Conformity to Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Coredemptrix

Having reflected on the spiritual journey of the soul from conversion right up to a mystical transubstantiation into the Immaculate, and having seen the crucial role of our Mother Coredemptrix throughout, it would be extremely negligent not to treat of that final destination of the journey which is Jesus Christ. To be perfectly conformed to Jesus Crucified, to be espoused to Him in a transforming union: this is the supreme summit of holiness that is attainable during this earthly pilgrimage. There is no spiritual height which surpasses Jesus Christ who is Himself “our sanctification” (I Cor. 1:30). Union with Him, by grace in this life and by glory in the next; this alone constitutes blessedness.

Obviously it is beyond the scope of this short essay to cover this exhaustively. For our purposes it shall be sufficient to show how perfect conformity to Christ Crucified and transforming union with Him is a work accomplished by, with and in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Coredemptrix. (1) Fr. Ragazzini sums it up well when he writes:

The ideal of every soul that strives for perfection is to reach the point of participating in the life of Jesus in the most intimate and full manner possible… Actualizing this program of life in individual souls is the specific task of Our Lady. It is her mission. It seems that she was created for this. And whatever has taken place in this sector is, without exception, her work; one could even say exclusively. (2)

He is confirming the teaching of St. Louis de Montfort: Ad Jesum per Mariam, to Jesus through Mary. De Montfort, in fact, claims that “the greatest good which Mary procures for her faithful clients is… to unite them to Him in a most intimate union…” (3) She operates in union with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, to produce this union of love with Jesus Christ. Montfort also states that, “The strongest inclination of Mary is to unite us to Jesus Christ, her Son, and the strongest inclination of the Son is that we should come to Him through His holy Mother.” (4) It is Our Lady’s desire, therefore, to unite us to her Son and it is the Son’s desire that we be united to Him by way of Mary.

All of this having been established, we can now take a more in-depth look at the essential role which the maternal and coredemptive Heart of Mary plays in effecting perfect conformity to Christ Crucified (a conformity to which every Christian is called by virtue of his Baptism) and in effecting a mystical marriage or transforming union with Him (a union which all souls ought to desire and dispose themselves for).

According to the doctrine of St. Paul, we are predestined “to be made conformable to the image of His Son; that He might be the firstborn amongst many brethren” (Rom 8:29). Conformed to Jesus who is the Son of God and Son of Mary, the firstborn of many brothers: this is the intrinsic vocation of every Christian. But, as Fr. Fehlner clearly demonstrates, “The key to perfect conformity to the Crucified and to the repair of the Church is the mystery of Coredemption,” (5) this is so because “…her coredemptive suffering is the means of our being conformed to Christ Crucified…” (6) In a word, our conformity to the Crucified is effected by Marian Coredemption, and in particular by the maternal mediation of her transpierced Heart on Calvary. Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart merits and brings about our conformation to Jesus Christ. As Mother and Coredemptrix she, united with and subordinate to the Savior, redeems fallen humanity; her maternal and coredemptive Heart reopens the gates of Heaven, acquires redemptive grace, and applies it to souls so that they might be one in Him.

It is not surprising, then, when Ven. Fr. Allegra writes that in her Heart, “in this sanctuary of the Blessed Trinity, the soul is perfectly conformed to Christ, or better is transformed into Him.” (7) De Cruce similarly observes that the soul is “…perfectly conformed to Jesus, the Beloved, through a transformation of divine grace in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” (8)

Among the countless examples that could be cited of this perfect conformity to Jesus Crucified in the depths of Mary’s maternal and coredemptive Heart, there is the Poverello of Assisi, the first person in the history of the Church to receive the stigmata. In this regard Fr. Fehlner asks the pointed question: “…what is that spirit so singularly Francis’ which can unfold even more marvelously in his children, if not the created Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mother into whom Francis was ‘transubstantiated’ to be the fruit of her coredemptive love for the Sacred Heart?” He responds that “only the immaculate, impeccable love of the Virgin Mother’s Heart transpierced can explain the mystery of that perfect inner conformity of the heart of the Poverello to the Crucified revealed in the miracle of the stigmatization; and why such ecstatic contemplation can be so apostolically effective.” (9) The explanation of the perfect conformation of St. Francis to Jesus on the Cross is none other than the “Virgin Mother’s Heart transpierced”; he is the “fruit of her coredemptive love.”

A more recent example of this is St. Pio of Pietrelcina. One set of authors writes: “At San Giovanni Rotondo the Mother of the Church willed to offer an exact copy of her Crucified Son in Padre Pio… Padre Pio is presented to us as a masterwork of Mary.” (10) Further on they maintain that “Padre Pio could not help but be the delight of Jesus and of Our Lady of Sorrows: he was totally transformed in the Crucified, with his heart passed through by the sorrows of Mary.” (11) This, in fact, was the life and spirituality of the stigmatist priest: perfect conformity to the Crucified Savior in union with the Mother of Sorrows. He himself once wrote: “May the Virgin of Sorrows obtain from her most Holy Son (the grace) to make us penetrate ever more into the mystery of the Cross and, along with her, to inebriate ourselves by means of the sufferings of Jesus…” (12) Love unto victimhood which penetrates ever more the mystery of the Cross and immerses itself into the sufferings of Jesus Christ: this is the fruit of Marian Coredemption in Padre Pio’s soul and is the goal of any authentic Christian spirituality.

While St. Paul speaks of “being made conformable to His death” so as to “attain to the resurrection” (Ph 3:10-11), he also speaks of a spousal union with Christ. He writes to the Church at Corinth: “For I have espoused you to one Husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Cor 11:2; cf. Eph 5:21ff.). It is a union which caused the Holy Apostle to exclaim: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels… nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love