limit; but at the same time He did not bring it to a close. In this redemptive suffering, through which the Redemption of the world was accomplished, Christ opened Himself from the beginning to every human suffering and constantly does so. Yes, it seems to be part of the very essence of Christ’s redemptive suffering that this suffering requires to be unceasingly completed (Salvifici Doloris #24).

While Jesus’ suffering was more than sufficient to redeem the world, the Pope insists that it remains “open to all love expressed in human suffering”. This is, indeed, a mystery, something that is at the same time beyond our comprehension, but also a truth of faith. All of our sufferings can be united with those of Jesus for the sake of his body, the Church. While we can share in applying the work of the redemption to ourselves and to others by the patient
endurance of our sufferings, Mary had the unique role of joining her sufferings with those of Jesus at the very same moment when he was suffering for our redemption. The Pope continues:

It is especially consoling to note – and also accurate in accordance with the Gospel and history – that at the side of Christ, in the first and most exalted place, there is always His Mother through the exemplary testimony that she bears by her whole life to this particular Gospel of suffering.
In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith but also a contribution to the Redemption of all. … It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. …

As a witness to her Son’s passion by her presence, and as a sharer in it by her compassion, Mary offered a unique contribution to the Gospel of suffering, by embodying in anticipation the expression of St. Paul which was quoted at the beginning. She truly has a special title to be able to claim that she “completes in her flesh” – as already in her heart – “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Salvifici Doloris #25).

These two citations from Salvifici Doloris already help us to hold in tension the dynamic truths that underlie Mary’s compassion or cooperation in the redemption. On the one hand “The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world’s redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it.” On the other hand “Mary’s suffering [on Calvary], beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world.” Thus the Pope strikes once again that careful balance which is always a hallmark of Catholic truth: he upholds the principle that the sufferings of Christ were all-sufficient for the salvation of the world, while maintaining that Mary’s co-suffering “was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world.” This is an axiom that may be discovered in the lives of the saints of every era of the Church’s history from the days of the apostles to our own.

Now we must deal with a matter of terminology: How do we best describe this secondary and subordinate, but nonetheless active and unique role willed by God for Mary in the work of our redemption? Blessed Pope John Paul II used a good number of descriptive titles such as collaborator and cooperator, associate and ally. He has called her “the perfect co-worker in Christ’s sacrifice” (perfetta cooperatrice del sacrificio di Cristo) 12 and “the perfect model for those who seek to be united with her Son in his saving work for all humanity”.13

This is a matter on which neither our present Holy Father nor any of his predecessors have pronounced and we are quite free to debate it. My argument would simply be that none of the one-word titles such as collaborator, cooperator, co-worker, associate, partner and ally sufficiently accentuates the uniqueness of Mary’s role whereas others seem to me to be either lengthy phrases or cumbersome circumlocutions. 14

The fact is that there is a word that was coined and has become hallowed by usage to describe Mary’s unique role: Coredemptrix. The first use of the word Coredemptrix of which we are presently aware dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century.15 It passed into theological circulation 16 and then into the vocabulary of the magisterium. It was first used in official documents issued by Roman Congregations at the beginning of the twentieth century17 and
subsequently by Pope Pius XI in allocutions to pilgrims18 and in a radio message on 28 April 1935 for the closing of the Holy Year at Lourdes.19 The word was not used by Pius XII (1939-1958) because of controversies about the doctrine which were only clarified at the end of his pontificate 20, and was described in the Prænotanda of the first draft of the schema which would eventually become chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium as among those words which are “absolutely true in themselves” [in se verissima], but were being avoided out of ecumenical sensitivity.21 We are also free to debate
about the wisdom and effectiveness of such a strategy.22

Although the doctrine of Mary’s unique collaboration in our redemption was clearly taught by the Second Vatican Council as we have seen, the word Coredemptrix was not used out of what I call “political” and “misdirected ecumenical sensitivity”. 23 What is even more significant, however, is that after a period of artificial suppression Blessed John Paul II used the word “Coredemptrix” or “coredemptive” at least seven times to describe Mary’s intimate cooperation in the work of our Redemption.24

The term Coredemptrix usually requires some initial explanation in the English language because often the prefix “co” immediately conjures up visions of complete equality. For instance a co-signer of a check or a co-owner of a house is considered a co-equal with the other signer or owner. Thus the first fear of many is that describing Our Lady as Coredemptrix puts her on the same level as her Divine Son and implies that she is “Redeemer” in the same way
that he is, thus reducing Jesus “to being half of a team of redeemers”.25 In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes, however, the meaning is always that Mary’s cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, dependent on that of Christ – and yet for all that – something that God “freely wished to accept … as constituting an unneeded, but yet wonderfully pleasing part of that one great price”26 paid by His Son for world’s
redemption. As Dr. Mark Miravalle points out:

The prefix “co” does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word, “cum” which means “with”. The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesusparticipates in the redemptive work of herSavior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity. 27

II. The Mystery of Mary’s Mediation of Grace

In its treatment of Mary’s Motherhood with regard to the Church the Catechism of the Catholic Church cites the text of Lumen Gentium 62 that “the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” 28 and then follows immediately with these further texts from Lumen Gentium by way of commentary:

Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men … flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it [Lumen Gentium 60]. No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold co-operation which is but a sharing in this one source [ Lumen Gentium 62].29

Although the conciliar text does not make any allusion to it, there is a striking corroboration of the analogy between the priesthood of Christ and his unique mediation and the various ways of sharing in this priestly mediation developed in Pope Leo XIII’s Rosary Encyclical of 20 September 1896, Fidentem Piumque. Let us look at the argument that he develops with the help of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Undoubtedly the name and attributes of the absolute Mediator belong to no other than Christ; for being one Person and yet both Man and God He restored the human race to the favor of the Heavenly Father. “One Mediator of God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself a redemption for all” (I Tim. 2:5-6).

And yet, as the Angelic Doctor teaches: “There is no reason why certain others should not be called in a certain way mediators between God and man, that is to say in so far as they cooperate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God” (ST III, q. 26, a. 1). Such are the angels and saints, the prophets and priests of both Testaments, but especially has the Blessed Virgin a claim to the glory of this title. For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much toward reconciling man with God. To mankind heading for eternal ruin, she offered a Savior when she received the announcement of the mystery brought to this earth by the Angel, and in giving her consent gave it “in the name of the whole human race” (ST III, q. 30, a. 1). She is the one from whom Jesus is born; she is therefore truly His Mother and for this reason a worthy and acceptable “Mediatrix to the Mediator”.30

We should note that the first passage that Leo XIII quotes from St. Thomas speaks explicitly of those who “cooperate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God” [cooperantur ad unionem hominis cum Deo dispositive et ministerialiter]. 31 Among such secondary and subordinate mediators – the pope points out – Mary is
preeminent. It is precisely this role of Mary’s ministering in the union of man with God as a Mediatrix of grace that we now treat. Perhaps no Pope explained the intimate correlation between Mary’s coredemptive role and her role in the distribution of grace than did St. Pius X in his great Marian Encyclical Ad Diem Illum:

From this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary “she merited to become most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world” (Eadmer, De Excellentia Virg. Mariæ, c. 9) and dispensatrix of all the gifts that our Savior purchased for us by his death and by his blood.

It cannot of course be denied that the dispensing of these treasures is the particular and supreme right of Jesus Christ, for they are the exclusive fruit of His death, who by His Nature is the Mediator between God and man. Nevertheless, by this union in sorrow and suffering, We have said, which existed between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed to the August Virgin “to be the most powerful Mediatrix and advocate of the whole world, with her Divine Son” (cf. Ineffabilis Deus [OL #64]).

The source, then, is Jesus Christ, “and of his fullness we have all received” (Jn. 1:16); “from him the whole body (being closely joined and knit together through every joint of the system according to the functioning in due measure of each single part) derives its increase to the building up of itself in love”. But Mary, as St Bernard justly remarks, is the “aqueduct,” or if you will, the neck by which the body is joined to the head and the head transmits to the body its power and virtue: “For she is the neck of our Head, by which he communicated to his mystical Body all spiritual gifts” (St. Bern. Sen., Quadrag. de Evangelio æterno, Serm. X, a. 3, c. 3). We are thus, it will be seen, very far from declaring the Mother of God to be the authoress of supernatural grace. Grace comes from God alone. But since she surpassed all in holiness and union with Christ, and has been associated with Christ in the work of Redemption, she, as the expression is, merits de congruo what Christ merits de condigno, and is the principal minister in the distribution of grace.32

Pius X’s predecessors, especially Leo XIII, had referred with some frequency to Mary’s function in the distribution of grace, but none of them had insisted so clearly on the fact that this flows from her coredemptive role.

On several occasions Pius’ successor, Benedict XV, referred to Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces, but perhaps the most striking of his statements deals with one of the miracles approved by him for the canonization of Joan of Arc.

First of all, grateful to God and to the powerful Virgin, We must recognize that we are debtors to God alone for the two miracles attributed to Joan of Arc, the authenticity of which has today been proclaimed. And if in every miracle We must recognize the mediation of Mary by means of whom according to the divine will all graces and favors come to us, no one can deny that in one of the miracles approved by Us this mediation of the Blessed Virgin has been manifested in a very special manner.

We think God has so disposed matters to remind the faithful that we must never forget Mary even when the miracle seems to be attributed to the intercession or the mediation of one who has been beatified or canonized. We believe that such is the lesson to be learned from the fact that Thérèse Belin was completely and instantaneously cured at the Sanctuary of Lourdes. On one hand Our Lord shows us that even on this earth, which is confided to the care of His Blessed Mother, He can work miracles through the intercession of one of His servants; on the other hand, He reminds us that even in such cases it is necessary to postulate the intercession of her whom the Holy Fathers greeted as “Mediatrix Mediatorum omnium”.

In other words, even while attributing a miracle to the intercession of a given saint, we can never discount the intercession and mediation of Mary.

In the reign of Pope Pius XI we find the terminology of Our Lady’s “ministry of grace” in the conclusion of his great encyclical on reparation through and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Miserentissimus Redemptor of 8 May 1928:

Trusting in her intercession with

Christ our Lord, who though sole Mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5), wished however to make His Mother the advocate for sinners and the dispenser and mediatrix of His grace

, from the bottom of Our heart as a token of heavenly favor and of Our fatherly solicitude We heartily impart to you and to all the faithful entrusted to your care Our Apostolic Benediction.33

In this case we find Mary’s function with regard to the grace of Redemption delineated with two words in apposition, “dispenser and mediatrix” [ ministram ac mediatricem].

The Venerable Pope Pius XII used the occasion of a radio broadcast to the Shrine of Fatima for the coronation of the statue of Our Lady on 13 May 1946 to set forth the doctrinal foundations of Our Lady’s Queenship, a matter he would take up with even greater solemnity eight years later in his Encyclical Ad Cæli Reginam. In the Portuguese transmission, widely publicized and commented upon, he said:

He, the Son of God, gave His heavenly Mother a share in His glory, His majesty, His kingship; because,

associated as Mother and Minister to the King of martyrs in the ineffable work of man’s Redemption, she is likewise associated with Him forever, with power so to speak infinite, in the distribution of the graces which flow from Redemption

As in many other papal texts we note here a description of Our Lady in her capacity as both Coredemptrix and Mediatrix. In the first role she is described as “Minister to the King of martyrs in the ineffable work of man’s Redemption” and in the second as “associated with Him forever … in the distribution of the graces which flow from Redemption”. Here the term “minister” refers explicitly to the coredemptive phase of Mary’s activity, while the mediatory phase
is characterized as “the distribution of graces”.

While Blessed John Paul II’s teaching on Marian coredemption is striking in its clarity and originality, his teaching on Mary as minister and mediatrix of all graces is more subtle and does not so readily fit as neatly into the scholastic mold of his predecessors, but nonetheless harmonizes with their teaching and is profound. I have treated this topic at length in a published essay.35 For our purposes it will suffice to make a number of points. First among these is that in the wake of the post-conciliar crisis in Mariology John Paul singlehandedly re-launched the discussion on Mary’s maternal mediation in #38-47 of his Marian Encyclical Redemptoris Mater of 25 March 1987. He had already prepared the ground in his first Encyclical Redemptor Hominis of 4 March 1979 in stating that

For if we feel a special need, in this difficult and responsible phase of the history of the Church and of mankind, to turn to Christ, who is Lord of the Church and Lord of man’s history on account of the mystery of the Redemption,

we believe that nobody else can bring us as Mary can into the divine and human dimension of this mystery. Nobody has been brought into it by God himself as Mary has

Now from Blessed John Paul’s many statements, I will choose just a few. On 25 August 2001 the Holy Father introduced the Mass he was celebrating for Polish pilgrims in this way:

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman …” (Gal. 4:4). This saving mystery, in which God has assigned to the woman Mary of Nazareth, a role that cannot be replaced, is continually made present in the Eucharist. When we celebrate the Holy Mass, the Mother of the Son of God is in our midst and introduces us to the mystery of His redemptive sacrifice. Thus,she is the mediatrix of all the grace flowing from this sacrifice to the Church and to all the faithful. 37

In his Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini of 1 August 1987 commemorating the Bicentenary of the Death of St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori he wrote:

Devotion to Mary occupies a totally unique place for him [St. Alphonsus] in the economy of salvation: Mary is the Mediatrix of grace and Companion in redemption; for this reason she is Mother, Advocate and Queen. In fact, Alphonsus did everything under her protection from the beginning of his life until his death.38

In his Message of 8 September 1995 to the Ordinary General Chapter of the Cistercian Order he offered this profound exhortation, obviously fully endorsing the teaching of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, its original formulator:

From this theological and spiritual approach there stems a deep and strong devotion to Our Lady, of which Bernard is the distinguished master and witness. “Do not forget”, he teaches, “to make all that you decide to offer pass through Mary, so that grace, by returning to its Author, may take the same path that it took in its descent” (Sermo in Nativ., V).39

In his general audience address of 9 December 1998 John Paul made this striking statement about Mary’s intimate involvement in the outpouring of the living water of the Holy Spirit:

From the Cross the Savior wished to pour out upon humanity rivers of living water (cf. Jn. 7:38), that is, the abundance of the Holy Spirit. But

he wanted this outpouring of grace to be linked to a mother’s face, his Mother’s. Mary now appears as the new Eve, mother of the living, or the
Daughter of Zion, mother of all peoples

. The gift of a universal mother was included in the Messiah’s redeeming mission: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished … ”, the Evangelist writes after the two statements: “Woman, behold, your son!” and “Behold, your mother!” (Jn. 19:26-28). 40

These few examples serve as an indication of how Blessed John Paul II presented the perennial doctrine of the Church according to his own unique insights and approach.

Concluding the presentation of papal texts on Marian mediation, I would like to offer three texts on Mary’s mediation of grace from our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. The first comes from his homily on 11 May 2007 at the canonization of the Franciscan friar Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão at Campo de Marte, São Paulo, Brazil:

Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, stands particularly close to us at this moment. Frei Galvão prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. She, the Tota Pulchra, the Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Savior. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady. …

Let us give thanks to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit from whom, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the blessings of heaven.41

His statement that “There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady” is, indeed, a declaration of extraordinary clarity.

Secondly, I would like to present a text that comes from Pope Benedict’s general audience address of 30 March 2011 on St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori:

Precisely because it is Christological, Alphonsus’ piety is also exquisitely Marian. Deeply devoted to Mary, he illustrates her role in the history of salvation: an Associate in the Redemption and Mediatrix of grace, Mother, Advocate and Queen. 42

I believe that this citation not only serves as Pope Benedict XVI’s synthesis of St. Alphonsus’ Mariology, but it also also illustrates the papal teaching which I have briefly sketched here provided that we understand that “Associate in the work of Redemption” is one of the ways in which a number of popes – especially the Venerable Pius XII – have chosen to speak of Mary’s coredemptive role. She is Mediatrix of all graces because she actively cooperated in the work of our Redemption, thus becoming our spiritual Mother, our Advocate with her Son and the Queen who now sits at his right hand. 43

Finally, I conclude with this graceful reference that Pope Benedict made in his German homeland at the Marian Shrine of Etzelsbach on 23 September 2011, using a classical image of Our Lady’s mediation of grace:

Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us his mother Mary to be our mother. At the moment of his self-offering for mankind, he makes Mary as it were the channel of the rivers of grace that flow from the Cross. 44


Cf. Heinrich Denzinger, S.I., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum: Edizione Bilingue (XXXVII) a cura
di Peter Hünermann (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2000) [=D-H] #252; Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (ed.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church Originally Prepared by Josef Neuner, S.J. & Jacques Dupuis; Sixth
Revised and Enlarged Edition (New York: Alba House, 1998) [=TCF] #606/1.


Cf. D-H #503 [TCF #703].


Defined by Blessed Pius IX on 8 December 1854. Cf. D-H #2803 [TCF #709].


Cf. D-H #3903 [TCF #715].


Acta Sanctæ Sedis
[= ASS] 36 (1903-1904) 453; Our Lady: Papal Teachings, trans. Daughters of St. Paul (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) [=[OL] #231-232].


Acta Apostolicæ Sedis
[= AAS] 10 (1918) 181-182 [OL #267].


Acta Pii IX
(Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1971) 599 [OL #34].


46 (1954) 634-635 [OL #705].


48 (1956) 352 [OL #778].


Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II
[= Inseg GP] VI/1 (1983) 1135-1137; L’Osservatore Romano (weekly English edition) [= ORE] 783:1 (first number = cumulative
edition number; second number = page number ).


Inseg GP
XX/1 (1997) 621-622 [ORE 1487:7; Pope John Paul II, Theotókos – Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God
(Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000) [= MCat] 185-186].


Inseg GP
XIX/1 (1996) 1344 [ORE 1446:6].


Inseg GP
XVIII/2 (1995) 54 [ORE 1399:3].


With apologies to Father Aidan Nichols, O.P. I would put his proposal of “The Redemptive Collaboratrix” among these. Cf. his article “Von Balthasar and
the Coredemption” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross: Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of
the Immaculate, 2001) 314.


René Laurentin, “Le Titre de Corédemptrice. Étude historique,” Marianum 13 (1951) 399-402.


Cf. Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” Mariology 2 (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1957) 398-400; René Laurentin,Le titre de Corédemptrice: Étude historique (Rome: Éditions «Marianum», 1951) 15-16; Gabriele Roschini, O.S.M., Problematica sulla Corredenzione (Rome: Edizioni «Marianum», 1969) 15-17.


1 (1908) 409; 5 (1913) 364; 6 (1914) 108.


Domenico Bertetto, S.D.B., ed., Discorsi di Pio XI 2:1013; L’Osservatore Romano [=OR] 25 marzo 1934, p. 1.


29-30 aprile 1935, p. 1


Cf. Alessandro M. Apollonio, F.I., Il “calvario teologico” della Corredenzione mariana (Castelpetroso: Casa Mariana Editrice, 1999) 7-8.


Cf. my treatment in Foundations II 119 and MMC 155-156.


Cf. my article “‘Towards Another Marian Dogma?’ A Response to Father Angelo Amato,” Marianum LIX (1997) 163-165.


Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani Secundi
, Vol. I, Pt. VI (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1971) 99 (my trans.). Cf. Ermanno M. Toniolo, O.S.M., La Beata Maria Vergine nel Concilio Vaticano II (Rome: Centro di Cultura Mariana “Madre della Chiesa”, 2004) 98-99; Gabriele M. Roschini,
O.S.M., Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza II:111-112.


The specific instances may be found in Inseg GP III/2 (1980) 1646; [ORE 662:20]; Inseg GP V/3 (1982) 404; Inseg GP VII/2 (1984) 1151 [ORE 860:1]; Inseg GP VIII/1 (1985) 318-319 [ORE 876:7]; 889-890 [ORE
880:12]; Inseg GP XIII/1 (1990) 743:1; XIV/2 (1991) 756 [ORE 1211:4]. Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on
Marian Coredemption” in Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., (ed.), Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Theological Foundations II: Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship
Publishing Company, 1997) 113-147.


Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., Understanding the Mother of Jesus (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1979) 93.


William G. Most, “Reparation to the Immaculate Heart,” Cross and Crown 8 (1956) 139.


Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993) xv.






29 (1896-1897) 206 [OL #194 alt.].


For commentary on the Marian application of this text cf. Gherardini 307-309.


36 (1903-1904) 453-454 [OL #233-234].


20 (1928) 178 [OL #287].


38 (1946) 264 [OL #407, 413].


“Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, in the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – VII: Coredemptrix, Therefore Mediatrix of All Graces. Acts of the Seventh International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy
of the Immaculate, 2008) 17-63.


Inseg GP
II/1 (1979) 607 [U.S.C.C. Edition 97, 98]. Emphasis my own.


Inseg GP
XXIV/2 (2001) 192 [ORE 1707:1]. Emphasis my own. For the second part of the text beginning with “When we celebrate …”, I have followed the
English translation from the Polish given in ORE 1776:V where it was quoted in the Instruction by the Congregation for the Clergy of 4 August
2002 “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community”, #13.


[Inseg GP X/3 (1987) 145 [ORE 1001:5].


XVIII/2 (1995) 330 [ORE 1410:3].


XXI/2 (1998) 1248 [ORE 1571:19]. Emphasis my own.


Inseg B
III/1 (2007) 820-821 [ORE 1994:14].


ORE 2189:14. Ė proprio perché cristologica, la pietà alfonsiana è anche squisitamente mariana. Devotissimo di Maria, egli ne illustra il ruolo nella
storia della salvezza: socia della Redenzione e Mediatrice di grazia, Madre, Avvocata e Regina.


Cf. Psalm 44 [45]:10.



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It must be stated immediately and emphatically that this English publication of the first “schema” or draft intended for the Second Vatican Council’s treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary is in no way intended to imply that this original draft should have been the final draft, that is, to speak against the Council’s final draft which became Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium. An ecumenical council such as Vatican II which is confirmed by the Roman Pontiff is infallibly protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this key Catholic truth applies directly to the final and fruitful formulation of the Council’s Lumen Gentium Chapter 8 treatment on the Mother of God.

What then is the purpose of publishing a new English translation of the original Latin schema on Mary during this 50th year anniversary celebration of the Second Vatican Council?  It is precisely to manifest the rich mariological understanding and acceptance of Our Lady’s roles in redemption and mediation which were standardly accepted, universally taught, and papally approved within the Church at the time of the Council.

This original Marian schema was prepared by theologians under the guidance of the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith) and was submitted to Bl. Pope John XXIII for his approval before it would then be circulated among the Fathers of Vatican II. Bl. John XXIII granted his direct papal approval of this Marian schema on November 10, 1962.  The schema was then distributed to the Council Fathers on November 23, 1962.

Due to the historic conciliar vote of October 29, 1963, where it was decided by 17 votes to include the treatment on Mary into the document on the Church rather than an independent document on Mary, this Marian schema was then re-written from the form of an independent document into that of a chapter of another document, as well as receiving significant content changes in the process by a theological committee.  After its eventual re-issuing to the Council Fathers, and receiving more revisions, both by theological committees and due to interventions by Council Fathers, the final draft of what became Chapter 8I of Lumen Gentium was approved on October 29, 1964.

Attached to the original distribution of the First Schema to the Council Fathers on November 23, 1962, was a “Praenotanda” notice, or notes of preliminary explanation that had been added to the first Marian schema by a subcommittee of theologians.

The Praenotanda stated unequivocally that there are no opinions contained in this first Marian schema which have not already been proposed by the Supreme Pontiffs in previous papal statements.II  Everything, therefore, contained in the following schema is already a mariological truth proposed as doctrinally accurate by the papal magisterium. The generous number of   footnotes from papal documents throughout the first schema further confirms its ordinary magisterial character.

The schema’s teaching on Mary’s participation in the Redemption, as well as her subsequent role in the distribution of graces as Mediatrix of all graces, is extremely rich.  Apart from the profound teaching of Marian coredemption and mediation in the body of the schema itself, two footnotes are  of particular interest to the titles of Mary as “Co-redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all graces.”

Footnote 16, which offers extended explanation for the legitimate titles of Mary as used by the Church and by the Roman pontiffs, offers the following historical and theological defense of the Co-redemptrix title:

In Christian antiquity it was customary to refer to Mary as Eve, a title which seems to be taken from the principle of “re-circulation” or parallelism between Mary and Eve. Witness in this regard is found already in St. Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho: “And since we read that he is the Son of God… and made man from the Virgin, so that in the way that the disobedience spawned by the serpent took its beginning, it would receive its dissolution in the say way … .” Based on the same principle, St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies) explicitly calls Mary the cause of salvation for the entire human race. After the Council of Ephesus, the very title of Mediatrix, or as the Greeks say, Mesites or Mesetria, is attributed to Mary. In a work of a quite ancient author (some say of the 5th century but certainly before the 8th century) we read: “For she is the Mediatrix of heaven and earth, who naturally accomplishes their union.” This title became more common day by day, as can be seen in the writings of St. Andrew of Crete, St. Germanus of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, etc. Nor are there lacking Fathers who greet Mary as “Helper of the Redeemer” or “Mother of the living” in reference to Gn 3:15.


All these have been further developed by theologians and Supreme Pontiffs, and a nomenclature was created in which Mary is at different times called the Spiritual Mother of Men. the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and at other times the New Eve, the Mediatrix and Dispenser of All Graces, and even, in fact, the Co-redemptrix. With regard to the title “Queen”, cf. Note 14; with regard to the title Spiritual Mother, cf. Note 12. With regard to the title, Co-redemptrix”, and “Companion of Christ the Redeemer”, some explanations need to be added here:


The title Redemptrix occurs already in the 10th century: “Holy Redemptrix of the world, pray for us.” When this title came into use in the 15th and 16th centuries and the immediate co-operation of the Blessed Virgin in the work of our redemption was already perceived, “con” [cum] was added to “redemptrix,” so that the Mother of God was called “corredemptrix,” [Co-redemptrix] whereas Christ continued to be called “Redemptor” [Redeemer]. Accordingly, from the 17th century onward, the title of “Co-redemptrix” was in common use not only in works geared to piety and devotion, but also in very many theological treatises [cf. Carol J., The Co-redemption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rome, 1950, p. 482]


With regard to the Roman Pontiffs, the word occurs in certain texts of St. Pius X and Pius XI in contexts of lesser importance. Pius XII purposely wished to avoid this expression by frequently using formulas such as “Companion of the Redeemer,” “Eminent companion of the Redeemer,” “Loving companion of the Redeemer,” “Companion in the work of the Divine Redeemer.”


The cooperation of Mary with Jesus in the economy of our salvation is very, very often extolled by Supreme Pontiffs. Leo XIII: “the great Mother of God and likewise the companion in repairing the human race.” Pius XI: “The Redeemer was not able, due to the necessity of the work, to not associate his Mother with his work, and that is the reason why we invoke her with the title of Co-redemptrix.” Pius XII: “Mary, in procuring spiritual salvation with Jesus Christ, from the very beginning of salvation, was associated by God’s will…”(Footnote 16).

In specific reference to her role as Mediatrix of all graces, footnote 17 concerning Mary’s universal mediation provides both a strong articulation of the Mediatrix role, and acknowledges tthe fact that before the beginning of Vatican II, over 500 Council Fathers from the world over had requested a solemn papal definition of some aspect of Mary’s maternal mediation to take place curing the Council itself:

In carefully surveying the Appendix of Volume II in preparation of the Acts and Documents for Vatican Council II (pp. 131-140), it is apparent that more than 500 bishops and prelates from all five parts of the world requested a solemn definition of some social office of the Blessed Virgin, and especially her universal mediation with regard to graces. As P. De Aldama, S.J., writes (p.419): “That the Blessed Virgin Mary is a mediatrix in some true sense, and is such with a title by all means special above other saints, is de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That the title of mediatrix can be justly used, is certain from repeated use by the Roman Pontiffs and in the liturgy; there is no room for doubt here.” And again he writes (p. 427): “That the mediation of Mary with regard to dispersing graces is in every way special and far exceeds the mediation of the saints, seems to be de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That it refers to all graces in a general way, is at least Catholic doctrine.” Other approved authors, especially Popes, speak in much the same way.


Pius IX: “The most powerful mediatrix in the entire world with her Only-begotten Son”
Leo XIII: “The mediatrix of our peace with God and the administrator of heavenly graces”
Leo XIII: “Our Lady, the reparatrix of the entire world, the procurer of the gifts of God.”
Leo XIII: “She is the one of whom was born Jesus, i.e. his Mother, and for this reason she was worthy and most acceptable to be the Mediatrix for the Mediator.”
Leo XIII: “So the most powerful Virgin Mother, who formerly cooperated in charity so that the faithful might be born in the Church, is even now the means and mediatrix of our salvation.”
Pius X: “From this sharing of sorrows and will between Mary and Christ, she merited to very worthily become the Reparatrix of a ruined world and, accordingly, also the dispenser of all gifts which Jesus gained for us by his death and blood.”


At times the Most Blessed Virgin is called the Mediatrix to the Mediator, Christ and, at other times, to God. In the Constitution both formulas are used. It is said that she intercedes through Christ, in conformity with that declaration of the Council of Trent regarding the intercession of saints: “It is good and beneficial to earnestly invoke the saints for the sake of requesting blessings from God through his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who alone is our Redeemer and Savior.” Hence, the Blessed Virgin and other saints intercede for us mediately, namely, through Christ. That is the reason why the Church closes all its prayers with:  Through Our Lord Jesus Christ…

The Praenotanda to the First Schema provided further commentary regarding the Co-redemptrix title.  In contrasting emphasis to the schema itself approved by Bl. John XXIII, the theological subcommittee offere this explanatory note regarding titles used by the popes such as “Co-redemptrix of the human race,” which it states are “in themselves absolutely true” but which have been omitted from the text such titles “may be understood with difficulty by separated brethren”:

Certain expressions and words used by Supreme Pontiffs, have been omitted, which, in themselves are absolutely true, but which may be understood with difficulty by separated brethren (in this case, Protestants).Among such words may be numbered the following: “Co-redemptrix of the human race [Pius X, Piux XI]…III

Apart from the specific issue of the previous teaching and use by ordinary papal Magisteium of the Marian title of Co-redemptrix, the theological method of determining what is included or what is omitted into the Second Vatican Council based on the criteria of  what doctrinal issues “may be misunderstood by separated brethren” would also seem, if consistently applied throughout Lumen Gentium and other conciliar documents, to call for the omitting of such central Catholic doctrines such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Papal Infallibility, and certainly the removal of Sacred Tradition as a legitimate source of Divine Revelation as discussed in Dei Verbum.IV

Let us always remember the ultimate protection of the Holy Spirit at every ecumenical council.  Let us thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring a fruitful growth in understanding of Our Lady’s role at the heart of the Church as Mother and Model, an ecclesio-typical development in rich though subordinate complement to the primary Christo-typical mariology, both of which are harmoniously embodied in the final product of Lumen Gentium, Chapter 8, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.”

History is the great teacher.

At the First Vatican Council, several hundred Council Fathers desired a solemn definition of the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption, but it was decided the time was not right.   Vatican I in no way sought to prohibit or discourage a later solemn definition by deciding not to define the Assumption at the Council.  The subsequent papal definition of the Assumption by Pius XII makes this clear.

Before the Second Vatican Council, over 500 Council Fathers had requested a solemn definition of some aspect of Mary’s coredemption and mediation.  Bl. John XXIII initiated the Council by establishing that the Second Vatican Council would not be a dogmatic council, but a pastoral council.  The Holy Spirit spoke through Peter.

In like manner, the fact that Vatican II did not solemnly define Mary’s roles as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces cannot be correctly interpreted as a prohibition or a discouragement of a later solemn papal definition of Marian coredemption and mediation.

The Holy Spirit continues to blow where he wills, and the Second Vatican Council in its rich mariological treatment may well have served in a manner similar to the First Vatican Council: as a conciliar tube which connected one prior period of Marian doctrinal development to another more contemporary period of Marian doctrinal development, both of which ultimately culminate in the historical and supernatural fruit of a solemn Marian papal definition.

Here then, accompanied by the original Latin footnotes (save for the English translation of a few footnotes due to their relevance to the topic) is an English translation of the First Schema of the Second Vatican Council entitled, “Mary, Mother of God and of Men.”

Dr. Guiseppe M. Aiuto received his doctorate in Rome and offers conferences in Rome.


Mary, Mother of God and of Men


1.  [The close connection between Christ and Mary according to God’s gracious will]

Out of immense goodness, God the most wise creator of all things, who in every way enjoys freedom in determining the way and the reason by which the liberation of the human race is accomplished by him, from eternity by one and the same decree with the incarnation of divine Wisdom, decreed 1  that the Most Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word became flesh, would be born in the fullness of time. Since, moreover, the Sacred Scriptures, either explicitly or implicitly, so to say, place before our eyes Mary joined with Jesus with the most strict and indissoluble bond from the prophetic preannouncement (cf. Gn 3:15; Is 7:14; Mt 1:23) and the virginal conception (cf. Mt 1:18-25, and Lk 1:26-38), it is clearly appropriate that the Church, which is aided by the Holy Spirit and is securely led (cf. Jn 14:26) to fully comprehend and clearly understand those things which in the sacred sources lie obscurely and, so to say, implicitly, and is preserved from error (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:18-20; Jn 14:16; 15:20) – when it illustrates the mysteries of the divine Redeemer, should also bring the mystery of the Mother of God into a clearer light.

Moreover, this loving Parent, who “cooperated in charity that the faithful might be born in the Church,” 2  is not only the “supereminent” 3  and, even more, the singular member of the Church, but is also called its exemplar 4  and, even more, its Mother. 5  Therefore, the Holy Synod, after it has spoken of the Mystical Body of Christ, inhering in the above documents of the magisterium of the living Church, the sole authentic interpreter of the deposit of revelation, considers it opportune to summarily and briefly illustrate the place which the Mother of God and men occupies in the Church, the privileges with which the Son has adorned his Mother, and our duties toward such a sublime creature, so that Marian knowledge and piety may clearly and correctly flourish and prejudiced opinions in this matter may be banished.

2. [The role of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the economy of our salvation]

Since, therefore, the Word of the eternal Father willed to take a human nature from a woman so that, just as death took its origin from a woman so also life would come to us through a woman, and thus liberation would be obtained by means of both sexes 6, he did not accomplish this before the free consent of the chosen mother, redeemed in a more sublime manner by the foreseen merits of Christ6, would have been given, (cf Lk 1:38), 7 so that the Son of God by his incarnation would become also her Son and the new Adam and Savior of the world. By her consent, Mary, a daughter of Adam, was made not only the Mother of Jesus, the sole divine Mediator and Redeemer, but also joined her work with him and under him in accomplishing the redemption of the human race. 8 She persevered in this salutary consent and, hence, also in her participation in accomplishing the work of redemption, 9 from the time of the virginal conception of Jesus Christ right up until his death, but it shone forth most then when, not without divine purpose, she stood beside the cross (Jn 19:25); she suffered grievously with her Only-Begotten Son; with him and through him with great courage she offered him as the price of our redemption; 10 and, finally, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross she was given to men as their mother (Jn 19:26-27). 11 Since, however, the mystery of human redemption would not be completed before the Holy Spirit, promised by Christ, arrived on the day of Pentecost, we contemplate Mary persevering in prayer with the apostles in the Upper Room( cf. Acts 1:14), imploring the outpouring of the Spirit with their prayers. 12

Since, therefore, the Most Blessed Virgin, predestined from eternity to be the Mother of God and men, with divine Providence so disposing that on this earth she would be the eminent companion of the passible Christ in acquiring grace for men, she is justly greeted also as the administrator and dispenser of heavenly graces.

Hence it follows that Mary, who had a part in fashioning the mystical body of Christ, and who has been assumed into heaven and constituted Queen by the Lord, and who bears a maternal spirit towards all, after her Son has obtained a certain primacy above all others 13 and, consequently, is to be placed not, as some say, on the “periphery” 14 but in the very “center” of the Church beneath Christ.

3. [Concerning titles by which the association of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ in the economy of our salvation is commonly expressed]

Since in the cooperation of the Mother of God with Christ in completing the work of human redemption as the new Eve with the new Adam, so to say, the multiple and varied titles by which the magisterium of the Church, venerable Tradition, and the pious sense of the faithful have customarily saluted the Blessed Virgin 15, rest as on a solid foundation, root, and principle, it is wrong to say that those titles, as understood in the sense of the Church, are empty and vain, and, even more, that they are opposed to Sacred Scripture. Therefore, it is not without merit that the Most Blessed Virgin is called the Mediatrix of graces by the Church. 16 And, if on this earth St. Paul the Apostle was unceasingly mindful of the faithful in his prayers, 17 and earnestly requested their prayers for himself, 18 much more is it expedient and beneficial that we commend ourselves to the prayers or intercession of this same Most Blessed Virgin Mary. For she, more closely and intimately than any other pure creatures and, in fact, in a way proper to her alone, is joined with God and Christ, the Son of God and her Son; likewise, more ardently than any pure creatures she loves God and is loved by him in return. As Mother of the Savior (Lk 1:31), with her soul pierced by the sword (Lk 2:25), in her own Son dying for the salvation of all, beneath the cross she experienced the love of God in a sense attaining its highest degree in love for mankind (Jn 19:25-27). Supported with so many and such great titles, she intercedes for us with her constant love for God and Christ and, because her intercession draws its total power and efficacy from the bloody sacrifice of her Blessed Son, her mediation in no way effects that the man Jesus Christ ceases to be the one mediator between God and men, just as from Christ’s goodness it does not follow that God himself ceases to be the sole fountain of all goodness (cf. Mt 9:17).

For even though among subordinate mediators, whom the Most Wise God has willed to use in the economy of our salvation, no one can be thought of who, in reconciling men to God, is equal to and has contributed or at any time will contribute as much as the Mother of God, nevertheless, it remains always true that, in her predestination and likewise in her holiness and in all her gifts, she depends on Christ and is in every way beneath him. 19

Although, therefore, this humble “Handmaid of the Lord” to whom “he who is mighty has done great things,” (Lk 1:49) is called the mediatrix of all graces – since she is associated with Christ in acquiring them, and since she is invoked as our advocate and mother of mercy by the Church for even now, remaining the associate of the glorified Christ in heaven, she intercedes for all through Christ, so that in conferring all graces to men the maternal charity of the Blessed Virgin is present, 20 – in no way is the mediation of our sole mediator, according to the absolute signification of the words of the Apostle, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tm 2:5), obscured or diminished. 21  Rather, this mediation of Christ is, in fact, extolled and honored. For Mary is a mediatrix in Christ, and her mediation proceeds not from any necessity but from the gracious divine will and the superabundance and power of the merits of Jesus; it is based on the mediation of Christ; and it is entirely dependent on it and receives its total power from the same.

Therefore, the Sacred Synod earnestly exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to diligently strive, while engaging in the study especially of Sacred Scripture and the Holy Fathers according to the sense of the magisterium of the Church, to place in a true light the gifts and offices of the Blessed Virgin in connection with other dogmas, especially those which have reference to Christ, who is the center of all truth, holiness, and piety. In this work there is always to be observed, as it is said, “analogy” or a dissimilar similitude, as often as some name or office is predicated simultaneously of Christ and the Virgin Mary; for in no way is the Mother of God to be made equal to Christ.

4. [The singular privileges of the Mother of God and Mother of men]

The Virgin Mary was adorned with altogether singular privileges by God, who pursued her with an unspeakable love. She was, indeed, marvelous in her origin in virtue of the immaculate conception 22; marvelous in her life, since she was without every personal fault 23, and at the same time a mother while remaining always a virgin in mind and body 24; and marvelous, finally, in her departure from this life because, even though according to ancient and venerable tradition she underwent temporal death 25, by which she was more fully assimilated to her Son 26, since she could in no way be held back by the bonds of death, she was gloriously assumed body and soul into heaven 27.

These singular privileges and other gifts of grace flowing from Christ the Redeemer so redound to his honor that we are unable to contemplate the lofty gifts of the Mother without also marveling at and celebrating the divinity, goodness, love, and omnipotence of her Son 28.  Just as the wrong done to a mother affects her son, so too the glory of a mother redounds to her son; consequently, since Mary had a singular affinity with her Son, it was fitting from the foreseen merits of the most perfect Redeemer, the author of all holiness – who came into this world to destroy sin – that in the first instant of conception she be preserved immune from every stain of original sin, and be adorned with graces and gifts far above all angelic spirits and all the saints as the true Mother of God, the daughter of the Father, the shrine of the Holy Spirit, and excel all creatures in dignity. 29 It is also by all means necessary, that the Son, who showed a special affection of love towards his Mother – and who willed the bodily integrity of his Mother in the very act of birth to remain incorrupt and inviolate1, so that the “lasting glory of virginity might shed an eternal light on the world” 30 – would not allow that most sacred virginal body, the narrow tabernacle of the Divine Word, the temple of God, totally holy, totally chaste, to be dissolved into ashes. 31

5.  [Concerning the cult of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary]

Therefore, since a singular excellence belongs to the Most Blessed Virgin 32, so that she merited to be greeted as “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) by the archangel, the messenger of God, and blessed among women by Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, (Lk 1:42) it is not surprising if, as she herself prophesied with regard to herself that “all generations will call me blessed,” (Lk 1:48) in the course of the centuries by all nations and by universal rites and in continually increasing petitions 33, she is called “blessed,” and with every kind of praise is honored, loved, invoked, and likewise proposed as an example for imitation 34. However, so far removed is this singular cult of Mary from being a detriment to the divine cult of worship – by which adoration is shown to the Incarnate Word in the same way as it is shown to the Father and Holy Spirit – that it rather promotes it as much as possible. Therefore, various forms of piety directed towards the Mother of God and of men, which the Church has approved – within the limits of sane and orthodox doctrine and with respect to the conditions of time and place and the natural abilities and dispositions of the faithful – remind us that when the Mother is honored, the Son in whom it pleased the eternal Father that all fullness should dwell, (Col 1:19) is likewise rightly acknowledged, loved, and glorified, and that his commands are be observed; and so through Christ, who is “the way and truth and life,” (Jn 14:6) men are led to the knowledge and the supreme adoration of the one and triune God.

The Sacred Synod deliberately and courageously teaches this sane Catholic doctrine and at the same time admonishes bishops to be assiduously watchful that theologians and preachers of the divine word, in the consideration of the singular dignity of this parent of God, abstain from all false exaggeration of the truth, and at the same time from a too restricted narrowness of mind1.

Further, the faithful of both sexes should keep in mind that true devotion does not consist in a certain affection of one moment and that, further, they reject all baseless belief; on the contrary, let them firmly hold that devotion proceeds from true faith, by which all are led to imitation of the virtues of that Most Blessed Virgin 35, who was the “handmaid of the Lord,” (Lk 1:38) most humble and most obedient, and who most faithfully observed whatever things referred to the Incarnate Word, “reflecting on them in her heart,” (Lk 2:19), and was greeted as blessed because she believed. (Cf. Lk 1:45) For the maternal closeness of Mary would have been to no avail, “unless she had conceived Christ more joyfully in her heart than in the flesh 36.”

No small number of our separated brothers, most noticeably the Orientals – who with a certain fervent impulse are led to honor the Mother of God in a special way – display this honor and reverence due the Mother of our Lord and Savior, 37 which brings great joy and comfort to this Sacred Synod.

Hence it is clearly evident that the Catholic Church is falsely and unjustly accused with regard to the cult of the Mother of God, as if it would in any way detract from the cult due to the one God and to Jesus Christ.

6. [The Most Holy Mary, Promoter of Christian Unity]

Mary, Mother and Most Holy Virgin, since she had all men commended to her maternal heart on Calvary, vehemently desires that not only those who are gifted with the one baptism and who are led by the one Spirit 38, but also those who do not know that they have been redeemed by Christ Jesus 39, may be bound together with one and the same faith and charity both with the Divine Savior and among themselves. Therefore, the Sacred Synod, based on a certain hope and trust, strives that it will come about that this Mother of God and men – who requested (Cf. Jn 2:3) that the Incarnate Word would perform his first sign in Cana of Galilee, from which his disciples believed in him (Jn 2:11) and soon after were present at the beginning of the Church1 – by her patronage will implore from God that, finally, at some time all will gather in the same flock under the one Shepherd. (Jn 10:16) 40. For this reason it exhorts all the faithful of Christ without exception, to continually pour out prayers and supplications to this Promoter of Unity 41 and Help of Christians so that, through her intercession, her Divine Son might gather into the one people of God all the families of nations, and especially those who glory in the name of Christian – to acknowledge the Vicar of Christ on earth, the successor of the blessed Peter 42 – whom in the Council of Ephesus, where the dogma of the divine maternity was solemnly approved, with the unanimous consent the Fathers was justly greeted as the “Guardian of faith.” ‘



I. In an interesting intervention by Bishop Karol Wojtlya (the future John Paul II), he petitioned that the treatment on the Mother of God be inserted as Chapter 2 in the document on the Church rather than the last chapter, which could appear as a corollary than a composite part of the document.  Because God had given her such an intimate participation in Christ’s work of redemption, the Marian treatment should appear immediately after the first chapter of the document; cf. Acta, Vol III, Periodus III, Pars II, p. 179.

II. Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis), Praenotanda IV, p. 99.

III. Acta, Vol. I, Part 4, p. 41.

IV. Cf. Dei Verbum, nn 9,10.



  1. PIUS IX, Bulla Ineffabilis Deus, 8 dec.  1854: Pii IX P. M. Acta, pars I, vol.  I, p. 599: « vel   ipsissima   verba,   quibus   divinae Scripturae de increata Sapientia loquuntur, eiusque sempiternas origines repraesentant, consuevit turn in ecclesiasticis officiis, tum in sacrosancta Liturgia  adhibere, et ad illius Virginis  primordia   transferee, quae uno   eodemque decreto cum Divinae Sapientiae incarnatione fuerant praestituta »;

    LEO XIII, Litt. Encycl. Augustissimae Virginis, 12 sept. 1897: Leonis XIII P. M. Acta, XVII, p. 285: [Deus] « eam enim ab aeterno ordinavit ut Mater Verbi fieret humanam carnem assumpturi; ideoque inter omnia, quae essent in triplici ordine naturae, gratiae, gloriaeque pulcherrima, ita distinxit, ut merito eidem Ecclesia verba illa tribuerit: “Ego ex ore Altissimi prodivi, primogenita ante omnem creaturam ” [Eccli. 24, 5] »;

    PIUS XII, Const. Apost. Munificentissimus Deus, 1 nov. 1950: AAS 42 (1950) p. 768: « Idcirco augusta Dei Mater, Iesu Christo, inde ab omni aeternitate ” uno eodemque decreto ” praedestinationis, arcano modo coniuncta … ».

  2. S.   AUGUSTINUS,   De   sancta   virginitate,   VI,   6:   PL   40,   399,   CSEL   41,   240.
  3. S.   AUGUSTINUS,   Sermo   25,   De   verbis   Evangelii   Motthaei   XII,   41-50,   7:   PL   46,   938:
    « Maria portio est Ecclesiae, sanctum membrum, excellens membrum, supereminens membrum, sed  tamen  totius  corporis  membrum ».
  4. S. AMBROSIUS,   In  Luc.   II,   7:   PL   15,   1555   (1635-1636),   CSEL   32/4,   45:   Maria   « bene desponsata, sed virgo  quia est Ecclesiae typus »;

    Cf. S. AUGUSTINUS, Sermo 213, 7: PL 38, 1064: « Mariae simillima est » Ecclesia. [Cf. morin G., O.S.B., S. Aurelii Augustini Tractatus sive sermones inediti ex cod. Guelferbytano 4096, Monaci 1917, p. 7];

    S. AUGUSTINUS, Sermo 25, De verbis Ev. Matthaei XII, 41-50: PL 46, 938: « In ipsius typo [Ecclesiae] Maria virgo praecessit »; cf. denis M., Sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis Episcopi Sermones inediti adiunctis quibusdam dubiis, Vindobonae 1792, pp. 116-124; morin G., O.S.B., S. Augustini Sermones post Maurinos reperti probate dumtaxat auctoritatis nunc primum disquisiti, in: Miscell. Agostiniana (Studi e Testi, I), Romae 1930, p. 163.

  5. Cf.  leo  XIII,  Litt.  Encycl.  Adiutricem  populi,  5 sept.  1895:   Leonis  XIII  P.  M.  Acta, XV, p. 302:  « … verissime quidem Mater Ecclesiae atque magistra et regina Apostolorum … »;

    BENEDICTUS XIV,   Bulla   aurea   Gloriosae   Dominae,   27   sept.  1748  [Documentos  Marianas, n. 210]:    « … Catholica Ecclesia, Sancti  Spiritus magisterio edocta, eamdem … tamquam amantissimam Matrem … semper professa est».

  6. S. Augustinus,  Quaestiones   Octoginta  tres,  q.   11:   PL   40,   14;   De   Trin.   I,   13,   c.   18: PL  42,   1032.

    Innocentius III, Sermo 28, In Assumptione B. M. V.: PL 217, 581: « Oportebat enim, ut sicut per feminam mors intravit in orbem, ita per feminam vita rediret in orbem. Et ideo quod damnavit Eva, salvavit Maria, ut unde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret.

    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954), pp. 634-635: « Si Maria, in spirituali procuranda salute, cum Iesu Christo, ipsius salutis principio, ex Dei placito sociata fuit, et quidem simili quodam modo, qui Heva fuit cum Adam, mortis principio, consociata, ita ut asseverari possit nostrae salutis opus, secundum quandam “recapitulationem” [S. irenaeus, Adv. haer., V, 19: PG 7, 1175 B] peractum fuisse, in qua genus humanum, sicut per virginem morti adstrictum fuit, ita per virginem salvatur … ».

  7. Alexander   VII,   in   Bulla   Sollicitudo   omnium   Ecclesiarum,   8   dec.    1661,    adhibuit formulam   « eius   animam   in  primo instanti creationis atque infusionis in corpus fuisse special!   Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Iesu Christi eius Filii humani generis Redemptoris, a macula peccati originalis praeservatam immunem»   [cf. Virgo Immaculata, in:   Acta   Congressus   Mariologici-Mariani, Romae anno 1954 celebrati, vol. II, Romae 1956, p. 219; Bulla Ineffabilis   Deus:  Pii  IX  P.  M.  Acta, pars I, vol. I,  p. 602].
    In ipsamet Bulla legitur: « Omnes pariter norunt quantopere solliciti fuerint Sacrorum Antistites vel in istis ecclesiasticis conventibus palam publiceque profiteri, sanctissimam Dei Genitricem Virginem Mariam ob praevisa Christi Domini Redemptoris merita numquam original! subiacuisse peccato, sed praeservatam omnino fuisse ab originis labe, et IDCIRCO sublimiori modo redemptam » [sardi V., La solenne definizione del dogma dell’Immacolato concepimento, Romae, 1905, II, p. 306].
    In Instrumsnto dogmaticae definitionis Immaculati Conceptus Beatae V. Mariae legitur: « gratia plenum, benedictam in mulieribus, omnino nempe ad originis labe praeservatam, ET IDCIRCO SUBLIMIORI MODO REDEMPTAM » [sardi V., Op. cit., II, p. 454].
    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Fulgens corona, 8 sept. 1953: AAS 45 (1953) p. 581: « Facile cernimus Christum Dominum perfectissimo quodam modo divinam Matrem suam revera redemisse, cum, Ipsius meritorum intuitu, eadem a Deo praeservata esset a quavis hereditaria labe immunis ».
  8. In Lc. 1, maternitas divina proponitur Mariae [30-33], Maria difficultates exponit quas angelus solvit [34-37], et tune  demum Maria assentitur   [38].

    S. leo magnus, Sermo 21, c. 1: PL 54, 191: « Virgo regia Davidicae stirpis eligitur, quae sacro gravidanda foetu divinam humanamque prolem prius conciperet mente quam corpora ».

    Innocentius III, Sermo 12: In Purificatione B. V. M.: PL 217, 506: « His ita peractis, statim Spiritus Sanctus advenit, et triplicem viam ante faciem Domini praeparavit. Prima fuit virginalis consensio … ».

    Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Octobri mense, 22 sept. 1891: Leonis XIII P. M. Acta, XI, p. 303: « Filius Dei aeternus, quum, ad hominis redemptionem et decus, hominis naturam vellet suscipere, eaque re mysticum quoddam cum universe humano genere initurus esset connubium, non id ante perfecit quam liberrima consensio accessisset designate Matris, quae ipsius generis humani personam quodammodo agebat ».

    Leo   XIII,  Litt.  Encycl. Iucunda semper,  8  sept. 1894: Leonis XIII  P.   M.  Acta,   XIV, p. 307:   « Filius enim Dei   aeternus sese inclinat ad homines, homo factus; assentiente vero Maria et concipiente de Spiritu Sancto ».

    Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Octobri mense: ASS 24 (1891) p. 195. Virgineum consensum fuisse omnino liberum quamplurimi sancti, Patres et theologi affirmant. Cf. bover I. M., Deiparae Virginis consensus corredemptionis ac mediationis fundamentum, Matriti, 1942, pp. 245-248.

  9. Iuxta doctrinam Romanorum Pontificum, « FIAT » prolatum a B. Virgine in Annuntiatione fuit origo missionis et gloriae B. Virginis Matris et Reginae. Maria fuit sibi conscia se concipere Verbum Dei; fuit conscia loci et muneris quatenus est Mater Redemptoris et hominum; responsum dedit angelo prompte et nomine totius humanitatis faciens possibilem passionem, mortem et resurrectionem Christi; cum hoc « FIAT » facta est mater spiritualis hominum. Cf. Notre- Dame, « Les enseign. pontif. », p. [73], n. 701, 741, 214, 372, 381, 230, 648.

    S. Leo Magnus, Sermo 6 in Nativitate Domini: PL 54, 213: « Generatio enim Christi origo est populi christiani, et natalis Capitis natalis est corporis».

    Leo XIII, Litt. Apost. Parta humano generi, 8 sept. 1901: Leonis XIII P. M. Acta, XXI, p. 158: «O quam suavis igitur, quam grata angelica salutatio accidit beatae Virgin!, quae turn, cum Gabriel eam salutavit, SENSIT SE DE SPIRITU SANCTO CONCEPISSE Verbum Dei ».

    Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Fidentem piumgue, 20 sept. 1896: Leonis XIII P. M. Acta, XVI, pp. 282-283: « Ipsa ad homines in sempiternum ruentes exitium Servatorem adduxit, iam tune scilicet quum pacifici sacramenti nuncium, ab Angelo in terris allatum, admirabili assensu loco totius humanae naturae, excepit … inde simul elucent Mariae promerita de reconciliatione et salute nostra ».

    S. PIUS X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem ilium, 2 febr. 1904: Acta Pii X, I, pp. 152-153: « An non Christi mater Maria? Nostro igitur et mater est … aeternum Dei Filium non ideo tantum concepit Virgo ut fieret homo, humanam, ex ea assumens naturam; verum etiam ut, per naturam ex ea assumptam, mortalium fieret sospitator. … In uno igitur eodemque alvo castissimae Matris et carnem Christus sibi assumpsit et spiritale simul corpus adiunxit, ex iis nempe coagmentatum qui credituri erant in eum. Ita ut Salvatorem habens Maria in utero, illos etiam dici queat gessisse omnes, quorum vitam continebat vita Salvatoris. Universi ergo, quotquot cum Christo iungimur, quique, ut ait Apostolus, membra sumus corporis eius, de came eius et ossibus eius, de Mariae utero egressi sumus, tamquam corporis instar cohaerentis cum capite. Unde,

    spiritali quidem ratione ac mystica, et Mariae filii nos dicimur, et rosa nostrum omnium mater est … ».

    Eamdem ideam repetit Pius XII in sermone ad Congressum Marianum Canadensem, 19 iun. 1947: AAS 39 (1947) pp. 268-270.

    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis, 29 iun. 1943: AAS 35 (1943) pp. 247-248: « Ipsa fuit, quae Christum Dominum, iam in virgineo gremio suo Ecclesiae Capitis dignitate donatum … edidit … Ipsa igitur, omnium membrorum Christi sanctissima Genitrix … ».

    Ibid., p. 247: « Quaeque consensit “loco totius humanae naturae”, ut “quoddam spirituale matrimonium inter Filium Dei et humanam naturam” haberetur». bover I. M., in op. cit. per plus quam 350 paginas probare conatur Deiparae Virginis consensum corredemptionis ac mediationis fundamentum esse. Et sane, angelus Virgini una cum divina maternitate humanam quoque salutem annuntiat, et Virgo, angelo respondens, humanam quoque salutem intendit ac spectat. Ulterius, Incarnatio est salutis exordium, et divina maternitas ad humanam salutem a Deo providenter ordinatur et fructum edit formaliter salutarem.

    S. ioannes damascenus, Homilia 1 in Nativ. B. V. M.: PG 96, 671: « Maria divinae obsequens voluntati, deceptorem anguem ipsa decepit, ac mundo immortalitatem invexit ».

    Nota sunt praeterea verba S. leonis, Sermo in Nativ. Domini, c. 1: PL 54, 191: « Prius mente quam corpore » Virgo concepit.

    Cf. etiam S. augustinus, Sermo 215, 4: PL 38, 1074. Est consensus in Salvatorem incarnandum qui [Mt. 1, 21] « salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum».

    Notum est auctores catholicos haud idem sentire quoad varies textus patristicos, qui in supra allegato opere P. bover leguntur. Id potissimum dicendum quod attinet ad scripta S. ephraem, de quo iure meritoque scribit ricciotti: «Trattare degli scritti di S. Efrem è come mettersi a navigare in un mare le cui rive ancora non siano state tutte esplorate e sulla cui superficie s’intravedono minacciosi molti scogli: il mare è la quantità degli scritti, le rive sono il loro numero, gli scogli sono le interpolazioni e false attribuzioni » [cf. ricciotti G., S. Efrem Siro …, Roma-Torino, 1925, p. 91].

  10. Cf.   Lc.   2,   1-7;   2,   16-20;   22-38;   Mt.   1,   20-23;   2,   11.   13-15;   lo.   19,   25-27.

    Leo XIII, Litt. Apost. Parta humano generi, 1. c. XXI, p. 159: Maria « mysteriis nostrae Redemptionis … non adfuit tantum, sed interfuit ».

    Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Iucunda semper: 1. c. XIV, p. 307: « Quum enim se Deo vel ancillam ad matris officium exhibuit vel totam cum Filio in tempo devovit, utroque ex facto iam tum (!) consors cum eo exstitit laboriosae pro humano genere expiationis ».

    S. PIUS X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem illum, 2 febr. 1904: Acta Pii X, I, p. 150: « Opus est omnino sanctissimam eius Matrem mysteriorum divinorum participem ac veluti custodem agnoscere, in qua, tamquam in fundamento post Christum nobilissimo, fidei saeculorum omnium exstruitur aedificatio ».

  11. Summi Pontifices loquendo de Maria sub cruce dicunt quod Maria exercebat actus fidei, spei et caritatis, ita unita   amore doloribus Christi ut sit connexio inter compassionem Mariae et redemptionem; ipsa renuntiat iuribus  maternis et offert sacrificium maternum, fitque nostra mater spiritualis. Paucis verbis: compassio Mariae   connexionem habet  cum  redemptione,  talique modo ut ipsa inde merito dici possit corredemptrix, et per modum   unius recensentur fructus redemptionis Christi et compassionis Mariae.

    En quidam textus:

    Leo XIII, Litt. Apost. lucunda semper, 8 sept. 1894: Acta Leonis XIII, XIV, pp. 307-308: « Concors cum eo exstitit laboriosae pro humano genere expiationis: ex quo etiam, in acerbissimis Filii angoribus et cruciamentis, maxime animo condoluisse dubitandum non est. Ceterum, praesente ipsa et spectante, divinum illud sacrificium erat conficiendum, cui victimam de se generosa aluerat … stabat iuxta crucem Iesu Maria, Mater eius, quae tacta in nos caritate immensa ut susciperet filios, Filium ipsa suum ultro obtulit iustitiae divinae, cum eo commoriens corde, doloris gladio transfixa ».

    S. PIUS X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem ilium, 2 febr. 1904: Acta Pii X, I, p. 153: « Ad haec, Deiparae sanctissimae non hoc tantum in laude ponendum est quod nascituro ex humanis membris Unigenito Deo carnis suae materiam ministravit, qua nimirum saluti hominum compareretur hostia; verum etiam officium eiusdem hostiae custodiendae nutrien-daeque atque adeo, stato tempore, sistendae ad aram ».

    benedictus XV, Litt. Apost. Inter sodalicia, 22 mart. 1918: AAS 10 (1918) p. 182: « Ita cum Filio patiente et moriente passa est et paene commortua, sic materna in Filium iura pro hominum salute abdicavit placandaeque Dei iustitiae, quantum ad se pertinebat, Filium immolavit, ut dici merito queat, Ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse ».

    PIUS XI, Litt. Encycl. Miserentissimus Redemptor, 8 maii 1928: AAS 20 (1928) p. 178: « Praesens arrideat Virgo Dei Parens benignissima, quae, cum Iesum nobis Redemptorem ediderit, aluerit, apud crucem hostiam obtulerit, per arcanam cum Christo coniunctionem eiusdemque gratiam omnino      singularem, Reparatrix item extitit pieque appellatur».

    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corpora: AAS 35 (1943), p. 247: « Ipsa fuit, quae vel propriae vel hereditariae labis expers, arctissime semper cum Filio suo coniuncta, eumdem in Golgotha, una cum maternoram iurium maternique amoris sui holocausto, nova veluti Eva, pro omnibus Adae filiis, miserando eius lapsu foedatis, Aeterno Patri obtulit ».

    Afferri quoque potuissent, praeter testimonia Ss. Roberti Bellarmini et Petri Canisii permultae aliorum theologorum auctoritates.

  12. Notum est plures Vicarios Christi constanter et consulto affirmasse Iesum Christum sanxisse Matrem suam   nostram quoque esse Matrem, eamque testamento illo sollemni a loanne tradito [cf. Io. 19, 26-27],  nobis  in  persona  Discipuli  dilecti  reliquisse;  cf.  unger  D. O.F.M. Cap.,  The  Meaning of John 19.  26-27  in  the  Light  of  Papal Documents,   in:  Marianum 21 (1959), pp. 186-221,  ubi afferuntur testimonia benedicti XIV, PII  VIII, gregorii  XVI, PII   IX,  leonis   XIII, benedicti XV, pii  XI, PII XII. Ex hisce quamplurimis testimoniis en quaedam tantummodo:

    leo   XIII,   Litt.   Encycl.   Octobri   mense:   ASS   24   (1891-92)   p.   196:    «…talem de cruce praedicavit, quum   universitatem  humani  generis,   in   loanne   discipulo,    curandam   ei   foven damque   commisit … »;

    id.,   Epist.   Apost.  Amantisimae   voluntatis,  14  apr.  1895:  ASS 27  (1894/95)    p.    592 «… sanctissimam Dei  Genitricem,  quam  humano generi Christus  ipse e cruce reliquit atque attribuit  matrem … »;

    id.,    Litt.    Encycl.  Adiutricem  populi:  ASS 28  (1895/96)  p. 130:    « Eximiae  in  nos caritatis [Christi] mysterium ex eo quoque luculenter proditur, quod moriens Matrem ille suam loanni discipulo matrem voluit relictam, testamento mempri: “Ecce films tuus”. In loanne autem, quod perpetuo sensit Ecclesia, designavit Christus personam humani generis, eorum in primis qui sibi ex fide adhaerescerent … »;

    benedictus XV, Litt. Apost. Inter Sodalicia, 22 mart. 1918: AAS 10 (1918) p. 182: « Liquet item, Virginem Perdolentem, utpote quae, a Iesu Christo universorum hominum Mater constituta … »;

    PIUS XI, Litt. Apost. Explorata res, 2 febr. 1923: AAS 15 (1923) p. 104: «… Virgo perdolens redemptionis opus cum Iesu Christo participavit, et constituta hominum Mater, eos, sibi veluti testamento divinae caritatis commendatos, amplexa … »;

    id., Litt. Encycl. Lux veritatis, 25 dec. 1931: AAS 23 (1931) p. 514: « … talem de cruce praedicavit, cum universitatem humani generis in loanne discipulo, curandam ei fovendamque commisit » [citando Encycl. Leonis XIII, cf. supra];

    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Fulgens corona, 8 sept. 1953: AAS 45 (1953) p. 584: «… Mater nostra Maria nihil optatius habet, nihil iucundius, quam cum eos videt, quos sub Cruce Nati in eius vicem suscepit filios … »;

    id.,  Epist.   ad  Em.mum  Card.   Al.   Maglione,   15  apr.   1942:   AAS  34  (1942)  p.   126;

    id., Alloc. Us qui interfuerunt Conventui Sodalitatis internationalis ” Filiarum Mariae Immaculatae “, 17 iul. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 494;

    ioannes XXIII, Nuntius Radiophonicus VII Congressui Mariano Galliae: L’Oss. Rom. 10-11 iul. 1961: « La sainte Ecriture, avec ce point tres lumineux … qui vous conduit … au sommet sublime de la theologie mariale, Jesus au haut sur la croix: a ses pieds, Marie, la mere, et Jean, I’Apotre de predilection … »;

    id., L’omaggio dei redenti alia Madre celeste: L’Oss. Rom. 8 sept. 1960: « II Nuovo Testamento incomincia,

    ben si può dire, con le parole del divino Inviato: ” Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae “. Al termine, al vertice della comunicazione della Divinita con l’umanità, è Gesu il Redentore del mondo, il quale, poco prima della sua morte di croce, affida Maria all’Apostolo Giovanni dicendogli: “Ecco tua Madre”, e raccomandando il discepolc a Maria aggiunge: “Ecco il tuo figlio “. Il testamento del Signore è il suggello, la manifestazione più alta della vita della santa Chiesa … Nella vita del cristiano tutto dunque è illuminato da questa nota che tocca il cuore: Maria nostra Madre ».

    Cf. kerrigan A., O.F.M., Jo. 19, 23-27 in the Light of Johannine Theology and the Old Testament, in: Antonianum 35 (1960) pp. 369-416.

  13. Act.   1,   14;   2,   1-4.

    leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Superiore anno, 30 aug. 1884: Acta Leonis XIII, IV, p. 124: « Intuendum item in exemplum Apostolorum, qui maximum Spiritus Paracliti donum sibi promissum exspectaverunt, perseverantes unanimiter in oratione cum Maria Matre Iesu »

    leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Adiutricem populi: Acta Leonis XIII, XV, p. 302: « In Ioanne autem, quod perpetuo sensit Ecclesia, designavit Christus personam humani generis…Huius igitur singularis muneris et laboriosi partes ea suscepit obiitque magnanima, cpnsecratis in Caenaculo auspiciis: christianae gentis primitias iam turn sanctimonia exempli, aucto-ritate consilii, solatii suavitate, efficacitate sanctarum precum admirabiliter fovit; verissime quidem mater Ecclesiae atque magistra et regina Apostolorum, quibus largita etiam est de divinis oraculis quae conservabat in corde suo ».

    leo XIII, Litt. Apost. lucunda semper, 8 sept. 1894: Acta Leonis XIII, XIV, p. 308: « Quoniam vero humanae redemptionis sacramentum non ante perfectum erit quam promis sus a Christo Spiritus Sanctus advenerit, ipsam idcirco in memori Caenaculo contemplamur ubi simul cum Apostolis pro eisque postulans inerrabili gemitu, eiusdem Paracliti amplitu dinem maturat Ecclesiae, supremum Christi donum, thesaurum nullo tempore defecturum »

    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) p. 248: « Ipsa fuit, quae validissimis suis precibus impetravit, ut Divini Redemptoris Spiritus, iam in Cruce datus recens ortae Ecclesiae prodigialibus muneribus Pentecostes die conferretur».

  14. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) pp. 625-640. Hisce in litteris encyclicis quibus festum universale Mariae Reginae instituitur, huius regalitatis factum, tituli, natura explanantur. Regalitas Mariae eruitur ex Sacra Scriptura [Lc. 1, 30-35], ex traditione, ex ratione theologica: nempe ex divina maternitate et ex consortio cum Christo Rege. « Si Maria — scribit Pius XII, l.c. p. 634 ss. — in spirituali procuranda salute, cum Iesu Christo, ipsius salutis principio, ex Dei placito sociata fuit, et quidem simili quodam modo, quo Heva fuit cum Adam, mortis principio, consociata, ita ut asseverari possit nostrae salutis opus, secundum quandam “recapitulationem” peractum fuisse, in qua genus humanum, sicut per virginem morti adstrictum fuit, ita per virginem salvatur; si praeterea asseverari itidem potest hanc gloriosissimam Dominam ideo fuisse Christi matrem delectam “ut redimendi generis humani consors efficeretur” …; inde procul dubio concludere licet, quemadmodum Christus, novus Adam, non tantum quia Dei Filius est, Rex dici debet, sed etiam quia Redemptor est noster, ita quodam analogiae modo, Beatissimam Virginem esse Reginam non tantummodo quia mater Dei est, verum etiam quod nova veluti Heva cum novo Adam consociata fuit ».

    Pag. 635: « Nullum igitur dubium est Mariam Sanctissimam dignitate sua super omnes res creatas excellere itemque super omnes post Filium suum obtinere primatum».

  15. De tendentia « minimalistica» inter ipsos quosdam catholicos viros sparsa, qui potissimum sic dictam viam   « ecclesiologicam » tenent, cf.  e.g.   pinsk   J.,   Grundsdtzliche und praktische Erwagungen zur christlichen Verkiindigung irn Marianischen Jahr, Berlin 1954;  geiselmann J. R., Marien-Mythos und Marien-Glaube, in: Maria in Glaube und From-migkeit …, 1954, pp. 39-91.

    Pius XII, Nuntius Radiophonicus Iis qui interfuerunt conventui internationali mariologico-mariano, Romae habito, 24 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 679: « Etsi verurn est Beatissimam Virginem quoque, uti nos, Ecclesiae esse membrum, tamen non minus verum est eam esse Corporis Christi Mystici membrum PLANE SINGULARE ».

  16. In Christian antiquity it was customary to refer to Mary as Eve, a title which seems to be taken from the principle of “re-circulation” or parallelism between Mary and Eve. Witness in this regard is found already in St. Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho: “And since we read that he is the Son of God… and made man from the Virgin, so that in the way that the disobedience spawned by the serpent took its beginning, it would receive its dissolution in the say way … .” Based on the same principle, St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies) explicitly calls Mary the cause of salvation for the entire human race. After the Council of Ephesus, the very title of Mediatrix, or as the Greeks say, Mesites or Mesetria, is attributed to Mary. In a work of a quite ancient author (some say of the 5th century but certainly before the 8th century) we read: “For she is the Mediatrix of heaven and earth, who naturally accomplishes their union.” This title became more common day by day, as can be seen in the writings of St. Andrew of Crete, St. Germanus of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, etc. Nor are there lacking Fathers who greet Mary as “Helper of the Redeemer” or “Mother of the living” in reference to Gn 3:15.

    All these have been further developed by theologians and Supreme Pontiffs, and a nomenclature was created in which Mary is at different times called the Spiritual Mother of Men. the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and at other times the New Eve, the Mediatrix and Dispenser of All Graces, and even, in fact, the Co-redemptrix. With regard to the title “Queen”, cf. Note 14; with regard to the title Spiritual Mother, cf. Note 12. With regard to the title, Co-redemptrix”, and “Companion of Christ the Redeemer”, some explanations need to be added here:

    The title Redemptrix occurs already in the 10th century: “Holy Redemptrix of the world, pray for us.” When this title came into use in the 15th and 16th centuries and the immediate co-operation of the Blessed Virgin in the work of our redemption was already perceived, “con” [cum] was added to “redemptrix,” so that the Mother of God was called “corredemptrix,” [Co-redemptrix] whereas Christ continued to be called “Redemptor” [Redeemer]. Accordingly, from the 17th century onward, the title of “Co-redemptrix” was in common use not only in works geared to piety and devotion, but also in very many theological treatises [cf. Carol J., The Co-redemption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rome, 1950, p. 482]

    With regard to the Roman Pontiffs, the word occurs in certain texts of St. Pius X et Pius XI in contexts of lesser importance. Pius XII purposely wished to avoid this expression by frequently using formulas such as “Companion of the Redeemer,” “Eminent companion of the Redeemer,” “Loving companion of the Redeemer,” “Companion in the work of the Divine Redeemer.”

    The cooperation of Mary with Jesus in the economy of our salvation is very, very often extolled by Supreme Pontiffs. Leo XIII: “the great Mother of God and likewise the companion in repairing the human race.” Pius XI: “The Redeemer was not able, due to the necessity of the work, to not associate his Mother with his work, and that is the reason why we invoke her with the title of Co-redemptrix.” Pius XII: “Mary, in procuring spiritual salvation with Jesus Christ, from the very beginning of salvation, was associated by God’s will…”

    In addition to the titles mentioned, there are very many others with which Mary is greeted by the faithful of Christ.

    Leo XIII: “The Catholic people greet her as Help of Christians,” “Helper,” etc.

    Pius VI: “Likewise [a teaching] which forbids images, especially of the Blessed Virgin, to be distinguished by any title, besides the designations, which are analogous to mysteries which are expressly mentioned in Scripture, as if other pious designations cannot be ascribed to images which are approved and commended even in the public prayers of the Church: temerarious, offensive to pious ears, especially injurious to the veneration due to the Virgin.”

  17. In carefully surveying the Appendix of Volume II in preparation of the Acts and Documents for Vatican Council II (pp. 131-140), it is apparent that more than 500 bishops and prelates from all five parts of the world requested a solemn definition of some social office of the Blessed Virgin, and especially her universal mediation with regard to graces. As P. De Aldama, S.J., writes (p.419): “That the Blessed Virgin Mary is a mediatrix in some true sense, and is such with a title by all means special above other saints, is de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That the title of mediatrix can be justly used, is certain from repeated use by the Roman Pontiffs and in the liturgy; there is no room for doubt here.” And again he writes (p. 427): “That the mediation of Mary with regard to dispersing graces is in every way special and far exceeds the mediation of the saints, seems to be de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That it refers to all graces in a general way, is at least Catholic doctrine.” Other approved aauthors, especially Popes, speak in much the same way.

    Pius IX: “The most powerful mediatrix in the entire world with her Only-begotten Son”

    Leo XIII: “The mediatrix of our peace with God and the administrator of heavenly graces”

    Leo XIII: “Our Lady, the reparatrix of the entire world, the procurer of the gifts of God.”

    Leo XIII: “She is the one of whom was born Jesus, i.e. his Mother, and for this reason she was worthy and most acceptable to be the Mediatrix for the Mediator.”

    Leo XIII: “So the most powerful Virgin Mother, who formerly cooperated in charity so that the faithful might be born in the Church, is even now the means and mediatrix of our salvation.”

    Pius X: “From this sharing of sorrows and will between Mary and Christ, she merited to very worthily become the Reparatrix of a ruined world and, accordingly, also the dispenser of all gifts which Jesus gained for us by his death and blood.”

    At times the Most Blessed Virgin is called the Mediatrix to the Mediator, Christ and, at other times, to God. In the Constitution both formulas are used. It is said that she intercedes through Christ, in conformity with that declaration of the Council of Trent regarding the intercession of saints: “It is good and beneficial to earnestly invoke the saints for the sake of requesting blessings from God through his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who alone is our Redeemer and Savior.” Hence, the Blessed Virgin and other saints intercede for us mediately, namely, through Christ. That is the reason why the Church closes all its prayers with: Through Our Lord Jesus Christ…

  18. Cf.  Rom.   1,   10;  Eph.   1,   15;   Phil.   1, 3-4;  Col.   1,  3 et  9;   1  Th.   1,  2-3;   2  Tim.   1,  1.
  19.  Cf.  Rom.  15,  30;  2 Cor.  1,  11;  Eph.  6,  18-19;   1  Th.  5,  25;  2 Th.  3,   1;  Hebr.   13,   18.
  20. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Fidentem piumque: Acta Leonis XIII, XVI, p. 282:  « Certissime quidem perfecti Conciliatoris nomen et partes alii nulli conveniunt quam Christo,  quippe qui unus,  homo  idem  et  Deus,  humanum  genus  summo  Patri  in  gratiam  restituerit …   At  vero, si nihil prohibet, ut docet Angelicus, aliquos alias secundum quid did mediatores inter Deum et homines, prout scilicet cooperantur ad unionem hominis cum Deo dispositive et ministerialiter, cuiusmodi sunt angeli sanctique caelites, prophetae et utriusque testamenti sacerdotes, profecto eiusdem gloriae decus Virgini excelsae cumulatius convenit. Nemo etenim unus cogitari quidem potest, qui reconciliandis Deo hominibus parem atque ilia operam vel umquam contulerit, vel aliquando sit collaturus … ».

    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Fulgens corona, 8 sept. 1953: AAS (1953) pp. 581-582: « Immerito igitur acatholici et novatores non pauci hac etiam de causa nostram reprehendunt atque im-probant erga Deiparam Virginem pietatem, quasi nos aliquid ex cultu uni Deo ac Iesu Christo debito subducamus; cum contra, quidquid honoris venerationisque caelesti Matri nostrae tribui-mus, id procul dubio in Divini eius Filii decus redundet, non modo quod ex ipso omnes gratiae omniaque dona, vel excelsa, ut e primo fonte oriuntur, sed etiam quod ” gloria filiorum patres eorum “».

    Pius XII, Alloc. Iis qui interfuerunt Conventui Sodalitatis internationalis ” Filiarum Mariae Immaculatae “, Romae habito, 17 iul. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 492: « C’est pour devenir la Mère de Dieu qu’elle a recu de son divin Fils tous les dons de la nature et de la grace. Voilà pourquoi le culte de la Vierge, si du moins on le comprend bien, loin de rien oter à la gloire de Dieu, remonte immédiatement à Lui, l’Auteur de tout bien, qui 1’a voulue si grande et si pure ».

  21. Whereas there is no difficulty in admitting that Mary is the mediatrix of all graces in so far as she is associated with Christ in acquiring these (here we must, of course, abstract from the question of whether immediate or mediate, whether direct or indirect, whether by actively receiving in the first act or by some other way…) Various questions arise if we approach her role as Mediatrix in so far as she distributes graces, and especially as regards the universality of her mediation. That Mary can request all graces for us is clear. However, whether no graces are dispensed without Mary’s intervention is another question. We come up against questions regarding direct and indirect intervention, the manner of distributing grace in the Old Testament, and how are graces conferred in the sacraments. Accordingly, freedom is granted to Catholic schools to dispute these and other related questions, while observing the very general norm that in all graces which are conferred there is present the maternal charity of Mary, a least according to that expression of Augustine cited at the beginning that, “She cooperated with charity, so that the faithful may be born in the Church and may be continually born.” In the encyclical, Octobri mense, Leo XIII used the expression: “God so willed to impart nothing whatsoever from that immense treasury of all grace, which the Lord confers… except through Mary.” In the Subcommission there were more than just a few who would have wished this formula used in the Constitution. It is clear that this exclusive formula has its basis in papal documents and the teachings of theologians. But it was found more acceptable to use the generically expressed formula by the same Leo XIII cited above, namely, “… the most powerful Virgin Mother, who formerly cooperated in charity so that the faithful might be born in the Church, is even now the means and mediatrix of our salvation.”
  22. Ita erronee cogitant haud pauci protestantes: cf. e. gr. maury P., Le protestantisme et la Vierge Marie, Paris, 1950, p. 65. Videsis balic C., O.F.M., La mariología es punto de convergencia o de divergencia para la unión? in: Ante el II Concilia Ecumenico Vaticano, Burgos 1960, pp. 232-250; id., Maria e il movimento ecumenico, in: boyer C., II problema ecu­menico oggi, Brescia 1961, pp. 547-562.
  23. Pius  IX,  Bulla Ineffabilis  Deus,  8  dec.  1854:  denz.   1691.
  24. conc.  trident.,  Sess.  VI,  Deer,  de  iustificatione:  denz.   833; conc.  trident.,  Sess.  VI,  Deer,  de  iustificatione:  denz.   833;
    S. augustinus, De natura et gratia, c. 36, n. 42: PL 44, 267: « Excepta itaque sancta Virgine Maria, de qua propter honorem Domini nullam prorsus cum de peccatis agitur, haberi volo quaestionem: (unde enim scimus quid ei plus gratiae collatum fuerit ad vincendum ex omni parte peccatum, quae concipere ac parere meruit, quem constat nullum habuisse peccatum?): hac ergo Virgine excepta, si omnes illos sanctos et sanctas, cum hie viverent, con-gregare possemus et interrogare utrum essent sine peccato, quid fuisse responsuros putamus? ».
    leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Iucunda semper, 8 sept. 1894: Acta Leonis XIII, XIV, 310: « Eam salutamus, quae gratiam apud Deum invenit, singulariter ab illo plenam gratia, cuius copia ad universes proflueret ».
    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 636: « Iam in primo temporis momento, quo concepta fuit, tali gratiarum abundantia repletam fuisse, ut Sanctorum omnium gratiam superaret ».
  25. Cf. denz.  6,  13, 20,  111A,  144,  148,  214,  218, 256,  290, 429.
  26. Sacramentarium  Gregorianum   [quod  Hadrianus I misit  Carolo Magno inter annum 784-790] in die Assumptions  sequentem habet orationem: « Veneranda nobis, Domine, huius est diei festivitas, in qua sancta Dei Genitrix mortem subiit temporalem, nee tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quae filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit  incamatum ».  Cf. C. balic, O.F.M., Testimonia de assumptione beatae Virginis Mariae ex omnibus saeculis, pars I, Romae  1948, p.  155.

    Beatissimam Virginem mortem subiisse temporalem et ad similitudinem Filii sui resur-rexisse, antiquissima et communissima est Ecclesiae doctrina. Plus quam tertia pars petitionum quae ad Sanctam Sedem delatae sunt ut definiatur Assumpio, definitionem quoque mortis Deiparae expostulant; dimidia vero pars talium petitionum intimam relationem ponunt inter mortem et Assumptionem. At, hisce ultimis annis incoepit divulgari sententia B. Virgi­nem abiisse et non obiisse. Quae sententia nitebatur potissimum quadam relatione privata ex qua deducebatur ipsum Vicarium Christi [pium XII] haud tenere traditionalem Ecclesiae doc-trinam hac in re. En quid dicendum      circa mentem Romanorum Pontificum hisce ultimis decenniis hac in re:      PIUS XI et ioannes XXIII docent B. Virginem mortuam esse; idem saltern implicite docuit ipsemet Pius XII. Et re quidem vera:

    PIUS XI, Allocuzione nella lettura del Decreto de Tuto per la canonizzazione della Beata Thouret [trad. it. L’Oss. Rom., 16 aug. 1933, p. 1]: « Con l’assiduita nella preghiera si deve fare di Maria la quotidiana mediatrice, la nostra vera avvocata, sicche possiamo sperare che Ella, assunta nella gloria del Cielo, nell’ora del nostro trapasso, che fu pure il suo — poichè Ella pure fece questo passo, essendo in Lei non la grazia di creazione, ma la grazia di Redenzione, la quale non conjeriva immortalità vera e piopria — possa Ella essere nostra avvo­cata presso la divina bonta e misericordia »;
    ioannes XXIII, Litt. Apost. in L’Oss. Rom., 1 oct. 1961, p. 2: « L’immazine soave di Maria si irradia e si accende nella suprema esaltazione. Che bella scena la dormizione di Maria, cosi come i cristiani di Oriente la contemplano: Essa e distesa nel sonno placido della morte e Gesu è accanto a Lei, e tiene presso il suo petto come un bambino l’anima della Vergine, ad indicare il prodigio della immediata risurrezione e glorificazione », … « Il mistero dell’Assunta ci mantiene familiari al pensiero della nostra morte … »;

    Card. A. ottaviani, in: Acta Pontiftciae Academiae Marianae Internationalis, I, Romae 1961, p. 63 [cf. L’Oss. Rom., 18 dec. 1961, p. 7]: « Non bisogna pero confondere il magistero autentico con le voci incontrollate o le fantasie per le quali si attribuisce a questo o a quel Sommo Pontefice un’idea o un’espressione non controllabile. Si è sparsa, per esempio, la voce che il compianto Pontefice Pio XII avrebbe espresso le sue preference per la sentenza dicoloro che ritengono che l’Assunzione della Vergine non sia stata una risurrezione anticipata, ma una traslazione nei cieli senza la morte su questa terra: “abiit, et non obiit”. Per quanto mi consta, il compianto Pontefice non era di questa idea: è vero, anzi, il contrario. Questa sen-tenza del resto toglierebbe qualche cosa a quella cooperazione, per la quale la Vergine è detta Alma Soda Redemptoris. Come poteva Ella non subire, anche se non dovuta, la morte, se la voile subire il suo divin Figliuolo? Invece è cosi bello vedere in tutte le fasi del ciclo redenti-vo il parallelo degli eventi che congiunsero la Madre al Figlio divino! A questo accennava Pio XII nella Munificentissimus Deus, quando asseriva: “… parique modo baud difficile iisdem [ossia ai fedeli] fuit, assentiri Magnam etiam Dei Matrem, quemadmodum iam Unigenitum suum, ex hac vita decessisse”».

    Traditio antiquissima et constans qua nititur Orientis et Occidentis Christian! doctrina de morte B. V. Mariae non est « mere historica », sed etiam, immo potissimum, « theologica »; ilia nempe traditio quae « per se ipsam » dedit Pio XII certissimum argumentum pro veritate Assumptionis dogmaticae definienda. Et si valor huius Traditionis in casu mortis B. Virginis ad nihilum reduceretur, tune, ut iure meritoque scribit P. colosio J., O. P., Due pubblicazioni su Dionigi Areopagita, in: Rivista di ascetica e mistica, 5 (1960) p. 202: « Per coerenza vor-remmo che questi teologi applicassero questo medesimo criterio a tanti altri casi del genere … ed allora si accorgerebbero che dobbiamo riformare o certe parti della dottrina comune o il loro non giusto criterio sull’argomento di tradizione ».

  27.  In traditione Christiana variae rationes allatae sunt ad illustrandum factum mortis B. V. Mariae [cf. balic C., Testimonia de assumptione Beatae Virginis Mariae ex omnibus sueculis,  II, Romae  1950, « Index analyticus », pp. 496-499].
    « … non fuit decens — scribit S. bonaventura, In III Sent., d. Ill, a. 2, q. 3, ad 3 [ed. Quaracchi, t. Ill, p. 78 b] — Filium Dei habere matrem immortalem, cum ipse esset mortal is ».
    Alii vero dicunt quod mortua est ne Christo maior forte videretur … [cf. balic, op. ctt.]: « decuit enim eam in hoc esse suo Filio similem » [balic, Ibid., II, p. 239]; « quidquid autem fuit in Christo ut puro nomine, etiam tribuendum est beatae Virgini, quae etiam sponte posuit animam et assumpsit poenalitates, ne Christo maior esse videretur et cooperaretur ad nostram redemptionem » [Ibid., II, pp. 94-95]. Marcellinus siuri [m. 1734], post Frances de urrutygoiti [m. 1682], refert quemdam auctorem hispanum, immortalitatem Deiparae propugnantem, a sacrp Inquisitionis tribunali damnatum fuisse: Universa Ecclesia enim tenet Mariam mortem subiisse temporalem etiam « ut Filio conformaretur; congruum enim erat ut sicut Iesus morti se subiecit in redemptionem humani generis, ita et quod Mater electa in redemptionis coope-ratricem similiter morti subiaceret ». Et Cl. A. subiungit: « Quam rationem conformitatis cum Filio tanti faciendam a Matre existimo quod si ei optio daretur, potius eligeret mori ut Filio conformaretur, quam sine morte ad gloriam transferri, et tanti fieri a Filio matrem crediderim quod si in alio ordine rerum voluisset sine propria morte genus humanum  redimere Matrem quoque a morte immunem fecisset » [Ibid., II, pp. 240-241].
    Per se patet factum mortis B. Virginis non propter solas has similesque rationes, sed potissimum propter constantem et communissimum consensum Ecclesiae docentis et discentis, ut factum certum admitti.
  28. Pius  XII,   Const,  dogm.   Munificentissimus  Deus,   1   nov.   1950:   AAS .42  (1950)  p.   770.
  29. Pius IX, Bulla Ineffabilis Deus, 8 dec.  1854:  Acta PII IX, pars I, vol. I, p.  598:  « Venerabilis mater,  cui Deus Pater unicum Filium suum,  quern  de  corde  suo  aequalem  sibi  genitum  tanquam  seipsum   diligit,   ita   dare  disposuit   ut   naturaliter  esset   unus   idemque   communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Spiritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est,  ut conoiperetur et nasceretur  ille,  de  quo ipse procedit ».
  30.  Pius IX, Bulla Ineffabilis Deus, 8 dec.  1854:  Acta PII IX, pars I, vol. I, p.  598:  « Venerabilis mater,  cui Deus Pater unicum Filium suum,  quern  de  corde  suo  aequalem  sibi  genitum  tanquam  seipsum   diligit,   ita   dare  disposuit   ut   naturaliter  esset   unus   idemque   communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Spiritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est,  ut conoiperetur et nasceretur  ille,  de  quo ipse procedit ».
  31. In professione oblata a Nicephoro, Patriarcha Constantinopolitanp, et accepta a Leone III, Claris verbis integritas corporalis B. Virginis in partu affirmatur:  « Virginem quoque, quae supernaturalite et ineffabiliter pepererat, post partum virginem conservavit,  virginitatem illius secundum  naturam  nulla ex  parte  demutata  aut  labefactata »   [denz.   314,  n.   3].   In  Epistola S. leonis, quam Patres Concilii Oecumenici IV susceperunt clamantes Petrum per Leonem locutum esse,  legitur:   « Nova  autem nativitate  generatus:   quia  INVIOLATA  VIRGINITAS  concupiscentiam nescivit, carnis materiam ministravit …  Quia nativitas est mirabilis,  ideo  nostri est natura dissimilis »  [denz.   144].
    In conc. lateranensi, sub Martino I habito [quod licet non sit oecumenicum sensu techni-co, tamen mentem Ecclesiae, tarn latinae quam graecae manifestat], expresse condemnatur anathemate qui virginitatem in partu nollet confiteri: « Si quis secundum sanctos Patres non confitetur proprie et secundum veritatem Dei genitricem sanctam semper Virginem et immacu-latam Mariam utpote ipsum Deum Verbum specialiter et veraciter, qui a Deo Padre ante omnia saecula natus est, in uitimis saeculorum absque semine concepisse ex Spiritu Sancto, et INCORRUPTIBILITER eam [eum?] genuisse, indissolubili permanente et post partum eiusdem virgi-nitate, condemnatus sit » [denz. 256].
    S. ambrosius, De institutione Virginis et S. Marine virginitate perpetua, c .8: PL 16, 334: « Porta igitur Maria, per quam Christus intravit in hunc mundum, quando virginali fusus est partu, et genitalia virginitatis non solvit. Mansit intemeratum septum pudoris, et inviolata in-tegritatis duravere signacula, cum exiret ex virgine … ».
    Idem etiam decent S. augustinus, Epist. 137 ad Volusianum, c. 2, n. 8: PL 33, 519; S. hieronymus, Epist. 4S, 21: PL 22, 510, aliique plures SS. Patres. Quae quidem Traditionis christianae testimonia sic paucis verbis exprimit fetavius, De Incarnatione, lib, c. 6 [Opera omnia, VII, Parisiis, 1876, p. 76]: « Illud tamen ex Patrum omnium decreto pro certo tenen-dum est, quod catholica universa profitetur Ecclesia, beatissimam Virginem, hoc quidquid sit, quo a maritatis discern! virgines possunt, illibatum in partu integrumque retinuisse ».
    Et communiter docetur hanc doctrinam esse tenendam fide divina et catholica. At, nonnulli moderni auctores putant virginitatem B. Virginis in partu haud consistere in aliqua incorrupti-bilitate, et virginitatem in partu dicunt univocam esse cum virginitate ante partum. Cf. mitte-rer A., Dogma und Biologie der heiligen Familie, Wien 1952, pp. 122-124; galot J., S. I., La virginite de Marie et la naissance de Jesus, in Nouvelle Revue Theologique, 92 (1960), pp. 449-470.
  32. Praefatio de Beata Maria  Virgine.
  33. S.  germanus  constantinopolitanus,  In  Sanctae  Dei  Genitricis  dormitionem,   Sermo  1: PG  98,  346-347:   « Neque  fieri  poterat,  ut  quae  Dei  capax  vasculum  esses,   emortuum   corpus corrumpente   difflueres   pulvere »   [347];   « Tu   iuxta   quod  scriptum   est,   speciosa   es,   tuumque illud corpus virginale, totum sanctum est, totum castum, totum Dei domicilium;  ut ideo quo­ que a resolutione in pulverem deinceps sit liberum… » [346]. « Quia enim is, qui in te fuerat exinanitus, Deus erat a principio, ac vita saeculis antiquior;  utique par quoque erat ut  Vitae Mater, Vitae pariter contubernalis fieret;  dormitionemque somni instar susciperet;  ac migratio-
    nem haud secus atque expergefactionem, ceu Vitae Parens, subiret …»  [347].
    S. ioannes damascenus, Homilia 2 in dormitione B. V. M., n. 14: PG 96, 741 [balic C., O. F. M., Testimonia de assumptione B. V. Mariae ex omnibus saeculis, pars prior: Ex aetate ante Concilium Tridentinum, Romae 1948, p. 89]: « Necesse enim fuit divinum illud domici­lium…penetralibus terrae minime concludi, sed sicut sanctum illud incorruptumque corpus ex ipsa [assumptum et] cum Deo Verbo hypostatice coniunctum tertia die e monumento sur-rexit, sic etiam ipsam e sepulchro eripi, Matremque ad Filium transmigrare…Necesse fuit eam quae Deum Verbum uteri sui hospitio exceperat in tabernacula Filii sui deferri…Necesse fuit sius quae in partu virginitatem sine labe servaverat incorruptum etiam post mortem corpus scrvari. Necesse fuit eam quae Creatorem ut infantem sinu gestaverat in divinis Filium suum in cruce conspiciens, gladium quem pariendo effugerat, pectore tune exceperat, Ipsum Patri considentem spectare oculis. Necesse fuit Dei Matrem ea quae Filii essent possidere, et ut Matrem Dei et ancillam coli ab omni creatura ».
    Cf. Pius XII, Const. Apost. Munificentisaimus Deus, 1 nov.  1950: AAS 42 (1950) pp. 758 ss., ubi afferuntur argumenta Patrum et theologorum, inter quos liceat afferre S. bellarminum qui ait [p. 766]: « Et quis, obsecro, credere posset, arcam sanctitatis, domicilium Verbi, templum Spiritus Sancti corruisse? Exhorret plane animus meus vel cogitare carnem illam virgineam, quae Deum genuit, peperit, aluit, gestavit, vel in cinerem esse conversam, vel in escam vermi-bus traditam ».
    Et S. franciscus salesius adiungit [Ibid.]: « Quinam filius, si posset, matrem suam ad vitam non revocaret, atque eam post mortem in Paradisum non adduceret? ». Utique, concludit S. alphonsus [Ibid.]: « Iesus Mariae corpus post mortem corrumpi noluit, cum in suum de-decus redundaret virginalem eius carnem in tabem redigi, ex qua suam ipsemet carnem assumpserat ». degere taber-naculis. Necesse fuit Sponsam quam Pater sibi desponsaverat, caelestibus immorare thalamis. Necesse fuit eam quae
  34. Pius IX, Bulla Ineffabilis Deus, 8 dec. 1354: Acta Pii IX, pars I, vol. I, pp. 597-598: « Quapropter illam longe ante omnes Angelicos Spiritus, cunctosque Sanctos caelestium omnium charismatum copia de thesauro divinitatis deprompta ita mirifice cumulavit, ut ipsa ab  omni prorsus peccati labe semper libera, ac tota pulchra et perfecta, eam innocentiae ac sanctitatis plenitudinem prae se ferret, qua maior sub Deo nullatenus intelligitur, et quam praeter Deum nemo  assequi  cogitando  potest ».
    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 635: « Nullum igitur dubium est Mariam Sanctissimam dignitate sua omnes res creatas excellere itemque super omnes post Filium suum obtinere primatum ».
    Cf. S. bonaventura, In III Sent., d. 9, a. 1, q. 3, in sol. [ed. Quaracchi III, 206 a]: « Quoniam [Maria] excellentissimum nomen habet, ita quod excellentius purae creaturae convenire non potest, ideo non tantum debetur ei honor duliae, sed hyperduliae … Ex hoc enim quod Mater Dei est, praelata est ceteris creaturis, et eam prae ceteris decens est honorari et venerari ».
  35. Pius   VII,  Breve  Quod   divino,  24  ian. 1806  [Documentos  marianos,  n.  235]:   « Quod divino afflata spiritu beatissima ac gloriosa Dei Genetrix Virgo Maria de se ipsa praenuntiavit generationes omnes beatam illam nuncupaturas, id sane non modo prioribus Ecclesiae saeculis impletum novimus, cum toto terrarum orbe ad eius honorem templa aedificata fuerint,  atque arae  erectae,   verum  etiam   aucta   quotidie   magis  fidelium  pietate   erga   amantissimam   Parentem nostram, ac gratiarum omnium dispensatricem, maiori semper devotionis ardore, alia aliis successerint  monumenta  pietatis et quaedam praesertim  loca  inscrutabili  Dei  consilio,  constituta sint, in quibus peculiari beatae Virginis intercessione quaedam mira veniunt, quae in aliis
    aeque contigisse novimus ».
    Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Fulgens corona, 8 sept. 1953: AAS 45 (1953) p. 582: « … inde ab antiquissima Ecclesiae aetate, hoc doctrinae caput [scilicet doctrina de cultu B. V. Mariae] cotidie magis inclaruit, ac cotidie latius viguit cum apud sacros Pastores, turn in mente ani-moque christianae plebis ».
    Cf. Decreta conc. nicaeni II et conc. trid. de sacris imaginibus sive Christi sive « intemeratae dominae nostrae sanctae Dei genitricis », sive sanctorum in genere: « honos qui eis exhibetur, refertur ad prototypa, quae illae repraesentant … » [Denz. 302, 986].
  36. benedictus XIV, Bulla aurea Gloriosae Dominae, 27 sept.  1748  [Documentos Marianos, n.  210]:   « Gloriosae Dominae, Dei  Genitricis Mariae cultum ac venerationem, Dei  manifests voluntate ac veraci  semper Ecclesiae spiritu, magnopere commendari, nec minus iuste quam fructuose eidem a fidelibus exhiberi,  adeo manifestum esse non dubitamus,  ut ad  christianorum corda religiose devotionis studio erga eam inflammanda apostolicae adhortationes Nostrae superfmae  propemodum fore videantur. Sicut enim omnipotens Deus hanc  virginem electam ex millibus, et  ad ineffabilem  divinae maternitatis dignitatem Angelo nuntiante evectam,  gratiae suae donis abundantius prae ceteris omnibus puris creaturis replevit, ac splendidissimis gloriae coronis super alia omnia manuum suarum opera decoravit;  sic etiam Catholica Ecclesia, Sancti  Spiritus magisterio edocta, eamdem, et tamquam Domini ac Redemptoris sui Parentem caelitus ac terrae Reginam impensissimis obsequiis cplere, et tamquam amantissimam Matrem, extrema, Sponsi sui morientis voce sibi relictam, filialis pietatis affectuprosequi studiosissime semper professa est ».
    leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, 12 sept. 1897: Acta Leonis XIII, XVII, p. 285: « Augustissimae Virginis Mariae foveri assidue cultum et contentiore quotidie studio promoveri quisque perspiciet, qui secum reputaverit, quam excelso dignitatis et gloriae fastigio Deus ipsam collocavit ».
    Pius XII, Nuntius Radioph. Christifidelibus datus ob conventum marialem e tota Argentina in urbe Luján coadunatum: AAS 39 (1947) p. 628: « El culto a la Madre de Dios, por Ella misma profetizado cuando anunció: “Beatam me dicent omnes generationes”, es un elemento fundamental en la vida cristiana…Honremosla, pues, reconociendo el brillo sin par de su hermosura, los primores da su bondad y lo irresistible de su poder; por la excelsitud de sus virtudes y por la dignidad incomparable de su misión, reverenciémosla proclamando su grandeza, manifestándole nuestro respeto y pidiéndole su intercesión; filnalmente, imitémosla sin cejar en tan noble empeño … ».
    Pius XII, Epist. Apost. Ex hoc, 25 mart. 1950: AAS 42 (1950) p. 717: « “Ex hoc, ut ait Sarictus Bonaventura, quod Virgo Maria effecta est Dei Mater, est effecta Mater omnium creaturarum”; idcirco, tantae Parenti dicata, plurima per orbem surgunt Templa, e quibus praecipua ac maiore Christifidelium concursu commendata, e Romanorum Pontificum instituto po-tiore dignitate solent decorari ».
    ioannes XXIII, La presenza dell’insegnamento di Cristo e del patrocinio di Maria nel cuore di ogni fedele: L’Oss. Rom., 18 aug. 1960: « Accanto a Gesu la Madre sua Maria. AH’indomani della celebrazione della celebrità dell’Assunta, il sentimento filiale si rivolge con fiducia ed affetto verso tanta Madre, per la quale i cattolici nutrono la piu alta e sentita devozione. Qualcuno, già in passato, ha voluto criticare questo sentimento, quasi si trattasse di un’ado-razione, che e dovuta a Dio solo. E’ chiaro invece che i cattolici venerano la Madre di Gesii con tutto il loro entusiasmo, ben sapendo che, a causa delle sue prerogative, del suo insigne privilegio d’essere la Madre del Figlio di Dio fatto Uomo, dei doni dal Signore ricevuti e della sua potenza d’intercessione, Ella è la creatura che sulla terra più si avvicina a Dio… Noi dunque portiamo sempre Gesu nel cuore: fonte di fortezza, di consolazione, di ogni conforto. Del pari abbiamo con noi sempre rimmagine di Maria: e tanta Madre aiuta ogni suo figlio nei vari momenti della esistenza; sorregge a raggiungere bene la meta che a ciasctino è assegnata quaggiù di conoscere, cio è amare, servire il Signore; di praticare le virtù della carità e della pazienza, segnatamente durante le prove che la vita ci offre, sempre con-tinuando nella sicurezza dei beni eterni. Cosi, questo Paugurio del Padre comune delle anime, Gesu e Maria ci salvino e ci benedicano sempre! ».
  37. PIUS XII, Nuntius Radioph. Iis qui interfuerunt conventui international!, mariologico-mariano Romae habito: AAS 46 (1954) p. 679: « Ita etiam haec disciplina [mariologica] recta ilia media via procedere poterit, qua et ab omni falsa et immodica veritatis superlatione saveat et ab illis se segreget, qui vano quodam agitantur timore, ne Beatissimae Virgin! plus aequo concedant aut, ut non raro dictitant, Matre honorata et pie invocata, ipsi Divino Re-demptori aliquid honoris et fiduciae detrahant »
    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 637: « In his tamen aliisque quaestionibus ad Beatam Virginem spectantibus, curent theologi ac divini verbi praecones ut quasdam e recto itinere aberrationes devitent, ne in duplicis generis errores inducantur; caveant nempe et sententias fundamento carentes ac veritatem quadam ver-borum superlatione excedentes, et nimiam mentis angustiam in singulari ilia, omnino excelsa, iinmo fere divina Deiparae dignitate consideranda, quam quidem Doctor Angelicus eidem agno-scendam esse docet “ex bono infinito quod est Deus”».
  38. PIUS XII, Nuntius Radioph. Iis qui interfuerunt conventui international!, mariologico-mariano Romae habito: AAS 46 (1954) p. 679: « Ita etiam haec disciplina [mariologica] recta ilia media via procedere poterit, qua et ab omni falsa et immodica veritatis superlatione saveat et ab illis se segreget, qui vano quodam agitantur timore, ne Beatissimae Virgin! plus aequo concedant aut, ut non raro dictitant, Matre honorata et pie invocata, ipsi Divino Re-demptori aliquid honoris et fiduciae detrahant »
    PIUS XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 637: « In his tamen aliisque quaestionibus ad Beatam Virginem spectantibus, curent theologi ac divini verbi praecones ut quasdam e recto itinere aberrationes devitent, ne in duplicis generis errores inducantur; caveant nempe et sententias fundamento carentes ac veritatem quadam ver-borum superlatione excedentes, et nimiam mentis angustiam in singulari ilia, omnino excelsa, iinmo fere divina Deiparae dignitate consideranda, quam quidem Doctor Angelicus eidem agno-scendam esse docet “ex bono infinito quod est Deus”».
  39. S. PIUS X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem ilium, 2 febr. 1904: Acta Pii X, pp.  155-156:  « Nullus equidem honor Mariae optabilior, nullus iucundior quam ut noscamus rite et amemus Iesum Sint  igitur  fidelium  celebritates   in templis, sint festi apparatus, sint laetitiae civium; quae res omnes non mediocres usus afferunt ad pietatem fovendam. Verumtamen nisi his voluntas animi  accedat, formas habebimus, quae speciem  tan turn  offerant  religionis. Has Virgo quum videat, iusta reprehensione Christi verbis in nos utetur: “Populus his labiis me honorat; cor autem eorum longe est a me”. Nam ea demum est germana adversus Deiparentem  religio,  quae  profluat   animo… Quapropter hoc quisque persuasum habeat: si pietas, quam in Virginem beatissimam quis profitetur, non eum a peccato retinet, vel pravos emendandi mores consilium non indit, fucatam esse pietatem ac fallacem, utpote quae proprio nativoque careat fructu…Quamvis autem deceat filios Matris sanctissimae nullam praeterire  laudem quin imitentur; illas tamen Eiusdem virtutes ipsos fideles assequi prae ceteris desideramus, quae principes sunt ac veluti nervi atque artus christianae sapientiae:  fidem inquimus, spem et caritatem in Deum atque homines … ».
    PIUS XII, Allocutio pro canonizatione Beati Ludovici de Montfort, 21 iul. 1947: AAS 39 (1947) p. 413: « La vraie dévotion, ceile de la tradition, celle de l’Eglise, celle, dirions-Nous, du bon sens chrétien et catholique, tend essentiellement vers 1’union à Jésus, sous la conduite de Marie ».
    ioannes XXIII, Epist. ad Card. Mimmi, 2 oct. 1960: AAS 52 (1960) p. 498: « Qui autem pia Deiparae Virginis tutela confidunt, et cum ipsa volunt claros referre triumphos, probe necesse est, ipsius decorentur virtutibus et matcrnis dotibus utpote filii sincerae indolis emineant. Nam ita hortatur illa suos, ut currant in odorem unguentorum suorum [Cant. 1, 3]: “Ego mater pulchrae dilectionis et timoris et agnitionis et sanctae spei … In me omnis spes vitae et virtutis “».
    Cf. S. ambrosius, De virginibus, lib. II, c. 2, n. 15: PL 16, 210 B: « Talis enim fuit Maria, ut eius unious vita, omnium sit disciplina ».
    S. bon a ventura, Sermo I De Purificatione [Opera IX, 638 A]: « Verum est quod Virgo gloriosa perfectissime habuit omnes virtutes … ».
  40. S.  augustinus, De sancta  virginitate,  c.  3:  PL 40,  398.
  41. petrus moghila in sua Confessione scribit: « De beatissima Virgine quae cum tantum mysterium digna facta sit persolvere, omnes orthodoxi ipsam honore debito ac reverentia pro­ sequi tenentur »  [cf. gordillo M., Mariologia Orientalis, Romae 1954, p. 259].
    Aethiopes confitentur « testante Sacra Scriptura Deiparam honorandam esse » [Ibid., p. 261]. Certissimum est quod cultus Beatissimae Virginis in Oriente christiano longe superat cultum aliorum Sanctorum, etsi non adhibetur terminus « hyperdulia ».
  42. leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Fidentem piumque, 20 sept. 1896: Acta Leonis XIII, XVI, p. 287.
    leo XIII misit Congressui Mariano Liburnensi poema:
    « Virgine  favente,  fiat  unum  ovile!
    Auspicium felix!  Orientis personal oras;
    Vox lapsa e caelo, personat occiduas:
    Una fides Christi, Pastor regat unus ovile,
    Disperses gentes colligat unus amor.
    Virgo, fave: errantes, ah! lumine mater amico
    Respice, et Unigenae  iunge benigna tuo ».
    [Cf. Documentos  Marianos,  n.  423].
    Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Ecclesiam Dei, 12 nov. 1923: AAS 15 (1923) p. 581: « Alterum uni­tatis reconciliandae vinculum cum Orientalibus Slavis in eorum singulari studio erga magnam Dei Matrem Virginem ac pietate continetur, eos ab haereticis compluribus seiungens, nobisque efficiens propiores ».

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The following are messages from St. Joseph as received by Ann, a Lay Apostle contained in Volume Six of “Heaven Speaks to Families”, constitute sublime and practical messages to fathers on how best to imitate the virtues and examples of St. Joseph within their own families (or domestic churches). These messages have received the Imprimatur by Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland and are distributed with permission of the same bishop. – Ed.

June 14, 2004

I send the most affectionate greetings to my brothers and sisters on earth. I have come particularly to speak to fathers during this time of darkness. If you have been given a child or the care of a child, you must take responsibility for the formation and support of that child. I wish to share a glimpse of my family with you, so that you can follow the example we have set. There were three of us, Jesus, Mary, and me, Joseph. I took responsibility, as much as possible, for the support of the family.

We were poor, it is true, because we lived in difficult times and for a time we were exiled. When you move to a land that is not your home, you are at a disadvantage, often, with regard to work. That was the case with me, and while I was skilled at my profession, I found it difficult to obtain as much work as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I made enough to keep us and we lived simply. I taught my Son that work was to be enjoyed and that through work a soul gave God great glory. I worked steadily and thoroughly, always being scrupulously honest and fair. My reputation was sound and I would have been known as a just man, both professionally and personally. I understood that my responsibility to Jesus was important to the Kingdom. I had the task of accompanying Him through His precious childhood.

Jesus, I must say, did not require any real correcting, because He was a most beautiful and sweet boy. His kindness brought tears to my eyes, sometimes many times in one day. I will say truly that He was an example to me. With that said, however, I also tried to be an example to Him and so must you be to your children. While I understand that you are not called upon to accompany Jesus through His childhood, you must understand that your child or children are equally precious in their humanity, because each little soul is of equal value in the Kingdom. Each day and each moment of each day is an opportunity to teach your child what it is to be a follower in God’s Kingdom. If I were allowed, I could write pages and pages, speaking only of the holiness of Mary, the mother of Christ. Can you imagine the honor that was mine? I was given the task of parenting with Mary as my partner. I will say briefly that Mary was the kindest, most gentle and most humble woman ever created by God. You must not think that she was given these virtues or that it was easy for her. This was not the case. Mary sacrificed each day and practiced these virtues. She was another constant source of example to me. How could I have been anything but virtuous living with these two heavenly creatures? Fathers, mine is the honor of instructing you on leading your families to Christ. Thank our loving Father in heaven for this grace because it is a very beautiful thing for Him to allow. Treat these words with humility and reverence and He, the God of All, will bring peace and joy to your families. You can be another pocket of holiness, as we were, and I will show you how. Remember that you have great and limitless help in heaven. Do not be discouraged if your family is struggling with worldly influences at this moment. I will help you and together we will move toward the example that our little Holy Family has set for you. All is well. Let us begin.

June 15, 2004

Fathers of the world, listen carefully to my words. Please understand that you will be held accountable for your parenting. In most cases, a father should be with his children. In cases where he cannot, through circumstances beyond his control, that is different. But I speak to the majority of fathers at this time. Your children are your treasure and they are also a large part of your salvation. You will gain the greatest of graces through your parenting of your children. To begin with the most fundamental advice, you must be with your children in order to properly parent them. Many fathers today view the role of father simply as a provider. They feel that as long as they are providing for their children’s material needs, their job has been completed. Fathers, you know this is not the case. Providing for your children’s material needs is only one aspect of your role as father. You must accept that if you are not at work, generally speaking, you should be with your family. Children learn from observing and modelling. They cannot do this if you are not in their company. Be with your children, fathers. You need do nothing, only set a calm example. Be about your household chores and let the children see that you are dutiful. Another current trend that concerns heaven is that of purity. Fathers, children must learn how important it is to be pure. Are your children learning this from you? They will learn it by observing the entertainment you participate in. How do you respond to television shows that depict impure actions and situations? Fathers, these things are not acceptable for you. You must not watch television programs that illustrate mortal sin. Certainly your children should not watch these things either. That, dear men, is a profound truth, and if you are allowing your children to view behaviors on television that depict sin, you are in effect teaching them these behaviors. You must understand that by not objecting to these things, you are teaching your children that these behaviors are acceptable. This must stop. When you reject a program because it is illustrating unChristian-like behaviors, you must take the opportunity to explain to your children why you are doing so and why the behavior you rejected is not Christian. Do you understand? You must ask me to help you in this issue if you are unsure because homes are being contaminated constantly in this manner. This form of entertainment is unsuitable for you, dear men of God. You want to come to heaven, do you not? Then you must begin to prepare yourselves on earth. You can do this by spending time with your children in purity, and doing things together that do not offend God. You will be accountable for each word you say to your children. God does not expect you to be perfect. Do not be afraid. You will make mistakes, of course, and that is understood and forgiven. But you must not allow a pattern of entertainment in your home that is objectionable to heaven. Consider always what Jesus would say about an entertainment. He is with you, you know, at each moment. Be aware of His presence and you can then judge your actions and activities by His standard. I will help you to escape from any bad habits that have taken hold of you. Be cheerful and courageous and together we will purify your life.

June 16, 2004

Dear fathers of the world, you must heed my voice. I am speaking to you from kindness and concern. We in heaven watch the events in the world because we are eager to assist you. We hear your prayers and immediately begin interceding for you so that any graces available will be utilized. Allow us to help you to examine your role as father so you can be certain you are fulfilling this role as God has willed. You must examine your role in comparison to me, Joseph, the head of the Holy Family. Do not examine your role in comparison to a soul who is not following God. You must take this opportunity to also look at your companions. Are they true followers? Do they encourage you to be a good father and husband? Are they themselves good fathers and husbands? Dear man, if they are not fulfilling their role as father and husband, it will be difficult for you to resist their influence. Many in this time will encourage you to put yourself first, but I tell you in all seriousness that you should not do this. Your wife and children must come first. You are to lead your family to heaven. In heaven, the first will be last. Consider yourself a servant to your family. In this way you will not spend too much time meditating on how you would like to follow the world. You live in a world of great darkness. I must speak the truth so that you know that it is critical that your family be steered safely through these times. With the help of heaven, you will do this successfully. But in order to obtain this help, you must ask for it. In order to ask for it, you must be prayerful. If you are not prayerful, you will not see the need to pray because you will be too busy scurrying from one day to the next and telling yourself that all is well because this is what everyone else is doing. Fathers, set a tone of quietness in your home whenever possible. Children in your care will then feel free to come to you with their little difficulties and fears. Be available to them by often sitting quietly or working in silence. There is no need for the constant distraction of noise. It dulls your soul, dear man, and God cannot find rest in you. If you spend time in quietness, your soul will calm and your God can claim you and communicate with you. He will inspire you to give consideration to His will for your life. He will give you an awareness of the large view of your life and your family, pulling you away from the small view, which is the moment. If your large view includes heaven and serving God, you will understand that you must live each moment differently. Set your sight on heaven, for both you and your family, and you will see your perspective begin to shift a little here and alter a little there. This is a process and you can be comfortable that all will not change in a day, particularly if you have been spending too much time in the world or practicing bad habits. But it will change. Gradually, your home will feel different to you. You will long for holiness for each of the souls in your family who are walking your life journey with you. You will see their spiritual development as the priority. Dearest man, created by God, this is your role. You, in partnership with your wife, are to shepherd your little ones through their childhoods so that they can grow strong in the service to the Kingdom. Be brave and allow Me, Joseph, to show you how this should be done.

June 17, 2004

Dear sons of God, you must treat fatherhood like the great honor that it is. By allowing you to provide formation to a child, Our God has placed a degree of trust in you. You will not want to disappoint Him. You must listen to Him for direction on what your children require for the best possible preparation in life. Because each soul is unique, the same approach that works for one will not work for all. Each child will need thoughtful consideration given to the approach that will best suit their nature. Fathers, when do you give the rearing of your children this consideration? You should spend some time each day thinking of your children and what they need. It is important, of course, that they be fed and clothed, but not to excess. It is important that they have shelter and, if possible, an education. What I want to stress to you, fathers of the world, is that your children need your love, along with these other things. Children, more than anything, must know that their father loves them and considers them precious. Your actions every day will tell your children how you feel about them. If you are called on to correct a child, do so gently, with love. If a child angers you, you must remember that you were once a child and made similar mistakes. Do not frighten your children, fathers. This is not love. This is the opposite of love. Your child should respect you, of course, and you should not tolerate behavior that will not be welcome in the Kingdom, but expect some bad behavior and expect to have to gently correct your children. Fathers often make the mistake of thinking that their primary function with children is that of disciplinarian. This is an error. Your primary function as a father is to love and then to set an example that your children can follow which will result in eternity in heaven. Are you doing this, dear man? Be vigilant in examining your own behavior and be certain that your children are not mimicking something in you when they misbehave. This is important, so pay heed. I love you dearly, men of the world. I understand the influences with which you struggle. That is why you must spend time in prayer, and not with entertainment. Your Jesus wants to help you and He wants you to help Him. This is a dark time for mankind because many have said “no” to God and to holy living. If you have done this, you must tell Jesus today that you are willing to change and that you desire that He help you. I tell you most sincerely that Jesus will handle everything if you are willing to change. He will forgive you every sin. He will mitigate any damage that neglect has done to your children. Jesus, in short, will solve your problems but you must spend time in silence with Him. Make prayer the most important part of your day, fathers. Only in this way can you determine what Jesus requires from you with regard to your life and your parenting. Heaven understands that you have pressures and that you must earn your living and support your family. Heaven respects these things because it is heaven who has ordained this way of life for you. You must constantly ask heaven to guide you in these matters, as well as in spiritual matters. We will hear your prayers and assist you. But you must be the head of your family now and set a tone of respect for God.

June 18, 2004

Again today I call out to fathers. Dear men, you must face your mistakes fearlessly. Examine with me the way that you live. Do you live for God? If God were to call you home to heaven today, could you lie down peacefully, content that you had worthily accepted your vocation as husband and father? As human beings, created by God, we are all subject to His time. When He decrees that your time on earth has passed, it has passed. There will be no second chances with regard to either your life or your parenting. When your children are grown, the opportunity to influence them diminishes. You should never give up setting an example for your children and attempting to help them to see the straight path to heaven, but you can do far more with children than adults. So you see, dear man, that you must seize the opportunity to mold your child when he is small. Many souls on earth think that they are entitled to great amounts of relaxation and play time. I tell you most solemnly that play time is for children. If you are an adult, you should be concerned with serving Christ, and not with entertaining yourself. If you spend time in silent prayer, considering Jesus and what He did for you, you will understand what it is He asks that you do for Him. This is simple, I know, but I assure you that few men are giving Christ this time to work in their souls. It is for this reason we have reached the current level of darkness. Historically man said “no” to sin. In this day man says “yes” to sin. Children suffer because if man is saying “yes” to sin, he is saying “no” to his vocation. You cannot live two ways, my dear friend, so you must make a choice. Choose God. There is no future for you or your family in choosing darkness. Do not underestimate the power of God to assist a soul who seeks goodness. He will help you. I would like to speak about how I treated Mary, my wife on earth. I treated her with the greatest dignity and respect. I tried to help her when I could, and I remained in constant awareness of her comfort and happiness. I was unable to provide her with great wealth, and sometimes we were forced to go without, subsisting on the barest of necessities. She did not complain and I did not rail against God for placing us in trying times. I humbly placed my little family in the care of God and did the best I could to provide for them. Dear men of the world, there are those who are in far more need than you, whatever your circumstances. You must be content with what God has given you. Remember that there will always be those with more, and there will always be those with less. Praise God in everything and you will be cared for by heaven. When you worry about material things, consider what would happen if you were to do without many of the things you have today. Would you starve? Spend some time considering what it is your body needs for survival and I think you will see that you have been given these things. There may come a time when you do not have as much as you have today. How you will shake your heads at your former complaints. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you? Do not wish for more; wish to be happier with less. Pray this way and God will help you by showing you that you do not need all of these things with which you surround yourself. These things are a distraction. Your families are no happier than those who have less, and this I say from experience. We were very happy on earth and we had little. Keep a heavenly perspective and you will not feel that you require more.

June 19, 2004

Dear men, destined to serve God, please consider that your first duty is to your family. Indeed, caring for your wife and children is your sacred duty, and all of heaven will help you to make this your priority. God’s love will flow through you into your home, and He, through you, will be the leader of your family. Do you want this to happen? Look closely at your home and family and determine if it is already this way. If it is, then all is well and we will continue on, heaven working closely with you to steer your family through difficult times. If this is not the case, then you must understand that there is work to be done in your life. Most men in today’s world have a little work to do, so do not be discouraged if you see things that must be removed from your life. Be brave and steady and you will come to know God’s will for you. Dear man, you were created by God to serve during this time and God needs your service. He is calling out to all of His children now and asking that souls put aside worldly desires in favor of heavenly desires. Come to the most direct path to heaven and do not leave this path again. Please. In a very short time, you will be so glad that you served. These times are not ordinary times, my dear friend. These are extraordinary times and the greatest of heavenly help is available for God’s servants. Do not be anxious by this. Be grateful. Jesus is all good. If you but knew the depth of His compassion and love for you, there would be no need for any words at all. But souls in the world have been distracted and the view to heaven has been all but obliterated by the darkness of sin. There is little joy on earth and many souls wander in despair. You must not do that. You are a child of the Kingdom and you must walk in joy. I will show you the path to joy. As a man of God, you have the greatest of dignity as your right. That dignity comes from living a purposeful life in union with Jesus. When you seek His will, look no further than your family and you will find your path to salvation. Join us, the army that seeks to wage war on darkness. We are brave and loyal to our King. Our King, Jesus Christ, gives us all that we require for this battle. He has a particular mission for you but you must sit in silence and ask Him to reveal it to you. I, Joseph, am very close to the Savior. I will intercede for you to help you eradicate sin in your life and restore your heavenly role to its rightful level of holiness. Be at peace in everything, but do not hesitate to answer “yes” to God.

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This beautiful commentary on the Universal Church’s patron, St. Joseph, was written by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P and has been taken from his classic mariological work The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life. –Assistant Ed.

“He that is lesser among you all, he is the greater” (Luke 9:48)

His Pre-eminence Over the Other Saints

The opinion that St. Joseph is the greatest of the saints after Our Lady is one which is becoming daily more commonly held in the Church. We do not hesitate to look on the humble carpenter as higher in grace and eternal glory than the patriarchs and the greatest of the prophets—than St. John the Baptist, the Apostles, the martyrs and the great doctors of the Church. He who is least in the depth of his humility is, because of the interconnection of the virtues, the greatest in the height of his charity: “He that is the lesser among you all, he is the greater.”

St. Joseph’s pre-eminence was taught by Gerson (1) and St. Bernardine of Siena. (2) It became more and more common in the course of the 16th century. It was admitted by St. Teresa, by the Dominican Isidore de Isolanis, who appears to have written the first treatise on St. Joseph, (3) by St. Francis de Sales, by Suarez, (4) and later by St. Alphonsus Liguori, (5) Ch. Sauve, (6) Cardinal Lépicier (7) and Msgr. Sinibaldi; (8) it is very ably treated of in the article “Joseph” in the Dict. de Théol. Cath. by M. A. Michel.

The doctrine of St. Joseph’s pre-eminence received the approval of Leo XIII in his encyclical Quamquam pluries, August 15th, 1899, written to proclaim St. Joseph patron of the universal Church:

The dignity of the Mother of God is so elevated that there can be no higher created one. But since St. Joseph was united to the Blessed Virgin by the conjugal bond, there is no doubt that he approached nearer than any other to that super-eminent dignity of hers by which the Mother of God surpasses all created natures. Conjugal union is the greatest of all; by its very nature it is accompanied by a reciprocal communication of the goods of the spouses. If then God gave St. Joseph to Mary to be her spouse He certainly did not give him merely as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, a guardian of her honor, but He made him also participate by the conjugal bond in the eminent dignity which was hers.

When Leo XIII said that Joseph came nearest of all to the super-eminent dignity of Mary, did his words imply that Joseph is higher in glory than all the angels? We cannot give any certain answer to the question. We must be content to restate the doctrine which is becoming more and more commonly taught: of all the saints Joseph is the highest after Jesus and Mary; he is among the angels and the archangels. The Church mentions him immediately after Mary and before the Apostles in the prayer A cunctis. Though he is not mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, he has a proper preface, and the month of March is consecrated to him as protector and defender of the universal Church.

The multitude of Christians in all succeeding generations are committed to him in a real though hidden manner. This idea is expressed in the litanies approved by the Church:

St. Joseph, illustrious descendant of David, light of the Patriarchs, Spouse of the Mother of God, guardian of her virginity, foster-father of the Son of God, vigilant defender of Christ, head of the Holy Family; Joseph most just, most chaste, most prudent, most strong, most obedient, most faithful, mirror of patience, lover of poverty, model of workers, glory of domestic life, guardian of virgins, support of families, consolation of the afflicted, hope of the sick, patron of the dying, terror of demons, protector of the Holy Church.

He is the greatest after Mary.

The Reason For St. Joseph’s Pre-eminence

What is the justification of this doctrine which has been more and more accepted in the course of five centuries? The principle invoked more or less explicitly by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, Isidore de Isolanis, Suarez, and more recent authors is the one, simple and sublime, formulated by St. Thomas when treating of the fullness of grace in Jesus and of holiness in Mary: “An exceptional divine mission calls for a corresponding degree of grace.” This principle explains why the holy soul of Jesus, being united personally to the Word, the Source of all grace, received the absolute fullness of grace. It explains also why Mary, called to be Mother of God, received from the instant of her conception an initial fullness of grace which was greater than the initial fullness of all the saints together: since she was nearer than any other to the Source of grace she drew grace more abundantly. It explains also why the Apostles who were nearer to Our Blessed Lord than the saints who followed them had more perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith. To preach the gospel infallibly to the world they received at Pentecost the gift of a most eminent, most enlightened, and most firm faith as the principle of their apostolate.

The same truth explains St. Joseph’s pre-eminence. To understand it we must add one remark: all works which are to be referred immediately to God Himself are perfect. The work of creation, for example, which proceeded entirely and directly from the hand of God was perfect. The same must be said of His great servants, whom He has chosen exceptionally and immediately—not through a human instrument—to restore the order disturbed by sin. God does not choose as men do. Men often choose incompetent officials for the highest posts. But those whom God Himself chooses directly and immediately to be His exceptional ministers in the work of redemption receive from Him grace proportionate to their vocation. This was the case with St. Joseph. He must have received a relative fullness of grace proportionate to his mission since he was chosen not by men nor by any creature but by God Himself and by God alone to fulfill a mission unique in the world. We cannot say at what precise moment St. Joseph’s sanctification took place. But we can say that, from the time of his marriage to Our Lady, he was confirmed in grace, because of his special mission. (9)

To What Order Does St. Joseph’s Exceptional Mission Belong?

St. Joseph’s mission is evidently higher than the order of nature—even by angelic nature. But is it simply of the order of grace, as was that of St. John the Baptist who prepared the way of salvation, and that the Apostles had in the Church for the sanctification of souls, and that more particular mission of the founders of religious orders? If we examine the question carefully we shall see that St. Joseph’s mission surpassed the order of grace. It borders, by its term, on the hypostatic order, which is constituted by the mystery of the Incarnation. But it is necessary to avoid both exaggeration and understatement in this matter.

Mary’s unique mission, her divine motherhood, has its term in the hypostatic order. So also, in a sense, St. Joseph’s hidden mission. This is the teaching of many saints and other writers. St. Bernard says of St. Joseph: “He is the faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord made the support of His Mother, the foster-father of His flesh, and the sole most faithful co-operator on earth in His great design.” (10)

St. Bernardine of Siena writes: “When God chooses a person by grace for a very elevated mission, He gives all the graces required for it. This is verified in a specially outstanding manner in the case of St. Joseph, Foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Spouse of Mary….” (11) Isidore de Isolanis places St. Joseph’s vocation above that of the Apostles. He remarks that the vocation of the Apostles is to preach the gospel, to enlighten souls, to reconcile them with God, but that the vocation of St. Joseph is more immediately in relation with Christ Himself since he is the Spouse of the Mother of God, the Foster-father and Protector of the Savior. (12) Suarez teaches to the same effect:

Certain offices pertain to the order of sanctifying grace, and among them that of the Apostles holds the highest place; thus they have need of more gratuitous gifts than other souls, especially gratuitous gifts of wisdom. But there are other offices which touch upon or border on the order of the Hypostatic Union … as can be seen clearly in the case of the divine maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and it is to that order that the ministry of St. Joseph pertains. (13)

Some years ago Msgr. Sinibaldi, titular Bishop of Tiberias and secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Studies, treated the question very ably. He pointed out that the ministry of St. Joseph belonged, in a sense, because of its term, to the hypostatic order: not that St. Joseph co-operated intrinsically as physical instrument of the Holy Spirit in the realization of the mystery of the Incarnation—for under that respect his role is very much inferior to that of Mary—but that he was predestined to be, in the order of moral causes, the protector of the virginity and the honor of Mary at the same time as foster-father and protector of the Word made flesh: “His mission pertains by its term to the hypostatic order, not through intrinsic physical and immediate cooperation, but through extrinsic moral and mediate (through Mary) co-operation, which is, however, really and truly co-operation.” (14)

St. Joseph’s Predestination Is One With the Decree of the Incarnation

St. Joseph’s pre-eminence becomes all the clearer if we consider that the eternal decree of the Incarnation covered not merely the Incarnation in abstraction from circumstances of time and place but the Incarnation here and now—that is to say, the Incarnation of the Son of God Who by the operation of the Holy Spirit was to be conceived at a certain moment of time by the Virgin Mary, espoused to a man of the family of David whose name was Joseph: “The angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26-27).

All the indications are therefore that St. Joseph was predestined to be foster-father of the Incarnate Word before being predestined to glory; the ultimate reason being that Christ’s predestination as man to the natural divine sonship precedes the predestination of all the elect, since Christ is the first of the predestined. (15) The predestination of Christ to the natural divine sonship is simply the decree of the Incarnation, which, as we have seen, includes Mary’s predestination to the divine motherhood and Joseph’s to be foster-father and protector of the Incarnate Son of God.

As the predestination of Christ to the natural divine son-ship is superior to His predestination to glory and precedes it, and as the predestination of Mary to the divine motherhood precedes (in signo priori) her predestination to glory, so also the predestination of St. Joseph to be foster-father of the Incarnate Word precedes his predestination to glory and to grace. In other words, the reason why he was predestined to the highest degree of glory after Mary, and in consequence to the highest degree of grace and of charity, is that he was called to be the worthy foster-father and protector of the Man-God.

The fact that St. Joseph’s first predestination was one with the decree of the Incarnation shows how elevated his unique mission was. This is what people mean when they say that St. Joseph was made and put into the world to be the foster-father of the Incarnate Word and that God willed for him a high degree of glory and grace to fit him for his task.

The Special Character of St. Joseph’s Mission

This point is explained admirably by Bossuet in his first panegyric of the saint:

Among the different vocations, I notice two in the Scriptures which seem directly opposed to each other: the first is that of the Apostles, the second that of St. Joseph. Jesus was revealed to the Apostles that they might announce Him throughout the world; He was revealed to St. Joseph who was to remain silent and keep Him hidden. The Apostles are lights to make the world see Jesus. Joseph is a veil to cover Him; and under that mysterious veil are hidden from us the virginity of Mary and the greatness of the Savior of souls… He Who makes the Apostles glorious with the glory of preaching, glorifies Joseph by the humility of silence.

The hour for the manifestation of the mystery of the Incarnation had not yet struck: it was to be preceded by the thirty years of the hidden life.

Perfection consists in doing God’s will, each one according to his vocation; St. Joseph’s vocation of silence and obscurity surpassed that of the Apostles because it bordered more nearly on the redemptive Incarnation. After Mary, Joseph was nearest to the Author of grace, and in the silence of Bethlehem, during the exile in Egypt, and in the little home of Nazareth he received more graces than any other saint.

His mission was a dual one.

As regards Mary, he preserved her virginity by contracting with her a true but altogether holy marriage. The angel of the Lord said to him: “Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived of her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:20; Luke 2:5). Mary is truly his wife. The marriage was a true one, as St. Thomas explains (IIIa, q. 29, a. 2) when showing its appropriateness. There should be no room for doubt, however light, regarding the honor of the Son and the Mother: if ever doubt did arise Joseph, the most informed and the least suspect witness, would be there to defend it. Besides, Mary would find help and protection in St. Joseph. He loved her with a pure and devoted love, in God and for God. Their union was stainless, and most respectful on the side of St. Joseph. Thus he was nearer than any other saint to the Mother of God and the spiritual Mother of men—and he too was a man. The beauty of the whole universe was nothing compared with that of the union of Mary and Joseph, a union created by the Most High, which ravished the angels and gave joy to the Lord.

As regards the Incarnate Word, Joseph watched over Him, protected Him, and contributed to His human education. He is called His foster-father, but the term does not express fully the mysterious supernatural relation between the two. A man becomes foster-father of a child normally as a result of an accident. But it was no accident in the case of St. Joseph: he had been created and put into the world for that purpose: it was the primary reason of his predestination and the reason for all the graces he received. Bossuet expressed this well:

If nature does not give a father’s heart, where will it be found? In other words, since Joseph was not Jesus’ father, how could he have a father’s heart in His regard?

Here we must recognize the action of God. It is by the power of God that Joseph has a father’s heart, and if nature fails God gives one with His own hand; for it is of God that it is written that He directs our inclinations where he wills…. He gives some a heart of flesh when He softens their nature by charity…. Does He not give all the faithful the hearts of children when He sends to them the Spirit of His Son? The Apostles feared the least danger, but God gave them a new heart and their courage became undaunted…. The same hand gave Joseph the heart of a father and Jesus the heart of a son. That is why Jesus obeys and Joseph does not fear to command. How has he the courage to command his Creator? Because the true Father of Jesus Christ, the God Who gives Him birth from all eternity, having chosen Joseph to be the father of His only Son in time, sent down into his bosom some ray or some spark of His own infinite love for His Son; that is what changed his heart, that is what gave him a father’s love, and Joseph the just man who feels that father’s heart within him feels also that God wishes him to use his paternal authority, so that he dares to command Him Who he knows is his Master. (16)

That is equivalent to saying that Joseph was predestined first to take the place of a father in regard to the Savior Who could have no earthly father, (17) and in consequence to have all the gifts which were given him that he might be a worthy Protector of the Incarnate Word.

Is it necessary to say with what fidelity St. Joseph guarded the triple deposit confided to him: the virginity of Mary, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the secret of the Eternal Father, that of the Incarnation of His Son, a secret to be guarded faithfully till the hour appointed for its revelation?

In a discourse delivered in the Consistorial Hall on the 19th of March, 1928, Pope Pius XI said, after having spoken on the missions of St. John the Baptist and St. Peter:

Between these two missions there appears that of St. Joseph, one of recollection and silence, one almost unnoticed and destined to be lit up only many centuries afterwards, a silence which would become a resounding hymn of glory, but only after many years. But where the mystery is deepest it is there precisely that the mission is highest and that a more brilliant cortège of virtues is required with their corresponding echo of merits. It was a unique and sublime mission, that of guarding the Son of God, the King of the world, that of protecting the virginity of Mary, that of entering into participation in the mystery hidden from the eyes of ages and so to co-operate in the Incarnation and the Redemption.

That is equivalently to state that Divine Providence conferred on St. Joseph all the graces he received in view of his special mission: in other words, St. Joseph was predestined first of all to be as a father to the Savior, and was then predestined to the glory and the grace which were becoming in one favored with so exceptional a vocation.

The Virtues and Gifts of St. Joseph

St. Joseph’s virtues are those especially of the hidden life, in a degree proportioned to that of his sanctifying grace: virginity, humility, poverty, patience, prudence, fidelity, simplicity, faith enlightened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, confidence in God and perfect charity. He preserved what had been confided to him with a fidelity proportioned to its inestimable value.

Bossuet makes this general observation about the virtues of the hidden life:

It is a common failing of men to give themselves entirely to what is outside and to neglect what is within; to work for mere appearances and to neglect what is solid and lasting; to think often of the impression they make and little of what they ought to be. That is why the most highly esteemed virtues are those which concern the conduct and direction of affairs. The hidden virtues, on the contrary, which are practiced away from the public view and under the eye of God alone, are not only neglected but hardly even heard of. And yet this is the secret of true virtue. . . a man must be built up interiorly in himself before he deserves to be given rank among others; and if this foundation is lacking, all the other virtues, however brilliant, will be mere display . . . they will not make the man according to God’s heart. Joseph sought God in simplicity; Joseph found God in detachment; Joseph enjoyed God’s company in obscurity. (18)

St. Joseph’s humility must have been increased by the thought of the gratuity of his exceptional vocation. He must have said to himself: why has the Most High given me, rather than any other man, His Son to watch over? Only because that was His good pleasure. Joseph was freely preferred from all eternity to all other men to whom the Lord could have given the same gifts and the same fidelity to prepare them for so exceptional a vocation. We see in St. Joseph’s predestination a reflection of the gratuitous predestination of Jesus and Mary. The knowledge of the value of the grace he received and of its absolute gratuitousness, far from injuring his humility, would strengthen it. He would think in his heart: “What have you that you have not received?”

Joseph appears the most humble of the saints after Mary—more humble than any of the angels. If he is the most humble he is by that fact the greatest, for the virtues are all connected and a person’s charity is as elevated as his humility is profound. “He that is lesser among you all, he is the greater” (Lk. 9:48).

Bossuet says well:

Though by an extraordinary grace of the Eternal Father he possessed the greatest treasure, it was far from Joseph’s thought to pride himself on his gifts or to make them known, but he hid himself as far as possible from mortal eyes, enjoying with God alone the mystery revealed to him and the infinite riches of which he was the custodian. (19) Joseph has in his house what could attract the eyes of the whole world, and the world does not know him; he guards a God-Man, and breathes not a word of it; he is the witness of so great a mystery, and he tastes it in secret without divulging it abroad. (20)

His faith cannot be shaken in spite of the darkness of the unexpected mystery. The word of God communicated to him by the angel throws light on the virginal conception of the Savior: Joseph might have hesitated to believe a thing so wonderful, but he believes it firmly in the simplicity of his heart. By his simplicity and his humility, he reaches up to divine heights.

Obscurity follows once more. Joseph was poor before receiving the secret of the Most High. He becomes still poorer when Jesus is born, for Jesus comes to separate men from everything so as to unite them to God. There is no room for the Savior in the last of the inns of Bethlehem. Joseph must have suffered from having nothing to offer to Mary and her Son.

His confidence in God was made manifest in trials. Persecution came soon after Jesus’ birth. Herod tried to put Him to death, and the head of the Holy Family was forced to conceal the child, to take refuge in a distant country where he was unknown and where he did not know how he could earn a living. But he set out on the journey relying on Divine Providence.

His love of God and of souls did not cease to increase during the hidden life of Nazareth; the Incarnate Word is an unfailing source of graces, ever newer and more choice, for docile souls who oppose no obstacle to His action. We have said already, when speaking of Mary, that the progress of such docile souls is one of uniform acceleration, that is to say, they are carried all the more powerfully to God the nearer they approach Him. This law of spiritual gravitation was realized in Joseph; his charity grew up to the time of his death, and the progress of his latter years was more rapid than that of his earlier years, for finding himself nearer to God he was more powerfully drawn by Him.

Along with the theological virtues the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are connected with charity, grew continuously. Those of understanding and of wisdom made his living faith more penetrating and more attuned to the divine. In a simple but most elevated way his contemplation rose to the infinite goodness of God. In its simplicity his contemplation was the most perfect after Mary’s.

His loving contemplation was sweet, but it demanded of him the most perfect spirit of abnegation and sacrifice when he recalled the words of Simeon: “This child will be. . . a sign that will be contradicted” and “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” He needed all his generosity to offer to God the Infant Jesus and His Mother Mary whom he loved incomparably more than himself.

St. Joseph’s death was a privileged one; St. Francis de Sales writes that it was a death of love. (21) The same holy doctor teaches with Suarez that St. Joseph was one of the saints who rose after the Resurrection of the Lord (Mt. 27:52 sqq.) and appeared in the city of Jerusalem; he holds also that these resurrections were definitive and that Joseph entered heaven then, body and soul. St. Thomas is much more reserved regarding this point. Though his first opinion was that the resurrections were definitive (22) he taught later, after an examination of St. Augustine’s arguments in the opposed sense, that this was not the case. (23)

St. Joseph’s Role in the Sanctification of Souls

The humble carpenter is glorified in heaven to the extent to which he was hidden on earth. He to whom the Incarnate Word was subject has now an incomparable power of intercession. Leo XIII, in his encyclical Quamquam pluries finds in St. Joseph’s mission in regard to the Holy Family “the reasons why he is Patron and Protector of the universal Church…. Just as Mary, Mother of the Savior, is spiritual mother of all Christians…. Joseph looks on all Christians as having been confided to himself…. He is the defender of the Holy Church which is truly the house of God and the kingdom of God on earth.”

What strikes us most in St. Joseph’s role till the end of time is that there are united in it in an admirable way apparently opposed prerogatives. His influence is universal over the whole Church, and yet, like Divine Providence, it descends to the least details; “model of workmen,” he takes an interest in everyone who turns to him. He is the most universal of the saints, and yet he helps a poor man in his ordinary daily needs. His action is primarily of the spiritual order, and yet it extends to temporal affairs; he is the support of families and of communities, the hope of the sick. He watches over Christians of all conditions, of all countries, over fathers of families, husbands and wives, consecrated virgins; over the rich to inspire them to distribute their possessions charitably, and over the poor so as to help them. He is attentive to the needs of great sinners and of souls advanced in virtue. He is the patron of a happy death, of lost causes; he is terrible to the demon, and St. Teresa tells us that he is the guide of interior souls in the ways of prayer. His influence is a wonderful reflection of that of Divine Wisdom which “reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly” (Wis. 8:1).

He has been clothed and will remain clothed in Divine splendor. Grace has become fruitful in him and he will share its fruit with all who strive to attain to the life which is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).


Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964), consultor to the Holy Office and other Congregations, taught at the Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960 and authored over 500 books and articles.



(1) Sermo in Nativitatem Virginis Mariae, IVa consideratio.

(2) Sermo I de S. Joseph, c. iii, Opera, Lyon, 1650, t. IV, p. 254.

(3) Summa de donis S. Joseph, ann. 1522. There is a new edition by Fr Berthier, Rome, 1897.

(4) In Summam S. Thomae, IIIa, q. 29, disp. 8, sect. I.

(5) Sermone di S. Giuseppe, Discorsi Morali, Naples, 1841.

(6) Saint Joseph Intime, Paris, 1920.

(7) Tractatus de Sancto Joseph, Paris, 1908.

(8) La Grandezza di San Giuseppe, Rome, 1927, pp. 36 sqq.

(9) Cf. Dict. Théol Cath., art. Joseph, col. 1518.

(10) Homil. II super Missus est.

(11) Sermo I de S. Joseph.

(12) Summa de donis sancti Joseph, Pars IIIa, c. xviii. This work was very highly praised by Benedict XIV.

(13) In Summam S. Thomae, IIIa, q. 29, disp. 8, sect. I.

(14) La Grandezza di San Giuseppe, Rome, 1927, pp. 36 sqq.

(15) Cf. IIIa, q. 24, a. 1, 2, 3, 4.

(16) First Panegyric of St. Joseph, edit. Lebarcq, t. II, pp. 135 sqq.

(17) We read that Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph. Joseph in his humility must have been confounded that he, the least of the three, should be the head of the Holy Family.

(18) Second Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(19) First Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(20) Second Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(21) Treatise of the Love of God, Bk. VII, ch. xiii.

(22) Cf. in Matth. xxvii and IV Sent., dist. 42, q. 1, a. 3.

(23) Cf. IIIa, q. 53, a. 3, ad 2.

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We continue from the classic work on Our Lady’s Coredemption by Fr. Juniper Carol. – Ed.

In the preceding sections we have attempted to establish the fact of Our Lady’s Coredemption understood in the proper sense. We have done this by appealing to the Magisterium, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. Regardless of the shortcomings latent in our examination of these sources, one thing remains undeniable: the vast majority of theologians and Catholic writers at the present time unhesitatingly favor the doctrine under discussion. This fact alone sufficiently guarantees the legitimacy of our position, donec contrarium probetur. However, as St. Augustine so well expressed it: “Non aequaliter mente percipitur, etiam quod in fide pariter ab utrisque recipitur.” (1) Which means that even among those who champion the thesis of Mary’s proximate co-operation in the redemptive work of Christ, different opinions have been advanced with regard to the more intimate nature and extent of that co-operation. It may be helpful to summarize here the various points of contact and divergence in this matter.

IV. Nature and Modalities of Mary’s Coredemption

The advocates of Mary’s Coredemption sensu proprio are morally unanimous on the following phases of the doctrine: 1. Our Lady’s free consent to become the Mother of the Redeemer as such constituted a true, formal co-operation in the Redemption; 2. Together with Christ and under Him, Mary satisfied (at least de congruo) for the sins of mankind, thus removing the obstacle to our reconciliation with God in actu primo; 3. Together with Christ and under Him, Our Lady merited (at least de congruo) the reinstatement of the human race in the friendship of God in actu primo; 4. Together with Christ and under Him, Our Lady offered up the divine Victim to the Eternal Father, particularly on Calvary, for the reconciliation of man with God in actu primo; 5. Our Lady’s merits and satisfactions, pre-eminently those resulting from her bitter compassion, were accepted by the Eternal Father together with the merits and satisfactions of Christ as having the nature of a secondary ransom or redemptive price for our liberation from the slavery of Satan; 6. Any one of these functions, and a fortiori the combination of them, confers on Our Blessed Lady a strict right to be styled “Co-redemptrix” of the human race sensu vero et proprio.

The area of disagreement is not as wide as it might appear on the surface. It may be reduced to the three following points: 1. the nature of Mary’s coredemptive merit; 2. the nature of her sacrifice; and 3. the nature of her influence or causality with reference to the redemptive actions of Christ.

As regards the first point, it may be well to recall that merit, meaning “a right to a reward,” is generally divided in condign and congruous. The former supposes an equality between the meritorious action and its reward; the latter is based on fittingness coupled with the generosity of the one granting the reward. Condign merit may be of two kinds: either ex toto rigore justitiae, if there is equality not only between the meritorious work and the reward, but also between the persons giving and meriting the reward; or ex mera condignitate, if the latter equality is wanting. (2)

While theologians are agreed that Christ alone merited our Redemption de condigno ex toto rigore justitiae, they are divided as to the nature of Our Lady’s coredemptive merit. The majority still believes that hers was only a merit de congruo, inasmuch as it was fitting that God should reward her unique co-operation with the Redeemer in our behalf. (3) A second group proposes that it be designated by a new name, namely, merit de digno or de super-congruo. (4) This would differ from our merit, not in species, but in degree, and also insofar as the object of Mary’s merit is the Redemption itself, while the object of our merit is only the application of the Redemption. Others, finally, uphold the theory that Our Lady merited our Redemption de condigno; not, of course, ex toto rigore justitiae, but only ex mera condignitate, in the sense explained above.

Condensed in a few words, the reasoning supporting this last theory is this: Our Lady was not a mere member of the Mystical Body; she co-operated in our Redemption in an official capacity, as a public person, as a representative of mankind. Specifically, since God had predestined her to regenerate the human race to the supernatural life of grace, her merit in the acquisition of that grace must have had an “ecumenical” character in behalf of the whole Mystical Body. In this sense we may speak of her merits having an intrinsic ordination to the salvation of all. Furthermore, dignified to an ineffable degree by her singular grace and the divine Maternity, her merit must have been likewise proportionate to the reward to be received. If this utterly unique function of Mary in the redemptive economy was the result of a positive divine decree, then surely God owed it to Himself to reward her merits not only out of fittingness, but in justice.

This opinion, which until a few decades ago was looked upon with considerable suspicion, (5) is now finding increasing support among contemporary theologians. True, the reasoning process varies according to authors, (6) but their conclusions coincide with the one indicated above, which, incidentally, expresses also our personal preference on the subject.

The second point of divergence concerns the nature of Mary’s co-operation by way of sacrifice. That Our Lady had a positive share in our Redemption through her offering of the Victim on Calvary is clearly taught by recent Pontiffs (7) and, of course, admitted by all. The disagreement begins when theologians attempt to determine whether or not that offering constituted a sacrificial act sensu proprio. The question is particularly delicate because of the related discussion concerning the so-called priesthood of Mary. A good deal has been written in recent years in an effort to clarify the issues involved and to reconcile conflicting opinions; unfortunately, the noble endeavor has not been wholly successful.

In view of the multiplicity of terms employed by the various authors in this connection, it is difficult to group their views under clearly defined headings. In general, however, two currents of thought are easily discernible. The first, represented by such well-known writers as Seiler, Petazzi, Sauras, and Llamera, claims that Our Lady’s oblation constituted a sacrificial and sacerdotal act in a true and proper sense. (8) They explain that, while Mary did not receive the sacramental character of Orders, nevertheless she was invested with a true priesthood, analogous to the substantial priesthood of Christ and far superior not only to the mystical priesthood shared by all Christians, but also to the ministerial priesthood of those properly ordained. If we believe Prof. Bover, Mary’s elevation to the divine Motherhood was already an “ordination to the priesthood.” (9) According to Sauras, her “ordination” was constituted by the unique grace of her spiritual maternity, analogously to the capital grace of the Savior. (10)

The other current, diametrically opposed to the first, reflects the views of the majority. Among the more articulate representatives of this trend we may mention Garcia Garces, Roschini, and Friethoff. (11) They readily agree with their adversaries that Mary’s oblation on Calvary, so often recalled in recent papal documents, constituted a true co-operation in the Savior’s redemptive sacrifice; but they emphatically deny—and rightly so—that this co-operation shared the formality of a true and proper sacrifice. The fundamental reason for this position would seem to be that, in order to offer a sacrifice sensu proprio, one must be a priest sensu proprio, and Our Lady was not. Her priesthood is of the same kind as that of all the baptized, although of a higher degree because of her singular grace and dignity. Perhaps it is for this very reason that the Holy See has repeatedly frowned on the use of the title “Virgin-Priest” as applied to the Blessed Virgin. (12) Incidentally, this controversial title, so tenaciously vindicated by some, does in no way help our proper understanding of Mary’s share in the sacrifice of her Son. It adds nothing but confusion to an already difficult and thorny question. In our humble opinion it should be banished from our Catholic literature, both theological and devotional. The extremely cautious attitude of the Holy See in this respect should be a warning to all. (13)

As mentioned before, the third point of discrepancy concerns the modality of Mary’s immediate co-operation with Christ in the Redemption itself. A survey of contemporary theologians discloses at least three different approaches in this connection. According to some, Our Lady not only did not place any obstacles to prevent the redemptive mission of her Son, but she also encouraged, entreated, and urged Him to lay down His life for our salvation. This moral causality on her part exerted an immediate influence on the will of Christ and directly determined the positing of His redemptive acts. This seems to be the position of Merkelbach, Seiler, and Strater. (14) Merkelbach, for example, writes that “as the Son was moved to obey the command of His Father (to suffer and die), so He could not help being influenced likewise by His Mother’s consent. . . . Through her consent and desire, Mary morally influenced her Son and disposed Him to accomplish the Redemption of the human race….” (15)

According to a second group of theologians, (16) Our Lady’s immediate co-operation should be explained rather in the sense that her own merits and satisfactions were accepted by the Eternal Father together with (and subordinate to) the merits and satisfactions of Christ for the selfsame purpose: the reconciliation of the human race in actu primo. In other words, the total effect was produced by the joint causality of the Redeemer and the Coredemptrix; both acquired a right to the graces which would save all men; both constituted (though in a different way) the total principle of salvation. Hence, Our Lady’s co-operation was redemptive, not because it directly influenced and determined Christ’s redemptive will or His theandric actions, but rather because the actions of Christ conferred a redemptive value on Mary’s co-operation, thus enabling it to concur in the production of the same effect. (17)

A third theory, not necessarily incompatible with the second, was proposed a few years ago by the Hungarian Jesuit, Tiburtius Gallus. According to the distinguished theologian, the Blessed Virgin, being the true Mother of Christ, had a strict right to protect her Son’s life from unjust aggressors. By surrendering this right, she removed an impediment to her Son’s sacrificial immolation, and thus furnished the material principle for the redemptive act. The obedience of Christ to His Father’s will decreeing His sacrifice has a twofold causality: first, by a priority of nature, it elevates and actuates Mary’s obedience for the same purpose; second, it becomes, together with Mary’s obedience, the efficient cause of the entire redemptive work. Hence, our Redemption depends on Christ’s renunciation as a formal element, and on Mary’s renunciation as a material element. The latter, Gallus explains, is not merely accessory; it is necessary inasmuch as it is required by divine disposition. The two elements constitute one single moral cause of the Redemption. Furthermore, since Christ’s obedience imprints its soteriological character on Mary’s co-operation, her merits in our behalf become coredemptive de condigno, and not merely de congruo. (18)

If we were to express our personal preference in this delicate question, we would say that, while the first and third theories are not devoid of appealing features, nevertheless, the second seems better calculated to safeguard the reality of Mary’s Coredemption, without in the least compromising the intangible rights of the unique Redeemer.

V. Difficulties and Solutions

In the course of the foregoing exposé we have had occasion to recall that, while the doctrine of Our Lady’s Coredemption enjoys the support of most contemporary theologians, nevertheless there are some authors who still find it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to conciliate this teaching with other irrevocable data of divine revelation. Their difficulties and pointed observations deserve a fair and dispassionate hearing at this time. The formulation of adequate answers and solutions should furnish us with an additional opportunity to shed further light on some of the apparently nebulous issues involved.

The first objection is based on Sacred Scripture, particularly on the well-known text of St. Paul: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all.” (19) That the Apostle is here openly proclaiming the oneness of the Redeemer to the exclusion of any other, acting even in a secondary capacity, is clear from the parallelism which he establishes with the oneness of God. Just as the oneness of God is incompatible with the existence of secondary gods, so is the oneness of the Mediator (Redeemer) incompatible with the existence of secondary mediators or redeemers. So argues Prof. Werner Goossens. (20)

The objection is not new. It has been raised—and answered—countless times, particularly since the sixteenth century. It may be observed, in general, that if the oneness of the Mediator were as absolute as Goossens contends, it would exclude likewise the mediatorial activity of all the saints in the sphere of the subjective Redemption. Quod nimis probat, nihil probat. Even in the light of the parallelism stressed by the author, one could perhaps point out that, just as the oneness of God does not exclude our sharing His divine nature through sanctifying grace, neither does the oneness of the Mediator exclude an analogous participation of Our Lady in His mediatorial role. (21) That St. Paul is here speaking only of the principal and self-sufficient Mediator is evident from the fact that he himself elsewhere bestows this very title on Moses. (22) Besides, if the Pauline passage had the exclusive sense claimed by Goossens, would the Magisterium of the Church, the sole official interpreter of Holy Scripture, allow the vast majority of theologians to continue teaching the doctrine of Mary’s Coredemption? Surely, the Popes would have at least sounded a note of warning. Instead, they have repeatedly shown favor to the doctrine, as we indicated above.

A second difficulty springs from the undeniable theological axiom: Principium meriti non cadit sub merito, that is to say, the principle or cause of merit cannot be the result or effect of merit. The implications of this axiom, which have been fully exploited in recent years, particularly by Prof. Lennerz, may be summarized as follows: In order to co-operate in the Redemption, Mary must first be redeemed and in possession of grace which will render her co-operation acceptable to God. Now that redemption of Mary, that grace conferred on her, is, of course, the effect of Christ’s redemptive work. Therefore, the latter must have been already completed before Mary received its effect. If so, how could she aid Christ in producing something which was already produced”? (23)

The answer generally given to the above objection was that Our Lady had been redeemed in a very unique manner, namely, through a preservative grace which enabled her to co-operate with her Son at the time He was bringing about our Redemption. To which Father Lennerz promptly retorted that this was nothing but a subterfuge which left the original difficulty intact. The reason is simple. If Mary received a preservative grace at the time of her Immaculate Conception, it was in view of the future merits of Christ; it was because the future merits of the Savior were foreseen by God and applied to Mary by anticipation. Obviously, this presupposes that the Redemption was foreseen as having been already accomplished; now, since Mary had not as yet co-operated therein, the Redemption would still be incomplete, still unfinished. In which hypothesis the same Redemption would have to be considered as accomplished and unaccomplished at one and the same time, which is contradictory and absurd. (24)

Father Lennerz’ reasoning, which, incidentally, has now been popularized for the benefit of English-speaking readers by Canon George D. Smith, (25) made a profound impression in some quarters. It constitutes, admittedly, the gravest speculative difficulty militating against Our Lady’s Coredemption. Nevertheless, the advocates of this doctrine do not consider it insurmountable. An adequate solution may be formulated as follows:

The alleged contradiction indicated by Lennerz presupposes that we postulate one and the same Redemption as being complete and incomplete under one and the same respect. Now this supposition is false. In our theory, when the Redemption was applied to Mary it was already complete as regards herself only; it was still unaccomplished as regards the rest of mankind. Once Mary has received the effect of Christ’s Redemption, she is able to co-operate with Him in the Redemption of all others. Is this perhaps equivalent to introducing two Redemptions, as Canon Smith fears? Not at all. There is only one Redemption for Mary and for the rest of men. But in that one Redemption we may distinguish two signa rationis, as the Scholastics would say, two modes of operation taking place at one and the same time, but made possible only by a priority of nature. In this hypothesis, Christ redeems Mary, and her alone, with a preservative Redemption; then, together with her, in signo posteriori rationis, He redeems the rest of mankind with a liberative Redemption. This, we repeat, does not correspond to two numerically distinct Redemptions, but rather to a twofold intention on the part of the Redeemer; and this twofold intention, in turn, corresponds to a twofold acceptance of the Redemption on the part of the Eternal Father: first, with a logical priority, God deigns to accept Christ’s Redemption for Mary alone; then, once Mary is redeemed, God accepts Christ’s Redemption with Mary’s co-operation for the rest of the human race. (26) Since the redemptive value of Christ’s whole life was eternally present in the mind of God, there is no room for a chronological “before” and “after” which would, of course, compromise the absolute oneness of the objective Redemption.

At this juncture the adversaries point out that the above solution, while unassailable in itself, is nevertheless a gratuitous hypothesis without any basis in the sources of revelation. To which Father Dillenschneider rightly answers: “It is not at all necessary that this explanation find a formal support in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, provided that it be not opposed by either, and that it be justified by the belief, sufficiently accredited in the Church, concerning a direct cooperation of Mary in our objective Redemption. Now, such a belief does exist, and it would be vain to deny it. This being so, if the thesis of Mary’s immediate Coredemption is sufficiently warranted, and we feel that it is, then the explanation which shows its harmony with the preredemption of the Immaculate Virgin is likewise warranted.” (27) The same author further recalls that when the Franciscan Duns Scotus (d. 1308) had recourse to his “preredemption” theory in order to reconcile the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the dogma of the universality of Redemption, he could not claim any scriptural or traditional data in its favor. And yet, his explanation was accepted and definitively introduced in Catholic theology for the good reason that it alone solved the major difficulty of trying to harmonize the dogma of universal Redemption with the living tradition of the Church relative to Our Lady’s original sanctity. (28)

Still reluctant to endorse the doctrine, the adversaries have recourse to a further objection. Granted, they say, that, theoretically, the thesis involves no contradiction. In point of fact, however, we are faced with the following serious dilemma: either Mary’s co-operation adds something positive to the Redemption wrought by Christ, or it does not. If it does, it would enhance the value of Christ’s merits and satisfactions, which is unthinkable. If it does not, then it is superfluous and useless. In either case it should be discarded.

We reply: Since the merits and satisfactions of the God-man possessed an infinite value and a superabundant efficacy, they could not possibly be enhanced by those of Our Blessed Lady. Nevertheless, her co-operation, without being an intrinsic “addition” to the work of her Son, constituted a new title in the eyes of God for the granting of pardon to the human race. Her merits and satisfactions are accepted by God as an integral part of the universal redemptive economy, as a positive contribution made by a purely human representative of mankind. As such they become a new reason moving God (humanly speaking) to cancel our debt in actu primo.

In this connection Father Dillenschneider borrows an example from Christology to illustrate the point. We know, he writes, that from the first moment of the Incarnation and in virtue of the Hypostatic Union, the God-Man had an initial exigency to the glorification of His body. On the other hand, we know that this bodily glorification was also merited by His sacred Passion and death. Now, are we to suppose that this merit argues to a deficiency in the previous connatural right to glorification? Not at all. After the Passion, the bodily glorification is due to Christ by a twofold title: the Hypostatic Union and the infinite merit acquired through His sufferings. (29) Something similar may be said concerning the reconciliation of the world in actu primo. It is granted by God in view of a double title, without the implication that one of them (constituted by the Marian element) betrays any deficiency in the other.

We have an analogous situation in the sphere of the subjective Redemption. Whenever we co-operate with divine grace to perform some salutary act, our co-operation adds nothing to the intrinsic value of Christ’s grace. On the contrary, the former is entirely dependent upon the latter. And yet, that share of ours is not at all superfluous and useless; indeed, it is necessary to produce the salutary act because God has decreed that the work of our sanctification should be not only divine but human as well. “Qui ergo fecit te sine te, non te justificat sine te.” (30) If this is possible in the realm of subjective Redemption, why not also in the order of objective Redemption? Is not the divine element in one case as incapable of being intrinsically enhanced as in the other?

It may be asked further: Why did God decree to grant our reconciliation in view of this twofold title? The answer would seem to lie in the very nature of the redemptive alliance between God and the human race. That alliance is frequently described in Sacred Scripture as a mystical espousal. Since the Redeemer’s bride is the community of the redeemed, it is fitting that the latter be actively represented on Calvary at the climax of this mystical marriage. Now, if we know from the living tradition of the Church that Our Blessed Lady is both the intimate associate of the Savior in the entire process of salvation and also the prototype of the community to be redeemed, is it not reasonable to suppose that God wished her actively to represent that community at the most solemn moment of the spiritual nuptials? (31) Is not Mary’s official function as the New Eve to offer atonement for our sins together with the New Adam? (32) And if almighty God Himself freely appointed her to that official role, did He not owe it to Himself to accept her meritorious co-operation as a new title for our Redemption in actu primo?

A final attempt was recently made by Father Lennerz to weaken our position. If God—he wrote in substance—freely decreed not to accept Christ’s Redemption without Mary’s co-operation, the latter must be said to belong to the very essence of the redemptive work. In this event, the work of Christ alone, without Mary’s co-operation, is not sufficient to redeem the human race. (33)

The above reasoning, based as it is on an obvious equivocation, is not at all conclusive. Its underlying weakness is the author’s confusion of that which is necessary with that which is essential. Our Lady’s co-operation is hypothetically necessary because it was decreed by God, but it remains nonessential. Hence, God accepts Christ’s merits and satisfactions as an essential element of our Redemption, and at the same time He deigns to accept Our Lady’s merits and satisfactions as a nonessential (though necessary), secondary, and totally subordinate element of the same Redemption. The point here is that God’s acceptance does in no way alter the intrinsic nature of either element.

Having disposed of these speculative stumbling blocks, let us now turn our attention to a difficulty of a more practical character: the one sometimes raised against the title “Coredemptrix” itself. In the opinion of some, this title had better be banished from Catholic theology for the following reasons. First of all, it is a “novelty,” unknown before the past century. (34) Then again, the very nature of the word is apt to mislead the uninitiated, to engender confusion in the minds of those who are less enlightened and even merely prejudiced. After all, the prefix “co” in the word Coredemptrix does seem to place Our Lady on an equal footing with her Son in the redemptive economy. (35) Finally, it has the disadvantage that it can only be explained by being explained away. (36)

Since we have on previous occasions, and indeed quite at length, vindicated the legitimacy of this Marian title, an answer per summa capita would seem to suffice at this time.

First of all, the fact that a word is new does not necessarily militate against its legitimacy, especially if it is used to convey an old idea. There was a time in history when words like transubstantiation, omoousios, theotokos, and others were new, and yet they were subsequently consecrated by ecclesiastical usage. Second, it is not correct to state that the title “Coredemptrix” was first introduced in Catholic theology during the nineteenth century. Actually, it can be traced back to at least the fourteenth century in a liturgical book preserved with other manuscripts at St. Peter’s in Salzburg. (37)

As regards the structure of the term “Coredemptrix” we may point out that the prefix “co” is the exact equivalent of the Latin cum which means “with,” not “equal,” as every grammarian knows. For this reason St. Paul could rightly say that we are God’s “co-workers” in the process of our sanctification, without in the least equating the efficacy of God’s grace with that of our own co-operation. (38) Besides, if the prefix “co” means “equal,” what then does the word “co-equal” mean? Hence we see no justified fear that the title “Coredemptrix” will mislead and confuse the less enlightened and the prejudiced. A sensible way to prevent that confusion would seem to be to instruct such people so as to make them more enlightened and less prejudiced.

Last, the claim that the expression “Coredemptrix” can only be explained by being explained away does not correspond to actual facts. If by that term we meant only that Our Lady brought the Redeemer into the world and that she now intercedes for us in heaven, we surely would be explaining it away. But when we style Mary our Coredemptrix we mean exactly what we say, namely, that “she together with Christ redeemed the human race.” (39) It is true, of course, that this apparently bold statement must be understood and explained in a sense which is compatible with other undeniable truths of our Catholic faith; that is to say, we must emphasize that Our Lady’s share in the redemptive process was entirely secondary, nonessential, and subordinate to the unique causality of the Savior, to whose merits she owed the very possibility of being His partner. But we ask: Is that “explaining it away”?

We have an analogous case in connection with the word “infallibility,” to mention but one example. Etymologically, as it stands, this term means simply inability to err. When we apply it to the Holy Father we must, of necessity, narrow down its meaning to a highly restricted and specific area. Once the required limitations are clearly drawn, it is obvious that the Pope can err on a variety of subjects. Now we ask: When a Catholic theologian thus explains Papal infallibility, is he merely “explaining it away”? Not at all. The Church has a perfect right to select any term she deems suitable to convey a given doctrine, and to attach to that term a specific and restricted meaning. Something similar may be said concerning the title “Coredemptrix” which has been widely used in the Church for several centuries, and has been repeatedly endorsed by the Holy See in recent years. (40) In our humble opinion, this fact alone more than sufficiently warrants its legitimacy.


The expose undertaken in these pages has been an attempt to familiarize our readers with the very essence of the Catholic position relative to Mary’s role in the process of man’s Redemption, and with the theological justification of that position. We have not only surveyed contemporary attitudes and opinions on this question; we have also inquired into the past, searching the written and spoken word of God. Such an investigation is necessary in order to ascertain whether and to what extent the Catholic teaching of today may be considered an authentic development of the original data furnished by the sources of revelation, or rather a deviation from, and a corruption of, that primitive deposit of divine truth. The final decision on this point must be left, not to the professional theologians (much less to the historian), but solely and exclusively to the living Magisterium of the Church. The theologian may, to be sure, evaluate the result of his investigation and formulate positive or negative conclusions accordingly; but these must always be of a tentative nature, always subject to the final judgment of the Ecclesia docens. In the absence of a definitive and infallible pronouncement of the Magisterium concerning Our Lady’s Coredemption, we have endeavored to discover at least the “mind” of that teaching authority as represented by recent Pontiffs. If our interpretation of their repeated utterances on this vital problem is sound and objective, then it would seem safe to conclude that the current doctrine of Mary’s direct co-operation in the objective Redemption bears the unmistakable mark of a genuinely Catholic truth authentically developed from the original deposit of revelation. Incidentally, this conclusion is quite generally accepted among contemporary theologians, although it is not always formulated in so many words.

May we now advance a step further and speak of the doctrine’s definability? Several eminent scholars have declared themselves favorable in this respect. (41) We can think of no solid reason militating against their stand. Indeed, if our appraisal of the copious testimonies gathered here and elsewhere is valid and cogent, then the extant data constitute an overwhelming array of evidence pointing to the revealed character of this doctrine. Theologians may and will, of course, debate the further question as to whether it was revealed formally or only virtually. While such discussions are undoubtedly legitimate and often fruitful, nevertheless, it is well to bear in mind that the solution of this question is not at all necessary in order to proceed to a dogmatic definition. The course adopted by the Supreme Pontiff with regard to the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s Assumption is an evident proof of it. Whether or not the Vicar of Christ will some day consider our doctrine sufficiently well established to be proclaimed an article of Catholic faith remains, of course, pure conjecture; but it is our fervent hope and humble prayer that the decision will be made in a not too distant future.


This article was excerpted from Mariology, vol. 2, Bruce Publishing, 1957.



(1) In Joan., tract. 98, 2.

(2) We follow the subdivision of condign merit proposed by Father M. Llamera, O.P., in Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 1 (Romae, 1951), p. 245. Cf. also M. Cuervo, O.P., La cooperation de Maria en el misterio de nuestra salud…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 137-139.

(3) Cf., among others, C. Friethoff, O.P., De alma Socia Christi Mediatoris (Romae, 1936), pp. 75-77; R- Garrigou-Lagrange, op. cit., pp. 516-519; M.J. Nicolas, O.P., La doctrine de la Coredemption dans le cadre de la doctrine thomiste de la Redemption, in Revue Thomiste, Vol. 46, 1947, pp. 26-27.

(4) Cf. C. Dillenschneider, Pour une Coredemption bien comprise, in Marianum, Vol. n, 1949, pp. 242-245; D. Bertetto, S.D.B., Maria Corredentrice (Alba, 1951) p. 106; G. M. Roschini, O.S.M., On the Nature of the Corredemptive Merit of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Marianum, Vol. 15, 1953, pp. 278-287.

(5) Cf. for example, the recriminations of E. Amort, Controversia de Revelationibus Agredanis… (Augustae Vindelicorum, 1749), pp. XXIX-XXX.

(6) Cf. J. Lebon, Comment je conçois, j’etablis et je defends la doctrine de la Mediation mariale, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. 16, 1939, pp. 674-678; A. Fernandez, O.P., De Mediatione B. Virginis secundum doctrinam D. Thomae, in La Ciencia Tomista, Vol. 38, 1938, pp. 145-170; C. Balic, art. cit.; L. Colomer, O.F.M., Cooperation meritoria de la Virgen a la Redencion, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 155-177; M. Cuervo, art. cit.; J. A. de Aldama, S.J., Cooperation de Maria a la Redencion…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 179-193; E. Sauras, O.P., Causalidad de la cooperation de Maria…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 319-358; F. Vacas, O.P., Maria Corredentora pudo merecer de condigno ex condignitate, in Boletin Eclesiastico de Filipinas, Vol. 18, 1940, pp. 719-729; M. Llamera, O.P., El merito maternal corredentivo de Maria, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 11, 1951, pp. 83-140. On the lively discussion conducted by Father Llamera on this point at the recent International Marian Congress in Rome, cf. Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 1 (Romae, 1951), pp. 243-255.

(7) Cf. above, footnotes 14, 18, 23 in Part I.

(8) H. Seiler, op. cit., pp. 14-32, 131, 138 ff.; G. M. Petazzi, S.J., Teologia Mariana (Venezia, s.a.), pp. 43-45; E. Sauras, Fue sacerdotal la gratia de Maria? in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 7, 1948, pp. 387-424; M. Llamera, Maria Madre Corredentora…, ibid., pp. 166-167.

(9) J. M. Bover, S.J., Maria Mediadora universal… (Madrid, 1946), pp. 351-354.

(10) E. Sauras, O.P., art. cit., p. 424.

(11) N. Garcia Garces, C.M.F., Cooperation de Maria a nuestra Redencion a modo de sacrificio, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 195-247;. id., La Santisima Virgen y el Sacerdocio, ibid., Vol. 10, 1950, pp. 61-104 (an excellent refutation of Llamera’s views); G. M. Roschini, L’essenza del sacrificio eucaristico . . . (Roma, 1936); id., Ancora sull’essenza del sacrificio eucaristico . . . (Rovigo, 1937); id., La Madonna secondo la fede e la teologia, Vol. 2 (Roma, 1953), p. 406; C. Friethoff, op. cit., pp. 139-149.

(12) Cf. R. Laurentin, Le probleme du sacerdoce marial devant le Magistere, in Marianum, Vol. 10, 1948, pp. 160-178. On the whole question of Mary’s “priesthood,” cf. the prodigious investigation undertaken by Laurentin in his Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium; essai sur le developpement d’une idee religieuse (Paris, 1952), and his Marie, l’Eglise et la sacerdoce; etude theologique (Paris, 1953).

For a sound and objective evaluation of Laurentin’s views on the subject, cf. N. Garcia Garces, C.M.F., Maria, la Iglesia y el sacerdocio, in Ephemerides Mariologicae, Vol. 5, 1955, pp. 429-443.

(13) In L’Ami du Clerge, 1928, p. 49, the editors state that they have been requested “by orders from above” to make a public declaration to the effect that “the Holy Office has expressly forbidden the attribution of this title (Virgin-Priest) to the Blessed Virgin.”

(14) B.H. Merkelbach, O.P., Tractatus de Beatissima Virgine Maria . . . (Parisiis, 1939), p. 342; H. Seiler and P. Strater, De modalitate Corredemptionis B. Mariae Virginis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 28, 1947, pp. 293-336, esp. pp. 320-323.

(15) Merkelbach, loc. cit.

(16) D. Bertetto, Maria Corredentrice (Alba, 1951), pp. 23-24, 94-95, 142; R. Gagnebet, O.P., Questions mariales, in Angelicum, Vol. 22, 1945, pp. 169-171; M.J. Nicolas, O.P., La doctrine de la Coredemption dans le cadre de la doctrine thomiste de la Redemption, in Revue Thomiste, Vol. 47, 1947, 20-42; C. Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale . . . (Paris, 1951), pp. 159-160. On the somewhat fluctuating position of Dillenschneider, cf. the very pertinent observations of A. Rivera, in Ephemerides Mariologicae, Vol. 3, 1953, pp. 500-501.

(17) In his article De cooperatione qualificata in delictis officialibus, in Periodica de re morali, canonica, liturgica, Vol. 38, 1949, pp. 321-342, the eminent canonist F. Hurth, S.J., suggests the following explanation: Christ alone was charged with the official function to bring about our Redemption through the sacrificial offering demanded by God. He alone (not Mary) wrought our salvation. Mary’s will in no way “influenced” or “determined” the will of her Son to fulfill His redemptive mission. Nevertheless, the Savior deigned to assume His Mother’s will into His own, thus fusing it, as it were, with the internal element of His official function as Redeemer. In this sense we have a true coredemptive co-operation on the part of Mary, without in the least encroaching on the unique prerogative of her Son (cf. esp. p. 339). Father Dillenschneider (op. cit., pp. 14-16) fears that in this theory Our Lady’s Coredemption is diluted almost to the point of losing its very essence. He forgets that in some sections of his book (for example, pp. 17, 60, 88) he himself seems to reduce Mary’s co-operation to the fact that she shared (though officially) in the redemptive fiat of her Son. In all fairness to him, however, we must note that elsewhere (pp. 148-152) Dillenschneider admits considerably more than the mere “co-operation by consent.”

(18) T. Gallus, Ad, B. M. Virginis in Redemptione cooperationem, in Divus Thomas (PL), Vol. 51, 1948, pp. 113-135; id., Mater Dolorosa “principium materiale” Redemptionis objectivae, in Marianum, Vol. 12, 1950, pp. 227-249. To the objections of Dillenschneider against this theory (op. cit., pp. 24-25), Father Gallus has replied recently in a lengthy and noteworthy article: Ad “principium materiale” Redemptionis objectivae, in Divus Thomas (PI.), Vol. 57, 1954, pp. 230-261.

(19) 1 Tim. 2:5. Cf. also Acts 4:12.

(20) W. Goossens, De cooperatione immediata Matris Redemptoris ad redemptionem objectivam (Parisiis, 1939), pp. 30-31.

(21) Cf. Bertetto, op. cit., p. 77; Crisostomo de Pamplona, O.F.M.Cap., Solution de las dificultades contra la Corredencion mariana propiamente dicha, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 3, 1944, pp. 237-240.

(22) Cf. Gal. 3, 19.

(23) Cf. H. Lennerz, De Beata Virgine, ed. 3 (Romae, 1939), p. 233.

(24) Lennerz, Considerationes de doctrina B. Virginis Mediatricis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 19, 1938, pp. 424-425.

(25) G. D. Smith, Mary’s Part in Our Redemption, rev. ed. (New York, 1954), pp. 92-99.

(26) Cf. F. Tummers, Het mede-verdienen van de h. Maagd in het verlossingswerk, in Bijdragen van de philosophische en theologische Faculteiten der Nederlandsche Jesuiten, Vol. i, 1938, pp. 81-103, esp. p. 93; ibid., pp. 99-101, the author endeavors to explain further how Our Lady could merit the Redemption which was actually the principle of her own merit. In his view, Christ’s Redemption was the cause of Mary’s merit only per modum causae finalis, while Mary’s merits caused the Redemption per modum causae efficientis. Hence, he thinks, the famous objection based on the axiom “principium meriti non cadit sub merito” automatically vanishes. For a critique of this solution, cf. Lennerz, art. cit., pp. 442-444. In his turn, the learned professor of Louvain, Msgr. J. Lebon, proposed a still more radical and novel solution, which may be summarized as follows: Our Lady was both a private and a public person. As a private person, the principle of her merit was indeed the gratia Christi; as a public person, however, the immediate principle of her merit was a gratia Dei, a special grace which did not flow from the Cross and which, therefore, enabled her to merit the Redemption itself. For Lebon the very fact that Mary was the Mother of the Redeemer as such, gave her a true right over the life of the Victim. Her free renunciation of these rights (joined with the renunciation by Christ of His rights over His own life) constituted, by divine disposition, a direct participation in the redemptive act itself. Cf. also the solutions advanced by J. M. Dover, in Redempta et Corredemptrix (Marianum, Vol. 2, 1940, pp. 39-58), and by R. Gagnebet, in Difficultes sur la Coredemption: principes de solution? (In Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 2, 1952, pp. 13-20, esp. pp. 16-18).

(27) Dillenschneider, Pour une Coredemption bien comprise, in Marianum, Vol. n, 1949, pp. 109-110. Cf. H. Seiler, op. cit., pp. 123-131, esp. p. 129.

(28) Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale…. p. 162.

(29) Dillenschneider, Marie au service de noire Redemption…. pp. 356-357.

(30) St. Augustine, Sermo 169, cap. 11, n. 13; PL, 38, 923. Cf. Ch. de Koninck, La part de la personne humaine dans l’oeuvre de la Redemption, in Laval Theologique et Philosophique, Vol. 10, 1954, pp. 44-53.

(31) Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale . . . , p. 135. Cf. R. Laurentin, Notre Dame et la Messe au service de la paix du Christ (Tournai, 1954), pp. 44-45.

(32) Pius XII, cf. above, footnote 30 in Part I.

(33) H. Lennerz, De cooperatione B. Virginis in ipso opere Redemptionis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 28, 1947, pp. 577-578; also Vol. 29, 1948, p. 141.

(34) Thus Pohle-Preuss, Mariology, 5th ed. (St. Louis, Mo., 1926), pp. 122-123, where we are informed that the term was “invented” by Castelplanio (died in 1872) and Faber (died in 1863).

(35) Thus A. Michel, Mary’s Coredemption, in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 122, March, 1950, p. 184.

(36) L. E. Bellanti, S.J., Mary, Coredemptrix and Mediatrix, in Our Blessed Lady, Cambridge Summer School Lectures for 1933 (London, 1934), p. 214.

(37) Cf. above, footnote 85 in Part I. On the history and usage of the term “Coredemptrix” cf. Laurentin, Le titre de Coredemptrice. Etude historique, in Marianum, Vol. 13, 1951, pp. 396-452.

(38) 1 Cor. 3:6-9. Cf. Carol, The Problem of Our Lady’s Coredemption, in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 123, July, 1950, pp. 32-51, esp. pp. 34-37.

(39) Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia (March 22, 1918), in A.A.S., Vol. 10, 1918, pp. 181-182.

(40) Cf. A.S.S., Vol. 41, 1908, p. 409; Vol. 5, 1913, p. 364; Vol. 6, 1914, p. 108. Cf. Carol, The Holy See and the Title of “Coredemptrix” in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Vol. 37, April, 1937, pp. 746-748.

(41) Cf., for example, E. Druwe, S.J., La Mediation universelle de Marie, in Maria. Etudes sur le Sainte Vierge, ed. H. du Manoir, Vol. 1 (Paris, 1949), p. 566; C. Friethoff, op. cit., pp. 4-5, 226-227; J. Bittremieux, De Mediatione universali B. M. Virginis quoad gratias (Brugis, 1926), p. 229; J. Lebon, art. cit., pp. 680-681; F. X. Godts, C.Ss.R., De definibilitate Mediationis universalis Deiparae (Bruxellis, 1904); P. Villada, S.J., Por la definicion dogmatica de la Mediacion universal de la Santisima Virgen (Madrid, 1917), pp. 194-195; and countless other authors who teach the same thing, at least equivalently, by their endeavor to show that the thesis is implicitly contained in the sources of revelation, and taught by the Magisterium. In our work De Corredemptione . . . (pp. 589-607) the reader will find numerous statements of bishops who think along the same lines. Particularly worthy of note is the Votum dogmaticum which Bishop J. Th. Laurent, Vicar Apostolic of Hamburg, submitted to the Vatican Council for a definition (cf. p. 593). More recently, on November 26, 1951, a formal Postulatum was presented to the Holy Father by His Eminence, Emmanuel Cardinal Arteaga, Archbishop of Havana, and the entire Cuban hierarchy, requesting the dogmatic definition of Our Lady’s Coredemption, and of her universal Mediation. The document itself is dated October 6, 1951. Since we are privileged to possess a copy of the original (which has not been made public), we can vouch for the fact that the petition urges the Holy Father to define the doctrine of the Coredemption in exactly the same sense vindicated throughout this paper. This represents the first time in history that a step of this nature has been taken by the hierarchy of any country.

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit www.queenship.org.
Asst. Ed.

Marian mediation and its foundations have been the subject of extensive study, easily available in the published acts of congresses (1), anthologies (2), collections (3), monographs (4), and articles (5). The theme has been analyzed along biblical, patristic, liturgical, magisterial and dogmatic lines. If every published study on Marian mediation over the past one hundred years were to be cited, the mere listing of titles would probably fill a large book. An adequate, clear grasp of the status quaestionis, however, can be had by consulting the references just listed. With a few important exceptions, post-conciliar studies generally give greater attention to the sources, while those prior to the Council, though not neglecting the sources, place greater emphasis on the speculative aspects of this question.

The goal of this study is to strike a happy balance between sources and reflection on the sources so as to arrive at a concise and correct understanding of Catholic doctrine on Marian mediation here and now in the economy of salvation. Our point of departure will be an elaboration of the problematic in the formularies whereby it has been handed on in the Church. Thereafter, via a reflection on the sources of this doctrine, both remote and proximate, we will point out in a brief, summary conclusion how the traditional speculative questions arise and what is their significance for theology and for the life of the Church (6).

Although, as Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, often shrewdly repeats, a good theologian should strive to say new things, demonstrating that they are old. For us, however, who do not believe ourselves able to say new things, it is enough to explain the old things with order and clarity, so demonstrating them to be forever new. For the truth never grows old and never passes out of style. This is especially the case with such venerable terms as maternal and mediation, especially at a time when so many of the feminist persuasion (not all women, nor always women) want to erase them from the human vocabulary. Such a project, were it ever to be successful, would bear consequences of immeasurably tragic proportions for everyone. Between the human family and such success of the serpent-dragon there stands only one secure bulwark: the Woman, the maternal Mediatrix.

The Problematic of Marian Mediation

In theology, the term mediation is employed in a variety of senses to designate basic dimensions of the economy of salvation. These various senses, though clearly denoting distinct aspects of the work of salvation, are all interrelated, whether we are speaking of the mediation of Christ, and therefore of Christ as Mediator, or of the mediation of his Virgin Mother and therefore of Mary as Mediatrix, or of the mediation of the Church and therefore of that found in the sacramental-hierarchical order (ministerial graces linked to a stable office in the Church), or of the mediation of members of the Church and therefore of their active cooperation in the work of salvation via the ministerial charisms or graces of all kinds bestowed on them (gratiae gratis datae).

The reason for this is very simple: in the eternal counsels of the Father (cf. Eph 1:3ff.) all these various dimensions of a single economy of salvation were willed in correlation to one another within the unity of the predestination of Christ to be Head of the new creation, a creation to be realized concretely or in the execution of the divine counsels in history via what from the days of St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyons has been called “recapitulation.” The absolute predestination of Christ as incarnate Son of God, to be Head and Savior of his body, the Church and of all his members, constitutes what is commonly known as “the order of the hypostatic union.” To that order, in a special way, belongs one of the saved, the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the Savior-Word incarnate, “pre-eminent member” of the Church according to Vatican II. This unique and non-repeatable relation to Christ as Head in the order of the hypostatic union arises from what is called by Bl. Pius IX and Pius XII “the joint predestination of the incarnate Word and Mother of God in one and the same decree” (7).

To understand Catholic doctrine on Marian mediation, it is necessary from the start to grasp this essential point: Mary, because Mother of God, belongs as no other creature to the order of the hypostatic union, foundation of all saving mediation, perfect or subordinate. Therefore, by the merits of Christ she is incomparably holy. Therefore, in a way unique to her (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56-58, 60-62) she is able to cooperate actively with Jesus, the one Mediator of God and man: as his Mother, as our Co-redemptrix, and as our Mediatrix and Advocate. Mary’s mediation is the divinely appointed means by which the whole of creation and in particular the human family is recapitulated in Christ the Head, and so enjoys the blessings willed by the Father and gained for us by Christ in his stupendous work consummated on Calvary. Or in the words of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, the mediation of Mary crystallized in her fiat is the high point where all the love of the Blessed Trinity appropriated to the Holy Spirit meets all the love of creation, a juncture which brings to pass the Incarnation and economy of salvation (8).

Evidently all these themes cannot be treated in a single chapter of a single volume devoted to the whole of Mariology. Nonetheless, to understand the specific theme of this chapter, one dealing with the maternal mediation of Mary here and now, a few general considerations are necessary. These bear on 1) Mary’s active role of intercession with Jesus (ascending mediation), and 2) her direct, active role in the distribution of all the graces of salvation (descending mediation). Both roles are extensions of her unique participation as Co-redemptrix in the sacrifice of Calvary in which she participated as Co-redemptrix, a sacrifice perpetuated in the mystery of the Eucharist (descending mediation). The first role is more properly called advocacy, and the second mediation in the restricted sense.

Sacred, Revealed Use of the Term

As a term with a very specific theological sense (and not merely ethical-political), mediator, or intermediary, is found five times in the New Testament, always in the Pauline corpus. These are the passages in question:

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one (Gal 3:19-20).

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself up as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5-6).

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises (Heb 8:6).

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant (Heb 9:15).

… and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant … (Heb 12:24).

We may summarize the thought of St. Paul in these passages on the theological meaning of Mediator thus: It designates both 1) an office or responsibility rooted in and made possible by the Incarnation of the Son of God, not only in virtue of his divinity, but of his humanity as well (cf. 1 Tim 2:5), and 2) the major act of that office or ministry, viz., the redemptive sacrifice together with its fruit, the Church, the reconciliation of the saved with God in the one Body of Christ, the Head.

In all but one of these texts (Gal 3:19-20) the term mediator is ascribed expressly only to Christ. But in view of its ascription to Moses and to angels under the Old Covenant one can hardly affirm a priori that the presence of mediators other than Christ is excluded in affirming the unicity and sufficiency and excellence of the mediation of Christ, at least on biblical grounds. This is an observation crucial to any understanding of the traditional teaching of the Church on the mediation of Mary and of the Church itself. Deny the title Mediatrix to Mary as did Luther and the Protestant Reformation and nothing is left of the other mediations in the Church, that is, our active cooperation as “collaborators” in the distribution of the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice. Biblical grounds for the denial are claimed, but none are apparent, except on the assumption of extra-biblical premises of a theological or philosophical kind (individualism, combined with nominalism and voluntarism), not shared by the Tradition of the Church.

The texts just cited make clear that the title is that of an office, how the office is defined and what is the basis for the exercise of such an office in making one two who are not only separated, but in a condition of hostility (cf. Eph 2:11ff.). The creature alone, in particular man after the fall into original sin, cannot successfully resolve the problem of division between Creator and creation. But if the role of Mediator belongs radically to one all-sufficient person, this in itself is no necessary bar to the inclusion of others in a subordinate role, anymore than the existence of God excludes the possibility of a creation which does not compromise the all-sufficiency and transcendence of God.

At the level of theory the observation is perfectly valid. Unfortunately, it is not immediately effective in dealing with popular objections to the very concept of Marian mediation in theology, viz., that by definition participation in the one work of mediation compromises the uniqueness of Christ as one Mediator. Why this is so, but also what can be done to get beyond the impasse at the pastoral level, can be illustrated from a reflection on an analogy frequently used to justify the classic Protestant position: only Christ is Mediator in the proper sense. Mediation, in particular sacerdotal mediation, it is claimed, must be likened to bridge-building between earth and heaven. Indeed, the Latin version of Hebrews translates the Greek word for high priest (archiereus) as pontifex, or bridge builder. Perhaps a kindred Greek word, architect, or head builder, in addition to the title of the head priest: Pontifex, and also head-builder of bridges over the Tiber River in Rome, may have suggested the choice. In any case the objection to the Catholic doctrine about Mary goes like this: if two bridges are necessary to cross a stream, then neither by itself is sufficient. And if one is all-sufficient, then the second can hardly be described as functionally necessary to mediate the gap between the two sides of a single stream or abyss.

The answer very simply is to distinguish between two kinds of sharing in a single role or perfection: spiritual and material, qualitative and quantitative. It is perfectly true that sharing in a single patrimony by way of inheritance by several heirs requires a division of the patrimony with no one single heir being master of all. So, too, in the case of physical mediation represented by the example of the two bridges, neither bridge can be described as fully adequate, as Christ is described in the passage from 1 Timothy 2:5, if the work must be equally divided. Bridge building, political mediation, etc., because quantitative realities, cannot be absolutely perfect, shared or not shared.

Christ, on the other hand, is said to be perfect as one Mediator. This kind of unity is spiritual, and only spiritual mediation can reconcile God and man. The perfection of spiritual mediation, not being subject to division as in the case of sharing in a material good, is not affected by the number of other persons who participate in that perfection dependently on, or in subordination to, the one who possesses this absolutely. By way of example, neither the perfection of my thought nor that of my love is diminished by the fact that others share my thoughts and my love. And again, not every inheritance is material. The heavenly patrimony of those redeemed by Christ, is real, but spiritual, hence shared by many, yet not divided. Our Lord himself made this point in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard: the same denarius, God himself, undivided, is the wages of all. Failure to make this distinction is a sure sign of pride (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Why can there not be a “spiritual bridge,” viz., a mediation in which many are involved according to a certain order, yet leaving the mediation undivided?

There is a still more important observation crucial in the teaching of St. Paul: viz., that mediation involves not merely God, but someone who is also man, a creature. As St. Bonaventure so clearly saw (9), human nature by definition is mediatory, and hence that nature in its most perfect state, viz., in the God-man, is enhanced by the participation of others in this mediation, above all by Mary Immaculate. All this is foreshadowed by the formation of man as male and female. Human nature is first fully mediatory in Adam, and for that reason is also mediatory in Eve, who does not detract from, but underscores the nobility of God’s image (10).

Simply put, the reply to the objection drawn from the analogy of two bridges is simply to say that it is only a metaphor, and does not clarify the essential difference between Christ as one Mediator and those associated with him in the work of mediation. Each bridge is an insufficient means of mediating a distance before they are united as one. With Christ his mediation qua man is perfectly one before shared by others. With the participation of others there remains but one mediation, as the thought and love of Christ remain perfect, no matter how many share his thoughts and affection; but there are many persons active in that mediation according to a certain order in relation to Christ, the one Mediator. This is true of Mary in a unique and non-repeatable way because of her fullness of grace in view of the divine and spiritual maternity. And this is what Scotus means in calling Mary Immaculate qua Immaculate the most perfect fruit of the most perfect redemption by a most perfect Redeemer. Christ’s one mediation would not be perfect unless he could so save one of his members so as to cooperate actively in the work of salvation of all others, viz., as maternal Mediatrix (11).

Profane Usage

The term mediator, like its cognate pontifex (Latin translation for Christ as high priest in Hebrews), is not exclusive to the Bible. In ancient times both terms enjoyed a distinctive meaning in a profane or secular context, in the case of mediator one still familiar to most Western societies. This usage was hardly unknown to St. Paul and without doubt had some influence in his choice of terms to describe systematically the distinctive, perfect, all sufficient and absolutely necessary role of Christ in our salvation.

The classic Latin Lexicon, edited by Forcellini, defines the term mediator in the following words: “One who interposes himself, as a mean or point of convergence (intermediary) between dissidents in order to settle disputes.” A similar definition is found in the Lexicon of Grimm: “One who intervenes between two (others) in order to procure peace, establish or re-establish friendship, form a pact (covenant, or federation) or sanction an alliance.” In common language, a mediator is a person who performs the distinctively moral action of pacification with regard to two parties in opposition to or apart from one another by providing a common focus (univocal) for the unity of two entities once simply different, but not joined or analogous to one another within a single pact.

It is not hard to see why such a term should be employed by the Apostle Paul to explain the work of salvation and redemption. Christ’s work as priest and victim of the New Covenant is like that of a mediator who, as the old Roman pontifex threw up bridges across the Tiber River to unite or make one the two separated shores, bridges the gap between creature and Creator, between sinner and the heavenly Father, effectively making it possible for the distant creature, for the alienated sinner, to find himself not only reconciled with God or on God’s side of the great abyss (cf. Lk 16:26), but become himself active in the process of salvation as a subordinate cooperator. This is because as a genuine mediator Christ shares something with both parties: the godhead with the Father and manhood with the family of Adam. Hence, he is the mean or common ground where the parties to be reconciled can meet as friends rather than enemies or mere servants (cf. Jn 15:15).

There are, however, evident differences between the sacred and profane uses of this term and the concept standing behind it. As noted above, mediation involves an office and its exercise, the ethical-social dimension, and ontological or non-ethical basis of this office, the so-called mean.

First, the office of mediator and its exercise. In the profane order of the ancient world, as in modern secularized societies, mediation was and is a highly sophisticated and relatively successful activity when only temporal discord is involved. But wherever profound ethical and religious issues are at stake, e.g., in marriage-family discord, or in discord over religious activities or basic principles of right and social-political-economic philosophy, mediation can often be a dismal failure, if permanent resolution of discord and establishment of harmony is any criterion (12). Whereas, the mediation of Christ Jesus, according to Hebrews, is a raging and permanent success, not only in relation to the pagan religions, but to that of the mediators of the Old Testament dispensation.

Second, the mean or ontological platform for the exercise of a mediatory office. In the case of mere human mediation in the profane order, there is nothing particularly unique about the mediator in relation to each of the parties in dispute. He is a man, and so are they. What the human mediator shares with one party rather than another pertains to personal character and ability to persuade both parties within an already existing social polity. Where such a pre-existing polity, wherein the contending parties are already united at least in principle, if not in practice, does not exist, and must therefore be established, as especially is the case of man in the state of fallen nature, then no mere man can succeed in mediating between an offended Creator and a sinful creation.

With this we can readily see what the Incarnation introduces into our fallen world: a new and adequate platform or “ontological mean” where the offended and offenders can be fully reconciled, a solid rock on which to establish an order of peace (cf. Mt 7:24-27, conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount). In a sense specifically theological, that of a foundation for the economy of salvation, this rock is the order of the hypostatic union.

St. Thomas, therefore, in his classic definition of theological or religious mediation, clearly indicates two elements: the office (in the ethical-social order) and the mean (or foundation in the ontological order): “Properly speaking, the office of Mediator is to join together and unite those between whom he mediates; for extremes are united in the mean” (13). The “mean” in this case is the hypostatic union of man with the divine person of the Son: because incarnate, therefore Mediator. Because Mary uniquely belongs to the order of the hypostatic union because she is Mother of this divine Person, she therefore shares the one office of redemptive Mediator with her Son. Because Mother, therefore Mediatrix. Like her Mediator Son, their one work of mediation is consummate in redemptive sacrifice. And through her the Church and her members in varying ways can also exercise a genuine part in the mediation of grace won by the merits of the one Mediator of all, the man Christ Jesus (cf. 1 Tim 2:5-6).

Mary Mediatrix in the Proper, Theological Sense of Mediation

In addition to the commonly cited profane examples, which only foreshadow the perfection or essence of mediation in Christ Jesus, there is another example of mediation in the natural order, all but forgotten in modern times, but expressly cited by such a great of theology as is the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure (14). This example is drawn more from a metaphysical consideration of human nature as uniquely formed by the Creator on the sixth day; hence, it is not an example bearing primarily on the social order, but on the very character of any mediation as such within the order of creation.

Among all the various creatures, and grades of perfection among them, there are two basic categories of creatures: those purely material and hence prope nihil (near nothing), and those purely spiritual like the angels, hence prope Deum (near God). That both dimensions of creation be not distant and in opposition, but united to form a single universe, ultimately to be recapitulated by the incarnate Word, the Creator personally formed (hence not by an evolutionary process) a creature, part spiritual and so near God and part corporal and so near the material creation, or near nothing. The saint expressly says that there is such a created being, by nature mediatory. This creature, by nature mediatory, is man, or human nature. Thus at the ontological level, prior to any activity, man or Adam (formed from the virgin earth) is a mediator: indeed within the universe, but nonetheless in a religious as well as merely juridical sense as in all the previous examples drawn from the social-political-economic spheres.

But this is not all the Seraphic Doctor tells us. The Creator made man male and female. Each shares in a distinct way, yet fully, in a single mediatory nature: first Adam and then under, but also with Adam, Eve. The mediation of Adam, not as private person but head, is in the public order, drawing all dimensions of the universe, but in particular the human, to the love and service of the Creator. Further, Adam mediates between the private realm of the family and person and the public context wherein the human family is situated, thus being true center of the universe. In this sense Adam is a type of Christ, like Noah, Melchizedek, Moses, and so many others after him, the family of Adam being intended by the Creator to foreshadow the Holy Family.

But Eve is also a mediatrix, a type of Mary as mother of the new humanity, for no being can call itself human unless descended from Adam and incorporated into the human family through the maternal mediation of a woman, a mediation unique to her, in no wise detracting from the primary mediation in Adam, even though absolutely necessary for Adam to realize his headship over the human family. Not only St. Bonaventure, but St. Thomas as well insist that the formation of Adam and Eve in view of the divine institution of the “mystery-sacrament” of marriage was for the sake of Christ and the Church, Christ and Mary, even before sin, a point quite explicit in St. Paul, Ephesians 5:32 (15). Christ mediates between the Creator-Father and his creation, whereas Mary, in subordination to him, mediates between the new Head of the human family and the members incorporated into him. With that it becomes clear why the one mediation of the one Mediator, the (new) man Christ Jesus (cf. 1 Tim 2:5) does not exclude, but according to the divine counsels of salvation must include in an altogether unique way that of the (new) Eve who is also the (new) virgin earth, from whom and by whom is also formed the new Adam-Mediator of the new and everlasting Covenant. Mary is our Mediatrix with Christ, because wonder of wonders she is Mother of God (16).

St. Bonaventure provides us one other observation helpful in understanding why the mediation involved in the new and everlasting Covenant involves a Mediator, and under him a Mediatrix. The divine nature, being perfectly one, is not mediatory (cf. Gal 3:19-20). But one divine person of the three stands in relation to the other two as a “middle person”: i.e., one of the personal characteristics of the Son is to be “mediatory” (17). Hence, it is altogether appropriate that if the Incarnation of a divine person is for the sake of mediation, the second person should become incarnate. St. Paul (Gal 3:20) also seems to allude to the non-mediatory character of the divine nature. Hence, if the Word is to mediate between God (the Father) and the masterpiece of his creation, man, and so with the rest of creation (cf. St. Paul, Rom 8:18-25), the hypostatic assumption of a human nature becomes imperative—so that a divine person can mediate in a human way. But the way of assuming such a nature hypostatically is through the mediation of a mother, the only way of being a man like us, because such is only possible via descent from Adam in being born of a Virgin Mother (cf. Lk 3:23-38). The virginal conception and birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mother, the “new virgin earth,” assures both the divinity and humanity of the Child, hence his office of Mediator in our history. In virtue of her holiness and of this contribution to effecting the economy of salvation, Mary also belongs to the order of the hypostatic union and ipso facto shares the mediation of Jesus, distinctly, subordinately, but also properly, as no other of the saved. Here lies the importance of the Eve-Mary typology for the doctrine of Marian mediation.

With this it also becomes clear why in the Franciscan school the maternal mediation of Mary is first considered in the broad sense: neither vague nor metaphorical, but truly proper, in the same sense as it is understood first in the God-man. As he is unique Mediator, first because the mediatory or middle person of the Trinity, and second because he is the new man or Adam, fully capable of doing what the first Adam alone could only indistinctly foreshadow, so Mary is the unique Mediatrix, because she can do what the first Eve could also only indistinctly foreshadow: truly unite, incorporate into the New Adam all the dispersed children of Israel. The particular or more specialized aspects of Mary’s mediation in the economy of salvation, either in the types foreshadowing her, or in herself historically, all depend on this primordial fact, her fullness of grace in Christ as the Immaculate Virgin Mother, as Christ’s mediation rests uniquely on the grace of the Incarnation. The mediation of Mary is not apart from, outside of or independent of Christ, because she is also saved by him, redeemed preservatively to be Immaculate from conception. That unique sanctity permits her, under him, but also with him, to participate as no other person can, in the work of mediation proper to Christ. Thereby a new platform or basis for the exercise of diverse salutary activities by the redeemed (all in one way or another collaboration in the work of mediation) within the New Covenant is secured. Mary’s precise position and role is to provide the basis for our link with the New Adam, or New Head, and so our cooperation with him in the communion of saints. Therefore she is called “our Mediatrix with Christ, as he is our Mediator with the Father” (St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 3, p 1, a 1, q 2).

The Difference between Mediator and Mediatrix in the One Work of Mediation

In this integral, moral and theological sense cited above, Mary is the Mediatrix of all creatures, angels and men, because God, in Christ, has assigned this function to her in order to reunite all creatures, above all the rational and free creatures, to Christ. In and through Christ the saved, qua members of his body formed by Mary, are recapitulated and so united to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The saved are members of Christ’s body in being born spiritually of the Woman, just as all men naturally have Adam as their head and the origin of their humanity through a woman, and not otherwise. In herself Mary, without sin, possesses the human nature of Adam that unites her to sinful humanity, the spirit that unites her to the angels, and the fullness of grace that brings her into union with the God-man and so brings him into union, not with a generic humanity, but with that precisely first headed by Adam. Through Mary, Christ descends from Adam as well as Abraham (cf. Christ’s genealogy recorded by Luke 3:23-38). Therefore, through Mary, he is our Savior and Mediator. We go to him in the same way he comes to us, viz., through Mary. By reason of the integrity of her human nature and the fullness of grace she is superior to all men. She is superior also to the angels by the sole reason of her fullness of grace. She is inferior to God because of the finite manner in which she possesses both this grace and this nature. This Mediatrix brings the grace of God, viz., that of the redemptive Incarnation, to men and angels, and she brings the redeemed natures of angel and man to the incarnate Mediator, who brings them to the Father.

As for man, he is not only separated from God, but is also inimical toward him by reason of original and actual sin, which is an affront to God. The mediation that reconstructs the unity between God and man must, therefore, also merit in order to obtain the remission of fault and satisfy in order to remit the punishment. The angel must also consider himself redeemed, though in a more sublime manner in a certain sense, because the good angels have been granted perseverance in grace and the grace of being preserved from sin in view of the merits of Christ and Mary.

Now, while the merit of Christ in the order of mediation is absolute, that of Mary is relative, because it originates in Christ and is exercised in conjunction with his.

In this broad, all-inclusive sense, the title of Mary Mediatrix includes the coredemption, the distribution of all graces, and her infallible intercession. This is the sense intended by those cardinals, bishops and theologians who, when they were assembled in Fatima in 2005, signed a petition to the Pope asking for the dogmatic definition of Mary Mediatrix, Co-redemptrix, Dispensatrix of all graces, and Advocate (18).

That Mary’s mediation is said to be derived by participation and by analogy from the mediation of Christ is a doctrine clearly taught by St. Paul in his epistles (19). Based on this conclusion it is evident that Christ’s mediation, when consummated on Calvary, involves two aspects, the first ascending and the second descending: 1) redemption, continued in his intercession during the time of the Church, above all in the Eucharistic mystery as sacrifice (cf. Heb 9:23ff.; 1 Jn 2:1); and 2) the acquisition of grace, succeeded by its distribution in the time of the Church, especially in the Eucharist as communion (cf. Heb 12:18ff.; 13:9-15). The two moments are strictly tied to each other, because redemption is the basis for intercession and the acquisition of grace for its distribution. The same is true, servatis servandis, for Mary’s mediation.

Also from St. Paul’s doctrine is derived the Christocentric vision of the universe, which becomes, as a logical consequence, also Mariocentric. “All things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16), but also through her and for her, as exemplary cause, because she is willed with Christ “uno eodemque decreto” by God (Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus). If Christ and Mary are the center of creation, they are even more so in the order of grace that they have acquired through the work of the redemptive sacrifice. Therefore all creatures, both earthly and heavenly, have their raison d’être in Christ and Mary, and they receive their sanctifying grace and beatific glory from Christ through Mary.

Mediatrix in the Restricted Sense of Distributrix of Graces After Calvary

St. Bonaventure identifies three moments in the maternal mediation of Mary, taken in the broad sense: the moment of begetting the price of our salvation, the moment of paying that price on Calvary, and the moment of distributing the price of salvation which she possesses in the time of the Church (20). It is to this last phase of her mediation that the title “Mary, Mediatrix of all graces,” is commonly referred. When recent popes (like Benedict XVI in his homily for the Annunciation, March 25, 2006) (21) refer to the Marian principle at the heart of the Church, they refer precisely to this third aspect of Mary’s work as Mediatrix in the economy of salvation, one realizing the final phase of her maternal vocation, that of spiritual Mother of the redeemed and of the Church.

As immediately consequent on the coredemption, as it were its continuation, this mediation has two aspects. The first is one of intercession whose high point is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One need only reflect on the Communicantes prayer of the Roman canon to grasp that the intercession of all the saints united to that of Christ passes through and depends upon the unique intercession and presence of Mary in the sacrifice of Christ, as John Paul II makes so clear in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, under the heading “Woman of the Eucharist” (22). Mary, as Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is invoked in primis in every Eucharist, that is before and above all other saints, including the apostles. Because she is the Immaculate and so Spouse of the Holy Spirit, invoking her in this way is an aspect of the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. Without Mary and the Holy Spirit, no Incarnation, and hence no Real Presence.

The other aspect is that of distribution of the graces acquired in the sacrifice of Calvary. This, too, has its highpoint in the Eucharist at Communion. In the worthy communicant is him who first dwelt in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mother, so that like the Word incarnate the Christian might fully become a child of Mary and so child of the Father, on both counts perfectly conformed to Christ, perfectly incorporated into him. There is no grace, no charism, no aspect of sanctification which does not involve the maternal mediation of Mary here and now. This is perfectly logical when we recall that Mary is Spouse of the Holy Spirit at the Incarnation and at Pentecost, at the birth of the Savior and at the birth of the Church, that is, she is Spouse of him by whose working the whole Christ, Head and Body, comes to be. In other words she is Mediatrix par excellence.

Theological Meaning of the Title of Mediatrix: Sources of the Doctrine

The title of Mediatrix means that Mary possesses a dignity intermediate between that of all other creatures and that of the incarnate Son by reason of her fullness of grace. This intermediate dignity fits her to carry out the role of maternal intermediary entrusted to her by God the Father to reunite man to his Son, our Mediator with the Father, by means of the coredemption, the dispensation of all graces and intercession (23). Such mediation is carried out, not apart from, but in Christ, in dependence upon him. It is a necessary aspect of the economy of salvation, said to be hypothetical, not absolute necessity: necessary not because God could not have done otherwise, but because God has so willed, and has so willed because this is the most perfect, orderly or rational way to accomplish our salvation. It is this aspect of the saving counsels of God, implicitly present in such classic passages as Ephesians 1:3-14; Galatians 4:4-7; Philippians 2:5-10, and Hebrews 10:5-10, which is witnessed in Scripture without the title Mediatrix, and in Tradition with the title, and in modern times expressly incorporated into the ordinary magisterial teaching of the Church.

Sacred Scripture

As has been already noted, Scripture never explicitly attributes the title of Mediatrix to Mary (24). That is not surprising, because neither does it ascribe to her the titles of Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, or ever-Virgin, nor does it attribute the Assumption to her, all of which titles are defined dogmas. Nor, moreover, does the word Trinity, the most important dogma of our faith, appear in Scripture; the term consubstantial, which forms part of the dogmatic definition of Nicaea, is absent; the same is true of hypostatic union, real presence, transubstantiation, pontifical infallibility, etc. If we had to delete all of the words and their related concepts that do not explicitly appear in Sacred Scripture from Catholic dogma, we would first have to annul 2,000 years of Church history. Why, therefore, has God not revealed everything in an explicit manner in Scripture? Bl. Duns Scotus responds:

I say that it is more pleasing to understand something if it is hidden under some literal sense rather than if it were stated expressly. … Moreover, Origen, in his Homily on Noah’s Ark, affirmed: “It seems that Sacred Scripture has maintained an appropriate silence regarding those things whose discovery reason would show as consequences of those truths (directly revealed in Scripture). Therefore many necessary truths are not explicitly related in Scripture, although they are contained there virtually, as conclusions within the principles; the work of the Doctors and commentators was useful for defining these conclusions” (Ordinatio. Prologus, n. 122-123).

The very clear, although implicit, biblical basis for the mediation of Mary beside her Son is found in the association of Mary with Christ, central theme of the history spanning both Old and New Testaments, from the Protoevangelium (Gen 3:15) to the book of Revelation (Rev 12).

Regarding mediation in the restricted sense of dispensation of all graces, the biblical passages in which theologians have discovered the basis for the doctrine are the following:

a) Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel.

The woman is Mary, by exclusion and by identification. By exclusion, because it cannot be Eve, as she could never appear as a victorious enemy of the serpent, but instead as his victim, first in the fault and then in the punishment. By identification, because Mary is the only woman who fully realizes enmity and victory over the serpent. Enmity and victory over Satan always signifies the work of the redemption, accomplished by Mary and by Christ, the firstborn of her offspring. Associated with Christ in the redemption in the first phase, Mary is associated also in the redemption in the second phase, that is, in the distribution of the acquired graces.

b) 1 Kings 18:44: And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’”

This is the cloud that Elijah caught sight of on Mount Carmel which brought rain after a long drought. Here the cloud has been viewed as a symbol of Mary and the rain as a symbol of the graces Mary brings.

c) Luke 1:28: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

If it is true that from his (Christ’s) fullness have we all received, grace upon grace (Jn 1:16), it is also true that we have received it by means of Mary’s fullness of grace. The passive participle kecharitomene (full of grace) is used to indicate a permanent fullness par excellence. This is what St. Francis had an intuition of when, in his Salute to the Virgin, he gave this description of her: “On you descended and in you still remains all the fullness of grace and every good.” Why has God filled the Virgin Mary with his grace if not in order for her to communicate this grace to others who, by their nature, are devoid of them?

d) Luke 1:38: And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary’s fiat is her free and personal assent to the redemptive Incarnation, of which she is defined as the “handmaid,” and the fulfillment of which is realized in the regeneration of men into the life of grace. It matches the fiat of her Son: I come to do your will (cf. Heb 10:5-10). Both are efficacious as acts of mediation, because each, though distinctively, is contained within the order of the hypostatic union as willed by the Father as the radical foundation for saving mediation. Through her fiat, Mary mediates to the world Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and the Author of all grace. The title, “Mediatrix of all graces,” is rightly and uniquely ascribed to Mary in virtue of her mediation of the Savior alone.

e) Luke 1:43-44: And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.

Here Mary’s physical presence brings the grace of Christ’s presence to Elizabeth, who prophesies, and to the Baptist, who exults with joy in his mother’s womb. The joy consequent on Mary’s mediation, a joy which is a foretaste of that of heaven, contrasts sharply with the sadness consequent on the mediation of the first Eve and the expulsion from paradise. As Eve in fact mediated tragedy for the human family, Mary mediates the presence of the Savior and salvation, even to those such as John enclosed in his mother’s womb. It is she who mediates the working of the Holy Spirit, and therefore it is she who at the most intimate reaches of the human heart guarantees faith, as it is she who is the prime evangelist and sign of the presence of the invisible Savior-God, she who is Mother of “the Lord” or Yahweh, who spoke to Moses from the burning bush as Christ speaks to us from Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant. The importance of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth in the revelation of the mystery of Marian mediation, specifically the distribution of all the blessings of salvation, cannot be underestimated.

Further, the mediation of Jesus and Mary, inseparable and related to one another according to a typology established by the Creator in the formation of the first man and woman, is also shown here in its anti-types. It is the mediation of Mary which brings the Mediator to us and enables us to be united to him and so enabled by him to return to the Father’s house. The basis for a Mediator and Mediatrix within a single work of mediation is also clear: what the theologians have come to call the order of the hypostatic union embracing the incarnate Word and the divine maternity. It is this order which defines concretely the basis of the work of mediation or salvation.

f) Luke 2:35: And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:22-40) further clarifies the bases of this mediation: not only Mary’s vocation as Mother of God, but her role as Co-redemptrix in the realization of the redemptive sacrifice which secures the “salvation of his people.” Mary’s role as Advocate (intercessor) and Mediatrix (distributrix of the blessings won on Calvary) is a continuation of her role as Co-redemptrix outlined in the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: to the Father and to the Church (represented by Simeon and Anna).

g) John 2:3-5: When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Again Mary’s physical presence carries with it the physical presence of Christ with his divine power. The Lord’s words, which express a certain distance between him—who was about to perform an act as God—and his Mother (who always remained simply a creature), make us understand that, if it had not been for her, he would not have worked the miracle. Curiously, those who reject the concept of Marian mediation as revealed will affirm the difference between the Creator Son and created Mother. But they seemingly fail to realize that the difference and distance between the Word incarnate and the rest of us is even greater if Mary is not Mediatrix. From this comes the need of a Mediatrix between ourselves and our Savior, as well as a Mediator between ourselves and the Father. Mary by her physical presence as Mother of God enables us also to be present to him who is our Mediator with the Father. This is what is so clearly communicated by this event at the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry. He, the bridegroom, is Savior-Mediator of the Church, the bride represented by the newly wed couple. The role of his Mother at this marriage feast for the groom is that of one who arranges this great marriage covenant, that is to say, she is the Mediatrix. Cana reveals the Mother of Jesus as physical and moral (willed) Mediatrix between Jesus and humanity, in the midst of its wants and needs. As John Paul II explains, she acts as a “mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother” (25).

h) John 19:26-27: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John’s presence at the feet of the crucified Redeemer engages the mediation of the Mother, from whom John receives the fruit of the redemption. In the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucaristia, John Paul II teaches that in every Mass the reality of Marian mediation is re-presented for the benefit of believers, of beloved disciples who, like John, assist at the sacrifice of the Redeemer and Co-redemptrix.

The radical structure of Marian mediation observed in all the foregoing texts is here proclaimed by our Savior himself, revealing precisely its immediate grounds in the unique part Mary played as Mother and Co-redemptrix in the redemptive sacrifice of Calvary. In effect, Jesus reveals and proclaims his Mother as maternal Mediatrix between himself and us: both the entire Church and each disciple personified here in John, and in a special way those who are successors of the apostles and their immediate associates, the priests. And he insists that we make use of her mediation, because by his will it is a necessary aspect of Christian life. Hence, our first obligation as disciples is to take Mary into our homes. Mary is our Mother in the order of grace; her spiritual maternity is the fruit of her love and suffering on Calvary. What is said here in principle, is shown in the next text from Acts to be operative from day one of the Church, and in Revelation 12:1ff. to be a raging success, for as Co-redemptrix Mary merited to be assumed and gloriously crowned as Queen of heaven and earth, precisely to act efficaciously on earth as maternal Mediatrix. The Woman of Revelation 12:1ff., who is first of all the Mother of the victorious Savior Jesus, swept up to heaven, must be pondered in conjunction with Revelation 21:1-4, where the woman is the heavenly Jerusalem descending from heaven on earth. The Church is the new and glorious Jerusalem or Daughter Zion descending from heaven, because in some unique way Mary Immaculate is the Church as its “pre-eminent” member. Through the dynamic presence of the Immaculate Mediatrix, the Church becomes the Immaculate Bride of her Savior and Head (cf. Eph 5:21-32) (26).

i) Acts 1:14: All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Here Mary is Mother of the infant Church. In the Apostolic Church she was the Mother of Jesus, almost a living sacrament of his presence. The intercession of the Church rises to God through Mary’s prayer, and the grace of the Holy Spirit descends upon men because of this prayer and this intercession. The ancient Church Tradition clearly confirms this understanding of the central role of Mary in the Church: that of intercession (ascending mediation) and that of distribution of graces (descending mediation), particularly that of sustaining and quietly guiding all Christians in the understanding and living of their faith. “And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers” (Acts 2:42), all this in the presence of Mary Mediatrix. For this is what above all the Pentecost scene illustrates: the permanent, “pre-eminent” place of Mary in the midst of the apostles and faithful as maternal Mediatrix.

From all these passages of Scripture there surfaces repeatedly a Marian mode according to which God works our redemption. St. Bonaventure tells us (Breviloquium, p. IV, ch. 3) that the mode of the Incarnation is Marian, viz., through the virginal maternity. The one whom Mary begets is our Mediator, the price of our ransom; hence the mode of our redemption is Marian. It is Mary, says the same Seraphic Doctor who begets that price in Nazareth, pays that price on Calvary, and now possesses that price as Mediatrix of all graces (cf. Collationes in septem donis Spiritus Sancti, c. 6). The two major features of this last, intercession or ascending mediation, and distribution of graces or descending mediation, are clearly indicated as fact, even if not expressly explained. Meditating on these passages, Bossuet rightly concludes that “Mary’s charity is the general instrument of the operations of grace” (27).

Teaching of the Church Fathers

The Eve-Mary parallelism, already put in evidence by St. Justin (+165), is the leitmotiv of patristic Mariology, as it developed during the course of the first eight centuries of the Christian era (28). Its foundation is in the economy of salvation established by God and implicitly revealed by him in Sacred Scripture. The first to single out the Marian characteristic of this salvific economy was St. Ignatius of Antioch (+110): “Our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan” (29). It is the first Marian fruit of patristic reflection on the biblical datum.

The Mariology of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (+202) is the wonderful result of the fruitful encounter between the Eastern tradition, from which he came, and that of the West, in which he exercised his episcopal ministry. He developed the antithetical Eve-Mary parallelism and was the first to attribute the title of “Eve’s advocate” to the Virgin (30). The concept of mediation is contained in the term Advocate because, according to St. Irenaeus, as Advocate, Mary performs the role of Mediatrix of reconciliation between the just divine Judge and the guilty Eve. The Devil, on the other hand, is the one who accuses Eve before God and requests her condemnation (31).

Origen (+254) interprets the episode of the Visitation as an example of the Virgin’s mediation. Her journey took place so “that she might communicate some of the power she derived from him (whom) she had conceived, to John, yet in his mother’s womb” (32). In a text attributed to Origen but not recognized as authentic by the critics, the title of Mediatrix appears for the first time: “All human creatures have been renewed through Mary … Mediatrix of life” (33).

The prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium, written in Egypt in the third century: “Under your mercy we take refuge, Mother of God, do not reject our supplications in necessity. But deliver us from danger. (You) alone chaste, alone blessed” (34). This ancient prayer, with minor variations, is found from time immemorial in the antiphonary of the Roman, Ambrosian, Byzantine and Coptic liturgies (35). The intercession ascending toward God (do not reject our supplications) and the descending mediation that brings God’s help to men (deliver us from danger) is clearly seen.

In the ancient Cimitero Maggiore (Main Cemetery) on the Via Nomantana in Rome, there is the depiction of the Virgin Mary in a position of prayer, of intercession, which dates back to the fourth century.

The doctrine of mediation recurs often in the authentic scripts of St. Ephraem (+373), the great Doctor of the Syriac Church, or in scripts simply attributed to him by tradition. He does not use the term itself, but equivalent expressions: “The human race … depends upon your patronage and has you alone as its refuge and defense. … Your prayer, in fact, is powerful with your Son” (36). She has received an unlimited power from God: “You are true Mother of God, and therefore you are powerful” (37).

In the celebrated hymn Akathistos, attributed to St. Romanos the Melodist (+560), Mary’s help is invoked in various ways: “By your invincible power, deliver me from every kind of danger” (38); “Deliver all from every evil, and save from future suffering all who cry to thee. Alleluia” (39).

Theoteknos, bishop of Livias (sixth century) is the first in the West to use the title Mediatrix: “She has departed for heaven as our Mediatrix … and because she is certainly accepted by God, she obtains spiritual graces for us. During her time on earth she watched over us; she was like a universal providence for all her subjects. Now in heaven, she remains an impregnable defense, interceding for us with her Son and God” (40). Except for the literature ascribed to pseudo-Ephraem, this is the first time that the title of Mediatrix is explicitly attributed to Mary in a text the author of which is known with certainty.

Patristic Mariology reached its zenith with the three great Eastern homilists of the eighth century. They are St. Germanus of Constantinople (+733), St. Andrew of Crete (+740), and St. John Damascene (+749). Besides using the term Mediatrix explicitly, they study the doctrine of her universal dispensation of graces in depth.

For St. Germanus the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is the “manifest Mediatrix of all goods” (41); “no one obtains a grace by mercy except through you, who were worthy to harbor God himself in your womb” (42). “You cannot not be answered from the time that it pleased God to dwell with you, like a son with his true and irreproachable Mother. … And because of this the Christian people, recognizing its miserable state, entrusts its prayers to you so that you may present them to God” (43).

St. Andrew of Crete appeals to Mary “Mediatrix of law and grace” (44). St. John Damascene illustrates the doctrine of Mary’s mediation with a splendid biblical image: “As Jacob saw the ladder uniting heaven to earth … so you also, fulfilling the role of mediatrix become a stairway for God who descends to us so that he might assume our weak nature and join and unite it to himself” (45); “You are the perennial source of the true light … the cause of all our goods … (from heaven) you bless the world, you sanctify the universe” (46).

Theological Development: Medieval, Post-Tridentine and Neo-Scholastic Epochs

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153) stands out among the large group of writers who in the twelfth century affirm Mary’s mediation. His doctrine is clear and precise: “God has willed that we should have nothing that would not pass through the hands of Mary. … Do you also desire someone to intercede for you with him? Run to Mary” (47). Mary is defined by the Mellifluous Doctor as the “aqueduct” through which all graces flow from God to men. The works of St. Bernard influenced the entire subsequent Mariology during the Middle Ages.

Pseudo-Albertus Magnus asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary “is numerically full of all graces, which, numerically, pass through her hands” (48).

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (O.Min., +1274) writes explicitly that “every grace comes to us through Mary’s intervention” (49).

St. Bernardine of Siena (O.Min., +1444) affirms that “all gifts, virtues and graces of the same Holy Spirit are administered by her hands to whomever she desires, when, in what manner, and to what degree she wishes” (50).

The universal mediation of all graces is common doctrine among the post-tridentine theologians: Francisco Suárez (S.J., +1617), St. Robert Bellarmine (S.J., +1621), Ven. James Olier (+1657), St. John Eudes (+1680), Henry Boudon (+1702), Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (+1704), Pierre de Berulle (+1629), to mention only a few. It is one of the major themes of the golden age of Spanish Mariology, the seventeenth century, notable not only for works of theological erudition, but also for one of the greatest and most influential works of Mariology in a contemplative key, The Mystical City of God, by the Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda (+1665) (51). St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (+1716), with his timeless work, True Devotion to Mary, is another outstanding figure in the history of this doctrine. In the seventeenth century the Jansenistic influences gave rise to a certain diffidence toward the Marian cult and everything in Mariology which seems to, in their opinion, overly exalt the Virgin’s excellence. The first major representative of this minimizing current was the Rhinelander Adam Widenfeld, with his Monita salutaria (1673), whose publication gave rise to violent polemics. In Italy the authoritative spokesman of this critical current was the famous historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori. St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori (+1787) responded to his anti-Marian theses so effectively, above all with his superb book The Glories of Mary, that they were not given credence again until our days.

In the twentieth century the doctrine of Mary’s universal mediation gained the universal consent of theologians. First-rate monographic studies demonstrate the inclusion of the doctrine on Mary’s mediation into the patrimony of Catholic faith and illustrate its wonderful conexio dogmatum. Among these the studies of Godts (52), Bittremieux (53) and Lepicier (54) stand out.

By initiative of Cardinal Desiré Mercier (+1926) (55), archbishop of Malines-Brussels, the international movement for the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Mediatrix of all graces was born. On January 12, 1922, in response to the Belgian Cardinal’s request, Benedict XV (+1922) granted to all dioceses of Belgium the Mass in honor of Mary Mediatrix of all graces, to be celebrated on May 31. In November 1922, Pius XI (+1939) instituted three commissions—one Roman, one Spanish and one Belgian—to study the definability of Marian mediation. The documents of the Spanish and Belgian commissions have been recently published in the periodical Marianum, both with a positive conclusion in support of the doctrine’s definability (56).


The final part of this article will appear in the next Mother of All Peoples Bi-Monthly Issue.



(1) Aa. Vv., Mary at the Foot of the Cross. Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, 6 vv., Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2001-2007. The six volumes (together, over 3,000 pages) report the acts of the symposia held in England annually from 2000 to 2005, thereafter in Fatima. A seventh volume is in the course of publication. The symposia and the publication of their acts are under the direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA). The unique role of Mary as maternal Mediatrix in the Church rests proximately on her position as Immaculate Co-redemptrix on Calvary; hence the importance of these studies for our theme.

There are, in addition, two other events of great importance regarding studies on Marian coredemption:

1) Il Simposio internazionale sul mistero di Maria Corredentrice, Shrine of Castelpetroso (Italy), September 8-12, 1996, promoted by his excellency Msgr. Ettore Di Filippo (+2006), archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano (Italy) and president of the Bishop’s Conference of Abruzzo-Molise.

2) Il Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, held at Fatima May 3-7, 2005, promoted and directed by the following cardinals: Telesphore Toppo, Luis Aponte Martínez, Varkey Vithayathil, Edouard Gagnon, Ricardo Vidal, Ernesto Corripio Ahumada. Acts: Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2005, 583 pp.

(2) M. Miravalle:

1) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara (CA) 1993, pp. 80;

2) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations. Towards a Papal Definition?, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1995, 325 pp.

3) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II. Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1997, 329 pp.

4) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations III. Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 2000, 272 pp.

Mark Miravalle, Professor of Mariology at the University of Steubenville (Ohio), has also edited the volume Aa. Vv., Mary Co-redemptrix. Doctrinal Issues Today, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 2002, 274 pp. In addition, he is the author of two excellent monographs on this subject: The Dogma and the Triumph, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1998, 152 pp.; “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publishing, Goleta, CA, 2003, 252 pp.

(3) Aa. Vv., Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia, CME, Frigento 1998-2005, 7 vv. Of particular interest is the study on our specific theme in M. Hauke, La mediazione materna di Maria secondo papa Giovanni Paolo II, in op. cit., vol. VII, 2005, pp. 35-158.

(4) For example, A. Escudero Cabello, S.D.B., La cuestión de la mediación en la preparación del Vaticano II, LAS, Rome 1997, 422 pp.; B. Gherardini, La Corredentrice, ed. Vivere, Rome 1998, 408 pp.; M. Hauke, Maria “Mediatrice di tutte le grazie.” La mediazione universale di Maria nell’opera teologica e pastorale del Cardinale Mercier, Eupress FTL (Faculty of Theology of Lugano)—Reggiani SpA (Varese), Lugano, Switzerland—Varese, Italy 2005, 212 pp.; D. Lacourture, Marie Médiatrice de toutes les grâces, ed. des Béatitudes, Saint-Amand (France) 1997, 324 pp.; J. Ferrer Arellano, La Mediación Materna de la Inmaculada. Esperanza Ecuménica de la Iglesia, ed. Arca de la Alianza, Madrid 2006, 318 pp.; J.D. Miller, Marian Mediation: Is it True to Say that Mary is Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2004, 168 pp; J. Schug, O.F.M. Cap., Mary, Mother, St. Francis Chapel Press, Springfield, MA, 1992.

(5) For example, J. Galot, S.J., Maria: mediatrice o madre universale?, in La Civilità Cattolica, 147/1 (1996) 213-225; J. Galot, La mediazione di Maria: natura e limiti, ibid., 148 (1997) 13-25; P. Siano, F.I., Uno studio su Maria Santissima ‘Mediatrice di tutte le Grazie’ nel magistero pontificio fino al pontificato di Giovanni Paolo II, Immaculata Mediatrix, 6 (2006) 299-356. See also the articles of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner in the periodical Immaculata Mediatrix for the years 2001-2003; J. Schug, O.F.M. Cap. and M. Miravalle, Mary Coredemptrix: The Significance of Her Title in the Magisterium of the Church, in M. Miravalle, ed., Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundations. Towards a Papal Definition?, op. cit., pp. 215-246.

(6) Historically, the mystery of Mary, in one way or another, is at the very heart of many theological controversies since the foundation of the Church. That this is so is no reason to question the certainty of that mystery as an article of faith, for we believe, as do the apostles and their successors, in the Christ, the Son of the living God, born of the Virgin Mary. Rather, division over this mystery arises from the centrality of Mary with Jesus in the mystery of salvation, and the on-going struggle between the Woman and the serpent-dragon (cf. Gen 3:15 and Rev 12:1ff.) which accounts for the violence of the controversy at times. Today the controversy continues about the question of the Woman’s active role in the work of redemption, viz., the maternal role of Mary qua Mediatrix. A good introduction to these controversies can be found in Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Coredemptrix, cit.; and to the type of atmosphere leading to denial of Marian mediation and the title Mediatrix cf. G. Morrissey, For the Love of Mary. Defending the Church from Anti-Marianism, Brooklyn NY 1999. On the historical background cf. M. Hauke, Mary, “Mediatress of Grace.” Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier: Supplement to Mary at the Foot of the Cross IV, New Bedford, MA, 2004. For the bearing of the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater on the problematic cf. J.F. Bifet, La mediación maternal de Maria. Aspectos especificos de la enciclica “Redemptoris Mater,” in Ephemerides Mariologicae 39 (1989) 237-254; E. Llamas, La mediación maternal de Maria en la enciclica “Redemptoris Mater,” in Estudios Marianos 61 (1995) 149-180.

We can be quite sure of her triumph, precisely because as maternal mediatrix Christ entrusted, consecrated, the entire Church and each member to his Mother, the Woman foretold in Genesis 3:15 and revealed in glory in Revelation 12:1ff. But we cannot be sure of our share in that victory, unless we understand clearly and accept in practice the universal mediation of Mary in the Church and in the lives of each and every member, actual and potential. In practice, this means we must engage in true devotion to the Virgin, as St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort calls our basic response to the mystery of Marian mediation here and now, or live total consecration to the Immaculate, as St. Maximilian M. Kolbe defines the same basic response.

(7) Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950, in AAS 42 (1950).

(8) St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Scritti d Massimiliano Kolbe, Rome 1997, n. 1318. This profound essay, an example of contemplative theology of the highest order, was dictated by the saint only hours before his final arrest by Gestapo, Feb. 17, 1941. Unfortunately, there exists no satisfactory English translation to date.

(9) St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium, p. II, in particular chapters 2 and 9.

(10) More technical discussion of this issue is carried out via use of the terms “transcendental” and “predicamental” participation, the first denoting sharing in a spiritual perfection, the second sharing in material goods. Mediation par excellence is a form of metaphysical analogy, in the first instance the reconciliation of like and unlike. Cf. J. Ferrer Arellano, Marian Coredemption in the Light of Christian Philosophy, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II, New Bedford, MA, 2002, pp. 113-150. The effective recognition of the real difference between these two forms of predication requires a discussion of the relation between analogy and univocity in metaphysics, a point clearly recognized by Bl. John Duns Scotus, especially in regard to matters touching the will and the person, such as mediation. Analogy in order to mediate requires a mean or the “univocal.” Here are two key texts from his commentaries on Book I of the Sentences: “Teachers who speak of God and of God’s knowable attributes employ univocity in their manner of reasoning, even if they reject the word” (Rep. Par. I, d 3, q 1, n 7); and “Analogy would be useless if those truths that are evident in creatures were not attainable by the same reasoning as those which are attributed to God in an eminent degree” (Ord., d 8, p 1, q 3). Mediation is precisely one of these perfections classed by Scotus as “pure perfections” only accessible via “metaphysical univocity,” and therefore permitting participation without diminution of unity. On the difference between simple perfections and simply simple, or pure perfections cf. W. Hoeres, Die Wille als reine Vollkomenheit nach Duns Scotus, Munich 1962. Unfortunately there is nothing comparable in English. The classic Protestant position on Christ alone as Mediator rests on a wrongheaded denial of these basics of sound metaphysics, and leads straight to the monophysite theory of salvation excluding human cooperation in any form at any level, even of subordinate good works. Marian minimalism among Catholics in regard to the title universal Mediatrix heads in the same direction.

(11) For an introduction to the thought of Scotus on Marian mediation and its relation to the absolute predestination of Christ, cf. Maximilian M. Dean, F.I, A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ. Blessed John Duns Scotus and the Franciscan Thesis, New Bedford, MA, 2006.

(12) Witness the quasi-universal practice of divorce today, a moral-religious plague if ever there was one. Modern forms of mediation, e.g., psychological therapy-counseling in many cases, are about as successful as the ancient Roman pontifices as religious mediators. Their bridges over the Tiber were masterpieces of engineering; but neither ancient nor modern technique suffices to resolve the problem of sin, social discord, and death.

(13) Summa theologiae, III, q 26, a 1.

(14) Breviloquium, p. II, chapter 9. On the contributions of St. Bonaventure to an understanding of the concept of Marian mediation cf. P.D. Fehlner, Immaculata Mediatrix—Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption, in Mary Corredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate. Theological Foundations II, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, pp. 259-329; Idem, Il Mistero della Corredenzione secondo il Dottore Serafico San Bonaventura, in Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia, vol. II, Frigento 1999, 11-91.

(15) St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 1, a 2, q 2; II Sent., d 23, dub 4; for a parallel text in St. Thomas, Summa Th., II, II, q 2, a 7. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, Redemption, Metaphysics and the Immaculate Conception, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross V, New Bedford, MA, 2005, pp. 186-262, here p. 234.

(16) St. Bonaventure writes: “Whether we speak of the (Word) becoming man, or of the Woman becoming Mother of God, we are speaking of realities beyond what is due to or comprehensible by a mere creature” (III Sent., d 4, a 2, q 2). The same mysterious character belongs to the titles Mediator and Mediatrix.

(17) St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, col. 1, nn. 12-17. The middle position of the Word in the Trinity is the basis for his role in creation, and for the appropriateness of his Incarnation for the work of recreation and recapitulation, viz., a work of sacerdotal and sacrificial mediation. Inseparable from this at its every moment is the Virgin Mother Mediatrix. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, F.I., Immaculata Mediatrix—Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate. Theological Foundations II, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, pp. 259-329.

(18) Cf. Aa.Vv., Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” New Bedford, MA, 2005.

(19) Cf. I. Bover, Pauli doctrina de Christi Mediatione Mariae mediationi applicata, in Marianum, 4 (1942) 81-90.

(20) St. Bonaventure, Collationes de septem Donis Spiritus Sancti, col. 6. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, Il mistero della Corredenzione secondo il Dottore Serafico San Bonaventura, in Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia II , Frigento 1999, pp. 11-92.

(21) Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, homily at the ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals, March 25, 2006.

(22) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Ecclessia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003, chapter six.

(23) It is in this all-inclusive sense that the title of Mediatrix is taken in the petition that the cardinals and bishops united at Fatima in 2005 addressed to the Pope. Cf. Aa.Vv., Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” op. cit. This delineation of the all-inclusive sense is essentially that of St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, col. 6.

(24) For the biblical foundation of all of dogmatic Mariology, including the doctrine on Marian mediation, see S.M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2005, 442 pp.; I. De La Potterie, S.J., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, New York, 1992; P.C. Landucci, Maria Santissima nel Vangelo, Ed. San Paolo, Rome 2000, 537 pp.

(25) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987, 21.

(26) On the patristic development of this point cf. H. Rahner, Our Lady and the Church, New York 1961. Within the context of a contemplative Mariology see Ven. Mary of Agreda, Mystical City of God, in particular The Coronation (part III, in the complete English version, vol. 4: a good introduction is available in E. Llamas, The Ven. Mary of Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II, New Bedford, MA, 2006). The pattern of Marian mediation embedded in the Bible continues from the earliest days of the Church as a fixed context, within which from the sixth century the title Mediatrix will commonly be ascribed to the Virgin Mother. Further, the ecclesio-typical aspects of active Marian mediation are clearly shown to depend on the Christo-typical, in a proximate fashion on Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix.

(27) Bossuet, Homily III on the Conception of the Virgin.

(28) Cf. St. Justin, Dialogus cum Tryphone, n. 100, in PG 6, 709-711a. For the patristic foundation of Marian mediation, see L. Gambero, S.M., Maria nel pensiero dei Padri della Chiesa, Ed. Paoline, Alba (Cn) 1991 (English version: Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999); G. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza, vol. II, Ed. Pisani, Isola del Liri (Fr), pp. 171-179, 209-222; L. Cignelli, O.F.M., Maria Nuova Eva nella patristica greca, Assisi 1966; Testi mariani deli primo millennio, ed. G. Gharib, E. Toniolo, L. Gambero, G. Di Nola, Roma 1988-1993, 4 vv.

(29) St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, 18, 2, cit. by W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville (Minn.) 1970, p. 18 (n. 42).

(30) St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses, V, 19, 1; Demonstratio praedicationis apostolicae, 31, 33, cit. by B. de Margerie, Mary Coredemptrix in the Light of Patristics, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, op. cit., p. 9.

(31) Cf. G. Jouassard, Le rôle des chrétiennes comme intercesseurs auprès de Dieu dans la chrétienté lyonnaise au second siècle, in Revue des sciences religieuses, 30 (1956) 217-229; M. Jourion, Aux origines de la prière d’intercession de Marie, in Etudes Mariales, 23 (1966) 37-42.

(32) Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6, 49, in GCS, IV-57, p. 27. (English cit. in A. Menzies, ed., Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, 4th ed., 1897, p. 375.)

(33) Pseudo-Origen, in Florilegium casinense, 2, p. 154, 2c.

(34) Translation from the original Greek. The papyrus that relates this prayer is property of the John Rylands Library of Manchester (England). Published in the critical edition of M.C.H. Roberts, Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library Manchester, vol. III, Manchester 1938, p. 46. See also La mariologia dei Padri. Età pre nicena, LAS, Roma; G. Giamberardini, O.F.M., La mediazione di Maria nella Chiesa Egiziana, Cairo 1952, 124 pp.; G. Giamberardini, Il culto mariano in Egitto, 3 vv., Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem 1974-1978. English translation cit. by J.D. Miller, Marian Mediation: Is It True to say that Mary is Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate?, op. cit., p. 58; Maria Francesca Perilla, F.I., Sub Tuum Praesiduum. Incomparable Marian Praeconium, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross IV, New Bedford, MA, 2004, pp. 138-169.

(35) Cf. P.F. Mercernier, L’antienne mariale la plus ancienne, in Le Museon, 53 (1939) 229-233; Mercernier, La plus ancienne prière à la Sainte Vierge, in Les Questions Liturgiques et Paroissales, 25 (1940) 33-36.

(36) St. Ephraem, Opera, Ed. Assemani, vol. III, p. 532-533.

(37) Ibid, p. 526.

(38) Hymn Akathistos. Cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. I, Robert Appleton Co., 1907.

(39) Ibid.

(40) Theoteknos, Homily on the Assumption, n. 9, in A. Wenger, L’Assomption de la Très Sainte Vierge dans la Tradition Byzantine du VI au X siècle, Paris 1955, pp. 289, 291.

(41) St. Germanus of Constantinople, Homily 2 on the Dormition, in PG 98, 357.

(42) Idem, Homily on the Dedication of the Virgin to the Temple, in PG 98, 380-381.

(43) Idem, Homily 2 on the Dormition, in PG 98, 352b.

(44) St. Andrew of Crete, Sermon 4 On the Birth of Mary, PG 97, 865A. English cit. in “Appendix IV: English Translation of Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium,” Marian Studies, Vol. XXXVII (1986), p. 248, note 15.

(45) St. John Damascene, Homily 1 On the Dormition of the B.V. Mary, 8, PG 96, 712bc–713a. Cf. “Appendix IV: English Translation of Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium,” art. cit.

(46) Ibid., 716c. 717a.

(47) St. Bernard, In Vigilia Navitatis Domini Sermo 3, in PL 183, 100. Cf. P. Haffner, The Mystery of Mary (Wiltshire, England: Anthony Rowe Ltd. 2004), p. 258.

(48) Pseudo Albertus Magnus, Mariale, p. 164.

(49) St. Bonaventure, Opera omnia, vol. IX, p. 641a. On Marian mediation in St. Bonaventure cf. L. Di Fonzo, Doctrina Sancti Bonaventurae de Universali Mediatione B. Virginia Mariae, Rome 1938; P.D. Fehlner, Il mistero della Corredenzione…, cit. St. Bonaventure is rightly considered the “Doctor of Marian Mediation,” so profound and so many are his insights, so systematically thought out. Alone among the great Doctors of the thirteenth century, his teaching is at once a witness to the riches of the preceding tradition and a key to the subsequent development of Mariology in the West, particularly with Scotus. For the clinching argument for the Immaculate Conception in Scotus (and in the Bull of definition, Ineffabilis Deus, of Bl. Pius IX) rests on the concept of a most perfect redemption by a most perfect Redeemer. What makes that redemption most perfect is clearly expounded by St. Bonaventure in terms of Marian mediation, whence the need of a unique sanctity or fullness of grace in Mary as the ontological “mean” of her office between Christ and us.

(50) St. Bernardine of Siena, Homily on the Nativity of the B.V. Mary, chapter 8, cit. by M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, vol. II (New York: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), p. 271. St. Bernardine is another great “Doctor of Marian Mediation,” particularly as a foundation of Catholic spirituality. The substance of his teaching is doubtless what Scotus might have written, had he not died so young.

(51) By way of introduction to the theological value of this work and the significance of the golden age of Spanish Mariology in particular cf. E. Llamas, The Ven. Mary of Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II, New Bedford, MA, 2006.

(52) F.X. Godts, C.Ss.R., De definibilitate Mediationis universalis Deiprarae, Brussels 1904, 451 pp.

(53) J. Bittremieux J., De mediatione universali B.M. Virginis quoad gratis, Brugis 1926.

(54) A. Lépicier, O.S.M. (Card.), L’Immacolata Corredentrice Mediatrice, Rome 1928.

(55) Cf. M. Hauke, Maria “Mediatrice di tutte le grazie.” La mediazione universale di Maria nell’opera teologica e pastorale di cardinale Mercier, op. cit.

(56) G. Besutti, O.S.M., La mediazione di Maria secondo gli studi di due Commissioni istituite da Pio XI, with introduction by I.M. Calabuig, O.S.M., Marianum, 47 (1985) 37-174. Dr. Manfred Hauke is presently conducting detailed archival research seeking to locate the mysterious, elusive report of the Roman Commission.

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. Visit our store to order a copy. To view the book in its entirety, simply click here. Asst. Ed.

Some – perhaps many – Catholics, if they give any thought to it at all, may think that the practice of consecrating oneself to Our Lady or placing one’s life entirely in her hands is a rather recent phenomenon in the life of the Church. Indeed, even if they are rather well informed, they may be of the conviction that this custom dates from the time of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (+1716), the author of the famous treatises, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and The Secret of Mary. Surely without hesitation, St. Louis de Montfort (whom I hope will soon be named a Doctor of the Church) and St. Maximilian-Maria Kolbe (+1941) should be acknowledged as two of the principal proponents of Marian consecration in modern times. Yet the fact remains that this devotional practice dates from the earliest days of the Church and is really rooted in the Scriptures themselves, especially the words of Jesus from the Cross spoken to his Mother and to the beloved disciple (cf. Jn. 19:25-27).

Arguably the greatest proponent of Marian consecration in our own time was the Servant of God Pope John Paul II (+2005). His motto as bishop and pope was Totus Tuus (all yours), an abbreviated form of one of St. Louis de Montfort’s formulas, Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt (I am all yours [O Mary] and everything I have is yours).1 More than any other teacher of Marian consecration before him, this pope rooted his teaching and practice in the entrusting of John to Mary and Mary to John on Calvary. Here is a very important text from his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater of March 25, 1987, in which he expounded this doctrine in an authoritative manner:

The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. The same apostle and evangelist, after reporting the words addressed by Jesus on the Cross to his Mother and to himself, adds: “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn. 19:27). This statement certainly means that the role of son was attributed to the disciple and that he assumed responsibility for the Mother of his beloved Master. And since Mary was given as a mother to him personally, the statement indicates, even though indirectly, everything expressed by the intimate relationship of a child with its mother. And all of this can be included in the word “entrusting.” Such entrusting is the response to a person’s love, and in particular to the love of a mother.

The Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, “welcomes” the Mother of Christ “into his own home” and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian “I”: he “took her to his own home” (Redemptoris Mater 45).

Explaining the intimate relationship which Jesus wishes us to have with his Mother, the Pope pointed out that, while it is truly a personal relationship with Mary, it is ultimately oriented to Jesus himself:

This filial relationship, this self-entrusting of a child to its mother, not only has its beginning in Christ but can also be said to be definitively directed towards him. Mary can be said to continue to say to each individual the words which she spoke at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you.” … Precisely with her faith as Spouse and Mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) (Redemptoris Mater 46).

Historical Forms

The more one studies, the more one discovers Mary’s maternal presence in the itinerary of the Church’s life as well as the desire on the part of the faithful to entrust themselves to her. Here we can only indicate some of the major landmarks on this journey.2

Patristic Period

It does not seem presumptuous to see the first adumbrations of the tradition which would come to be known as Marian consecration in the Church in the most ancient recorded prayer to the Mother of God, dating from the third or fourth century, the Sub tuum praesidium.3 It is the filial prayer of Christians who know Mary’s motherly mercy (eusplangchnía in the Greek text) and therefore do not hesitate to have recourse to her protection (praesidium in the Latin text). If it does not speak of belonging to Mary, it is surely not far removed from this concept.

The late redoubtable Marian encyclopedist, Father Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., renders this third- or, at the latest, fourth-century prayer according to the reconstruction of Father Gabriele Giamberardini, O.F.M.: “Under your mercy, we take refuge, Mother of God, do not reject our supplications in necessity. But deliver us from danger. [You] alone chaste, alone blessed.”4 This Marian troparion used in almost all the rites of the Church and cited in Lumen Gentium 66 is ordinarily rendered into English after the Latin version: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin.”5 Mother Maria Francesca Perillo, F.I., on the basis of her recent study on the philology and doctrinal contents of the prayer, translates: “We take refuge in your womb, Holy Mother of God; do not refuse our pleas in our need, but save us from danger, O incomparable Virgin, divinely pure and blessed.”6

This ancient Marian invocation is of capital importance from many perspectives. First, it constitutes a remarkable witness to the fact that prayer was already explicitly addressed to Mary as Theotókos, or “Mother of God,” long before the Council of Ephesus which vindicated the use of this title in 431. Secondly, it may well reflect a tradition even older than the third century, the era from which many scholars believe the Egyptian papyrus dates, going all the way back to the apostolic period. Thirdly, while this antiphon (called a “troparion” according to Byzantine liturgical usage) does not explicitly call Mary “our Mother,” it does so in equivalent and very expressive terms.

About this justly famous and most ancient of Marian prayers Father Quéméneur makes this careful observation:

Here we do not yet have a consecration properly so called, but we already discern the fundamental elements that characterize Marian consecrations. The Sub tuum recognizes the patronage of the Mother of God; it is a spontaneous gesture of recourse to Mary. Originating in Egypt, the Sub tuum, with slight variations, will soon be taken up by the other churches; starting with the sixth century, it is inserted into the Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman liturgies. We can say that it is the root from which the formulas of other Marian prayers will arise.7

Significantly, and very conscious that he was standing in the most ancient stream of the Church’s Tradition, John Paul II framed the first part of his great acts of consecration and entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1982 and 1984 with the words of this antiphon: “We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God.”8 There are numerous other instances of his quotation of this most ancient Marian prayer.9

Father O’Carroll informs us that his confrère, the late Father Henri Barré, C.S.Sp., found evidence for the title servus Mariae in African sermons from the fifth and sixth centuries which indicate a personal attitude of belonging to Mary.10 Father Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M., also points to the use of this term in St. Ephrem the Syrian (+373) and Pope John VII (+707), but indicates that these instances cannot compare with the consistent usage and fervor of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo (+667).11 Ildephonsus is usually considered the first major representative of the spirituality of “Marian slavery”12 which eventually develops into what is now known as Marian consecration.13 400. In the case of Pope John VII one might profitably consult the testimony presented by Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M.,

Pope John Paul II himself, in his homily in Saragossa on November 6, 1982, immediately prior to the Entrustment of Spain to Our Lady, reviewed what is for us the most relevant information about this Benedictine Abbot who became the archbishop of Toledo:

St. Ildephonsus of Toledo, the most ancient witness of that form of devotion which we call slavery to Mary, justifies our attitude of being slaves of Mary because of the singular relation she has with respect to Christ. “For this reason I am your slave, because your Son is my Lord. Therefore you are my Lady because you are the slave of my Lord. Therefore, I am the slave of the slave of my Lord, because you have been made the Mother of my Lord. Therefore I have been made a slave because you have been made the Mother of my Maker” [De virginitate perpetua Sanctæ Mariæ, 12: PL 96, 108].

As is obvious, because of these real and existing relationships between Christ and Mary, Marian devotion has Christ as its ultimate object. The same St. Ildephonsus saw it with full clarity: “So in this way one refers to the Lord that which serves his slave. So, what is delivered up to the Mother redounds to the Son; thus passes to the King the honor that is rendered in the service of the Queen” [c. 12: PL 96, 108]. Then one understands the double employment of the desire expressed in the same blessed formula, speaking with the most Holy Virgin: “Grant that I may surrender myself to God and to you, to be the slave of your Son and of you, to serve your Lord and you” [c. 12: PL 96, 105].14

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The next major witness to the development of the tradition is the great Doctor of the Church St. John of Damascus (+c.750). The last of the great Eastern Fathers of the Church interprets the name of Mary, according to Syriac etymology, to mean “lady” or “mistress.” In his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith he says of Mary: “Truly she has become the Lady ruler of every creature since she is the Mother of the Creator.”1 In his first homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God he consequently prays:

We are present before you, O Lady [Despoina], Lady I say and again Lady, binding our souls to our hope in you, and as to a most secure and firm anchor [cf. Heb. 6:9], to you we consecrate [anathémenoi] our minds, our souls, our bodies [cf. 1 Thess 5:23], in a word, our very selves, honoring you with psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles [cf. Eph. 5:19], insofar as we are able-even though it is impossible to do so worthily. If truly, as the sacred word has taught us, the honor paid to our fellow servants testifies to our good will towards our common Master, how could we neglect honoring you who have brought forth your Master? … In this way we can better show our attachment to our Master.

Turn your gaze on us, noble Lady, Mother of the good Master, rule over and direct at your discretion all that concerns us; restrain the impulses of our shameful passions; guide us to the tranquil harbor of the divine will; make us worthy of future blessedness, of the beatific vision in the presence of the Word of God who was made flesh in you.2

One notes how in language which is redolent with scriptural overtones St. John makes the total gift of himself and those who are joined with him, of all that they have and are, to Our Lady. He deliberately used the Greek term anathémenoi in order to indicate that “consecration” means “setting aside for sacred use.” What is literally signified, according to the use of this word in Leviticus 27:28 and in other places in the Old Testament, is that this “giving of oneself to Mary” is so exclusive, absolute and permanent that one who would revoke the gift would be “cut off” (i.e. anathema) from God and his people. In analyzing this text, Father José María Canal, C.M.F., makes three major points: 1) Damascene’s deliberate use of the term “consecration” which pertains to setting aside for sacred use; 2) the comprehensiveness of this act which excludes nothing; and 3) its basis in Mary’s unique relationship to her divine Son by virtue of the divine maternity.3

Medieval Period

In the feudal setting of the early Middle Ages we find the custom of “patronage” (patrocinium) becoming widespread. In order to protect their lives and possessions, freemen would vow themselves to the service of their overlords; in exchange for the assurance of protection and the necessities of life, the client would place himself completely at the disposal of his protector. Here is a description of a traditional ceremony by which a vassal would put himself under the patronage and at the service of a suzerain, by the well-known liturgical scholar, Josef Jungmann, S.J.:

He put his hands in the enfolding hands of the master, just as is done today by the newly ordained priest when he promises honor and obedience to his bishop at the end of the ordination Mass. The act is also called commendation: se commendare, se tradere, in manus or manibus se commendare (tradere), and also patricinio se commendare (tradere). From the side of the overlord there was the corresponding suscipere, recipere, manus suscipere and the like.4

Not surprisingly, in those ages of faith this relationship of vassalage would provide a way of describing one’s relationship to Mary. If Jesus is one’s Lord, as we have already seen St. John of Damascus reason, then it is only logical that Mary becomes one’s Lady. Fulbert of Chartres (+1028) provides us with a beautiful prayer in which he underscores that his consecration to Christ in baptism also makes of him another “beloved disciple” (cf. Jn 19:26-27) “committed” to Mary:

Remember, O Lady, that in baptism I was consecrated to the Lord and professed the Christian name with my lips. Unfortunately I have not observed what I have promised. Nevertheless I have been handed over [traditus] to you and committed to your care [commendatus] by the Lord, the living and true God. Watch over the one who has been handed over to you [traditum]; keep safe the one who has been committed to your protection [commendatum].5

Likewise, a freeman who was in debt or otherwise not prospering in his affairs might present himself to an overlord “a rope around his neck, a sign that [he] was to become a serf, engaging his person, his family and his goods.”6 This, too, could be transferred into the spiritual realm and appropriated to one’s relationship to Our Lady as we see in the case of St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny (+1049) who as a young man consecrated himself to Our Lady by going to a church dedicated to her and presenting himself at her altar with a rope around his neck and praying:

O most loving Virgin and Mother of the Savior of all ages, from this day and hereafter take me into your service and in all my affairs be ever at my side as a most merciful advocate. For after God I place nothing in any way before you and I give myself over to you forever as your own slave and bondsman [tanquam proprium servum, tuo mancipatui trado].7

Another beautiful image of the patrocinium of the Virgin is that of her “protective mantle,” or Schutzmantel as it became known in German. In the Christian East the same image of the Virgin’s “protective mantle” is manifested in a slightly different iconographical style in the feast and image of the Pokrov.8 Here is Jungmann’s description of the Marian iconography which would become classical in the medieval West:

The emblem of Citeaux was the image of the Mother of God with the abbots and abbesses of the order kneeling under her mantle. Caesarius of Heisterbach (+1240) also knew this motif as he shows in his description of a Cistercian monk in heaven, looking about in vain for his brothers until Mary opens out her wide mantle and discloses a countless number of brothers and nuns. In the later Middle Ages especially, the motif of the protective mantle is widespread, commonly as an expression of protection being sought or hoped for, chiefly in connection with the image of the Mother of God.9

Arnold Bostius (+1499), a Flemish Carmelite, wrote explicitly about Mary’s patronage and protection of his order in his major Marian work, De Patronatu et Patrocinio Beatissimae Virginis Mariae in Dicatum sibi Carmeli Ordinem. Although he did not use the word “consecration” to describe the Carmelite’s relationship to Mary because that meaning had not yet been appropriated to the word, he used all the equivalent Latin expressions such as dicare, dedicare, devovere, sub qua vivere, etc.,10 and he maintained, as Pope Pius XII would in his letter, Neminem Profecto of February 11, 1950,11 that the wearing of the Carmelite scapular was an explicit sign of the acceptance of Mary’s patronage and protection, of the Carmelite’s belonging to her.12 In continuity with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II took up the same theme in his message to the prior general of Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and the superior general of the Discalced Carmelites on the 750th anniversary of the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, stating that “the most genuine form of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the scapular, is consecration to her Immaculate Heart.”13

Modern Period

This heritage of the patrocinium of Mary would find expression in the Marian Congregations (sodalities) established by the Belgian Jesuit Jean Leunis in 1563 for the students of the Collegio Romano.14 The admission to the congregation, which had as its aim the formation of militant Christians after the ideals of St. Ignatius Loyola and which was placed under the patronage of Our Lady, soon became an act of oblation to the Virgin. The text of one of these early admission ceremonies by Father Franz Coster (+1619) was published in the Libellus sodalitatis in 1586 and is most likely the very formula which he first used to receive students into the congregation which he had founded at Cologne, Germany, in 1576. In it the sodalist chooses Mary as “Lady, Patroness and Advocate” and begs her to receive him as her servum perpetuum.15 Father Quéméneur underscores the fact that the Marian Congregations introduce yet another perspective into the question of Marian consecration which is inherited from the late Middle Ages: the corporate dimension.16

In 1622, the Marian Congregation admission formulae of the Italian Jesuit Pietro Antonio Spinelli as well as that of Father Coster were published in the book Hortulus Marianus of Father La Croix. The two formulae are described respectively as modus consecrandi and modus vovendi to the Blessed Virgin. Jungmann comments that this is the first appearance of the word consecrare (to consecrate) with the meaning of putting oneself under the patrocinium of Mary and it is taken as being synonymous with the word devovere which in classical Latin meant to devote oneself to a deity.17 In effect, the understanding from the beginning of this usage has been that by the act of consecration to Our Lady the sodalist places himself at the service of Christ the King through her mediation and under her patronage.18 The use of the term “consecration,” with the meaning of giving oneself completely to Mary in order to belong more perfectly to Christ, enters into the common Catholic lexicon from this period and has continued to be used in this sense by the popes of the past hundred years.

During virtually the same period of time that the Jesuit Marian Congregations were developing, confraternities of the Holy Slavery of Mary were germinating in the soil of Spain. In fact, the earliest of these, founded under the inspiration of Sister Agnes of St. Paul at the convent of the Franciscan Conceptionists at Alcalá de Henares, dates from August 2, 1595,19 and thus antedates the foundation of the sodality movement. The first theologian of this “Marian slavery” as it was practiced in Alcalá was the Franciscan Melchor de Cetina “who composed in 1618 what may be called the first ‘Handbook of Spirituality’ for the members of the confraternity.”20

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As the seventeenth century progressed, the confraternities multiplied and papal approval followed. One of the great promoters and proponents of this spirituality was the Trinitarian, St. Simon de Rojas (+1624),1 who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 3, 1988. The Augustinian Bartolomé de los Rios (+1652)2 extended the work of his friend de Rojas into the Low Countries and propagated it by means of his writings, which were known and cited by St. Louis de Montfort.3

Perhaps the single most important figure to emerge thus far in our brief consideration of the forms of Marian consecration in the spiritual journey of the Church is Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle (+1629). Founder of the Oratory of Jesus and promoter of the Teresian reform of Carmel in France, his greatest glory in terms of the history of spirituality is probably one of which he was never conscious, that of being the “founder of the French School” of spirituality. His spiritual paternity would enrich the Church through St. John Eudes and the Ven. Jean-Jacques Olier, Sts. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort and Jean-Baptiste de la Salle. His disciples of even the second and third generations would continue to develop his doctrine with their own refinements and emphases. The depth of thought and the ponderousness of his style rendered him somewhat inaccessible so that often his immediate followers such as Olier and Eudes presented the fruits of his contemplation in ways which were much more appealing,4 but there can be no doubt that he was “le chef d’école.”

Of specific interest to us is that while visiting Spain in 1604 Bérulle, who had been a member of the Marian Congregation in his days in the Jesuit College of Clermont, came into contact with the confraternities of the Slaves of the Virgin and in particular with that of Alcalá de Henares, where he went to see the general of the Carmelites.5 This exposure would seem to have had a notable influence on the development of his own spirituality, for he would eventually formulate a “vow of servitude” to the Virgin Mary because of his conviction that in the divine design God wished to include in the vocation and predestination of Jesus Christ his divine filiation as well as the divine maternity.6 Hence Mary, the first to have made the vow of servitude to Jesus, “pure capacity for Jesus filled with Jesus,”7 relates one perfectly to him. Here are his words:

To the perpetual honor of the Mother and the Son, I wish to be in the state and quality of servitude with regard to her who has the state and quality of the Mother of my God. … I give myself to her in the quality of a slave in honor of the gift which the eternal Word made of himself to her in the quality of Son.8

We have already indicated a number of Bérulle’s illustrious disciples, but surely the greatest of them all was St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, described as “the last of the great Bérullians.”9 According to François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D.:

All of his teaching is marked by the powerful Christocentrism of the French School, with the same insistence on the mystery of the Incarnation and on the place of Mary in this mystery. But in receiving this precious talent, he makes it fruitful in a way that is personal and original. Above all, he renders accessible to all, especially the poorest and the smallest, the doctrine which Bérulle had formulated in a very theological manner, but in difficult language.10

While Bérulle had already indicated the link between baptism and his “vow of servitude to Jesus,” de Montfort would associate Mary with one’s baptismal commitment as well. What he proposes in his classic work, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, is a renewal of one’s baptismal promises “through the hands of Mary”:

In holy baptism we do not give ourselves to Jesus explicitly through Mary, nor do we give him the value of our good actions. After baptism we remain entirely free either to apply that value to anyone we wish or keep it for ourselves. But by this consecration we give ourselves explicitly to Jesus through Mary’s hands and we include in our consecration the value of all our actions.11

If Louis-Marie had written a special formula of consecration in conjunction with his treatise, True Devotion, it has not thus far come to light. This is because the first and last pages of the manuscript, only discovered in 1842, have never been found. The formula which he has left us in his earlier work, The Love of Eternal Wisdom, clearly highlights the fact that Jesus is the goal of the act of consecration which he proposes while Mary is its intermediary:

Eternal and incarnate Wisdom, most lovable and adorable Jesus, true God and true man, only Son of the eternal Father and of Mary always Virgin, … I dare no longer approach the holiness of your majesty on my own. That is why I turn to the intercession and the mercy of your holy Mother, whom you yourself have given me to mediate with you. Through her I hope to obtain from you contrition and pardon for my sins, and that Wisdom whom I desire to dwell in me always. … O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as his slave now and for always, so that he who redeemed me through you, will now receive me through you.12

Thus, while de Montfort readily and very frequently speaks of “consecrating oneself to Mary,” this must always be understood as a shorthand form of “consecrating oneself to Jesus through the hands of Mary.”13 It is precisely in these terms that Pope John Paul II presented him as a proponent of authentic Marian spirituality in Redemptoris Mater.14

Further, that same Pope defended the whole tradition of Marian slavery of which de Montfort is a major exponent-and, as we have seen, is deeply embedded in the whole tradition-in a discourse to his brother Polish bishops on December 17, 1987:

On May 3 of the year of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland [1966] we were witnesses to the participants in the Act of Consecration proclaimed by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński at Jasna Góra. The title of the act stimulated reflection, and at the same time it gave rise to certain objections, even protests. Can one speak of giving oneself “as a slave,” even if it is only a question of a “maternal slavery” and the act in question concerns the Mother of God and Queen of Poland?

One could say that the Act of Jasna Góra is itself rooted in the history of that “great paradox” whose first setting is the Gospel itself. Here it is a question not only of verbal paradoxes, but of ontological ones as well. The most profound paradox is perhaps that of life and death, expressed, among other places, in the parable of the seed which must die in order to produce new life. This paradox is definitively confirmed by the Paschal Mystery.

The tradition of a “holy slavery”-that is of a “maternal slavery” which is a “slavery of love”-has grown up on the same soil, and has been passed on by certain figures in the history of Christian spirituality. Suffice it to mention St. Louis de Montfort and our own St. Maximilian. Of course, the primate of the millennium inherited this tradition of Marian spirituality in part from his predecessor in the primatial see as well. It is known that Cardinal Hlond died with these words on his lips: “Victory, if it comes, will be victory through Mary.”

Thus it is that “maternal slavery” must reveal itself as the path towards victory, the price of freedom. For that matter, it is difficult to imagine any being less inclined to “enslave” than a mother, than the Mother of God. And if what we are speaking of is an “enslaving” through love, then from that perspective “slavery” constitutes precisely the revelation of the fullness of freedom. In fact, freedom attains its true meaning, that is, its own fullness, through a true good. Love is synonymous with that attainment. …

If we are speaking of the act of consecration itself “in maternal slavery” to the Mother of God, it is certainly, like every expression of her authentic cult, profoundly Christocentric. It introduces us into the whole mystery of Christ. Furthermore, we have a solid basis for affirming that the experiences of our country (which in a certain sense culminate in the Act of Consecration proclaimed at Jasna Góra) are also very close to the Mariology which found expression in Lumen Gentium: The Mother of God “present in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”

Although there continue to be those who call into question and criticize the terminology of “maternal slavery,”16 as John Paul II acknowledged, it remains one of those Gospel paradoxes which reflects the fact that the Son of God himself took on the “form of a slave” (Phil. 2:7) and that his followers glory in being “slaves of Christ” (cf. 1 Cor. 7:22; Col. 1:7, 4:7). In recent years Fathers François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., and Étienne Richer of the Community of the Beatitudes have offered extended reflections on its perennial validity.17

While it is only right to recognize de Montfort’s teaching as the highpoint of the Marian consecration championed by the “French School,” it would be unfair to consider the subsequent history of this phenomenon in the life of the Church simply in terms of denouement. The unfolding of this process continued even in that difficult period after the French Revolution with holy founders such as Bl. William Joseph Chaminade (+1850), who incorporated total consecration to Mary into the Society of Mary which he founded as the object of a special perpetual religious vow.18 The specific influence of de Montfort has been experienced, deepened according to the particular gifts of each and spread directly or indirectly by many other holy persons in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among these are the Ven. Mother Mary Potter (+1913), the Servant of God Frank Duff (+1980), Bl. Edouard Poppe (+1924), Bl. Dina Bélanger (+1929) and the Servant of God Marthe Robin (+1981).

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I believe, however, that in terms of the extent of the influence of de Montfort on his life and teaching and his subsequent diffusion of that teaching in his own unique way no twentieth-century figure can equal the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. He testified to that influence on his formation on many occasions.1 I am convinced that his Marian Magisterium is his greatest single legacy to the Church and that he has not only consolidated the teaching of his predecessors on Marian consecration, but has raised it to a new level by making it such a fundamental feature of his Ordinary Magisterium. (Rome: Edizioni Monfortane, 2005) 798-816; André Frossard,

It should also be noted that there are other approaches to Marian consecration which have come into existence in modern times which are not a direct result of the influence of great saint of Montfort-la-Cane. These are surely not in conflict with de Montfort’s; they simply have had their genesis under different circumstances and are a beautiful example of how the Holy Spirit draws unity out of diversity. It seems that St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe discovered de Montfort’s True Devotion only after he had been led to the necessity of Marian consecration through his immersion in the great Franciscan Marian tradition.2 Maximilian, who was familiar with de Montfort and saw the movement which he founded as a means of fulfilling his prophecy on the latter times,3 was also conscious of standing in the great tradition of Marian slavery. Although he did not employ the word with the frequency of de Montfort, he leaves no doubt about its implications in the following text:

You belong to her as her own property. Let her do with you what she wishes. Do not let her feel herself bound by any restrictions following from the obligations a mother has towards her own son. Be hers, her property; let her make free use of you and dispose of you without any limits, for whatever purpose she wishes.

Let her be your owner, your Lady and absolute Queen. A servant sells his labor; you, on the contrary, offer yours as a gift: your fatigue, your suffering, all that is yours. Beg her not to pay attention to your free will, but to act towards you always and in full liberty as she desires.

Be her son, her servant, her slave of love, in every way and under whatever formulation yet devised or which can be devised now or in the future. In a word, be all hers.

Be her soldier so that others may become ever more perfectly hers, like you yourself, and even more than you; so that all those who live and will live all over the world may work together with her in her struggle against the infernal serpent.

Belong to the Immaculate so that your conscience, becoming ever purer, may be purified still more, become immaculate as she is for Jesus, so that you too may become a mother and conqueror of hearts for her.4

Standing in the great tradition which we have been sketching, Maximilian brings a note of urgency about the battle, Mary’s “struggle against the infernal serpent” (cf. Gen. 3:15) and, hence, the all-consuming goal of his life was to mobilize an army, a militia completely at her disposal. This is clearly illustrated in the official Act of Consecration for the Militia Immaculatae:

O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, N … a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.5

Another twentieth century figure who developed an apostolic Marian movement based on total consecration to Our Lady was the Servant of God Joseph Kentenich (+1968). In the process of nurturing what eventually became the Schönstatt family, Father Kentenich formulated a beautiful approach to Marian consecration in richly biblical imagery as a “covenant of love”:

Through a solemn consecration, that is, through a perfect mutual covenant of love, we want to give ourselves to her [Mary] entirely and unreservedly for time and eternity, so that as a perfect covenant partner we may always stand in her presence and grow in holy two-in-oneness with her, and in her with the Triune God. …

The covenant of love not only gives us the right, but even makes it our duty to make proper use of our right to make claims of love on our covenant partner, and to use the power of petition which has been given to us. In other words, just as Our Lady makes claims on and expresses wishes to us, we in turn should do the same with her.6

The Papal Magisterium

If, as we have just seen, Pope John Paul II is the heir of the great ecclesial tradition of Marian consecration, manifested in various ways in the course of the Church’s almost two millennia of history, he might be said to be even more explicitly the inheritor of the legacy of papal consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.7 While space does not permit us to enter into this fascinating history here,8 we wish to indicate the most important high points. On October 31, 1942, the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII, gave a radio broadcast to pilgrims at Fatima celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the last of the 1917 apparitions. Concluding the broadcast, he prayed:

To you and to your Immaculate Heart, we, the common father of the vast Christian family, we, the vicar of him to whom was given “all power in heaven and on earth,” and from whom we have received the care of so many souls redeemed by his blood; to you and to your Immaculate Heart in this tragic hour of human history, we commit, we entrust, we consecrate [confiamos, entregamos, consagramos], not only the Holy Church, the mystical body of your Jesus, which suffers and bleeds in so many places and is afflicted in so many ways, but also the entire world torn by violent discord, scorched in a fire of hate, victim of its own iniquities. … Finally, just as the Church and the entire human race were consecrated to the Heart of your Jesus, because by placing in him every hope, it may be for them a token and pledge of victory and salvation; so, henceforth, may they be perpetually consecrated to you, to your Immaculate Heart [assim desde hoje Vos sejam perpetuamente consagrados também a Vós e ao vosso Coração Imaculado], O our Mother and Queen of the world, in order that your love and protection may hasten the triumph of the Kingdom of God.9

The act of consecration, originally made in Portuguese, was renewed in Italian in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1942. This was been referred to many times by Pope John Paul II, especially in his own major consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of May 13, 1982, and March 25, 1984.10 Here it should be pointed out that, even though this first consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was carried out in conjunction with celebrations in Fatima, the fundamental impetus for this came not from Sister Lúcia (who had a particular mission calling for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), but from Bl. Alexandrina da Costa (whose mission was to implore the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary).11

Another important pronouncement of Pius XII may be found in his address to the Jesuit Marian Congregations or Sodalities on January 21, 1945:

Consecration to the Mother of God in the Marian Congregation is total gift of oneself, for life and for eternity; it is not just a mere matter of form nor a gift of mere sentiment, but it is an effective gift, fulfilled in an intensity of Christian and Marian life, in the apostolic life, making the member of the congregation a minister of Mary and, as it were, her hands visible on earth through the spontaneous flow of a superabundant interior life which overflows in all the exterior works of deep devotion, of worship, of charity, of zeal.12

On November 21, 1964, at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, when he solemnly declared Mary Mother of the Church, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wished to commemorate the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pius XII and prayed in these words:

We commit [committimus] the human race, its difficulties and anxieties, its just aspirations and ardent hopes, to the protection of our heavenly Mother.

O Virgin Mother of God, most august Mother of the Church, we commend [commendamus] the whole Church and the Ecumenical Council to you. … We commend [commendamus] the whole human race to your Immaculate Heart, O Virgin Mother of God.13

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A frequently overlooked reference to entrusting oneself to Our Lady is found in the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: “Everyone should have a genuine devotion to her [Mary] and entrust his life to her motherly care” [Hanc devotissime colant omnes suamque vitam atque apostolatum eius maternæ curæ commendent].1

On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI issued his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to the children of Fatima and his own pilgrimage to that shrine. Recalling the great act of consecration of Pius XII in 1942 and his own reaffirmation of it in 1964, he went on to make this appeal.

So now we urge all members of the Church to consecrate [consecrent] themselves once again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to translate this pious act into concrete action in their daily lives. In this way they will comply ever more closely with God’s will and as imitators of their heavenly Queen, they will truly be recognized as her offspring.2

Bringing with him to the papacy the great heritage of Polish Marian piety and the collective consecrations of Poland to Our Lady (in 1920, 1946, 1956, 1966, 1971, and 1976)3 and his total appropriation of the spirituality of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II promoted Marian consecration and entrustment as no other successor of St. Peter has ever done. Here I can only present a few highlights. His first solemn entrustment of the Church to Our Lady took place at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on December 8, 1978.4

The prototype of great acts of consecration/entrustment was that pronounced by previous recording for Pentecost Sunday, June 7, 1981,5 in conjunction with the celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus. The event itself had been planned well in advance by the Pope. The double observance had been the object of a Pontifical Letter, A Concilio Constantinopolitano I, addressed to the bishops of the world,6 in which he spoke of Mary’s divine maternity as establishing a “permanent link with the Church” (perpetuum vinculum maternum cum Ecclesia).7 His more active participation in the festivities marking the observance of these two great councils and culminating on Pentecost Sunday, however, was precluded by an assassin’s bullet. The circumstances of this act of entrustment to Mary which addresses her as “entrusted to the Holy Spirit more than any other human being” and “linked in a profound and maternal way to the Church”8 are particularly poignant, then, and may also be reckoned as the plea of a stricken father on behalf of his family. The very same act was renewed again on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1981 before the icon of the Salus Populi Romani in St. Mary Major’s.9

The above cited act of entrustment became the archetype of two subsequent acts, closely modeled upon it, which gained considerably more public notice. The first of these was made on May 13, 1982, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, in that humble village in Portugal where Our Lady had first appeared 65 years earlier.10 It was also the first anniversary of the near fatal attempt on his life. The second of the acts deriving from that of Pentecost Sunday, 1981, was given more advance publication and correspondingly more emphasis was placed on the collegial nature of the act. It was announced in a pontifical letter to all the bishops of the world dated from the Vatican on December 8, 1983, but only published on February 17, 1984.11 It was intended to be one of the crowning acts of the Holy Year of the Redemption which began on March 25, 1983, and concluded on Easter Day, April 22, 1984. John Paul presented the rationale to his brother bishops in this way:

In the context of the Holy Year of the Redemption, I desire to profess this [infinite salvific] power [of the redemption] together with you and with the whole Church. I desire to profess it through the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God, who in a most particular degree experienced this salvific power. The words of the act of consecration and entrusting which I enclose, correspond, with a few small changes, to those which I pronounced at Fatima on May 13, 1982. I am profoundly convinced that the repetition of this act in the course of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption corresponds to the expectations of many human hearts, which wish to renew to the Virgin Mary the testimony of their devotion and to entrust to her their sorrows at the many different ills of the present time, their fears of the menaces that brood over the future, their preoccupations for peace and justice in the individual nations and in the whole world.

The most fitting date for this common witness seems to be the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord during Lent 1984. I would be grateful if on that day (March 24, on which the Marian Solemnity is liturgically anticipated, or on March 25, the Third Sunday of Lent) you would renew this act together with me, choosing the way which each of you considers most appropriate.12

The act itself was carried out by the Pope on Sunday March 25, 1984, in St. Peter’s Square before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which ordinarily occupies the site of Mary’s appearances at the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal, and which was especially flown to the Vatican for this occasion. The act of entrustment13 was recited by the Pope after the Mass commemorating the Jubilee Day of Families. Already the Holy Father has referred to his program of entrustment in his address to the Roman Curia on the Vigil of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1982:

This year, in a special way, after the attempt on my life which by coincidence occurred on the anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin at Fatima, my conversation with Mary has been, I should like to say, uninterrupted. I have repeatedly entrusted to her the destiny of all peoples: beginning with the act of consecration of December 8, (1981), Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to the consecration to the Virgin of the countries visited: of Nigeria at Kaduna, of Equatorial Guinea at Bata, of Gabon at Libreville, of Argentina at the Sanctuary of Lujan. I remember the visits to the Italian sanctuaries of Our Lady of Montenero in Livorno, and of Our Lady of St. Luke in Bologna; culminating in the pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, “Land of St. Mary,” which was a personal act of gratitude to Our Lady, almost the fulfillment of a tacit vow for the protection granted me through the Virgin, and a solemn act of consecration of the whole human race to the Mother of God, in union with the Church through my humble service.14

There was never any veering from the path of this “program of entrustment” from the beginning of the pontificate to its very conclusion.15 Pope Benedict XVI has continued to follow in the footsteps of his venerated predecessor, most frequently using the term entrust. Here is one of his strongest exhortations to date. It occurred in his homily at the canonization of Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão at Campo de Marte, São Paulo, Brazil on May 11, 2007:

In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong to her forever and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters.

My dearest friends, what a fine example Frei Galvão has left for us to follow! There is a phrase included in the formula of his consecration which sounds remarkably contemporary to us, who live in an age so full of hedonism: “Take away my life before I offend your blessed Son, my Lord!” They are strong words, the words of an impassioned soul, words that should be part of the normal life of every Christian, whether consecrated or not, and they enkindle a desire for fidelity to God in married couples as well as in the unmarried. The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and virginity before marriage.

In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation. And what an unfailing support is this mysterious presence of the Virgin Most Pure, when we invoke the protection and the help of the Senhora Aparecida! Let us place in her most holy hands the lives of priests and consecrated laypersons, seminarians and all who are called to religious life.16

A Question of Terminology?

In recent years not a few Mariologists have taken the position that not only the terminology of Marian slavery-as we have seen above-but also the concept of Marian consecration itself is no longer acceptable.17 The argument is that consecration pertains to God alone and depends on his sovereign initiative and that our part can only be one of response.18 Further some argue that in a larger passive sense one cannot be consecrated to anyone but God.19 These authors argue that Pope John Paul II fully accepted their perspective and so decided to use the words entrust and entrustment to describe our relationship with Mary, effectively avoiding the “defective and discredited formulas of the past.”

In contrast, Father George Kosicki, C.S.B., has considered at some length the meaning of the Polish word most frequently used by John Paul II, translated into Italian as “affidare” and into English as “entrust.” The word is zawierzać, the same word employed in Cardinal Wyszyński’s various consecrations of Poland.20 Let us allow Father Kosicki to share some of his discoveries about this word:

I continued to wonder about the word “entrust” until I met a priest from Poland, a colleague of the present Pope while at the University of Lublin where Karol Wojtyła taught as bishop of Krakow. I asked him about the word “entrust” and its Polish meaning, mentioning that I was disappointed that he didn’t use the word “consecrate” to Mary in his Letter to All Priests [of April 8, 1979].21 His response was very clear and reassuring. He pointed out that the Polish word “zawierzać” (translated as “entrust”) is a strong word and is used for what we call in English “consecration” to Mary. He went on to say that the Polish word which is the equivalent root word to the English “consecration” (viz. “konsekracia“) is usually reserved for the consecration at Mass. He went further to point out that the word “entrust” was a special word for John Paul II because of the way he has used it in his Polish writings. He added that the motto of John Paul, “Totus Tuus,” (I am) all yours (Mary), means, “I consecrate myself to you, Mary” and is what Pope John Paul has in mind when he uses “zawierzać” (translated into English as “entrust”). In short the Polish “to entrust” means “to consecrate.”22

I have studied the question of consecration to Our Lady vis-à-vis entrustment to her, both in terms of contemporary theological discussion23 as well as John Paul II’s use of the term entrustment,24 and am convinced that he frequently used the words interchangeably along with other words such as dedicate, offer, commend, place in the hands of, etc.25 At the same time I have chosen as the title for this chapter the binomial “consecration and entrustment” because I believe that each word can be justified and offers shades of meaning not conveyed by the other.

(Page 6)

 The Theological Foundations of Consecration/Entrustment

A classical presentation on personal consecration provides us an important approach to the theological questions underlying our presentation:

Strictly speaking, one can consecrate himself only to God, for only God has the right to man’s total dedication and service. Consecration to Christ, to the Sacred Heart, is legitimate because of the hypostatic union. But “consecration” to the Blessed Virgin, or even to St. Joseph or to other saints, is not unknown to Christian piety. In the case of St. Joseph or the other saints, this is to be understood as consecration in a broad sense of the term, and it signifies no more than an act of special homage to one’s heavenly protector. The case of the Blessed Virgin, however, is not the same. The importance of her role in Christian spirituality is such that formulas of dedication to her appear to have more profound meaning. Her position in the economy of salvation is inseparable from that of her Son. Her desires and wants are his, and she is in a unique position to unite Christians fully, quickly, and effectively to Christ, so that dedication to her is in fact dedication to Christ. French spirituality has made much of consecration to Mary. Cardinal Bérulle encouraged the vow of servitude to Jesus and Mary. St. John Eudes propagated the devotion of consecration not only to the Sacred Heart, but to the Heart of Mary as well. But the practice achieved its strongest expression in the Traité de la vraie dévotion à la Sainte Vierge of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. The act of personal consecration according to Montfort, is an act of complete and total consecration. It consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong wholly to Jesus through her.1

In effect the author of this article points to a resolution of this problem along two complementary lines. First and, admittedly, only very implicitly he evokes the principle of analogy. Secondly and quite explicitly he points to the unique role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the economy of our salvation, particularly her mediation.

The Principle of Analogy

In the perspective of the philosophia perennis (perennial philosophy), analogy means a “likeness in difference.” Here are two excerpts from his article on consecration in the Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia:

The only way to be able to apply a term to God and to a creature is to have recourse to analogy which is based precisely on the likeness in the difference. The analogical use of consecration referred to Mary maintains a sense of “total and perpetual gift” which is required in order to bring this usage in line with the light of revelation and theology. … The gift to her is analogous to that which is made to God since it maintains the significance of the total and perpetual gift, but on the different level proper to a creature.2

Consequently, when one speaks of “consecration to God” and “consecration to Mary” one is effectively speaking in the first place of what the disciples of St. Thomas call the “analogy of attribution.” Gardeil says that

In the analogy of attribution there is always a primary (or principal) analogate (or analogue), in which alone the idea, the formality, signified by the analogous term is intrinsically realized. The other (secondary) analogates have this formality predicated of them by mere extrinsic denomination.3

Following this paradigm, then, “consecration to God” is the primary analogate whereas “consecration to Mary” is a secondary analogate. In other words, the term “consecration” signifies something which is common to both analogates, the recognition of our dependence on them, but since God is our Creator and Mary is a creature that dependence cannot be exactly the same.4

But it can be held as well that such usage of the term “consecration to Mary” is also an instance of the “analogy of proportionality” which Gardeil explains in this way:

It will be remembered that in the analogy of attribution the (secondary) analogates are unified by being referred to a single term, the primary analogue. This marks a basic contrast with the analogy now under consideration, that of proportionality; for here the analogates are unified on a different basis, namely by reason of the proportion they have to each other. Example: in the order of knowledge we say there is an analogy between seeing (bodily vision) and understanding (intellectual vision) because seeing is to the eye as understanding is to the soul.5

Theologians have long recognized that there exists an analogy, a certain “likeness in difference,” between Jesus and Mary, a certain symmetry and complementarity, though not identity, between them.6

Admittedly, today this classical Catholic principle is more and more being called into question, and yet it is a fundamental building block of Catholic theology. Indeed, without it the discipline of theology is impossible and without it there is no understanding of Marian consecration. Even authors whom I have cited, like De Fiores, today distance themselves from it.7 In this regard Father Joaquín Ferrer Arellano has done us a great favor in recent years exposing the weakness of so much modern theology and Mariology8 and clearly indicating the Lutheran/Barthian animus against the principle of analogy.9 Let us have a few examples of how the great masters employ this concept. Here are some very important instances from St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort:

As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus. That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.10

This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.11

It follows that we consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to Mary and to Jesus. We give ourselves to Mary because Jesus chose her as the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite us to him. We give ourselves to Jesus because he is our last end.12

(Page 7)

The Principle of Marian Mediation

The astute reader will recognize that de Montfort’s texts cited above are a marvelous fusion of the principle of analogy and that of Marian mediation. He was, indeed, an extraordinary teacher who knew how to present sound theology to the poor and little ones. It was one of the great achievements of the late Pope John Paul II to re-launch discussion on Mary’s maternal mediation in the third part of his great Marian encyclical, Redemptoris Mater (38-47), at a time when such discourse had been out of favor in most theological and Mariological circles since the time of the Second Vatican Council.1 Perhaps even less noticed are his profound statements about Our Lady in his first encyclical, which speaks about Mary’s mediation without using the word. In Redemptor Hominis 22, he wrote:

For if we feel a special need, in this difficult and responsible phase of the history of the Church and of mankind, to turn to Christ, who is Lord of the Church and Lord of man’s history on account of the mystery of the redemption, we believe that nobody else can bring us as Mary can into the divine and human dimension of this mystery. Nobody has been brought into it by God himself as Mary has. It is in this that the exceptional character of the grace of the divine motherhood consists. Not only is the dignity of this motherhood unique and unrepeatable in the history of the human race, but Mary’s participation, due to this maternity, in God’s plan for man’s salvation through the mystery of the redemption is also unique in profundity and range of action. … The Father’s eternal love, which has been manifested in the history of mankind through the Son whom the Father gave, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” comes close to each of us through this Mother and thus takes on tokens that are of more easy understanding and access by each person. Consequently, Mary must be on all the ways for the Church’s daily life. Through her maternal presence the Church acquires certainty that she is truly living the life of her Master and Lord and that she is living the mystery of the redemption in all its life-giving profundity and fullness.2

In his own unique style he was already reaffirming the Church’s teaching about Mary’s mediation of all graces.3

The teaching about the analogy between Jesus and Mary, between his Heart and her Heart, and her unique role as Mediatrix, he would draw out in many different ways in the course of his pontificate of over 26 years, precisely in his presentation of Marian consecration and entrustment. Here a few examples must suffice. In his homily at Fatima on May 13, 1982, before making his solemn Act of Consecration and Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he stated:

On the Cross Christ said: “Woman, behold your son!” With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s Heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified One. That pierced Heart became a sign of the redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary opened with the words “Woman, behold, your son!” is spiritually united with the Heart of her Son opened by the soldier’s spear. Mary’s Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Savior, bringing it back to the very source of its redemption. Redemption is always greater than man’s sin and the “sin of the world.” The power of the redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.

The Heart of the Mother is aware of this, more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.

And so she calls us.

She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of redemption.

Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help-by having recourse to her motherly Heart, which beneath the Cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world-in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy. God’s holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the sacrifice of the Cross. “For their sake I consecrate myself,” Jesus had said (Jn 17:19).

By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to him who is infinitely holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.

The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world, in this act of confiding by which the world, mankind as a whole, the nations, and each individual person are presented to the Eternal Father with the power of the redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.4

He sounded very similar notes when he spoke on the last day of 1984 in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, commenting on his Act of Consecration and Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25 of that same year:

Closely united with the Jubilee Year was the Act of Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which I carried out in union with all the bishops of the world.

I had already made such an act of entrustment and consecration on May 13, 1982, during my pilgrimage to Fatima, thus linking myself with the two acts carried out by Pius XII in 1942 and 1952. On March 25 of this year the same act of entrustment and consecration had a collegial character, because it was made simultaneously by all the bishops of the Church: it was carried out in Rome and at the same time all over the world.

This Act of Consecration was a drawing nearer of the world, through the Mother of Christ and our Mother, to the source of life, poured out on Golgotha: It was a bringing back of the world to the same fount of redemption, and at the same time, to have the Madonna’s help to offer men and peoples to him who is infinitely holy (cf. Homily at Fatima, n. 8).

Before the venerated statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought to Rome for the occasion, I offered the hopes and anxieties of the Church and the world, invoking the aid of Mary in the struggle against evil and in preparation for the third millennium. Now is the hour when every person must make an effort to live faithfully this Act of Consecration to Mary.5

Again on September 22, 1986, the late Holy Father offered yet another synthesis of his great acts of consecration and entrustment:

We see symbolized in the Heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son. It is with regard to her special role in her Son’s mission that devotion to Mary’s Heart has prime importance, for through love of her Son and of all humanity she exercises a unique instrumentality in bringing us to him. The act of entrusting to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that I solemnly performed at Fatima on May 13, 1982, and once again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, is based upon this truth about Mary’s maternal love and particular intercessory role. If we turn to Mary’s Immaculate Heart she will surely “help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future”

Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the Heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ she is wholly united to his redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said “Do whatever he tells you,” Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the Heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior.

The act of entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are. This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.6

He would draw out the implications of consecration/entrustment to Mary for both individuals and peoples in countless ways in the course of his long pontificate. Perhaps one of his last and greatest gifts to the Church was his teaching in his last encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 57:

“Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19). In the “memorial” of Calvary all that Christ accomplished by his Passion and his death is present. Consequently all that Christ did with regard to his Mother for our sake is also present. To her he gave the beloved disciple and, in him, each of us: “Behold, your son!” To each of us he also says: “Behold your mother!” (cf. Jn 19: 26-27).

Experiencing the memorial of Christ’s death in the Eucharist also means continually receiving this gift. It means accepting-like John-the one who is given to us anew as our Mother. It also means taking on a commitment to be conformed to Christ, putting ourselves at the school of his Mother and allowing her to accompany us. Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist.7

While an enormous number of further texts could be adduced, it is my sincere hope that those already presented will be an encouragement to take up the exhortation which John Paul II made on December 31, 1984: “Now is the hour when every person must make an effort to live faithfully this act of consecration to Mary.”8


Footnotes, Page 1

1. Cf. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin [= TD] 179, 216, 266 in God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort (Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 1988). In each of these passages the phrase appears with slightly different variations. The Latin formula quoted in TD 216 comes from a work attributed to St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), the Psalterium Majus, Opera Omnia (Vives Ed.), Vol. 14, 221a and 221b.
2. Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, “Studies and Texts,” No. 1, 1992) [= Totus Tuus] 41-74. I hope that within a year a second enlarged and revised edition of this work will appear. On the historical evolution of Marian consecration, cf. also P. Alessandro M. Apollonio, F.I., “La consacrazione a Maria,” Immaculata Mediatrix I: 3 (2001) [Apollonio, Cons] 72-91.
3. Discovered in 1917, a papyrus now kept in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, contains the text of this Marian prayer which makes it the oldest invocation of the Mother of God which has thus far been found. Cf. Gerard S. Sloyan, “Marian Prayers” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.) Mariology Vol. 3 (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1961) 64-68; I. Calabuig, O.S.M., “Liturgia” in Stefano De Fiores and Salvatore Meo (eds.) Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia (Cinisello Balsamo: Edizioni Paoline, 1985) [= NDM] 778-779; Théodore Koehler, S.M., “Maternité Spirituelle, Maternité Mystique,” in Hubert du Manoir (ed.), Maria: Études sur la Sainte Vierge Vol. VI (Paris: Beauchesne et Ses Files, 1961) [= Maria]; Gabriele Giamberardini, O.F.M., Il culto mariano in Egitto, Vol. I: Secoli I-VI (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1975) 69-97; Achille M. Triacca, “Sub tuum praesidium: nella lex orandi un’anticipata presenza della lex credendi. La teotocologia precede la mariologia?” in La mariologia nella catechesi dei Padri (età prenicena), ed. Sergio Felici (Rome: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano “Biblioteca di Scienza Religiosa” no. 88, 1989) 183-205; R. Iacoangeli, “Sub tuum praesidium. La più antica preghiera mariana: filologia e fede,” ibid. 207-40; Mother M. Francesca Perillo, F.I., “Sub Tuum Praesidium: Incomparable Marian Praeconium” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – IV: Acts of the Fourth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004) [= Perillo] 138-169.
4. Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1982) [= Theotokos] 336.
5. Theotokos 336.
6. Perillo 168.
7. M. Quéméneur, S.M.M., “Towards a History of Marian Consecration,” trans. Bro. William Fackovec, S.M., Marian Library Studies 122 (March 1966) 4. (This excellent article originally appeared as “La consécration de soi à la Vierge à travers l’histoire,” Cahiers Marials no. 14 [1959] 119-128.
8. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II [= Inseg] V/2 (1982) 1586, 1587 [L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English (= ORE). First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page] 735:5, 12; Inseg ORE 828:9, 10].
9. Cf. Totus Tuus 44-45.
10. Theotokos 107.
11. Stefano de Fiores, “Consacrazione” in NDMMaria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza Vol. IV (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 97-98.
12. Cf. the excellent study by Théodore Koehler, S.M., in Dictionnaire de Spiritualité Ascétique et Mystique [= DSp] 14:730-745.
13. Cf. Patrick J. Gaffney, S.M.M., “The Holy Slavery of Love,” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.), Mariology 3:143-146; Roschini, Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza IV:85-86.
14. Inseg V/3 (1982) 1179-1180 [trans. by Debra Duncan].

Footnotes, Page 2

1. Cited in Valentine Albert Mitchell, S.M., The Mariology of Saint John Damascene (Kirkwood, MO: Maryhurst Normal Press, 1930) 76; cf. also 214.
2. Patroligia Graeca 96, 720C-D, 721A-B; Sources Chrétiennes 80, 118 (my trans. made with reference to Theotokos 199 and Georges Gharib et al (ed.), Testi Mariani del Primo Millennio Vol. 2: Padri e altri autori bizantini (Rome: Città Nuova Editrice, 1989) 519-520); my emphasis.
3. P. José María Canal, C.M.F., “La Consagración a la Virgen y a Su Corazon Inmaculado,” Virgo Immaculata Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Romae anno MCMLIV (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1956) XII:234-235.
4. J.A. Jungmann, S.J., Pastoral Liturgy (NY: Herder and Herder, 1962) 298.
5. Henri Barré, C.S.Sp., Prières Anciennes de l’Occident à la Mère du Sauveur: Des origines à saint Anselme (Paris: Lethielleux,, 1963) 159 (my trans.).
6. Quéméneur 6.
7. Barré, Prières Anciennes, 147 (my trans).
8. Cf. S. Salaville, A.A., “Marie dans la Liturgie Byzantine ou Gréco-Slave,” in Maria I:280; cf. also Quéméneur 4 and Redemptoris Mater 33.
9. Jungmann 300; cf. also Theotokos 93-94.
10. I. Bengoechea, O.C.D., “Un precursor de la consagración a María en el siglo XV: Arnoldo Bostio (1445-1499),” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 218; cf. also Redemptus M. Valabek, O.Carm., Mary, Mother of Carmel: Our Lady and the Saints of Carmel, Vol. I (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1987) 74.
11. Acta Apostolicæ Sedis [= AAS] 42 (1950) 390-391; Our Lady: Papal Teachings (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) [= OL] 452-454.
12. Bengoechea 224-225; Valabek 76.
13. Inseg XXIV/1 (2001) 600 [ORE 1687:5].
14. Cf. E. Villaret, S.J., “Marie et la Compagnie de Jésus” in Maria 2:962-968.
15. Jungmann 303.
16. Quéméneur 8.
17. Jungmann 304.
18. Villaret 968.
19. Gaffney 146; Canal 250 and especially J. Ordoñez Marquez, “La Cofradía de la Esclavitud en las Concepcionistas de Alcalá,” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 231-248.
20. Gaffney 146; Canal 252-53; Gaspar Calvo Moralejo, O.F.M., “Fray Melchor de Cetina, O.F.M., el primer teólogo de la ‘Esclavitud Mariana’ (1618),” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 249-271; Juan de los Angeles – Melchior de Cetina, Esortazione alla devozione della Vergine Madre di Dio: Alle origini della “schiavitù mariana” Introduzione, traduzione e note di Stefano Cecchin, O.F.M., (Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 2003).

Footnotes, Page 3

1. Cf. Juan Pujana, “Simón de Rojas,” DSp 14:877-884; Gaffney 147; Canal 253-254.
2. Cf. Quirino Fernandez, “Los Rios y Alarcón (Bartolomé de)” DSp 9:1013-1018.
3. TD 160; Gaffney 255-259.
4. Raymond Deville, P.S.S., L’école française de spiritualité, n. 11 de la “Bibliothèque d’Histoire du Christianisme (Paris: Desclée, 1987) 29.
5. A. Molien, “Bérulle,” DSp 1:1547.
6. Opuscule de piété, 93, 1103 quoted in Paul Cochois, Bérulle et l’École française, n. 31 de “Maîtres Spirituels” (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1963) 105. Cf. also William M. Thompson (ed.), Bérulle and the French School: Selected Writings (NY: Paulist Press, 1989) 14-16; 41-50; Théodore Koehler, S.M., “Servitude (saint esclavage),” DSp 14:738-741.
7. Quoted in Cochois 105.
8. Theotokos 80.
9. Henri Brémond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, IX, (Paris: Librairie Bloud et Gay, 1932) 272. This appellation is also cited in Deville 139.
10. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, L’Amour de Jésus en Marie: Le Traité de la vraie dévotion, Le Secret de Marie, Nouvelle édition établie et présentée par François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., I: Présentation Générale (Geneva: Ad Solem, 2000) 23-24 (my trans.). Cf. also Ibid., “La Maternité de Marie dans le mystère de l’Incarnation et de notre divinisation selon saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort et le Cardinal de Bérulle” in François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D, Théologie de l’Amour de Jésus: Écrits sur la théologie des saints (Venasque: Éditions du Carmel, 1996) 105-138.
11. TD 126 (in God Alone 329).
12. Love of Eternal Wisdom 223, 226 (in God Alone 112, 113). Léthel points out in L’Amour de Jésus en Marie, II: Textes, pp. 198-201, that in 66-69 of the Secret of Mary [= SM] three prayers addressed to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit and to Mary effectively constitute a renewal of this consecration.
13. Cf. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life trans. by Bernard J. Kelley, C.S.Sp., (St. Louis: B. Herder Book, Co., 1957) 256, note 19.
14. Redemptoris Mater 48.
15. Inseg ORE 1022:11.
16. Here, for example, is the critique of E. Schillebeeckx, O.P.: “Let us take one example of antiquated terminology in this context, the phrase ‘slave of Mary.’ It is quite obvious, both from the cultural and from the religious point of view, that this term cannot hope to make a favorable impact or produce the right effect nowadays. In the past this phrase may well have concealed a deep religious reality. Today it is absolutely unacceptable, and its use can only lead to total misunderstanding. The reader should not impute pride to this condemnation-the very opposite is true. It is simply that the present-day Christian is incapable of embodying in his life the idea of total loving surrender if this is presented to him in the form of ‘loving slavery.’ The greatest tribute which could be paid to St. Louis Grignion de Montfort would be to free his profound vision from its now out-of-date terminology, which today hinders rather than promotes devotion to the Blessed Virgin.” Mary Mother of the Redemption trans. by N.D. Smith (NY: Sheed and Ward, 1964) 139.
17. Cf. François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., “La Maternité de Marie dans le mystère de l’Incarnation et de notre divinisation selon saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort et le Cardinal de Bérulle” in François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D, Théologie de l’Amour de Jésus: Écrits sur la théologie des saints (Venasque: Éditions du Carmel, 1996) 127-133; Ibid., L’Amour de Jésus en Marie, I: Présentation Générale I:81-119; Étienne Richer, La pédagogie de sainteté de saint Louis-Marie de Montfort (Paris: Pierre Téqui, éditeur, 2003) 179-188; Ibid., Suivre Jésus avec Marie: Un secret de sainteté de Grignion de Montfort à Jean-Paul II (Nouan-le-Fuzelier: Éditions des Béatitudes, 2006) 267-281.
18. Cf. Henri Lebon, S.M., “Chaminade (Guillaume-Joseph),” DSp 2:454-59; Peter A. Resch, S.M., “Filial Piety” in Mariology 3:162-167.

Footnotes, Page 4

1. Cf. Alberto Rum, S.M.M., “Montfort e Giovanni Paolo II: Due Testimoni e Maestri di Spiritualità Mariana,” Fragmenta Monfortana 3 (Rome: Edizioni Monfortane, 1999) 107-142; Ibid., “Giovanni Paolo II” in Dizionario di Spiritualità Monfortana”Be Not Afraid!” trans. by J.R. Foster (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1984) 125-127; Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope edited by Vittorio Messori and trans. by Jenny and Martha McPhee (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994) 212-215; Ibid., Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1996) 41-43.
2. Cf. Alessandro Maria Apollonio, F.I., Mariologia Francescana: Da san Francesco d’Assisi ai Francescani dell’Immacolata. Dissertationes ad Lauream in Pontificia Facultate Theologica «Marianum» 71, Estratto (Rome, 1997) [= Apollonio, MF].
3. Cf. TD 35, 46-59; Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe (Rome: Editrice Nazionale Milizia dell’Immacolata, 1997) 1129 [Anselm W. Romb, O.F.M. Conv., The Kolbe Reader (Libertyville, IL: Franciscan Marytown Press, 1987) 36-39].
4. Scritti 1334 [Romb 194].
5. Scritti 37, 1331 [English version from Marytown, Libertyville, IL]. On the consecration proposed by St. Maximilian cf. Apollonio, MF 192-195; Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity, Pneumatologist: His Theology of the Holy Spirit (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004) 143-145.
6. Joseph Kentenich, Schoenstatt’s Covenant Spirituality ed. and trans. Jonathan Niehaus (Waukesha, WI: Schoenstatt Fathers) 28, 57.
7. Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “The Cultus of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Papal Magisterium from Pius IX to Pius XII” in Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Internationalis in Sanctuario Mariano Kevelaer (Germania) Anno 1987 Celebrati II: De Cultu Mariano Saeculis XIX et XX usque ad Concilium Vaticanum II Studia Indolis Generalioris (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1991) 355-392; Ibid., “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Internationalis in Civitate Onubensi (Huelva – Hispania) Anno 1992 Celebrati IV: De Cultu Mariano Saeculo XX a Concilio Vaticano II usque ad Nostros Dies (Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1999) 147-167.
8. Cf. Totus Tuus 75-98.
9. AAS 34 (1942) 318-19, 324-25; Our Lady: Papal Teachings (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961] [= OL] 374, 380 [alt.]. Cf. AAS 34 (1942) 313‑25 for the text of the radio message and the Act of Consecration in both Portuguese and Italian. For a commentary on this act, cf. Totus Tuus 99-102.
10. December 8, 1981, Inseg IV/2 (1981) 869, 873 [ORE 714:2, 12]; May 13, 1982, Inseg V/2 (1982) 1574-75, 1586 [ORE 735:5]; May 19, 1982, Inseg V/2 (1982) 1759 [Portugal: Message of Fatima (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983) 200]; March 25, 1984, Inseg VII/1 (1984) 775 [ORE 828:9]; December 31, 1984, Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1684 [ORE 869:4]; September 22, 1986, Inseg IX/2 (1986) 699; October 16, 1988, Inseg XI/3 (1988) 1240 [ORE 161:1].
11. Cf. Totus Tuus 96-98; Umberto M. Pasquale, S.D.B., Messaggera di Gesù per la Consacrazione del Mondo al Cuore Immacolato (Rome: Postulazione Casa Generalizia Salesiana, n.d.).
12. Discorsi e radiomessaggi di sua Santità Pio XII, Vol. VI (Vatican City: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1951) 281 [OL 389].
13. AAS 56 (1964) 1017‑18 [The Pope Speaks (= TPS) Vol. 10:140‑141]. Cf. Totus Tuus 106-108.

Footnotes, Page 5

1. Apostolicam Actuositatem 4. Cf. Totus Tuus 73, 108.
2. AAS 59 (1967) 475 [TPS 12:286].
3. Cf. Totus Tuus 113-137.
4. Inseg I (1978) 313-314 [Talks of John Paul II (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1979) 423-424].
5. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 1241-1247 [ORE 688:7, 10].
6. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 815-828 [ORE 678:6-8].
7. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 824 [ORE 678:7].
8. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 1245 [ORE 688:10].
9. Inseg IV/2 (1981) 876-879 [ORE 714:12].
10. Inseg V/2 (1982) 1586-1590 [ORE 735:5, 12].
11. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 416-418 [ORE 823:2].
12. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 417-418 [ORE 823:2].
13. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 774-77; ORE 828:9-10. The text is exactly the same as that earlier transmitted to all the bishops of the Church in Inseg VII/1 (1984) 418-21 [ORE 823:2, 12], with the exception that the Pope inserted between the two sentences of the last paragraph of number 2 these additional words when he recited it in St. Peter’s Square: Illumina specialmente i popoli di cui tu aspetti la nostra consacrazione e il nostro affidamento “Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting.” Inseg ORE 828:10].
14. Inseg V/1 (1982) 2442-2443 [ORE 744:6].
15. My book Totus Tuus takes up the major documentation on this matter until 1991. I hope to conclude the documentation in the second enlarged edition.
16. L’Osservatore Romano [= OR] 24 maggio 2007, pp. VI-VII [ORE 1994:14].
17. Thus René Laurentin wrote: “Our votive formulas of consecration to God need to recognize more clearly the place God has accorded to Mary. We need to ensure that our vocabularies and terminologies in this regard always rise above some of the ambiguous and discredited formulas of the past; these defective formulas have sometimes served to discredit the great modern spiritual movement of consecrations through Mary.” René Laurentin, The Meaning of Consecration Today: A Marian Model for a Secularized Age trans. by Kenneth D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992) 165. Cf. my review of this book in Divinitas XXXVII (1993, fasc. III) 304-308.
18. Cf. Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M., Maria: Nuovissimo Dizionario, Vol. 1 (Bologna: Centro editoriale dehoniano, 2006) 8.
19. Cf. Laurentin, The Meaning of Consecration Today 98-99.
20. George W. Kosicki, C.S.B., Born of Mary: Testimonies, Teachings, Tensions (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 1985) 64.
21. Inseg II/1 (1979) 860-861 [ORE 577:9].
22. Kosicki 66-67.
23. Cf. Totus Tuus 143-151.
24. Cf. Totus Tuus 171-178.
25. Cf. Totus Tuus 143-144; Apollonio, Cons 87.

Footnotes, Page 6

1. N. Lohkamp, “Consecration, Personal” in New Catholic Encyclopedia 4 (NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1967) 209; cf. also Joseph de Finance, S.J., “Consécration” in DSp 2:1579-1582.
2. NDM 409, 412 (my trans.).
3. H.D. Gardeil, O.P., Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas IV: Metaphysics trans. by John A. Otto (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1967) 53.
4. Cf. J. Bittremieux, “Consecratio Mundi Immaculato Cordi B. Mariae Virginis,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 20 (1943) 102.
5. Gardeil 54.
6. On the principle of analogy as it pertains to Mariology, cf. José M. Bover, S.J., “El Principio Mariologico de Analogia,” Alma Socia Christi: Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Romæ Anno Sancto MCML Celebrati (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1953) I:1-13; Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., Dizionario di Mariologia (Roma: Editrice Studium, 1961) 30-31; Roschini, Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza I: Introduzione Generale (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 171-77; Brunero Gherardini, La Madre: Maria in una sintesi storico-teologica (Frigento: Casa Mariana Editrice, 2006) 309-10; Emile Neubert, S.M., Mary in Doctrine (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1954) 5-8.
7. Maria: Nuovissimo Dizionario I:383-386. A fundamental premise of Laurentin’s The Meaning of Consecration Today is the unacceptablity of the use of the concept of analogy and thus of the term “consecration to Mary.” His revision of the entire history of Marian consecration is most unfortunate and is outside the Tradition.
8. Cf. Totus Tuus 162-178.
9. Joaquín Ferrer Arellano, “Marian Coredemption in the Light of Christian Philosophy” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002) 122-124, 135-139; Ibid., “La mediación materna de María a la luz de la Filosofía Cristiana. Perspectivas ecuménicas” in Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 485-491.
10. TD 120.
11. TD 121.
12. TD 125.

Footnotes, Page 7

1. Cf. Theotokos 242-245, 351-356; Ibid., “Still Mediatress of All Graces?”, Miles Immaculatæ 24 (1988) 122-125.
2. Inseg II/1 (1979) 607-608 [U.S.C.C. Edition 97, 98].
3. Cf. Father Alessandro Apollonio’s treatment of this topic in this book. Cf. also my article “Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, in the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” to appear in Mary at the Foot of the Cross, VII.
4. Inseg V/2 (1982) 1573-1574; Portugal: Message of Fatima (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983) 79-81. Emphasis my own.
5. Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1683‑84 [ORE 869:4]. Emphasis my own.
6. Inseg IX/2 (1986) 699-700; ORE 959:12‑13.
7. Inseg XXVI/1 (2003) 508 [ORE 1790:IX-X]. The teaching about accepting/welcoming Mary into our lives is another aspect of Marian entrustment which the Pope developed over the course of the years. Cf. Totus Tuus 240-248.
8. Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1683‑84 [ORE 869:4].

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Virginity During the Birth

Published on December 16, 2011 by in General Mariology


It is of divine faith for Catholics to hold that our Lady not only conceived the divine Word as man “without seed, by the Holy Spirit” but also gave birth to Him “without corruption.” (1) According to the Church’s Doctors, this freedom from corruption means that the God-Man leaves His Mother’s womb without opening it (utero clauso vel obsignato), without inflicting any injury to her bodily virginity (sine violatione claustri virginalis), and therefore without causing her any pain. (2) Pope St Leo the Great teaches the doctrine of our Lady’s virginity in partu in his famous Tome, which was read and approved at the Council of Chalcedon: “Mary brought Him forth, with her virginity preserved, as with her virginity preserved she had conceived Him.” (3) The Catechism speaks of our Lady’s virginity being preserved “even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God” (etiam in partu Filii Dei) and quotes the strong reaffirmation of the dogma by the Second Vatican Council: “Christ’s birth ‘did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it’.” (4) In 1992, on the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Capua, Pope John Paul II vigorously proclaimed the virginity of our Lady in partu, comparing our Lord’s birth from the “intact virgin” with His Resurrection from the “intact tomb.” (5)


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The following is the first section of an outstanding theological treatment of the Immaculate Conception by the renowned mariologist, Fr. Peter Damien Fehlner, OFM Conv. The full article can be found in the mariological anthology entitle, Mariology: For Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Seminarians, published by Queenship Publications. -Ed



The two closely related mysteries treated in this chapter are extraordinarily important, indeed, according to the Scotistic-Franciscan view of Mariology, crucially important, for a correct appreciation of Catholic theology on Mary and the Marian character of “our theology,” viz., the saving knowledge of God possible to us in a time of pilgrimage (1).

Since the close of Vatican II, and despite that Council’s very firm reaffirmation of both mysteries in the traditional sense (2), treatment of the predestination of Mary has disappeared from Mariological study. Some expositions of the Immaculate Conception have either 1) minimized its binding dogmatic character with calls for its “dedogmatization,” viz., its reduction to the status of a thesis pertaining to an unimportant and perhaps out-dated theological system no longer binding in faith on all Catholics; 2) downplayed or even denied its character as a unique privilege of Mary alone, and so reducing the Mother of God to the status of just another woman; or 3) totally naturalized the privilege (along the lines of the ancient heretic Pelagius) by eliminating any reference in its definition to original sin (3).


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Ineffabilis Deus

Published on December 2, 2011 by in Papal Excerpts


Here we present the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, given to the Church on December 8th, 1854, which solemnly defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

God ineffable—whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom “reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly”—having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.


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The following text concerning purgatory comes from visions recounted in Mist of Mercy by “Anne,” a lay apostle. She has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the distribution of messages which she receives from Jesus, God the Father, Our Blessed Mother, the angels and saints (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). This is part one of a two part series.
– Ed

May 26, 2006


“There is an attempt to obscure the reality of the next life, life eternal. For this reason, many souls do not accept that they have an inheritance awaiting them. Poor souls. How discouraging for them to labor and suffer without understanding the purpose. Is it any wonder there is such an attempt to discover substitutes for true peace? My apostles understand that there is no value in being too comfortable in an earthly body because they will one day relinquish it. The body is not a god, for all the enemy would like to portray it as such. Each body is a creation of the Father. Each soul is a creation of the Father. Humanity, precious humanity, I want you to understand that you are cherished. I, Jesus, love you and cherish you. My enemy does not feel this way. My enemy seeks to hurt you. Do not reject Me. Spend time in silence, considering the remainder of your days on earth and how you would like to conduct yourself. The enemy cannot promise you that you will live forever. Only I can make that promise and only through Me will you find the Father, the One who loves you. Have no fear when considering the next life, regardless of your sins. If you repent, you will be saved. It is that simple. Repent and you will be saved. You will find a welcome in My Kingdom because My Kingdom is your home. Be at peace, little soul. I am with you. I will take care of you.”


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The following article is a homily delivered on August 5, 2006 by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, on the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. It was delivered at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. – Ed.

Our Lady of America. This is the title by which the Virgin Mother, in a series of private revelations and apparitions to Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil (1916-2000) of the Congregation of Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, indicated how she wished to be known and honored in the United States, first of all in the Basilica-sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., national Shrine of Mary for the United States, and then in the entire American nation, as it were the connatural extension of this Marian sanctuary under this title.

These revelations, locutions and apparitions began about 1938 and ended in 1984. The central ones, however, which concern the title Our Lady of America and the request that the Virgin Coredemptrix made of the Catholic bishops and of the entire nation, occurred over a six year period about a half-century ago, from 1954 through 1959.


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 The following text concerning purgatory comes from visions recounted in Mist of Mercy by “Anne,” a lay apostle. She has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the distribution of messages which she receives from Jesus, God the Father, Our Blessed Mother, the angels and saints (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). This is part two of a two part series. – Ed..


April 30, 2006 

Today Our Lord brought me over the heavenly Kingdom. He stopped in the Valley of Solitude and I looked down at the stream, forest, mountains and valleys. Jesus said, “This is all for you, Anne. Do you understand?” 

Indeed I did. At that moment, I understood the smallest bit of truth that all that is in heaven belongs very personally to each one of us in a separate and complete way. It is similar to the understanding I had that Jesus walked the earth each day for each one of us separately. Each Bible story has something to say to each of us on any given day and Jesus actually lived each day thinking of each one of us, almost as though He had lived a separate and complete life for every one of us. 

Perhaps this truth is self-evident to others. I never understood it until today and I know that I got only the barest glimpse of understanding. When Jesus said, “This is all for you, Anne,” He spoke the truth. 


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“Dear Children! You have helped me along by your prayers to realize my plans. Keep on praying that my plan may be completely realized. I request the families of the parish to pray the Family Rosary. Thank you for having responded to my call” (Our Lady of Medjugorje, September 27, 1984).

The call to pray the Rosary is the principal form of prayer requested by the Blessed Mother, not only in the message of Medjugorje but in the overall Marian message to the modern world. I want to discuss this favored Marian prayer under three categories. First of all, I will discuss briefly the Rosary in this general Marian call to the modern world. Secondly, I will discuss a little bit of the origins, the history, and the nature of the Rosary. What is this prayer of the Rosary that Our Lady has called us to so regularly? Thirdly, and most importantly for our purposes, I want to show how these two come together in the crucial Marian call to pray the Family Rosary. This is especially true in reading some of the recent interviews of the visionaries. They present the Rosary, especially the family praying of the Rosary, right after the general call to prayer and fasting as the most efficacious means of repelling Satan and of nurturing spiritual growth. It is absolutely fundamental.


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The messages from “Anne, a Lay Apostle,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section).

The following message comes from Volume Nine, entitled Angels. I strongly encourage our readers to download these messages and, if possible, read them prayerfully before the Blessed Sacrament in the presence of our Eucharistic Jesus. They have been of untold spiritual benefit to me.



August 23, 2004

My children, I want you to be aware of every weapon in this spiritual battle. Seek Me, first, and understand that I am God, all powerful and the Creator of All. You are part of a heavenly family and must remember that you have the whole of that family to help you. You understand that Our mother, Mary, is powerful. She is your first line of defense against evil and deception. You should pray the rosary every day. You have the sacraments. Holy souls or souls working for Me, and this I hope is each one of you, should attend Mass as often as possible. You should seek reconciliation with Me in the Sacrament of Penance. Also, Adoration of your Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will give you an unlimited flow of graces which will grant you peace and guidance. You have the saints in heaven. They wish to help you. Ask them each day for their intercession. Study their lives and you will understand why they are such effective helpers. They walked your walks already. You have Me, in the silence of your heart. Spend time there each day. My children, another weapon you have at your disposal are angels.


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This exceptional presentation by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, on the solution to the great crises facing the Church and the world today: the need to re-Marianize the Church by recognizing the Blessed Mother’s universal mediation through the solemn definition of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, was given at the Mary, “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption” Symposium held at Fatima on May 3-7, 2005. – Ed.

I have chosen to entitle this final, concluding conference of our symposium, the “Cause of Mary, Advocate.” Etymologically, cause is a legal term. If its use to summarize our discussion of the mystery of Mary Immaculate and of her unique place in the divine counsels governing the economy of salvation retains a legal scent, that is quite intentional. For the cause of Mary in the economy of salvation, the place she occupies from eternity in the divine counsels of salvation and the crucial role she fulfils so perfectly in bringing these counsels to pass at the Incarnation, on Calvary and in the Church, as well as the recognition of the part she plays by the Church and by every soul redeemed and delivered from sin by her Savior-Son, namely, by those whose salvation in fact hinges upon the successful prosecution of that cause, are very much today a matter of intense dispute. Those who would promote her cause and those who, either violently oppose it or who just as adamantly want to hear nothing of it, are locked in battle.

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September 2, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

I offer an update on the present status of Anne, a lay apostle and Direction for Our Times.

I initially granted permission for the distribution of the messages and written materials of Anne. This position remains unchanged. The writings and materials may continue to be distributed. As pointed out in my letter on the DFOT website, the permission to distribute the messages does not imply a final judgment on whether they are authentic private revelation. A final judgment on that question must await the outcome of an official Church inquiry into these matters.


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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org.
Asst. Ed



Belief in Mary’s loving intercession was expressed in early Christian art, prayer and teaching. Whether it be in the many frescoes of the Roman catacombs depicting Mary in a prayerful position, or through early Church Fathers who portray Mary in heaven as praying for those on earth, or through other Fathers who address Mary and prayerfully seek her supplication, Mary’s intercessory role is clearly attested to in the first four centuries of the Church (1). As an example of how highly developed the understanding of Mary’s intercessory power could become in the early church, consider the prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium, which can be dated approximately to the mid-third century: “We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.” From this we see evidence of early Christians confidently turning to Mary for protection in the face of the trials and dangers in life and asking her to intercede for them. It is not surprising that the Church throughout the centuries would refer to Mary as our “Advocate,” indicating her unique power of intercession, taking petitions from God’s people on earth and presenting them before her Son in heaven.

Closely related to Mary’s advocacy is her role as Queen—another Marian title found in the early Church and developed in the Tradition throughout the centuries. In fact, many magisterial teachings will note how Mary exercises her royal office through her role as Advocate, interceding on our behalf. This article will examine Mary’s role as Advocate and Queen, first by exploring an important Biblical foundation for these two titles: the queen mother, who held a royal office in the kingdom of David, and exercised her office especially through her role as advocate, interceding for the people of the kingdom. Next, we will outline how the Church’s Tradition and magisterial teaching has developed the understanding of Mary’s advocacy and queenship throughout the centuries. And finally, some theological issues regarding Mary’s role as Advocate and Queen will be addressed.


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The following is the second part of an article that ran in the past Mother of All Peoples Bi-Monthly Issue, taken from “Advocate and Queen” in Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons (Queenship, 2008).

Advocate: Foundations in Tradition and Magisterium


Let us turn our attention to Mary’s advocacy role as it unfolds in Catholic Tradition. The early Church quickly perceived the important role Mary played in God’s redemptive plan. The role of Mary as New Eve beside her Son in the economy of salvation is found already in the writings of St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and Tertullian (and possibly other earlier sources) (34). In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, Eve is the virgin who “conceived the word of the serpent” and “brought forth disobedience and death”; whereas Mary is the virgin filled with faith, who through her obedience to the angel’s annunciation conceived the child who destroys the serpent and delivers from death those who believe in him (35). In Irenaeus’ Against the Heresies, Mary is described as the cause of salvation (causa salutis) whose obedience untied “the knot of Eve’s disobedience” (36). And in Tertullian’s De Carne Christi, he describes how Eve believed the serpent and conceived the Devil’s word; whereas Mary believed the angel and conceived in her womb the Word of God (37). However, it is St. Irenaeus who is the first to bestow upon Mary the title “advocate” with this Eve-Mary parallel, calling Mary the “advocate of the virgin Eve”:


And if the former (Eve) did disobey God, yet the latter (Mary) was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate (Latin: advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so it is rescued by a Virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience (38).


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On April 22, 1984, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, the local ordinary of the diocese where the Marian apparitions took place, issued a pastoral letter in which he authorized the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita. In the pastoral letter, Bishop Ito declared the supernatural authenticity of three Marian messages, the messages of an angel and other mysterious events that have happened to a Japanese nun since 1973 at a convent in Akita, Northern Japan, a city that belongs to his diocese.


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Message of Blessed John Paul II to the Carmelite Family on the 750th Anniversary of the Bestowal of the Scapular

To the Most Reverend Fathers
Joseph Chalmers
Prior General of the Order of Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.Carm.)


Camilo Maccise
Superior General of the Order of Discalced Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.C.D.)

1. The providential event of grace, which the Jubilee Year has been for the Church, prompts her to look with trust and hope to the journey we have just begun in the new millennium. “At the beginning of this new century”, I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, “our steps must quicken…. On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom … I entrusted the third millennium” (n. 58).

I therefore learned with deep joy that the two branches of the Order of Carmel, the ancient and the reformed, intend to express their filial love for their Patroness by dedicating the year 2001 to her, invoked as the Flower of Carmel, Mother and Guide on the way of holiness. In this regard, I cannot fail to stress a happy coincidence: the celebration of this Marian year for the whole of Carmel is taking place, according to a venerable tradition of the Order itself, on the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular. This celebration is therefore a marvellous occasion for the entire Carmelite Family to deepen not only its Marian spirituality, but to live it more and more in the light of the place which the Virgin Mother of God and of mankind holds in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and therefore to follow her who is the “Star of Evangelization” (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, n. 58).


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The eighth Call of the Message: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”

This call which the Message addresses to us is very explicit in the Gospel, but very many people misunderstand it, have forgotten it, ignore it, turn their backs on it and, saddest of all, revile it.


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The messages from “Anne, a Lay Apostle,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). —Ed.

August 22, 2003


The love in My heart gushes forth upon your world.

In an unparalleled manner, I lavish graces on souls. My children, My love is such that I can no longer contain it. I see so many in need of Me, and truly, they shall have Me. Bring My words to those who suffer. My words will be the balm you will use to nurse souls back to wellness. Like heavenly nurses, you will apply My words to every wound and you will see miraculous results. My children, I am working through you. I am using you as healing instruments. Your world is sick and suffers from a disease far worse than any disease of the body. The very soul of your world struggles to find the source of healing it requires. And I am here. I intend to heal your world. I want you to be joyful representatives of your Eucharistic Jesus. The Eucharistic Jesus calls out to His children in firmness. I call you each by name and I say to you, “It is time to return to Me.” Come to Me, waiting in the tabernacle, and I will reveal Myself to you in such a way that you will have no doubts. You will be glad in your heart and peaceful in your soul. Rest near the Eucharistic heart of your Volume Two 20 Savior and you will be granted everything you need. Faith is a gift, My dear one. I wish to give this gift to you. But you must turn to Me so that I may. My heart beats only with love for you. I can promise you that I will not reproach you. I will help you understand that only joy and light is suitable for a child of God. You will return to Us one day. Let Us make that the most joyful day of your life. Come to Me, My child, and I will show you how. You say, “Jesus, I forget how to pray.” My child, does a small one forget how to cry when he is hurt? Of course not. Come before Me and cry out your pain, your hurt, and your fear. We need not do it all in one day, but take the first step to Me by coming in front of Me. Put yourself in My Eucharistic presence and I will do the rest. The work will come from Me. I will move you back swiftly to that place that has been reserved for only you in My Sacred Heart. You see, My child, if you have been away from Me, that place has been empty. I, your Jesus, have felt the emptiness terribly as I waited for your return. My heart aches waiting for you, so do not let Me suffer another moment. Do you begin to understand? I love you totally. You were meant to be with Me. Do not let anything hinder your return. I am your God, the God of All. The world wants Eucharistic Heart of Jesus 21 to trick you out of your inheritance, but I hold it for you. It is safe with Me, My child, so return to Me now, that I may begin to heal you.

August 25, 2003


Our work continues. I remain a prisoner in this tabernacle. I wait for every soul who is absent from Me. My children must understand that I am drawing souls to Myself. I can no longer stand by and watch so many souls lost for eternity. In days pasty there would be a small number of souls who chose to remain parted from Me for eternity. This caused Me suffering, it is true. In these times, though. My presence in the world and dominion over this world is treated so casually that many souls choosing darkness are led to believe this is almost a meaningless decision. They do not understand the impact. Indeed, some of My children are casual about their eternity because they believe they will have several attempts at life in this world. I tell you today, children, this is a Godless notion created and perpetuated by the evil one who would like to downplay the importance of what you do with this time. There is only one life allotted to each soul. There can be no question about that. Do not believe that you will come back to earth again for another chance. It is this life you are living that will determine your eternity. So, My children, now that We all understand the importance of this day, and this series of days allotted to you, let Us make a decision on how you will spend the remainder of your time. I would like you to help Me. I know exactly how many days are left before you appear before Me in the next life. I have special work that needs to be done. Indeed, I have special work for each one of these days remaining to you. If you will say “yes” to Me, I can rest more easily, knowing those tasks will be completed and souls, the certain number attached to your work, will be saved. Additionally, I will have the joy, the happiness of knowing that My immeasurable love for you is returned. My child, come to Me and do My work. You will find no greater joy on this earth. Ask My true followers. They know the ecstasy of feeling My smile in their soul. I want that for you. Let Me assure you that, in most cases, My work for you involves you remaining in your current role. I simply want you to be at peace. I want you to know you are loved. I want to be with you as you struggle and I want to keep you safe. You will experience your days differently when you unite them to Me. What formerly caused distress for you will be barely a ripple against the great peace I am offering. I can take even the smallest, humblest acts of love and obedience and use them to rescue a soul. So instead of merely surviving your time here, you will be using your days, already and always finite, to rescue souls who are living without Me and, in some cases, living against Me. We must have hope for every soul, My dear one. Rest in My tremendous grace during this time as I continue to reveal My great secrets to you.

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The Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Eucharist, is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (1) Furthermore, it is “the sum and summary of our faith.” (2) The Eucharist is most properly “(the) true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, in order to offer himself in the sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion.” (3)


As the “true Body and Blood” of Jesus Christ, the Eucharistic species of bread and wine are “Christ himself, living and glorious… present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity.” (4)


As John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “Mary can guide us toward this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.” (5) The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary—most especially in connection with her roles as Mother, Co-redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces.


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The following presents the messages from Jesus to Anne regarding the value of suffering in His instructions to His Lay Apostles (Volume X: Jesus Speaks to His Apostles). The messages are both sublime and powerful, and we share them with you. Anne, a visionary from Ireland, has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the distribution of messages which she receives from Jesus, God the Father, Our Blessed Mother, the angels and saints (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). – Ed.


September 23, 2004


Dear children, I dedicate this little volume to My servants, those who seek to spread My message of love and salvation. Dearest souls, so bravely serving the Kingdom, your reward will be great. Many of you have been pulled from sin and darkness yourselves and brought to the Light. I welcomed your return as if you were My only child. The place reserved for you in My heart felt complete when you came back to Me. Truly and completely do I love you.


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The messages from “Anne, a Lay Apostle,” from the international spiritual movement “Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King” have been released for international distribution with the permission of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the diocese in which Anne and the international headquarters of the Lay apostolate reside. They have also been submitted by Bishop O’Reilly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. –Assistant Ed.


I want to show My children the great devotion I have for them. I reside in tabernacles all over the world. I do this because I desire My children to have a living Christ in their midst. Such holiness is available to souls who visit and venerate Me in the Eucharist. I am the cure for every ill. I am the calm for every storm. I am the comfort for every sorrow. Because I intend to lead My children in a more enhanced way, I am going to show you the Life that is enclosed in each tabernacle. My dear ones, if you but knew the value of each and every visit that is made to Me here, there would be crowds all through every day and every night. It is this crowd of souls I invite now.


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Anne, a visionary from Ireland, has received permission from her local ordinary, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, for the distribution of messages which she receives from Jesus, God the Father, Our Blessed Mother, the angels and saints (see article, “Discernment of Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King,” Marian Private Revelation section). The following messages from Our Blessed Mother are directed to bishops, priests and religious throughout the world. – Ed.

August 8, 2003

The Blessed Mother

I want to give you a glimpse of your future. I hope to prepare you so that when the time for change comes, you will move smoothly into the new order. My children are aware that the world is changing. Worldly souls think that they are orchestrating these changes, but in reality, God is in charge. He is taking their evil intentions and using them to implement His own order. Holy souls need have no fear. The plans of the evil one will go nowhere. Be confident and fearless in the face of information that would cause you alarm. You must remember that God is in charge because God has always been in charge, God will always be in charge, and I, your mother, am telling you this now.


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In simple, yet poetic and profound language the third chapter of the Book of Genesis narrates the story of the fall of man. Three creatures play the major roles in this momentous drama: the serpent, the woman and the man. The serpent beguiles. The woman who was given to the man as his helpmate lets herself be beguiled and the man follows suit. The story seems deceptively simple, but it has monumental implications. The man, Adam, is the progenitor and head of the human family. The woman, Eve, is his companion. As partners they are equal, but they have different roles. He is the head of his wife and the head of the human family. “The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man.’ By this ‘unity of the human race’ all men are implicated in Adam’s sin” (1).

At the same time it must be noted that the role of the woman given to the man as his helpmate was far from negligible. Let us note how it is described by the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Eve had a definite, essential position in the First Covenant. The fate of the human race lay with Adam; he it was who represented us. It was in Adam that we fell; though Eve had fallen, still, if Adam had stood, we should not have lost those supernatural privileges which were bestowed upon him as our first father. …but further, as she thus had her own general relation to the human race, so again had she her own special place as regards its trial and its fall in Adam. In those primeval events, Eve had an integral share. … She co-operated, not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. As the history stands, she was a sine-qua-non, a positive, active, cause of it. And she had her share in its punishment; in the sentence pronounced on her, she was recognized as a real agent in the temptation and its issue, and she suffered accordingly (2).

In simple, yet poetic and profound language the third chapter of the Book of Genesis narrates the story of the fall of man. Three creatures play the major roles in this momentous drama: the serpent, the woman and the man. The serpent beguiles. The woman who was given to the man as his helpmate lets herself be beguiled and the man follows suit. The story seems deceptively simple, but it has monumental implications. The man, Adam, is the progenitor and head of the human family. The woman, Eve, is his companion. As partners they are equal, but they have different roles. He is the head of his wife and the head of the human family. “The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man.’ By this ‘unity of the human race’ all men are implicated in Adam’s sin” (1).

At the same time it must be noted that the role of the woman given to the man as his helpmate was far from negligible. Let us note how it is described by the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Eve had a definite, essential position in the First Covenant. The fate of the human race lay with Adam; he it was who represented us. It was in Adam that we fell; though Eve had fallen, still, if Adam had stood, we should not have lost those supernatural privileges which were bestowed upon him as our first father. …but further, as she thus had her own general relation to the human race, so again had she her own special place as regards its trial and its fall in Adam. In those primeval events, Eve had an integral share. … She co-operated, not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. As the history stands, she was a sine-qua-non, a positive, active, cause of it. And she had her share in its punishment; in the sentence pronounced on her, she was recognized as a real agent in the temptation and its issue, and she suffered accordingly (2).

God metes out punishment first to the serpent (Gen. 3:14-15), then to the woman (Gen. 3:16) and finally to the man (Gen. 3:17-19). What is particularly striking, however, is that already the sentence passed upon the serpent heralds the reversal of the fall. The Lord says: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, while you lie in wait for her heel” (Gen. 3:15) (3). This text has become famous as the Protoevangelium, the “first gospel,” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why:

The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,” makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the “Protoevangelium” as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve” (4).

In fact, the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) has grown ever more convinced of the soundness of this insight of the Fathers and Doctors over the centuries and has come to see the Protoevangelium as a revelation of the indissoluble bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, provides explicit corroboration of such an association by stating that Mary “is inseparably linked to her Son’s saving work” (indissolubili nexu cum Filii sui opere salutari coniungitur) (#103) (5). This follows logically from a principle of capital importance enunciated by Blessed Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1854, namely that “God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom” (6).

I. The Mystery of Mediation

An attentive study of God’s revelation to us, in both the old dispensation and the new, discloses that God chooses to deal with his people through certain persons whom he designates to act as his representatives to them, and as their representatives before him. This may be truly described as the “mystery of mediation.” After the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:6) the first exercises of mediation which we hear about are the offerings of Abel and Cain (Gen. 4:3-5). These offerings comprised an act of worship or sacrifice to God.

What is a sacrifice? Sacrifice, which constitutes the supreme act of external and public worship, may be defined as the offering and immolation to God of something sensible (fruits, liquids, animals) in order to recognize his absolute lordship, and in order to atone for sin. Sacrifice, consequently, has two aspects: one material and sensible because it is an external and public act; the other internal and spiritual, because in order to have an effective moral value it must be motivated by a spiritual and intimate content. The offering especially of something living such as fruits and, even more, animals, and then the consequent immolation or destruction of these offerings is the counterbalance to the creative act of God. As God has given life to all things, man symbolically restores life back to him. Particularly in the immolation to God of a victim such as a lamb, a goat, a calf or a bull through the mediation of a priest, man expresses his total dependence and dedication to God. The ultimate end of the sacrifice is the mystical union of man with his God (7). In those early days of the human race, even before the establishment of the priesthood of Aaron, Cain and Abel acted as mediators before God.

While we are not explicitly informed about why the sacrifice of Cain was not acceptable, we may well assume that it had to do with the lack of a proper spiritual disposition on his part. From Cain’s slaying of his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8), the sin of our first parents has been subsequently multiplied billions of times over by the personal sins of all their descendants. Consequently the Old Testament shows us numerous instances in which a representative is designated by God himself to intercede on behalf of his people in order that his wrath, stirred up on account of their sins, might be turned away from them and that his people may receive instead his blessings.

The priests, prophets and kings of the Old Testament, each according to his particular office, all shared in this role of mediation. In varied circumstances and with an ever clearer manifestation of God’s plan, these chosen mediators reveal to us both 1) the divine dispensation of mediation which God established in order to show mercy to his people, and 2) at the same time the provisional role of this mediation.

While it was clear that God required an acceptable reparation in order to restore man to his friendship, it also became clear that no mere man could ever definitively “breach the chasm” which sin had caused between God and his creatures. As the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us:

Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:1-4).

Sin, an offense against the infinite God, in effect required a reparation which man, left to his own devices, remained incapable of making. No mere human creature could really succeed in mediating between God and his people except in incomplete and partial ways which could, at best, foreshadow the full, complete and definitive mediation which was needed.

II. Jesus the Perfect Mediator

At the very heart of the mystery of our redemption is the fact that Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and men … who gave himself as a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:5-6). Why is Jesus the unique and perfect mediator? This affirmation from the new Catechism provides us with the fundamental elements needed to formulate a response:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all (8).

One with God in his divinity, Jesus is at the same time one with man in his humanity (9). In his divine person he unites the two natures of the two parties who had become separated by man’s sin: he represents God to man and man to God. As the Word who is one with the Father from all eternity, the Son is not a mediator, but he becomes one from the moment he begins to take flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews would come to grasp that, even though he was not sprung from the priestly tribe of Levi and never referred to himself explicitly as a priest, Jesus was the perfect high priest who succeeded in bridging the gap between God and his people in a way that no other priest ever could (cf. Heb. 4:14-10:18). He did so by offering the sacrifice of himself on the cross (10).

III. Collaboration in Jesus’ Mediation

Now while there can be no dispute that Jesus is the priest and victim of that sacrifice by which we are saved, and that he alone by virtue of his death and resurrection (the paschal mystery) is the Redeemer of the world, the Catholic Church also holds that

because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. … In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering (11).

Here is the careful résumé of the Church’s teaching on this matter which Pope John Paul II gave in a general audience address of 9 April, 1997:

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary’s cooperation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. St. Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title “cooperator” in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary’s joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer.

Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the fifteenth century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church’s teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin’s subordination, as cooperator, to the one Redeemer.

Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to cooperate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.

However, applied to Mary, the term “cooperator” acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity (12).

Both of these texts carefully point out that 1) it is possible for creatures to be “associated with Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice” or to be “cooperators in the work of salvation,” and 2) that Mary was associated, or cooperated more intimately than any other person, in the mystery of Jesus’ redemptive suffering. Pope John Paul II makes two further and very important points: 1) Mary’s cooperation differs from ours because it took place “during the Calvary event itself,” and 2) her totally unique collaboration in the work of our salvation is “subordinate” to that of Christ and “in submission to him.”

Now it must be candidly acknowledged that the Catholic Church’s teaching on man’s cooperation in the work of salvation became a rock of stumbling for Martin Luther (1483-1546), and subsequently for practically all of the ecclesial bodies that derive from the Protestant reformation. The Catholic Church, however, is convinced that this teaching is rooted in the New Testament and has consistently asserted it, most solemnly at the Council of Trent (13), more recently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (14). Saint Augustine (354-430) may be taken as a major exponent of this doctrine. He said: “He who made you without your cooperation will not save you without it” (15). In the course of 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity found it necessary to uphold this teaching in responding to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification. The response asserted that

The Catholic Church maintains, moreover, that the good works of the justified are always the fruit of grace. But at the same time, and without in any way diminishing the totally divine initiative, they are also the fruit of man, justified and interiorly transformed. We can therefore say that eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits (16).

This is a principle of fundamental importance in Catholic theology as well as in the spiritual life.

IV. Mary’s Collaboration in Jesus’ Mediation

With wonderful perspicacity the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that “Mary, having entered intimately into the history of salvation, somehow unites in her person and re-echoes the most fundamental doctrines of the faith” (17). Hence we should not be surprised that these same Fathers recognized Mary as the perfect model of human collaboration with God’s grace “in subordination to Christ and with him in the service of the mystery of redemption” (18). They pointed out that the “union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is apparent from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death” (19), and they further specified that

The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully maintained her union with her Son even to the cross where she stood in conformity with the divine plan. There she endured with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and united herself to his sacrifice in her motherly heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her (20).

Let it be well noted that, according to the consistent teaching of the Church, Mary’s collaboration in the work of the redemption spans the entire earthly life of the God-man from the Annunciation to Calvary, but that it reaches its summit on Golgotha where Mary is involved in two simultaneous offerings: the offering of her Son and the offering of herself. This has been repeatedly taught by all of the Pontiffs of the twentieth century. Here is a classic expression of the first offering by the Servant of God Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis of 29 June 1943, to which the above text of Lumen Gentium makes explicit reference: