0

(Reprinted from National Catholic Register)

“Mary, the Immaculate Virgin of Nazareth, through her free and feminine ‘Yes,’ consented to the conception of [the] Divine Word in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus mediated the ‘one mediator’ (1 Timothy 2:5) to the world, bringing salvation to the human race.”

So begins “The Role of Mary in Redemption,” a document of the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association (IMA) requesting that Pope Francis publicly acknowledge and honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the “Co-Redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer.”

This isn’t the first time the title has been used to describe Mary — St. John Paul II referred to her as “Co-Redemptrix” more than once. Nor is it the first time a request has been made for a papal statement on Marian co-redemption.

But this may be the ideal time for such a papal statement, says Robert Fastiggi, a professor of systematic theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary and a member of IMA’s Theological Commission.

“I really think a papal statement on Marian co-redemption would be opportune during the centenary of the Fatima apparitions,” Fastiggi told the Register.

In fact, the document itself describes the Marian apparitions at Fatima as “a powerful manifestation of Our Lady’s co-redemption in action.”

Mary’s Role in Redemption

How did the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix first come about?

“The teaching of Marian cooperation with Christ in the role of redemption is there in sacred Scripture,” explained Fastiggi.

“We need to see it through the eyes of faith.”

And, he added, Catholic teachings about Mary have not shied away from her active role in the redemption of mankind.

Lumen Gentium, for instance, states that Mary “devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under him and with him, by the grace of Almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption. Rightly, therefore, the holy fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience.”

If Vatican II’s constitution on the Church touched on Mary’s role in the great work of redemption, why request a papal statement now?

“Because there is a lot of confusion today,” said Fastiggi. “[Many Catholics] think Vatican II wanted to downplay Mary’s role in the redemption” of mankind.

In fact, even at Vatican II there was a movement to request a definition of the Blessed Mother as Co-Redemptrix — but it was not the intention of the Council to give a complete teaching on Mariology.

That opened the door for another movement in the next century. About a decade ago, five cardinals petitioned Pope Benedict XVI to proclaim Mary the “Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, the Co-Redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer, mediatrix of all graces with Jesus, the one mediator, and advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race.”

Though the Pope did not make the requested statement, he did refer to Mary as “Mediatrix of All Graces” in a letter in the last year of his pontificate.

This new request is worded in such a way that, Fastiggi said, it is “up to the Holy Spirit” how Pope Francis might interpret it: He might make a formal statement, or clarify how the Church understands Mary’s role as cooperator in the work of redemption.

But will the request be successful this time? Will Pope Francis make a statement on Mary as Co-Redemptrix?

“These things are often difficult to predict,” said Fastiggi, pointing out that Pope Francis has a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and that he also sometimes states things that are “a little bit daring.”

A Woman of Many Titles

The Blessed Mother has a quantity of appellations and titles — and to Catholics today, they are familiar, comforting and the farthest thing from controversy.

Who, for instance, would argue against calling Mary Theotokos — “God-bearer”?

But centuries ago, this title was a point of contention, with some Christians arguing that Mary was the mother of the human Christ — as though his deity could be separated from his humanity.

Perhaps future Catholics will also look back on arguments about the title “Co-Redemptrix” with bemusement. But in this moment, said Fastiggi, “Those of us who see the term as acceptable sometimes receive such strong reactions.

“First of all, they’re not used to the term. Second, they misunderstand the term — as if somehow Christ couldn’t redeem us on his own.”

But that’s nonsense, he added. After all, God could have chosen another way to redeem the human race, but he chose to associate Mary in redemption as the Mother of the Redeemer.

Additionally, there is papal precedent for the title. Pope Pius XI used the title “Mary, Co-Redemptrix,” Pope Pius X approved a prayer with an indulgence attached to it referring to Mary as Co-Redemptrix of the human race, and Pope John Paul II used the title repeatedly.

A statement on this title “would actually help ecumenism,” said Fastiggi, “for the separated brethren to see how we understand Mary’s spiritual motherhood.”

That’s what Cardinal Telesphore Toppo believes, too. A member of IMA’s Theological Commission, he is one of the five cardinals who petitioned Pope Benedict for the fifth Marian dogma a decade ago. In an interview with Zenit at that time, he explained that this title could actually facilitate interreligious dialogue.

He said, “Mary’s cooperation [with God’s plan] helps all Christians and even non-Christians to understand our own required cooperation with Jesus and with his grace for our salvation.”

Elisabeth Deffner writes from Orange, California.

Continue Reading

0

By Mary Rezac (Reprinted from Catholic News Agency)

Detroit, Mich., Jan 29, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).

Earlier this month, the International Marian Association submitted a request to Pope Francis, asking for the public recognition of the title of Mary as “Co-Redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer.”

The 10 page document was submitted by the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association, a group of more than 100 theologians, bishops, priests, religious, and lay leaders from over 20 countries dedicated to the “full truth and love of Mary, Mother of Jesus.” It comes during the 100th year anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.

The significance of the request, if it were to receive approval, is that the faithful would be given further clarity on Mary’s unique role in cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Mariology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, told EWTN News.

“I think many people sense the spread of evil in the world and see the importance of highlighting Mary’s role as spiritual Mother,” Dr. Fastiggi said in e-mail comments.

“A papal statement on Marian coredemption would deepen our understanding of Mary’s role as the New Eve who collaborates with her Son, the New Adam, ‘in giving back supernatural life to souls,’” he added, referring to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium.

The title can be traced back to the 10th century, when some Marian litanies included the title of Mary as Redemptrix, along with her son. It was a development of the idea of Mary as the “New Eve,” a Marian title that has been used since the 2nd century. The prefix of “co-” was added by the 15th century, to clarify that Mary was not the Redeemer, but rather someone who uniquely cooperated in the work of redemption.

“The Co-Redemptrix title never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer, as to do so would constitute both heresy and blasphemy,” the Association stated in a press release announcing the request.

“The Co-Redemptrix title is meaningless without Jesus the Redeemer, and in itself focuses upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. Mary Co-Redemptrix proclaims to the world that suffering is redemptive when united to the sufferings of Christ.”

After the prefix was added, title continued to catch on, so much so that the 17th century considered the “golden age” of the title of Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Still, it didn’t receive magisterial recognition until 1908, when the Sacred Congregation for Rites used it in a decree elevating the rank of the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Since then, it has been referenced multiple times by the Magisterium, including during the second Vatican council, which ultimately decided against any formal recognition of the title in the document Lumen Gentium.

“The term, however was not rejected because it was false. In the praenotanda or explanatory note that accompanied the first Marian schema of 1962, we are told that, ‘Certain terms and expressions used by Roman Pontiffs have been omitted, which, although most true in themselves (in se verissima), may be difficult for the separated brethren (as in the case of the Protestants) to understand,’” Dr. Fastiggi explained.

“The Council, therefore, recognized the importance of further development and clarification on certain points of Marian doctrine. A papal statement on Marian co-redemption would provide greater clarity on Mary’s unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace. It would also open the way for many graces in the life of the Church.”

Popes often grant formal papal recognition to help deepen the theological understanding of the faithful, such as when Bl. Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary as “Mother of the Church” in 1964.

“The invocation of Mary under various titles like ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Help of Christians’ reinforces Mary’s role in the mystery of salvation,” Dr. Fastiggi noted.

Unfortunately, Dr. Fastiggi said, many Catholics are unaware of the recognition that the title “Co-Redemptrix” has already received so much informal recognition from the magisterium.

“Some are even under the impression that we are not allowed to call Mary ‘Co-Redemptrix’—even though two popes, namely Pius XI (3 times) and St. John Paul II (at least 6 times), have publicly referred to Mary as ‘Co-Redemptrix,’” he said.

And while there are concerns that the title could further confuse Protestants and others who disagree with Catholic teaching on Mary, Dr. Fastiggi believes a formal recognition of the title would actually help with further clarification.

“A formal papal statement would also serve the cause of ecumenism because it would help other Christians know that the Catholic Church clearly distinguishes between the saving work of Christ as the one Savior and Mediator (1 Tim 2: 5–6) and the Blessed Mother’s secondary, dependent but utterly unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace,” he said.

In a press release announcing the request, the International Marian Association said: “We believe that a public acknowledgement of Mary’s true and continuous role with Jesus in the saving work of Redemption would justly celebrate the role of humanity in God’s saving plan; foster greater devotion to the Mother of God; and lead to the release of historic graces through an even more powerful exercise of Our Lady’s maternal roles of intercession for the Church and for all humanity today.”

While the request could lead to a new Marian dogma, Dr. Fastiggi said the Association would likely be happy with any form of formal papal recognition of the title.

“The members of Association realize that it’s up to the Holy Spirit to guide the Holy Father with regard to this petition. In this regard, prayer and trust are essential,” he said.

“We trust in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, and the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our spiritual Mother. May God’s will be done.”

Continue Reading

0

During the 2017 centenary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, the international Marian Movement, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, is initiating a 2017 worldwide petition drive for the “Fifth Marian Dogma”: the solemn definition of Mary as Spiritual Mother of humanity by our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Since the beginning of the Church movement for the papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood by Cardinal Mercier in 1915, millions of petitions have been sent to the Vatican in support of this dogmatic crown for the Mother of Jesus, who was personally given to us by Jesus to be our Spiritual Mother (Jn. 19:26).

Now, during this monumental year of Marian grace, we ask all the faithful and people of good will to send a brief personal letter to Pope Francis in humble request of his prayerful consideration to define Mary as the “Spiritual Mother of humanity” under its three essential aspects as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate. Petitioning the Holy Father is in no way a form of disrespect or pressure for the Vicar of Christ, but rather a canonically approved precedent in the process of Marian dogmas. Both Blessed Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII publicly thanked the faithful for their petitioning which led to the respective Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

Millions of Christian faithful have already sent petitions to Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for the dogma of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood.  Now it is time for Pope Francis to hear from you.

In this time of serious global upheaval, during which a great spiritual war is presently being waged between the forces of good and evil, the solemn proclamation by Pope Francis that the Immaculate Virgin Mary is truly our Spiritual Mother, the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate would release historic graces for the Church and for the world.

Please write a brief letter to Pope Francis now, at the beginning of this great 2017 Fatima centenary!

If you have already written to a previous Holy Father, write now to this Holy Father. If you have already written to Pope Francis, please write to him again during this Fatima anniversary.

Please write a brief personal note to Pope Francis and mail it (3 postage stamps from the U.S.) to:

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Vatican City State

00120

Here is St. Teresa of Calcutta’s inspired petition for the Fifth Marian Dogma:

 

 

Please follow the example of St. Teresa of Calcutta and petition the

Holy Father for the Fifth Marian Dogma during this grace-filled

centenary of Fatima, and thus do your part to bring peace to the

world through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

For more information, visit www.Fifthmariandogma.com

Continue Reading

0

PRESS RELEASE: On January 1, 2017, the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association, an association of more than 100 theologians, bishops, priests, religious, and lay leaders from over 20 countries dedicated to the full truth and love of Mary, Mother of Jesus, has released a 10-page document entitled, The Role of Mary in Redemption: A Document of the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association.  This document respectfully requests that Pope Francis publicly acknowledge and honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the “Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer” during the 2017 centenary anniversary of the Marian Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.

A summary of the major points of the document produced by the 33 member Theological Commission is as follows:

  1. Mary’s free consent to bring Jesus the Redeemer into the world (Lk. 1:38) began her unique participation with and under Jesus, in the mission of human Redemption.
  2. Mary’s unique participation with Jesus in the work of Redemption is entirely dependent upon his infinite merits as the only divine Redeemer.  Her sharing in the redemptive work of Jesus in no way obscures or diminishes his redemptive victory, but rather manifests its power and fruitfulness.
  3. Mary’s participation in the Redemption is foreshadowed in the “woman” of Genesis 3:15 and her “seed” of victory, who will be victorious over Satan and his seed of sin and death.  Mary’s Immaculate Conception prepares her to be the perfect human partner with Jesus the Redeemer.
  4. Mary’s ongoing mission with her redeeming Son is given testimony at the Presentation (cf. Luke 2:35) and culminates at Calvary (cf. Jn. 19:25-27) where Mary shares in the intensity of Jesus’ suffering in her heart and consents to the “immolation of the victim born of her” (cf. Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, n. 58, 61)
  5. The development of the doctrine of Mary’s Coredemption with Jesus within Tradition begins with the early Church concept of the “New Eve”; Mary’s united suffering with Jesus at Calvary and the “Redemptrix” title (10th century); Mary’s compassion and being “co-crucified” with Jesus (12th century); the “Co-redemptrix” title (15th century); the “golden age” of Co-redemptrix (17th century), leading to its 19th century official teaching by the papal Magisterium and the repeated use of the Co-redemptrix title by Pope Pius XI and Pope St. John Paul II.
  6. The Latin prefix “co” signifies “with” and not equal.  The Co-redemptrix title never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer, as to do so would constitute both heresy and blasphemy.  The Co-redemptrix title is meaningless without Jesus the Redeemer, and in itself focuses upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. Mary Co-redemptrix proclaims to the world that suffering is redemptive when united to the sufferings of Christ.
  7. The year 2017 commemorates the centenary anniversary of the historic apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima, which is in itself constitutes a powerful manifestation of Our Lady’s Coredemption in action…

The document concludes:

 

Therefore, we, as members of the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association, and in full obedience and fidelity to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, humbly request that during this 2017 Fatima centenary, and in continuity with the papal precedents of Pope Pius XI and Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Francis would kindly grant public recognition and honor to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary for her unique human cooperation with  the one divine Redeemer in the work of Redemption as “Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer.”  We believe that a public acknowledgement of Mary’s true and continuous role with Jesus in the saving work of Redemption would justly celebrate the role of humanity in God’s saving plan and lead to the release of historic graces through an even more powerful exercise of Our Lady’s maternal roles of intercession for the Church and for all humanity today.

Read the document here.

Continue Reading

0

Synod on the Family Father, Bishop Jaime Fuentes of Minas, Uruguay, called on Pope Francis and the other Synod Bishops to consider a solemn papal definition of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary as a powerful contemporary means of bringing grace to the family, the Church, and the present global situation.

Calling on Saint John Paul II, the Second Vatican Council, and Blessed Henry Cardinal Newman, Bishop Fuentes put forth a dynamic theological and pastoral argument for Pope Francis to solemnly recognize the intercession of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity for the pressing need of the People of God and the human family.

Pope Francis is well known for his personal love for Mary, as well as his common practice of bringing to Mary, as humanity’s spiritual Mother, the various needs of the Church and of the world.

Please find below the full text of the October 15 intervention of Bishop Fuentes, who is also a member of the Pontifical Marian Academy, during the 2015 Synod on the Family.

SYNOD INTERVENTION OF BISHOPS ON THE VOCATION AND MISSION OF THE FAMILY.

Number 145 of the Instrumentum laboris contains this valuable affirmation: “Mary, in her tenderness, mercy and maternal sensitivity can nourish human hunger and life; that is why families and Christian people call upon her”.

These words reflect a lived experience, which is evident in a special way among the people of Latin America, since recourse to the Blessed Virgin, expressed in various forms of popular Marian piety, is an essential part of our way of living out our faith. In facing the challenges of the “New Evangelization”, when we must proclaim Jesus Christ and the “Gospel of the Family” to a hostile world, Mary Most Holy, who constantly “precedes” the Church (cf. John Paul II enc. Redemptoris Mater, n. 49), opens the way for us, she comforts us and reaches hearts with her maternal nature.

Pope Francis wrote, “every time we look upon Mary, we once again believe on the revolutionary aspect of tenderness and caring”. She “is the Mother of the evangelizing Church; (…) and without her we will never fully comprehend the spirit of the new evangelization” (enc. Evangeliigaudim, ns. 288 and 284).

During the memorable Marian Year from 1987-1988, St. John Paul II foresaw a task which, given the current context, acquires a singular importance: the Church should prepare (…) boldly facing the future, the ways of cooperating with Mary (cf. enc. Redemptoris Mater, n. 49). To put it a different way: in the mind of the Holy Pontiff, the Church would have to discover how to “make it easy” for the Virgin to exercise her Maternity, which in her Immaculate Heart reaches all women and men on earth.

In this way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church picks up a splendid possibility: “the dogmas–as it reads in number 89–are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it, and make it secure”. Venturing into the “new evangelization” and thinking in the “ways” in which the Blessed Mother’s maternal love can effectively reach her daughters and sons, without exclusion where ever they may be, we should ask ourselves: “Wouldn’t the surest way be–iter para tutum!- the solemn and definitive proclamation of the dogma of her spiritual Maternity, a joyous reality, believed, experienced and loved by the Christian people? And wouldn’t this act also be the great momentum of holiness and apostolic purpose needed by the Church?

The answer to this double question should be given by the entire Church body. This was clearly taught by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman: “the body of the faithful”, he wrote, “is one of the witnesses of the traditional nature of revealed doctrine, and (…) said consensus throughout Christianity, is the voice of the Infallible Church”. He taught that, in preparing for a dogmatic definition, “the laity had their testimony to offer; but if there is ever an case where the laity should be consulted, it is in regards to doctrines concerning directly on the devotional. (…) The faithful have a special function in regards to those doctrinal truths related to culture (…) and the Blessed Virgin is the preeminent object of devotion” (J.H. Newman, The Faithful and Tradition ,
–Los Fieles y la Tradición-, Buenos Aires, pp. 63 and 110s)

To sum up, for these theological reasons, from which we can obtain very rich consequences of a pastoral nature, and considering the teaching of Pope Francis, that the “sensus fidei” of the holy people of God, in its unity is never mistaken (Homily, January 1, 2014), I want to propose to the Holy Father to bring about a consultation directed to the entire Church, Pastors and faithful, regarding the prudence of defining as a truth of the faith, the doctrine of the Spiritual Maternity of Mary Most Holy. Thank you very much.

+ Mons. Jaime Fuentes

Bishop of Minas

Uruguay

Continue Reading

0

The following is an update letter send to the international leaders of the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici Movement, the worldwide Marian cause which prays and works for the solemn papal definition of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary under its three essential roles as Co-redemtprix, Mediatrix of all Graces, and Advocate, by Dr. Mark Miravalle, President of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici -Ed.

 

My dear Eminences, Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, beloved Religious and Consecrated, and dedicated Lay Faithful of the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici Movement worldwide,
It is truly my joy to inform you that a great surge of prayers and petitions continue to reach Pope Francis  for the solemn definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood, and I encourage you to “keep them coming”!
Let me highlight just some of the key interventions which, due to your persevering prayers and sacrifices for the Fifth Marian Dogma, have reached the person and office of Pope Francis since he has become our Holy Father:

    • In April, 2013, a petition for the Fifth Marian Dogma from 22 Archbishops from 16 developing nations was presented to Pope Francis
    • In July, 2013, a theologian spoke to Pope Francis in the Domus Santa Marta about the millions of faithful praying and petitioning for the Solemn Definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood  and how this solemn definition is a heavenly condition for world peace
    • In October, 2013, one European bishop spoke with Pope Francis for 50 minutes in his papal apartment about the importance of the Fifth Marian Dogma
    • In October, 2013, a Vatican Ambassador presented to the Holy Father an enlarged prayer card of the Lady of All Nations in Spanish
    • In April, 2014, an Argentinian bishop presented to the Private Secretary of Pope Francis the list of 573 Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops who have recently petitioned the Holy See for the Fifth Marian Dogma
    • In May, 2014, a Latin American cardinal spoke to Pope Francis about the many people working hard for the Fifth Marian Dogma, and, according to the same cardinal, the Holy Father responded: “It is good that they are working for the Dogma because the way the world is now, it can only be saved through the intercession of Our Lady.”

These interventions to Pope Francis, an extremely Marian Holy Father, are only made possible through your constant prayers for the Fifth Marian Dogma, and still more meetings with Pope Francis are forthcoming!
I want to especially thank, during this “Year of Religious and Consecrated Life,” our faithful religious who have been so stouthearted in praying and sacrificing for Our Lady’s dogmatic crowning.  Please, beloved contemplative and active Religious, persevere in your daily prayers, Rosaries, Mass intentions, etc. for the Fifth Marian Dogma.  You know the value of continuing to “knock at the door of Our Lord’s Heart” for Our Lady’s solemn definition.  Surely, no one wants this solemn acknowledgement of Mary’s universal Motherhood more than Jesus himself, who established it on Golgotha with his dying command to us all: “Behold your Mother!” (Jn. 19:26).
To all my brothers and sisters in Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, especially those who have indeed persevered over many years in praying and petitioning for this historic Marian victory, I say:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and please continue!!!
Please remember how much easier it is for our Holy Father to proclaim this historic Marian Dogma when he does so in the names and with the prayers of millions of faithful like you worldwide, who have petitioned him to fulfill Heaven’s request for this great Marian crown!!
As the grave crises throughout the world continue to increase, so does the relevance and imperative of the Fifth Marian Dogma.
Let us each do our part in praying for and in petitioning to Pope Francis for the papal declaration that Mary is the world’s Spiritual Mother, and thus to enable her to fully intercede for peace for the world and historic grace for all humanity.
We entrust this great cause to the most chaste heart of St. Joseph, that through his powerful intercession as Patron of the Universal Church, he may intercede for the Fifth Marian Dogma, the Triumph of Mary’s Most Immaculate Heart, and an era of peace for the Church and for the world.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
President, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici

Continue Reading

0

1On May 27, 2015 following the General Audience of Pope Francis, I had the great privilege of a brief but extremely blessed encounter with our Holy Father regarding the proclamation of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate.

The Pope’s great personal love for Our Lady is simply beyond doubt. In fact, even during his General Audience allocution on “Engagement”, Pope Francis interrupted his own text by calling on the massive crowd to pray a “Hail Mary to the Madonna for all engaged couples.” A few weeks earlier, the Holy Father had revealed in an interview that he had given up watching television “as a personal vow to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” Pope Francis emphatically lives the Church’s official teachings and his own heartfelt conviction that Our Lady is Spiritual Mother of all Peoples.

In several meetings with Vatican curial officials, it was also strongly confirmed that petitions from the Christian faithful to Pope Francis for this fifth Marian Dogma matter greatly! As one Vatican official extremely close to our Holy Father explained, “The petitions are not pressure from the people, but are the faith of the people.”

Sending petitions to the Pope about potential Marian dogmas is simply Catholic precedent. Both Blessed Pius IX and Pius XII thanked the faithful for the millions of petitions that had been sent to them to encourage their respective Marian definitions of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption (1950).

Think of it this way. Imagine that a Pope had the intention to define a Marian dogma. He could A) define it on his own; or B) define it with the support and at the service of millions of Catholic faithful around the world. Which option do you think would be more pleasing to the Pope himself?

The Church’s Canon Law explains that not only do the Christian faithful have the freedom to make known to the pastors of the Church their spiritual desires and needs (Can. 212§2), but “even at times have the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church”(Canon 212§3). A new Marian dogma, which would bring with it inestimable graces from our Spiritual Mother and Mediatrix of all graces, would certainly constitute a gravely needed “good for the Church.”

When Mary is proclaimed Spiritual Mother of All Peoples, inclusive of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, then she will intercede as humanity’s mother for peace in the world, as she promised at Fatima, Amsterdam, and other Church approved apparitions.

My friends, now is the time to petition Pope Francis with a brief but heartfelt note for the papal definition of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples. Simply write a few lines from your heart to the Holy Father’s heart, supporting him in the proclamation of Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity. Put your petition in an envelope with three U.S. postage stamps and mail it to the Holy Father’s address:

Pope Francis

Vatican City

00120

If you are one of the approximately 8 million who have already sent a petition to Pope Francis, my humble recommendation would be to write him again! Children often repeat an important request of their hearts to a father or a mother, and there are no ecclesial limits to the number of petitions we can send to our Spiritual Father, Pope Francis, especially about something as historically and supernaturally important as the crowning of Our Lady with this fifth Marian Dogma, and its gravely needed fruit of world peace.

Write to Pope Francis for the fifth Marian Dogma. Pray for it daily in your mass and Rosary intentions. Offer a portion of your sufferings, united with Jesus, for this historic Marian dogma, and like never before, the Marian scripture prophecy will be fulfilled, “All generations will call me blessed (Lk. 1:48).”

2

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor of Theology and Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

May 31, 2015

Continue Reading

0

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.

Continue Reading

0

Marian leaders the world over have come together to form “The Marian Times,” an international Marian publication consisting of 16 different Marian websites in seven languages. (inclusive of Mother of All Peoples) on one single site.  As the description below from the website explains, this noble effort to accurately report the global activities of Our Lady and unite the children of Mary worldwide deserves our support and our participation.  Go to www.MarianTimes.com, and subscribe to their weekly newsletter.  Like them on Facebook, and spread the word about this unprecedented work in bringing together the international Marian movement on this single site dedicated to the truth and love of the Mother of God as she powerfully intercedes for our world in crisis.

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Editor, Mother of All Peoples E-Magazine

About The Marian Times

Do you want immediate updates about what Mary is doing in the world today and how people are responding? Then The Marian Times is for you!

Comprising 16 international Marian websites, and spanning the 5 continents in over 7 languages, Marian leaders from the world over have come together to bring you The Marian Times.

The Marian Times will bring you current and trustworthy global events regarding the Mother of Jesus, from solid Marian articles to authentic Marian devotion, from major Marian celebrations to approved Marian apparitions. There’s simply nothing else like it on the net dedicated exclusively Jesus’ Mother!

Please subscribe to our free weekly newsletter (bottom of homepage), where each week you will receive a “Marian Quote of the Week,” a brief Marian editorial, and a beautiful Marian artwork to help foster or sustain your devotion to Our Lady.

Please like us on Facebook. Also add your own 30 second personal testimonial on how Mary has been an instrument of grace or conversion in your life (Testimonials to Mary).
You can use one of our 25 language translate functions to explore devotion to Our Lady from a different cultural perspective than your own. Go ahead—be daring!— in appreciating the rich “beauty in diversity” to be discovered in the world’s love for the Mother of Jesus.

If you can help us with a humble donation to secure our efforts in uniting the Children of Mary worldwide on this site, please do so and know our extraordinary gratitude for your gift.

If not, please be at peace and enjoy The Marian Times as our joyful gift to you.

It is our wish that The Marian Times will assist you in your own way to fulfill Our Lady’s scriptural prophecy, “All generations will call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48).

Continue Reading

0

“Dear children! Also today the Most High permits me to be with you and to lead you on the way of conversion. Many hearts have shut themselves to grace and have become deaf to my call. You, little children, pray and fight against temptation and all the evil plans which the devil offers you through modernism. Be strong in prayer and with the cross in your hands pray that evil may not use you and may not conquer in you. I am with you and pray for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Continue Reading

0

September 2, 2003

Jesus

I want My children to be at peace. You know this, children, as I often say this to you. Today, I am going to teach you how to keep peace in your hearts at all times. My children, when a parent rocks a child and sings a soft lullaby, the child knows peace. So much so, that the child often closes his little eyes and falls effortlessly into a peaceful sleep. My children, I am holding you in My arms. I am rocking you gently. Many times throughout your day, I want you to stop what you are doing for a brief moment and close your eyes. I will momentarily soothe your soul with that very same gentleness and, if only for a moment, you will know the sleep of peace. You will be fully aware in your senses, of course, but your soul will rest in complete union with Me and your entire being will be restored and balanced. My children, this is how I intend to keep you at peace. You must fear nothing, not even death. Why would death frighten a soul who is destined for eternity with Me? You are merely coming home, My child, and the brief moments of death are an almost instantaneous transit time. No, do not fear death. That will distract you from life and We want no distractions from the completion of your earthly duties.

My children, are you attempting to remain with Me throughout your day? Remember that you are practicing and trying to consider My presence and how I would speak. You are asking Me often what I would like you to do. This is the way, children. Do you see the changes I am making in your soul? Do you see the difference in how you view your brothers and sisters? You understand now that I am making these changes and that you can trust Me to keep My word. We are making progress, My child, and that pleases Me. This world will shift the smallest bit, each time a soul moves closer to Me in trust. I want you to feel joy, My child. Your world is not at peace, but you must be. I am placing peace in your souls and the world is going to draw it from you, much the way an infant draws nourishment from her mother. That is why I am asking you to come to Me often in your day. As the world draws peace from you to quiet the terrible unrest, I will replace it in you. So do not worry or fret because the world takes your peace. It is for the world I give it, and I have an endless store with which to replenish you. Do you begin to see the depth of My plan? I need many souls to help Me and right now I do not have enough. So We must take My plea to the world so that all souls of good will may answer and assist Me. It is fair and just, My child, that each be given the opportunity to answer for themselves. I am asking and each soul must answer. In their soul, they know they are being asked to choose and they make the choice. I am God. I know all. I need souls. There is no hiding from Me. If a soul rejects Me now, it is finished. You cannot reject your God and claim heaven as your inheritance. Be at peace, My little one. Your God moves to right all wrongs.

Continue Reading

0

March 25 liturgically commemorates the fiat of a young woman which would forever change the world. Her consent permitted God the Father, in the order of human freedom, to bring us our Redeemer.

One hundred years ago, on March 25, 1915, the renowned Belgian cardinal and World War I hero, Desire` Cardinal Mercier, began a petition movement in the Catholic Church for the solemn definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Spiritual Mother” of all humanity.

Mercier’s reasons were simple. If the pope were to infallibly define that Mary is the world’s Spiritual Mother, then torrents of grace, to a historic proportion, would rain down upon the Church. Why? Because, historically, every dogmatic definition of a Marian truth has brought down great and extraordinary graces upon the Church and the world.

For example, after defining the first Marian dogma that Mary is the “Mother of God,” devotion to Our Lady exploded in both the East and West, with ubiquitous expressions of Marian love manifest in liturgy, theology, art, icons, architecture, liturgy, poetry, and most every other form of western culture.

Before the defining of the third Marian dogma, the Immaculate Conception, the Church in general and the pope in particular were in grave crisis. Pius IX had been driven out of the Vatican by invading troops from the south, and the Papal States were overrun. While in exile at Gaeta, Pius IX was requested by several pleading cardinals to define the Immaculate Conception precisely as a remedy for the grave state of the papacy and of the Church. The Marian cardinals argued that if Our Lady’s doctrine was declared as a dogma, she would directly intercede to save both the papacy and the current dismal state of the Church. The saintly pontiff consented.

Thus from exile in 1849, Bl. Pius IX wrote to the bishops of the world, informing them of his intention to define the Immaculate Conception as a dogma. After doing so on December 8, 1854, not only did the Church experience a tremendous grace of unity and solidarity under the Chair of Peter, but the returning pontiff soon after declared the dogma of papal infallibility, which further solidified Catholic faith and life under the Holy Father.

Yes, Marian dogmas bring grace—great grace—to the Church.

The definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood ( it had been argued by Mercier and could still be argued today), would unleash upon the Church even more graces, since this proposed dogma would be to define the very roles in which Mary acts as a “mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, n. 61).

Mary’s titles are her functions. As St. John Paul II noted, “She acts as a mediatrix, not as an outsider, but in her position as mother” and “she has the right to do so” (Redemptoris Mater, n. 21).

If our Holy Father were to define Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood, it would allow her the fullest possible exercise of her motherly roles on our behalf. Only when human free will consents to Mary’s titles, can her function as “Spiritual Mother” be fully activated. As St. Augustine reminds us, God created us without us, but he will not save us without us.”

God needs our consent to save us, and Mary needs our consent to be fully activate her titles by more completely mediating the infinite graces of Jesus into today’s troubled human drama. The pope’s “yes” to Mary’s spiritual motherhood in the form of a dogma would be not only the pope’s, but in virtue of his universal office, a “fiat” on the part of all humanity, for Mary’s full blown intercession for the contemporary world.

Mary’s fiat “freed the Father, in the order of human freedom, to bring us our Redeemer. Now Mary awaits our fiat, in the person and office of the Holy Father, in the order of human freedom, to bring inestimable grace to the world, including the graces necessary for world peace.

One observer to this now one hundred year movement commented, “Why not? What could we lose by defining what the Church already teaches about Mary?” Another observer added, “If it’s true, then why not declare it, especially if it’s a truth about Mary?” I heartily agree with both.

By 1918, Cardinal Mercier had gathered over 300 bishop petitions and thousands upon thousands of petitions from clergy and faithful to the Holy Father for this fifth Marian dogma. Since these initial petitions inspired by Mercier, over 7 million petitions and over 550 cardinals and bishops have petitioned the popes for the dogma of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood.

Why petitions? Because it’s the Catholic way. Both Pius IX and Pius XII thanked the millions of Christian faithful who had petitioned them for their respective dogmatic proclamations of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. Canon Law actually encourages the faithful to bring to the attention of the Pastors of the Church issues they deem important for the Church’s good.

We are free to do the same. If you agree with Cardinal Mercier, hundreds of Catholic bishops, millions of Catholic faithful, and people like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Angelica, and other Catholic leaders and faithful worldwide—that to define Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity would bring great graces to the Church—then you can exercise your own Catholic privilege to let the Holy Father know.

You are certainly free to petition Pope Francis—a great lover of Our Lady, and one not shy in communicating with his flock—about your perspective regarding defining Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood. With an envelope, three postage stamps, and 5 minutes, you can jot down a quick note to Pope Francis, if you would like to offer him your own personal fiat for the dogma of Mary’s Motherhood. Here’s the Pope’s address:

Pope Francis

Vatican City

00120

Mary’s fiat brought us Jesus. Your fiat could help Mary bring peace to the world. Prayerfully consider praying for this Marian definition and writing Pope Francis. Great achievements are wrought through humble fiats by humble souls (Cf. Lk. 1:38).

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor of Theology and Mariology

Franciscan Univeristy of Steubenville,

March 25, 2015

Continue Reading

0

“Dear children! In this time of grace I call all of you: pray more and speak less. In prayer seek the will of God and live it according to the commandments to which God calls you. I am with you and am praying with you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Continue Reading

0

“Dear children! In a special way, today I am calling you to prayer. Pray, little children, so that you may comprehend who you are and where you need to go. Be carriers of the good news and be people of hope. Be love for all those who are without love. Little children, you will be everything and will achieve everything only if you pray and are open to God’s will – to God who desires to lead you towards eternal life. I am with you and intercede for you from day to day before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Continue Reading

0

“Dear children! Also today I call you to also be like the stars, which by their light give light and beauty to others so they may rejoice. Little children, also you be the radiance, beauty, joy and peace – and especially prayer – for all those who are far from my love and the love of my Son Jesus. Little children, witness your faith and prayer in joy, in the joy of faith that is in your hearts; and pray for peace, which is a precious gift from God. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”

Continue Reading

0

I. Mujer y Madre: Intercesora de vida y amor por la familia

¿Quién es una mujer y qué es lo más importante de la vocación materna?

San Juan Pablo II capta tanto la naturaleza como la vocación de las mujeres al escribir que una mujer está llamada a dar testimonio de la existencia y la
profundidad del amor “con el cual cada ser humano –hombre y mujer- es amado por Dios en Cristo.”1 La misión especial de cada mujer es “acoger y cuidar de la persona humana.” 2 Nuestro tiempo en particular “aguarda la manifestación de esa ‘genialidad’ que
pertenece a las mujeres y que asegura la sensibilidad para los seres humanos en cada circunstancia.” 3

La mujer, de una manera en particular, está orientada al amor concreto y a la crianza de las personas. 4 Santa Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz) articula la naturaleza esencial
y la vocación de la mujer: “…la mujer naturalmente busca abrazar aquello que está vivo, que es personal y está íntegro. El apreciar mucho, guardar,
proteger, alimentar y ayudar en el crecimiento es su anhelo maternal y natural.”5 Una mujer personifica de la manera más plena su carisma femenino en su maternidad. Ser una “madre” significa “proteger y salvaguardar
la verdadera humanidad y llevarla a su pleno desarrollo.”6 En una carta a la Cuarta Conferencia Mundial de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Mujer, la Beata Teresa de Calcuta escribió: “El poder especial de amar que pertenece a
una mujer se ve más claramente cuando se convierte en madre. La maternidad es un regalo de Dios a las mujeres.” 7

Una madre es una intercesora natural o “mediadora” de vida y amor dentro de la familia, como aquella que intercede o “actúa como medio” para llevar mayor
unidad entre los demás.8 ¿No es ésta la tarea esencial y perenne de una madre?
Una madre intercede física y moralmente entre el Creador y su familia en su papel único de dar vida al mundo. Después de recibir la semilla de vida del
padre humano, el cuerpo de la madre da forma y alimento al embrión que se está desarrollando y por ello trabaja íntimamente como “co-creadora” con el
Creador para intervenir en el precioso regalo de la vida humana a la familia y al mundo. El hijo es el regalo trascendente de la extensa y globalizada
intercesión física y moral de la madre que va aparejada con la necesaria contribución del padre. Las madres interceden de una forma singular, tanto física
como moralmente, para unir a Dios y a la familia a través del don de los hijos.

Una madre no sólo es la especial intercesora de vida para la familia, sino también una singular intercesora de amor para la
familia. A través de los dones particulares femeninos de receptividad, sensibilidad, calidez, comprensión, compasión, sufrimientos prolongados, intuición e
intuición personal, una madre se convierte en el medio principal de unión entre el padre y los hijos, así como entre los mismos hijos. Las intervenciones
de comunicación y empatía, comprensión y sabiduría, perdón y reconciliación, sacrificio y amor, son las constantes manifestaciones de la intercesión
maternal entre todos los demás miembros del núcleo familiar.

La auténtica maternidad exige al menos tres expresiones esenciales de intercesión maternal para sus hijos: la primera es que una madre sufre por su hijo.
El sufrimiento de una madre no está limitado al dolor físico experimentado durante la gestación y nacimiento, sino también al profundo “sufrimiento del
corazón” experimentado a través de la vida del hijo, ya que la madre comparte compasivamente las pruebas y tragedias que constituyen una parte de la vida
de cada hijo. La segunda es que una madre alimenta a su hijo. La adecuada nutrición del hijo va más allá del ámbito físico. Una madre no sólo provee comida
y nutrición a su bebé desde el momento de la concepción y a través de la gestación y el nacimiento, sino mucho más allá a través de los años de la niñez y
la adolescencia, ofreciendo al niño la formación fundamental emocional, psicológica, educacional y espiritual en la forma más completa y grandiosa posible
para el desarrollo personal del hijo. La tercera es la “súplica” o intercesión de la madre por el bienestar de su hijo. Estos actos maternales de abogacía,
en un principio comienzan dentro del hogar y luego se extienden a la sociedad conforme el niño gradualmente va entrando al ámbito mayor del mundo. Se
manifiestan en una variedad de formas a través de la vida del niño, que incluyen interceder para que el niño tenga todo lo necesario en la escuela y en los
diferentes ámbitos sociales y áreas de desarrollo como la música, los deportes y otras actividades culturales. La intercesión de una madre por su hijo
conlleva los aspectos de protección y defensa puesto que el proceso de entrada a la sociedad normalmente presenta peligros y dificultades.

Todas estas son expresiones de la amorosa y sacrificada intercesión de una madre. ¿Habría, pues, de sorprender que la maternidad sea la vocación universal
más apreciada en el orden natural, y que muchos niños sin importar la edad, hayan terminado su vida terrena con la palabra “mamá” en sus labios? Es por
éstas razones y muchas más que los documentos papales se han referido a la madre como el “corazón” de la familia, y como tal, “ella puede, y debería,
reclamar para sí el lugar de jefe en amor.”9


II. María, Madre de toda la familia

Es una verdadera maravilla de la naturaleza que “una criatura deba dar luz a su Creador.” 10 Esta antífona litúrgica refleja el misterio de María, quien a través de su libre
consentimiento a la sublime vocación de la maternidad, intercedió en vida y en amor con el objeto de dar a luz al niño más sublime, y por lo tanto a la
familia más sublime, en toda la historia de la humanidad.

Como sucede con todas las madres, María juega un rol irremplazable al dar su consentimiento para dar vida a lo que se convertiría en su familia. Concebida
“llena de gracia” mediante los méritos previstos del futuro Redentor y la in-habitación santificadora del Espíritu Santo. 11 la joven virgen de Nazaret providencialmente ha sido preparada para
convertirse en la Madre más importante de la raza humana. Con todo, la respuesta de María “que se haga” constituyó un “sí” absolutamente libre, activo y
femenino a la misión maternal del Padre celestial: “Hágase en mí según tu palabra” (Lc 1,38). 12 Con esta libre cooperación al plan de Dios “como madre,” María trae al mundo
a su Redentor y merece el título que está sobre cualquier otro título, “Madre de Dios,”13 que lleva en sí la esencia y vocación de su suprema maternidad.

Además de dar su consentimiento para convertirse en una intercesora maternal de vida al dar a luz a Jesús, María también lleva a cabo su deber como
intercesora de amor dentro de la Sagrada Familia. Es María quien intercederá entre José, su casto esposo virginal, y Jesús, su hijo, dentro del flujo
familiar natural y amoroso entre el padre y el hijo. María, como corazón de la Sagrada Familia, intercederá para desarrollar las actividades
normales de la maternidad. Vemos esto, por ejemplo, al encontrar a Jesús en el templo, cuando después de tres días de sufrimiento y búsqueda de
los padres (cf. Lc 2,46-51) es María quien intercede hablando al joven Jesús a nombre de sí misma y de José: “Hijo, por qué nos has tratado así? Tu padre y
yo te hemos estado buscando ansiosamente” (Lc 2,48).

María también llevó a cabo innumerables actos de pequeñas tareas de intercesión siendo fiel a su vocación de madre. A este respecto, el Papa Francisco
comenta:

“¿Cómo vivió María esta fe? La vivió en la simplicidad de las miles de tareas diarias y preocupaciones de cada madre, tales como proveer la comida, la
ropa, atendiendo la casa…Fue precisamente la vida normal de Nuestra Señora lo que sirvió como la base para la singular relación y diálogo profundo que se
desarrolló entre ella y Dios, entre ella y su hijo.”14

III. María, Madre espiritual en la Familia de Dios

De una manera tanto sublime como ordinaria, María lleva a cabo su rol providencial como la madre intercesora de vida y amor dentro de los designios
extraordinarios de la Sagrada Familia. Sin embargo, su maternidad dentro de la Sagrada Familia se extendería, debido a la misión redentora universal de su
Hijo, para incluir a toda la Familia de Dios, y sin lugar a dudas, a todos los pueblos. En Evangelii Gaudium, el Papa Francisco se refiere a la
maternidad de María -tanto doméstica como universalmente- como “madre de todos”:

“…María pudo hacer que un establo se convirtiera en el hogar de Jesús, envolviéndolo en pobres pañales y abundante amor. Ella es la sierva del Padre que
canta sus alabanzas. Ella es la amiga que se preocupa para que el vino no falte en nuestras vidas. Ella es la mujer cuyo corazón fue atravesado por una
lanza y quien comprende todo nuestro dolor. Como madre de todos, ella es un signo de esperanza para los pueblos que sufren los dolores de parto de la
justicia. Ella es la misionera que se acerca a nosotros y nos acompaña a través de la vida, abriendo nuestros corazones a la fe por su amor maternal. Como
verdadera madre, camina a nuestro lado compartiendo nuestras luchas y rodeándonos constantemente con el amor de Dios” (EG 286).

A veces se ha percibido que los títulos tradicionales atribuidos a la intercesión maternal de María han sido únicamente el resultado de la especulación
teológica más que estar fundamentados en la Palabra de Dios15, pero de hecho,
los títulos de intercesión maternal utilizados por el magisterio papal están sólidamente basados tanto en las Sagradas Escrituras como en la Tradición
Apostólica, como lo ha interpretado apropiadamente el Magisterio de la Iglesia. Dei Verbum nos recuerda que la Tradición en la Iglesia progresa
mediante el legítimo desarrollo de la doctrina bajo la guía del Espíritu Santo.16 Por lo tanto, examinemos la síntesis cronológica del Nuevo Testamento sobre la gradual revelación de la Madre de Jesús desde la Anunciación -ya
mencionada- hasta el establecimiento de María como “la Madre de todos nosotros”17 hecha por Jesús crucificado, así como los legítimos títulos y roles marianos que de manera natural se han ido desarrollando y saliendo a la luz
desde las semillas doctrinales de la Escritura y la Tradición apostólica, ya que, en la Anunciación, el consentimiento de María a la misión de la redención
permanecerá intacto hasta, e incluirá, su histórica participación en el sacrificio de Jesús en el Calvario. 18

La madre que físicamente dio a luz a Jesús, también dio a luz espiritualmente a su cuerpo, la Iglesia. Jesucristo es la “Cabeza del cuerpo, la Iglesia”
(Col 1,18). Por lo tanto, en la Anunciación, el ‘fiat’ de María no sólo llevó a la concepción física de Jesús, Cabeza del cuerpo, sino también a la concepción espiritual del cuerpo místico al cual pertenecen todos los seguidores de Cristo y, a través de la Iglesia, a todos los creyentes. San
Agustín nos dice: “Ella es realmente Madre de los miembros que somos nosotros porque cooperó con caridad para que nacieran en la Iglesia los creyentes cuya
Cabeza es Él.”19 San Juan Pablo II amplía la explicación:

“Ya que dio a luz a Cristo, la Cabeza del cuerpo místico, también tenía que haber dado a luz a todos los miembros de ese único cuerpo. Por lo tanto, “María
acoge a todos y cada uno en la Iglesia, y acoge a todos y cada uno a través de la Iglesia.” 20

Dentro del profundo misterio de la Palabra que se hizo carne a través de su maternidad divina, María dio a Jesús el “instrumento” humano de la redención,
el cual es su cuerpo, ya que hemos sido santificados por el ofrecimiento del cuerpo de Jesucristo de una vez y para siempre” (Hb. 10,10). La Virgen
Inmaculada cooperó de forma enteramente singular en el misterio de la Redención no sólo dando a luz al Redentor y proveyéndolo del instrumento corporal de
la Redención, sino también en virtud de su sufrimiento sin par con su Hijo a través de toda la misión de la Redención. 21 A tal grado que María, como Madre de Dios, dando a luz al “Redentor del
hombre”22 ya se le refiere legítimamente como la “Co-redentora” humana (“la
mujer con el Redentor”) ya que su consentimiento proveyó al Redentor de su cuerpo y, consecuentemente, de su naturaleza humana mediante la cual Él redime
al mundo; una contribución a la obra de la redención que es absolutamente incomparable con ninguna otra creatura. 23

Mediante su histórica intercesión en la Anunciación, María también intercede por el “único Mediador” (cf.1Tim 2,5) en la historia de la humanidad. Ella
actúa como “mediadora” humana.24 puesto que intercede de forma única como
Madre para llevar a Jesucristo a la raza humana. El rol de intercesión de María como Madre no sólo no obscurece ni compite con la única mediación de
Jesucristo, ya que la mediación secundaria de María está muy por debajo y enteramente subordinada y dependiente de la de Él 25, pero su cooperación maternal al plan de Encarnación de Dios es precisamente
lo que hizo que la misión de redención del único Mediador fuera posible. Una vez, es María, la Mediatrix, la Mediadora, la que intercede para que tengamos al único Mediador.

Por otra parte, ya que Jesús es la fuente y autor de todas las gracias, a María, en virtud de este primer gran acto de intercesión maternal, ya se le
invoca propiamente en la Iglesia -y al menos por diez papas modernos- como la Mediatrix de todas las gracias.26

Los Padres de la Iglesia tomaron la doctrina de la Maternidad Espiritual del concepto patrístico de la “Nueva Eva.” Así como la primera Eva o “Madre de los
Vivientes”27 fue instrumental con el primer Adán en la pérdida de la gracia
para la familia humana, así también María como la “Nueva Eva” o la “Nueva Madre de los Vivientes” fue instrumental con Jesús, el “Nuevo Adán,”28 en la restauración de la gracia para la humanidad. 29 Dentro del modelo de la Nueva Eva, los Padres adoptaron la verdad de la
maternidad espiritual de María en una fórmula simple aunque esencial, que incluye dimensiones de maternidad espiritual, mediación, y co-redención. Un
testimonio de su intercesión que se remonta a la Iglesia Primitiva, está ejemplificado en la enseñanza de San Ireneo, siglo II, en cuanto a que María es la
“causa de salvación para sí misma y para toda la raza humana”30, así como en la
famosa máxima de San Jerónimo: “Muerte a través de Eva, vida a través de María.”31

Cuando María visita a Isabel (Lc 1,39-56), ella es la madre encinta que físicamente “pone de por medio” al Cristo no nacido ante la presencia de Isabel y
el Bautista que tampoco había nacido; una mediación física que a su vez conduce a dos eventos de gracia: la pre-santificación de Juan en el vientre de su
madre, y la profecía de Isabel a través del Espíritu Santo (cf. Lc 1,41-42). En la Presentación del niño Jesús (Lc 2,21-38) Simeón identifica a Jesús como
el “signo de contradicción”, pero también da testimonio del papel co-redentivo de María –la mujer que sufrirá con el Redentor: “…y a ti misma una espada te
atravesará el alma” (Lc 2,35) a fin de que queden al descubierto “las intenciones” de muchos corazones.

Las bodas en Caná (Jn 2,1-10) revelan de una forma extraordinariamente dinámica el rol de la mediación maternal cuando María, con conocimiento y voluntad,
intercede para obtener la gracia del primer milagro público de Jesús. San Juan Pablo II hace el siguiente comentario sobre el evento de Caná: “Ella actúa
en su papel de mediatrix y no como una extraña, actúa en su posición de Madre.”32 El evento de Caná nos revela todavía más el papel maternal de María como “Abogada,” de aquella que habla a favor de la humanidad ante el trono
de su Hijo, Cristo el Rey. En la fiesta de la boda, María aboga por la pareja recién casada en lo que constituye un inequívoco ejemplo bíblico de
intercesión mariana; y el hecho de que no se tenga conocimiento de que los recién casados hayan sido discípulos de Jesús, es un claro indicio de la
universalidad de su papel como la abogada de la humanidad, y de que su intercesión maternal va más allá de los límites de la cristiandad extendiéndose a
las necesidades universales de toda la humanidad.33

Pero sólo en el Calvario, en la cima del evento histórico de la redención, la maternidad espiritual de María será plenamente establecida y declarada. El
Papa Francisco expone:

“En la cruz, cuando Jesús sufrió en su propia carne el dramático encuentro del pecado del mundo y la misericordia de Dios, pudo sentir a sus pies la
presencia consoladora de su Madre y su amigo. En ese momento crucial, antes de culminar la obra que su Padre le había encomendado, Jesús le dijo a María:
“Mujer, ahí tienes a tu hijo.” Luego le dijo al amigo amado: “He ahí a tu madre” (Jn 19,26-27). Estas palabras de Jesús a punto de morir no son
principalmente la expresión de su devoción y preocupación por su Madre; más bien, son una fórmula que revela y manifiesta el misterio de una misión
especial salvadora. Jesús nos dejó a su Madre para que también fuera nuestra Madre. Sólo después de haberlo hecho, Jesús supo que “ya todo estaba cumplido”
(Jn 19,28). Al pie de la cruz, en la hora suprema de la nueva creación, Cristo nos condujo hacia María; nos guió hacia ella porque no quería que viajáramos
sin una madre, y nuestro pueblo lee en esta imagen maternal todos los misterios del Evangelio” (EG 285).

En íntima unión con el Redentor en el Gólgota, María es la Madre que de manera totalmente singular participa en la obra de la Redención “coparticipando la
intensidad de su sufrimiento” en su corazón de madre. Lumen gentium expone:

“Así avanzó también la Santísima Virgen en la peregrinación de la fe, manteniendo fielmente la unión con su Hijo hasta la Cruz junto a la cual, no sin
designio divino, se mantuvo erguida, sufriendo profundamente con su Unigénito y asociándose con entrañas de madre a su sacrificio, consintiendo
amorosamente en la inmolación de la víctima que ella misma había engendrado” (LG 58).

Una vez más, el único término en la Tradición de la Iglesia que mejor resume el rol de María como Madre Espiritual en la obra de la Redención, es el título
de “Co-redentora.” Cabe aclarar que éste título mariano de Co-redentora, que explícitamente fue utilizado seis veces por San Juan Pablo II, tres veces por
Pío XI y tres veces por las Congregaciones vaticanas bajo el pontificado de San Pío X,34
jamás ubica a María a un nivel de igualdad con Jesucristo, el único Redentor divino de la humanidad. Se refiere, más bien, a la singular cooperación de
esta Mujer y Madre “con Jesús” en la misión redentora; a la dimensión de su maternidad espiritual en el orden del sufrimiento.

En el Gólgota, María –citando a San Juan Pablo II- “está espiritualmente crucificada con su hijo crucificado.” 35 Sin embargo, -continúa el Papa Totus Tuus– “su rol de Co-redentora
no terminó con la glorificación de su Hijo.”36

En virtud del rol incomparable de obtener las gracias de redención con Jesús, ella es consecuentemente proclamada por Jesús crucificado como la
Madre Espiritual de todos los pueblos, cuya tarea será ahora la de dispensar las gracias de la Redención como la Mediatrix -o Mediadora- de todas
las gracias.”37

La maternidad espiritual de María continúa activamente en la distribución de las gracias de la Redención precisamente porque es la Mediatrix de todas las
gracias y Abogada de la humanidad. El rol de María como Mediatrix de todas las gracias ha sido oficialmente enseñado por casi cada papa de los últimos
trescientos años, desde Benedicto XIV en el siglo 18 hasta el Papa Benedicto XVI.38 Su mediación de gracia es, nuevamente, una expresión externa y práctica de su maternidad espiritual. San Juan Pablo II explicita este punto
clave: “El reconocimiento de su rol como Mediatrix está todavía más implícito en la expresión ‘nuestra Madre’ que presenta la doctrina de la mediación
mariana poniendo el acento en su maternidad.”39 La expresión “Nuestra Madre,”
contiene en sí misma la verdad y el rol de María como Mediadora de todas las gracias obtenidas en el Calvario.

En los días previos a Pentecostés (cf. Hch 1,14), María está allí intercediendo como abogada maternal a nombre de la Iglesia naciente para que descienda el
Espíritu Santo. De la misma forma, para que una Nueva Evangelización sea plenamente efectiva, la Iglesia debe utilizar nuevamente a María como la Abogada
humana para implorar al Espíritu Santo, el divino Abogado, que descienda en nuestro tiempo con el objeto de guiar y santificar nuestros esfuerzos
de difundir el Evangelio de Jesús hoy en día. El Papa Francisco señala que la abogacía de María ante el Espíritu hizo posible la primera evangelización:
“Con el Espíritu Santo, María siempre está presente en medio del pueblo. Se unió a los discípulos para orar por la venida del Espíritu Santo ( Hch 1,14) y con ello hizo posible el despliegue misionero que tuvo lugar en Pentecostés (EG 284).”

Además, el Papa Francisco apunta que la continua intercesión de María por sus hijos terrenos está testimoniada en los Santuarios marianos que hay alrededor
del mundo, incluyendo el de su más tierna y maternal auto identificación: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe:

“A través de sus muchos títulos, con frecuencia ligados a sus santuarios, María comparte la historia de cada pueblo que ha recibido el Evangelio
convirtiéndose en parte de su identidad histórica. Muchos padres cristianos piden que sus hijos sean bautizados en un santuario mariano, como una señal de
la fe que profesan en su maternidad para engendrar nuevos hijos para Dios. Allí, en esos múltiples santuarios, podemos ver cómo María reúne a sus hijos
quienes con gran esfuerzo acuden en peregrinación sólo para verla y ser vistos por ella. Allí encuentran la fortaleza de Dios para soportar las
preocupaciones y el sufrimiento de sus vidas, y María, tal como lo hizo con Juan Diego, les ofrece su amor y consuelos maternales susurrándoles al oído:
‘Que tu corazón no se turbe…¿no estoy yo aquí, que soy tu Madre?’” (EG 286).

Finalmente, el testimonio del Nuevo Testamento sobre la Maternidad Espiritual expone su carácter protector espiritual como la Mujer-Madre en el
Libro del Apocalipsis (Ap 12,17). Aquí, la mujer “vestida de sol” y “coronada con doce estrellas” valientemente intercede por la Iglesia conformada por el
“resto de sus hijos” que están bajo el ataque del Dragón. Nuevamente, el Papa Francisco comenta: “El Señor no quiso dejar a la Iglesia sin este icono de
femineidad. María, que lo trajo al mundo con gran fe, también acompaña “al resto de sus hijos, aquellos que guardan los mandamientos de Dios y dan
testimonio de Jesús (Ap 12,17) (EG 285).”

Por lo tanto, a lo largo de todo el Nuevo Testamento, la maternidad espiritual de María es gradualmente develada y dinámicamente puesta en práctica a favor
del pueblo de Dios. La misma batalla espiritual por las almas que se describe en el Libro del Apocalipsis –la confrontación cósmica entre la Reina-Abogada
y el Dragón-Adversario- la vemos crecer inmensa y furiosamente en nuestros tiempos actuales. Es una batalla por las familias, por la sociedad y por la
Iglesia que al presente está necesitando la intercesión más fuerte posible por parte de la Madre Espiritual del mundo.

IV. Los signos de nuestro tiempo y la Madre del mundo

Gaudium et Spes
nos recuerda que “en todas las épocas la Iglesia ha tenido y tiene la responsabilidad de leer los signos de los tiempos interpretándolos a la luz del
Evangelio, si es que ha de llevar a cabo su tarea” (GS,4). ¿Qué es, pues, lo que constituye los signos de los tiempos y cuáles son sus ramificaciones para
la familia doméstica, la familia de la Iglesia y para toda la familia humana en su conjunto?

En el ámbito doméstico de la sociedad humana, la familia parecería estar enfrentando algunas de sus más severas amenazas, particularmente en las áreas de
la estabilidad matrimonial, la moralidad sexual y bioética y el adecuado cuidado de la mujer, los niños y los ancianos. 40 Incluso, aquel pontífice que constantemente exhortaba a la Iglesia a “no
tener miedo”, San Juan Pablo II, reconoció abiertamente su preocupación en relación al estado actual de la vida familiar:

“Una necesidad similar de compromiso y oración surge en relación a otro tema contemporáneo crítico: la familia, la célula principal de la
sociedad, cada vez más amenazada por fuerzas de desintegración tanto a niveles ideológicos como prácticos, al grado de hacernos temer por el futuro de esta
institución fundamental y, con ella, el futuro de la sociedad en su conjunto.”41

En el aspecto global, la actual capacidad nuclear de varios países y su exponencial poder de destruir regiones enteras, incluso naciones, representa un
desafío global sumamente grave y único en nuestros tiempos. Como lo afirmó el Cardenal Ratzinger: “Hoy en día la posibilidad de que el mundo pueda ser
reducido a cenizas por un mar de fuego ya no parece pura fantasía: el hombre mismo, con sus invenciones, ha forjado la llameante espada.” 42

Los violentos conflictos geopolíticos son constantes en Palestina, Israel, Rusia, Ukrania, Crimea, Siria, Iraq y Libia. El hambre a nivel mundial se
incrementa cada vez más y estadísticamente una de cada siete personas se va a la cama con hambre. 43 El “nuevo ateísmo”, el materialismo occidental y el humanismo secular van en
espiral ascendente. Además, el dramático incremento de persecuciones cristianas está también incrementándose en todo el mundo, especialmente en Iraq,
Siria, Sudan y Nigeria. De particular preocupación es el grupo terrorista recién formado “ISIS” (por sus siglas en inglés que significa Estado Islámico de
Iraq y Siria), el cual está iniciando formas extremas de persecución cristiana (así como a otras minorías étnicas) en impresionantes formas que manifiestan
claramente su origen diabólico.44


¿Qué puede hacer la Iglesia en medio de estos aparentes ataques globales sin parangón alguno tanto a la familia, a la sociedad y a la Iglesia misma?

A lo largo de su tradición e historia, la Iglesia como Familia de Dios ha mostrado sabiduría para acudir a María durante sus momentos más peligrosos y
críticos. En la Iglesia primitiva, los cristianos acudían presurosos a la Madre de Dios pidiendo liberación y protección durante los tiempos de la
persecución cristiana como se ve en la antigua oración, Sub Tuum Praesidium: “Acudimos a tu protección, Oh Santa Madre de Dios, no desprecies
nuestras peticiones y necesidades, antes bien, líbranos de todos los peligros, Oh Virgen gloriosa y bendita.” 45 En tiempos de crisis a finales de la edad media y a principios del periodo
moderno, la Iglesia nuevamente buscó la poderosa intercesión de la Madre, como lo atestigua la batalla de Lepanto (1571) a través de “Nuestra Señora del
Rosario,” y la Batalla de Viena a través del “Santo Nombre de María” (1683). Más recientemente, muchos han aceptado la caída relativamente incruenta del
Comunismo en la Europa del Este atribuyéndola a la consagración del mundo al Corazón Inmaculado de María que hizo el Papa San Juan Pablo II el 25 de Marzo
de 1984, cumpliendo con la petición de Nuestra Señora de Fátima.46

Y de nuevo, en los tiempos de sus mayores crisis históricas, la Iglesia siempre acude a María.

¿No sería, pues, ahora el tiempo para que una vez más, siguiendo la sabiduría perenne de la Iglesia, acudamos firme y definitivamente a
clamar la mayor intercesión posible por parte de la Madre Espiritual del mundo?

V.
La solemne definición de la Maternidad Espiritual de María

Hace cien años, el renombrado prelado belga, Desire-Joseph Cardenal Mercier, inició un movimiento al interior de la Iglesia para apoyar y pedir una
definición solemne de la Maternidad Espiritual de María.47 Las definiciones previas de: Madre de Dios (431), su Triple Virginidad (649), su Inmaculada Concepción (1854) y la Asunción (1950), han
proclamado solemnemente la relación de María con Jesús y sus singulares dones de gracia en alma y cuerpo. Una quinta definición mariana declararía
infaliblemente la relación de María con nosotros, sus hijos, tanto al interior de la familia de Dios perteneciente a la Iglesia, como a la
totalidad de la familia humana. Desde el principio, la motivación para este dogma mariano -además del adecuado reconocimiento del singular rol de la Madre
de Dios como Madre nuestra- fue la firme convicción de que esta definición papal traería consigo gracias históricas para la Iglesia y para el mundo.48

¿Cuál sería la razón por la que la proclamación del dogma de Maternidad Espiritual traería como resultado una nueva efusión de gracia para la humanidad?
Porque la declaración solemne del papa en relación a los roles de Nuestra Señora, es un ofrecimiento a Dios del mayor reconocimiento humano posible sobre
la verdad y aceptación de la Maternidad Espiritual de María por parte de la humanidad y, al mismo tiempo, una solicitud enteramente libre de la máxima
actuación posible de sus roles maternales de intercesión. Si bien se puede decir que cada uno de los anteriores dogmas marianos ha sido fuente de grandes
gracias para la Iglesia, la definición papal de la Maternidad Espiritual se presenta como particularmente predispuesta a tal efusión de gracias. Mientras
más se reconozca libremente el providencial designio de los roles de nuestra Madre Espiritual, ella será más “libre” y aceptada por nosotros –en
conformidad con el respeto de Dios a nuestra libre voluntad- de llevar a plena activación y poder sus roles de intercesión maternal en nuestro beneficio.
En su carta petitoria a San Juan Pablo II para la proclamación de este quinto dogma mariano, la Beata Teresa de Calcuta se refiere al histórico derroche de
gracia que daría como resultado la definición papal “…

La definición por parte del Papa de María como Co-redentora, Mediadora de todas las gracias y Abogada proporcionará enormes gracias a la Iglesia.” 49

En suma, la solemne definición papal de la Maternidad Espiritual de María permitirá el mayor grado posible de aprovechamiento del ejercicio de las funciones maternales de intercesión de María por el mundo. Desde 1915,
más de ochocientos obispos50 y más de siete millones de fieles 51 han pedido a los papas de los últimos cien años esta corona dogmatica para María,
teniendo como precedente los dos últimos dogmas marianos de la Inmaculada Concepción y la Asunción de María. 52 Esto no debería pasarse por alto, especialmente a la luz de la legítima consideración
del sensus fidelium en el análisis de las condiciones apropiadas para una definición dogmática. 53

A la luz de lo anterior, ¿qué fruto espiritual razonable podríamos esperar de la definición de la Maternidad Espiritual como un dogma? Los siguientes
beneficios para la familia, la Iglesia y el mundo podrían ciertamente ser previstos:

  1. Una renovación de la vida familiar y del rol de la madre en la familia como el prototipo de su “corazón”. Una definición de Maternidad Espiritual
    no puede sino redundar en una renovada defensa del rol sublime de la maternidad en cada familia. Un nuevo reconocimiento solemne de maternidad en
    la persona de María, tendría como resultado inmediato la restauración de la reverencia que se debe dar al papel de una madre como el corazón de
    cada familia, lo cual, además, daría como resultado una transfusión de amor y gracia doméstica en la iglesia doméstica.

  1. Un nuevo respeto por la dignidad de la persona humana basado en el respeto radical que Dios puso en la libre cooperación de una persona humana,
    María, para participar en la obra de salvación de Cristo. Todas las personas humanas son elevadas en dignidad a través del rol victorioso otorgado
    a una mujer por Dios, lo que también influye en la restauración de la vida familiar como una comunión sagrada de personas instituidas por Dios.

  1. Una nueva celebración de la mujer en la Iglesia, y un modelo femenino concreto que impulse adecuadamente a la Iglesia a integrar a la mujer más
    profundamente en el trabajo de la Nueva Evangelización, así como a la vida de la Iglesia en su conjunto. Este nuevo reconocimiento de la mujer
    debería incluir legítimas posiciones de liderazgo en la Iglesia que no requieren ordenación ni conflicto con la responsabilidad principal de la
    maternidad cristiana, sino más bien hacer uso de ella para el mayor aprovechamiento de todos los hijos de Dios. Una definición de Maternidad
    Espiritual subrayaría que una mujer fue predestinada por Dios para acompañar al único Redentor divino y Mediador en su obra salvífica, y como tal,
    para proveer de un auténtico fundamento al verdadero feminismo cristiano. Una proclamación de María es al mismo tiempo una proclamación de la mujer. Como recalcó el Papa Francisco: “el Señor no quiso dejar a la
    Iglesia sin este icono de femineidad” (EG 285).

  1. Una infusión de gracias sobrenaturales para la Nueva Evangelización a instancias de su Madre y “Estrella.” La historia cristiana nos brinda fuertes
    testimonios en lugares tales como México con el evento “Guadalupano”, en donde vemos que cuando María dirige el camino en la difusión del Evangelio
    de Cristo, regiones enteras, o incluso continentes, se convierten rápidamente o se renuevan dentro de la Iglesia. El Papa Francisco nos recuerda:
    “Ella es la Madre de la Iglesia que evangeliza, y sin ella, jamás podríamos entender verdaderamente el espíritu de la Nueva Evangelización” (EG
    284).

A la luz de un nuevo “fiat” papal a sus títulos y funciones de intercesión, Nuestra Señora podría cumplir profundamente con la oración del Papa Francisco
de “obtener un nuevo ardor nacido de la resurrección, para que podamos llevar a todos el Evangelio de vida que triunfa sobre la muerte,” y de allí otorgar
a la Iglesia “una santa valentía para buscar nuevos caminos para que el don de la belleza imperecedera alcance a todo hombre y mujer.” (EG 288). En virtud
de que María, por encima de cualquier otra creatura, se entregó a sí misma y “completamente al Dios eterno,” es quien mejor “nos puede ayudar a
dar nuestro propio ‘si’ al urgente llamado, más apremiante que nunca antes, para proclamar la buena nueva de Jesús” (EG 288).

Para el proceso de la Nueva Evangelización, es todavía mucho más esencial que incorporemos plenamente un “estilo mariano” en nuestros métodos de difundir
el Evangelio. El Papa Francisco nos explica:

“Existe un “estilo” mariano para el trabajo de evangelización de la Iglesia. Siempre que vemos a María, llegamos a creer una vez más en la naturaleza
revolucionaria del amor y la ternura. En ella vemos que la humildad y la ternura no son virtudes de los débiles sino de los fuertes que no necesitan tratar
a los demás pobremente con el objeto de sentirse ellos mismos importantes (EG 288).

María es, por encima de todo, nuestro modelo de servicio y evangelización para los pobres y marginados, y la solemne importancia de su ejemplo maternal
sólo ayudará a la Iglesia a imitar de mejor manera su ejemplo evangelizador: “Ella es la mujer de oración y trabajo de Nazaret, y también es Nuestra Señora
del Socorro, quien sale de su pueblo “presurosa” (Lc 1,39) para servir a los demás. Esta interacción de justicia y ternura, de contemplación y preocupación
por los demás, es lo que hace que la comunidad eclesial vea a María como un modelo de evangelización” (EG 288). Una definición de maternidad ciertamente
subrayaría la urgencia de la Iglesia de ser más maternal en sus métodos de difundir el Evangelio.

Adicionalmente, el Papa Francisco ha ofrecido un nuevo modelo eclesiástico para la Iglesia: el “hogar” (cf EG 288). Si la Iglesia verdaderamente
se ha de convertir en “hogar” para todos los pueblos, tenemos con mayor razón la urgencia de que la Madre de la Iglesia se involucre más íntimamente; que
el “corazón” de la Familia de Dios pueda utilizar sus dones maternales únicos en transformar aún más a la Iglesia en una comunidad donde los nuevos
‘inquisidores’ y nuevos creyentes auténticamente vean y experimenten a la Iglesia como un hogar.

  1. La renovación y “marianización” de la Iglesia a través de un reconocimiento solemne de su miembro y modelo más perfecto. El Papa Francisco nos
    recuerda que “María es la mujer de fe que vive y camina en fe, y su “excepcional peregrinación de fe representa un constante punto de referencia
    para el Iglesia” (EG 287). La coronación dogmática de la Madre acentuaría el rol sagrado de la Iglesia como “madre” (LG 63,64) en la misión de
    llevar vida sobrenatural a las almas. La declaración de María como Madre de todos los pueblos también pondría de relieve a la Iglesia como “madre
    de todos los pueblos,” que está incorporada en esta oración del Papa Francisco a la Madre: “Imploramos su intercesión maternal para que la Iglesia
    se convierta en hogar para muchos pueblos, una madre para todos los pueblos, y que el camino pueda ser abierto para el nacimiento de un
    nuevo mundo.” (E.V. 288)54

La proclamación de su rol como Co-redentora, en el aspecto sufriente, inseparable y fundacional de su maternidad espiritual, le recuerda a la Iglesia de su
necesidad de también ser “co-redentores en Cristo”55 -utilizando la expresión de San Juan
Pablo II- para completar “lo que falta a las tribulaciones de Cristo a favor de su Cuerpo, que es la Iglesia” (Col 1,24). El Papa Benedicto también llamó a
la Iglesia a convertirse en “redentores en el Redentor.”56

  1. Una nueva efusión de gracia para los pobres, sufrientes, hambrientos, ancianos y marginados del mundo. El Magnificat revela el lugar
    especial en el corazón de Nuestra Señora por los “humildes” y los “hambrientos” (Lc 1,52,53). Esta definición llevará gracias generosas a los
    pueblos más necesitados del mundo, a los pobres y a aquellos que están “al margen” de la familia humana, y como tales tendrían un lugar
    preferencial en el Corazón Inmaculado de María. “Estrella de la nueva evangelización, ayúdanos a ser testigos radiantes de comunión, servicio, fe
    ardiente y generosa, justicia y amor por los pobres, que la alegría del Evangelio llegue a a todos los rincones de la tierra, iluminando hasta los
    confines de nuestro mundo” (EG 288).

  1. Una contribución al auténtico ecumenismo cristiano. La verdadera maternidad une a los hijos en vez de dividirlos. Así también lo hace la sublime
    maternidad espiritual de la Madre perfecta entre sus hijos cristianos. A pesar de los avances en la unidad cristiana a través de la oración y el
    diálogo, el ecumenismo aún necesita de renovadas y profundas gracias para alcanzar su meta de unión plena en el Cuerpo de Cristo. Un nuevo
    surgimiento de gracia en nuestros actuales esfuerzos ecuménicos podrían primero unir los corazones de sus hijos, lo que podría conducir
    subsecuentemente a una nueva unión de mentes dentro de la familia cristiana; un radical cambio ecuménico a través de la intercesión de la Madre de la unidad cristiana.57

Una definición de Maternidad Espiritual también articularía en los términos bíblicos y teológicos más claros posibles, que los cristianos católicos no
“adoramos” a María, sino que reconocemos apropiadamente su rol secundario y subordinado con Jesús en la salvación como “una Madre en el orden de la
gracia.”58 Ofrecería al diálogo ecuménico una herramienta invaluable como una
formulación bíblica y teológica de lo que la Iglesia cree sobre María. La verdad cristiana por sí misma unifica.

  1. Paz entre las naciones. La Madre de toda la humanidad también es la Reina de la Paz quien busca llevar al Príncipe de la Paz a todas las tierras,
    especialmente aquellas que sufren más los azotes de la guerra, el odio y la destrucción. La definición ofrecería una nueva liberación de gracia
    sobrenatural y sabiduría hacia la resolución de los conflictos geopolíticos más complejos a nivel regional, nacional e internacional, mismos que a
    este punto, podrían parecer lejanos a un remedio humano o diplomático. Tal es el carisma especial de la maternal “Desatadora de Nudos.” 59

Objeciones potenciales para una definición mariana

Algunos podrán objetar que el Dogma de la Maternidad Espiritual no sería apropiado a la luz de las enseñanzas bíblicas de 1Tim 2,5 que dice “hay un solo
mediador entre Dios y el hombre, el hombre Cristo Jesús.” Sn embargo, nuevamente se debe enfatizar que la Maternidad Espiritual de María es sólo una
participación subordinada a la única mediación de Cristo, como lo evidencian las oraciones e intercesión de cada cristiano.

Lumen gentium nos recuerda:

“Pero la misión maternal de María hacia los hombres, de ninguna manera obscurece ni disminuye esta única mediación de Cristo, sino más bien muestra su
eficacia….nace del Divino beneplácito y de la superabundancia de los méritos de Cristo, se apoya en su mediación, de ella depende totalmente y de la misma
saca toda su virtud; y lejos de impedirla, fomenta la unión inmediata de los creyentes con Cristo (LG 60).

María intercede, la Iglesia intercede, los santos interceden, los ángeles interceden, el sacerdote intercede, los fieles laicos interceden, cada uno en sus
diversos y proporcionados grados, sin embargo todos como participantes secundarios y subordinados de la única mediación de Jesucristo.60 María participa de la única mediación de Jesús como ninguna otra, 61 debido a su singular rol con Jesús en la obra de la redención, y a la luz de su rol
incomparable en la distribución de la gracia para la humanidad. Pero su mediación maternal ni es “paralela” ni tampoco “compite” con la única mediación de
Cristo.

San Juan Pablo II ofrece esta excepcionalmente clara enseñanza de 1Tm 2,5 y su auténtica interpretación católica:

“Al proclamar a Cristo como único mediador (cf. 1Tm 2,5-6) el texto de la Carta de San Pablo a Timoteo excluye alguna otra mediación paralela, pero no una
mediación subordinada. De hecho, antes de enfatizar la exclusiva y única mediación de Cristo, el autor urge a “que se hagan plegarias, oraciones, súplicas
y acciones de gracias por todos los hombres” (2,1). ¿No son las oraciones una forma de mediación? Al proclamar la singularidad de la mediación de Cristo,
el Apóstol intenta solamente excluir cualquier mediación autónoma o rival y no otras formas compatibles con el valor infinito de la obra del Salvador”. 62

Del mismo modo que la enseñanza paulina relativa a que “todos están privados de la gloria de Dios” (Rm 3,23) no fue contraria –a pesar de las primeras
impresiones- al dogma de la Inmaculada Concepción, así la enseñanza paulina de 1Tm 2,5 no va en contra de la presente doctrina y de la definición potencial
de María como Madre Espiritual y Mediadora de todas las gracias.

Y con todo, otros sostendrán que esta definición mariana impediría el progreso ecuménico con otros cuerpos eclesiales cristianos y por lo tanto
obstaculizar el llamado conciliar para la unidad cristiana. La actividad ecuménica auténtica dentro de la Iglesia identifica la oración como su alma y el
diálogo como su cuerpo en la verdadera búsqueda de la unidad dentro de la única Iglesia de Cristo santa, católica y apostólica. 63

Sin embargo, los verdaderos esfuerzos ecuménicos no pueden ni comprometer las auténticas enseñanzas doctrinales que incluyen a aquellas concernientes a la
Madre de Dios, ni tampoco deberían de ser un obstáculo para el legítimo desarrollo doctrinal, 64 y este dogma mariano propuesto debería, de hecho, constituir un desarrollo legítimo de
la perenne doctrina con respecto a la Maternidad Espiritual de María. La verdad mariana propiamente articulada no levanta muros, antes bien construye
puentes. Todos los cristianos necesitan saber con la misma claridad manifestada por el Redentor en el Calvario, que ellos también tienen a María comosu Madre (cf. Jn 19,26). El Papa ha comentado recientemente: “Un cristiano sin la Virgen es huérfano.” 65

Otra objeción importante es que los títulos marianos que comprenden las expresiones específicas y funciones de la Maternidad Espiritual como “Co-redentora”
y “Mediadora” no deberían utilizarse en una potencial definición, ya que su base etimológica está demasiado cerca a aquellas del divino “Redentor” y
“Mediador” que son propiamente atribuidas solamente a Jesús. Sin embargo, la Tradición cristiana frecuentemente utiliza los mismos títulos de raíz para
María que para Cristo, pero con el claro entendimiento de que María participa de manera inconfundible desde una dimensión humana en una realidad divina que
es completamente dependiente de Jesucristo. ¿No es esto plenamente consistente con la tradición teológica de la Iglesia y su constante uso del principio de
analogía? Títulos con raíces completamente diferentes no expresarían la intimidad, belleza y coherencia del singular plan de Salvación que Dios ha querido
de manera específica entre el Hijo y la Madre, y en última instancia entre Dios y la humanidad en la obra de la salvación humana, ya que todos los miembros
de la Iglesia están llamados a participar en las acciones divinas de redención y gracia. Así como las parejas casadas “co-crean” con el Padre en traer
hijos al mundo; y los sacerdotes “co-santifican” con el Espíritu administrando los sacramentos de la Iglesia, todos los cristianos están llamados a
“co-redimir” con Jesús en cumplimiento del llamado que hace San Pablo de “completar “lo que falta a las tribulaciones de Cristo a favor de su Cuerpo, que
es la Iglesia” (Col 1,24). El título de María como Co-redentora no sólo ilustra la unión de la humanidad con la divinidad que Dios desea en la obra de
salvación, sino que también invita a la Iglesia a seguir su ejemplo como “co-redentores en Cristo,”66 y también proclama en sí el mensaje cristiano prototípico de que el sufrimiento es redentivo.67

Y aún así, otros podrían objetar que la doctrina mariana en cuestión no está adecuadamente madura para una definición y que los elementos asociados con la
doctrina siguen siendo “ambiguos.” Sin embargo, la Maternidad Espiritual y sus tres expresiones maternales esenciales de co-redención, mediación y
abogacía, han sido consistentemente enseñadas por el magisterio ordinario de los papas por más de tres siglos. Con toda seguridad esto nos proporciona una
garantía magisterial de que todos los aspectos esenciales de la doctrina son intrínsecamente ciertos y libres de cualquier error.

En relación a cuestiones secundarias que podrán permanecer en relación a la Maternidad Espiritual, se debe hacer una distinción entre cuestiones esenciales intrínsecas a la doctrina y cuestiones secundarias asociadas con la doctrina. La Maternidad Espiritual es una verdad incuestionable que
forma parte del cuerpo de la doctrina Católica y cimentada en las Sagradas Escrituras, la Patrística, la Tradición y el Magisterio haciendo que en las
últimas centurias un papa tras otro haya enseñado oficial y confiadamente la doctrina. Los asuntos cercanamente relacionados y que, con todo son
secundarios a la doctrina en cuestión, no necesitan ser plenamente respondidos antes de su definición. Por ejemplo, el tema de la “muerte de María” que
está íntimamente relacionada con la Asunción, no fue incluída en la eventual definición de la Asunción por el Venerable Pío XII, ya que no constituía un
aspecto intrínseco esencial para la doctrina de la Asunción sin menoscabo de su cercana relación.

Si bien una definición solemne en verdad exige la verificación de la verdad revelada en su esencia, no requiere que todas las cuestiones secundarias
relacionadas con la doctrina deban ser explicadas antes de su solemne proclamación, ni tampoco que no se vaya a desarrollar una mayor comprensión después
de su promulgación. Esto se evidencia por los profundos pensamientos sobre una comprensión más profunda de la Inmaculada Concepción ofrecidos por San
Maximiliano Kolbe después de más de cincuenta años de la dogmatización de la doctrina.68

Además, la Maternidad Espiritual posee un apoyo bíblico más sólido e implícito que cualquiera de los dos dogmas marianos previos de la Inmaculada
Concepción y de la Asunción, particularmente a la luz de los testimonios de la Escritura encontrados en el presagio del Antiguo Testamento en Génesis 3,15;
en la Anunciación (Lc 1,38); la Visitación (Lc 1,39); la Profecía de Simeón (Lc 2,35); las Bodas de Caná (Jn 2,1-10); la Mujer de la Revelación 12,1; y,
por encima de todo, las palabras directas de Jesús en el Calvario (Jn 19,25-27).

En resumen, la clara doctrina de la Maternidad Espiritual, basada en su implícita presencia bíblica, el explícito desarrollo tradicional y la articulación
magisterial oficial, contiene un fundamento en las fuentes de la revelación divina y teología que positivamente sostienen y respaldan su inmediata
consideración para una solemne definición.

Conclusión

¿Podría ser ahora el tiempo apropiado para definir solemnemente la siguiente doctrina cristiana: que


María, la Inmaculada, siempre virgen Madre de Dios, gloriosamente asunta al cielo, es la Madre Espiritual de toda la humanidad como Co-redentora,
Mediadora de todas las gracias y Abogada?

¿Acaso no estamos obligados por la consciencia cristiana a utilizar todos los medios disponibles en la Iglesia para traer un remedio sobrenatural a los
excesivamente graves pecados de los tiempos actuales? Lejos de una especie de estéril y abstracto procedimiento teológico, la definición de un dogma
mariano permitiría la liberación del poder sobrenatural; una decisiva efusión de gracia espiritual, paz y sanación que el drama actual de nuestro mundo
urgentemente necesita. Así como fue María quien imploró al Espíritu que descendiera en el primer Pentecostés (cf. Hechos 1,14), así ahora, una vez más, debemos implorar que María sea la Abogada para un Nuevo Pentecostés -para que vuelva a descender el Espíritu Santo- con el objeto de impregnar los
esfuerzos de la Iglesia hacia la restauración de la familia y una nueva evangelización con la ayuda celestial que sólo puede venir del divino Santificador.

Por otro lado, ¿deberíamos nosotros dudar de definir los roles de la Madre y por ende inhibir todo el poder de su maternal intercesión debido a cuestiones
teológicas secundarias relacionadas a una doctrina que ya ha sido oficialmente enseñada por el magisterio de los papas durante siglos? ¿Deberíamos esperar
invocar definitivamente a la Madre debido a una falta de comprensión de 1 Timoteo 2,5? ¿Deberíamos resistir a la perenne práctica de la Iglesia de “acudir
a María” en el momento histórico tan grave que estamos viviendo al presente debido a la falta de apoyo de otros hermanos y hermanas pertenecientes a
diferentes cuerpos eclesiales cristianos, la mayoría de los cuales niegan a priori el oficio del papado desde donde necesariamente tendría que
venir la definición mariana?

El Beato Papa Pablo VI siguió las inspiraciones del Espíritu Santo en contra de la considerable oposición tanto por parte de los padres conciliares como de
los teólogos de que se concluyera la tercera sesión del Concilio Vaticano Segundo con la proclamación de que María es Madre de la Iglesia. ¿No
constituiría un paralelo adecuado, más idóneo todavía, y que el fruto climático del Sínodo de la Familia fuera la definición de la Maternidad Espiritual de
María por parte de nuestro amado Papa Francisco, y con ello fomentar una auténtica renovación de la familia, la Iglesia y la familia humana en su conjunto?

El Papa Francisco nos recuerda que no debemos temer la lucha mientras vamos de camino si recurrimos a la “ayuda de la Madre”:

“Jesús desde la Cruz le dice a María, refiriéndose a Juan: “Mujer, ¡ahí tienes a tu hijo!” y a Juan: “¡Ahí tienes a tu madre!” (cf. Jn 19,26-27). Todos
estamos representados en ese discípulo: el Señor nos confía a las manos amorosas y tiernas de la Madre para que nos apoye a enfrentar y superar las
dificultades de nuestro camino humano y cristiano; para que jamás tengamos miedo de la lucha, para que lo enfrentemos con la ayuda de la Madre. 69

Cuando Jesús desde la cruz proclamó por primera vez a María como “Madre” (Jn 19,27), sobrevino sobre el mundo la gracia, la evangelización y la paz. Que
una segunda y solemne proclamación de María como “Madre” por parte del Vicario de Jesús, conduzca a la Iglesia hacia una nueva era de gracia, una nueva
evangelización, y una renovada paz para la familia, la Iglesia y el mundo.

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor de Teología y Mariología

Universidad Franciscana de Steubenville

Septiembre 15, 2014

1

Sn. Juan Pablo II, Mulieres Dignitatem, n. 29.

2

Sn. Juan Pablo II, Audiencia General, Noviembre 24, 1999.

3

Sn. Juan Pablo II, Mulieres Dignitatem, n. 30.

4

Sta Edith Stein, Ensayos sobre Mujeres, p. 45.

5

Ibid.

6

Sta. Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz (Sta. Edith Stein), I. Guardini, “Sobre la educación de las mujeres”, L’Osservatore Romano, Marzo 6,
1969, Edición en inglés, p. 9.

7

Beata Teresa de Calcutta, Carta a la Cuarta Conferencia Mundia sobre la Mujer, Beijing, 1995.

8

Cf. Sto. Tomás de Aquino, Summa Theologica, III, Q. 26, a. 1.

9

Cf. por ejemplo, Pío XI, Casti Connubi, Deciembre 31, 1930, n. 27.

10

Cf. Antífona Litúrgica, Alma Redemptoris Mater.

11

Beato Pío IX, Ineffabilis Deus, Dec. 8, 1854; Lumen gentium 56.

12

Lumen gentium
, 56.

13

Consejo de Efeso, 431.

14

Papa Francisco, Audiencia General, Octubre 23, 2013.

15

Por ejemplo, títulos ya utilizados por el Magisterio papal refiriéndose a la intercesión de Nuestra Señora, incluyendo “Reina,” “Mediadora de todas las
gracias,” “Co-redentora,” y “Reparadora.”

16

Cf. Dei Verbum, 9,10.

17

Papa Francisco, “Oración de consagración a María,” Octubre 13, 2013.

18

Cf. Lumen gentium, 58

19

Sn. Agustín, De Sancta Virginitate, 6, 6; cf. Sn. Pío X, Ad Diem Ilum, 1904.

20

Sn. Juan Pablo II, Alocución en Fátima, Mayo 12, 1991; Redemptoris Mater, 47.

21

Cf. Lumen gentium, 58.

22

Cf. Sn. Juan Pablo II, Redemptor Hominis, n. 1.

23

Cf
. Heb. 10:10.

24

Lumen gentium,
62.

25

Cf. Lumen gentium, n. 60, 61.

26

Cf. Por ejemplo, el uso más reciente por un papa, cf. Papa Benedicto XVI, uso de “ Mediatrix omnium gratiarum,” Carta para el Día Mundial del Enfermo en el Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Altötting, Alemania, Feb. 11,
2013. Para documentación de los papas de los últimos trescientos años, cf. A. Apollonio,F.I., “Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces” (María Mediadora de todas
las Gracias) en “Mariology: A Guide For Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons” (Mariología: Una guía para sacerdotes,
diáconos, seminaristas y personas consagradas) pp. 444-464.

27

Genesis 3:20.

28

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

29

Cf. San Ireneneo, Ad Haer III, 22, 4, PG 7, 959; ; LG 56.

30

San Ireneo, Ad Haer III, 22, 4. PG 7, 959.

31

San Jerónimo, Epist. 22, 21; PL 22, 408. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 56.

32

San Juan Pablo II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 21

33

Cf. San Juan Pablo II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 21

34

Para el pontificado de San Pío X: Congregación de Ritos, AAS, 1, 1908, Santa Sede, p. 409; AAS 5, 1913, p. 364; Santa Sede, AAS, 6, 1914, p. 108. Para
Pío XI: L.R., p. 1; Audiencia, Dec. 1, 1933, L.R., p. 1; Audiencia, Marzo 25, 1934, L.R., p. 1; Audiencia, Abril 29, 1935.
Para San Juan Pablo II: Audiencia, Sept. 8, 1982; Audiencia, Nov. 4, 1984, L.R., p. 1; Audiencia, Marzo 11, 1985, L.R., p. 7; Homilía, Enero. 31, 1985; Audiencia, Abril 9, 1985, L.R., p. 12; Audiencia, Marzo 24, 1990.

35

San Juan Pablo II, Homilía en Guayaquil, Ecuador, Enero 31, 1985.

36

Ibid
.

37

Cf. San Pío X, Ad diem illum, 1904. Lumen gentium, 57; Lumen gentium, 62.

38

Para un listado de referencias papales de “Mediatrix o Mediadora de todas las gracias” desde el Papa Benedicto XIV al Papa Benedicto XVI, cf. , A.
Apollonio, “Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces (María, Mediadora de todas las Gracias) en Mariology: A Guide For Priests, Deacons, Seminarians and Consecrated Persons, (Mariología: Una guía para sacerdotes, diáconos, seminaristas y
personas consagradas) pp. 444-464.

39

San Juan Pablo II, “Mary, Mediatrix,” (María, Mediadora) Audiencia General, Octubre 1, 1997.

40

Por ejemplo, el aborto (actualmente con un aproximado de 42 millones al año); divorcio sin precedentes, anticoncepción, abuso de mujeres y niños,
tráfico humano de mujeres y menores; pérdida a gran escala de la fe cristiana, particularmente entre jóvenes; una disminución en el respeto por los
ancianos, y un incremento de la eutanasia. Para el rampante crecimiento de la Eutanasia, particularmente en los Países Bajos y Bélgica, cf.
Wwwlifesitenews.com, Junio 27, 2011, Septiembre 24, 2013; también para estadísticas actuales, cf. www.euthanasia.com

41

San Juan Pablo II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 6

42

Joseph Cardenal Ratzinger, “Commentary on the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima” (Comentario sobre el Tercer Secreto de Fátima) Junio 26,
2000.

43

Organización de Salud Mundial, Estadísticas de Hambre e Inanición, 2012.

44

ISIS (o ISIL) las formas de persecución incluyen asesinato, asalto sexual, crucifixión, decapitación y esclavitud, incluso de mujeres y niños.

45

Sub Tuum Praesidium
, siglo III.

46

Cf. Julio 13, 1917 Mensaje de Nuestra Señora de Fátima.

47

Iniciación del Moviemiento para la Solemne Definición de la Maternidad Espiritual de Nuestra Señora por el Cardenal Mercier en Abril, 1915, cf. M.
Hauke, “Mary, Mediatress of Grace: Mary’s Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, Ch. I.
(María, Mediadora de Gracia: La mediación de gracia de María en los trabajos teológicos y pastorales del Cardenal Mercier)

48

Ibid
.

49

Carta de petición de la Beata Teresa de Calcuta para el quinto dogma mariano
, Agosto 14, 1993, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com.

50

El Cardenal Mercier sometió cientos de peticiones de obispos dentro de los primeros años del movimiento desde 1915 hasta 1920. El movimiento más
reciente, Vox Populi Marie Mediatrici, registra 522 obispos y 57 cardenales de 1993 a 2010, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com.

51

Desde 1995 se han sometido arriba de 7 millones de peticiones de más de 180 países para este quinto dogma mariano a la Congregación para la Doctrina de
la Fe, cf. www.fifthmariandogma.com

52

Tanto el Beato Pío IX como Pío XII agradecieron a los fieles cristianos el derroche de peticiones para estos respectivos dogmas marianos como una
manifestación legítima del sensus fidelium; cf. Ineffabilis Deus, Diciembre 8, 1854 y Munificentissimus Deus,
Noviembre 1, 1950.

53

Cf. John H. Newman, “The Rambler” (El vagabundo) 1859; Ian Ker, John Henry Newman. Una biografía, Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1988, 463-489.

54

Énfasis mío.

55

Cf. por ejemplo, San Juan Pablo II, Audiencia General, Enero 13, 1982.

56

Papa Benedicto XVI, Homilía durante la bendición eucarística en Fátima, Mayo 12, 2011.

57

Cf. San Juan Pablo II, Ut Unum Sint, 21, 28.

58

Lumen gentium
, 61.

59

Cf. Papa Francisco, Alocución en la Víspera de la Consagración a María, Octubre 12, 2013.

60

Cf. Sto. Tomás de Aquino, ST III, Q. 26, a. 1; Lumen gentium 60-61.

61

Cf. Sn. Juan Pablo II, Redemptoris Mater, 21, 39.

62

Sn. Juan Pablo II, Audiencia General, Octubre 1, 1997.

63

Cf. Sn. Juan Pablo II, Ut Unum Sint, 21, 28.

64

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

65

Papa Francisco, Audiencia general, Septiembre 3, 2014.

66

Cf. Por ejemplo, Sn. Juan Pablo II, Audiencia General, Enero 13, 1982.

67

Cf. San Juan Pablo II, Carta Apostólica, Salvifici Doloris; Pío XII, Mystici Corporis.

68

Cf. Por ejemplo, Manteau-Bonamy, ed., “The Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of Fr. Kolbe (La Concepción
Imaculada y el Espíritu Santo: Las enseñanzas marianas del Padre Kolbe) Capítulos I, II, IV.

69

Papa Francisco, Alocución en la Basílica de Sta. María la Mayor, Mayo 4, 2013.

Continue Reading

0

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
circumstance.”3

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
difficulties.

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
mankind.33

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
expounds:

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
related.

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
dogmatization.68

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.

Conclusion

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

Ibid.

6

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.

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

Cf. Liturgical Antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater.

11

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

12

Lumen Gentium
, 56.

13

Council of Ephesus, 431.

14

Pope Francis, General Audience, October 23, 2013.

15

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

16

Cf. Dei Verbum, 9, 10.

17

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

18

Cf. Lumen Gentium, 58.

19

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

20

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

21

Cf. Lumen Gentium, 58.

22

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

23

Cf. Heb. 10:10.

24

Lumen Gentium,
62.

25

Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 60, 61.

26

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.

27

Genesis 3:20.

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

32

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

33

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

34

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.

35

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

36

Ibid
.

37

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

38

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.

39

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

40

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.

41

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

42

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

43

World Health Organization Statistics on Hunger and Starvation,
2012.

44

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

45

Sub Tuum Praesidium
, 3rd century.

46

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

47

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.

48

Ibid
.

49

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

50

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.

51

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.

52

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.

53

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

54

Emphasis mine.

55

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

56

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

57

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

58

Lumen Gentium
, 61.

59

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

60

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

61

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

62

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

63

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

64

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

65

Pope Francis, General Audience, September 3, 2014.

66

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

67

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

68

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

69

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

Continue Reading

0

Our Lady: “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.”

Lucia: “Where are you from?”

Our Lady: “I am from Heaven.”

Lucia: “What do you want of us?”

Our Lady: “I came to ask you to come here on the thirteenth day for six months at this same time, and then I will tell you who I am and what I want. And afterwards, I will return here a seventh time.”

Lucia: “Will I go to Heaven?”

Our Lady: “Yes, you will.”

Lucia: “And Jacinta?”

Our Lady: “She also.”

Lucia: “And Francisco? Will he go to Heaven too?”

Our Lady: “Yes, but first he must say many rosaries.”

Our Lady: “Would you like to offer yourselves to God to accept all the sufferings which He may send to you in reparation for the countless sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?

Lucia: “Yes.”

Our Lady: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

All Three: “O Most Holy Trinity I adore Thee. My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

Continue Reading

0

Msgr. Florian Kolfhaus, an official of  the Vatican Secretariat of State, gave the following presentation at the Franciscan University of Steubenville on October 19, 2013 in a dynamic  articulation and defense of Our Lady’s title of Co-redemptrix, and her even more ancient title of “Redemptrix. ” Msgr. Kolfhaus is also a member of the Marian Pontifical Academy in Rome -Ed.

Despite the fact that veneration of Mary has entered ever deeper into the faith of ordinary people, as demonstrated by the countless pilgrimages made to and Masses celebrated at Marian shrines, Mariology has vanished from most Catholic Universities theology departments. I am therefore pleased that this University is an exception, and I want to congratulate all the professors and students for this. To study Mary means to enter deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Christ and his Church. She is the mirror in which we can contemplate the great truths of our faith. The Church needs Mariology to better understand who she is because Our Lady is the mother of Christ and of his mystical body.1

Like Mary, the Church is a Virgin – chastely and faithfully waiting for the coming of the Divine spouse. Like Mary, the Church is a Mother – generating Divine life within souls by preaching the Gospel and celebrating the sacraments. The Church, like Mary, is immaculate – she is not without sinners, but doctrinally she is without error, both in the sacraments she celebrates ex opere operato without any flaw, and in her liturgy, full of beauty and perfection. The Church is assumed into heaven like Mary – not only is she on earth, but she is already triumphant in heaven where her members help their fellow pilgrims to gain entrance. Like Mary, the Church is the Mediatrix of salvation – she gives us Christ, for it was through his mother that he entered the world. Extra Ecclesiam, extra Mariam nulla salus. Finally, the Church, like Mary is Redemptrix – she works with Christ for redemption and she is the instrument by which he brings salvation to sinners. It is through Mary, therefore, that the Church obtains a better sense of her own identity, which is essential for her members.2 The Church is not an NGO, a political party or just a club to join or to leave whenever one pleases. We need a supernatural view to understand what she is: a divine institution, the body of Christ, his immaculate spouse. By contemplating Mary we can better understand what this really means.

The task of dedicating oneself to offering reflections on the Mother of God, on her essential contribution to salvation history, her constant work of intercession for the children of God and her essence as Mediatrix of all races3, seems for most a useless, outdated, exaggerated endeavor and outside the realm of reality.4 Doctrines on Mary, in particular, are considered by many a “maximalist” exaggeration. It is surprising that only two schools” of study exist on the subject of Mary – Maximalism and Minimalism – and their respective representatives do not hesitate to label each other this way.5 Karl Rahner, for instance, takes pride in being a “minimalist” in regards to Mariology. 6 Regarding other mysteries of our faith, the most holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, there is no mentioning of minimalists, who say little, or maximalists, who look for further development to express the truth in question. But these categories, which seem to target the quantity or beauty of certain expressions of Marian theologians, are indeed mistaken. With these come the risk
of evaluating the practical value of a concept more than the truth it contains.

A blatant example of this is the discussion centered around the title of “Co-Redemptrix”, which many reject. There is the fear of misconceptions –especially among non-Catholics – not because they criticize its meaning, but because they consider the word to be undiplomatic. This is not only, cowardly but above all unscientific. Science must be about truth and not – speaking as a bad diplomat – diplomacy. We cannot be minimalist theologians, who try to reconcile divine revelation with the secular world.

Behind the unfavorable expressions of Marian “minimalism” and “maximalism” we can discover two lines of thought if we take a closer look. While the minimalists – and those who define themselves as such, like Karl Rahner – underscore the ordinary life of Mary, which in all aspects seems to be similar to that of any human being. The so-called maximalists emphasize the distinctiveness and excellence of the Mother of God. The point of division – if we can call it that – between the two theological approaches is the “anthropological turning point” of Karl Rahner. Theology becomes anthropology; reflection on God becomes the thought about man. With this way of thinking, the distinction between nature and grace is lost. Both become one single reality, which is dialectically connected to that of every human being who, in turn, is a priori and forever inserted into the supernatural life. In this line of thought, Mary is just an excellent example of who we all are. Mary is one of us. “The anthropological turning point does not lead to measuring Mary with the perfection of God, but with the imperfection of a creature pro Statu isto.”7

The minimalistic approach, more or less, sees Mary as merely one of us. The maximalist approach on the other hand emphasizes the unique event of a creature who was elevated above all others by divine grace and through her definite yes to the will of the Lord. Perhaps we could also speak of two theologies: one theology from below and one from above. The first falls easily into the risk of not really being theology; which by definition receives its object of study from above, that is, from divine revelation. History, sociology, psychology, and basically all the other anthropological sciences – without doubting their importance – can never enter into any mystery of faith. Every attempt to apply these sciences to Christian Dogma will not succeed in attaining revealed truth, which is reduced to nothing more than human truths in the realm of myths and fables. Consequently, the “minimalists,” who want to interpret every aspect of Mary’s life as a human or divine act, but common to every human life, cannot support the idea that God has privileged such a creature and has
exalted her more than any other. Furthermore the “egalitarianism” of modernity dominates Marian thought: that she cannot be different from us, neither more loved, nor privileged, nor uniquely glorified.

Even though it was the will of God to love all men and to give them all the grace to be saved and to collaborate with him, there is no right to this grace. One of God’s prerogatives is that He gives five talents to some, to others two, and others only one. Mary herself was chosen by God not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively. The mode in which she is redeemed is different from our mode of redemption: she is preserved from sin, whereas we are freed from it.8 She is the Immaculate one, according to the Franciscan school of thought, who is predestined before creation among all men to become Mother and companion of the incarnate Logos, who in turn – according to Franciscan thought – would have become man, even if sin had never occurred. The most profound reason for the Mary’s unique election is not an injustice to other human beings, nor is it an irrational, arbitrary decision of God. The opposite is true: it is because of the God’s great love for humanity. The predestination of the Incarnate Logos together with His Mother demonstrates that God does not just want to become man to free us from sin – to rid us from evil – but first and foremost because He wanted to give Himself as the supreme good because of His love for us. He does not, however, save us alone, but – and that is the object of this talk – He does so in co-operation with another human being.

Clarification of terms

The famous Mariologist R. Laurentin has produced an encompassing study about the historic genesis of the title “Coredemptrix”,9 which is closely tied to “Mediatrix of grace” (mediatrix). 10 Although there are no direct testimonies for a co-redemptive action of Mary in the first Millennium, some pronouncements do exist, such as the causa salutis (in St. Ireneus of Lyon) and the Eve-Mary parallel, which would be open for much development. Already in the 10th century Mary is at times called redeptrix, but always in connection to being the “Mother of the savior”.11 Mary is the object of the meditations of Anselm of Canterbury, founder of the Scholasticism and great medieval theologian on the incarnation of the savior (Cur Deus homo); most of all in his prayers, where he uses titles like “Mother of justification” (mater iustificatoris et iustificatorum) “Gate of Life” and “Gate of Salvation” (porta vitae et parens salutis). The Benedictine Abbot Rubert von Deutz for the first time makes the connection between the mediating work of salvation of the Mother of God with her standing at the foot of the cross. It was that Christ made her the “new human”: that is, the redeemer. In the 12th century, the idea of compassion appears in Bernard of Clairveaux, connected to the co-suffering or Mary under the cross, which made her Mother of all Sorrows and therefore higher than all other martyrs. Bernhard’s friend Arnald von Bonneval taught for the first time expressly the idea of Mary’s co-operation in the cross, and the pseudo-Albertinian “Mariale super Missus est” sees Mary as helper of the savior by her compassion. A known mystic who also elaborated on this idea is St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373).

Christ told her in one of her visions: “My Mother and I saved man as with one Heart only, I by suffering in My Heart and My Flesh, she by the sorrow and love of her Heart.” 12 The idea of “Coredemptrix” appears for the first time in an anonymous hymn in Salzburg from the 15th century. The Spanish Jesuit and companion of the founder of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Alfonso Salmerón (1515-1585) calls Mary as a theologian corredemptrix, mediatrix and cooperatrix salutis humani generis. The strong title Redemptrix is used until the 17th century and is replaced in the 18th century by Coredemptrix, later vanishing in the 19th century. 13 Unfortunately the older and beautiful title Redemptrix is only very rarely used today.

There is no doubt about the fundamental difference between Redeemer Christ and Coredemptrix Mary, who herself was saved – in a way that surpasses the salvation of all other men – and sanctified in order to collaborate in the work of salvation. There are more than a few saints who use the title of Redemptrix, such as St. Catherine of Siena (cf. Oratio XI). The Church does not hesitate to use the Christological title in its feminine form for Mary, despite the differences between the Son of God and his mother, without adding the prefix “Co” for specification. Nevertheless, the usage retains the clear and distinct difference of Christ (Rex de condigno) and Mary (Regina de congruo). There is an “abyss” between the incarnate person of the Logos and his Mother, a creature full of grace.14

Like many Marian titles, the terms “Redemptrix” – or “Salvatrix” – could be interpreted in a way that dissents from the faith. By themselves these titles express, if understood in the same way with two different genders, the unity of the work of salvation of the new Eve and the new Adam. This expresses also the said parallelism between Christ and Mary, savior and “savioress” of mankind, which does not lessen or relativize the honor of the incarnate Logos.

There is a unity of son and mother, whom he has created, saved and sanctified, making her his companion. This is expressed in another citation ofSt. Bridget, when the Mother of God tells her: “Filius meus et ego redimimus mundum quasi ex uno corde.“ 15 This expression signifies the same thing as Redeemer and Redemptrix: “My son and I have redeemed the world, as with just one heart.”

When speaking on the topic of the Coredemptrix and the Redemptrix, it is important to clarify the terms, as they are often confused. Salvation signifies the work of salvation of Jesus, and its fruits of grace, by which men are saved. Speaking in the thought of Scheeben, it became common practice to differentiate between the “objective Salvation” (the work of salvation of Jesus on earth) and the “subjective salvation” (the donation of the fruits of salvation to humanity). The main and most fundamental meaning of “salvation” points to the work of salvation on earth, which begins with the Incarnation and reaches its climax in the crucifixion: objective salvation. Salvation can also be described with the comprehensive category of the mediatorship: Jesus Christ as man is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). This mediation does not exclude a participated co-operation, which is rooted in Christ. Thomas Aquinas calls this subordinate mediation a “dispositive” (leading towards Christ) or a “ministerial” (a living instrument of the work of Christ). After Vatican II the connection of Mary’s influence in salvation establishes itself fully on the mediation of Christ. 16

The saving work of Jesus, which begins with the incarnation and ends with the crucifixion, takes effect in different ways, according to the classic separation of St. Thomas Aquinas: as merit (meritum), vicarious satisfaction (satisfactio), sacrifice (sacrificium) and redemption (redemption – that is salvation in a stricter sense).17 Most attention should be given to the category of merit. Hartmann calls the correct differentiation of Pope Pius X between the merits of Christ de condign, which by its own glory brings about salvation, and the merit of Mary as part of God’s plan, de congruo, which represents an “appropriation”. The merit of Mary obviously depends fully on the merit of the God-Man Jesus Christ on the cross. The word “Coredemptrix” does not signify anything else but the “co-operation in salvation”.

It is necessary to make another distinction between the concept of Coredemptrix and its content. Vatican II avoids the word “Coredemptrix” for ecumenical reasons, but the theological commission of the Council describes the title “as fully correct”. 18 The avoidance of this coined term, as I’ll show in a moment, does not mean a cancellation of the connected teaching on Mary’s co-operation in the work of salvation. The doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix, speaking about her co-operation, is present in the teaching of Vatican II and in the later Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II.

There is no essential difference between “active co-operation” and “co-operation” since “acting” (actio) is always an active event. The adjective “active” serves to emphasize the personal action (which is not just receptive). In the necessary separation from Protestantism it is of prime importance to emphasize Mary’s (active) co-operation.19

In his commentary on the Magnificat, Martin Luther20 defends the words of the Virgin by reciting the chant “Regina Caeli” to show that the honor of the Bl. Virgin is justified by the fact that she carried Jesus Christ: “quia quem meruisti portare”. Mary carried Christ, but also the Cross carried the Son of God. For Luther, there is no difference between the two “objects”, and the veneration of the Mother of God does not essentially differ from the veneration of the Cross.21 For him, Mary is worthy of veneration because she was a Christ-carrier, yet not possessing more worth than any piece of the wood-cross, which was chosen by the Roman soldiers to torture Christ.22 The Mother of God, however, spoke her “fiat” freely and renewed it every moment of her life until her Son’s life ended, by participating in his pain until the end. The cross is the “instrumentum materiale” of salvation; Mary on the other hand is the “instrumentum personale”. 23 This means that the Mother of God with her whole mind, illumined by grace and her free will, and supported and strengthened by the same, cooperated with God in a real, unique and unrepeatable way.

The Second Vatican Council and the teaching of the co-operation of Mary

The Council Fathers of Vatican II did not want to decide about any questions “which are not brought to completion by work of theologians”. At the same time in chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, it is possible to read the teaching of a co-operation of Mary in salvation, which is not compatible with the teachings of Lennerz or a Goossens, as mentioned in the dogmatic writing of Ludwig Ott. According to some theologians, it is necessary to decide between an immediate co-operation of Mary in the work of salvation on the Cross, which they negate, and a mediated co-operation in salvation by the “Yes” of Mary in the incarnation of the Son of God. According to this understanding, the Incarnation of Christ is not part of the work of salvation, but only its precondition. The co-suffering of Mary at the foot of the Cross cannot be separated from her Yes to the Incarnation, a word that she lived her whole life.  The Second Vatican Council calls Mary the “Mother” and “Companion” of the savior: She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way, she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour ( opera Salvatoris singulari prorsus modo cooperate est) in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.24

The Council Fathers understood the task of Mary within the economy of salvation beginning not only during her presence underneath the cross, but with the description of her acceptance of the Divine word: Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption (mysterio redemptionis inserviens). Rightly therefore, the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience (non mere passive…, sed libera fide et oboedientiae humanae saluti cooperantem censent). 25

A not-merely passive co-operation is obviously an active co-operation, which is emphasized by the Council as being paralleled to Eve: “death through Eve, life through Mary.”26 This theological axiom represents the core of the whole teaching of the Coredemptrix. The way in which Mary’s acceptance of the Incarnation is understood within the teachings of the Church Fathers, is far different from the understanding of the Dutch Lutheran de Ridder and the German Jesuit Heinrich Lennerz (+1961), according to whom the annunciation was merely the message of a divine decree, but not a co-operation in salvation. With citations from H.M. Köster, who denied turning the Eve-Mary parallel into a theological principle, the protestant theologian posits: “The parallel between Eve and Mary is a maybe a little baroque ornamentation on the structure of theology [of St. Ireneus], and belongs merely to the decoration not to the foundation.” 27

To understand Vatican II, the main writer of Lumen Gentium, the Belgian Ecclesiologist Gérard Philips, should be considered as he, together with the Croatian Franciscan Carlo Balic, edited the Mariological chapter. Philips originally sided with the minimalistic current of the co-operation of Mary and defended this thesis, along with the German Jesuit Heinrich Lennerz in the 30s. The discussion with Balic, the long term president of the Pontifical Marian Academy and dedicated supporter of the Co-redemption, in a special way led to a change of heart which obviously also influenced the above cited texts of the Council. Philips went against a separation of the acceptance of Mary during the Annunciation and on Calvary. In this sense he explained the connection of Mary with the sacrifice of Christ. The opinion of probably most studied Mariologist of the 20th
century, Gabriele Roschini of the Servite Order, seems very similar: The Second Vatican Council propagates the connection of Mary with salvation as …a work of salvation that is not limited to the beginning (the Motherhood of the redeemer), yet embraces the whole work of salvation, until the death of the savior. This concept is equal to the immediate co-operation on the objective salvation. Whoever would dare to undervalue those clear concepts would position himself outside of the binding perspective of the Second Vatican Council. 28

It will be helpful to mention a topic here, one which is very dear to my heart: that Gabriele Roschini is one of the strongest defenders of the thesis that Mary did not have to suffer death.29 I myself am convinced that Mary, who was kept form sin from the first moment of her existence, did not have to taste its last bitter fruit, which is death. Because Jesus had died, she did not have to die. She is the only human being who is as the creator intended her to be: without sin and death, always beautiful and unchangeably young. Holding a similar opinion to Roschini, is the Belgian Jesuit Jean Galot, who (it seems at least) was deeply involved in authoring the Marian catechesis of John Paul II (1995-1997): “Without using the term ‘Coredemptrix’ the Council clearly proposes this teaching: the unique co-operation, a motherly co-operation in the life and the work of the savior, which reaches a climax in the participation in the sacrifice of Calvary and the supernatural restoration of souls. This co-operation forms the core of the spiritual motherhood of Mary.” 30 

The teaching of John Paul II

Even the teaching of John Paul II31 should be considered as adding to Vatican II, who univocally speaks about an active participation of Mary in salvation and repeatedly uses the term Coredemptrix.32 One exemplary instance of this Marian Catechesis is the idea that “ Mary’s co-operation is totally unique” (April 9th, 1997).33 Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: ‘For we are God’s co-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 “co-operator” 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, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation 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 humanity. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.34

The position of Benedict XVI

During an interview in 2000, Card. Ratzinger said that the word “Coredemptrix” is false, even though it contains a true intention. This skeptical approach did not lead him to censor this term: as Card. Bertone had emphasized, for example, it is repeatedly mentioned in the last work of Sr. Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, that was published in the year 2002 by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (the message of Fatima and the Co-redemption are indeed not separable).35

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seems to have learned, so it seems, decisive things from the Mariological evangelization of his predecessor John Paul II. While there are few mentions of an active connection of Mary in the sacrifice of Jesus in the works of the theologian and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope he clearly mentions the Co-redemption (without using this term). In his homily in the “house of Mary” in Ephesus he invites Christians to “meditate the moment of salvation”, in “which Mary, united with her son in presenting the sacrifice, widened her motherhood to all men and especially to the apostles of Jesus.” 36 After his visit to Bavaria for the feast of the sorrows of Mary, the pope explained that Mary “partakes” on Golgotha “in the salvific power of suffering, by uniting her ‘fiat’ to her son’s Yes.” 37 Speaking in Altötting, he stressed that during the Incarnation of God, the Yes of Mary becomes one with the Yes of the Incarnate Son of God in the saving sacrifice.38

Pope Francis first intervention on the issue

On October 23rd 2013 during the General Audience, Pope Francis explained: The life of the Holy Virgin was the life of a woman of her people: Mary prayed, she worked, she went to the synagogue… But every action was carried out in perfect union with Jesus. This union finds its culmination on Calvary: here Mary is united to the Son in the martyrdom of her heart and in the offering of his life to the Father for the salvation of humanity. Our Lady shared in the pain of the Son and accepted with him the will of the Father, in that obedience that bears fruit, that grants the true victory over evil and death.

Without using the term “Co-redemption” the pope spoke about the central mystery of Mary’s participation in salvation. She was totally united to Jesus. While he was dying on the cross, she died with him in a spiritual, but not less cruel way. She is the Queen of martyrs – even if she has never died – because of her martyrdom on Calvary. Uniting herself to the love and the pain of her Son, she offered him for our salvation. So we might add to the thought of the pope, that we are redeemed by two hearts beating as one and offered together in one sacrifice for our salvation.

A future Dogma of the Co-redemption?

The concepts “Coredemptrix” or “Redemptrix” are linguistically the shortest way of pronouncing Mary’s co-operation in the objective salvation. The content of this concept has been part of the tradition of the Church for a long time, especially in a wide array of papal encyclicals, in the texts of the Second Vatican Council as well as their reception in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A dogmatization would only bring the closing period to a reality that already belongs to the faith of the Church.

We risk losing track, due to Ecumenical silent withdrawal, of the content of the concept of Mary’s co-operation in the salvific work, because of our respect for Protestants. The concept could be misunderstood as an equality of Christ and Mary and needs a concrete explanation: it is concerned with a subordinate participation in the unique mediation of Christ. The words Redemptrix or Coredemptrix give witnesses, on the other hand, to a unique co-operation of the Mother of God in salvation. The word “Theotokos” is misunderstood and not highly thought of in Protestant circles, on the basis that it could be understood to mean that Mary is a goddess who created a god (as in the pagan myths of antiquity). Nonetheless the concept “Theotokos” formulated a reality which is found in the New Testament: that the Son of God is born “from a woman” (Gal 4:4). The first author of a monograph on the co-redemption is the Belgian Redemptorist F.-X. Godts who underscores this already during the time of Cardinal Mercier 39: “As the term ‘Theotokos’ summarized in the old Church the teaching of the hypostatic union, so the word ‘Coredemptrix’ summarizes the co-operation of Mary in salvation.”40

We Germans apparently have a huge problem with the teaching of the Coredemptrix, maybe even fear of it, since we are afraid that the topic will be a source of provocation for Protestants and liberal Catholics who themselves have, in the end, a protestant mindset. Already by 1914, the Belgian dogmatist B.H. Merkelbach eruditely said that the word “Coredemptrix” “is common among the French and the Italian authors, but it is omitted in heretical countries.” This fear of Protestant reaction is also the reason why, in recent years, the topic of the Coredemptrix in German speaking countries has been insufficiently examined. Indeed, Germans seem to be afraid of Mary Redemptrix, Advocate and Mediatrix. So it was particularly encouraging that the German Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI used the words “Advocate” and Mediatrix” during the Consecration of Priests to the Immaculate heart of Mary: “Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completely renewed that loves
God with all its strength and serves mankind as you did.”

Bernard of Cluny is the author of the famous Marian hymn, “Omnis die dic Mariae,” composed around the year 1140 AD, in which he highlights the faithful’s incapacity to sing the worthy praise of Mary: Nullus certe tam disertae, exstat eloquentiae: Qui condignos promat hymnos eius excellentiae. –  “Never was it possible for someone to sing of her great dignity. God Himself has raised her to His majesty.” We cannot exhaust the mystery of the co-operation of Mary in salvation with our reason. What the savoir and the saviouress have done and as Mediator and Mediatrix of all graces still do for us can only be imagined, and met with breathless wonder on our part. Academic Mariology, where it is still important, needs to be a kneeling theology. I want to end this talk with an appeal to all of you: always seek the greater glory of Mary.

In the well-known hymn of St. Thomas Aquinas “Lauda Sion”, which was written in honor of the Blessed Sacrament and is recited throughout the whole Catholic Church on the Fest of Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini), the Doctor of the Church invited all faithful to always heighten the adoration of the Eucharistic Jesus, even though such adoration can never be truly fitting: Quantum potes tantum aude: quia maior omni laude, nec laudare sufficis. The most beautiful monstrance is barely enough to honor the most holy host, which it surrounds. Mary is the living monstrance of Christ, created, sanctified and glorified by himself. Convinced never to be able to say enough about the Immaculate one, I would dare to apply the words of the doctor angelicus onto the Mother of God and Redemptrix, to show the impossibility of expressing her greatness. The Latin words of the second stanza of “Lauda Sion” can also be translated into the female form. I would like to translate them into a form that fits the immaculate Virgin Mary: “Quantum potes tantum aude” – “All thou canst, do thou endeavor: Yet thy praise can equal never such as merits thy great Queen”

 

Notes

1

For an introductory set of articles, see: Manfred Hauke:Die Lehre der Kirche über die Mitwirkung Mariens an der Erlösung – Randbemerkungen zu einer theologischen Stellungnahme, in: Sedes Sapientiae – Mariologisches Jahrbuch, 14 (1010), Vol. 1, Ed. German Rovira und Gerhard Winkler, pp. 63-74, especially note 1. Many of
the following arguments and quotations are taken from the above mentioned article.

2

Even some non-Catholics have professed the tradition and logical sequitur of Mary being the Coredemptrix: “Some Christian writers from outside the
Catholic tradition are however supportive of this truth, like J. Macquarrie who writes: ‘It is Mary who has come to symbolize that perfect harmony
between the divine will and the human response, so that it is she who gives meaning to the expression Coredemptrix’.” Cf. Paul Haffner: The Mystery of Mary, Gracewing Publishing, Chicago 2004, 87.

3

Regarding the Biblical references of the Coredemptrix: Gen 3:15; Lk 1:38; Lk 2:35; Jn 19:26, cf. Marc Miravalle: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1993, pp. 1-23.

4

A summary of the current discussion see: Jean Galot SJ: María Corredentora: Controversias y Asuntos Doctrinales, in: María Corredentora – Temas Doctrinales Actuales, Queenship Publishing, 2002, pp. 7-24.

5

Stefan Hartmann: Maria als Corredemptrix/Miterlöserin, in: Sedes Sapientiae – Mariologisches Jahrbuch, 14 (1010), Bd. 1 – Sitz der
Weisheit, Ed. by German Rovira and Gerhard Winkler, pp. 47: „Die Diskussionen um ein eventuelles Corredemptrix/Miterlöserin-Dogma hat die
Mariologie in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis zum II. Vaticanum beschäftigt. So genannte „Minimalisten“ und „Maximalisten“ standen
Vertretern einer mittleren Linie gegenüber.“

6

Rahner, Karl: Zur konziliaren Mariologie, in: Stimmen der Zeit 174 (1964) 101.

7

“La svolta antropologica porta a commisurare Maria non più alla perfezione di Dio, ma all’imperfezione della creatura pro statu isto.”
Translation into Englich by the author; cited from: Apollonio, Alessandro M.: Rilievi critici sulla mariologia di Karl Rahner. in: Serafino Lanzetta
(Hrsg.): Karl Rahner. Un analisi critica. Firenze 2009, 229.

8

We can deduce from the prevention from Original Sin and the keeping from all sin that Mary was also kept from all consequences of the fall, that is,
death and the separation of body and soul. So St. Bonaventure for example writes: “If Mary was free from Original Sin, then she was not subject to
death” (Sent. III, d. 3 p. 1a. 1 q. 2).

9

For further reading: Arthur Burton Calkins: Mary Co-redemptrix: The Beloved Associate of Christ, in: Mariology, Ed. by Marc
Miravalle, Seat of Wisdom Books, 2007, 349-399.

10

René Laurentin: Le titre de corédemptrice. Étude historique, in: Mar 13 (1951), 396-452.

11

“The French author, Alain de Varènes (c. 1521), calls the Blessed Virgin the “Co-Redemptrix for perhaps the first time in the context of a theological
treatise. He uses the title as a part of a profound theological articulation of the Mother’s unique co-operation in reconciling man to God: ‘Therefore
most Holy Mary, cooperated with her Son, and met a similar fate of action, bringing it about with her love, has made both one, having broken down the
barrier of hostility…in imitation of her Only Begotten Son, breaking down the barrier of the garden, which is hostility, by abolishing in the flesh of
her Only-begotten Son the law of commandments and ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, and in so doing making
peace, and that he might reconcile all in one body to God through the cross of her Son, thereby bringing hostility to an end in the Lord Jesus and, in
a certain way, in herself as co-redemptrix (as they wish), […]’”; cited from Mark Miravalle: With Jesus, The Story of Mary Co-Redemptrix,
Queenship Publishing, Goleta CA, p. 105.

Haffner envisages three kinds of co-operation of Mary in the actual sacrifice of Christ: “The first is that Our Lady may be conceived in the capacity
of co-offered and co-priest with Christ the great High Priest, in which case her co-operation in Redemption would be physical and immediate. […] Second
one might conceive the possibility of Our Lady persuading Christ to offer the sacrifice that he was required for our Redemption. In this hypothesis,
the Redemption would be in part the immediate effect of Mary’s moral co-operation with Christ. […] A third option is that Our Lady would have
co-operated immediately in Redemption since her respectively and compassion on Calvary constituted, together with the sacrifice of Christ, the total
price of Redemption. […] The Ordinary Magisterium during the past century or so has increasingly highlighted Mary’s immediate co-operation in the
objective Redemption.” Paul Haffner: The Mystery of Mary, Gracewing Publishing, Chicago 2004, pp. 191-195.

12

St. Bridget of Sweden: Revelationes, L. IX, c. 3.

13

For a summary of contemporary history regarding the Coredemptrix see: Andrea Villafiorita Monteleone: Alma Redemptoris Socia, Eupress, Lugano,
2010, ch. 2: “La corredenzione nella teologia contemporanea: status questionis.”

14

See also: Manfred Hauke: Introduzione alla Mariologia, Eupress, Lugano 2008, pp. 253: “La mediazione di Maria”.

15

St. Bridget of Sweden: Revelationes, L. I, c. 35.

16

Cf. Summa Theologiae III, q.26, a.1.

17

Cf. Summa Theologiae III, q.48, a.2.

18

Regarding the doctrinal implications in an ecumenical light, see: Scott Hahn: María Correndentora: Desarrollo Doctrinal y Ecumenismo, in: María Corredentora – Temas Doctrinales Actuales, Queenship Publishing, 2002, pp. 283-295.

19

See also: Ricardo Cardinal Vidal: Unique Co-operator in the Redeption: A Reflection on the Role of Mary in Our Redemption, in: Cardinal
Telesphore Toppo: Mary – Unique Cooperator in the Redeption, Atti del Simposio sul Mistero della corredenzione mariana, 3.-7. Mai 2005, Portugal 2005, pp. 17-22.

20

Some Theologians falsely think that the statements of Martin Luther are fully compatible with Catholic Doctrine on Mary.

21

Cf. also Manfred Hauke: Introduzione alla Mariologia, Lugano, 2008. 295

22

Martin Luther: Das Magnifikat, WA 7, 546-601

23

In the co-operation of Redemption, Mary constantly renewed her “fiat”: “Nella fase della sua cooperazione diretta al fianco ed al servizio del Figlio
redentore, come docile strumento della sua diretta corredenzione, nella gloria celeste che condivide con la SS.ma Trinità, ancor e sempre in funzione
soteriologico-ministeriale, per ripeter il suo fiat di corredenzione fin al compimento totale del suo mandato nella parusìa del
signore”, Bruno Gherardini, La Corredentrice nel mistero di Cristo e della Chiesa, Edizioni Vivere in, Rome 1998, 390.

24

Lumen Gentium, 61; cf. Manfred Hauke:Die Lehre der Kirche über die Mitwirkung Mariens an der Erlösung – Randbemerkungen zu einer theologischen Stellungnahme, in: Sedes Sapientiae – Mariologisches Jahrbuch, 14 (1010), Vol. 1, Ed. German Rovira und Gerhard Winkler, p. 66

25

Lumen Gentium, 56; for a structured study of Mary’s role, see: Jean Galot SJ: Marie – Mère et Corédemptrice, Parole et Silence, Les Plans sur
Bex, 2005, p. 119 ff.: “Marie dans l’Œuvre Rédemtrice“.

26

S. Hieronymus, Epist. 22, 21: PL 22, 408.

27

See C.A. DE RIDDER, Maria als Miterlöserin? Die Diskussion über die Mitwirkung der Mutter Gottes am Erlösungswerk Christi in der heutigen
römisch-katholischen Theologie, Göttingen 1965, 67.

28

G. Roschini: Problematica sulla Corredenzione, Roma 1969, 72 and 82. The Author references Lumen Gentium, 57 and Sacrosanctum Concilium, 103.

29

See: Pietro Parrotta: La Cooperazione di Maria alla Redenzione in Gabriele Maria Roschini, Eupress, Pregassona 2002.

30

J. GALOT: Maria Corredentrice. Controversie e problemi dottrinali: La Civiltà Cattolica 145 (1994) III 213-225 (218)

31

Cf. also: Manfred Hauke:Die Lehre der Kirche über die Mitwirkung Mariens an der Erlösung – Randbemerkungen zu einer theologischen Stellungnahme, in: Sedes Sapientiae – Mariologisches Jahrbuch, 14 (1010), Vol. 1, Ed. German Rovira und Gerhard Winkler, p. 69.

32

Marc Miravalle: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, p. 46: “With particular eloquence and as a unique contribution, John Paul II teaches
the doctrine of the universal motherhood of Mary in the order of grace, the ‘Mediatrix of graces’. John Paul describes Mary’s new universal motherhood
as Mediatrix in the order of grace as the final gift given by the Saviour to all humanity from Calvary.”

33

His thoughts on Mary become already evident in his time as bishop: “Bisogna considerare che il Redentore ha compiuto tutta la sua opera con la piena
consapevolezza del consenso e dell’accordo della Madre. Egli non fece alcuna cosa contra la volontà di lei […].” “Nel quadro di questo processo
interiore, che attraversò l’animo di una donna in un modo unico nella storia, si sviluppò la sua personalità tutta particolare. […] Il sacrificio di
Maria insieme ad consenso del pensiero, della volontà e del cuore alla Redenzione, la strappò all’unico Figlio, ma contemporaneamente le affidò il
ruolo di Madre nei riguardi di tutti gli uomini che Cristo doveva redimere […].”Lázaro Ilzo Daniel: La Mediazione materna di Maria in Cristo negli insegnamenti do Giovanni Paolo II, Eupress, Lugano, 2011, p. 9. Not to be forgotten is the
choice of his motto: “Totus tuus”, in reverence to Mary.

34

John Paul II: Marian Catechesis 48,1-2 (9.4.1997).

35

Cf.: Manfred Hauke: Die Lehre der Kirche über die Mitwirkung Mariens an der Erlösung – Randbemerkungen zu einer theologischen Stellungnahme,
70.

36

Benedict XVI: Homily at the „House of Mary” in Ephesus, 29.11.2006.

37

BENEDICT XVI: Angelus Prayer, 17.9.2006.

38

BENEDICT XVI., Homily of the Mass on the “Kapellplatz” in Altötting, 11.9.2006 (VAS 174, S. 55). Cf. also his homily during the Concelebration
with the new Cardinals on the 25.3.2006.

39

Vgl. M. HAUKE, Maria – „Mittlerin aller Gnaden“. Die universale Gnadenmittlerschaft Mariens im theologischen und seelsorglichen Schaffen von
Kardinal Mercier (1851-1926) (MSt XVII), Regensburg 2004.

40

Cf. François-Xavier Godts: Marie, Mère de la divine Providence, Librairie St. Alphonse, 1925; Gloria Falcão Dodd: The Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces: History and Theology of the Movement for a Dogmatic Definition from 1896 – 1964, Academy of the
Immaculate, 57 ff.

Continue Reading

0

How truly blessed we are to have a man of such Christian faith and Marian love to be chosen by the Holy Spirit through the cardinals to become our Vicar of Christ.

From the very outset of his pontificate, Pope Francis has witnessed powerfully to Mary.  His first utterance as pope on March 13, 2013 was to state his intention to go to St. Mary Major’s Basilica to pray to the “Madonna” before the revered Marian image of the  Salus Populi Romani.

On the first Saturday of May, 2013, Pope Francis returned to the ancient Marian basilica to call the Catholic world to “pray the Rosary” and, leading by example, prayed five decades publicly. It has been also reported that Pope Francis typically prays the 15-decade Rosary daily, inspired by the example of Blessed John Paul II.

On September 7, 2013 for the “World Day of Prayer and Fasting For Peace,” Pope Francis had the Salus Populi Romani icon brought to St. Peter’s Basilica, where he directed much of his prayer for world peace directly to Our Lady, “Queen of Peace.”

On October 13, 2013, Pope Francis consecrated the entire world to Our Lady, and had the celebrated Fatima statue brought to Rome, before which he entrusted the world to its Mother.

On January 1, 2014, this profoundly Marian pontiff added to his ubiquitous Marian teachings, homilies, and references by connecting Our Lady’s role as Mother of God to her coredemptive role beneath the cross:
 

Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: "Behold your Mother!" (Jn 19:27). These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail. The "woman" became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, all, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus. The woman who at the wedding at Cana in Galilee gave her faith-filled cooperation so that the wonders of God could be displayed in the world, at Calvary kept alive the flame of faith in the resurrection of her Son, and she communicates this with maternal affection to each and every person. Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!

My friends, the extraordinary Marian witness of Pope Francis should be a source of true hope and encouragement for the millions of Catholic faithful worldwide who have been praying and petitioning for the solemn papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate.

Who better possesses the characteristics necessary for proclaiming this fifth Marian dogma than our present pontiff? Pope Francis is uncompromisingly Marian.  He is also not afraid to step out in faith, even without the full support of others, when he is convinced something must be done for the good of the Church. These two exceptional qualities make him perhaps the most likely pope in recent history to fulfill heaven’s request to proclaim the dogma of the Spiritual Mother of all Peoples!

Ultimately, what should encourage and console us is that the heart of Pope Francis is profoundly united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  She will convey to him, Heart to heart, Her desire for this historic Marian proclamation, as She most likely has already done.

But this consoling truth should in no way remove from our hearts the individual responsibility and historic imperative to persevere in praying and petitioning for the Fifth Marian Dogma!

Sixty three years ago today, on February 11, 1951, Our Lady revealed the “Prayer of the Lady of All Nations,” during the now Church-approved apparitions of “The Lady of All Nations” in Amsterdam. Here, the Mother of God asked all humanity to pray this prayer every day for the Fifth Marian Dogma and for world peace.

On May 31, 1954, Our Lady told us “Work and ask for this dogma. You should petition the Holy Father for this dogma.” 

Today, on the great feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I invite you to continue to say “yes” to Our Lady’s two action steps for the Fifth Marian Dogma. It is not novelty, my friends, but faithful perseverance which will bring forth this historic crown for our Mother.

Action step #1: pray the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations every day and spread it to family and friends (free prayer cards are available from us in both English and Spanish). 

Action step#2: write a personal letter to Pope Francis, expressing your support for the papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual motherhood (address: Pope Francis, Vatican City, 00120).

Most of all, pray for the Pope without ceasing.  The Adversary is busy spreading many lies about this holy and humble pontiff.  Don’t listen to them, but rather pray unceasingly for Our Lady’s Pope to fulfill heaven’s desires for his papacy, including the soon as possible proclamation of the Fifth Marian Dogma.

Be one with Peter.  Be one with Pope Francis.  Be one with the Mother of All Peoples. And the world will have peace. 

Sincerely in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,


Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
President, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici
February 11, 2014 Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Continue Reading

0

Could it be that Pope Francis is the pope designated by Our Lady to proclaim the Fifth Marian Dogma and usher in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

The signs of the times certainly point to the absolute necessity of this dogma’s being solemnized now. Until the public, solemn proclamation of the Fifth Dogma ushers in that new Pentecost and outpouring of Grace that Our Lady’s Triumph will bring, we can expect the continual downward spiral of immorality, which is even being enshrined into public law codes almost everywhere. This is resulting in both the loss of souls and that devastation of good order and peace prophesied by Our Lady in all of Her 20th century apparitions. Add to this daily escalation of “degeneration and war” the latest environmental “disaster” to hit our globe, namely, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, tragically happening also, exactly as Our Lady warned at Amsterdam.

With so many eyes and hopes directed in these chaotic times toward Pope Francis, are there any signs that he may indeed be the one who will obey Our Lady’s request for the proclamation of the Fifth Dogma? An examination of his pontificate thus far offers us some hopeful indications. We have seen his immediate public recourse to Our Lady within hours of his having been elected as Pope. His first public outing as pontiff was to pray at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome for his pontificate, even before he offered Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the cardinals who elected him. We also know of his request to have the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, José da Cruz Policarpo, consecrate his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, on the 96th anniversary of the first apparition there, May 13, 2013. And, we have just recently witnessed his having the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought to Rome for the entrustment of all humankind to the Blessed Virgin on October 13, again the 96th anniversary of the last apparition of Fatima and the public “miracle of the sun,” underscoring the truth of the Fatima messages regarding the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We also hear Pope Francis frequently offering instruction about the importance of Our Lady. Perhaps no instance is more poignant for our concern than that occurring during the general audience on October 24: “… every action [of Mary] was carried out in perfect union with Jesus. This union finds its culmination on Calvary: here Mary is united to the Son in the martyrdom of her heart and in the offering of his life to the Father for the salvation of humanity.”i

As hopeful as all these signs are, there is perhaps an even more powerful sign that Pope Francis may be the pontiff who will receive the particular grace needed to solemnly proclaim the Fifth Dogma. That sign is the one that has drawn the entire world, as well as the Church, to become enamored with Pope Francis, namely, his humility. Even a cursory look at the frequent videos of his pontificate made available through Rome Reports reveals the
presence of a genuine humility: in his style of preaching, teaching, gathering with people and greeting leaders, both within and without the universal Church. We also know of his personal choice to live a simple lifestyle, seeming to guard himself intentionally from any encroachments that having an exalted status might try to impose upon his own spiritual life.

Why should the humility of Pope Francis engender hope that he just might be the one who will proclaim the Fifth Dogma? Certainly, humility will be required for this faithful Vicar of Christ to realize that neither the goals of his pontificate nor the reform he has promised can be realized by mere human efforts. This is especially true for someone who has become so warmly regarded, by so many around the globe, in such a short time. Furthermore, entrusting everything to Our Lady through the solemn definition of the Fifth Dogma will require humility as the unum necessarium, most especially, in an atmosphere where opposition to the dogma may remain fierce, as Our Lady warned would be the case in Her apparitions at Amsterdam. In short, humility, the queen of all virtues, is first and finally what makes it possible for any of us to undergo that blessed graced, interior annihilation required to surrender all our own hopes, plans, abilities, and our very being, lovingly and confidently, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, working only through, with and in the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.

As an Anglican, I rejoice over the election of Pope Francis and the hopeful signs manifested daily in his pontificate regarding the long-awaited proclamation of the Fifth Dogma! This is a task that only the Successor of St. Peter can complete, for the universal Church and, indeed, for the whole of humanity. Let us never tire of praying the Rosary and the Prayer to the Lady of All Nations every day for the Holy Father, as Our Lady has continually
asked. What if the papal proclamation of the Fifth Dogma, in our lifetime, really rests first upon us to obey Our Lady’s ardent request to “pray constantly for the Holy Father?”

Dr. Judith Marie Gentle

Member of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham, United Kingdom

i

His Holiness, Pope Francis, L’Osservatore Romano, 00120 Città del Vaticano: October 24, 2013.
<http://www.osservatoreromano.va/portal/dt?JSPTabContainer.setSelected…013/244q13-All-udienza-generale-il-Pontefice-parla-di-.html&locale=en
Page 2 of 3>.

Continue Reading

0

On May 4, 2013, Pope Francis once again showed his profound Marian love by returning for a second time in less than two months to St. Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome to entrust his papacy to Our Lady’s motherly protection, to pray five decades of the Rosary, and to deliver a beautiful teaching on Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood.  This certainly encourages those worldwide praying for and petitioning to Pope Francis for a solemn papal definition of this same doctrine: Mary as Spiritual Mother of All Peoples -Ed.

I thank His Eminence, the Archpriest of this Basilica, for his words at the beginning. Thank you [Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló], brother and friend, our friendship that was born in that Country at the ends of the earth! Thank you so much. I am thankful for the presence of the Cardinal Vicar, the Cardinals, Bishops and Priests. And I thank you, brothers and sisters, who have come here today to pray to Our Lady, the Mother, the Salus Populi Romani [Health of the Roman people]. For tonight we are here before Mary. We have prayed under her motherly leadership that she guide us to be ever more united to her Son Jesus. We have brought her our joys and our suffering, our hopes and our struggles; we have invoked her by the beautiful title of Salus Populi Romani imploring her for us all, for Rome, for the world that she grant us health. Yes, because Mary gives us health, she is our health.

Jesus Christ, by his Passion, Death and Resurrection, has brought us salvation, granting us the grace and the joy of being children of God, to truly call him by the name of Father. Mary is the mother, and a mother worries above all about the health of her children, she knows how to care for them always with great and tender love. Our Lady guards our health. What does this mean: Our Lady guards our health? I think above all of three things: she helps us grow, to confront life, to be free.

1. A mother helps her children grow up and wants them to grow strong; that is why she teaches them not to be lazy — which can also derive from a certain kind of wellbeing — not to sink into a comfortable life-style, contenting oneself with possessions. The mother takes care that her children develop better, that they grow strong, capable of accepting responsibilities, of engaging in life, of striving for great ideals. The Gospel of St Luke tells us that, in the family of Nazareth, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (Lk 2:40). Our Lady does just this for us, she helps us to grow as human beings and in the faith, to be strong and never to fall into the temptation of being human beings and Christians in a superficial way, but to live responsibly, to strive ever higher.

2. A mother then thinks of the health of her children, teaching them also to face the difficulties of life. You do not teach, you do not take care of health by avoiding problems, as though life were a motorway with no obstacles. The mother helps her children to see the problems of life realistically and not to get lost in them, but to confront them with courage, not to be weak, and to know how to overcome them, in a healthy balance that a mother “senses” between the area of security and the area of risk. And a mother can do this! She does not always take the child along the safe road, because in that way the child cannot develop, but neither does she leave the child only on the risky path, because that is dangerous. A mother knows how to balance things. A life without challenges does not exist and a boy or a girl who cannot face or tackle them is a boy or girl with no backbone!

Let us remember the parable of the good Samaritan: Jesus does not approve of the behaviour of the priest or the Levite, who both avoid helping the man who was attacked by robbers, but the Samaritan who sees that man’s state and confronts it in a concrete way, despite the risks. Mary saw many difficult moments in her life, from the birth of Jesus, when “there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7), to Calvary (cf. Jn 19:25). And like a good mother she is close to us, so that we may never lose courage before the adversities of life, before our weakness, before our sins: she gives us strength, she shows us the path of her Son.

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.

3. Lastly, a good mother not only accompanies her children in their growth, without avoiding the problems and challenges of life; a good mother also helps them to make definitive decisions with freedom. This is not easy, but a mother knows how to do it. But what does freedom mean? It is certainly not doing whatever you want, allowing yourself to be dominated by the passions, to pass from one experience to another without discernment, to follow the fashions of the day; freedom does not mean, so to speak, throwing everything that you don’t like out the window. No, that is not freedom! Freedom is given to us so that we know how to make good decisions in life! Mary as a good mother teaches us to be, like her, capable of making definitive decisions; definitive choices, at this moment in a time controlled by, so to speak, a philosophy of the provisional. It is very difficult to make a lifetime commitment. And she helps us to make those definitive decisions in the full freedom with which she said “yes” to the plan God had for her life (cf. Lk 1:38).

Dear brothers and sisters, it is so hard in our time to make final decisions! Deciding everything with the total freedom with which she answered “yes” to God’s plan for her life (cf. Lk 1:38). Dear brothers and sisters, how difficult it is take a final decision in our time. Temporary things seduce us. We are victims of a trend that pushes us to the provisional… as though we wanted to stay adolescents. There is a little charm in staying adolescents, and this for life! Let us not be afraid of life commitments, commitments that take up and concern our entire life! In this way our life will be fruitful! And this is freedom: to have the courage to make these decisions with generosity.

Mary’s whole life is a hymn to life, a hymn of love to life: she generated Jesus in the flesh and accompanied the birth of the Church on Calvary and in the Upper Room. The Salus Populi Romani is the mother that gives us health in growth, she gives us health in facing and overcoming problems, she gives us the health to make us free to make definitive choices. The mother teaches us how to be fruitful, to be open to life and to always bear good fruit, joyful fruit, hopeful fruit, and never to lose hope, to give life to others, physical and spiritual life.

This we ask tonight, O Mary, Salus Populi Romani, for the people of Rome, for all of us: give us the health that you alone can give us, to be ever a sign and instrument of life. Amen.

* * *

Upon leaving the Basilica, the Holy Father spoke the following words from the steps to the people gathered in the Square:

Dear brothers and sisters, good evening! Thank you very much for your presence in the house of the Mother of Rome, of our Mother. Long live the Salus Populi Romani. Long live Our Lady. She is our Mother. Let us entrust ourselves to her, because she cares for us like a buona mamma [good mom]. I pray for you, but I ask you to pray for me, because I need it. Three Hail Mary’s for me. I wish you a good Sunday tomorrow. Goodbye. Now I give you my Blessing — to you and to your whole family. May God Almighty bless you. Have a good Sunday.

Continue Reading

0

Almost one hundred years ago, the prominent Belgian prelate Cardinal Desire Mercier began an international petition drive for the papal definition of Our Lady as the Universal Mediatrix of all graces. By 1918, the renowned pioneer of both Marian and ecumenical realms had collected over 300 cardinal and bishop petitions directed to the reigning pontiff, Pope Benedict XV, for this requested fifth Marian Dogma. By the early 1920’s, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe and his nascent “Militia Immaculatae” (“Army of the Immaculate”) joined in the movement to proclaim the Mother of Jesus as the Spiritual Mother of all peoples.

What inspired Mercier and St. Maximilian to initiate a global call of support to the Holy Father to make an infallible statement regarding Mary’s relationship with you and me?

Grace and Precedence.

Of the four existing Marian dogmas, Mary’s Motherhood of God, her Perpetual Virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her Assumption, the last two dogmas have been solemnly proclaimed only after a lengthy petition drive from the People of God to the Roman Pontiff.

Before the papal definition of the Immaculate Conception by Bl. Pius IX in 1854, millions of petitions from the Catholic world came into the Vatican, with particular perseverance coming from Spain and its Catholic government. In the case of the Assumption, infallibly declared by Pius XII in 1950, over 8 million petitions spanning 95 years were documented by the Holy Office in support of this Marian dogmatic crown.

Petition drives for Marian dogmas are simply Catholic precedence. It’s not a democratic power play seeking to force the Pope’s hand. It is rather a manifestation of the sensus fidelium (the “common consensus of the faithful”) in encouraging the Holy Father to a particular course of action which the faithful discern to be for the good of the Church. An authentic Catholic petition drive must always be founded and sustained on two pillars: 1) the request is something that conforms to the faith and morals teachings of the Church; 2) that the object of petition be submitted with an unconditional obedience to the ultimate discernment and decision of the Vicar of Christ.

On December 1, 1950, an international association of mariologists gathered in Rome to petition Pius XII for the solemn definition of Mary’s universal mediation, and this just one month after he declared the dogma of the Assumption. Why did they ask for so much more so soon?

Their reasoning was simple: now that the four earthly perogatives of Mary have been solemnly defined as dogmas, the last remaining Marian doctrine, her relationship as our spiritual mother from heaven, should also be defined as a dogma. In a certain sense, the existing four dogmas which articulate her relationship with Jesus and her special personal gifts lose some of their immediate relevance for us if she is not also our spiritual mother.

How precisely is Mary our Spiritual Mother? In three ways.

First, Mary uniquely shared in the work of Jesus to redeem the human family, both by giving Jesus his body, the very instrument of Redemption (cf. Lk. 1:38; Heb. 10:10), and by suffering with Him at Calvary in a way unparalleled by another other creature (cf. Jn. 19:25-27). For this extraordinary role with Jesus in saving souls, Mary has been called the “Co-redemptrix” in the Church since the 14th century. Fear not—“co” means “with” not “equal.” Mary’s not a goddess on a level or equality with Jesus. She is the unique immaculate human co-redeemer with Jesus, just as every Christian is called to be a “co-redeemer in Christ,” to use the expression of Bl. John Paul II.

Secondly, Mary nurtures us in the order of grace by distributing the graces obtained at Calvary to the human family through her role as the Mediatrix of all graces. The papal Magisterium of the last two centuries has consistently taught this Marian role, and Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus published this same title on the day he announced his resignation (Feb. 11, 2013). The Wedding of Cana (Jn. 2:5) reveals to us what the Second Vatican Council teaches us: that the Mother of Jesus “intercedes for the gifts of eternal life” (LG 62).

Thirdly, Mary, as Spiritual Mother, pleads for us before the throne of Christ the King as our Advocate. Her most ancient title (from the second century), Our Lady’s role as Advocate simply confirms that this Mother intercedes for our wants and needs with a maternal perseverance and power beyond that of any of the other saints.

By why a dogma? If Mary’s role as our Spiritual Mother is already a doctrine of the Catholic Church, what’s the benefit of a papal definition of the same truth?

Because history verifies that with every Marian dogma declared, historic graces have been poured forth upon the Church.

Take, for example, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The historic situation of the papacy and the Church during the time immediately preceding this Marian definition was bleak. Pope Pius IX had been chased out of the Vatican by Masonic forces from the South. While in exile in Gaeta, two cardinals approached the beleaguered Holy Father with the remedy to this dire situation: proclaim the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Bring Our Lady’s powerful intercession into this situation, and the papacy and the Church will be fully restored. Acquiescing to their request, Pius IX from exile, wrote to the world’s bishops, stating his intention to proclaim this new Marian Dogma.

The result? The dogma was proclaimed. The papacy was restored. The Vatican and Church secured. Ultimately, this Marian dogma led to the later declaration of Papal infallibility, which then cemented the unity and vitality of the Church under the authority of Jesus’ Vicar on earth.

When Marian dogmas happen, graces happen.

Could we—our contemporary Church and world situation—not benefit from a historic outpouring of grace right now?

Since Mary’s motherly titles are also her motherly functions of grace for the Church, the more solemnly we acknowledge these motherly roles, the more powerfully she can exercise these motherly roles. When these roles are infallibly proclaimed by the Petrine keeper of the keys as the highest authority on the planet, this proclamation will lead to the fullest possible release of heavenly graces by the Mediatrix of all graces.

Pope Francis has been on a blessed tirade of Marian teaching and witness. Starting with his very first papal act of going to St. Mary Major’s Basilica to thank and honor Our Lady; to his request to have his papacy consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13; to his return visit to St. Mary Major’s Basilica on May 4, where Pope Francis prayed the Rosary and presented a lengthy and inspiring homily on our very subject: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood.

During this month of May 2013, an international letter writing campaign to Pope Francis for the solemn definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood is happening on all the continents of the world. Cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, and laity are writing to this extremely Marian pope in support of Pope Francis to proclaim this fifth Marian Dogma.

If you feel called to join in with Catholic faithful the world over in writing a brief, respectful few lines to our beloved Holy Father in support of Pope Francis to proclaim this fifth Marian Dogma, you can easily do so by mailing your note to: Pope Francis, Vatican City, 00120 (3 postage stamps gets your letter from the US to the Vatican).

The precedence is clear: with Marian dogmas come historic graces.

Our ecclesial and global situation is clear: we need historic graces from above to remedy the unprecedented challenges facing both the Church and in the world today—graces which call for the most powerful intercession possible by the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all peoples.

Prayerfully consider participating by your prayers and your own personal letter to Pope Francis to contribute in bringing about this fifth Marian definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood, and thus to bring to full completion Mary’s own scriptural self-prophecy:“ All generations shall call me blessed” (Lk.1:48).

 

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor Theology and Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Continue Reading

0

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
.34

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
.36

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

1

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.

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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].

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

AAS
48 (1956) 352 [OL #778].

10

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 ).

11

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].

12

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

13

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

14

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.

15

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

16

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.

17

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

18

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

19

OR
29-30 aprile 1935, p. 1

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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.

24

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.

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

CCC
969.

29

CCC
970.

30

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

31

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

32

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

33

AAS
20 (1928) 178 [OL #287].

34

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

35

“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.

36

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

37

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.

38

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

39

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

40

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

41

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

42

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.

43

Cf. Psalm 44 [45]:10.

44

ORE
2213:13.

Continue Reading

0

May God be praised for the pontificate of Pope Francis! Truly the Holy Spirit was at work in the choosing of this man to guide the People of God at this pivotal moment in history of the Church and of the world.  During the first weeks of his pontificate, Pope Francis has already manifested his extraordinary love and devotion to the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all peoples.
As you know, his very first papal act was to pray before Our Lady’s altar at Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. During his first few Angelus addresses, Pope Francis has already referred to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Suffering Virgin” (March 24) and further instructed: “Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the woman who said “yes.” Mary said “yes,” all her life! …Mary, Our Mother, help us to know better the voice of Jesus and follow it, to walk the path of life! (April 21, 2013).”

Pope Francis prays the fifteen decades of the Rosary daily.  He previously played an instrumental role in bringing the powerful “Mary, Undoer of Knots” Devotion from Germany to Argentina and beyond. Our new Holy Father has also requested that Cardinal Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal consecrate his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima, which he will do on this upcoming May 13!

These generous witnesses of Marian love by Pope Francis give every reason for hope as to his openness for the solemn of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood under its three aspects of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate.

Dear friend in Jesus and Mary, during the beautiful month of May dedicated to our Spiritual Mother, would you prayerfully consider participating in an international letter campaign to Pope Francis by sending a brief personal letter of support to our Holy Father for the proclamation of the Dogma of Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate? You would be joined by Marian cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and faithful worldwide who, during this special May letter campaign to the Holy Father, will likewise be sending a short note of encouragement for the solemn definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood.

Perhaps you have done so in the past (for which, surely, Our Lady is most grateful). But Pope Francis presents a new and exciting possibility that the fifth Marian dogma could indeed be accomplished during his papacy. Please consider sending him a brief personal letter of encouragement to proclaim this dogma, which remains a necessary condition for the Triumph of her most Immaculate Heart and for world peace.

Send your personal note to: Pope Francis, Vatican City 00120. He is a “Pope of the people.”  Let him hear your support for the dogma of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood. Consider writing a quick note to the Holy Father during this Marian month of May as an expression of your love and gratitude for all Our Lady has done for you.

The time for the fifth Marian dogma and its heavenly remedy of world peace is now!

Gratefully in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Continue Reading

0

INTRODUCTION

The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a key event in Salvation and the Redemptive process. This event, as is well documented by Catholic scholars, was foretold in key texts in Scripture; Genesis 3:15, the enmity between the serpent and the woman and her offspring, Luke 1:28, wherein Gabriel proclaims Mary as “full of Grace”. These powerful passages indicate the nature of Mary and her Holy Son. Furthermore, the chaste and upright nature of Mary was foretold from the beginning of humanity.

These two passages act as monolithic pillars upon which the Church can rest her teachings on the Immaculate Conception. Yet, in addition to these teachings are other Biblical traditions which form a “Theology of Preparation”.1 God prepared for Mary, as she was vital in the plan of Salvation which was completed by the Cross and through the Resurrection. The concept of “preparation” forms a theology which finds its culmination in Mary and the Immaculate Conception.

PREPARATION FOR MARY

Mary was to give the human form to the Incarnation, the Word of God becoming flesh. The Introduction, or Prologue, to John’s Gospel is clear in that in Jesus is the converging of the pre-existent Word of God, Logos, and the fleshly realm. The Mother of the Son of God was to be of a special nature and would hold a special place in Salvation History. Therefore, God set about preparing for Mary and foreshadowing her role in the centuries before her lifetime.

Preparing the Body

Article 488 of the Catechism states that God would “prepare a body” for His Son;

“He wanted the free cooperation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, ‘a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary”.

Mary, as Gabriel said, was already filled with grace. However, chastity was part of the disposition for which God had prepared. The ideal of an immaculate and pristine body is rooted in the traditions of the Old Testament.

Judges 13

In the birth account of the Judge of Israel, Samson, we see strict dietary restrictions placed on the mother, who is not named in the text. She is to take no wine or strong drink, probably beer, and eat nothing unclean. Historically, this seems to be an early version of the Nazirite Vow that is recorded in Numbers 6.

However, in a theological, or prophetic, context we see a foreshadowing of Mary. YHWH is preparing for his “Holy One”, Samson. 2 While not austere, the restrictions placed on Samson’s mother seem to be designed to prepare her body to give birth to the miraculously powerful son who will begin the deliverance of Israel from Philistine oppression. God is preparing a clean host for the child which He has promised. Interestingly, the text gives no indication that the restrictions are to carry through to the boy who is to be born.3 The focus is on the mother. The text emphasizes the physical disposition of Samson’s mother in preparation for the birth. While not immaculate, chastity is not at issue with Manoah and his wife, she is to provide the proper physical environment in which the baby can grow and be readied for his unique mission.

Isaiah 7:14

The famous “Immanuel” prophecy speaks to the issue of chastity and virginity. Matthew cited this text in his birth account (1:23). The Hebrew uses the termalmah to describe the virgin. This term denotes a young girl of marriageable age who is chaste. 4 This was to be a sign to the House of David. The sign is for Judah that YHWH is with them
in the midst of turmoil. The sign also speaks to the fulfillment of the promise made to the House of David (2 Samuel 7). Herein we see the promise of the eternal kingship.

This was to a sign of tremendous magnitude. It would follow, therefore, that the virgin would not be a common maid, but a girl of surpassing chastity. She was to be part of the Salvation History established by God. This was to be a sign that would transcend the centuries of oppression and subjection. Her chastity was the validation and affirmation that the sign was truly from God.

The prophecy is rather stark, in comparison with other prophecies in Isaiah and other books. It relies on the power of the words rather than eloquence. The transitions are abrupt and force the focus on the virgin. It is stated at the outset that this sign will be from God. However, the descriptions now focus on the virgin. It is the virgin who be with child, bear a son, and name him. The emphasis is on the disposition and actions of the virgin in preparation for this child, the sign to the House of David.

Overall, from these two major texts in the Old Testament we see the beginnings of the importance of the proper physical disposition of Mary. The immaculate nature of Mary, her chastity, fulfills these traditions. These traditions of Samson and Isaiah are both integral in establishing the eternal Kingship. In both of these traditions the physical disposition of the mother is emphasized. Mary was to give birth to the Davidic King, the Messiah, who was to complete the work of Samson and fulfill the words of Isaiah. Therefore, by extension, Mary’s physical nature must be understood to have surpassed, or completed, the nature of the women who went before her and led the way to her. To speak of her physically immaculate nature is to speak of her fulfilling the traditions which foreshadowed her.

Preparing the Mission of Mary

Article 489 of the “Catechism” argues that “throughout the Old Covenant the missions of many holy women prepared for that of Mary.” In recent decades, Biblical scholars have shed new light on the role of women in the Old Testament. B. Witherspoon argues that “within the OT . . . the women who
emerge as actors testify to the essential and active role of women in the formation and transmission of Israel’s faith.” He goes on, similarly to article
498, to say that “Israelite faith was . . . cherished, defended, and exemplified by women”.5

The Israel of the OT was a patriarchal society. Yet, despite this perspective the powerful role of women is still evident. The woman in the Old Testament displayed a quiet strength that was foundational and essential to the household. R. de Vaux states;

“All the hard work at home certainly fell to her; she looked after the flocks, worked in the fields, cooked the food, did the spinning, and so on. All this apparent drudgery, however, far from lowering her status, earned her consideration. Sometimes, in exceptional circumstances, a woman could even take part in public affairs, Israel honored Deborah and Jael as heroines (Judges 4-5), Athaliah reigned over Judah for several years (2 Kings 11); Huldah the Prophetess was consulted by the king’s ministers (2 Kings 22:14); and the books of Judith and Esther tell how the nation was saved by a woman.” 6

The Israelite, or Jewish, woman- wife or mother- was given a social status and dignity that was superior to other countries in the Ancient Near East. The women of the Bible rise to prominence because of their intelligence or devotion.

J.L. McKenzie points out that the passage of “The Fall” and the curse placed upon the woman indicates that the inferior position women had in relation to men does not represent the original order of creation. He states, “the inferiority of woman is thus presented as a deterioration from the primitive and unspoiled condition of man[kind].”7

Mary culminates these aspects of women in the Bible. She exemplified her faith in the quiet strength that was expected and that characterized her entire life. By virtue of her unassuming life and devotion she was worthy of dignity and social status. However, as indicated in Gabriel’s announcement, her grace was that of the original and, in McKenzie’s words, and unspoiled condition of humanity. The Greek word for “grace” derives from charis. The term contains the connotations of “to be highly favored”. All of the strong and devout women, known or unknown to history, pointed to Mary. Only Mary embodied the purity, only approximated by the women of old, that would make her worthy to be the mother of the Son of God. Mary’s mission, her calling to this role of motherhood grew from the pure, immaculate, nature that she possessed and manifested in her life.

Therefore, this shows that the Divine preparation of the body and the theological preparation of the mission converge in Mary. One form of preparation complements the other and each disposes Mary to the other. This “Theology of preparation” contains both physical and spiritual aspects, because the Incarnation was the merging of the Spiritual with the human spheres. The need for an immaculate nature resonates throughout this theological concept. It is only with an immaculate, surpassingly pure, nature could this merge, the Incarnation, occur.

THE SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS

Mary’s Immaculate Conception was needed if the Cross of Jesus was to be seen as a true sacrifice for our Salvation. John’s Gospel builds a powerful foundation for this connection between the Cross and the Immaculate Conception of Mary. John has the Baptist proclaim that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” (1:29). One must note the construction of the term; it is a possessive. This means that Jesus is the Lamb- the sacrifice. 8 The image of the lamb is a powerful symbol in Salvation History.

The Passover

According to McKenzie, “the lamb is most frequently mentioned in the OT as a sacrificial victim in ritual passages of Ex-Nm-Lv” The “singular title [Lamb of God] probably arises from a combination of the application to Jesus of Servant of YHWH (Isaiah 53:7). . . and of the Passover lamb.” 9 The lamb was, and is, to be unblemished, as is the case with most sacrifices. Passover was the great saving act of the Old Testament. It was the first step in the formation of the people of Israel. J. Miles argues that the Johannine Gospel synthesizes scriptural references. The title “lamb of God” is a passage “written deliberately” to link Jesus to the Passover lamb and the lamblike “Suffering Servant”. Miles also contends that Jesus’ crucifixion “at Passover, is described in a way that repeatedly draws attention to the season and underlines his identity as a new Passover victim.”10

John’s Gospel brings this point into bold relief by indicating that Jesus was not crucified on Passover itself, but on “preparation day” for the Passover celebration (19:14). B. Boksar argues that “John, in thus portraying Jesus crucified at the time the paschal lambs were being sacrificed at the Temple, depicts Jesus as a Passover offering. This synchronization explains how Jesus died for humanity and, it is claimed, gives his death a more enduring
redemptive quality than the regular Passover sacrifice.”11 Therefore the Cross is the new Passover, the great saving act of Christianity, which will herald a new Israel.

Jesus, like the original Passover lamb, had to be unblemished. If the victim was flawed, the sacrifice was corrupted and the saving act would be emptied of meaning. Mary was to give birth to the perfect Passover victim, one that was wholly innocent and pure. Therefore, to preserve the integrity of the sacrifice of the Cross, Mary needed to be pure or immaculate as well. It was Mary’s immaculate nature that was integral to the Salvation and Redemption that was brought forth by the Cross.

REIGN OF SIN

In Romans 5:12-21, we read that sin and death has entered into the world through one man; Adam. This text is foundational to the concept of “Original sin”. However, as argued by M. Brauch, there is a relational aspect to Paul’s words. It reflects the relationship between Creator and creature. A relationship, though inherited, “can only be established or destroyed or affirmed or denied”.12

According to Biblical theology, sin breaks man’s relationship with God and separates man from God. Death is the result of Sin; therefore it takes on the separating power of Sin. Herein is the power of Death; that which needed to be broken by the Cross.

By virtue of Adam’s sin, all are in bondage and separated from God. Yet, we are all responsible for our participation in that bondage and separation, “because all sinned” according to Paul. The idea of all being subject to one man’s sin is the Biblical teaching of “corporate personality” or “solidarity”.  This concept “recognized the intimate interdependence of individuals and the effect that such solidarity could have. . . “ 13 Brauch explains the condition;

“Adam, the typical, representative first human being yields to temptation to determine his own existence and his own destiny (that is, he sins). The result of that self-determination is death. Death is the condition of separateness, since the creature apart from the Creator does not have life. . . Separation from the source of life results in decay and disintegration.”14

At the same time, Romans 5:12-21 depicts a human commonality. While we share the burden of sin, or separation, we are responsible and are to be held accountable “for the way we relate to that common humanity. . . Each individual participates in the Adamic humanity and becomes accountable for that participation. Death marches across the pages of human history because humans in their own individuality have sinned” 15

This “march” halts with the advent of Jesus Christ. Paul uses an “antithetical parallelism between the death wrought by Adam and the life brought by Christ”. Christ is the new Adam, whose grace and beneficence supplants the disobedience of Adam. 16 Christ had to overcome the universal separateness of humanity if he was to break the
power of Sin and death. Mary was his link to the human world; if she shared in the common humanity, so too would Jesus. She had to be of an immaculate nature to avoid passing on the universal separateness, or sinful nature, of humanity. Regarding the concept of individual responsibility, both Mary and Jesus re-established and affirmed the relationship with God, which was broken by Sin.

If Mary were not immaculate, Jesus would have shared in the separate nature of humanity by virtue of being born to Mary. If this were the case, the Cross would have been emptied of its Salvific and Redemptive power. Jesus would have died, technically, an innocent death as the legal charge against him was false. But, the Cross would have been in repayment for his own share in the universal, or collective, sin of humanity. In other words, without Mary’s
immaculate nature, Jesus would still have been an exemplary man. However, he would have been just an exemplary man who died for his personal beliefs and shortfalls. Therefore, the immaculate nature of Mary was the key to Jesus restoring the order which Adam destroyed.

CONCLUSION

The Immaculate Conception of Mary was the culmination of physical and traditional preparation, a key to the sacrifice of the Cross, and a vital part of the redemptive process wherein Jesus overcomes the Fall of Adam. Through one man sin and death entered the world. Therefore, only through a man can the effects of sin and death be broken. Mary was the lynchpin in Jesus, through the Incarnation, re-establishing and affirming man’s relationship with God through the
New Covenant. Mary had to surpass the separate nature of creation to give birth to the Savior and Redeemer. This was accomplished in the Immaculate
Conception.

The Immaculate Conception was the key, albeit human, element in the power of the Cross. The Cross was a singular act of grace, wherein Jesus was allowed by The Father to take our sins and punishment onto Himself. Jesus was innocent and sinless; otherwise this redeeming act could not have taken place. Mary, and the Immaculate Conception, was the indispensable factor in the sacrifice of the new paschal lamb on the Cross. The Immaculate Conception was foundational
to the great saving act of Christianity.

GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brauch, M. Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1989.


Brown, Fitzmyer, Murphy, eds. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice- Hall, 1968.

Catechism of the Catholic Church.
NY: Doubleday, 1994.

Freedman, D. N. Anchor Bible Dictionary 6 vols . NY: Doubleday, 1992.

McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible. Chicago: Bruce, 1966.

Vaux, R. de, Ancient Israel: Social Institutions. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

1

We will expand on the teachings found in Articles 488-489 in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

2

We use this term because, significantly, it is used of Samson in the LXX. This is the only occurrence of this term in the Old Testament. Moreover, it
is a term used of Jesus.

3

Some scholars have attempted to argue that the restrictions of mother carried through to Samson. There is no textual evidence to support this argument,
but the idea of Samson breaking all of the restrictions placed on him makes for many fiery sermons.

4

Some scholars have proposed arguments that there are no specific connotations of chastity attached to this term. The semantic field of this term,
though limited, and the occurrences combine to indicate that this was not a common word for “maid” who was of age to be married.

5

B. Witherspoon, “Women (OT)” Anchor Bible Dictionary (NY: Doubleday, 1992 ), 6:956.

6

R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel; Social Institutions (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1965) 39.

7

J.L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible (Chicago: Bruce, 1966) 936.

8

This is often misunderstood in popular theology. Jesus is not being sacrificed TO God, but being sacrificed BY God. God is not being depicted as the
removed Warrior-God who will only be satisfied with the blood of His only son. God is being depicted as a loving father who, by a singular act of
Grace, is giving His Son over to an innocent death for the Salvation of His people.

9

McKenzie, Dictionary”, 491.

10

J. Miles. “Lamb”, Anchor Bible Dictionary (NY: Doubleday, 1992) 4:132.

11

B. Boksar, “ Unleavened Bread and Passover, Feast of”, Anchor Bible Dictionary (NY: Doubleday, 1992) 6:763.

12

M. Brauch, Hard Sayings of Paul (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 29.

13

Ibid., 29

14

Ibid., 30

15

Brauch, 31-32.

16

J. Fitzmyer, “The Letter to the Romans”, The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968), 306. There is much more which
could, and should, be said about this monumental passage, but a full analysis would take far afield from our topic.

Continue Reading

0

The following is a preliminary application of the norms for evaluating reported private revelations (established by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, November, 1974) to the reported messages of the woman who refers to herself as “Maria Divine Mercy.” Having previously served on several theological commissions of investigation internationally for appropriate Church authorities, I will follow, in a succinct form, the same method of analysis and evaluation that is standard for an official Church investigation.

Let us therefore briefly examine the reported messages and relevant actions of “Maria Divine Mercy” in light of the Church’s foundational criteria for authenticity.

As the renowned French Mariologist, Fr. Rene Laurentin has aptly summarized, the norms for Church evaluation of a reported private revelation can be synthesized into the following three fundamental criteria: 1) Is the alleged message in conformity with the official faith and morals teaching of the Catholic Church? 2) Is the reported phenomena (state of ecstasy, manner of transmission of the message, etc.) consistent with the mystical tradition of the Church? 3) Does the reported message bring the Christian spiritual fruits that always accompany an authentically supernatural message, as indicated in the words of Jesus: “the tree is known by its fruits” (Mt. 12:33): greater conversion; spiritual peace; spiritual joy; new or renewed faith, trust, and charity; and greater fidelity to and union with the Church?

Unfortunately, the messages of Maria Divine Mercy, as well as the actions of the alleged seer, contain numerous and grave theological, historical and factual errors throughout the over 650 alleged messages—errors which contradict the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church, the mystical tradition of authentic Catholic private revelation, its own self-contained predictions, and the typical spiritual fruits of peace, charity, and joy that comes with a true heavenly message.

Just a few samples of these widespread and serious errors are as follows:

1. The assertion that Pope Benedict XVI was the “last true Pope on earth” and “the next Pope” will be the “False Prophet”: “My beloved Pope Benedict XVI is the last true Pope on earth…. The next Pope may be elected by members within the Catholic Church, but he will be the False Prophet” (April 12, 2012).

The message directly contradicts Catholic teaching as to the legitimacy of a validly elected Pope.  The message implies that an “anti-pope” can come from a valid conclave, which constitutes a false or “heretical” position.  The alleged message goes on to claim, by deduction, that Pope Francis is in fact the “False Prophet.” All of this is a reprehensible rejection of Catholic councils, catechisms, and canon law on the legitimacy of a validly elected Pope and the proper response of a “religious assent of mind and heart to the manifest mind of the pope, even when he is not speaking infallibly” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 25), which every member of the Catholic faithful is obliged to offer to the present Holy Father.

This erroneous message is extremely dangerous for any member of the Catholic Church, as it runs the risk of leading to formal “schism” or separation with the Catholic Church, which is the “refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (Code of Canon Law [CIC] n. 751).  A choice of schism for any Catholic tragically results in excommunication and the inability to receive the sacraments (see CIC 1364.1).

Not only does this erroneous message reject the true pontificate of Pope Francis, but it also rejects a proper respect of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI as well, as Pope Benedict vowed his submission to the next pontiff on the day of his voluntary resignation (not forced “ousting” as purported by the alleged message) on February 28, 2013, and also again vowed his unreserved obedience to Pope Francis before his very presence during their historic joint meeting on March 23, 2013.

2. A form of the heresy known as Millenarianism is present in several instances of the alleged messages, which asserts that there will be a literal “1000 year” reign of Jesus on the earth (April 9, 2012 Message), during which time there would be no pope on earth, but rather a type spiritual papacy by which St. Peter will rule the Church from heaven over a type of “paradise on earth” (see Messages, 89, 124, 141; 88, 109, 111, 251, 258).

The Catholic Church has rightly condemned Millenarianism and the concept of a literal 1000 year period during which Jesus would reign over an earthly paradise (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 676).  The concept of a 1000 years of earthly existence without a visible pope on earth is in practical violation of the Petrine promise of Jesus (cf. Mt. 16:15-20), as well as being absolutely unsustainable from the sources of Divine Revelation. This alleged prophecy appears to be an extremist interpretation of various papal prophecies, rather than anything acceptable by a faithful Catholic.

3. Denial of importance of Church evaluation of  alleged message

The alleged messages reject the importance of the Church’s investigation and subsequent judgment of the authenticity of the alleged message, stating that the Church’s approval of the message is “not important”:  “It is not important whether the Church authenticates these messages because time is not on their side” (July 9. 2011 message).
This perspective cannot be considered consistent with authentic Catholic private revelation, which always directs the true seer to submit their messages to the proper Church authority, even when Heaven knew that the messages would not be immediately accepted by the relevant Church authority on the first occasion of submission (as seen, for example, at Guadalupe with St. Juan Diego, and at Lourdes with St. Bernadette).

4. Alleged seer’s refusal to identify and present herself to local Church authority for appropriate Church theological, psychological and scientific evaluation, while at the same time internationally distributing alleged messages via the internet and printed texts.

Similar though distinct from the above category, the seer, while publicly distributing these alleged messages as true supernatural messages from heaven, refuses to submit herself and respond in obedience to her local Church authority for proper discernment of authenticity.  The seer operates from the region of Dublin, Ireland, and therefore should have submitted her messages, as well as her person, for proper ecclesiastical examination by the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The refusal to the seer to submit herself obediently to legitimate Church authority for proper discernment eliminates the possibility to incorporate the second criteria for evaluating authenticity, i.e., the concurring phenomena that typically accompanies a true supernatural communication. Jesus is the Light of the world and calls those in his service into the light.  His Adversary, conversely, operates from the darkness.

5. Theological errors, for example, in stating that the Heavenly Father “comes in the name of Jesus” rather than Jesus, who comes in the name of the Father, or the Father coming in his own name.  These assertions lead to confusion and are contrary to classic Trinitarian formulation. Moreover, statements which defend the “confusion” present in the messages by claiming, for example, that “love is confusing” (Message 45) are also antithetical to the character of authentic prophecy.  Jesus speaks with a profound simplicity and clarity; Satan fosters confusion.

6. Unfulfilled dated prediction of the “Warning” to have happened within “a few months” after May 31, 2011.

The message of May 31, 2011 calls people to prepare for the “Warning” ( a  God-granted “illumination of conscience,”  the prediction of which is found in other Marian messages) which would take place “within a few months” from the May 31, 2011 date: “Prepare now for this event [the Warning] for you have only a few months left to prepare your souls” (May 31,2011). The predicted event did not take place within a few months, or even a year, after the May 31, 2011 prediction.

7. Absence of the authentic Christian fruits of spiritual peace, joy, and trust, and charity; and, in their place, manifestations of greater fear, anxiety, and dominant negativity.

Fear producing tones of divine retribution, anger, justice, and, disaster are the principal themes placed into the alleged words of God the Father and Jesus. The alleged messages are replete with negative exhortatory rants of condemnation and judgment in words and expressions which gravely misrepresent the infinite mercy and love of the Father and of the Son.   For example, alleged messages from Jesus stating “Those of you who say that you follow My Teachings, but who want laws changed to condone acts, which are sinful in My Eyes, get out of My Church now”; or the Heavenly Father alleging speaking about sending souls to Hell where they “will rip their eyes out” are not in a continuity with other authentic messages of Jesus and of God the Father.

Even when Jesus, God the Father, and Mary have had to convey messages which include strong statements of conditional upcoming chastisement and purification (which are present, for example,  in the authentic messages of Divine Mercy and Fatima) these messages are always conveyed in the overall tone and  context of peace, love, encouragement, and even joy. These appropriate spiritual characteristics and their corresponding fruits spiritual are substantially absent from the alleged messages, and also seemingly absent from a significant number of the proponents of the alleged message.

With such blatant theological and factual errors present in the alleged messages of “Maria Divine Mercy,” how and why can these alleged messages continue to have such an extended readership among many Catholics of good will, the majority of whom maintain a commitment of obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, as well as  possessing a particular and true Marian devotion?

It is precisely because the alleged messages contain some elements which many readers can recognize to be true in evaluating the contemporary “signs of the times” (an evaluation called for by the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, n.4): widespread crises of faith and morals within the Catholic Church and throughout global society; unprecedented global economic and social crises; ubiquitous geo-political conflicts in the Middle East and beyond; unprecedented natural disasters; proximate possibilities of nuclear weapon use in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc.

To recognize and acknowledge the historic and challenging times in which we live is absolutely acceptable, and in my opinion, an honest and accurate assessment of the contemporary “signs of the times.”  To accept an alleged message immersed in theological error and Church disobedience is a grave and dangerous error.
There is a substantial moral difference between acknowledging the serious global indicators which call the world to urgent conversion, and thereby to accept God’s infinite mercy by faithfully responding to the legitimate supernatural messages of Jesus and Mary to contemporary humanity, which understandably include divine “warnings,” both universal and  individual; and, on the other hand, to accept and cooperate with a false message which usurps  the authentic contemporary messages of Jesus and Mary, and consequently contaminates them with false directives towards disobedience to Pope Francis and legitimate Church authority, rejection of classic Catholic dogma and the precedence of the Church’s true mystical tradition, and encourages a fear and anxiety based response to the world’s present global situation.

The single greatest danger present in this false message, in my opinion, is the alleged justification for Catholics to place an individual false revelation over the God-given authority of the present Pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Ironically, the alleged message predicts an upcoming schism in the Church. This could well become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a Satanic goal and strategy,  which could result, in some part, from the following of  extremely dangerous and materially schismatic messages such as those promulgated by “Maria Divine Mercy.”

It is realistic, in my opinion, during our contemporary experience of challenge and change presently being experienced in the Church and in the world, to expect even more false messages in the times to come—false messages intermixed with true content–which serve the diabolical goal to distract us from authentic Church authority and doctrine, and from Heaven’s authentic message for our age.  This can only be countered and remedied by a renewed commitment of obedience to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and to all legitimate Church authority.

Let us jointly and fervently pray for our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis; for our holy Catholic Church; for the Triumph of Divine Mercy and the Immaculate Heart of Mary as found in authentic contemporary messages of Jesus and Mary; and for the peaceful conversion and reconciliation of the alleged seer and all her present supporters into the heart, obedience, and unity of the Church.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology

Continue Reading

0

My friends in Jesus and Mary,

Thank God for Pope Francis! A man of such humility, such, faith, such courage! What a blessing from the Almighty Father to be given such a Pope for our day.

Pope Francis is a champion of doctrinal orthodoxy; of the poor, of personal humble witness, and–of Our Lady! How beautiful and encouraging it is that his first act as Vicar of Christ on earth was to go to St. Mary Major’s Basilica to invoke Our Lady’s intercession for his papacy and for his flock. This is, indeed, a great Marian sign!

My friends,

it is now time to pray for our new beloved Holy Father and for the proclamation of the Dogma of Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity in her three maternal roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate
.

So soon? Can’t we give Pope Francis a little adjustment time before praying for him to perform such a historic act?

Let’s look at that question from Our Lady’s perspective.

Until the Fifth Marian Dogma is proclaimed, Our Lady will not be “freed” to bring peace to our troubled world. She awaits our “yes”—our free consent to fully exercise her intercessory powers for the Church and the world right now. The Heavenly Father will not permit any forcing of grace upon us, even the grace for world peace. We must consent.

That’s what the Fifth Marian Dogma is, and what it will do. When the Holy Father proclaims that Mary is Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, then her titles will fully become her spiritual functions for humanity. By this proclamation, the Pope will be saying “yes” to God—“yes” we want the full power of Mary’s motherly intercession for our world. Then, and only then, will peace enter our human situation on a global basis.

And so, my friends, we must begin today, to pray for our new beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis, to make the Marian proclamation that will bring world peace to a troubled world—a global peace which can only truly come from the spiritual peace of Jesus Christ in human hearts. That takes conversion. That takes grace. That takes the full action of the Mediatrix of all graces!

Please begin praying today that our beloved Pope Francis will proclaim the Foifth Marian Dogma. Please pray daily the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations, the Prayer Our Lady specifically revealed to us and asked each of us to pray daily, for this solemn Marian declaration. Please let each of us do our part in bringing about the spiritual peace of Jesus into our hearts, our homes, our nations, and throughout the world—the peace we are desire and the world desperately needs.


Starting today, pray for Pope Francis, with hearts fervent with faith and hope– in your Mass intentions, Rosaries, and daily sacrifices and offerings– for the papal definition of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples, the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate
and thus to definitively initiate the Triumph of her most Immaculate Heart.

Continue Reading

0

As the conclave for the next Holy Father soon approaches, it is the joyful responsibility of every Catholic to pray for the election process, to ensure the choice of the best possible successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

We must be on guard against all complacency which concludes, “The Holy Spirit elects the pope.  I don’t need to pray for the conclave.”
When Pope Benedict was asked, “Does the Holy Spirit elect the next pope?”  He responded:

“I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote.”

The Pope’s response underscores the imperative for the Catholic faithful to pray fervently with committed hearts to the Holy Spirit, that the conclave of cardinals elect the candidate most pleasing to God to become the next Vicar of Christ on earth.  We, the faithful, must enter this historical papal election process by praying to the Holy Spirit that He will descend upon the conclave for the choice most pleasing to Jesus and most beneficial for the Church and for the world today.

Beginning March 1, 2013, the first day when the Chair of Peter will be vacant, I encourage you to join in this Worldwide Novena for the Election of the Next Holy Father. Please join Catholic brothers and sisters the world over in the daily praying the Novena Prayer below (or any other prayer to the Holy Spirit that you may prefer) that the Holy Spirit may truly inspire the hearts of the cardinals of the conclave to choose the man that Jesus wants to guide the Church at this precise moment of human history.  This Conclave Novena will end on the day the Church and the world hears the words, “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a Pope!”).

Conclave Novena Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send down your Spirit over the conclave.  Let the Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of the cardinals, that they may choose the man most pleasing to You, as Successor of Peter and Your Vicar on Earth.  May Mary, Your Mother and Mother of the Church, be our Advocate.  Amen.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Continue Reading

0

On that historic day of February 11, 2013 when Pope Benedict announced his resignation, the Vatican gave public release to an official letter written by the Holy Father in which he made another historic contribution: this time in honor of his Mother.

In a Latin letter dated January 10, 2013, in which the Pope designates Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski (President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care) as his representative for the February 11 2013 World Day of the Sick Celebration, Benedict XVI invokes Mary as the “Mediatrix of all graces” (Mediatricis omnium gratiarum). In doing so, the Holy Father continues a consistent line of explicit papal teaching of this Marian doctrine which goes back for over two centuries.

It is significant that Pope Benedict’s reference to Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces would be released on the very day that he would shock the world with his historic resignation announcement. Although it was the Holy Father’s first use of the Mediatrix of all graces term, it was not his first time to teach the Mediatrix of all graces doctrine.

On May 11, 2007 at the canonization of the Brazilian Franciscan, Fr. Antonio de Sant’ana Galvao, O.F.M., Pope Benedict used a formulation regarding the “necessary” role of Mary’s mediating of all graces that reminds one great Marian authors such as St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, or St. Maximilian Kolbe: “There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady.” The Pontiff reiterates this Marian doctrine when he continues: “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 from heaven.” (Benedict XVI, Homily of Canonization, May 11, 2007, n. 5).

Some news commentary on Pope Benedict’s momentous Marian reference may have given the impression that the doctrine and title of Mediatrix of all graces had not been taught by any pope since the time before the Second Vatican Council. While it is true that the Marian doctrine had been officially and consistently taught by the popes from the late 18th century up to the time of Vatican II, it is also true that Blessed John Paul II repeatedly referred to the Mother of Jesus as the “Mediatrix of all graces” and has prolifically taught the doctrine of Our Lady’s “Maternal Mediation” throughout his extraordinary Marian pontificate.

Here are a few examples (among numerous others) of the popes before Vatican II who officially taught the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces:

Benedict XIV: Mary is like “a celestial stream through which the flow of all graces and gifts reach [us]” (1750)

Pius VII: “Dispensatrix of all graces” (1806)

Pius IX: “For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation.” (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).

Leo XIII: “It is right to say that nothing of all of the immense treasury of every grace which the Lord accumulate –nothing is imparted to us except through Mary…(Encyclical, Octobri mense, 1891).

Saint Pius X: “Fromthis union of will and suffering between Christ and Mary‘she merited to become most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world’ and dispensatrix of all the gifts that our Savior purchased for us by his death and by his blood (Ad Diem Illum, February 2, 1904).

Pius XII: 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 the Redemption (Radio Message of 13 May 1946 on the occasion of the crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima).

This consistent papal teaching and precedent before the Council provides us with the proper context in which to interpret and understand the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on Mary’s role as Mediatrix:

Thus in a wholly singular way, she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and buring 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…

This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator (Lumen Gentium,61, 62).

Now let us briefly look at Blessed John Paul II’s seven usages of the Mediatrix of all graces title1:

1. Papal Address to the General Council, Superiors, and Directors of the Italian Institutes of St. Joseph, December 1, 1978:

We cannot conclude without addressing the Blessed Virgin, so loved and venerated by Murialdo, who had recourse to her as the Universal Mediatrix of all grace (Inseg I (1978) 250.

2. Papal exhortation to seminarians at the Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Brescia, September 27, 1982:

Entrust yourselves always with great confidence to Mary Immaculate, dispenser of every grace, to whom this fine seminary of yours is dedicated (ORE 755:8).

3. Angelus Address of 17 January 1988:

Another center of Marian devotion worthy of mention is the Church dedicated to Our Lady in Meadi, on the outskirts of Cairo, on the banks of the Nile…It is entrusted to the Coptic-Orthodox Christians, and many pilgrims continuously come to this sanctuary to entrust their intentions to the Mediatrix of all graces (Inseg XI/1 (1988) 119 (ORE 1023:5).

4. Papal homily for the Octave of Easter, 10 April 1988, in the Roman parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer:

In this Marian Year, your parish, which is placed under the patronage of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, Redemptoris Mater, has an extra reason for renewing and strengthening its own devotion towards her, the Mediatrix of all graces, our Advocatewith her Son Jesus and the Help of Christians (ORE 1036:11).

5. Papal Address at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces in Benevento on 2 July 1990:

With loving intuition from ancient times you have been able to grasp the mystery of Mary, as Mediatrix of all graces, because she is the Mother of the very Author of Grace, Jesus Christ (ORE 1148:2)..

6. Papal address to the General Chapter of the Mercedarian Sisters of Charity, June 28, 1996,

May she, true Ark of the New Covenant and Mediatrix of all graces, teach you to love him as she loved him (ORE 1451:5).

7. Papal Mass celebrated for Polish pilgrims, 25 August 2001:

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(ORE 1707:1

The Totus Tuus Pontiff repeatedly used the Mediatrix of all graces title and taught the doctrine, in echo of the popes of the preconcilar Papal Magisterium, and in proper interpretation and development of the teachings of Vatican II.

Why was Pope Benedict’s letter invoking the Mediatrix of all graces released on the same day of the announcement of his resignation? Perhaps only the Pope himself could answer this question. Nonetheless, Pope Benedict’s invocation does set the stage for his successor to continue this inspired Papal Tradition, and perhaps to bring it to its proper crowning development in a solemn definition. The Church movement for the fifth Marian Dogma of Mary’s universal mediation was initiated almost 100 years ago in 1915 by the great Belgian prelate, Cardinal Desire Mercier. The time seems ripe.

Every Marian Dogma has brought with it extraordinary graces for the Church and, thereby, for the entire world. May the dogmatic crowning of Mary, Mediatrix of all graces come soon, with its accompanying Marian roles of Co-redemptrix and Advocate), for the proper honor of the Mother, and for the historic graces of redemption and peace that the Church and the world will receive and—presently–so desperately need.

1  See the outstanding study regarding the Mediatrix of all graces doctrine in the Papal Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II by Msgr. Arthur Calkins, Mary, Mediatrix of all graces in the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II, Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Vol. VII, Academy of the Immaculate, 2006.

 

Continue Reading

0

February 11, 2013, will be remembered as the day on which Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign from the papacy. The day was also the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 21st World Day of the Sick.

In his Latin-language letter naming Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as his special envoy to the solemn celebration of the World Day of the Sick at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting (Germany), Pope Benedict entrusted the prelate’s mission “to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all graces” [intercessioni Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae, Mediatricis omnium gratiarum].

Although the Second Vatican Council and numerous popes have invoked the Blessed Virgin as “Mediatrix,” the papal use of the title “Mediatrix of all graces” is far rarer. The phrase occurs most authoritatively in Caritate Christi Compulsi, Pope Pius XI’s 1932 encyclical on the Sacred Heart, and has appeared on a handful of other occasions in documents issued by Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius XI, Venerable Pius XII, and Blessed John XXIII.

In documents issued in 1979, 1980, and 1987, Blessed John Paul II raised churches dedicated under this title to cathedral or basilica status and referred to the Blessed Virgin in one of the documents (the 1987 apostolic constitution Frequentissimae) as the “most chaste Mediatrix of all graces.”

The late Father William Most has shown that Pope Leo XIII and subsequent popes have also used similar terminology to describe the Blessed Virgin’s maternal mediation.

This article originally appeared on CatholicCulture.org.
http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=17049

Continue Reading

0

Dear Friends,

Today, February 11, 2013, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation. We thank God for the great gift his courageous and faithful leadership has been to our Church and to the world. May Jesus eternally reward him for his extraordinary service of Christian sacrifice and love to Him and to us as our Vicar of Christ on earth.

Today, 52 years ago, on February 11, 1951, the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of “The Lady of All Nations” revealed to the world a prayer, which she said holds great power before the throne of God—a prayer which she asked all of humanity to pray daily for a new descent of the Holy Spirit.

My friends, we have absolutely nothing to fear at this moment of transition in the Church. The promise and institution of Jesus to Peter, the first pontiff, remains until the end of time: “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church…the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (cf. Mt. 16:15-18). We must proceed in peace and in faith, knowing that the Holy Spirit will act in choosing the best successor to Pope Benedict, especially when it comes as an answer to the prayers of the Catholic faithful the world over.

Our task as the People of God, beginning today, is simple. We must immediately begin to pray to the Holy Spirit for the election of the successor to our beloved Pope Benedict.

I would encourage each one of you, starting today on the Feast of Lady of Lourdes, to begin a novena to the Holy Spirit for the selection of the next Holy Father– a novena that will end on the day when we hear the announcement of the election of the next Vicar on Christ on earth. I would particularly recommend for this novena to the Holy Spirit the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations, which was revealed by Our Lady herself precisely for the powerful descent of the Holy Spirit.

In peace and in hope, let us fulfill our duty, as members of the Catholic Church, to pray daily to the Holy Spirit for the election of the next Holy Father, particularly through the powerful intercession of the Lady of all Nations, our Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,

send now Your Spirit over the earth.

Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,

that they may be preserved from degeneration, disasters, and war.

May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our Advocate. Amen.

Please find below the February 11, 1951 Message from the Lady of All Nations in which she reveals and explains the power of this prayer for a new descent of the Holy Spirit in its entirety.

Dr. Mark Miravalle – Editor, Mother of All Peoples E-zine

 

Message of The Lady of All Nations, February 11, 1951

The Lady, Mary, Mother of All Nations (1)

I see a bright light and then I see the Lady standing before me. She says,

I am the Lady, Mary, Mother of All Nations. You may say: The Lady of All Nations or Mother of All Nations, who once was Mary. I come on this very day to tell you that this is who I wish to be. The people of all countries shall truly be one.

Then, without saying anything, the Lady remains standing in her usual posture and is looking at me continuously. Then she says, “The entire world is undergoing upheaval, but the worst thing is that the people of this world are being brought into upheaval.” Then it is as if the Lady is walking along the globe and I see that the whole world is in confusion and entering into upheaval.

The Second Vatican Council

“I am bringing you here,” says the Lady, and suddenly I am with her above Italy. I see the Vatican and then I enter St. Peter’s together with the Lady. We walk through the central passage and halt near the middle of St. Peter’s. On either side I see scaffolding, benches mounting up in tiers. Upon those benches I see many cardinals and bishops wearing white miters. (2) The Lady says, “Watch closely; these are the bishops of all countries.”

Now I see the Pope seated, wearing the tiara. He is sitting at the far end of the central passage. I see some clergy standing about him. In one hand he is holding a scepter, and from the other he is raising two fingers in the well-known position. He has a large, thick book before of him. The Lady says,

Listen carefully, child. Changes have already been made, and others are in progress. I, however, want to bring the Son’s message. The doctrine is right, but the laws can and must be changed. I want to tell you this on this very day, for the world is undergoing great upheaval—nobody knows in which direction. That is why the Son wants me to bring this message.

The Pains of the Cross

And now suddenly I am standing before a large Cross. While looking at it, I am seized with terrible pains. I get muscle cramps from head to foot. It is as if all the muscles in both of my arms are contracting, causing me to clench my fingers. It is as if my head is split asunder, and I get a feverish feeling as if my head would burst. All this together causes me to weep. I can bear it no longer and ask the Lady whether it might pass. Then she smiles. It lasts for another moment and then everything is gone. Then the Lady says to me, “Let everyone come back to the Cross; only then can there be peace and tranquility.”

The Prayer Is Given

While I am still standing with the Lady before the Cross, she says, “Repeat after me.”

To me this is a little bit strange. I think to myself, “But I already repeat everything she says!” But suddenly I see the Lady become even more beautiful than she already was. The light which always surrounds her becomes much brighter and brilliant, such that I can hardly bear to look into it. She now raises and joins her hands, which she otherwise always holds down. Her face becomes so heavenly, so sublime; one simply cannot express it in words. Her figure grows even more translucent and so beautiful that I look at it in rapture. Then the Lady says, “Pray before the Cross”:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now Your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live
in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved
from degeneration, disaster and war.
May the Lady of All Nations,
who once was Mary,
be our Advocate.
Amen.

The Lady says this prayer so beautifully and impressively—no one in the world could do it as she did. She stresses the word “now” in “send now Your Spirit” and “all” in “Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations.” She also pronounces the word “Amen” so beautifully and solemnly. While still standing in front of the Cross, I pray it, repeating the words the Lady recited to me. It is as if the words are imprinted in my mind. I now see them written in large letters.

The First and Greatest Commandment

The Lady continues,

Child, this is so simple and short that everyone can say it in one’s own language, before one’s own crucifix; and those who have no crucifix say it to themselves. This is the message which I want to give this very day, for I am now coming to say that I want to save souls. All of you, cooperate in this great work for the world. If only every child of man would try to live up to this for oneself.

And then the Lady raises a finger and says, “Especially in the first and greatest commandment, Love.”

I now see this word written in large letters. “Let them begin with that,” the Lady says. Then I see a certain group of people; the Lady looks at them very compassionately and says, “And then the little ones of this world will say: how can we begin with that? For it is the great ones who do this to us.”

The Lady says this very lovingly, as if she had great pity on the people around her. But then the Lady’s face changes, and she says very emphatically, “And then I say to the little ones: if you practice Love among yourselves in all its refinement, even the great ones will not have a chance. Go to your crucifix and say what I recited to you, and the Son will answer it.”

The Fight Concerning the Spirit

Then the Lady says to me,

A great natural disaster will again take place.

The great ones of this world will always disagree with one another. People will seek here and there. Watch out for the false prophets. Seek and ask only for the true Holy Spirit. For it is now a war of ideas. The fight no longer concerns races and peoples; the fight concerns the spirit. Understand this well.

The Laws Can Be Changed

Then the Lady folds her hands. I now see the Pope with cardinals and bishops. Then the Lady says, as if speaking to the Pope,

You can save this world. I have said more than once: Rome has its chance. Seize the present moment. No church in the world is built up like yours. But move with the times and insist upon your modern changes concerning religious, priests, seminarians, and so on and so forth. Keep an eye on that. Carry through with it to the smallest detail! The doctrine remains, but the laws can be changed. Let the people of this world benefit more from the Remembrance of my Son.

Then the Lady says to me, “I showed you in the dream how the practice of frequent communion can be carried through. This I tell you for the Netherlands and for all countries in which it is not so.”

Countries of Europe America

“For Germany I want to say: they shall work hard, hard in this country to bring the people, who have strayed far, far away, back to this center, the Cross. Priests are too few, but lay people are many. Conduct a great campaign among the laity to call them forward for this goal. Work here above all with great love and charity. The great ones of Germany shall help and not turn away from the Church. Deutschland jedoch liegt mir sehr am Herzen. Die Mutter Gottes weint über die Kinder Deutschlands. (3)

For France, Belgium, the Balkans and Austria, I say the following: do not let yourselves be brought to the wrong spirit.

For Italy I say: great ones of Italy, do you know your task?

To England I say: I will come back, England.

To America I say: do not push your politics too far; and seek the True Spirit. I am glad that America is better disposed to the faith at the moment.”

Africa—Asia—We Are Taking Care of Them

“For Africa I say: say that I would like to have a seminary there. I will help the Dominicans. Tell this to your spiritual director. Tell him also that the Son is content with his work and guidance. Tell him that he should be more courageous in carrying through with these matters. I only want to make use of you to carry through with the will of the Son in this time. Indeed, I want to ask you, child of man, to help people as much as possible. I shall give you strength and support for this. Your spiritual director is chosen for helping you in this work only. Everything else can stay as it is. He will understand me.

Further, I would like to say to all Eastern and Asian peoples, whether they know the Son or not: We are taking care of them.”

This Time Is Our Time

Then the Lady points at the globe again and says, “This time is Our time.”

“You, child, are only the instrument for passing these things on. You shall do this. Yes, there are enough proofs—in what I said today, too. Say that I wish to be: The Lady of All Nations.”

 

The preceding message was taken from The Messages of the Lady of All Nations, The Lady of All Nations Foundation, 1999.

 

Notes

(1) The visionary received this message in Germany.

(2) Later, when the visionary saw pictures of the Second Vatican Council on television (1962-1965), she recognized them to be the images described here.

(3) “My heart is greatly concerned for Germany. The Mother of God weeps for the people of Germany.” Our Lady said these two sentences in German, rather than in Dutch.

Continue Reading

0

On February 17, 1941, the “Property” of the Immaculata, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo, eventually leading to his martyrdom in Auschwitz. During the few hours before his arrest, Fr. Maximilian was inspired to write the heart of his unparalleled mariological ponderings regarding the “Immaculate Conception.”

The following are excerpts from this last written testimony:

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.

Since human words are incapable of expressing divine realities, it follows that these words: “Immaculate,” and “Conception” must be understood in a much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating, commonly gives to them . . . Who then are you, O Immaculate Conception?

Not God, of course, because he has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21). Not the Incarnate Word, who exists before all ages, and of whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception.” Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conception.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by original sin; whereas you are the unique Immaculate Conception.

. . . Creatures, by following the natural law implanted in them by God, reach their perfection, become like him, and go back to him. Intelligent creatures love him in a conscious manner; through this love they unite themselves more and more closely with him, and so find their way back to him. The creature most completely filled with this love, with God himself, was the Immaculata, who never contracted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God’s will. United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.

What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the “essence” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instance of her existence. It is always true; it will always be true.

In what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. He is a fruitful Love, a “Conception.” Among creatures made in God’s image the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all (cf. Mt. 19:6). In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very instance of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.

This eternal “Immaculate Conception” (which is the Holy Spirit) produces in an immaculate manner divine life itself in the womb (or depths) of Mary’s soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception. And the virginal womb of Mary’s body is kept sacred for him; there he conceives in time—because everything that is material occurs in time—the human life of the Man-God. (1)

In a 1933 Letter from Nagasaki, St. Maximilian explains further that in the name, “Immaculate Conception,” the Mother also gives us the secret of her very nature:

In her apparition at Lourdes she does not say: “I was conceived immaculately,” but “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This points out not only the fact that she was conceived without original sin, but also the manner in which this privilege belongs to her. It is not something accidental; it is something that belongs to her very nature. For she is Immaculate Conception in (her very) person. (2)

The uncreated Immaculate Conception and the created Immaculate Conception. The Divine Spirit and the human spouse perfected in His grace are united by an interior, essential union. Uncreated love conceives and dwells within the depths of her soul, and she becomes His quasi-incarnation. (3) For this reason, as St. Maximilian tells us, Mary is also the Mediatrix of all graces and gifts of the Spirit:

The union between the Immaculata and the Holy Spirit is so inexpressible, yet so perfect, that the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse. This is why she is Mediatrix of all grace given by the Holy Spirit. And since every grace is a gift of God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit, it follows that there is no grace which Mary cannot dispose of as her own, which is not given to her for this purpose. (4)

Does St. Maximilian go too far in speaking in this manner of the wonders of the Immaculate Conception? Or does he say too little? The Mariology disclosed by the saint of the Immaculata, generous and profound as it is, in no way exhausts the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. His unrivaled pneumatological discoveries prepare the way for a new comprehension of the inseparability of the Uncreated Immaculate Conception with the created Immaculate Conception. But the mystery continues. The brilliance of St. Maximilian’s methodology in his return to Trinitarian Mariology specific to the Holy Spirit also propels us to ponder more deeply the other relationships of the Immaculata with her Triune God.

Perhaps least developed of these, from a Trinitarian perspective, is the relationship between the Immaculate Conception and the Heavenly Father. The Father-daughter relationship is one of the most precious of human relationships, and no other relationship captures more the love of the Creator for creation, and the appropriate reciprocal love of creation for the Creator than the relationship between the Eternal Father and Mary Immaculate. At the heart of this union of Perfect Daughter to Perfect Father, which represents and exemplifies how every creature should be united to its Creator, is the stainlessness and fullness of grace possessed by the Immaculate Daughter. This “stainless-fullness” is given to her by the Eternal Father through the Spirit and in view of the foreseen merits of the Son, which is the foundation of her perfect response of fiat-love to everything given to her and asked of her by her “Abba,” God the Father of all mankind.

As the example of St. Maximilian makes clear, the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 does not end its doctrinal development, but rather encourages more unveiling and more appreciation of its sacred mystery. Certainly Contemporary Mariology would do well to follow the example of St. Maximilian in striving to incorporate a more Trinitarian perspective and methodology in relation to the Blessed Virgin if we seek to be true to the full glory of Mary Immaculate.

We must seek to view Mary from the perspective of the Father, as the Virgin Daughter Immaculate, his greatest masterpiece. We must view Mary afresh from the perspective of the Son, as perfect Mother in the order of love, and most intimate partner and co-redeemer in the historic sufferings of Redemption. We must view Mary from the perspective of the Spirit, as his entirely pure and eternally faithful spouse, in a certain sense his “quasi-incarnation,” and the Mediatrix of all of the Sanctifier’s gifts to humanity. Only by seeking to comprehend the Immaculate One with the mind of the Trinity, and striving to love her through the heart of the Trinity, can we hope to do even partial justice to her.

Western Mariology must be on guard against the subtle tendency (even unconscious at times), to think first in terms of apologetics, rather than in terms of mystery. If the first question of our mariological methodology is, “how can I explain this to someone who does not believe it?,” rather than, “what is the depth and fullness of this revealed Marian mystery?,” the resulting product will be a Marian minimalism, a “too summary an attitude” as the Council prohibits, (5) which will always fall short of what the human mind and heart should truly grasp with the help of grace about the Mother of the Word, who is God’s climax of creation.

Here we see light from the East. The Eastern Church looks first to the transcendence of the all pure Theotokos, the “God-bearer,” which it liturgically praises as the “ever holy, ever pure, ever blessed and glorious Lady.” (6) In his 1998 Marian Lenten letter to the Orthodox world, the present Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, writes:

The Lady, the Virgin Mother, shines as the one who conceived joy for the world. She shines as the meaning of history; the goal of creation; She who made our composition heavenly . . . . She deliberately followed her Son, Himself God, from His Birth to His Passion and Cross. And the God-man from high on the Cross, sent forth His Most Holy Mother to all of us as our Mother in the order of grace.

She supports our life and sanctifies our time . . . . We are purified through her tears; through the divine beauty we are saved; and we keep holy silence in the presence of the overwhelming awe. (7)

The inestimable magnitude of the Immaculata in her overflowing plentitude of divine grace (cf. Lk. 1:28) and her absolute freedom from all sin (cf. Gen. 3:15), is described by Bl. Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus:

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.

“The Co-redemptrix” Because “The Immaculate Conception”

The Immaculate Conception, the unparalleled prodigy of grace granted by the Eternal Father, is (along with her Divine Maternity), the foundation for all of the subsequent roles assigned her by the Trinity for the benefit of humanity.

Indeed, the humble Virgin of Nazareth is the Co-redemptrix not only because she is Mother of God, but also because she is the Immaculate Conception. Stainless, full of grace, and in total enmity with Satan and his seed of evil and sin, the Immaculate One is created by the Father, in view of the merits of the Son, precisely to be the perfect human cooperator “with Jesus” in the historic work of human salvation.

Any sin on Mary’s part, original or personal, would establish a bond or union between herself and Satan, the historic foe of the Redeemer. Mary, then, would become a type of “double-agent”—working with Jesus, but also having an association with his Adversary, the very person and power from which Jesus seeks to buy back humanity.

No, the woman chosen to be humanity’s representative, to participate intimately and proximately with God himself in restoring supernatural life to souls, must be without any union through sin with the Enslaver and Defiler of humanity. Thus was she created immaculate by God the Father of all mankind, crafted from incorruptible “wood” so as to be the New Ark of the New Covenant, carrying the Redeemer of the world in her immaculate womb and dying with Him in her immaculate heart for the Redemption of the world (cf. Lumen Gentium 58, 61).

Pope John Paul II teaches the essential relationship between the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady’s coredemptive role with Jesus in salvation, and explains that her complete immunity from all sin allowed for the perfect fulfillment of this co-working role in Redemption:

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. (8)

We do not seek mediation from one who is himself at odds with the person with whom we desire to be reconciled. We do not seek relief from a debt by asking assistance from someone who is himself in a state of debt to the person we owe.

This is why the Father in his infinite wisdom, in assigning to the Virgin Daughter the providential role of Co-redemptrix and its consequential roles as Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for all humanity, created her in full union with the Redeemer, with no association in any dimension with the Enemy, and in absolute segregation from sin. In this way, Mary Immaculate becomes the Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Divine Redeemer in the historic work of Redemption, which indeed “buys us back” (redimere—to buy back). She becomes the Immaculate Mediatrix of all grace, who with the one Mediator “brings us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (9) She becomes the all pure Advocate who presents our petitions to our Divine Judge and King.

There is yet another sense in which the Immaculate Conception brings clarity to Mary’s coredemptive mission. The objection is sometimes raised, “How can Mary be Co-redemptrix if she herself was in need of Redemption?” (10) The answer is found in a proper understanding of her Immaculate Conception.

Indeed, it is true that Mary needed to be “redeemed” for her own salvation, and in order to actively participate in the process of human Redemption for the rest of humanity.

In the papal definition of the Immaculate Conception, Bl. Pope Pius IX states that Mary, from the first instant of her conception was freed from original sin and all its effects “in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.” (11) This refers to the higher or more sublime manner in which Mary was redeemed, beyond all other children of Adam and Eve. In Mary’s redemption, she did not have to suffer the experience of original sin and its effects and later be cleansed through sacramental baptism, but rather by an application of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Preserved from any experience or effect of original sin, she is redeemed in a more sublime manner than the rest of humanity. For this reason, the immaculately conceived Mother owes more to her saving Son’s redemption than any other redeemed creature.

How, then, is Mary’s redemption enacted so as to allow her to participate in the historic accomplishment of Redemption at Calvary? This higher form of redemption is effected at Calvary in the first intention of the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is precisely to redeem Mary. (12) The graces of the first intention are applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, which in turn allows her to become the sinless Co-redemptrix in union with the universal Redeemer in the Redemption of the rest of the human family—both in intention and accomplishment—at Calvary. There is no contradiction in the historic role of the Co-redemptrix in the participation of the Redemption and Mary’s own personal need and reception of the graces of Redemption. God, who is outside of time, indeed who is the creator of the temporal order, is not limited by historical necessities, still less is he restrained by our limited understanding of his purposes. He can do as he wills. And in the absolutely unique gift of the Immaculate Conception, he has done so. As Vatican theological consultor, Fr. Jean Galot summarizes:

The first intention of the redemptive sacrifice was concerned, according to the divine plan, with the ransom of Mary, accomplished in view of our ransom . . . Thus, while she was associated in the sacrifice of Calvary, Mary already benefited, in advance, from the fruits of the sacrifice and acted in the capacity of a ransomed creature. But she truly cooperated in the objective redemption, in the acquisition of the graces of salvation for all of mankind. Her redemption was purchased before that of other human beings. Mary was ransomed only by Christ, so that mankind could be ransomed with the collaboration of his mother . . . .

Hence there is no contradiction: Marian co-redemption implies the foreseen redemption of Mary, but not the foreseen fulfillment of the redemption of mankind; it expresses the unique situation of the mother who, while having received a singular grace from her own Son, cooperates with Him in the attainment of salvation for all. (13)

Does this primordial intention of Jesus Christ to redeem his mother and then, as subsequent intention, the rest of humanity violate the “one sacrifice” of Jesus Christ offered for all as discussed in Hebrews (cf. Heb. 10:10)? It does not, as the Redemption remains one, although its intentions and efficacious applications are twofold. The one redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary does not constitute “two redemptions,” but one sublime Redemption with two saving applications: the first application effecting the Immaculate Conception of Mary and thus preparing her to be the Co-redemptrix in her cooperation in objective Redemption; the second application effecting the Redemption of the human family accomplished with the Co-redemptrix. (14)

We can see then how foundational was the grace of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, Mary is “The Co-redemptrix” because she was first “The Immaculate Conception.”

Development and Controversy

The crowning of Our Lady with the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 was preceded by a history of intense theological controversy. It was, in fact, one of the fiercest and lengthiest theological debates in the history of Catholic doctrinal development. (15) Much light can be obtained by examining the controversy leading to this Marian dogma, in terms of the process of general doctrinal development (which encompasses the guidance of the Spirit of Truth working through the instrumentality of frail and fallen human nature), and in evaluating contemporary mariological doctrinal development, specifically the present discussion concerning the doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix.

We can summarize the extensive history of the development of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which spans numerous centuries and hundreds of theologians, by examining the major pronouncements and teachings, as well as censures and penalties, promulgated by the Papal Magisterium in the course of the second Christian millennium. The teachings and disciplines of the Holy See offer an example of the ebb and flow, the agonies and ecstasies relative to the Immaculate Conception doctrine which preceded the ex cathedra victory of Bl. Pius IX in 1854, when, guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed it as a Marian dogma.

Founded upon the inspired Word, which implicitly reveals the Mother of the Redeemer as being in “enmity” with sin (Gen. 3:15) and “full of grace” (Lk. 1:28), the Fathers of the Church attributed numerous titles to Our Lady, which bespeaks their gradual awareness of her immunity from original sin and her plenitude of grace. Bl. Pius IX provides examples of this Patristic witness in the defining constitution:

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. (16)

The Patristic testimonies, particularly from the East, were generous and numerous. In the fourth century, St. Ephraem incorporates the venerated New Eve model in comparing Mary’s stainlessness to Eve before Eve’s fall: “Those two innocent . . . women, Mary and Eve, had been created utterly equal, but afterwards one became the cause of our death, the other the cause of our life.” (17) The Syrian “Harp of the Holy Spirit” then sings of her in an address to Jesus: “Thou and Thy Mother are the only ones immune from all stain; for there is no spot in Thee, O Lord, nor any taint in thy Mother.” (18)

From the West, St. Ambrose testifies that the Mother of Jesus was “free from all stain of sin.” (19) Severus, bishop of Antioch declares that “She . . . formed part of the human race, and was of the same essence as we, although she was pure from all taint and immaculate.” (20) St. Sophronious, the seventh century patriarch of Jerusalem, refers to a pre-purification of grace in the case of Mary: “You have found the grace that no one has received . . . no one has been pre-purified besides you.” (21) St. Andrew of Crete calls her the “pure and entirely Immaculate Virgin,” (22) and the ninth century monk, Theognostes of Constantinople directly mentions Our Lady’s immaculate origin from conception: ” . . . she who from the beginning had been conceived by sanctifying action . . . .” (23)

It is against this background of Tradition’s positive laud of the Immaculate Conception during the first Christian millennium, that St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes his historic letter to the Church of Lyons (c.1140), adversely affecting the doctrine’s acceptance for the next several centuries. The great Doctor of Marian Mediation, who rightly proclaimed “de Maria numquam satis,” (24) nonetheless felt compelled to reject this prerogative of his Queen due to a mistaken notion of the transmission of original sin.

In his letter to the canons of Lyons who had begun to celebrate the Feast of the Conception of Mary, St. Bernard rejects the feast and the doctrine behind it on the basis of the Augustinian notion that conception was directly connected with concupiscence. According to St. Augustine, (25) original sin infected the human body, which then automatically infected the soul at its infusion into the body. Mary, therefore, could not have been sanctified at her conception, but only in the womb after conception, and this act “rendered her birth holy, not her conception.” (26)

Almost two centuries later, the Church is gifted with the theological breakthrough of the Subtle Doctor, Bl. John Duns Scotus (†1308) and the proper understanding that original sin is not passed on through infected body to infected soul upon the soul’s creation and infusion, but rather through a privation of grace in the soul at the moment of conception due to the sin of Adam and Eve. (27) The rejection of the doctrine by St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, (28) St. Albert the Great, (29) St. Bonaventure, (30) and other scholastics, many of whom are significantly influenced by St. Bernard, is the dominant historical setting during the early part of the second millennium, a situation which eventually calls for the intervention of the Papal Magisterium.

The Feast of the Conception of Mary continues to spread, in spite of the theological opposition, to become an almost general celebration in the West. By the mid-fourteenth century, the feast is solemnly celebrated in Rome, (31) and later in the century by the “Sovereign Pontiff and by the Cardinals” in unison. (32) It must be kept in mind that the nature of the feast at this time constituted a celebration of the general sanctification of Mary in the womb of St. Ann, without the clear delineation of the exact nature and time of the actual sanctification.

At about the same time, Pope Gregory XI approves the well-known Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, with his two immediate papal successors, Urban VI and Boniface IX, confirming the approbation. (33) The Revelations record Our Lady’s words that: “It is the truth that I was conceived without original sin,” (34) and explains further:

Believe, my daughter, seeing that they think rightly who believe and profess that I was preserved from the original stain; wrongly, however, those who think the contrary, especially if they do so with temerity. (35)

. . . . Know that I was conceived without original sin, and not in sin . . . . Know that my Conception was not known to all because God willed it that way . . . thus it was pleasing to God that his friends would piously doubt of my Conception, and each would manifest his zeal, until the truth would be clarified at its foreordained time. (36)

As the Revelations were widely promulgated and respected throughout medieval Christendom, its influence was significant upon theologians and bishops alike in growth of support for the Immaculate Conception. We see here one example of the direct influence of authentic private revelation in the historical development of doctrine, not as a legitimate foundation for the doctrine, but rather as a supernatural spark to stimulate development at an appropriate historical time in the Church’s life and thought.

The Council of Basle which convenes in the mid-fifteenth century (Sept. 17, 1439) attempts to define the Immaculate Conception doctrine in their declaration from the 37th session, which states:

. . . We define and declare that the doctrine according to which the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, by a special effect of divine preventing and operating grace, was never stained with original sin, but has always been holy and immaculate, is a pious doctrine, conformable to the cult of the Church, to Catholic Faith, to right reason, and Sacred Scripture; it must be approved, held and professed by all Catholics; furthermore, it is no longer allowed to preach or teach anything contrary to it. (37)

Even though the Council had been placed under an anathema by Pope Eugene IV (due to its papal stance, something not immediately relevant to the issue of the Immaculate Conception), the declaration nevertheless illustrates the depth of theological and hierarchical commitment to the doctrine at this time.

But new attacks on the doctrine are soon to surface in the latter part of the fifteenth century. History bears out the fact that Marian dogmatic development is typically juxtaposed with fierce and repeated theological conflict, and oftentimes between bishops and theologians in full fidelity to the Holy See.

Sixtus IV and Papal Approval of the Feast

The Franciscan Pope, Sixtus IV (1471-1484) is the first pontiff to make an official magisterial pronouncement relative to the Immaculate Conception. Pope Sixtus issues sixteen constitutions with reference to Mary’s Conception, (38) but the first major bull is issued in 1477 and entitled, Cum praecelsa. In this Bull, the pontiff officially approves the prayers of the Office of the Conception, and grants indulgences for those who recite the Office or attend Mass in its honor. (39)

The atmosphere at the time the bull is promulgated involves an intense theological battle over the issue, essentially between the Dominican and the Franciscan orders. Dominican theologian Vincent Bandelli had written a book two years prior in which he strongly attacked the Immaculate Conception doctrine as impious, heretical, contrary to the teaching of the Church, and to sound reason. (40) This leads Sixtus IV to order a public disputation on the issue in his presence in Rome in early 1477. Fr. Bandelli defends his Maculist position, and the Minister General of the Franciscans, Francis Insuber of Brescia articulates the Immaculist stance. The Immaculist position proves victorious, which leads Sixtus IV to immediately grant official approval to the Mass and Office of the Conception of Mary. (41)

The papally approved feast is clearly and specifically Immaculist, with Our Lady being referred to as “Immaculate” ten times, and with some thirty references to her having been conceived without original sin, (42) using phrases such as:

You are all beautiful, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee (2nd antiphon of 1st Vesp.). (43)

And:

Today is the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary. God who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, did prepare a worthy dwelling . . . grant, we beseech thee, who by his foreseen death did preserve her from all stain of sin . . . (Collect of the Mass and Oration of the Office). (44)

But the papal sanction does not end the controversy. Bandelli authors another book in 1481, in which he seeks to interpret the Pope’s document as referring to Mary’s sanctification after the instance of animation, thus inferring that it teaches her “spiritual conception” and not her natural immaculate conception. Moreover, opponents do not celebrate the papally approved feast, but rather return to the more generic feast of “Mary’s Sanctification.” (45)

This leads Sixtus IV to respond with the bull Grave nimis in 1482, in which he threatens to excommunicate the objectors and also those who charge their opponents with heresy. He also condemns any who claim that the Holy See was referring only to the spiritual conception of Mary or the general sanctification of Mary. But in the second issue of the bull, Grave nimis (posterior) in 1484, the Pontiff also forbids the Immaculists to accuse their opponents of being guilty of the “crime of heresy or of mortal sin, since the matter has not been decided as yet by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See.” (46) Because the Church has not yet formally decided the doctrinal question, proponents and opponents of the feast alike can not be declared heretical or in grave sin per se. (47)

Considering the clarity and firmness of Sixtus IV’s intervention, one can imagine that the “pious belief” of the Immaculate Conception (as it was termed) would be essentially free from any accusation of heresy, and that doctrinal development leading to the definition in 1854 would proceed in a fundamentally peaceful process. Moreover, in a promising move Sixtus’ successor, Innocent VIII, immediately follows his predecessor’s initiatives by approving a religious congregation from Spain with the title, “Religious of the Immaculate Conception of Mary” in the Bull, Inter innumera (1489). (48) However, the next three centuries would witness ubiquitous theological standoffs, strong papal interventions, and serious ecclesiastical censures, all of which would constitute the tumultuous journey of this doctrine to the nineteenth century solemn definition.

The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century sought in general to restrict its doctrinal treatments to the specific areas brought into question by Protestant objections. Nonetheless, when the subject of the universality of original sin is brought up during the fifth session in 1546, the issue is raised as to whether or not the Mother of Jesus was subject to the universal law. Immediately, a number of theological debates ensue. After much intense discussion, the Council concludes with the following declaration:

This same holy Synod declares that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where there is question of original sin, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Rather, the constitutions of Sixtus of happy memory are to be followed. (49)

Trent therefore, refers to the Mother of Jesus as “Immaculate”; does not include her within the universal law of original sin; and refers to Pope Sixtus and his defense of the Immaculist position. As Bl. Pius IX comments in Ineffabilis Deus, the Council of Trent “sufficiently insinuated by this declaration that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from the original stain.” (50)

And yet controversy continues. In 1567, the great Marian pontiff, St. Pius V condemns one of the propositions of Baius, which reads: “No one but Christ was without original sin, and therefore the Blessed Virgin died in consequence of the sin contracted through Adam . . . .” (51) The Dominican pontiff also issues a bull, Super speculam, in 1570, in which he speaks of the evil effects of the controversy which continues to rage over the Immaculate Conception. In an effort to prevent the present scandal from infecting the faithful, St. Pius V renews the teachings and censures of Sixtus IV, the Council of Trent, and adds the following new restrictions: “. . . no one is allowed to discuss either of the opinions in sermons given before the people . . . or to write or dictate anything in the vernacular on the question.” (52)

Note the paternal character of Pius V’s actions. He acts as a good father of the family who enters into a heated family conflict, and intervenes by first reiterating the truth and then by calling a halt to any further discussion until emotions settle. The specific concern of Pius was the scandal being caused amidst the common faithful. We will repeatedly see the importance of the sensus fidelium in this historical drama.

Despite this, the theological battle rages on, and seventeenth century popes once again come to the defense of the doctrine. In 1616 Pope Paul V issues the Bull, Regis pacifici, in which he recalls the pronouncement of Sixtus IV, Trent, and Pius V, but notes that these did not suffice to stop the conflict. Paul V therefore reiterates with “Apostolic power” his predecessors’ teachings, but with additional punishments for offenders. (53) A year later, the ecclesial storm still continues, and Paul V issues a decree, Sanctissimus (Sept. 12, 1617) whereby the Roman pontiff for the first time officially forbids anyone from denying the Immaculate Conception in public. (54) The expressed reason for the papal action is the scandal, quarrels, and dissensions caused among the common faithful whenever public sermons or teachings deny the Immaculate Conception or positively teach that she was conceived with original sin. In short, the denial of the Immaculate Conception is rejected by the sensus fidelium, and the Vicar of Christ respects and protects the Spirit acting through them. (55)

A few years later, Pope Gregory XV extends the prohibitions of Paul V against the public denial of the Immaculate Conception to the realm of private conversations and writings as well, until such time as the Holy See would resolve the issue. (56) Once again, this papal directive requiring absolute silence for those denying the Immaculate Conception is prompted by the reaction of the common consensus of the faithful. (57) It is also noteworthy at this time that heads of state begin requesting the Holy See for a papal definition of the Immaculate Conception, with repeated petitions coming from the Kings of Spain. (58)

Under the pontificate of Urban VIII, a pontiff who also advances the cause of the Immaculate Conception through the granting of generous indulgences relative to the doctrine, (59) we have an interesting historical case of a decree contrary to the doctrine being drawn up by the Holy Office a few months before Urban’s death and published three years after his death. The decree from the Holy Office states: “It is not permitted to attribute the title of ‘Immaculate’ to the Conception of the Blessed Virgin; one must say the Conception of the Immaculate Mary.” (60) It is generally agreed upon by historians that the Holy Office decree did not have the approval of the Holy Father. (61) We see here an instance of how a doctrinal Congregation can err on a disciplinary matter relative to a doctrine when it does not have direct pontifical approval.

With the papal election of Alexander VII in 1661, the doctrine gains one of its greatest papal champions. In the Bull, Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum, Alexander exacts the nature of the feast of the Immaculate Conception as the belief of Mary’s immunity from original sin at conception, refers to the doctrine as a “pia sententia,” or “pious belief,” (a theological category of certainty that had been proposed but not approved at Trent (62)), and confirms and broadens the canonical penalties of his papal predecessors for those rejecting the doctrine. (63)

In 1708, Pope Clement XI provides further magisterial foundation for an eventual definition in the Bull, Commissi Nobis, by establishing the feast of the Immaculate Conception as a holy day of obligation for the entire Catholic Church. (64) Little more than a century later, Pope Gregory XVI, the immediate predecessor of Bl. Pius IX, grants permission for an additional petition to the Litany of Loreto to read: “Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.” (65)

By the nineteenth century, the Holy See has received and continues to receive numerous petitions for the solemn definition, both from the hierarchy and from the common faithful. (66) So significant is the factor of petitions from the People of God to the pontiff in the development of this Marian doctrine that Bl. Pius IX refers to the positive role of petitions as one of the legitimate criterion for its solemn definition in Ineffabilis Deus. (67) Far from the mistaken notion that petitions directed to Rome are merely a contemporary invention for democratized pressure within the Church, petitions from the hierarchy and the common faithful comprise a substantial element in the true papal discernment for solemn definitions. (68)

Another positive influence for Bl. Pius IX in his discernment for the infallible declaration is the Church-approved apparitions of Our Lady of Grace received by St. Catherine Labouré in 1830, in which the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception” is revealed by Our Lady and swiftly spreads throughout Europe and beyond. The petition surrounding the “Miraculous Medal,” as it was spontaneously referred to by the faithful, reads “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The immediate and universal acceptance of this medal so essentially linked to the Immaculate Conception doctrine and the plethora of miracles associated with it, make a strong positive impression on Pius IX. (69)

In summation, centuries of fierce theological battles moderated by papal interventions, juxtaposed with a persevering liturgical, theological and devotional development, serve as the historical platform upon which Bl. Pius IX courageously crowns the Virgin Mother of God with the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854. The historical tempest which precedes the definition seems to symbolically manifest itself on the actual day of the definition by a violent storm outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. As Sardi, the respected documenter of the history and acts concerning the definition, then describes:

At the precise moment His Holiness was going to define the dogma, a light breeze lifted the drape in front of the great window above the altar of the Chapel of Most Holy Mary of the Pillar, and a sunbeam lit up the person of the Holy Father and his pontifical throne. Many marveled at this event because of the solemn moment when it occurred . . . . (70)

Immaculate Conception and Mary Co-redemptrix:
Parallels in Doctrinal Development

The Holy Spirit guides and nurtures a seed of revelation found in the Word of God, written or handed down, so that it takes root and grows gradually to full blossom and beauty within the garden of the Church in the form of a defined dogma. As the Spirit is one, so are his ways similar and detectable within the process of this development of doctrine. While there is always some dimension of the beauty of diversity within the movements of the Spirit, so too is there a certain uniformity and pattern.

In this light, we find at least seven similarities, true parallels of doctrinal maturation, as we juxtapose the development of the Immaculate Conception with that of Mary Co-redemptrix. In the case of the Immaculate Conception doctrine, these stages or levels of maturity eventually led to its solemn definition. So, too, the presence of these same seven characteristics in the development of the Co-redemptrix doctrine offers significant evidence for its own doctrinal maturity.

1. Longstanding Liturgical Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Of great significance is the papal approval of the Feast of The Conception of Mary by Sixtus IV in 1477 and its critical role in the Immaculate Conception’s doctrinal progression. In the case of Mary Co-redemptrix, we also have a liturgical feast celebrated in Rome which likewise dates back to the fifteenth century, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

In fact, until 1960, the role of Mary Co-redemptrix was liturgically celebrated twice a year. The first feast focused upon the “compassion” or co-suffering of Mary at Calvary and was celebrated on the Friday before our present Palm Sunday. The second feast, historically promoted by the Servites of Mary and celebrated on September 15, accentuates the entire coredemptive life of the Virgin as highlighted in seven scriptural and traditional events or “sorrows”: 1. Simeon’s prophecy in the Temple; 2. the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; 3. the loss of the Christ child in the Temple; 4. the encounter of Mary with Jesus on the way of the cross; 5. her suffering during the crucifixion and death of Jesus; 6. the taking down of Jesus from the Cross; and 7. the burial of Jesus in the tomb.

Moreover, the first official use of the Co-redemptrix title by the Holy See comes on May 13, 1908, in a document by the Congregation of Rites in reference to the Feast of the Seven Sorrows. In positive response to a petition seeking to raise the rank of the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary to a double rite of second class for the universal Church, the Congregation of Rites expresses its hope that “the devotion of the Sorrowful Mother may increase and the piety of the faithful and their gratitude toward the merciful Co-redemptrix of the human race may intensify.” (71)

These liturgical celebrations of the Co-redemptrix doctrine makes clear that the role has been believed and venerated for over a half millennium in the liturgical life of the Church.

2. Conciliar Teaching on Marian Coredemption

The conciliar teaching of Trent on the Immaculate Conception doctrine, however implicit, nonetheless clearly established the doctrinal integrity of the position. In addition, there were those at Trent who desired a solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception, (72) but the Council saw it sufficient for that time to reflect the legitimacy of the doctrine in its other teachings.

The Second Vatican Council in its preparatory stage similarly received over 450 petitions for the solemn definition of Mary Co-redemptrix and her subsequent role as Mediatrix of all graces (73) and deemed it sufficient for the purposes of a non-defining pastoral council to present a certain teaching on Marian Coredemption. The Council did so in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. In the eighth chapter, which is dedicated to Our Lady, the Fathers clearly teach her coredemptive role:

Committing herself whole-heartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption . . . (LG, 56).

And:

Thus 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, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold thy son” (Jn. 19:26-27), (LG, 58).

And further:

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 (LG, 61).

The fact that the Second Vatican Council, which was pastoral by nature (as determined at its outset by Bl. John XXIII), did not define the Coredemption doctrine cannot be used as a valid argument against its definability. Trent did not define the Immaculate Conception, nor did Vatican I define the Assumption, although it had received from participating Fathers numerous petitions to do so. (74) Rather, the solid conciliar teaching on the truth of the Co-redemptrix role reflects an unquestionable theological basis in the sources of Revelation for a potential definition.

3. Petitions from the Faithful, Hierarchy, and Heads of State

Bl. Pius IX’s acknowledgement of the numerous petitions from the hierarchy, common faithful, and even heads of states received by the Holy See for the Immaculate Conception’s definition illustrates the papal respect given to the sensus fidelium in the process of discerning the timeliness and appropriateness of infallible declarations. Pius XII made the same acknowledgement for the vast number of petitions received in favor of the Dogma of the Assumption. (75)

The largest number of per annum petitions received by the Holy See for any single cause in the history of the Church has been for the solemn definition of Mary Co-redemptrix. In the last ten years, over seven million petitions have been received by the Holy See from over one hundred and fifty countries in support of this infallible declaration. (76) More than five hundred and fifty bishops, including forty six cardinals, have also joined in the petition during the past ten years. (77)

As Spain was foremost in national support for the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Philippines and Mexico are leaders in the national calls for the definition of Mary Co-redemptrix. Over seventy percent of the Mexican hierarchy has petitioned the Holy Father for the definition. (78) The Philippines have produced the largest number of lay petitions. Former Philippines President, Mrs. Corazon Aquino, petitioned the Holy See for the dogmatic proclamation while in office.

4. Indulgenced Prayers in Relation to Mary Co-redemptrix

Lex orandi, lex credendi—as the Church prays, so she believes. The indulgences approved by the Holy See for prayers associated with the Immaculate Conception also finds its parallel with the Co-redemptrix doctrine.

On June 26, 1913, the Holy Office issued a document expressing the Congregation’s satisfaction in adding the name of Mary to the name of Jesus in the indulgenced greeting, “Praised be Jesus and Mary” which is then responded to, “Now and forever.” The document then states: “There are those Christians whose devotion to the most favored among virgins is so tender as to be unable to recall the name of Jesus without the accompanying name of the Mother, our Co-redemptrix, the Blessed Virgin Mary.” (79)

Six months later, the same Holy Office granted a partial indulgence for the recitation of a prayer of reparation to the Blessed Virgin (Vergine benedetta). The prayer ends with the words: “I bless thy holy Name, I praise thine exalted privilege of being truly Mother of God, ever Virgin, conceived without stain of sin, Co-redemptrix of the human race.” (80)

5. Religious Congregations Bearing the Co-redemptrix Name

As was the case with Innocent VIII and the approval of the “Religious of the Immaculate Conception of Mary,” congregations with the Co-redemptrix title have received Church approval. The North Vietnamese religious congregation, “The Congregation of the Mother Co-redemptrix,” which was approved by the local bishop in 1941 and approved by the Holy See in 1953, was forced to relocate to South Vietnam due to Communist persecution, and later expanded to the United States. (81) Presently, a religious congregation of priests and religious found in Italy, Slovakia, Russia, the Netherlands, and several other countries, with the name of “The Family of Mary Co-redemptrix” is rapidly growing in vocations, particularly in Eastern Europe.

6. Private Revelation Stimulating and Confirming the Co-redemptrix Doctrine

As the Revelations of St. Bridget and the apparitions of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Labouré offer stimulation and growth to the Immaculate Conception doctrine, confirmed in the life of the Church, so too has ecclesiastically approved private revelation served to confirm the truth of Mary Co-redemptrix and, specifically, its eventual solemn definition.

From the same Revelations given to St. Bridget of Sweden, Our Lady offers a direct testimony to her role as Co-redemptrix: “My Son and I redeemed the world as with one heart.” (82) Our Lord re-iterates the same truth of the Co-redemptrix doctrine in his own words: “My Mother and I saved man as with one Heart only, I by suffering in my Heart and my Flesh, She by the sorrow and love of Her Heart.” (83) These revelations positively influenced theologians and popes alike for the next three hundred years and were repeatedly referenced by theologians and bishops during the seventeenth century “Golden Age” of Marian Coredemption. (84)

More recently, a number of contemporary Marian apparitions approved by the Church have spoken of the Co-redemptrix role. The apparitions of Our Lady of Akita in Japan (1973), manifest Our Lady’s ongoing coredemptive role in the form of messages and scientifically verified lacrimations. (85) The apparitions received ecclesiastical approbation from the local ordinary, Bishop John Ito (1984). The related apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam (1945-1959), which have been declared of supernatural origin by Bishop Josef Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam (May 31, 2002), contains numerous messages from Our Lady which speak of the roles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, and the eventual solemn definition of these roles. For example, in the message of April 29, 1951:

I stand here as the Co-Redemptrix and Advocate. Everything should be concentrated on that. Repeat this after me; The new Dogma will be the “dogma of the Co-Redemptrix.” Notice I lay special emphasis on “Co.” I have said that it will arouse much controversy. Once again I tell you that the Church, “Rome,” will carry it through and silence all objections. The Church, “Rome,” will incur opposition and overcome it. The Church “Rome,” will become stronger and mightier in proportion to the resistance she puts up in the struggle. My purpose and my commission to you is none other than to urge the Church, the theologians, to wage this battle. For the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit wills to send the Lady, chosen to bear the Redeemer, into this world, as Co-Redemptrix and Advocate.

. . . In the sufferings, both spiritual and bodily, the Lady, the Mother has shared. She has always gone before. As soon as the Father had elected her, she was the Co-Redemptrix with the Redeemer, who came into the world as the Man-God. Tell that to your theologians. I know well, the struggle will be hard and bitter (and then the Lady smiles to herself and seems to gaze into the far distance), but the outcome is already assured. (86)

To be sure, private revelation, even that which is approved by the Church, can never serve as the theological foundation for a Church doctrine or its potential definition. Nevertheless, the history of dogmatic development bears out the fact that “certain supernatural lights which it pleases God to distribute to certain privileged souls,” to use the words of Bl. John XXIII, (87) have sparked and assisted the development of certain doctrines at key historical periods of the Church. Perhaps our best contemporary example is the new ecclesial emphasis on Divine Mercy, which has been directly stimulated through the revelations to St. Faustina Kowalska, and has inspired the Church to the liturgical development of a universal feast of Divine Mercy on the Sunday following Easter Sunday, as well as the doctrinal development on Mercy for our present troubled age as manifested in the 1982 papal encyclical, Dives in Misericordia.

7. Theological Controversy and Mary Co-redemptrix

If history tells us anything about the journey of Marian dogmas, it is that theological controversy and emotionally charged debate will be their constant companions. This is visible in a dramatic way in the seven centuries of battle over the Immaculate Conception, with some of history’s greatest theologians, such as St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, and St. Bonaventure, finding themselves on the opposing side of the eventual dogma. This is also evident in the prior dogmatic proclamation of Mary as the “God-bearer” at Ephesus (431), with the historic confrontations between St. Cyril of Alexandria, Nestorius and their respective followers.

Theological controversy in itself, therefore, should never be used as a legitimate argument for the inappropriateness of a doctrine or its definition, as oftentimes the controversy becomes the very reason why the Bishop of Rome is called to speak definitively and bring peace to the family of the Church upon the necessary foundation of the truth.

The fact that the Papal Magisterium has never deemed it necessary to call for a public prohibition of the discussion of Mary Co-redemptrix due to controversy and its subsequent scandal for the faithful, (88) let alone prohibiting even private discussion as it did for the Immaculate Conception debate, (89) should give a better historical context in which to understand the arguably lesser degree of theological disagreement over Marian Coredemption. This, of course, is due in our own time to the authoritative presentation of the doctrine by the twentieth and twenty-first century Papal Magisterium and the Second Vatican Council. (90)

In light of the clear Church teaching on the doctrine, the hub of debate in the case of Mary Co-redemptrix focuses more upon the question of its potential definition as a dogma of the Faith. This would historically parallel where the Immaculate Conception development was in the first half of the nineteenth century. Now, as then, the Magisterium has settled the question of doctrinal integrity, and the theological discussion is centered around questions of the appropriateness and timeliness of a solemn definition. (91)

What makes a Marian doctrine definable? It is the establishing of its foundation in divine revelation and its organic maturity in that faith, worship, and life dimension of the Church which we call “Tradition.” (92) Both Magisterial and conciliar teachings confirm the foundations of Mary Co-redemptrix in the sources of Revelation. Certainly the other criteria which, at the time, had indicated doctrinal maturity for the Immaculate Conception are likewise present for the doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix (i.e., the liturgical celebration of the role, the unprecedented petitions from the sensus fidelium and hierarchy, the private revelational confirmation, etc.), and do in fact offer evidence for its maturity within the Church’s contemporary living Tradition.

Conclusion

May the Holy Spirit, through the Immaculate Conception, enlighten the Vicar of Christ to receive and act upon Heaven’s perspective of timing and appropriateness, for the solemn definition of the truth of Mary Co-redemptrix, and her subsequent roles as Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for humanity. May this year-long celebration of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Immaculate Conception lead to a greater acknowledgement and praise of her sublime fullness of grace and her historic and continuous coredemption in the hearts of the People of God, and for the salvation of all humanity.

John Paul II has taught us that “Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.” (93) And he has recently re-iterated the truths of the Immaculate Conception and Marian Coredemption in his February 11, 2004 message for the World Day of the Sick:

The keystone of history lies here: with the Immaculate Conception of Mary began the great work of Redemption that was brought to fulfillment in the precious blood of Christ . . . At the foot of the Cross Mary, made Mother of humanity, suffers in silence, participating in her Son’s suffering, ready to intercede so that every person may obtain salvation. (94)

The above presentation was given at the Mariological Symposium held at Washington, D.C., on February 21, 2004, entitled “The Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church: A Theological Symposium in Honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.” The article is available in a printed booklet version from Queenship Publications, 1-800-647-9882 or www.queenship.org.

Notes

(1) H. M. Manteau-Bonamy, O.P., Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Teachings of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Franciscan Marytown Press, 1977, pp. 1, 2, 4.

(2) St. Maximilian Kolbe, Letter from Nagasaki to the Youth of the Franciscan Order, February 28, 1933.

(3) Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit, pp. 63-64.

(4) St. Maximilian, Letter to Father Mikolajczyk, July 28, 1935.

(5) Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, November 21, 1964, 67.

(6) The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

(7) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Universal Lenten Encyclical on the Mother of God and Mother of us All in the Order of Grace, March, 1998.

(8) John Paul II, December 7, 1983 Address, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, December 12, 1983, p. 1.

(9) Cf. Lumen Gentium, 62.

(10) A more technical version of the objection is posed as follows: It appears that Mary cannot participate in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption (commonly deemed objective Redemption) as the Co-redemptrix when she herself needed to be redeemed. If she did participate as Co-redemptrix in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption, it is because without her the obtaining of graces has not been accomplished. But if objective Redemption has not been accomplished, then she cannot personally benefit from it. This would be to accept that objective Redemption is at the same time being accomplished by her, and at the same time has already been accomplished, which would be a contradiction. For extended responses, cf. J. B. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” Mariology, vol. 2, Bruce, 1957; Friethoff, A Complete Mariology, Blackfriars, London, 1985, p. 182; J. Galot, S.J., “Maria: Mediatrice o Madre Universale?,” Civilta Cattolica, 1996, I, pp. 232-244.

(11) Bl. Pius IX, Dogmatic Bull, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.

(12) For an extended treatment, cf. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption”; Friethoff, A Complete Mariology, p. 182; Galot, “Maria: Mediatrice o Madre Universale?,” pp. 232-244.

(13) Galot, “Maria Corredentrice: Controversie e problemi dottrinali,” Civilta Cattolica, 1994, III, p. 218.

(14) Cf. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” p. 418.

(15) For a more comprehensive treatment of the history of the doctrinal development of the Immaculate Conception, cf. G. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria Sanctissima Nella Storia Della Salvezza, vol. 3, pp. 37-219; A. Carr, O.F.M.Conv., G. Williams, O.F.M.Conv., “Mary’s Immaculate Conception,” Mariology, vol. 1, Bruce, 1955, pp. 344-370; A. Robichaud, S.M., “Immaculate Conception in the Magisterium of the Church,” Marian Studies 5, 1954. A majority of citations presented here were located from these extended works.

(16) Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.

(17) St. Ephraem, Sermones exegetici; opere omnia syriace et latine, 2.

(18) St. Ephraem, Carmina nisibena, 27.

(19) St. Ambrose, Expositio in ps. 118, serm. 22, n. 30; PL 15, 1599.

(20) St. Severus, Hom. Cathedralis, 67; PO 8, 350.

(21) St. Sophronius, Orat. in Deiparae Annunt., 25; PG 87, 3246-3247.

(22) St. Andrew of Crete, Hom. 1 in nativ. Deiparae; PG 97, 813-814.

(23) Theognostes, Hom. in dormit. Deiparae; PO 16, 457.

(24) “About Mary, never enough.”

(25) Cf. St. Augustine, Contra Julianum, ch. 15, n. 54; PL 44, 814.

(26) St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Epist. 174, ad canonicos lugdunenses; PL 182, 332-336.

(27) Bl. John Duns Scotus, Opus Oxoniense, lib. 3, dist. 3, p. 1.

(28) St. Thomas Aquinas, In 3 Sent., dist. 3, p. 1, art. 2; id., Summa Theologica, III, 27, 2, ad. 2.

(29) St. Albert the Great, In 3 Sent., dist. 3, art. 5.

(30) St. Bonaventure, In 3 Sent., dist. 3, pars 1, art. 1, q. 2.

(31) J. B. Malou, L’Immaculée Conception de la bienheureuse Vierge Marie considérée comme dogme de foi, vol. 1, Brussels, 1857, p. 131; Cherubinus Sericoli, O.F.M., Immaculata B.M. Virginis Conceptio iuxta Xysti IV Constitutiones, Rome, 1945, pp. 12-13; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 88.

(32) P. Doncoeur, S.J., “Les premières interventions du St. Siège relatives à l’Immaculée Conception, XII-XIV siècles,” Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 8, 1907, p. 700; Le Bachelet, S.J., “Immaculée Conception,” Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Paris, 1903, vol. 7, col. 1101; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 90.

(33) Cf. Pourrat, “Brigitte,” Catholicisme, Paris, vol. 2, 1949, col. 271-272; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 92.

(34) St. Bridget of Sweden, Revelations, bk. 6, ch. 49.

(35) Ibid.

(36) St. Bridget, Revelations, bk. 6, ch. 55; cf. D. Cerri., “Enchiridion auctoritatum super duodecim. . . triumphos B. Mariae Virginis Matris Dei in originale peccatum,” Pareri dell’Episcopato Cattolico . . . sulla definizione dogmatica dell’Immacolato Concepimento della Beata Virgine Maria, Rome, 1852, part 3, vol. 6, 1852, p. 174; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 92.

(37) Le Bachelet, “Immaculée Conception,” col. 1113; Sericoli, Immaculata B.M. Virginis, p. 21; Malou, L’Immaculée Conception, p. 60; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 94.

(38) Sericoli, Immaculata B.M. Virginis, pp. 26, 29.

(39) J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, 32, Paris-Leipzig, 1901, 373-374. For information on Sixtus IV, cf. Sericoli, ibid.

(40) V. Bandelli, Libellus recolectorius auctoritatum de veritate conceptionis B.V. Mariae, Milan, 1475.

(41) Sericoli, Immaculata B.M. Virginis, pp. 31-33.

(42) Sericoli, ibid., p. 80.

(43) Sericoli, ibid.; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 98.

(44) Ibid.

(45) Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum, 374-375.

(46) Sericoli, Immaculata B.M. Virginis, appendix.

(47) Ibid.

(48) Malou, L’Immaculée Conception, pp. 148, 156; C. Passaglia, S.J., De Immaculato Deiparae semper Virginis conceptu, Rome, 1855, vol. 3, pp. 1782-1783; Letter of the Bishop of Málaga, Spain, Pareri, part 1, vol. 3, p. 12; Letter of the Bishop of Toledo, Spain, Pareri, part 1, vol. 3, p. 121; Cerri, “Enchiridion,” pp. 111, 112.

(49) Concilium Trident, sess. 5; DB 792.

(50) Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.

(51) Bullarium Privilegiorum ac Diplomatum Romanorum Pontificium, vol. 4, part 3, p. 429; DB 1073.

(52) St. Pius V, Bull Super speculam, 1570; Bullarium Romanorum, ibid., p. 138.

(53) Bullarium Romanorum, vol. 5, part 4, pp. 209-211.

(54) Paul V, Decree Sanctissimus, September 12, 1617; Bullarium Romanorum, ibid., pp. 234-235.

(55) Cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 113.

(56) Gregory XV, Decree Sanctissimus, June 2, 1622: “Hoc suo praesente decreto. . . extendit et ampliavit etiam ad privata colloquia et scripta, mandans et praecipiens omnibus et singulis supradictis, ne de cetero. . . neque etiam in sermonibus et scriptis privates audeant asserere, quod eadem Beatissima Virgo fuerit concepta cum peccato originali, nec de hac opinione affirmativa aliquo modo agere, seu tractare, exceptis tamen quibus a Sancta Sede Apostolica fuerit super hoc specialiter indultum.” Cf. Bullarium Romanorum, vol. 5, part 5, p. 45.

(57) Ibid. Note: Special exception was made for the private discussion of the issue among the Dominicans in a decree issued one month after Sanctissimus. Cf. Bullarium Romanorum, ibid., p. 46.

(58) For example, in 1627 Pope Urban VIII received a formal request from Philip IV of Spain for its definition; cf. P. Guéranger, “Mémoire sur la question de l’Immaculée Conception . . .” Pareri, part 3, vol. 7, p. 28; Le Bachelet, “Immaculée Conception,” col. 1174; J. Mansella, Il Domma dell’Immacolata Concezione della Beata Virgine Maria, Rome, 1866, vol. 1, p. 218.

(59) Cf. Urban VIII, Cum sicut accepimus, 1639.

(60) Archangelus a Roc, O.F.M.Cap., “Joannes Maria Zamoro ab Udine, O.F.M.Cap., praeclarus mariologus,” Collectanea Franciscana, Rome, 1945-1949, vols. 15-19, p. 117; Le Bachelet, “Immaculée Conception,” col. 1174; cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 118.

(61) Ibid.

(62) Cf. Robichaud, “Immaculate Conception,” p. 120.

(63) Cf. Bullarium Romanorum, vol. 6, part 5, pp. 182-184.

(64) Ibid., vol. 11, part 1, p. 206.

(65) J. Bourassé, Summa aurea de laudibus B.M.V., Paris, 1862, vol. 7, col. 608-612; Pareri, part 3, vol. 6, pp. 574-579.

(66) Cf. Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus; Malou, L’Immaculée Conception, p. 216.

(67) Cf. Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, middle section of the document.

(68) This is confirmed by both Bl. Pius IX and Pius XII in relation to their respective Marian ex cathedra definitions. Cf. Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution of the Solemn Definition of the Assumption, Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950; AAS 42, 1950, p. 754.

(69) J. Dirbin, C.M., St. Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal, Tan, 1958, p. 178; cf. R. Laurentin, Catherine Labouré et la Médaille Miraculeuse, Paris, 1976.

(70) V. Sardi, La solenne definizione del dogma dell’Immacolato Concepimento di Maria SS., Atti e documenti, vol. 2, p. 428.

(71) AAS 1, 1908, p. 409.

(72) Cf. Carol, Fundamentals of Mariology, Benzinger, 1956, p. 107.

(73) Cf. G. M. Besutti, O.S.M., Lo Schema Mariano al Concilio Vaticano II, Edizioni Marianum, 1966, p. 17; cf. M. Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship, 2003, p. 167.

(74) Cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, p. 754-755.

(75) Cf. Ibid.

(76) Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici petition center archives, PO Box 220, Goleta, CA 93116, May, 2003.

(77) Note: These numbers reflect only the last ten years, without including the great number of hierarchical petitions for the dogma prior to 1993; cf. Vox Populi petition archives.

(78) Cf. Vox Populi petition archives.

(79) AAS 5, 1913, p. 364.

(80) AAS 6, 1914, p. 108.

(81) Cf. The Official Catholic Directory, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 2003, p. 1305.

(82) St. Bridget, Revelations, bk. 1, ch. 35.

(83) St. Bridget, Revelations, bk. 9, ch. 3.

(84) Cf. Miravalle, “With Jesus,” pp. 113-124.

(85) Cf. T. Yasuda, S.V.D., “The Message of Mary Coredemptrix at Akita and Its Complementarity with the Dogma Movement,” Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma, Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations III, Queenship, 2000, pp. 235-249; F. Fukushima, Akita: Mother of God as Coredemptrix, Modern Miracles of Holy Eucharist, Queenship, 1997.

(86) The Messages of the Lady of All Nations, Queenship, 1996, April 29, 1951 message, pp. 49-51.

(87) Bl. John XXIII, Close of the Marian Year, Feb. 18, 1959.

(88) St. Pius V, Super speculam; cf. Bullarium Romanorum, vol. 4, part 3, p. 138.

(89) Gregory XV, Sanctissimus; cf. Bullarium Romanorum, vol. 5, part 5, p. 45.

(90) Cf. Miravalle, “With Jesus,” chs. 11-13, pp. 149-208.

(91) Note: Although a lack of knowledge of contemporary papal and conciliar teachings on Marian Coredemption has caused unnecessary debate as to even its doctrinal legitimacy.

(92) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, November 18, 1965, ch. 2.

(93) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, March 11, 1985, p. 7.

(94) John Paul II, “Mary Gives the Answer to Suffering: Jesus,” for the Twelfth World Day of the Sick, February 11, 2004, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, January 21, 2004, p. 7.

Continue Reading

0

For a moment let us consider the first temptation Jesus faced after His baptism. Both Matthew and Luke tell us that it was over bread. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights and, therefore, He was hungry. We can easily picture the scene. The stifling hot desert air, Jesus emaciated and pale, the Tempter whispering, “Go ahead, do it,” while arousing Jesus’ senses even further by faking the aroma of freshly baked bread. Suddenly the stones do seem to be round loaves! Jesus rubs His eyes at the false vision and resolutely utters His rebuke, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (1).

What is going on here is more than meets the eye. The devil is not only suggesting that Jesus satisfy His hunger, but that He should do so in a manner contrary to His creative power. Think about it. Do you ever pop a rock into your mouth, chew on it a bit, and swallow? Of course not, rocks are inedible substances! So to affect the sort of change Satan is proposing—hard stone into soft bread—nothing of the stone can contribute to the inner meaning of the bread, which is food, nourishment. The stone has to totally give way to the bread and hence be annihilated in the process. We might respond, “Who cares?

Look, it’s only a rock,” but Jesus cares. As God, He has assigned a “place”, or nature, to everything He has created. Even a lowly rock has its special niche in the universe: unchanging and solid, it stands for “strength,” “durability,” “reliability.” As such it is even used as a metaphor for God: “I love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Ps 18:1-2).

In this temptation, then, we get a glimpse into Satan’s warped way of thinking. You can almost hear him muttering to himself: “Who does this over-pious Jew think he is? Another annoying prophet like Moses, who also fasted for forty days and forty nights? How obnoxious! Let us put him to the test.” (2). Very cunningly, the devil laces his poisonous attack with the obvious and legitimate need of Jesus’ body for food: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Mt 4:3). The strategic error in such a move seems lost on Satan. If Jesus is merely a man, He is powerless to do what Satan has proposed. On the other hand, if Jesus is truly “the Son of God,” His creative power is unlimited. He can bring forth bread without the aid of any pre-existing material, so why would the cheap thrill of annihilating a stone appeal to Him? But Satan is not worried about such minor details. The point of this temptation—or any temptation, such as the two which follow—is not that Jesus should enjoy a nice meal, or win the adulation of the crowd, or adopt a cozy lifestyle for Himself as Lord of this world, but that, in one way or another, Satan should get what he feasts on: that cheap thrill of destroying something good and beautiful, here not a trifling rock, but the precious sanctifying grace inundating the soul of Jesus. Satan wants Jesus to commit a sin, a mortal sin. Why? So he can exult once again that he, Satan, is “like” God, hence “the Son of God.”

If this latter statement sounds jarring to our Christian ears, it should! But remember, Satan is no Christian, but a murderous liar (Cf. Jn 8:44). As a demon he believes in God, but it avails him nothing as he “shudders” before the face of God’s omnipotent power (Jas 2:19). Though he may accept the fact that a “son” is like his “father,” soon lust for power takes over: if the Father—here God, Master of the universe—is omnipotent and absolutely free, then the Son of God, likewise, is omnipotent and absolutely free. But if the Son is to be truly “absolutely free”, then He needs to be independent of the Father, independent of any constraints, such as a Truth which imparts meaning and order in the universe. Therefore, Sonship is not proved by living in intimate union with the Father, drawing one’s life from the Him, but by asserting oneself against and above the Father, who is viewed as a rival for power and freedom. If the Father creates, that is brings forth something good, let the Son of God prove Himself by “uncreating”, or destroying that good. And if that corrupted good can be in another person who accepts his lies, all the better! For then he, Satan, will have his own “son” breathing forth his “spirit” of rebellion, making him an even better rival of the God he so hates. What a perverted sense of divine filiation! “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! … You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high … I will ascend above the
heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High’” (Is 14:12-14).

Now we can grasp the deeper significance of Jesus’ rebuke. He, as the Incarnate Word, is rejecting a chaotic world view centered on an extreme egotism and opening for us the path to true likeness to God: faith. It is by taking in the Word of God, “chewing” on it, freely adhering to the truth it reveals, that one comes to life—an abundant life, eternal life. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the gift of the Eucharist. God’s Word is spoken—and through a miracle, and not some kind of magic trick—one substance is fully changed into another. The bread is “sacrificed”, yet does not lose its inner meaning and hence the “accidents” are left in place for our senses to see, touch and taste. It does not become less of a food, but a far more exalted kind of “bread”: the Sacred Body of Christ! It is not annihilated, but ennobled to the highest! And so all becomes united in one act of divine love—Christ, His Mystical Body and the good things of the earth which God has created for our nourishment and well-being.

It’s easy to see that stones and bread are two different substances. It’s harder to grasp a more subtle distinction such as that which exists between the two sexes of the human race. We may even question if such differences are important. Are not both men and women created in the image and likeness of God? Are they not, therefore, equal in dignity? It only seems just to promote equality between men and women in every sphere of human endeavor, and all the more
so because of a “second-rate,” or derogatory, attitude towards women which still persists in many cultures today. But unless such efforts are grounded in a proper theological perspective, they will not be very successful. For example, I have sometimes heard it said in a sermon that God, if He wanted to, could have become incarnate as a woman instead of as a man. Sounds good—isn’t God omnipotent? And what the priest is trying to say is commendable: “Ladies, you
are of equal value to any man.” But think about it. What message is he really conveying? “Ladies, look, there was a fifty-fifty chance that your sex would be selected for the Incarnation. However, you lost out to a guy. Too bad!” It’s something like flipping a coin—it could have gone either way—and guess which half of the human race lucked out? We are back to a chaotic world view, to an arbitrary choice not based on any particular reason … which makes God
what? A Father to be loved? Or a Master to be feared?

Here it could be argued that since sin entered the world through Adam, who was a man, it was necessary that a Redeemer also be a man. Of course, if—as popular opinion has it—there is no real distinction between masculinity and femininity, it’s just a matter of social conditioning or whatever, this argument doesn’t hold up. Once again, it could have gone either way and, for who knows what reason, it just happened that God decided to come as a man. But supposing there is such a distinction, where was our first father when the Serpent came along with his dirty tricks? Rolling up his sleeves to kick the Fiend out of the garden? Hardly that. He didn’t say boo. It was the woman who took the initiative. She did the talking. She ate the fruit, and only then, after she handed it to her husband, did he partake of it. In terms of the harm done by Eve’s actions, wouldn’t it make more sense for God come as a woman, the better to repair what went wrong? Once again we are left in the dark. From the Book of Genesis (Gen 3:1-6) it certainly appears that sin, hence death, entered into the world through the actions of a woman, but St. Paul, in the equally inspired Letter to the Romans (Rom 5:12-19) sure
thinks it was through a man. Try to figure that one out!

Could God have assumed a woman’s body at the Incarnation, so that our Redeemer would have been a “she” instead of a “he”? Recall how Jesus refused to turn stones into bread. For a similar reason, I believe God would never have thought of coming as a woman. For, if He had done so, femininity would have been annihilated instead of ennobled, robbed of its inner meaning, its mission, its “place.” How could such a destructive act save us? Remember: it is a woman daring to make such a politically incorrect statement! But it is what I truly think.

Yes, we are so accustomed to speaking in terms of “the Incarnation,” that we can forget how stupendous an act it is. Not only did God, while remaining God, become “man”, a human being like us, but He did so without overpowering us in any way, without any kind of violence or show of force. We remain what we are—human beings—yet are elevated by the grace of Christ to a new existence, participating in the very life and nature of God, so much so that Saint Paul
speaks of a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). Or, as he elsewhere puts it, we become the adopted “sons” of God (Rom 8:14-17).

But, as pointed out earlier, sonship can be taken in a radically wrong way, as a rival power to the Father, instead of a gift freely bestowed upon a creature by its Creator. To the notion of “sonship” then, God wisely added a second image for us to ponder: that of “woman.” Whereas a male human body speaks of “transcendence”—witness the creation of Adam and how he was somehow different or “above” the other creatures (Gen 2:19,20)—the female human body speaks of interpersonal relationships, of love. Simply put, in terms of our bodily fruitfulness, a man is always in a negative mode: he has no womb, no physical organ to “receive” something from another. He may initiate life in another, father a child, but this is something “accidental” to his nature. But a woman is just the opposite: her body has the capacity to receive from another, to nourish the new life conceived within her womb, and to bring to birth another human being. And although this, too, is something “accidental” to her nature—a woman is a woman whether or not she physically becomes a mother—still, it is something which profoundly marks her being. As a “woman,” ontologically different from a man (3), her being is always orientated towards life and love. The capacity to welcome the “other” doesn’t go away just because she is not blessed with motherhood.

Accordingly, although Scripture acknowledges God’s merciful love for us is “like” that of a mother for her child—tender and compassionate—still, it does not refer to God as “Mother,” but as “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15). God is like a human father, if we can reverse our usual way of putting things (4), in that

He never “receives” anything—however we want to think of it: life, existence, power—from another. God is the Transcendent One, who simple “is.” As such, He is eternally and infinitely happy in Himself, not needing anything or anyone else. So when He “fathers” creation, again, like a human father, this is an act “accidental” to His nature. He may initiate life “outside” of Himself (although all is held within His creative power), but His true glory is within, in the interpersonal relationships which form the Trinity. As we now know, thanks to the revelation given to us by Jesus, God is One, yet Three—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and these immanent relationships are always there, as the very nature of God.

So when Scripture calls us the adopted “sons” of God, it is saying something very important. A son comes from his father, and so shares in the life and nature of his father, in this sense a son is “like” his father. A son is very different from a slave, who merely works for his master, and this often under constraint or fear of punishment. For a son knows the love and care of his father, and is called to reverentially return that love as a matter of justice.

But if, as adopted sons, we are to render back to God the love and respect owed to Him, we have to remember our place in the scheme of things—that although we are like God, the likeness to God is not perfect, and can never be so. Between the Uncreated and the created remains an infinite gap which not even grace can bridge (5). Here feminine language becomes crucial. We may be “sons,” but we participate in the life and nature of God only as something
“accidental” to our nature. The human soul is mystically feminine, or like a “woman.” By this I mean our rational being has the capacity to receive, as a seed of glory, the gift of sanctifying grace, a supernatural reality, something “outside” of human nature, and “to bring to birth” a “child of God,” something also “outside” of human nature, a supernatural life (6). The process requires the interior “nurturing” of grace, its intensification through
continuous cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Yet once raised to the dignity of a “son,” now imaging the Father, one can truly “mother” God’s life within, one can put into act virtuous deeds and so merit eternal life.

Yet note: while an adopted son is like a woman, and God’s merciful love for us is truly like that of a mother’s—yes, even more compassionate than that of any mother’s—God is not like an adopted son. God never receives from another, higher “being,” or brings forth something “higher” than Himself. God always initiates. And we always receive, for we have no power to bring about our own existence, never mind entering into the life and nature of God without His help. In this relationship brought about by sheer gift—grace—God has His place and we have our place, and the two roles absolutely cannot be interchanged. True, the human nature of Jesus is inundated with grace, and grace remains something “outside” of human nature. But the source of that grace is His own divine Person—He “fathers” Himself in holiness. Here is a profound mystery, but one which does no violence to reason. Just as the first Person of the Trinity, God the Father, is the source of His own life, so Jesus, “the first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15), is the source of His own graced state as
man. And so it is most fitting that He take unto Himself a male body, one which speaks of “transcendence,” for He is uniquely above all other creatures, mystically the “Bridegroom,” true God and true man.

To understand this better, consider for a moment how, within the Trinity itself, the Second Person, the Word or Son, can be “what” the Father is—God—but not “who” the Father is. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit can be “what” the Father and the Son both are—God—but not “who” the Father is or “who” the Son is. Carrying this thought further, we, too, can be “what” God is, in a participation sense of course, as divinized creatures (7), but we cannot be “who”
God is—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God can be “what” we are—a human being, as the Incarnation demonstrates—but He cannot be “who” we are, or created persons. Persons can be of the same nature, or at least participate in the same nature, but no one person can take the “place” of another person. Each person’s place is unique, in the interpersonal relationships which mark both the Trinity and us, and I dare say the angels as well.

So what would a Fifth Marian Dogma consist of, if not in some way defining Mary’s unique place in God’s plan of salvation, which is to say the depths of her person, represented by her Immaculate Heart? It would complete our understanding of “who” she really is in the eyes of God, and thus would give glory to the One who created her, through the Son who redeemed her, and in the Holy Spirit who has continually sanctified her, starting from the very first
moment of her earthly existence.

Who is Mary in God’s plan of salvation? Saint Maximillian Kolbe certainly pushed in the direction of answering this question with his theological reflections on Mary’s words at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception” (8). That is a part of the answer, an important part of it, but not the whole. Let us try to discover more fully “who” Mary is in the light of the four Marian Dogmas already proclaimed by the Church.

Who is Mary to Jesus? She is His natural mother, yet the mother of a Divine Person who has both a divine and human nature. Therefore, she is truly the “Mother of God,” and from this great dignity flows all her other privileges and responsibilities (9).

Who is Mary to the Eternal Father? She is the ever-virginal Mother of His Son, and hence the created person who most images Him in His great glory of bringing forth another divine Person (10). For remember—the Father generates His Word in a wholly interior, or virginal, way. Mary does the same—she brings the Word to birth, both in her flesh and through her unwavering faith—but in a wholly feminine way, as a sheer gift of grace.

Who is Mary to the Holy Spirit? She is His ever-virginal, yet most fruitful and beloved, Spouse. Redeemed in a more exalted fashion by her Son, she is consecrated, or betrothed, to the Holy Spirit from the very first moment of her earthly existence. Thus escaping the stain of original sin, she is able to freely consent to the consummation of this marriage at the Annunciation. Here is a unique union between God and a creature. And a spiritual femininity brought to the fullest possible actuation, because it is constantly nourished by the love of God, with the Holy Spirit freely bestowing His graces, and Mary freely cooperating with each and every one of these graces. Thus she is not only conceived without sin, but preserved entirely from any form of rebellion against her Heavenly Father (the original sin of Satan) and so can identify herself as “the Immaculate Conception.” She is the perfect adopted “son,” a feminine image of the natural Son, and the Holy Spirit’s mission of sanctifying souls begins in a most perfect way, even before the Redemption
takes place in human time, because nothing is impossible for God.

Who is Mary to the angels? Angels don’t beget children; they don’t think in terms of “family,” but of “hierarchy,” with each angel a unique species unto himself (11). Mary is the Mother of their Lord and King, Jesus Christ, and so she, naturally, is their Queen (12). Assumed body and soul into heaven, she has conquered Satan and the death he introduced into the world. She is the victorious Sign they rally around and are pleased to serve. She is the loveliest creature God ever created, and accordingly, they especially love, venerate and admire her!

But who is Mary to us? We know the answer: she is our Mother, too, “in the order of grace” (13). But what does this mean? Mother-child is a person to person relationship for us human beings. Furthermore, as human persons we have bodies as well as rational souls. Is Mary merely a mother-like figure for us? Or is she our “Mother” in a much more profound sense of the word? This is what a fifth Marian Dogma, defining her role as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate would clarify.

Who is Mary to us? Let us backtrack to “the beginning.” What was the offense the Redemption sought to remedy? We speak of it as a “fall.” What does the term “fall” imply? That somehow we ended up in a “place” different from where we started from. We also speak of it as the “original sin,” although the first to commit such a murderous rebellion against God was an evil Serpent (Satan), the very one Adam and Eve chose to listen to and obey. He thought up the lie and they swallowed it. He fathered them in evil and they cooperated with the ugly seed of rebellion he fostered within them (14). The result was a rupture of interpersonal relationships as Adam and Eve sought to supplant the Father’s place and be the source of their own well-being and happiness. They wanted to be “like God” in the wrong sense of adopted sonship, as a rival power to their Creator, well able to decide for themselves what was good and what was bad (15). And so a tension was introduced between masculinity and femininity: they also became rivals to each other, subject to attempts to control and manipulate each other. Lust entered into our human nature (16).

Another way of putting it is this: God cast Adam into a deep sleep and from his side removed a rib, into which God fashioned Eve, the “woman” who was to be the “Mother of the Living.” They were two persons united in “one flesh”, united as husband and wife by God Himself. When Adam fell into a different sort of sleep—neglecting to “keep watch” (1 Pet 5:8) over the interior garden of his soul—from his side, his hardened heart, came a different sort of woman, the
“harlot” (17), bringing death to all mankind. What a disaster!

What is death? Whether we think of it in spiritual or bodily terms, it means the diminishment of a person. We are rational creatures, so to sin, to go against right reason, wounds both our intellect and will! We become “beastly” in our thoughts and actions, and without the right ordering of our lives, our interpersonal relationships go downhill. We end up using others (a form of prostitution), instead of loving them in themselves, as persons. And when the body and soul separate at natural death, then we are no longer fully persons. True, the soul of the person is immortal and continues to exist, but there is no longer a human person, only the soul of a human person. Yes, what a disaster!

The redemption is the overcoming of death and its sting. When Jesus dies upon the cross for our salvation, He freely bestows His Body and Blood to us, thus fulfilling His role as Bridegroom. At the same time, even though His Body and Soul separate—He truly dies in that sense—His Person remains untouched, for He is a Divine Person and not a human person. Death certainly meets its match!

But what is the point of all this? Why defeat spiritual and physical death? It is not to satisfy a blood-thirsty God, who demands a pound of flesh to pay for all our offenses. Rather, it is to restore interpersonal relationships to their right ordering, to save “the lost” by making them once again God’s beloved adopted sons.

Yet even though Jesus, as the New Adam, wants to “father” our humanity in holiness, He does not want to take the Father’s place when doing so. Remember, attempting to supplant the Father was the very thing which got us into such a mess in the first place! And so enter the role of the “Woman” (Jn 2:4; 19:26). Feminine to the core of her being, Mary never takes the Father’s place. Her role as Mother of the Redeemer enables Jesus to be clearly identified
as the “Son,” so He never takes the Father’s place either. And Saint Joseph, even though head of this Holy Family, is united to Jesus only through his virginal marriage bond with Mary. So he doesn’t take the Father’s place either, as he clearly contributed nothing to the conception of Jesus. How much there is here to ponder!

As the New Eve, then, Mary is the first person redeemed by Jesus. She comes directly from His wounded side at her Immaculate Conception, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, inseparably united to Him by God, the Holy Spirit. She is the seed of the Church as “Bride,” and from her virginal body will come the whole Mystical Body of Christ (18). For in giving birth to the Head of the Body, she also gives birth to all the members of that same body (19). And so she
is also inseparably united with all of us. As Scripture states: “There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).

And this is the importance of her Immaculate Conception: redeemed in so exalted a fashion, she is indispensable for the marriage covenant between the Lamb of God and His Bride, the Church, which is at the heart of all our Liturgical celebrations (Cf. Rev 19:7). This marriage was able to take place at a specific historical moment only because of the existence of a Bridegroom and a Bride who consented to belong wholly to each other, Jesus to Mary and Mary
to Jesus. You can’t have a wedding unless there are two persons—a male and a female—who give themselves this way. So rather than posing some kind of obstacle we have to climb over in order to reach Jesus, Mary is the “finger” by which the whole Church “touches” all the mysteries of Our Lord’s earthly life, beginning with the Annunciation and ending with His glorious Ascension into heaven (20). Mary was personally there. Through her who is the Bride in
seed form, with all the potential for growing into a mighty communion of all the redeemed, the rest of us, in a hidden fashion—mystically—were made present as well. And because Mary was always present there in a sinless state, without the slightest self-seeking or imperfection, no obstacles were constructed to Our Lord now touching us through her. All the graces Jesus merited for us, day by day, culminating in the supreme act of offering His life on the Cross, He
graciously bestowed on His Beloved Church for our sanctification. And guess who was personally there at the time to “catch” all these graces and pass them onto us for our sanctification? Our loving Mother, Mediatrix of all graces. As I said, she is the seed of Mother Church, and cannot be separated from the rest of us. And so the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride affected a profound, supernatural communion of persons in one flesh, a family of adopted sons. And that’s the redemption, when we find our place again, “who” we are!

Mary’s Immaculate Conception also makes her, de facto, the Coredemptrix (21). By God’s favor, she is created as “full of grace.” Therefore, from the moment she exists as a person, she is spiritually united to the Redeemer, in a state disposed to continually cooperate with Him, of living in complete harmony with Him and His wishes. If this is true in many little ways during the hidden years at Nazareth, it is all the more so when Jesus begins His greatest work of redeeming us. The only way she cannot end up being the Coredemptrix at the foot of the cross, therefore, is if she leaves this state by
committing some kind of sin, be it big or small. For only then would she cease to be united to Him, and hence united to all His actions, in her complementary role as “Woman.” But the Tradition of the Church has always held that Mary is sinless, and private revelation too speaks of entrusting ourselves with confidence to her “Immaculate Heart.” The depth of her person is sinless, or immaculately pure, and so trustworthy and good.

But we can think of “sinless” in too negative a way, that it only means Mary didn’t do anything bad. While this is true—she didn’t “know” evil through any personal experience of it—her sinless state was actually something wholly positive. Which is to say, in the eyes of God, she always did everything right! She was always acting in a most virtuous manner, a self-sacrificing manner, a holy manner. Rightly she is called the Mother of God!

And since Mary is now in heaven as the Immaculate Conception—this most beautiful, loving and sinless person—she continues in her role of uniting us to her Son, but as He Himself now exists, in a heavenly state at the right hand of the Father. She can do this because she, too, is at the right hand of the Father as His beloved Daughter. And so, she is the seed of the Church Triumphant, even as she once was the seed of the Church Militant while on earth, always preceding the rest of us on the journey of faith (22), a “gracious Advocate” (23), pleading for us with her Son, and then pleading with us as our Mother (24), so that one day we, as her dear children, might join her in heaven.

So who is Mary to us? She is our Mother in the sacramental order of grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a personal mother to each one of us: the Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate of all humanity, for all human beings are potential members of Christ’s Mystical Body. It’s as simple as that!

Why do we shy away, then, from acknowledging Mary’s place? Is it not because we are thinking too small? Remember what Our Lord once said to Saint Peter when the latter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross, “Get behind me Satan!” (Mt 16:23). Poor, bumbling Peter we might think. No sooner has he made his profession of faith and received the keys to the kingdom of God then he messes up things royally and is therefore rebuked by Jesus. What’s going
on here? Jesus was trying to explain to Peter the full implications of that Messianic title, “Christ,” which Peter had just acknowledged. But Peter was stuck in an all too human mode of thinking, a fallen human way of seeing things, one centered on the ego, the “I.” Isolated from any other considerations, is suffering a good thing for an individual? Of course not. It’s bad. But Jesus, as God, could see the big picture, all the wisdom and power behind the cross (Cf. 1 Cor 1:23,24) which would bring about our salvation. In Jesus’ eyes, even though the cross meant an excruciating suffering, it was still a good thing, because He loved both His Father and us so much.

But if we reject Mary’s role as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, are we not in the same boat (no pun intended) as Saint Peter? After years of theological reflection, in which the Church has finally “got it,” that is flushed out Jesus’ unique place as Redeemer, are we still thinking in an all too human manner, not wanting to see the deeper implications of what it means to be the New Adam?

Why is Mary the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate? We can propose various reasons, which all seem very fitting, but in the end the bottom line is this: because God thought it was a good idea to create a Woman to be the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate! Remember, Mary didn’t volunteer for the job, the initiative was all from God: He chose Mary, He created Mary, He gave her this mission, this “place” within the Mystical Body of Christ, and He gave her the
grace to wholeheartedly and freely accept it (25). And if God thinks it is a good idea to have such a marvelous Women, who are we to tell Him that it is a bad idea? The old Adam is at work here: “It’s all about me!” We get hung up, then, on all the “children” such radical self-seeking bears, starting with its first-born, insecurity, “There might not be enough for me.” And then all the related power-plays of jealousy, envy, rivalry, manipulation, fighting to be in control, who’s number one? Because only “number one” counts! So it just doesn’t seem right to think a second person could contribute something to our redemption. We don’t understand it and we don’t like it. For it seems to put a woman on an equal footing with Jesus, to somehow deprive Him of His glory, calling into question His very power to save us. Get stuck with a Coredemptrix to share the limelight? “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you”
(Mt 16:22).

So, although trying to do Our Lord a favor, we end up with a diminished view of His power and freedom, which means we have a diminished view of His transcendence, therefore of His divine Person. And since the Son is the perfect image of the Father, we also end up with a diminished view of our Heavenly Father’s transcendence, of His divine Person as Head of all things, Uncreated and uncreated. In a sense we “kill,” or sever, the very loving relationship God wants to have with us! So we become “lost,” no longer knowing “who” we are meant to be, the children of God, because we no longer believe in “who” God is—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—a utterly divine, most holy and perfect Family.

And it’s all because that ugly self-centered seed, planted in our human nature by the Serpent’s cunning, has not yet been fully crushed out of our system. Freedom, we reason, is all about me. My needs. My wants. My whims. My choice. My body. My whatever! Freedom, we reason, means unlimited possibilities, hence a strong independence from personal relationships and commitments. For example, why be tied down for the rest of your life with a spouse and children, with all the worries and cares of family life, and thus limit your freedom? But God sees things differently. In God there is no potential—only pure act. His freedom does not lie in unlimited, tantalizing possibilities, but in unlimited personal choices definitively made in His eternal Now. In one simple eternal gaze of His intellect, He knows all that He will choose to do or choose not to do. In one unchanging, all powerful act of love, He embraces all that He sees. Nothing is left unseen or undone, because He is the One who simply “is.” And because there is only one Head determining what is good and what is bad, all is in harmony, all is woven perfectly together like a seamless garment, so who can tell which consideration comes first? The depths of God is known only to God (1 Cor 2:10,11). And because the One is Three Persons, freedom is never about “me alone,” but about “us.” At its very source, freedom is a communitarian reality (26).

Why is such a Dogma needed today? Think about it. If God decides that we are to be social creatures, finding ourselves only through self-sacrificing interpersonal relationships, who are we to say that’s a bad idea? That money, pleasure, all kinds of gadgets and stuff, a career, freedom to roam around—all the tinsel of “the world”—would be a better choice? If God decides that the natural sacrament of marriage should be between one man and one woman in a life-long commitment, who are we to emphatically declare, “It ain’t so!” and demand, in the name of freedom, that homosexual unions, polygamy, adultery, divorce, fornication should equally be allowed? If God decides that a child, conceived in the womb of his or her mother, after a personal and intimate act of love between husband and wife, will be a tremendous blessing for the whole human race, raising creatures to the dignity of co-creators with God, who are we to stubbornly scorn such a blessing, and push instead for artificial contraception, abortion, test-tube babies, embryonic cell research and cloning?

Yes, who do we think we are? The times are clearly marked by a huge social attempt to take the Father’s place, to decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad: the original sin is still with us! And instead of harmony, there is only degeneration of family life, the rebellion of nature in all sorts of disasters, and endless fighting and bickering, be it on a large or small scale.

The antidote to this horrible satanic dissonance, heaven reassures us, is the proclamation of a Fifth Marian Dogma. And who are we to suggest a different
cure?

Notes

  1. Mt 4:4. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotes are from the RVS, 1966 edition.
  1. Cf. Wis 2:12, New American Bible, 1970 ed.
  1. “Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only
    through the duality of the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’ that the ‘human’ finds full realization” (Blessed John Paul II, 1995 Letter to Women, #7).
  1. “God speaks in human language, using human concepts and images. If this manner of expressing himself is characterized by certain anthropomorphism,
    the reason is that man is ‘like’ God: created in his image and likeness. But then, God too is in some measure ‘like man,’ and precisely because of
    this likeness, he can be humanly known” (Blessed John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, #8).
  1. “While man’s ‘likeness’ is true, the ‘non-likeness’ which separates the whole of creation from the Creator is still more essentially true. Although
    man is created in God’s likeness, God does not cease to be for him the one ‘who dwells in unapproachable light’ (1 Tim 6:16): he is the ‘Different
    One,’ by essence the ‘totally Other’” (Mulieris Dignitatem, #8).
  1. “It is well to recall that sanctifying grace is the ‘seed of God,’ (Cf. 1 Jn 3:9) which engenders us and makes us live a new life, the participated
    divine life by which we are called, and are, sons of God.” – Antonio Royo, O.P. and Jordan Aumann, O.P., The Theology of Christian Perfection (Dubuque, Iowa: Priory P, 1962) 48.
  1. “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #460, quoting Saint Athanasius).
  1. Fr. H. M. Manteau-Bonamy, O.P., Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit, the Marian Teachings of Father Kolbe (Kenosha,WI: Franciscan
    Marytown P, 1977) 1-10.
  1. “Thus, the description ‘Mother of God’, so deeply bound up with the Christmas festivities, is therefore the fundamental name with which the
    Community of Believers has always honored the Blessed Virgin. It clearly explains Mary’s mission in salvation history. All other titles attributed
    to Our Lady are based on her vocation to be the Mother of the Redeemer, the human creature chosen by God to bring about the plan of salvation … The
    unique and unrepeatable position that Mary occupies in the Community of Believers also stems from her fundamental vocation to being Mother of the
    Redeemer” (Benedict XVI, General Audience of January 2, 2008 – as published in L’Osservatore Romano, N.2 – 9 January 2008).
  1. “The miraculous manner of his human conception and birth—of a Virgin Mother without a father—is a kind of mirror image of his divine and eternal
    generation—by the heavenly Father without a mother” – John Saward, Redeemer in the Womb (San Francisco: Ignatius P, 1993) 151.
  1. “Every Angel is specifically different from the other as one species differs from another … each Angel is a species all in himself!” – Fr. Paul
    O’Sullivan, O.P., All About the Angels (Rockford, IL: Tan Books, 1990) 28.
  1. “Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #331).
  1. “In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity to the work of the Savior in giving back supernatural life
    to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, #61).
  1. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among
    the wheat, and went away” (Mt 13:24-25).
  1. “In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his
    creaturely status and therefore against his own good” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #398).
  1. “The biblical description in the Book of Genesis outlines the truth about the consequences of man’s sin, as it is shown by the disturbance of the
    original relationship between man and woman which corresponds to their individual dignity as persons … we discover a break and a constant threat” ( Mulieris Dignitatem, #10).
  1. “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names … holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the
    impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and of earth’s
    abominations’” (Rev 17:3-5).
  1. “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the
    ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large
    branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade” (Mk 4:30-32).
  1. “According to the explanation of some of the Fathers, the first man born of Mary is the God-man, Jesus Christ. The second is simply man, child of
    God and Mary by adoption. If Jesus Christ, the head of mankind, is born of her, the predestinate, who are members of this head, must also as a
    necessary consequence be born of her” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #32).
  1. The “finger of God” is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit, another similarity between the Holy Spirit and Mary (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, #700).
  1. “Because Mary is Coredemptrix, She is also Mediatrix, She is also Advocate; not only because She is the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, but – and
    mark this well – because She is the Immaculate Conception” (message of Our Lady of All Nations of 4-4-1954).
  1. “Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as ‘the Bride without spot or wrinkle. This is why the ‘Marian’ dimension of
    the Church precedes the ‘Petrine’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #773).
  1. From the Salve Regina: “Turn then, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us …”
  1. Think of Our Lady’s many apparitions and locutions. She reveals that she is always praying to her Son on our behalf. But at the same time, she
    always calls us to conversion, to prayer, to the sacraments, to works of mercy. In this latter case she is advocating for Her Son, begging us to
    listen to Him: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5)!
  1. “Miriam or Mary became the Handmaid of the Lord, chosen by the Father and the Holy Spirit. From the beginning She was, in virtue of this selection,
    the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate of all nations” (message of Our Lady of All Nations of 5-10-1952).
  1. “There is no freedom in being against the other. If I absolutize myself, I become the other’s enemy, we can no longer coexist on earth and the
    whole of life becomes cruelty and failure. Only a shared freedom is human freedom; in being together we can enter the symphony of freedom”
    (Benedict XVI’s “Lectio Divina” on Paul’s Letter to Galatians, as published on Zenit: 2009-02-23).

Continue Reading

0

I. Human Co-redeeming with the Divine Redeemer?
“The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.” 1 There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).” “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2.1).

Jesus is our divine Redeemer, our divine Mediator, our divine Advocate.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of the fundamental Christian mystery of Redemption: “God’s saving plan was accomplished “once for all” (Heb. 9:26) by the redemptive death of his son, Jesus Christ” 2…The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28), that is, he [loved] his own to the end” (Jn. 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers” (1 Pet 1:18). 3

But what of humanity? Is the human person, created, finite, and fallen, in any way able to share, to participate, to co-operate in the sublime mystery of Redemption accomplished by the divine Redeemer? Has the divine Redeemer, in yet a further manifestation of his infinite mercy and generosity, beyond the Redemption itself, granted to the human individual the capacity to actually participate in the divine activity of saving other human beings?
The answer found in Christian revelation to this question is “yes.”  The human person can actually play a significant role in the salvation of other human persons, but only through a free and active cooperation with the Divine Redeemer himself.

St. Paul speaks of the Christian imperative to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his Body, which is the Church” (Col 1:24). The First Letter to the Corinthians identifies Christians as “co-workers with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). When Christians participate in the divine life of Jesus by becoming “partakers in the divine nature” through baptism (2 Pet. 1:4), and “co-heirs” with Christ in grace (Rom. 8:17), they become capable of participating in the divine activity of the Redeemer, as “co-redeemers of humanity together with Christ” (to quote the repeated expression of Bl. John Paul II). 4 The more a human person shares in the divine life of Jesus, the more he or she can fruitfully participate in the redemptive work of Jesus.

St. Augustine tells us that “God created us without us, but he did not will to save us without us.” 5  Not only must we freely cooperate with Jesus for our own salvation, but he has willed to dignify human freedom even further by allowing us the capacity to cooperate in the salvation of others.  Such is the generosity of the Heart of Christ, who seeks to include his beloved disciples in the greatest of his divine acts, which is precisely human redemption.

Blessed John Paul II provides a commentary on St. Paul’s classic text of Col. 1:24 which continues the papal teaching 6that man indeed is called to participate with and under Jesus in the work of Redemption:

For, whoever suffers in union with Christ…not only receives from Christ that strength already referred to, but also “completes” by his suffering “what is lacking” in Christ’s afflictions. This evangelical outlook especially highlights the truth concerning the creative character of suffering. The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world’s redemption.  This good is in itself 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 Redemption accomplished 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. 7

The redemptive graces obtained by Jesus Christ on Calvary are infinite and exhaustible, and are in no way intrinsically “lacking.”  Yet, the Redeemer has given humankind, particularly through membership in his Mystical Body (cf. 1 Cor. 12, 27; Rom. 12:4), the ability to participate in the release of a portion of those infinite graces.  Thereby we as creatures who “live in Christ” (cf. Gal, 2:20) perform a true, though entirely dependent role with Jesus, in the distribution and consequent reception of the saving graces of Christ for the personal, subjective redemption of others. 8

Lumen Gentium instructs that the secondary and subordinate participation in the one mediation of Christ in no way diminishes the glory of Christ the one mediator, but, on the contrary manifests the glory of the one Mediator himself (cf. LG 60, 61, 62). As Redemption is a dimension of the one mediation of Christ, the same principle applies to secondary and subordinate participation in the one Redemption of Jesus Christ.  Human co-redeemers in Christ, far from competing with or obscuring the dignity of the one divine Redeemer, manifest his glory as it mysteriously leads to a new distribution of the fruits of Redemption merited by Christ at Calvary.  The more humans participate in the one Redemption of Jesus, the more his infinite sacrifice becomes manifested and supernaturally fruitful as it is received by human hearts.

Pope Benedict XVI furthers the teaching on  “Christian coredemption 9” or humanity’s secondary and subordinate participation in the redeeming work of Christ. On May 13, 2011 during his papal pilgrimage to Fatima, the Holy Father instructed the sick present to become “redeemers in the Redeemer” and through this means to participate in the “redemption of the whole world”:

Dear friends who are sick…entrust to [Jesus] every setback and pain that you face, so that they may become – according to his design – a means of redemption for the whole world.  You will be redeemers with the Redeemer… 10
When married couples bring children into the world, they “co-create” with the Father.  When bishops and priests administer the sacraments to the faithful, they “co-sanctify” with the Holy Spirit.  We co-create with the Father.  We co-sanctify with the Spirit.  We are likewise called to “co-redeem” with the Son.
While confirming the truth of Christian participation in the one sacrifice of Christ and its consequent mission of Redemption, the Catechism goes on to make clear that one human person participated in this mystery of Redemption like no other:

The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, “the one mediator between God and man.” But 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. He calls his disciples to take up [their] cross and follow [him], for “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example so we should follow his steps.” In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be his 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

II. If We, Then Mary

If all Christians can rightly be called “co-redeemers” 12 with Christ then clearly Mary, Mother of Jesus and his greatest disciple, can also be referred to as a “co-redeemer” with Jesus. But can this title, or its more Latinized and feminized version as “Co-redemptrix” (etymologically, “woman with the redeemer” or “she who redeems with”) pertain to the Mother of Jesus in a special, unique manner among the People of God?

The Papal Magisterium and the Second Vatican Council answer “yes.”  In virtue of her Immaculate Conception (cf. Gen. 3:15, Lk. 1:28), her unequalled participation in the redemptive Incarnation as Mother of God (Lk. 1:38, Lk. 2:7), and her intimate and immaculate co-suffering with Jesus throughout his life (cf. Lk. 2:35), leading up to and culminating at Calvary (cf. Jn. 19:25-27), Mary cooperated in the historic act of Christ’s Redemption like no other.  Bl. John Paul explains:

Mary’s co-operation is unique and unrepeatable…The cooperation of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread through prayer and sacrifice.  Mary, instead, co-operated 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. 13

The instruction of the Totus Tuus pontiff is in complete harmony with the Second Vatican Council, where the Fathers isolate and accentuate Mary’s participation in the Redemption as a co-working with Christ which is “above all others” and “in a wholly singular way”:

…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, and shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperatd by her 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 (LG 61).

In order to appreciate this, Mary’s crucial role in Redemption, we must return to the intense unity between the Son and his Mother. From her and from her alone, He took his flesh in the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ could then redeem humanity and transform it into a higher state of being, because Mary offered Him a humanity in its most pure, immaculate form.
The creation of Mary as the Immaculate Conception and her subsequent ‘yes’ to God, by grace and her own free will, which sustained her fullness of grace, preceded and made possible the redemptive work of Christ. Therefore, the work of Mary is also redemptive, even in anticipation of the Redeemer, but in a distinctly human way.

But her cooperation did not end with the Incarnation. She endured the entire life mission-vocation of Redemption with her Son, from before his birth until after his agonizing death, with each suffering of her Son in heart and body having been experienced within her own maternal heart (cf. LG 58).

The Council speaks of this life-long participation of the Mother in the work of the Son: “The work of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception until his death” (LG 57). The Council Fathers further testify in powerful expressions the co-suffering of the Mother with the Son; their union of heart and purpose, her sharing in the intensity of his suffering, and her coredemptive consent to the immolation of the Victim to whom she gave flesh for our Redemption:

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 command, enduring 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 born of her (LG 58).

Thus, the Council’s unquestionable teaching on Mary’s Coredemption would likewise become conciliar grounding for Bl. John Paul’s specific use of the “Co-redemptrix” title for Mary on six occasions during his pontificate, 14 including in this 1985 papal address:

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 (LG 58). She fulfills the will of the Father on our behalf and accepts all of us as her children, in virtue of the testament of Christ: Woman, this is your son…Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son. 15

The nineteenth century English apologist, Fredrick Faber, claimed “there is no other single word”, for Mary’s unique participation in the Redemption other than the term, “Co-redemptrix”:

She has a right to it, first of all, because of her cooperation with our Lord in the same sense as the saints, but in a singular and superlative degree. She has a second right to it, which is particular to herself, because of the indispensable cooperation of her maternity. She has a third right to it because of her sufferings…there is no other single word [than Co-redemptrix] in which the truth can be expressed. 16

Faber’s contemporary, Bl. John Henry Newman, defended the theological legitimacy of the Co-redemptrix title to Pusey, particularly in light of the great richness of Patristic Marian teaching already accepted by his Anglican colleague:

When they found you with the Fathers calling her Mother of God, Second Eve, Mother of All Living, Mother of Life, the Morning Star, the Mystical New Heaven, the Scepter of Orthodoxy, the All-undefiled Mother of Holiness and the like, they would have deemed it a poor compensation for such language that you protested against her being called a Co-redemptrix. 17

But what of the concern that the co-redemptrix title is neither biblical nor patristic?  The same must likewise be said about numerous other classical and contemporary ecclesiastical terms, such as “Transubstantiation” and “Papal Infallibility.” In avoidance of any form of theological primitivism, the development of doctrine allows for new theological terms within the Tradition which capture a particular doctrine or mystery in a single word. Mary Co-redemptrix is a development of Mary, the New Eve, as taught by the Fathers of the Church, with the additional understanding of a Christian soteriololgy more proximate to Calvary which developed by the tenth century. 18 The Co-redemptrix term has been in the Tradition since the 14th century, with the “Redemptrix” term for Mary dating back to the 10th century. 19

The Council further provides us with a succinct statement as to the patristic testimony to Mary’s unique and active cooperation in human salvation:

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined Mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the bringing about death, so a woman should contribute to life…Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and the work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of Redemption…Rightfully, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation…Comparing Mary with Eve, they called her “Mother of the Living” and frequently claim: death through Eve, Life through Mary.”(LG 56).

Tradition often uses the same root titles for Mary as for Christ, for example, “Co-redemptrix” with “Redeemer”, “Mediatrix” with “Mediator”, etc. but clearly understands them in a distinctly human dimension when applied to the Mother of Christ. Entirely different root titles would not fully express the intimacy, beauty and coherency of the one plan of Salvation shared between the Son and the Mother, between God and humanity, and consequently between Jesus and us as co-redeemers.

Mary is Co-redemptrix with Jesus in the historical obtaining of the graces of salvation. For this reason, Mary becomes a “mother to us in the order of grace” (LG 61), that is, she becomes the Mediatrix of all graces in the distribution of those redemptive graces 20, and principal Advocate 21 to Jesus for the needs of humanity (cf. Jn. 2:5). The titles “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” ontologically pre-suppose the “Co-redemptrix” title and role and are inseparable from it.
These three titles manifest the three aspects of her one role as humanity’s Spiritual Mother: the Mother suffering (Co-redemptrix), the Mother nourishing (Mediatrix), the Mother pleading (Advocate).

Mary is rightfully invoked in the Church as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, because only these three motherly titles combined express her whole mission with the Redeemer: to suffer and redeem with Christ, to dispense all graces of salvation from Christ, to invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Pope Benedict refers to Mary as the Aqueductus 22. All the graces of Redemption flow through her heart and hands into the world, because more than anyone else, she is uniquely and totally united with the Divine Spring, her Son, Jesus Christ and his Cross.

III. Co-redemptrix Now

Now, as we celebrate the fiftieth year after the initiation of the Second Vatican Council, we can see the prophetic wisdom of Gaudium et Spes in voicing the imperative for the Church to be in constant examination of the “signs of the time” for a proper guidance of the People of God: “At all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the time and of interpreting them in light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task” (GS 4).

What, then, are the signs of our time?  These signs can be found simultaneously in the headlines of contemporary media, as well as discussed in the private chambers of political, academic, and religious world leaders.  While there are some legitimate signs of light and hope, there are also dominant signs of present darkness and potential destruction. Apart from significant differences on causes and moral implications of such signs, there seems to be a general global consensus that these grave present conditions could portend frightening historic consequences for humanity.  To mention some of the most prominent:

1) The killing of 42 million unborn children worldwide each year through induced abortion 23, which does not include millions of contraceptive abortifacient-effected abortions annually.

2) Unprecedented global economic crises and uncertainty, particularly with the instability of the euro and the dollar, and its immediate effect on global economic markets.

3) Wars, rumors of war, and terrorism, inclusive of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, civil war in Syria and the Congo; terrorism in Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Lebanon;  several Middle Eastern nations such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and others having experienced political upheaval and revolution; growing tensions between Iran (with the general allegiance of China and Russia)and Israel (with the general allegiance of the United States), hence the potential for a multi-national conflict and even conceivable nuclear involvement.

4) An unprecedented quantity and gravity of natural disasters, i.e., earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, draughts, floods, etc. within a comparable historical time period.

5) Growing world hunger, with over 1 billion people (1 out of 7 individuals) without proper food. 24

6) Growing world poverty, with an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor.

7) Worldwide moral decline, with increasing numbers in divorce, family breakdown, loss of religious commitment ortraditional Judeo-Christian moral values, drug use, pornography, euthanasia, contraception, abuse of women and children, human trafficking; and Church related scandals of abuse.

The present worldview, particularly in the West, appears dominated by elements of rationalism, skepticism, materialism, consumerism, nationalism, hedonism, atheism, and secular humanism, all of which, it could be argued, to an unprecedented historic degree.

What, then, is the remedy?

Historic grace is the remedy.  God’s help is the remedy.   Man cannot, on his own, solve the exponentially complex and world threatening moral, geo-political, economic, and social issues  of today, which are, in root, the ramifications of his own contemporary rejection of God’s existence, God’s revelation, God’s assistance.  A historic outpouring of grace is the remedy, and it is the only true remedy.

At times of historic crises in the early Church, when the first centuries of Christians faced the great secular persecutions, the Church turned to Mary: “We fly to your patronage, o Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver from all dangers, o ever glorious and blessed Virgin.” 25

At times of historic crises in the Church of the middle ages, against, for example, external threats of Islamic domination at instances like Lepanto in 1571 and Vienna in 1683, the Church turned to Mary, “our Lady of the Rosary, and to the “Holy Name of Mary.” 26

In the mid-nineteenth century, when Bl. Pope Pius IX, was forced into exile by secular attacks on the papacy and the Church, he turned to Mary through the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception, and his papacy was restored and the Church profoundly strengthened. 27

Now, in light of the present ubiquitous crises which have the potential of threatening the very core of human life and Christian faith, the Church must again turn to Mary.

Her titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate are her functions.  Within the mysterious domain of the providence of God and the freedom of man, the more we freely acknowledge these supernaturally powerful roles of our Spiritual Mother, the more she is permitted by the heavenly Father to exercise them on our behalf.

This is why many contemporaries within the hierarchy, clergy, and laity among the
People of God sense it deep within their hearts and souls that, precisely now is most urgently the time for the solemn definition of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary and her roles by the supreme pontiff.  Only the infallible acknowledgement of these roles can bring into full action the supernaturally powerful intercession of the Mother of God which is providentially contained within these roles.

The proclamation of Marian dogmas has, historically, always resulted in historic graces for the Church and for the world.  It is precisely and exclusively a historic grace, mediated by the Mother and Queen of the Church, that will bring forth a Marian and ecclesial Triumph from this contemporary moment of potential human defeat.

The world needs a New Pentecost.  The first descent of the Holy Spirit was brought forth through the intercession of Mary (cf. Acts 1:14). As the Spirit is the Divine Sanctifier, he will come again in power once his Immaculate Spouse is rightfully honored as the Mediatrix of all of his graces of sanctification, the human Advocate through whom the divine Advocate works to bring sanctification and protection to the world.

It has been almost a century since the great Belgian prelate and ecumenist, Cardinal Desiree Mercier initiated the ecclesial movement for the solemn definition of Mary’s universal mediation in 1915 28, with the simultaneous support of St. Maximilian Kolbe. 29 The world situation now underscores the critical appropriateness of this definition, as humanity faces new and fresh dangers by the year.

The objection could be raised that a solemn Marian definition now, in the midst of the multi-form crises facing the Church today, would simply be too destabilizing. In response, let us return to the historic example of Bl. Pius IX.

In 1848, hostile secular forces attacked the Vatican causing Bl. Pius IX to flee to Gaeta.  Common word on the streets of Rome was that the “Church was now over” and the papacy “finished.” Two Franciscan cardinals, Cardinal Antonio Orioli and Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini (former Secretary of State under Gregory XVI), approached the Holy Father in exile with the following argument: that everything possible which the “Church human” could try had been tried for the protection of the Church and respect for papacy. It was now time to turn to Mary through the solemn definition of her Immaculate Conception. She, in turn, would then lead a new renewal for the Church and the papacy through her powerful intercession.

Bl. Pius IX therefore made the decision, while in exile in Gaeta, to define the Immaculate Conception. In 1849, while still in exile, he issued Ubi Primum in papal communications to the world’s bishops which expressed his consideration to define the Immaculate Conception. Soon after in 1851, the secular forces hostile to the pope were defeated in Rome and Pius IX returned to the Vatican. On December 8, 1854, the Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined, which led soon after to the decision to call the First Vatican Council and make the declaration on papal infallibility. Both Vatican I and the definition on papal infallibility led to a great reunification of the Church under the newly strengthened papacy, and a spiritual renewal of various means throughout Italy and beyond. 30

The parallels between the mid-nineteenth century Church and our present twenty-first century Church in crisis are significant. A papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood today, in the midst of our present state of ecclesial crisis would have the same effect as the one experienced in the mid-nineteenth century: a renewed Church, fortified and united under a strengthened papacy through the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. The Church of today will grow in strength, unity and purification to the degree that she fights for and subsequently proclaims this Marian truth.

Our contemporary Church in crisis needs the full activation of the roles of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood through a public proclamation of its truth more than ever.

Grant the Mother the full ability, through our fiat, to bring grace, redemption, and peace to her earthly children, who are presently, in various manners, on the path of potential self-destruction. Let us solemnly acknowledge Mary on earth for that which she is already greatly venerated in Heaven: our Immaculate Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate.

IV. Mary’s Role in the New Evangelization

It is precisely Mary’s role in coredemption and its subsequent mediation for humanity that becomes the foundation for her crucial role in Christian evangelization.

With the commencement of the Year of Faith and Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, it is quintessential that the roles of Mary be placed and recognized at the heart of the Eew Evangelization.

Let us incorporate the historic lesson of Guadalupe. When God the Father sent the Virgin of Guadalupe to initiate the Christian evangelization of Mexico and beyond, this resulted in the second greatest evangelization victory in Christian history after the first apostolic evangelization. The result of the Marian evangelization of Guadalupe was the Christian conversion of Latin America, the most populous Catholic continent in the world.

Mary’s “yes” brought Jesus to us. Our “yes” to Mary will allow her to bring Jesus to the world’s peoples and nations today in ways just as supernatural as she did at Guadalupe. But this time, the heavenly Father awaits our “yes” to Mary’s rightful acknowledgement and place in the New Evangelization. This “yes,” once again, is the solemn papal proclamation of her motherly roles of intercession which will in turn effect a worldwide release of the Holy Spirit in sustaining the preaching and acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ the world over. In short, the proclamation of this Marian dogma will bring forth a new Pentecost which will consequently result in a new Christian evangelization of historic proportions.

Let us, therefore, ardently pray and humbly petition our beloved and providentially chosen Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for this Marian dogmatic proclamation that will bring the world both a supernatural evangelization of the human family, and the true and lasting peace of Jesus that the Church and the world so desperately need.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Notes:

  1. Bl. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 1.
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 571.
  3. CCC, 622
  4. Cf. for example,Bl. John Paul II, General Audience, Jan. 13, 1982, Inseg. V1, 1982, 91.
  5. St. Augustine, Sermo 169; CCC 1847.
  6. Cf also Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943.
  7. Bl. John Paul II, Salvific Doloris, 24.
  8. Cf. also theological explanation provided by Ven. Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943
  9. Expression of Bl. John Paul II, Address to Bishops of Uruguay, May 8, 1988, O.R., May 30, 1988, p. 4.
  10. Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Visit to Fatima, Locution During Eucharistic Benediction, May 13, 2010.
  11. CCC, 618.
  12. Bl. John Paul II, Address to the Sick at Hospital of St. John of God, April 13, 1981, O.R., p. 6; General Audience, Jan. 13, 1982, Inseg. V 1, 1982, p. 91;Address to Bishops of Uruguay, May 8, 1988, O.R., May 30, 1988, p. 4.
  13. Bl. John Paul II, Wednesday Audience, April 9, 1997.
  14. Cf. Bl. John Paul II, Papal Address to the Sick, Sept. 8, 1982;Papal address of Nov. 4, 1984, Papal Address at Quayaquil, January 31, 1985; L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 9, 1985, p. 12,Papal Address on St. Brigid of Sweden, October 6, 1991; Allocution to the Sick at Lourdes, March 24, 1990 Inseg., XIII/1, 1990.
  15. Bl. John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan. 31, 1985, O.R. March 11, 1985.
  16. F. Faber, The Foot of the Cross or the Sorrows of Mary, 1858.
  17. Bl. John H. Newman, Certain Difficulties Felt By Anglicans, Vol. 2, p. 78.
  18. Cf. John the Geometer, S. on the Annunciation, PG 106, 846; Life of Mary; Litanies des saintes, Tenth Century.
  19. #
  20. Cf. St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum, 1904, ASS 36, p. 453; Lumen Gentium, 61.
  21. Cf. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Aqueductu 7; Piux XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor,; Lumen Gentium 62.
  22. Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, April 26, 2009.
  23. World Health Organization and Gutten Institute Statistics for 2011.
  24. 2012 World Hunger Statistics.
  25. Sub Tuum Praesiduum, 3rd century.
  26. Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571; Battle of Vienna, Sept. 10-11, 1683.
  27. Cf. Ubi Primum, 1849, the decree of Bl. Pius IX while in exile for consultation from the bishops of the world regarding the potential definition of the Immaculate Conception.
  28. May 15, 1915 Pastoral Letter of Desire Mercier for the Solemn Definition of Mary’s Universal Mediation, cf Hauke, Mary Mediatrix of Grace, Academy of the Immaculate, 2006.
  29. St. Maximilian Kolbe, “The Mediation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,” Rycerz Niepokalanej, 1923, vol. 3, pp. 45-46.
  30. Father Peter Damien Fehlner, Franciscan historian, cf. “Cardinal Orioli”, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967; “Cardinal Orioli”, Catholic Encyclopedia; “Cardinal Lambruschini”, Catholic Encyclopedia.

Continue Reading

0

It is the day before the election.

If we choose the candidate that is pro-life, pro-traditional family, and pro-religious freedom to be the next President of the United States, then a window of God’s Mercy will be granted to America.

If not, then we will have chosen to receive a new manifestation of God’s Justice for our nation. God will not violate his greatest gift to each of us: our free will, and its true and just consequences for us and for our country.

After a national experience of unprecedented political advertising and media bombardment, it could subconsciously convey the message that one or other of these candidates is, in fact, our national “messiah”, our country’s “savior.”
   
For the Christian American, neither candidate is our savior.

As massively significant as this U.S. election is, and it truly is, the road ahead for our nation in any case will be difficult to historical proportions.

If our favored candidate wins, we may allot for ourselves little time for rejoicing, because the battle wages on – -the battle for our nation’s soul and for the souls of its citizens.

If our favored candidate loses, we may allot ourselves little time for mourning, because the battle wages on – the battle for our nation’s soul and for the souls of its citizens.

The Christian in America must become, more than ever before, a sign of Jesus Christ for our nation.  This sign must be something more than a Christian slogan on the car bumper, or Rosary beads hanging from the rear view mirror. 

This Christian American sign must be something interior, that then manifests and pervades the public forum.

The Christian American sign must be Joy.

Joy? This may sound superficial, idealistic, or even harsh if the election tomorrow does not go  as we have hoped and prayed. But the Christian American’s duty to manifest Joy is ever-present, regardless of external circumstance.  It is especially our duty at times of external trial or even national calamity that Joy must be the external witness of the Christian American.

Why Joy?

Because as things become increasingly difficult, the propensity for national hopelessness will likewise increase. This is where the Christian American must witness to his country a hope that is not politically based, but supernaturally infused.

If there are ten people in a public line, nine of which reveal on their faces the burdens of grave family crises, heavy financial debts, and overwhelming relationship issues, the tenth person in line, through the joy in his eyes, through the smile on her lips, through the gestures of understanding and empathy in their actions, convey real living and breathing hope. Christian Joy becomes the ultimate witness of Jesus and means of authentic Christian evangelization for a country that is losing its faith in God and the hope that can only exist based on that faith.

Where does our peace lie?

The darker the national situation becomes, the greater is the responsibility for the Christian American to reflect Light.  To obtain the inner joy and hope which then organically becomes external, American Christians need to pray more.  The Christian must keep always in mind and meditation that Jesus dwells in your soul and never leaves you, regardless of what’s happening in the world. The Catholic Christian must return to Sunday Mass, daily Rosary, and weekly Eucharistic Adoration where, in his very presence, Jesus will bathe you in his peace, fill you with his joy, and guide you in his light.

Christian Americans, it is always the right time to be joyful.  Now, it is imperative for our country. Regardless of tomorrow’s political results, our mission is clear: reflect the joy and peace of Jesus which tells our American brothers and sisters in a witness infinitely louder than words that true peace does not come from politics. Peace comes from Christ.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
November 5, 2012

Continue Reading

0

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.” ‘

 

Footnotes:

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.

 

Notes:

  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 ».

Continue Reading

0

Unfortunately, there has been some recent confusion about the dogmatic teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the birth of Jesus, one of the three essential aspects of Our Lady’s Virginity, which was defined by Pope St. Martin I in 649 at the First Lateran Council. This second Marian Dogma, Our Lady’s Virginity before, during , and after the birth of Jesus, has always included the traditional patristic and magisterial understanding that Mary gave “miraculous birth” to Jesus (in the words of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943), without any violation to her physical, external virginity. As the Fathers of the Church explained, as “light passes through glass without harming the glass”, so Jesus was born with Mary’s Virginity “in tact”, that is with the preservation of her physical virginity, so that the Perfect Virgin would be an example of Christian virginity, in heart and in body, for all later Christians called to the special vocation of Christian virginity.

As a recent discussion against the traditional and magisterial teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the Birth has recently surfaced in the Catholic Answers publication (cf. June, 2012, Sept/October 2012), we are publishing the following article by Msgr. Arthur Calkins, for over 20 years an official of the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei, which, although originally written in response to previous erroneous statements against the Virginitas in Partu Traditional teaching, responds to many of the same objections raised by the more recent rejection of the Traditional teaching in the Catholic Answers articles (see article below).

The author, Fr. Ryland, (a truly wonderful and gifted priest as well as a cherished personal friend), seems to suggest that if Mary did not give natural birth to Jesus, that somehow this would violate an essential part of the Incarnation. Not only does this private position run contrary to the consensus Catholic patristic and magisterial tradition, which has the ultimate respect and illumination about the Incarnation and its redemptive qualities and parameters, but the author also fails to refer to the overriding Patristic Tradition and specific papal and magisterial references to the contrary, for example: the statement of Pope Pius XII as to the “Miraculous birth” (MC); the Tome of Pope St. Leo to Flavian: “Mary brought him forth with her virginity untouched…”; The Catechism of the Council of Trent, that Mary gave birth “without experiencing…any sense of pain” (RC 50); and the Church’s Liturgy, which states, “She who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth…”(BVM Collection of Masses, p. 117).

If the second part of defined doctrine does not refer to Mary’s physical virginity, why else would Pope St. Martin I specify her virginity during the birth? Surely it was not to guarantee that Mary was not experiencing any form of intercourse during the birth itself, a totally absurd, disrespectful, and absolutely unnecessary specification within the dogma. No, it was precisely to specify what Bl. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body makes clear: “the body expresses the person”. Mary’s Physical Virginity is a bodily expression of her perfect, interior virginity, in complete respect of the mystery of the Incarnation, and with the awareness that when one woman is to be both perfect Virgin and perfect Mother in relation to the one time historical event and mystery of the Word becoming Flesh, we have to expect exceptions. – Dr. Mark Miravalle, Editor


In her interesting article “Reproductive Science and the Incarnation” (Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 4, Fall 2002, 11-25) Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz offers a number of interesting correlations between the discoveries of reproductive science and the Church’s belief in the mystery of the Incarnation. Just as the Holy Spirit has continued to bring forth deeper insights into the meaning of this mystery (cf. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, #8), so also the data of biological science, evaluated in the light of Scripture and Tradition, can help us to marvel at the inexhaustible richness of the mystery. The point is, of course, that the mystery can never be simply explained either by theology or by modern science. At the end of her essay Dr. Tkacz appropriately comments that “the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation remains ineluctable and eternal” (p. 22).

Without taking away from the valuable insights which her article provides, I would nonetheless take issue with Dr. Tkacz’s treatment of Mary’s virginity in giving birth to Christ (commonly referred to as the virginitas in partu) on p. 21 and in endnotes #76 and #78 on p. 25. It must be admitted that the datum of the faith that Mary gave birth as a virgin, unfortunately, receives virtually no attention in contemporary catechesis or preaching.

Indeed, who can remember having heard of the “virgin birth” of Jesus, and not of his “virginal conception” or of his Mother’s “life-long virginity,” in a homily in the last forty years?

[…]

Continue Reading

0

Unfortunately, there has been some recent confusion about the dogmatic teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the birth of Jesus, one of the three essential aspects of Our Lady’s Virginity, which was defined by Pope St. Martin I in 649 at the First Lateran Council. This second Marian Dogma, Our Lady’s Virginity before, during , and after the birth of Jesus, has always included the traditional patristic and magisterial understanding that Mary gave “miraculous birth” to Jesus (in the words of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943), without any violation to her physical, external virginity. As the Fathers of the Church explained, as “light passes through glass without harming the glass”, so Jesus was born with Mary’s Virginity “in tact”, that is with the preservation of her physical virginity, so that the Perfect Virgin would be an example of Christian virginity, in heart and in body, for all later Christians called to the special vocation of Christian virginity.

As a recent discussion against the traditional and magisterial teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the Birth has recently surfaced in the Catholic Answers publication (cf. June, 2012), we are publishing the following article by Msgr. Arthur Calkins, for over 20 years an official of the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei, which, although originally written in response to previous erroneous statements against the Virginitas in Partu Traditional teaching, responds to many of the same objections raised by the more recent rejection of the Traditional teaching in the Catholic Answers articles. – Dr. Mark Miravalle, Editor

 

1. Status Quæstionis. About ten years ago I wrote a response to an earlier article by Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz, “Reproductive Science and the Incarnation” published in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly (Vol. 25, No. 4, [Fall 2002] 11-25). My response to that article was originally published in the Winter 2003 FCS Quarterly (Vol. 26, No. 1:10-13) with all 38 endnotes inadvertently omitted. Eventually that article was republished in toto in the Spring 2004 FCS Quarterly (Vol. 27, No. 1:9-13). Simultaneously with my first response (without endnotes) to Dr. Tkacz the FCS Quarterly published an article by Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, S.V.D. entitled “Biology and the Incarnation: A Response to the Article ‘Reproductive Science and the Incarnation’” (Winter 2003, Vol. 26, No. 1:3-9). At the conclusion of that article Fr. Zimmerman states

Finally, I am so glad that Dr. Tkacz has Jesus bless every organ of His mother that nurtured Him and then issued Him forth through the birth canal. Thank you, doctor, for singing the glories of the mother with all her special gifts and organs (9).

Subsequently, after the publication of my article with the endnotes, the Summer FCS Quarterly published another article by Fr. Zimmerman entitled “Virginitas vs Maternitas in Partu: A Response to Msgr. Calkins” (Vol. 27, No. 2:32-34). In that essay, inter alia, he challenged me thus:

Msgr. Calkins then adds that “The preaching and teaching was not a mere matter of pious fantasizing, but rather it was a careful ‘handing on’ of what had been received’.” For this latter assertion he provides no data. Respectfully, might I ask the Monsignor to provide such data, if data exists (sic). He lists no Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Justin, Irenaeus, Hermas, Tatian, Clement of Alexander (sic), Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Lactantius, Apostolic Constitution (sic), Origen (33).

2. My Response. My first article was written with the primary intent of presenting the Church’s teaching with sufficient documentation in order to offer a polite rectification to what Dr. Tkacz had written. I had not intended to write an encyclopedic treatise on the virginitas in partu. For whatever reasons my response to Fr. Zimmerman was never published in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter and in the meantime Fr. Zimmerman has gone to his eternal reward. He was a distinguished Catholic apologist and an ardent supporter of the pro-life movement. I have no intention of sullying his well-deserved reputation, but in the light of a recent controversy in which another distinguished apologist has taken the same ground as the late Fr. Zimmerman(1), I believe it appropriate to publish the article. That Fr. Zimmerman realized that he was jousting with the Church’s tradition and teaching authority is obvious in this statement (as well as many others):

To my knowledge, neither the Fathers, nor the Magisterium nor Msgr. Calkins has weighed the negative effects that a miraculous birth might have upon Mary’s motherhood. Until that has been done, I believe that a doctrine about a miraculous birth of Jesus remains tentative (34).

I believe that it is incumbent on me to testify to “the whole truth about Mary”, specifically about her virginity in giving birth to Christ, when a low Mariology (or Mariology “from below”) is undermining the faith of so many Catholics along with the accompanying low Christology (or Christology “from below”). Indeed, the mystery of the Incarnation, of which the virginitas in partu is an important facet, involves both Jesus and Mary according to God’s eternal plan and we have no right to diminish its grandeur simply because of our particular agendas, however desirable they may seem in themselves.

3. Fundamental Dispositions. I had already insisted in my previous article on the necessity of approaching the mystery of the virginitas in partu with profound reverence and quoted Blessed Pope John Paul II’s address of 24 May 1992 in Capua to this effect. Here I do so at greater length.

For a fruitful theological reflection on Mary’s virginity it is first of all essential to have a correct point of departure. Actually, in its interwoven aspects the question of Mary’s virginity cannot be adequately treated by beginning with her person alone, her people’s culture or the social conditions of her time. The Fathers of the Church had already clearly seen that Mary’s virginity was a “Christological theme” before being a “Mariological question”. They observed that the virginity of the Mother is a requirement flowing from the divine nature of the Son; it is the concrete condition in which, according to a free and wise divine plan, the incarnation of the eternal Son took place, of him who is “God from God” (Conc. Oecum. Constantinop. I, Exposition fidei CL Patrum seu Symbolum Nicænum-Constantinopolitanum), who alone is the Holy One, who alone is the Lord, who alone is the Most High (cf. Missale Romanum, Hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo). As a consequence, for Christian tradition Mary’s virginal womb, made fruitful by the divine Pneuma without human intervention (cf. Lk. 1:34-35), became like the wood of the cross (cf. Mk. 15:39) or the wrappings in the tomb (cf. Jn. 20-5-8), a reason and sign for recognizing in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God. …

The theologian must approach the mystery of Mary’s fruitful virginity with a deep sense of veneration for God’s free, holy and sovereign action. Reading through the writings of the holy Fathers and the liturgical texts we notice that few of the saving mysteries have caused so much amazement, admiration or praise as the incarnation of God’s Son in Mary’s virginal womb. The Fathers, conscious of the profound unity between the two phases of the one Revelation, never hesitated in applying to Mary, the virgin mother of Emmanuel (cf. Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:23), the most venerable symbols of the Old Testament – the burning bush, the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle of glory, the temple of the Lord – and they declared that they were incapable of worthily praising the mystery. …

When theological reflection becomes a moment of doxology and latria, the mystery of Mary’s virginity is disclosed, allowing one to catch a glimpse of other aspects and other depths. (2)

Both Dr. Tkacz and Fr. Zimmerman were aware that in their insistence on Jesus’ descent through Mary’s birth canal and emerging through the labia, the vulva, they were negating the Church’s teaching on the virginitas in partu. Dr. Tkacz dismissed the tradition as “essentially modern, based on a pietistic thought that to honor Jesus one must dissociate him from human birth, as if birth were indecent” (25). Fr. Zimmerman, knowing the tradition better, still insists that until the Church weighs his arguments carefully, he believes “that a doctrine about a miraculous birth of Jesus remains tentative” (34). What both of them seemed to be unaware of is that descending into such questionable biological details flies in the face of the Church’s tradition and was the object of a specific monitum (warning) by the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) stating that

This supreme Congregation has often observed recently, and with deep concern, that theological works are being published in which the delicate question of Mary’s virginity in partu is treated with a deplorable crudeness of expression and, what is more serious, in flagrant contradiction to the doctrinal tradition of the Church and to the sense of respect the faithful have.

Thus it prohibited the publication of such dissertations in the future. (3)

4. The Assumptions of Dr. Tkacz and Fr. Zimmerman. Effectively, what both of these contenders against the Church’s millennial tradition insisted on is that the paradigm for Mary’s motherhood must be that which we know in our present state of fallen human nature and according to the present state of biology. Dr. Tkacz’ treatment was more mitigated and less aggressive than Fr. Zimmerman’s, but both of them seem rather blind to the fact that with Jesus and Mary we are dealing with the “New Adam” and the “New Eve” who make a new beginning for the human race and who are not subject to the effects of original sin. The Roman Catechism (also known as The Catechism of the Council of Trent) draws out the Marian implications of Genesis 3:16 in precisely this way:

To Eve it was said: “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). Mary was exempt from this law, for preserving her virginal integrity inviolate, she brought forth Jesus the Son of God, without experiencing, as we have already said, any sense of pain. (4)

With a genial intuition which can serve as a way of synthesizing the received teaching on the virginal conception and the virgin birth, Haymo of Halberstadt (+853) stated: “Just as she conceived without pleasure, so she gave birth without pain.” (5)

Another major Old Testament prediction which sheds light on the mystery of the virgin birth is that of Isaiah 7:14. I believe that Fr. John Saward was right in stating that

Isaiah prophesied that the Mother of Emmanuel would be a virgin not only in conceiving Him in the womb (Ecce virgo concipiet) but also in bringing Him forth from the womb (et virgo pariet, cf. Is. 7:14).

In the light shed on this mystery by the tradition I find particularly vacuous and questionable Fr. Zimmerman’s constant insistence that:

if she [Mary] did not “give birth” to Jesus in a natural manner, then some of her glory as our Theotókos fades.

If her birth canal remained virginal, then Mary did not “give” Jesus to us. Then it was God who took Jesus from Mary miraculously and laid the Child before her. … In this scenario, Mary, would be inactive in the birthing process. She would be a passive vas instrumentalis, not an active Theotókos. We must weigh the merits of integral motherhood against those of a miraculous birth (32). …

An active participation by Mary in giving birth belongs naturally to the integrity of motherhood, and perhaps even to its essence. …

I personally believe that the concept of Theotókos contains an implicit belief that Mary really gave birth to Jesus as mothers do this naturally. For unless Mary participated in active birthing, she could not “give” Jesus to us and to the world. It implies that our belief in her motherhood negates belief in a miraculous birth. …

If Mary had not given birth to Jesus as mothers do naturally, her life would be considerably impoverished (34).

My first response to these statements is that what is easily asserted is just as easily denied. On what grounds can one maintain that “If her birth canal remained virginal, then Mary did not ‘give’ Jesus to us”? Can a mother whose child is delivered by caesarian section not give her child to another? Is such a woman’s motherhood not integral? Who would dare to tell such a woman that she is not a mother in her essence? Insistence on the “natural” or “ordinary” process of Mary’s giving birth seems strangely out of place in the case of a conception and birth that were already announced prophetically in the Old Testament as extraordinary.

Why does the glory of the Theotókos fade if Jesus is not born in the “natural” manner? Why should a miraculous birth, which is a sovereign act of God, impoverish Mary’s life and motherhood? Along with the Fathers of the Church I would argue that her glory is augmented, not diminished, by this marvelous birth. I would further maintain that Mary’s motherhood is “active” precisely because of the “consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect” (Lumen Gentium #62), not by the mode of giving birth. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church regarding Mary’s collaboration in the Incarnation and in the work of the Redemption.

5. Virginitas vs Maternitas. It seems that Fr. Zimmerman was intent on reducing the mystery of the Incarnation to a purely biological level and thus he found the concept of Mary’s virginal maternity unacceptable. He opposed virginity to motherhood in favor of the latter:

When the Word was made Flesh in Mary, her biological features of virginity inevitably gave way and disappeared when new biological indications of motherhood displaced them. In no way whatsoever did the bodily features of motherhood violate Mary’s vow of virginity. … Even after involution was completed the marks of historical motherhood would remain in Mary’s body. Saints tell us that she shows them to Jesus occasionally when she makes a petition with special motherly insistence. …

Mary’s body lost the features of virginity, while her vow remained intact. The loss of the virginal seal was a continuation and term of the other bodily changes from those of a virgin to those of a mother. It was not a special novelty (32).

Both Fr. Zimmerman and Dr. Tkacz related in remarkable detail all of the changes that took place in Mary’s body as if they were eyewitnesses, but my question is “how do they know”? They both assumed that everything had to happen as it happens in every other human birth. They did not advert sufficiently to the fact that they were dealing with the birth of the God-man by the Virgin Mother with seemingly no sense that they were treading on sacred ground? As the Blessed John Paul II reminded us in his discourse at Capua, the Fathers loved to speak of Mary’s virginal motherhood as symbolized by the bush, which burned but was not consumed, before which Moses was commanded to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground (cf. Ex. 3:2-5). It was precisely because of Dr. Albert Mitterer’s biological treatment of the birth of Christ, which questioned Our Lady’s physical integrity and the absence of pain, that the Holy Office issued its warning. (7)

In the attempt to reduce the mystery to a series of biological data, Fr. Zimmerman felt obliged to tell us that these physical changes in Mary’s body did not “violate [her] vow of virginity”, that “the vow remained intact”. But the specific expression of the Church’s faith in this matter is that her “body remained intact”. After having evacuated all meaning from the virginitas in partu, Fr. Zimmerman assured us of the truth of the virginal conception. But the Church has solemnly and explicitly taught that Mary was a virgin before, during and after Christ’s birthsince the Lateran Synod convoked under Pope Saint Martin I in 649. (8)

Furthermore, although Fr. Zimmerman summarily dismissed my reference to the Provincial Council of Capua in 392, there is substantial evidence that this Council and the subsequent Roman Synod in 393 dealt with the virginitas in partu(9).

The John Paul II clearly referred to this in his discourse in Capua.

What does it mean, then, to state that Mary was a virgin during birth if not that the signs of her virginity were left intact?

6. Witness of the Fathers to the Apostolic Tradition. I have already cited Fr. Zimmerman’s specific challenge to me in #1 above. For him the united testimony of the great Fathers of the “golden age” of Greek and Latin patristic literature is not sufficient. This, in itself, is a rather strange way to treat testimony which the Church reveres and in which it finds verification for many of its beliefs including the corporal Assumption of Our Lady into heaven. Fr. Zimmerman requested data from the sub-Apostolic era and from the age of the martyrs. Before addressing myself specifically to this request for data, however, I believe that it is important to heed what is stated about the living Tradition of the Catholic Church in Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation:

The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. Hence the apostles, in handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to maintain the traditions ,which they had learned either by word of mouth or by letter (cf. 2 Th. 2:15). …

The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts (cf. Lk. 2:19 and 51). It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities, which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth. Thus as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing towards the plenitude of divine truth, until eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her. (10)

In these paragraphs we have two very important assertions: (1) what we have received from the apostolic preaching was handed on in its integrity and (2) by the assistance of the Holy Spirit “there is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on”. On this matter the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a further valuable clarification:

Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (11)

That is precisely what has happened under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the course of the centuries. My point here is that what had already reached a definite maturation in the golden age of the Fathers cannot simply be dismissed. Fr. Zimmerman admitted that “we have reason to ponder their belief with due respect” (33) even if he went on to relativize and minimize it.

7. Early Patristic Evidence for the Virgin Birth. In effect Fr. Zimmerman challenged me to provide data on the virgin birth from the post-apostolic period that would supply a link from the preaching of the Apostles to the golden age of the Fathers. He stresses that the documents of that later period

fall short of teaching explicitly that the birth was miraculous. However, if one is already convinced that the birth was miraculous, then the documents can firm up that belief (33).

My reply is that there certainly is evidence from that earlier period, but like so much material from that early period, it is concise and sometimes fragmentary nature,. A careful discussion of the texts issuing from this early period would require a lengthy separate article. For the sake of brevity I must refer the interested reader to the treatment of the virginitas in partu in this early period in the studies by J. C. Plumpe (12), Philip J. Donnelly, S.J. (13) and Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M. (14)

Here I will limit myself to presenting the testimony of just one of these sub-Apostolic Fathers, but one whose importance can hardly be underestimated, St. Irenaeus of Lyons (+ c. 202). He was a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John the Apostle, and is regarded by many as “the first theologian in the proper sense of the word” and is thus “considered the father of Catholic dogmatic theology” (15) As he made the classic exposition of the “New Eve” theme whose earliest witness, as far as we know, was St. Justin Martyr, (16) so he also followed Justin in drawing out the teaching on the virgin birth. (17) In his Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, commenting on the text of Is. 7:14, he states:

With regard to his [Christ’s] birth the same prophet says in another place: “Before she came to labor, she gave birth; before the pains came upon her, she delivered a male child” [Is. 66:7], thus proclaiming the unexpected and wondrous character of the birth from the Virgin [inexspectatum et inopinatum per virginem partum eius annuntiavit].(18)

In his major work, Adversus Hæreses, Irenaeus makes this succinct comment on the Incarnation:

For the Word will become flesh and the Son of God will become the Son of man (the Pure One, opening in a pure way the pure womb which regenerates men for God and which he himself has made pure) and he became what we are, as God the strong one, and has an indescribable generation [(purus pure puram aperiens vulvam, eam quæ regenerat homines in Deum, quam ipse puram fecit), et hoc factus quod et nos, Deus fortis est, et inenarrabile habet genus]. (19)

I certainly do not argue that the Church’s belief in the miraculous birth of Christ rises or falls with the witness of Irenaeus, but I do believe that his testimony, even if one admits that the second passage may also be taken in an ecclesiological sense, (20) is of notable value.

8. The Scriptural Data. In #4 above I have already cited Gen. 3:16 and Is. 7:14. In #7 I have just indicated Irenaeus’s use of Is. 66:7. I wish now to consider very briefly some other significant biblical texts and I do so at this point precisely because of my conviction that it is necessary to read the Word of God in the light of the tradition of the Church and under the guidance of the magisterium. (21)

With regard to the Gospel witness, one should not be surprised that the Holy Spirit might continue to bring to light treasures once known to the saints, but overlooked by the “higher critics” who base themselves solely on the “historical-critical” method. In this regard, I find the reasoning of the late Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. on the best translation of Luke 1:35b very cogent:

We discover, however, since the time of the Fathers up to the present, four different versions. One either makes “hagion” (“holy”) the subject and translates as Legrand does: “that is why the holy (child) who is to be born will be called Son of God”; or one makes of “hagios” an attribute of “will be,” as in the Jerusalem Bible and the lectionary: “And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God”; or one also reads “holy” an attribute of “called”; this latter is the translation recently proposed by A. Médebielle in his article “Annunciation” in the Supplément au dictionnaire de la Bible: “This is why the one to be born will be called holy, Son of God.” These are the usual three translations. At the same time there is a fourth possibility which modern authors no longer think of, but which was very popular among the Fathers of the Church and during the Middle Ages. This reading, we think, is philologically the only one that is satisfactory; we then consider “holy,” not as a complement of “will be” (this word is not found in the Greek text), nor of “will be called”; “holy” is rather to be taken as the complement of “will be born.”

The word “holy,” in this instance, informs us about the manner in which the child will be born, that is to say in a “holy” manner. We therefore translate it so: “This is why the one who will be born holy will be called Son of God.” Here it is not question of the future holiness of Jesus: that is totally outside of the perspective of the Annunciation and of the birth of the child. The child of Mary “will be born holy” in the levitical meaning: it is the birth of Jesus that will be “holy”, without blemish, intact, that is “pure” in the ritual sense. If we read the text in this way, we set up here a biblical argument favoring that which the theologians call “virginitas in partu,” the virginity of Mary while giving birth. The message of the angel to Mary contains then not only the announcement of the virginal conception, but also of the virginal birth of Jesus. (22)

Father de la Potterie’s years of patient study have yielded other fruit in this area as well, especially his extensive analysis of John 1:13. Here I can only refer the interested reader to de la Potterie’s own exposition. (23)

9. The Allegorical Sense of Scripture. Here I wish simply to underscore that much of the Patristic treatment of the virginal conception and birth of Christ is based on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, following the tradition, calls the allegorical sense of Scripture. (24) It is precisely the allegorical sense of Scripture that the Roman Catechism proposes with regard to our subject:

Since the mysteries of this admirable conception and nativity are so great and so numerous, it accorded with Divine Providence to signify them by many types and prophecies. Hence the Fathers of the Church understood many things which we meet in the Sacred Scriptures to relate to them, particularly that gate of the Sanctuary which Ezekiel saw closed (see Ezek. 44:2) … Likewise the bush which Moses saw burn without being consumed (see Ex. 3.2). (25)

It is by means of this allegorical sense, as John Saward tells us, that

The Fathers find types of the virginity in partu in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the closed gate of the Temple (cf. Ezek. 44:2) and in the ‘garden enclosed’ and ‘fountain sealed up’ of Solomon’s canticle (cf. Song 4:12). (26)

10. The Virginal Birth of Christ and the Spiritual Birth of Christians. I commend Fr. Zimmerman for concluding his essay with a thought about Mary’s spiritual maternity, even if I do not accept his premise that “If Mary had not given birth to Jesus as mothers do naturally, her life would be (sic) considerably impoverished.” From this restatement of his primary theme he goes on to conclude that having given birth to Jesus in this way makes Mary “to be our mother also, who are brothers and sisters of her Son” (34).

What is missed in this reasoning, however, is that the Church’s teaching on the virginitas in partu effectively reflects the mystery of the eternal generation of the Son in the bosom of the Father (27) whereas our generation differs from his since we are sons by adoption (Gal. 4:4-5), that adoption which was accomplished on Calvary with the full and active cooperation of Mary. These truths are magnificently synthesized in the preface of the second Mass of “Mary at the Foot of the Cross” published in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

In your divine wisdom you planned the redemption of the human race and decreed that the new Eve should stand by the cross of the new Adam: as she became his mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of your love, she was to be a partner in his passion, and she who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church. (28)

 

1. Cf. Fr. Ray Ryland’s treatment of this matter in The Catholic Answer (May/June 2012) 7 and in The Catholic Answer(September/October 2012) 34.

2. Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 85 (1993) 663-664; L’Osservatore Romano (English edition) 1244 [cumulative number] 13.

3. Cf. Ephemerides Mariologicæ 11 (1961) 137-138 [trans. in René Laurentin, A Treatise on the Virgin Mary (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1991) 328-329]. Cf. commentary in Peter D. Fehlner; F.I., Virgin Mother the Great Sign (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1993) 19-21.

4. Robert I. Bradley, S.J. and Eugene Kevane (eds.), The Roman Catechism (Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, 1985) 50. Cf. also Treatise 64, 333, 338.

5. Expositio in Apocalypsim 3, 12; PL 117:1081D-1082A [quoted in John Saward, The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999) 153, n. 9.

6. John Saward, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002) [henceforth referred to as Cradle] 208. Cf. also Cradle 210 n. 123 and Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology trans. by Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 1995) 39-41.

7. Fehlner 1-2, 4-5, 19.

8. 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) #503 [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) #703].

9. Cf. Fehlner 7; Arcidiocesi di Capua, XVI Centenario del Concilio di Capua 392-1992. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di studi Mariologici Capua 19-24 Maggio 1992 (Capua: Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose; Rome: Pontificia Facoltà Marianum, 1993).

10. Dei Verbum #8 [Austin Flannery, O.P., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Vol. I (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Co., 1987) 754].

11. Catechism of the Catholic Church [henceforth referred to as CCC] #66.

12. J. C. Plumpe, “Some Little-Known Early Witnesses to Mary’s Virginitas in Partu,” Theological Studies 9 (1948) 570-577.

13. Philip J. Donnelly, S.J., S.T.D., “The Perpetual Virginity of the Mother of God,” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.) Mariology, II (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1957), 263-267. It should be noted that there is more detailed documentation on this early period available now than was available when he wrote this article almost fifty years ago.

14. Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza, III (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 386-397.

15. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999) 51.

16. Cf. Gambero 46-48.

17. Cf. Roschini 387-388.

18. Demonstratio Apostolicæ Prædicationis #54 [Domenico Casagrande, Enchiridion Marianum Biblicum Patristicum (Rome: Figlie della Chiesa, 1974) #58].

19. Adversus Hæreses IV, 33, 11 [Patrologia Græca7:1080; [Casagrande #48].

20. Cf. the lengthy note on this text in Enzo Bellini e Giorgio Maschio (a cura di), Ireneo di Lione Contro Le Eresie e Gli Altri Scritti (Milan: Jaca Book, 2003) 620.

21. Cf. Dei Verbum, especially #8 & 23.

22. Ignace de la Potterie, S.J., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant trans. Bertrand Buby, S.M. (New York: Alba House, 1992) [henceforth MMC] 31; cf. his entire treatment of this text MMC 30-33; also Saward, Cradle 208.

23. Cf. “Il parto verginale del Verbo incarnato: ‘Non ex sanguinibus … sed ex Deo natus est’ (Gv 1,13),” Marianum 45 (1983) 127-174; MMC96-122.

24. CCC#115-118.

25. Roman Catechism 50.

26. Cradle 208 and passim 208-217. On the Marian interpretation of Ezek. 44:2, cf. Manelli 75-78. On the Marian interpretation of Song of Songs 4:12, cf. Manelli 73, 365.

27. Cf. Cradle 212-213. The whole book is a marvelous meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation.

28. Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Vol. I: Sacramentary (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1992) 117; original Latin text in Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine I (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1987) 49. Emphasis my own.

Continue Reading

0

The following presentation by Dr. Mark Miravalle  entitled, “Mary’s Role in the New Evangelization” was recently given in Rome on October 5, 2012 during the “Mary, Sign of Faith” Symposium,  a special Marian inauguration of the Year of Faith and in the context of the Synod of Bishops on Faith and the New Evangelization which is now taking place  from October 7 to 28.  Let us learn the lesson of Guadalupe: Our Lady’s role must indeed be placed and recognized at the heart of the Church’s vital  effort for a New Christian Evangelization – Ed.

Human Co-redeeming with the Divine Redeemer?

“The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.”1 There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).” “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2.1).

Jesus is our divine Redeemer, our divine Mediator, our divine Advocate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of the fundamental Christian mystery of Redemption: “God’s saving plan was accomplished “once for all” (Heb. 9:26) by the redemptive death of his son, Jesus Christ” 2…The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28), that is, he [loved] his own to the end” (Jn. 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers” (1 Pet 1:18).3

But what of humanity? Is the human person, created, finite, and fallen, in any way able to share, to participate, to co-operate in the sublime mystery of Redemption accomplished by the divine Redeemer? Has the divine Redeemer, in yet a further manifestation of his infinite mercy and generosity, beyond the Redemption itself, granted to the human individual the capacity to actually participate in the divine activity of saving other human beings?

The answer found in Christian revelation to this question is “yes.” The human person can actually play a significant role in the salvation of other human persons, but only through a free and active cooperation with the Divine Redeemer himself.

St. Paul speaks of the Christian imperative to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his Body, which is the Church” (Col 1:24). The First Letter to the Corinthians identifies Christians as “co-workers with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). When Christians participate in the divine life of Jesus by becoming “partakers in the divine nature” through baptism (2 Pet. 1:4), and “co-heirs” with Christ in grace (Rom. 8:17), they become capable of participating in the divine activity of the Redeemer, as “co-redeemers of humanity together with Christ” (to quote the repeated expression of Bl. John Paul II).4 The more a human person shares in the divine life of Jesus, the more he or she can fruitfully participate in the redemptive work of Jesus.

St. Augustine tells us that “God created us without us, but he did not will to save us without us.” 5 Not only must we freely cooperate with Jesus for our own salvation, but he has willed to dignify human freedom even further by allowing us the capacity to cooperate in the salvation of others. Such is the generosity of the Heart of Christ, who seeks to include his beloved disciples in the greatest of his divine acts, which is precisely human redemption.

Blessed John Paul II provides a commentary on St. Paul’s classic text of Col. 1:24 which continues the papal teaching 6 that man indeed is called to participate with and under Jesus in the work of Redemption:

For, whoever suffers in union with Christ…not only receives from Christ that strength already referred to, but also “completes” by his suffering “what is lacking” in Christ’s afflictions. This evangelical outlook especially highlights the truth concerning the creative character of suffering. The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world’s redemption. This good is in itself 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 Redemption accomplished 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. 7

The redemptive graces obtained by Jesus Christ on Calvary are infinite and exhaustible, and are in no way intrinsically “lacking.” Yet, the Redeemer has given humankind, particularly through membership in his Mystical Body (cf. 1 Cor. 12, 27; Rom. 12:4), the ability to participate in the release of a portion of those infinite graces. Thereby we as creatures who “live in Christ” (cf. Gal, 2:20) perform a true, though entirely dependent role with Jesus,
in the distribution and consequent reception of the saving graces of Christ for the personal, subjective redemption of others. 8

Lumen Gentium
instructs that the secondary and subordinate participation in the one mediation of Christ in no way diminishes the glory of Christ the one mediator, but, on the contrary manifests the glory of the one Mediator himself (cf. LG 60, 61, 62). As Redemption is a dimension of the one mediation of Christ, the same principle applies to secondary and subordinate participation in the one Redemption of Jesus Christ. Human co-redeemers in Christ, far from competing with or obscuring the dignity of the one divine Redeemer, manifest his glory as it mysteriously leads to a new distribution of the fruits of Redemption merited by Christ at Calvary. The more humans participate in the one Redemption of Jesus, the more his infinite sacrifice becomes manifested and supernaturally fruitful as it is received by human hearts.

Pope Benedict XVI furthers the teaching on “Christian coredemption9” or humanity’s secondary and subordinate participation in the redeeming work of Christ. On May 13, 2011 during his papal pilgrimage to Fatima, the Holy Father instructed the sick present to become “redeemers in the Redeemer” and through this means to participate in the “redemption of the whole world”:

Dear friends who are sick…entrust to [Jesus] every setback and pain that you face, so that they may become – according to his design – a means of redemption for the whole world. You will be redeemers with the Redeemer…10

When married couples bring children into the world, they “co-create” with the Father. When bishops and priests administer the sacraments to the faithful, they “co-sanctify” with the Holy Spirit. We co-create with the Father. We co-sanctify with the Spirit. We are likewise called to “co-redeem” with the Son.

While confirming the truth of Christian participation in the one sacrifice of Christ and its consequent mission of Redemption, the Catechism goes on to make clear that one human person participated in this mystery of Redemption like no other:

The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, “the one mediator between God and man.” But 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. He calls his disciples to take up [their] cross and follow [him], for “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example so we should follow his steps.” In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be his 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

  1. If We, Then Mary

If all Christians can rightly be called “co-redeemers”12 with Christ then clearly Mary, Mother of Jesus and his greatest disciple, can also be referred to as a “co-redeemer” with Jesus. But can this title, or its more Latinized and feminized version as “Co-redemptrix” (etymologically, “woman with the redeemer” or “she who redeems with”) pertain to the Mother of Jesus in a special, unique manner among the People of God?

The Papal Magisterium and the Second Vatican Council answer “yes.” In virtue of her Immaculate Conception (cf. Gen. 3:15, Lk. 1:28), her unequalled participation in the redemptive Incarnation as Mother of God (Lk. 1:38, Lk. 2:7), and her intimate and immaculate co-suffering with Jesus throughout his life (cf. Lk. 2:35), leading up to and culminating at Calvary (cf. Jn. 19:25-27), Mary cooperated in the historic act of Christ’s Redemption like no other. Bl. John Paul explains:

Mary’s co-operation is unique and unrepeatable…The cooperation of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread through prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated 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. 13

The instruction of the Totus Tuus pontiff is in complete harmony with the Second Vatican Council, where the Fathers isolate and accentuate Mary’s participation in the Redemption as a co-working with Christ which is “above all others” and “in a wholly singular way”:

…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, and shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperatd by her 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 (LG 61).

In order to appreciate this, Mary’s crucial role in Redemption, we must return to the intense unity between the Son and his Mother. From her and from her alone, He took his flesh in the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ could then redeem humanity and transform it into a higher state of being, because Mary offered Him a humanity in its most pure, immaculate form.

The creation of Mary as the Immaculate Conception and her subsequent ‘yes’ to God, by grace and her own free will, which sustained her fullness of grace, preceded and made possible the redemptive work of Christ. Therefore, the work of Mary is also redemptive, even in anticipation of the Redeemer, but in a distinctly human way.

But her cooperation did not end with the Incarnation. She endured the entire life mission-vocation of Redemption with her Son, from before his birth until after his agonizing death, with each suffering of her Son in heart and body having been experienced within her own maternal heart (cf. LG 58).

The Council speaks of this life-long participation of the Mother in the work of the Son: “The work of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception until his death” (LG 57). The Council Fathers further testify in powerful expressions the co-suffering of the Mother with the Son; their union of heart and purpose, her sharing in the intensity of his suffering, and her coredemptive consent to the immolation of the Victim to whom she gave flesh for our Redemption:

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 command, enduring 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 born of her (LG 58).

Thus, the Council’s unquestionable teaching on Mary’s Coredemption would likewise become conciliar grounding for Bl. John Paul’s specific use of the “Co-redemptrix” title for Mary on six occasions during his pontificate, 14 including in this 1985 papal address:

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 (LG 58). She fulfills the will of the Father on our behalf and accepts all of us as her children, in virtue of the testament of Christ: Woman, this is your son…Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son. 15

The nineteenth century English apologist, Fredrick Faber, claimed “there is no other single word”, for Mary’s unique participation in the Redemption other than the term, “Co-redemptrix”:

She has a right to it, first of all, because of her cooperation with our Lord in the same sense as the saints, but in a singular and superlative degree.
She has a second right to it, which is particular to herself, because of the indispensable cooperation of her maternity. She has a third right to it because of her sufferings…there is no other single word [than Co-redemptrix] in which the truth can be expressed. 16

Faber’s contemporary, Bl. John Henry Newman, defended the theological legitimacy of the Co-redemptrix title to Pusey, particularly in light of the great richness of Patristic Marian teaching already accepted by his Anglican colleague:

When they found you with the Fathers calling her Mother of God, Second Eve, Mother of All Living, Mother of Life, the Morning Star, the Mystical New Heaven, the Scepter of Orthodoxy, the All-undefiled Mother of Holiness and the like, they would have deemed it a poor compensation for such language that you protested against her being called a Co-redemptrix.17

But what of the concern that the co-redemptrix title is neither biblical nor patristic? The same must likewise be said about numerous other classical and contemporary ecclesiastical terms, such as “Transubstantiation” and “Papal Infallibility.” In avoidance of any form of theological primitivism, the development of doctrine allows for new theological terms within the Tradition which capture a particular doctrine or mystery in a single word. Mary
Co-redemptrix is a development of Mary, the New Eve, as taught by the Fathers of the Church, with the additional understanding of a Christian soteriololgy more proximate to Calvary which developed by the tenth century.18 The Co-redemptrix term has been in the Tradition since the 14th century, with the “Redemptrix” term for Mary dating back to the 10th century. 19

The Council further provides us with a succinct statement as to the patristic testimony to Mary’s unique and active cooperation in human salvation:

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined Mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the bringing about death, so a woman should contribute to life…Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and the work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of Redemption…Rightfully, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation…Comparing Mary with Eve, they called her “Mother of the Living” and frequently claim: death through Eve, Life through Mary.”(LG 56).

Tradition often uses the same root titles for Mary as for Christ, for example, “Co-redemptrix” with “Redeemer”, “Mediatrix” with “Mediator”, etc. but clearly understands them in a distinctly human dimension when applied to the Mother of Christ. Entirely different root titles would not fully express the intimacy, beauty and coherency of the one plan of Salvation shared between the Son and the Mother, between God and humanity, and consequently between Jesus and us as co-redeemers.

Mary is Co-redemptrix with Jesus in the historical obtaining of the graces of salvation. For this reason, Mary becomes a “mother to us in the order of grace” (LG 61), that is, she becomes the Mediatrix of all graces in the distribution of those redemptive graces20, and principal Advocate21 to Jesus for the needs of humanity (cf. Jn. 2:5). The titles “ Mediatrix” and “Advocate” ontologically pre-suppose theCo-redemptrix” title and role and are inseparable from it.

These three titles manifest the three aspects of her one role as humanity’s Spiritual Mother: the Mother suffering (Co-redemptrix), the Mother nourishing (Mediatrix), the Mother pleading (Advocate).

Mary is rightfully invoked in the Church as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, because only these three motherly titles combined express her whole mission with the Redeemer: to suffer and redeem with Christ, to dispense all graces of salvation from Christ, to invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Pope Benedict refers to Mary as the Aqueductus22. All the graces of Redemption flow through her heart and hands into the world, because more than anyone else, she is uniquely and totally united with the Divine Spring, her Son, Jesus Christ and his Cross.

  1. Co-redemptrix Now

Now, as we celebrate the fiftieth year after the initiation of the Second Vatican Council, we can see the prophetic wisdom of Gaudium et Spes in voicing the imperative for the Church to be in constant examination of the “signs of the time” for a proper guidance of the People of God: “At all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the time and of interpreting them in light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task” (GS
4).

What, then, are the signs of our time? These signs can be found simultaneously in the headlines of contemporary media, as well as discussed in the private chambers of political, academic, and religious world leaders. While there are some legitimate signs of light and hope, there are also dominant signs of present darkness and potential destruction. Apart from significant differences on causes and moral implications of such signs, there seems to be a general global consensus that these grave present conditions could portend frightening historic consequences for humanity. To mention some of the most prominent:

1) The killing of 42 million unborn children worldwide each year through induced abortion 23, which does not include millions of contraceptive abortifacient-effected abortions
annually.

2) Unprecedented global economic crises and uncertainty, particularly with the instability of the euro and the dollar, and its immediate effect on global
economic markets.

3) Wars, rumors of war, and terrorism, inclusive of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, civil war in Syria and the Congo; terrorism in Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Lebanon; several Middle Eastern nations such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and others having experienced political upheaval and revolution; growing tensions between Iran (with the general allegiance of China and Russia)and Israel (with the general allegiance of the United States), hence the potential for a multi-national conflict and even conceivable nuclear involvement.

4) An unprecedented quantity and gravity of natural disasters, i.e., earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, draughts, floods, etc. within a comparable historical time period.

5) Growing world hunger, with over 1 billion people (1 out of 7 individuals) without proper food. 24

6) Growing world poverty, with an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor.

7) Worldwide moral decline, with increasing numbers in divorce, family breakdown, loss of religious commitment or traditional Judeo-Christian moral values, drug use, pornography, euthanasia, contraception, abuse of women and children, human trafficking; and Church related scandals of abuse.

The present worldview, particularly in the West, appears dominated by elements of rationalism, skepticism, materialism, consumerism, nationalism, hedonism, atheism, and secular humanism, all of which, it could be argued, to an unprecedented historic degree.

What, then, is the remedy?

Historic grace is the remedy. God’s help is the remedy. Man cannot, on his own, solve the exponentially complex and world threatening moral, geo-political, economic, and social issues of today, which are, in root, the ramifications of his own contemporary rejection of God’s existence, God’s revelation, God’s assistance. A historic outpouring of grace is the remedy, and it is the only true remedy.

At times of historic crises in the early Church, when the first centuries of Christians faced the great secular persecutions, the Church turned to Mary: “We fly to your patronage, o Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver from all dangers, o ever glorious and blessed Virgin.”25

At times of historic crises in the Church of the middle ages, against, for example, external threats of Islamic domination at instances like Lepanto in 1571 and Vienna in 1683, the Church turned to Mary, “our Lady of the Rosary, and to the “Holy Name of Mary.” 26

In the mid-nineteenth century, when Bl. Pope Pius IX, was forced into exile by secular attacks on the papacy and the Church, he turned to Mary through the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception, and his papacy was restored and the Church profoundly strengthened. 27

Now, in light of the present ubiquitous crises which have the potential of threatening the very core of human life and Christian faith, the Church must again turn to Mary.

Her titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate are her functions. Within the mysterious domain of the providence of God and the freedom of man, the more we freely acknowledge these supernaturally powerful roles of our Spiritual Mother, the more she is permitted by the heavenly Father to exercise them on our behalf.

This is why many contemporaries within the hierarchy, clergy, and laity among the

People of God sense it deep within their hearts and souls that, precisely now is most urgently the time for the solemn definition of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary and her roles by the supreme pontiff. Only the infallible acknowledgement of these roles can bring into full action the supernaturally powerful intercession of the Mother of God which is providentially contained within these roles.

The proclamation of Marian dogmas has, historically, always resulted in historic graces for the Church and for the world. It is precisely and exclusively a historic grace, mediated by the Mother and Queen of the Church, that will bring forth a Marian and ecclesial Triumph from this contemporary moment of potential human defeat.

The world needs a New Pentecost. The first descent of the Holy Spirit was brought forth through the intercession of Mary (cf. Acts 1:14). As the Spirit is the Divine Sanctifier, he will come again in power once his Immaculate Spouse is rightfully honored as the Mediatrix of all of his graces of sanctification, the human Advocate through whom the divine Advocate works to bring sanctification and protection to the world.

It has been almost a century since the great Belgian prelate and ecumenist, Cardinal Desiree Mercier initiated the ecclesial movement for the solemn definition of Mary’s universal mediation in 191528, with the simultaneous support of St. Maximilian Kolbe.29 The world situation now underscores the critical appropriateness of this definition, as humanity faces new and fresh dangers by the year.

The objection could be raised that a solemn Marian definition now, in the midst of the multi-form crises facing the Church today, would simply be too destabilizing. In response, let us return to the historic example of Bl. Pius IX.

In 1848, hostile secular forces attacked the Vatican causing Bl. Pius IX to flee to Gaeta. Common word on the streets of Rome was that the “Church was now over” and the papacy “finished.” Two Franciscan cardinals, Cardinal Antonio Orioli and Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini (former Secretary of State under Gregory XVI), approached the Holy Father in exile with the following argument: that everything possible which the “Church human” could try had been tried for the protection of the Church and respect for papacy. It was now time to turn to Mary through the solemn definition of her Immaculate Conception. She, in turn, would then lead a new renewal for the Church and the papacy through her powerful intercession.

Bl. Pius IX therefore made the decision, while in exile in Gaeta, to define the Immaculate Conception. In 1849, while still in exile, he issued Ubi Primum in papal communications to the world’s bishops which expressed his consideration to define the Immaculate Conception. Soon after in 1851, the secular forces hostile to the pope were defeated in Rome and Pius IX returned to the Vatican. On December 8, 1854, the Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined, which led soon after to the decision to call the First Vatican Council and make the declaration on papal infallibility. Both Vatican I and the definition on papal infallibility led to a great reunification of the Church under the newly strengthened papacy, and a spiritual renewal of various means throughout Italy and beyond.30

The parallels between the mid-nineteenth century Church and our present twenty-first century Church in crisis are significant. A papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood today, in the midst of our present state of ecclesial crisis would have the same effect as the one experienced in the mid-nineteenth century: a renewed Church, fortified and united under a strengthened papacy through the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. The Church of today will grow in strength, unity and purification to the degree that she fights for and subsequently proclaims this Marian truth. Our contemporary Church in crisis needs the full activation of the roles of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood through a public proclamation of its truth more than ever.

Grant the Mother the full ability, through our fiat, to bring grace, redemption, and peace to her earthly children, who are presently, in various manners, on the path of potential self-destruction. Let us solemnly acknowledge Mary on earth for that which she is already greatly venerated in Heaven: our
Immaculate Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate.

  1. Mary’s Role in the New Evangelization

It is precisely Mary’s role in coredemption and its subsequent mediation for humanity that becomes the foundation for her crucial role in Christian evangelization.

With the commencement of the Year of Faith and Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, it is quintessential that the roles of Mary be placed and recognized at the heart of the Eew Evangelization.

Let us incorporate the historic lesson of Guadalupe. When God the Father sent the Virgin of Guadalupe to initiate the Christian evangelization of Mexico and beyond, this resulted in the second greatest evangelization victory in Christian history after the first apostolic evangelization. The result of the Marian evangelization of Guadalupe was the Christian conversion of Latin America, the most populous Catholic continent in the world.

Mary’s “yes” brought Jesus to us. Our “yes” to Mary will allow her to bring Jesus to the world’s peoples and nations today in ways just as supernatural as she did at Guadalupe. But this time, the heavenly Father awaits our “yes” to Mary’s rightful acknowledgement and place in the New Evangelization. This “yes,” once again, is the solemn papal proclamation of her motherly roles of intercession which will in turn effect a worldwide release of the Holy Spirit in sustaining the preaching and acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ the world over. In short, the proclamation of this Marian dogma will bring forth a new Pentecost which will consequently result in a new Christian evangelization of historic proportions.

Let us, therefore, ardently pray and humbly petition our beloved and providentially chosen Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for this Marian dogmatic proclamation that will bring the world both a supernatural evangelization of the human family, and the true and lasting peace of Jesus that the Church and the world so desperately need.

Dr. Mark Miravalle

Professor of Theology and Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

mmiravalle@francsican.edu

October 7, 2012

1

Bl. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 1.

2

Catechism of the Catholic Church
, 571.

3

CCC, 622

4

Cf. for example,Bl. John Paul II, General Audience, Jan. 13, 1982, Inseg. V1, 1982, 91.

5

St. Augustine, Sermo 169; CCC 1847.

6

Cf also Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943.

7

Bl. John Paul II, Salvific Doloris, 24.

8

Cf. also theological explanation provided by Ven. Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943.

9

Expression of Bl. John Paul II, Address to Bishops of Uruguay, May 8, 1988, O.R., May 30, 1988, p. 4.

10

Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Visit to Fatima, Locution During Eucharistic Benediction, May 13, 2010.

11

CCC, 618.

12

Bl. John Paul II, Address to the Sick at Hospital of St. John of God, April 13, 1981, O.R., p. 6; General Audience, Jan. 13, 1982,
Inseg. V 1, 1982, p. 91;Address to Bishops of Uruguay, May 8, 1988, O.R., May 30, 1988, p. 4.

13

Bl. John Paul II, Wednesday Audience, April 9, 1997.

14

Cf. Bl. John Paul II, Papal Address to the Sick, Sept. 8, 1982;Papal address of Nov. 4, 1984, Papal Address at Quayaquil, January 31, 1985; L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 9, 1985, p. 12,Papal Address on St. Brigid of Sweden, October 6, 1991 ; Allocution to the Sick at Lourdes, March 24, 1990 Inseg., XIII/1, 1990.

15

Bl. John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan. 31, 1985, O.R. March 11, 1985.

16

F. Faber, The Foot of the Cross or the Sorrows of Mary, 1858.

17

Bl. John H. Newman, Certain Difficulties Felt By Anglicans, Vol. 2, p. 78.

18

Cf. John the Geometer, S. on the Annunciation, PG 106, 846; Life of Mary; Litanies des saintes, Tenth Century.

19

20

Cf. St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum, 1904, ASS 36, p. 453; Lumen Gentium, 61.

21

Cf. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Aqueductu 7; Piux XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor,; Lumen Gentium 62.

22

Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, April 26, 2009.

23

World Health Organization and Gutten Institute Statistics for 2011.

24

2012 World Hunger Statistics.

25

Sub Tuum Praesiduum
, 3rd century.

26

Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571; Battle of Vienna, Sept. 10-11, 1683.

27

Cf. Ubi Primum, 1849, the decree of Bl. Pius IX while in exile for consultation from the bishops of the world regarding the potential definition of the Immaculate Conception.

28

May 15, 1915 Pastoral Letter of Desire Mercier for the Solemn Definition of Mary’s Universal Mediation, cf Hauke, Mary Mediatrix of Grace, Academy of the Immaculate, 2006.

29

St. Maximilian Kolbe, “The Mediation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,” Rycerz Niepokalanej, 1923, vol. 3, pp. 45-46.

30

Father Peter Damien Fehlner, Franciscan historian, cf. “Cardinal Orioli”, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967; “Cardinal Orioli”, Catholic Encyclopedia; “Cardinal Lambruschini”, Catholic Encyclopedia.

Continue Reading

Munificentissmus Deus

Published on July 28, 2012 by in General Mariology

0

Apostolic Constitution defining “ex cathedra” (from the chair of Peter) the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin)

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has “when the fullness of time came”[2] put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.

5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church’s supreme teaching authority.

7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.

9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.

10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated.[3]

11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” a letter in which these words are contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?”

12. But those whom “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God”[4] gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This “outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,”[5] affirming that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church’s ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.[6] Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,[7] and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith.”[8] Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church’s ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, “all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.”[9]

13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.

14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.

15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.

16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ’s faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, “because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine.”[10]

17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”[11]

18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary’s as “an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin’s Assumption is something unique among men.” And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God’s Providence. “God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”[12]

19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,[13] has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.[14] Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.[15] Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which “the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.”[16]

20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”[17]

22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. “You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”[18] And another very ancient writer asserts: “As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”[19]

23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.

24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers,[20] have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”[21]; and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.[22] Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned.[23] These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.

27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.[24] Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,”[25] since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.

28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care.”[26]

29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet’s words: “I will glorify the place of my feet,”[27] he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that “you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord’s feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified.”‘ And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification “has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling.”[28]

30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true.”[29] And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.[30]

31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul.[31]

32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.[32] Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: “Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?”[33] and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: “From this we can see that she is there bodily…her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude.[34]

33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul-a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King- makes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is.”[35] Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.[36]

34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”[37]

35. In like manner St. Francis of Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: “What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?”[38] And St. Alphonsus writes that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust.”[39]

36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle[40] and is called by the Apostle “the pillar and ground of truth.”[41] Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady’s Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word “assumption” signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary’s Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: “This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”[42]

37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that “keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence.”[43] Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.

38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.

39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium,[44] would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.[45] Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: “When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”[46]

40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,[47] immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.[48]

41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith-this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians-we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.

42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.

43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:

that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

I, PIUS, Bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed, so defining.

ENDNOTES

1. Rom 8:28.

2. Gal 4:4.

3. Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in Caelum Definienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).

4. Acts 20:28.

5. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.

6. The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.

7. Jn 14:26.

8. Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.

9. Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.

10. The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).

11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.

12. Menaei Totius Anni.

13. Lk 22:32.

14. Liber Pontificalis.

15. Ibid.

16. Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.

17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.

18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.

19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.

20. Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St. Modestus.

21. Ps 131:8.

22. Ps 44:10-14ff.

23. Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.

24. Rv 12:1ff.

25. Lk 1:28.

26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.

27. Is 61:13.

28. St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. Mariae Virginis Sermo.

29. St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.

30. St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. also Mariale, q. 132.

31. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I, lla; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2.

32. St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.

33. Song 8:5.

34. St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.

35. St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.

36. Ibid.

37. St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.

38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.

39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.

40. Eph 5:27.

41. I Tim 3:15.

42. St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.

43. Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.

44. Gen 3:15.

45. Rom 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.

46. I Cor 15:54.

47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.

48. I Tim 1:17.

Continue Reading

0

From the cross, the dying Christ gave his mother to John, his “beloved disciple and, ultimately, to all humanity: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said this mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother” (Jn. 19:26-27).
Blessed John Paul II explains how the gift of Mary as the world’s Spiritual Mother is a gift which Jesus makes personally to each individual and to all humanity:

The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very center of this mystery – a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity – is given as mother to every single individual and all humanity. The man at the foot of the cross is John, “the disciple whom he loved. But it is not he alone. Following Tradition, the Council does not hesitate to call Mary the “Mother of Christ and the Mother of mankind” …Indeed, she is Mother of the members of Christ …since she cooperated out of love so that there might be born in the Church the faithful… (Redemptoris Mater, M 23)
…Mary’s motherhood which became man’s inheritance is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to each individual” (Redemptoris Mater, 45).

In his prayer consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984, Bl. John Paul calls Mary the “Mother of individuals and peoples” who knows our sufferings and embraces our human world:

O Mother of individuals and peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace, with the love of the Mother and the Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples…(March 25, 2004, L’O R, p.8).

The Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council refers to the Mother of Jesus as a “mother to us in the order of grace,” (Lumen Gentium, 61) meaning that Mary is not a mother to humanity in any physical sense, but rather a mother in the spiritual and mystical order, precisely as a result of her unique role with Jesus (and completely dependent upon Jesus) in fulfilling the mission of human redemption:

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, shed 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 (LG, 61).…Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office, but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal life (LG 62).

In essence, Mary is our spiritual mother because she participated with Jesus in obtaining the graces of redemption, and as a result, was given the privileged role of distributing the graces of redemption to her earthly children. Thus the Mother of Jesus participates in the mothering actions of interceding, of birthing, of nourishing, and of protecting humanity in the supernatural order through sanctifying grace.

How specifically does Mary act as a spiritual mother to us? She does so in the spiritual order in the same three basic ways that a good earthly mother does so in the natural order.

First, a good mother suffers for her child. This oftentimes happens shortly after conception, but certainly continues through gestation, at the labor of birth, and throughout the lifelong sacrificial vocation of motherhood for her child.

Secondly, a good mother nourishes her child. It is not enough to bring her child into existence through conception and birth, but she must also feed her child and nurture her child in love and formation.

Thirdly, a good mother intercedes for her child. A good mother pleads for the best for her child, whether it be in the areas of education, moral direction, social activity, recreation, in most all aspects of the child’s life. A mother’s intercession is especially powerful whenever her child is in risk of any danger or difficulty.

These are precisely the three foundational ways, that of 1)suffering; 2) nourishing; and 3) interceding, by which the Mother of Jesus exercises her spiritual and maternal functions on behalf of the entire human family.
Mary uniquely suffered with Jesus throughout her earthly life, but climatically at Calvary, in order to obtain of the graces of redemption for us all, like a New Eve alongside of the New Adam (cf. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. II, 2nd Century). For this first role of spiritual motherhood, she has been referred to in the Church since the 14th century as the “Co-redemptrix.” Bl. John Paul II had specifically called Mary the “Co-redemptrix on at least six separate occasions for her role of historic suffering with Jesus.

Mary then distributes the graces of Jesus to humanity which were obtained by the Divine Redeemer and the immaculate human Co-redemptrix at Calvary. For this role of motherly “nourishing” in the spiritual order, she is referred to by the popes of the last two centuries as the “Mediatrix of all graces.”

Mary also intercedes for all humanity in the spiritual order, especially at historic times of great danger and difficulty, bringing the needs of humanity to the throne of Christ he Son. She also intercedes for and announces the coming of the Holy Spirit, which she did so effectively in the Upper Room gathered with the first disciples before the First Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14). For this role of maternal intercession, Mary has been referred to as the “Advocate” for the human family since the second century of the Church.

Ultimately then, how is Mary the world’s Spiritual Mother? She is Spiritual Mother of humanity precisely through the exercise of her three principal spiritual roles of service to the human family as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. Her general role as Spiritual Mother of humanity is realized through these specific motherly functions as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. Mary’s overall role as Spiritual Mother is inseparable and put into practice only through these three specific maternal roles and actions in the order of grace.

Mary perpetually shared in the ongoing sufferings of Jesus throughout his life mission of salvation, and at Calvary she was “spiritually crucified with her crucified Son, as Bl. John Paul II taught (Jan. 31, 1985 Address, Quayaquil, Ecuador). In all his teachings, Bl. John Paul II made clear, once again, that as Spiritual Mother of all Humanity and as Mediatrix, Mary may dispense the graces of Redemption, only because as Co-redemptrix with Christ she cooperated in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption. The titles Mediatrix and Co-redemptrix presuppose each other and are absolutely inseparable.

Only these three titles and roles of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate combined accurately express her entire mission as Spiritual Mother of humanity: to suffer and redeem with Christ, to dispense all graces of salvation from Christ, to intercede for us and to invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit of Christ, on behalf of all humanity.

Note here that we speak not of “three mothers”, but of one mother with three aspects of maternal service for her children. We therefore are not speaking of three separate truths about Mary, but one central truth, her spiritual motherhood, which is manifested in three profound and inseparable expressions of her spiritual maternity as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate.

In the messages of the Lady of All Nations, the Church approved messages from Amsterdam (local Church approval, May 31, 2002), the Mother of Jesus calls for the proclamation of the Dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate as the heavenly pre-condition for Our Lady to intercede for a new descent of the Holy Spirit, and thus to usher in a time of global peace, true peace, for the world:

The Lady of All Nations desires unity in the Spirit of Truth. The world is encompassed by a false spirit—Satan. When the dogma, the last dogma in Marian history, has been proclaimed, the Lady of All Nations will give peace, true peace to the world” (May 31, 1954 Message).

To join the movement in favor of a “New Pentecost” initiated by the papal proclamation of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood by Pope Francis, go to www.peacethroughawoman.com.

The world right now could use some help from heaven, like a new, historic, dynamic outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples. Join the petition and forward it on to the friends and family members whom you know will understand. The time is now for a New Pentecost through Mary, the world’s Spiritual Mother.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
May 31, 2012 Feast of the Visitation of Mary

Continue Reading

0

We find ourselves in a world scenario that is in several ways unprecedented.  Moral degeneration has never been worse.  Abortions, family breakdown, human trafficking, pornography, child abuse, rape and disrespect for women, homelessness and starvation – all of these moral crises are presently in record proportions.

Our global economic instability is, like never before, a grave financial danger for the entire world. Geo-political conflicts, particularly but not exclusively in the Middle East, and increasing international terrorism are also reaching new proportions.  Even natural disasters in the last few years have cost humanity in life and in economic recovery more than in any other comparable time period. […]

Continue Reading

0

By popular demand, we are re-running the profoundly beautiful synthesis of “Who is Mary of Nazareth” which was provided by the new official English website of the Lady of All Nations Apparitions entitled, “Amsterdam Apparitions.com”  Although soon to be released on the new site (Pentecost Sunday, May 27) is the international documentary, “Peace Through A Woman” which is narrated by Hollywood celebrity Martin Sheen.  Visit www.amsterdamapparitions.com. -Ed.

Everything we say about Mary is related to Christ. With love and pride we tell it all Christians: If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, how could you possibly presume that the Father used a woman so that His Son could become human, and then dismissed her? We would make her a type of ‘surrogate mother’. Because Christ is the God-man, the eternal Son of the Father, we have to accept that there is a unique and everlasting relation between this young woman, Mary of Nazareth, and the triune God. This is the foundation of all Mariology. Therefore we call her: Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Bride of the holy Spirit. Tradition gradually penetrated into this sublime mystery of Mary, and proclaimed her greatness in four dogma’s: Mother of God, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, and Assumption into Heaven. These all speak about the great things the Lord did to her, but still one truth is not yet solemnly and fully proclaimed: Her unique role in Gods plan of salvation.

The Immaculate Conception

In order to understand this, her crucial role in Redemption, again we have to start with the intense unity between the Son and his Mother. It started with the mystery of the Incarnation. From her and from her alone, He took his flesh. In our time, we would say the entire ‘gene card’ of Jesus comes from Mary. Christ could redeem humanity and transform it into a higher state of being, because Mary offered Him a humanity in its most pure immaculate form.

Read More The creation of Mary as The Immaculate Conception and the subsequent perseverance of her lifelong ‘yes’ to God, by grace and her own free will, preceded and made possible the redemptive work of Christ. Therefore, the work of Mary is also redemptive, but in a distinctly human way. And her cooperation did not end there. She went the whole way with her Son, from before his birth until after his death.

Co-redemptrix

Mary shared in the ongoing sufferings of Jesus throughout his life mission of salvation, and at Calvary she was “spiritually crucified with her crucified Son” (John Paul II). Vatican II concludes: “Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated … 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”. Christ of course is our sole divine Redeemer and Mediator, but “He does not want to save us without us”, St Augustine explains. This applies in a wholly singular way to Mary, as Mother of God and as the Immaculate Conception. In all his teachings Bl. John Paul II made clear that as Spiritual Mother of all Humanity and as Mediatrix Mary may dispense the graces of Redemption, because as Co-redemptrix with Christ she cooperated in obtaining the graces of Redemption. The titles Mediatrix and Co-redemptrix presuppose each other and are inseparable.

Mediatrix of all graces

Pope Benedict refers to Mary beautifully as the Aquaductus. All the graces of Redemption flow through her heart and hands into the world, because more then anyone else she is uniquely and totally united with the Divine Spring, her Son Jesus Christ and his Cross. Tradition therefore uses the same words for Mary as for Christ, but clearly understands them in a distinct human dimension. Entirely different titles would not fully express the beauty and coherency of the Plan of Salvation. Mary truly deserves to be solemnly proclaimed as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, because only these three titles combined express her whole mission: to suffer and redeem with Christ, to dispense all graces of salvation from Christ, to invoke the coming of the holy Spirit of Christ. Various prophetic voices in our time promise hat this would very much please the heart of the Lord, and would bring a New Pentecost upon our wounded world.

Continue Reading

0

“Be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Mary says “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel, and thus mediates to us the Redeemer to the world.

The role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mediatrix” cannot be separated from her prior role as the “Co-redemptrix.”  When the Church teaches that Mary is the “Mediatrix of all graces” it refers to her spiritual role of distributing the graces of the Redemption to humanity.  But this motherly role of dispensing the graces of the Redemption pre-supposes her role with Jesus in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption.

“Co-redemptrix” is a Marian title dating back to the 14th Century.  Pope Pius XI called Mary the Co-redemptrix on three occasions, and Blessed John Paul II did so on at least six occasions. Co-redemptrix refers to Mary’s unique participation with Jesus in obtaining the graces of redemption for humanity’s salvation.

Mary helped Jesus save souls like no other creature.  She did so by freely consenting at the Annunciation to bring the Redeemer into the world, and hence giving the Redeemer his body, the human instrument of Redemption (cf. Lk 1:38; Heb. 10:10).  Mary also shared in the ongoing sufferings of Jesus throughout his life mission of salvation (cf. Lk. 2:35), and, most of all by being “spiritually crucified with her crucified son” at Calvary, to use Blessed John Paul II’s expression, (cf. Jn. 19:25-27; O.R., 31 Jan, 1985). Mary’s role with Jesus in obtaining the graces of Redemption precedes and makes possible her subsequent role in dispensing the graces of redemption with Jesus.  Mary is Mediatrix of all graces only because she is first Co-redemptrix in the meritorious obtaining of all redemptive graces with and under Jesus, the divine Redeemer.
Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix provides the historical, theological, and causal foundation for her consequential role as Mediatrix. As the Second Vatican Council teaches:

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 sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim born of her.  Finally she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words“ Woman, behold thy son” (Jn. 19:26-27). (Lumen Gentium, 58)

Because of Mary’s coredemption or “suffering with” Jesus at the Cross, the Council points out that she uniquely cooperated in the Redemption accomplished by the Savior and, “for this reason”, becomes a mother to us in the order of grace:

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. (Lumen Gentium, 61).

After her Assumption into heaven, the Second Vatican Council further instructs that Mary continues her role of motherly intercession to bring us the “gifts of eternal life” and thereby she is rightly invoked under titles which include “Mediatrix”:

Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside her saving office, but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation…Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. (Lumen Gentium, 62).

Mary is first the Co-redemptrix, and then, for this reason, the Mediatrix.

In a recent March 18, 2012 message from the reported Medjugorje apparitions, Mary herself proclaims her role as the Mediatrix: “I wish to be the bond between you and the Heavenly Father – your Mediatrix.” Since Mary’s role as Mediatrix is inseparably united and dependent upon her role as Co-redemptrix, Our Lady’s words serve to confirm both titles, and most importantly, her desire that the world know and understand these titles. Yes, her words at Medjugorje do support and encourage the solemn proclamation or “dogma” of her united roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. Let the proclamation of this fifth Marian Dogma come soon, as the world right now desperately needs the full exercise of Our Lady’s powerful intercessory roles, motherly roles which can only be brought into full spiritual action through the solemn recognition and definition of these roles by Pope Benedict XVI, humanity’s highest authority and greatest representative.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Continue Reading

0

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.

 

Notes

(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
Christus,
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.

Continue Reading

0

“Incarnatio redemptiva redemptio inchoativa” (“the redemptive Incarnation is the Redemption begun”). This patristic concept of the miracle of miracles in which the Second person of the Most Holy Trinity deigned to become flesh for us correctly conveys that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is truly the “Redemption begun.” And yet, it was the Father’s perfect plan that such redemptive Incarnation take place only through the consent of a human, a woman, a virgin.

“Yes” to the Annunciation: Lk. 1: 26-38

“Let it be done to me according to your word”

Perhaps St. Bernard describes it best when he states that the whole world waited to hear the response of the Virgin, upon whom salvation was dependent: “The angel awaits an answer; . . . We too are waiting O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us . . . We shall be set free at once if you consent . . . This is what the whole earth waits for . . . .” St. Luke records the commencement of Redemption:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great and will be called

the Son of the Most High;

and the Lord God will give to him

the throne of his father David,

and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;

and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I know not man?”

And the angel said to her,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High

will overshadow you;

therefore the child to be born will be called holy,

the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing is impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

“Be it done unto me according to your word.” With these words, words of a free and immaculate virgin, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. “The Eternal Father entrusted himself to the Virgin of Nazareth,” and the Virgin gave her “yes” to the Father’s plan to redeem the world through the incarnate Son.

For those tempted to dismiss the “fiat of history” as bereft of any real active participation on the part of the Virgin (as if her consent was only a type of passive recognition or simple submission), Mary’s “fiat” in the Greek is expressed in the optative mood (ghenòito moi . . . ), a mood which expresses her active and joyful desire, not merely a passive acceptance, to participate in the divine plan.

Redemption Begun  – Co-redemption Begun

As the Incarnation is the Redemption begun, so too is Mary’s fiat the Co-redemption begun. In the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “Of course, Mary is the Co-redemptrix. She gave Jesus his body, and the body of Jesus is what saved us.” The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that we have been “sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all” (Heb. 10:10). But Jesus receives the precious instrument of Redemption, his sacred body, through Mary. In virtue of the intimate and sublime salvific gift, body to Body, heart to Heart, Mother to Son, the Immaculate Virgin begins her role as Co-redemptrix in the donation of human nature – from the Co-redemptrix to the Redeemer.

But within the gift of body from Mary to Jesus, is the gift of heart bespoken in that gift of body. It is the gift of free will, of soul and spirit, unconditionally offered back to the Eternal Father, in the “yes” of the Immaculate One to His redemptive plan, regardless of the price.

With this “let it be done to me,” the humble Virgin of Nazareth becomes “cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race” as St. Irenaeus teaches; the “price of the redemption of captives” as St. Ephraem proclaims; she “conceived redemption for all”  as St. Ambrose explains; and is rightly greeted, “Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve” by the eastern Akathist Hymn. St. Augustine tells us that the faithful Virgin first bore Christ in her heart and then in her flesh; and St. Thomas Aquinas explains that the Blessed Virgin’s free consent to receive the Word represented in a true sense the consent of the entire human race to receive the Eternal Son as the Redeemer.

The Immaculate One’s “yes,” soft-spoken to the Archangel Gabriel, is amplified and resounds throughout creation and time. It is humanity’s yes by humanity’s best, for she speaks not only for herself but in the name of mankind, when she gives her assent to the Father’s design for a Redeemer. The Triune God so respects human free will, typically fragile and fickle, that he awaits human consent for a mission upon which literally every human soul’s eternal destiny depends. Yet, above all human creatures, the sinless Mary is most free to choose, most able to offer herself to the Father for the accomplishment of his will. And when her consent is given, he generously responds.

Theologians have long examined the precise nature of Mary’s fiat in relation to her role in Redemption, and have sought to categorize it. Some have argued that her fiat is only a “remote,” “indirect” or “mediate” participation in the plan of Redemption, too distant from Calvary to be considered an intimate sharing in the accomplishment of Redemption. But in this we must remember the wisdom of the early Church Fathers, who teach that the Incarnation is the Redemption anticipated and begun.

If we examine the question from the perspective of God the Father of all mankind, further light is to be found: The Father sends an angelic invitation to his Immaculate Virgin Daughter, requesting of her a free assent to become the greatest human cooperator in the plan of Redemption by becoming the Mother of the Redeemer, including everything that is mysteriously part of that redemptive plan and role.

There are not two invitations. There is not one for bearing the Redeemer and another for suffering with the Redeemer – not one invitation sent to Nazareth and another sent to Calvary. Mary is invited by the Almighty to a vocation of the greatest conceivable union with the Redeemer and with His prophesied mission. The redemptive mission begins with the Immaculate One giving the Logos flesh, but it certainly does not end there. The Virgin knows that hers is a historical and lifetime vocation, that she is to become the Mother of the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah – the messianic mission, of which the Virgin, educated in the Temple, is well knowledgeable. Her vocation is a celestial call for an extraordinary lifelong suffering. It is an invitation to a vocation of being “with Jesus,” beginning at the Annunciation and continuing in heart wherever the Redeemer goes and whatever the Redeemer does. Always she will be his constant companion in suffering. At Calvary, the Virgin Daughter of the Father understands clearly that her consent to co-suffer in the great immolation of her Victim-Son was given thirty-three years earlier at Nazareth.

(Page 2)

Is this not the same with the “yes” that one utters to the various Christian vocations? The priest, the religious, the married person say “yes” on the day of ordination, profession, or marriage, accepting a lifetime of service and love in that vocation, without the knowledge of everything the vocation will entail in the future. Is the priest on the day of ordination given divine illumination regarding each and every specific joy and sorrow that awaits him in the life of priesthood? Rather his “yes” on the day of ordination is a “yes” to the entire plan of the Eternal Father for his vocation. The Father need not issue a second invitation before the most climactic aspects of his priestly sacrifice numerous years later, for the first “yes” of the priest is a lifetime “yes” to the entire life vocation.

The vocational “yes” of the Virgin of Nazareth is a lifetime “yes” to suffering “with Jesus,” from the Annunciation to Calvary and beyond. Seen in this light, Mary’s fiat not only begins her providential vocation as Co-redemptrix with Jesus, but it also begins an intimately willed and consented participation in the Father’s redemptive plan with the Son in its entirety, in whatever manner the mission of Redemption with Jesus is to unfold historically in act and circumstance.

Mary, with the fullest consent of her heart and spirit, cooperates “with Jesus” in the redemptive plan of the Father from that Annunciation “fiat.” There is never a time when she is not intimately, morally and directly cooperating with Jesus in the developing redemptive plan of the Father, which only reaches full maturity and mystical birth at Calvary. “Principium huius maternitatis est munus Corredemptricis”  (“the beginning of this maternity is the office of Co-redemptrix”). For this reason, it is best to describe the singular role of Mary in the plan of Redemption initiated at the Annunciation as the “Co-redemptrix begun,” and her climactic participation “with Jesus” at Calvary as the “Co-redemptrix fulfilled.”

Joseph’s Ordeal and Mary’s Heart

Soon after the fiat, an intensity of suffering begins for her. The Immaculate One becomes physically recognizable as pregnant. She is the Tabernacle of the Redeemer, but this is not yet known or understood by others. The Virgin’s suffering is multiplied by the suffering of one so close, so dear, so just, that it increases the sacrificial offering of her young heart. It is the ordeal of Joseph.

“When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Mt. 1:18-19). After the Virgin’s return from Ain-Karim, during which for three months the Icon of Charity exercised her virtues at the service of Elizabeth, Joseph witnessed the early external signs of pregnancy, the sight of which brings him a great darkness of understanding regarding his betrothed and the Child she is carrying.

The deep interior anguish of Joseph is seen by Mary and she suffers with him. Within the illogic of external appearances, she is the very cause of his suffering. Even in this first of ordeals, the Mother and the Son are united as the objects of human confusion and seeming contradiction because of their united fiat to the plan of the Heavenly Father’s mission of Redemption. The Mother “with Jesus in the womb” suffers silently and offers this intensely, while her just and chaste spouse shares in an early passion of heart caused by God’s mysterious designs for human salvation. It is a test of Joseph’s faith, a measure of his love. Mary, Woman of Silent Suffering, does not defend herself. She awaits in the pain of silence and potential misjudgment for the Heavenly Father to defend his redemptive plan and his virgin daughter.

The Father does indeed defend her: “But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins . . .’ When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus” (Mt. 1:20- 21,23-24).

All those who are proximate to the Redeemer will have their share in suffering, including the Guardian of the Redeemer. Through his fruitful, exceptional sharing (albeit external), in the redemptive Incarnation and its hidden development during the private years of Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph becomes the spiritual Guardian of all the redeemed. He becomes Patriarch of Patriarchs, spiritual father to Jesus, spiritual father to us all.

Lk. 2:22-38 – Simeon’s Prophecy of the Co-redemptrix

The role of the Co-redemptrix is soon after confirmed in prophecy by the power of the Spirit of Truth.

The Virgin Mother, though not truly bound under a law given for an expiation of sin, nevertheless obediently subjected herself to the Mosaic Law. In the Temple she fulfills the duties of ritual purification, offering the “poor offering” of one young pigeon for a holocaust and another for a sin offering. There, too, she offers her male-child to the Lord.

In this great paradox, the Mother and Son, who will offer themselves as the “sin offering” for all humanity at Calvary, enter the Temple humbly and offer a sacrifice for the son who is the redemptive Sacrifice itself. In truth the Mother is offering the “rich offering” of the Lamb, the Paschal Lamb whom the Eternal Father will accept when his “hour” has come; the Lamb who is both Victim and High Priest.

Simeon is most likely not a priest, but rather one of the “anawim,” a blessed poor one, faithful to Yahweh and His covenant. Simeon is an old man of prayer and expectation, a simple member of the faithful, a humble voice of the vox populi, awaiting the Messiah in order that he may journey to his eternal home in peace.

The Temple is first and foremost a place of sacrifice. All that takes place during the event of the Presentation is a real and mysterious foreshadowing of Calvary, with the same two public persons, Jesus and Mary. Mary offers the child in perfect obedience to the redemptive decrees of God – at the Temple and at Golgotha – effecting a historical sharing in humanity’s liberation. She performs the offering of the Child to the Eternal Father, joined by the co-offering of herself for the unified goal of Redemption.

Simeon recognizes the child as the “salvation” (Lk. 2:30) prepared in the presence of all peoples, as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to thy people Israel” (v. 32). But then the holy Simeon turns his gaze to the Mother of salvation, and prophesies that she too, in virtue of her motherly relation to the sign of contradiction, will experience a life and mission of suffering “with Jesus”: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is rejected – and a sword shall pierce through your own soul, too – that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35).

If the Sign is rejected, then the Mother of the Sign will be rejected. What mother does not share in the suffering of her son when her son is contradicted? But if her son is the prophesied sign of contradiction, (in relation to which all hearts will be “revealed,” either for or against the true Redeemer), then she experiences not merely a moment of pain at the Temple, but a lifetime of pain as the Mother united to the Sign, a mother suffering “with Salvation.” No greater sacrifice will ever be asked by the Father of all mankind than the one asked of this Son and Mother, with its defining moment at the tree of Calvary. Yet this sacrifice begins long before. Indeed, the sufferings of the Mother begin before the sufferings of the Son.

From the moment of the Presentation, for a period of over thirty years, the Immaculate Heart painfully ponders the prophecy of Simeon, back and forth on different levels of consciousness and concurrent sorrow. From this moment on, her heart is pierced in anticipation due to the knowledge of the suffering awaiting her innocent Child. She will ultimately share the piercing of his Heart, to which hers is indissolubly united. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn. 19:37), and the pierced Heart of Mary will “suffer with” the Pierced Heart of Jesus, from which the blood and water of Redemption is destined to flow.

 

Footnotes, Page 1

1. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Hom. 4, 8-9; Opera Omnia, ed. Cisterc. 4, 1966, 53-54.
2. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 39.
3. I. de La Potterie, Maria nel mistero dell’Alleanza, Genoa, 1988, p. 195 (Eng. trans., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, 1992).
4. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Personal Interview, Calcutta, August 14, 1993.
5. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, vol. 3, ch. 22, n. 4; PG 7, 959.
6. St. Ephraem, Opera Omnia, ed. Assemani, Rome, 1832,  vol. 3, p. 546.
7. St. Ambrose, Ep. 49, n. 2; PL 16, 1154 A.
8. St. Augustine, De Sancta Virgin. iii.
9. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, Q. 30, a. 1.

Footnotes, Page 2

1. The patristic tradition which maintains that the original date of the Annunciation and the original date of Good Friday is the same March 25, seems to confirm the inseparability of the Incarnation from the Redemption. Cf. Tertullian, Adversus Judaeos, 8; PL, 2, 656 in J. Saward, The Mysteries of March, Catholic University of America Press, 1990, p. xv.
2. F. Ceuppens, De Mariologia Biblica, Rome, 1951, p. 201; cf. Manelli, “Mary Coredemptrix In Sacred Scripture,” Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Queenship, 1996, p. 86.
3. Cf. Lev. 12:2, 8
4. Cf. Rt. Rev. Aloys Schaefer, The Mother of Jesus in Holy Scripture (trans. from the German by Rt. Rev. Ferdinand Brossart), Frederick Pustet, 1913, p. 186.

Continue Reading

0

We here present a classic defense of Our Lady’s role as the Co-redemptrix as articulated by the late Fr. Juniper B. Carol, renowned mariologist and founder of the Mariological Society of America. Even though the article is written before the Second Vatican Council, and the pontificate of John Paul II and his extraordinary contribution to Marian Coredemption, Fr. Carol’s treatise still represents the unquestionable presence of Marian Coredemption in Scripture, Tradition and the Papal Magisterium. – Ed.

Those who are fairly abreast of current Catholic thought scarcely need to be apprised of the importance attached to the problem of Our Lady’s Coredemption in contemporary theological literature. They are aware of the fact that during the past twenty-five years particularly, few questions in the vast field of the sacred sciences have engaged the attention of theologians more frequently and absorbingly than the one we are about to discuss. Even the Protestant theologian Giovanni Miegge recognizes this truth when he maintains that Mary’s Coredemption is the central and fundamental issue in twentieth-century Mariology. (1) Indeed, considering “the pressure of public opinion,” it is easy to foresee that this Marian prerogative will soon be solemnly defined by the Roman Pontiff. (2) If we believe Pierre Maury, another Protestant writer, the Coredemption is not only one of the primary principles of Mariology; (3) in the mind of the Popes and Catholic theologians, it is the very synthesis of the Marian tract. (4)

Despite their exaggerated appraisal, it is obvious that these non-Catholic authors reflect the current doctrinal preoccupations of their Catholic brethren. Be that as it may, it remains true that many dogmatic questions will not be satisfactorily solved nor properly understood until they are solved and understood through a well-focused prism of the fundamental doctrine relative to Our Lady’s position in the economy of salvation.

Perhaps it is well to remark at the outset that, in writing this article we make no pretense of either originality or thoroughness. Both are impossible under the circumstances. Our aim is simply to acquaint English-speaking readers with the result of the many years of study which modern Mariologists have devoted to this complex yet enthralling doctrine. Considering the vastness of the field, our presentation will be, of necessity, somewhat sketchy and superficial. (5) It will follow the usual pattern adopted in similar dissertations, namely: preliminary notions and state of the question; the argument from the Magisterium (Section I); the teaching of Sacred Scripture (Section II); the data of Tradition (Section III); the nature and modalities of the Coredemption (Section IV); difficulties and solutions (Section V).

Preliminary Notions and State of the Question

Since the word “Coredemptrix,” by its very definition, designates Our Lady’s share in the work of man’s supernatural rehabilitation as brought about by Christ, it is obvious that in order to have an accurate understanding of the doctrine expressed by that word, we must first have exact notions concerning the essence of Christ’s redemptive work and likewise of the various ways in which Mary may be said to have co-operated therein.

We take the term “Redemption” to mean exclusively the restoring of the human race to the divine friendship lost by sin, in virtue of the meritorious and satisfactory acts which the Savior performed while still on earth, and which He offered to the Eternal Father with and through His sacrificial death on the cross. The “price” which Christ paid for our ransom from the slavery of Satan was actually the sum total of His merits and satisfactions from the time of the Incarnation until His self-immolation on Calvary. The Eternal Father was so pleased with this price offered by His beloved Son, that He canceled our debt, was reconciled to the human race, and showed Himself ready to grant us again the graces necessary for our salvation. The Redemption just described is called by some objective Redemption, (6) by others, Redemption in actu primo, and again by others, Redemption sensu proprio. The actual application of this Redemption to individual souls is referred to by some modern authors as the subjective Redemption (Redemption in actu secundo; Redemption sensu lato). In this article we are directly concerned with the Redemption itself (Redemption in the proper sense) and not with the application of its fruits to individuals.

Speaking in general, there are two ways in which Our Lady may be said to have co-operated in Christ’s redemptive work: mediately (indirectly, remotely) and immediately (directly, proximately). Mary co-operated mediately, for example, by meriting some of the circumstances of the Incarnation, and chiefly by giving birth to the world’s Savior. Since Mary knowingly and willingly consented to the coming of Christ with a view to man’s Redemption, it is clear that this co-operation of hers was moral and formal, notwithstanding its being mediate. (7) She co-operated immediately if her merits and satisfactions were accepted by Almighty God together with the merits and satisfactions of Christ to bring about the selfsame effect, namely, the restoration of the human race to God’s former friendship. Another type of immediate co-operation would be had, for example, if Our Lady had determined Christ (by request, command, counsel, etc.) to perform the work of Redemption, thus directly influencing the Savior’s redemptive acts in themselves. This particular point will call for further observations when we discuss the nature of the Coredemption, under Section IV to follow.

Let us now cast a rapid glance at the various opinions expressed by Catholic (8) theologians in this connection. It is, of course, admitted by all that Our Lady had a mediate share in our Redemption inasmuch as she freely consented to become the conscious instrument of the Redeemer’s coming by consenting to be His Mother. Furthermore, it is generally granted that Our Lady participated in our Redemption in the sense that, throughout her life, she united her sentiments, prayers, and sufferings to those of her divine Son, desiring to be associated with His saving mission out of love for the human race. But the agreement ceases as soon as theologians endeavor to determine the precise value, efficacy, and extent of that co-operation. A first group, representing the minority, contends that Our Lady’s association with the Redeemer, as just described, had no value or efficacy whatever for the Redemption itself (objective Redemption, as they call it), but only for the application of its fruits to individual souls (subjective Redemption, as they say). In other words, the human race was reinstated into the friendship of God in view of the merits and satisfactions of Christ alone. Mary, too, had merits and satisfactions of her own, but these merely won for her the right, or quasi right, to become the dispenser of all the graces which flow from the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice. Such is, in its barest outline, the opinion of H. Lennerz, S.J., W. Goossens, G. D. Smith, and several other distinguished theologians and Catholic writers. (9)

A second group, no less distinguished than the first, believes that Our Lady co-operated proximately, directly and immediately, in the Redemption itself (objective Redemption) inasmuch as Almighty God was pleased to accept her merits and satisfactions together with those of Christ (although subordinately to them) as having redemptive value for the liberation of mankind from the slavery of Satan and its supernatural rehabilitation. Hence, just as the world was redeemed by Christ, it was also coredeemed by Mary. The difference between the two causalities lies in this, that while Christ’s merits and satisfactions were infinite, self-sufficient, and de condigno ex toto rigore justitiae, Our Lady’s merits and satisfactions were finite, totally dependent upon those of Christ whence they drew all their value, and de congruo. (10) Such is the view which we ourselves have consistently upheld and which has the endorsement of the vast majority of Catholic theologians at the present time. Outstanding for their contributions in this connection are Msgr. J. Lebon, J. M. Dover, S.J., the late Canon J. Bittremieux, C. Dillenschneider, C.Ss.R., C. Friethoff, O.P., P. Strater, S.J., H. Seiler, S.J., G. M. Roschini, O.S.M., E. Druwé, S.J., and D. Bertetto, S.D.B. (11) In Section IV below we shall have occasion to discuss in greater detail the various ways in which these theologians explain the nature of Mary’s Coredemption sensu proprio.

Within the past decade a small group of German theologians have undertaken to champion what many consider a “middle-course theory” between the two schools of thought just referred to. Summarized in a few words, their position may be stated as follows: Our Blessed Lord alone brought about our reconciliation with God in actu primo. This presupposed, Our Lady may be said to have proximately cooperated in the objective Redemption in the sense that she “accepted” the fruits of the Savior’s redemptive sacrifice and made them available to the members of the Church whom she officially represented on Calvary. (12) As the alert reader will observe, this theory does not adopt a true “middle course.” While their advocates frequently use the terminology of the second group (a clever camouflage), actually their explanation (or destruction?) of Our Lady’s Coredemption coincides substantially with that of Professors Lennerz and Goossens. (13)

With the above preliminary remarks in mind, we shall now proceed to give a resumé of the arguments which would seem to establish the thesis championed by the theologians of the second group.

I. The Ordinary Magisterium on Mary’s Coredemption

Under the term “magisterium” we designate the teaching of the Supreme Pontiffs and of the body of bishops in communion with Rome. We refer to it as “ordinary” in contradistinction to the solemn and extraordinary teaching contained in ex cathedra pronouncements or conciliar definitions. We are dealing here with less important documents such as encyclical letters, papal allocutions, and the like. (14) As far as doctrinal questions are concerned, the Pope and the bishops, and they alone, constitute the authentic and divinely appointed teaching authority here on earth. While God’s revelation is objectively preserved in Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition, nevertheless the data found in these sources must always be interpreted according to the mind of the living magisterium. It is only by following the guidance of this “proximate rule of faith” that the faithful can be sure of grasping the genuine sense of the depositum fidei. And by “the faithful” we mean, not only the simple, unlettered, ordinary Catholic, but the professional theologians as well, regardless of their learning and official status.

It is only within the past one hundred years that the Popes have turned their attention to the specific phase of Mariology being discussed here. Nevertheless, their repeated statements in this connection are sufficiently clear and important to deserve separate treatment in this article. (15) The series of noteworthy testimonies fittingly opens with Leo XIII (1878-1903) whose numerous Marian encyclicals contributed so much to the recent Mariological movement. In his Jucunda semper (1894) Pope Leo states that “when Mary offered herself completely to God together with her Son in the temple, she was already sharing with Him the painful atonement on behalf of the human race… (at the foot of the cross) she willingly offered Him up to the divine justice, dying with Him in her heart, pierced by the sword of sorrow.” (16) A year later he wrote that “she who had been the cooperatrix in the sacrament of man’s Redemption, would be likewise the cooperatrix in the dispensation of graces deriving from it.” (17) The passage is worth noting because it clearly distinguishes the Redemption itself from its actual application, and points out that Our Lady co-operates in both.

A similar distinction is alluded to in the much-discussed text of the encyclical Ad diem illum (1904) of St. Pius X (1903-1914). Here we read: “Owing to the union of suffering and purpose existing between Christ and Mary, she merited to become most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world, and for this reason, the dispenser of all the favors which Jesus acquired for us by His death and His blood.” The Pontiff then mentions that Christ is the source of grace, and Mary its channel; hence, far from him to ascribe to her the efficient causality of grace. Then he continues: “Nevertheless, because she surpasses all in holiness and in union with Christ, and because she was chosen by Christ to be His partner in the work of human salvation, she merits for us de congruo, as they say, that which Christ merited for us de condigno, and she is the principal dispenser of the graces to be distributed.” (18) Some theologians, it is true, understand these words as referring exclusively to Our Lady’s cooperation in the so-called subjective Redemption; but in all probability those who interpret them in the sense of a true and proper Co-redemption (and they are the majority) have captured the genuine meaning of the papal passage. (19)

If some hesitation is conceivable as regards the teaching of Popes Leo and St. Pius, the stand of their successor, Benedict XV (1914-1922), leaves no room for doubt. He was the first Pope to formulate the doctrine of Mary’s Coredemption in trenchant and unequivocal terms. His classical text is found in the Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia (1918) and reads in part: “To such extent did (Mary) suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated Him—insofar as she could—in order to appease the justice of God, that we may rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ.” (20) It is to be noted that the Pope is not reviewing here the various aspects of Our Lady’s remote connection with the redemptive work of her Son; the specific manner in which she is said to have redeemed the world with Christ is her direct participation in the Passion, in the sacrificial immolation itself, in order to make satisfaction for the sins of the world. (21)

Remarkable though it is, the above text lacks one thing: the word Coredemptrix itself. Benedict’s immediate successor, Pius XI (1922-1939) was the first Pope explicitly to apply this title to Our Lady. Perhaps his most important testimony is that found in the prayer with which he solemnly closed the jubilee of our Redemption on April 28, 1935: “O Mother of love and mercy who, when thy sweetest Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, didst stand next to Him, suffering with Him as a Coredemptrix… preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day the precious fruit of His redemption and thy compassion.” (22) Here Our Lady is styled Coredemptrix, not because she gave birth to the Savior, but because of her proximate share in the Redemption itself; and the graces which flow from that Redemption are said to be the fruit of a joint causality: the Passion of Christ and the compassion of His Mother. (23)

While the present Holy Father, Pius XII, has not as yet employed the term “