It is no secret that Catholic theology and devotion have produced many excellent works on the Blessed Virgin Mary and likewise on the spiritual life; however, it seems that there are very few who treat these two subjects together. (1) One is an expert in Mariology while another in Mystical Theology, yet all too often they fail to show the complementary, or better, the essential unity between Marian devotion and union of the soul with God. (2) St. Bonaventure draws our attention to this indissoluble union between Our Lady and spiritual perfection when he observes: “I have never read of any Saint who did not have a special devotion to the glorious Virgin.” (3) This fact alone causes us to ask, “Why is it that the glorious Virgin has played such a special role in the spiritual life of all the Saints?” And further, “What is her role in the soul’s journey towards perfect union with God?”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “through Mary the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the object of God’s merciful love into communion with Christ.” (4) It is through Our Blessed Lady that the Holy Spirit brings us into communion with Jesus. Just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed her at Nazareth to form Jesus Christ in her most pure womb, so also the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin operate together to mystically form Jesus Christ in the world (behold the Church) and in souls (behold the Saints). (5) “The Holy Spirit,” writes St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, “does not act, except through the Immaculate, His Spouse. Hence she is the Mediatrix of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit…” (6) It is precisely this union of being and operating between the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate which places Mary at the heart of the spiritual life. The Divine Spirit sanctifies souls through, with and in the Virgin Mary. Hence Venerable Fr. Michael of St. Augustine states, “No one, in whatever state or condition, can obtain any grace and have any hope of the divine life or Christian perfection except by means of Mary, by means of communication through this amiable Mother.” (7)
Mama! Mary is my Mother, my spiritual Mother. This is the touching reality which explains both why she is so important for my spiritual life and what her function is. She is always “our Mother,” our most amiable Mother. (8) “In a word,” writes Fr. Severino Ragazzini, “souls thirsting for Marian spirituality (a thing which is in demand nowadays) want their Mother; above all else they desire their Mother; and since they pine from within for this sweet victory, they deeply desire that theology and mysticism give exhaustive reasons (and in a fully accessible manner) for this sensation that is among the most beautiful sensations that one could have.” (9)
The Blessed Virgin of Nazareth is not only the Mother of Christ the Head, but of His Mystical Body as well. Mary becomes Mother of the whole Christ, Head and members, immediately after she utters her fiat to be the Virgin Mother of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. (10) What Jesus is by nature, namely the Son of God and the Son of Mary, we are by grace. We have become true children of God and true children of Mary. Hence we cry out, “Abba, Father!” and “Mama, Mother!” by the Spirit of the Son (cf. Rm 8:15; Gal 4:6). Jesus, while He is by nature the Only-Begotten Son (cf. Jn 1:14, 18), is also the “Firstborn amongst many brethren” (Rm 8:29). Through grace God is our Father, Mary is our Mother, and Jesus is our Divine Brother.
The Second Vatican Council maintains that Our Blessed Lady is our “Mother in the order of grace” (11) and our “Mediatrix.” (12) Maternal Mediation; (13) this is the key to understanding our topic. In fact, St. Maximilian writes: “… every grace received each day, hour, and moment of our life is her grace, flowing from her motherly Heart that loves us”; (14) he is simply reechoing Pope Leo XIII who wrote: “It can be affirmed that, by divine disposition, nothing can be communicated to us from the immense treasury of grace… except by means of Mary.” (15) They could not have summed up the doctrine of Mary’s mediation more concisely or simply: all divine graces, without exception, come to us from her “motherly Heart that loves us.” And we shall observe, in particular, how the grace of our personal sanctification and spiritual life flows from the Most Holy Trinity through her Immaculate Heart. (16)
The work of sanctification is a work ad extra of the entire Blessed Trinity; however, it has always been attributed in a special way to the operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Holy Virgin Mary, as “the Spouse of the Holy Spirit,” works together with the Paraclete in sanctifying souls. (17) Venerable Fr. Gabriel Mary Allegra expresses this beautifully when he writes: “Between the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate there exists more than a strong and intimate union; there exists a mystical identity: the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit is united to the action of Mary; where there is the Spirit, there is Mary; where the Spirit operates, there operates Mary. This maternal action of Mary is the Holy Spirit’s breath of life in the members of the Mystical Body of Christ.” (18) The maternal mediation of Mary is the breath of divine life in us, the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. This all forms part of that eternal plan of God that willed in “one and the same decree” (19) the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the divine Maternity of the Virgin Mary, and the sonship of God’s children: “Before the foundation of the world” we were “predestinated…unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ.” (Eph 1:4-5).
Yet, after the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden we are exiled, cut off from the flow of divine grace. Hence we can say that in the present economy of salvation Mary becomes our Mother in the order of grace and forms us into Christ above all
at the foot of the Cross on Blood-stained Calvary. Mary as the Immaculate, as the Perpetual Virgin, as the Mother of God, contributed objectively to our Redemption by her active, direct, and immediate participation subordinate to the Christ, the sole Redeemer. (20) Here she arrives at the summit of divine love and is intimately united to her Crucified Son. Here she becomes our Mother Coredemptrix, (21) the Mother of the Church which flows from the pierced Hearts of the Savior and Our Lady. After the fall, the Immaculate, who was created to be the maternal Mediatrix between Jesus and mankind, (22) actualizes her spiritual Maternity in her Compassion (23) with Our Lord on the Cross. (24) In this way she merits to distribute the graces of Redemption. (25)
“In a word,” writes Fr. Peter Fehlner, “the suffering and death He endured corporally, she endured in her Heart, so that she might be by right (meritoriously, exigitive) maternal Mediatrix of graces.” (26)
If all graces come from God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as from a reservoir, then the sword which pierces through the Sorrowful Heart of Mary Coredemptrix on Calvary opens the floodgates of redemptive grace for sinful mankind. Before the work of Redemption wrought by the Redeemer and the Coredemptrix, sinful man is ever in a state of “unjustice” before God, unable to benefit from divine grace. However, after Jesus and Mary, the New Adam and New Eve, repair the fall of our first parents, all graces flow to man from the Most Holy Trinity by way of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
St. Leopold Mandic explains that Our Lady, as Coredemptrix, “mystically generated us at the foot of the Cross by way of the most dreadful martyrdom that a mother’s heart could ever know. We are truly sons of her tears.” (27) The Blood of Jesus Crucified and the tears of Mary Con-crucified intermingle on Calvary where they are offered to the Eternal Father for our redemption and sanctification. In this way the Blessed Virgin cooperates in cleansing, healing and sanctifying our fallen human nature and, as Ragazzini points out, places “something strictly of her own person as a constitutive element of the grace which regenerates me. In this way the ‘behold I come,’ Ecce venio (Ps. 39:8; Heb 10:7,9) of the Redeemer corresponds perfectly to the ‘behold the handmaid of the Lord,’ Ecce ancilla Domini (Lk 1:38) of the Coredemptrix.” (28) Every grace, then, is a grace merited by Christ and by Mary. Jesus merits as Priest and Redeemer; Mary merits in union with Him and subordinate to Him as Mother and Coredemptrix, (29) so that every divine grace that comes to my soul is both a Christian grace and a Marian grace.
After the Redemption, the floodgates of divine mercy now opened wide, Jesus and Mary can prodigiously communicate the treasures of divine grace to souls as the Mediator and Mediatrix. Ragazzini sums it up well when he writes:
Our Lady the Mediatrix corresponds marvelously to Christ the Mediator (who grants and communicates the merited and acquired grace to the members of the Mystical Body as Redeemer and Head of the same Body). She (like Christ, yet once again, dependently and in a single activity with Him) grants and communicates the merited and acquired grace to her children in the ontological unity of the Mystical Body as Coredemptrix and Mother of the Mystical Body. (30)
Hence Mary, as my spiritual Mother, not only conceives me within her womb at the Incarnation as a potential member of His Mystical Body, but she brings me forth in “travail” and “pain” (Apoc 12:2) by her Coredemption on Calvary; she unites me to Christ the Head precisely “because,” as Fr. Fehlner observes, “she is the Virgin Mother, the maternal Coredemptrix, on Calvary.” (31) What is more, she directs, nourishes and communicates the divine life to me and to every member of Christ’s Mystical Body as the maternal Mediatrix. (32) Thus Ragazzini’s insight is only logical: “Even the development of my supernatural life, therefore (and not only its conception), is indissolubly bound to Mary.” (33)
It is clear, therefore, that after having conceived and generated my soul into the divine life, my Mother Mary “collaborates in its formation in order to lead it to the full transformation in Christ.” (34) In a word, Mary’s maternal mediation “embraces the entire spiritual life with all its various degrees.” (35) Since the consummation (36) of her maternal mediation is found in “her unique sharing in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection,” as Fehlner demonstrates, so “…the Coredemption is the point where the Mariologist passes into the mystic and learning is put fully at the service of devotion.” (37) In Marian Coredemption, then, we have a complete program of personal sanctification, (38) from Baptism to the last Anointing, from conversion to mystical union. It is a program of perfect conformity to Jesus Crucified by way of, and in union with, the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary Coredemptrix.
Having briefly established the fact of her active and indispensable role as Mother Coredemptrix in our interior life, we will now glance at how, concretely, she brings about our total transformation in Jesus. To facilitate this part of our reflection, let us go to Calvary, to the place where our Redemption was wrought. There we will see Jesus Crucified and the Virgin of Sorrows jointly redeeming the human race; but we will also see four other people who display for us different aspects of the spiritual life: St. Dismas—a soul converted; the Centurion—a soul enlightened; St. Mary Magdalene—a soul purified; St. John the beloved disciple—a soul perfected. Each of them represents an important aspect of the spiritual journey which transpires under the motherly solicitude of Mary Coredemptrix. As the Blessed Mother with her compassion and prayer assisted them, so she desires to assist us. In this way, as Ragazzini puts it, “she continually deepens within me the spiritual life by her Coredemption which redeems me, and by her Mediation which continually obtains grace upon grace for me.” (39)
With the Sorrowful Mother on Calvary
Even though there is a chorus of voices who tell us that the Incarnation, according to the eternal designs of God, is not occasioned by sin, (40) that the Incarnation of the Word and the divine Maternity would have occurred and we would have been elevated to partake of the divine nature through Jesus and Mary even if Adam and Eve had not sinned, nonetheless, after the fall there is no elevation for man without there first being a reconciliation. Stated succinctly, in the present economy of salvation there is no grace, no holiness, no spiritual perfection except by way of the Cross. Without the Redemption we remain in our sins without any hope whatsoever.
This means that every authentic Christian spirituality flows from and culminates on Calvary. Therefore, to become holy, to grow in the spiritual life, to “know…the power of His Resurrection” (Ph 3:10), the soul must prostrate itself before the Cross where the New Adam and New Eve together redeem the world: Jesus the one Mediator between God and men (cf. I Tm 2:5); the Blessed Virgin the one Mediatrix between Jesus and mankind. (41) It is she, the Virgin most faithful, who stood at the foot of the Cross right to the end; and it is she who brings faithful souls to Him. Closeness to the Lady of Sorrows brings us close to the “Man of Sorrows” (Is. 53:3). Intimacy with her Immaculate Heart, pierced by the sword, brings us to adore and enter the Sacred Heart of Christ, thrust through by the soldier’s lance.
I. St. Dismas: Conversion and the Immaculate Coredemptrix
Before His Holy Passion Our Blessed Lord declared that He would send the Paraclete to “convince the world of sin” (Jn 16:8). It is the working of the Spirit which enables the soul to cry out with Simon Peter: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Lk 5:8). This conviction of sin is extremely essential to the spiritual life, so much so that the “source and summit of the Christian life,” (42) namely the Holy Eucharist, always begins with an examination of conscience, a confession of sin, and a cry for mercy: Kyrie eleison. This realization that “all have sinned, and do need the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) calls the soul to repentance and to a firm resolve to amend its sinful ways with the help of God’s grace. In a word, the entire spiritual itinerary towards the sublime heights of communion with God begins with humble conversion.
When commenting on the efficacious role of the Immaculate Coredemptrix in the conversion of the soul, the author De Cruce spontaneously bursts out, and we quote him at length: “Mother Mary, it is I who have done this to you! Woe is me! My dreadful sins have crucified the Lord of glory and thrust the lance into His Most Sacred Heart. But the lance of my wickedness had to spiritually pass through and pierce your Mother’s Heart first, which was ever one with that of your Son. I am aghast, appalled… I am convicted of my sins.
“However,” he continues, "my humble and contrite heart is not spurned because He “loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20). I am further strengthened by you, Refuge of Sinners, who by your perpetual fiat to the divine will cooperated in the Redemption of the world as Coredemptrix at the foot of the Cross. Indeed you loved me and delivered Him and yourself up for me! As His Immaculate Mother your subordinate role with your Son and Savior was altogether unique and efficacious in redeeming my soul and those of the whole world. “In truth you suffered, and almost died with your suffering and agonizing Son; you renounced your maternal rights over your Son… and as far as what depended upon you, you immolated the Son to placate the divine justice in such a way that, one can rightly say, you, with your Son, redeemed the human race.” (43) You suffered in silence and lifted all to the Father of mercies through the Holy Spirit in union with Christ Crucified. Now, truly, “out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35). You are the Mother of mercy, the Mother Coredemptrix, the Mother of the Church. Please, we beseech you, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. (44)
St. Luke informs us that at Our Lord’s Crucifixion “there were also two other malefactors led with Him to be put to death.” While one of these criminals blasphemed Christ, the other received the grace of conversion. The latter is a type of every soul that converts and begins the spiritual ascent towards Paradise. The Evangelist narrates:
And one of the robbers who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying: “If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us.” But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing that thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil.” And he said to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy Kingdom.” And Jesus said to him: “Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” (Lk 23:33-43).
St. Dismas, the so-called Good Thief, feared God and was aware that his deeds were deserving of punishment, that he was a sinner. After his confession, he invokes the Lord’s mercy. All of this occurred in the presence of the Immaculate Coredemptrix who suffered with and under Christ precisely for the salvation of poor sinners. The battle for souls was fierce on that Good Friday and she sacrificed everything through, with and in Christ for the Redemption of the world. She herself witnessed the drama of the two thieves justly punished for their crimes, dying on Christ’s left and right. She prayed earnestly for these souls, and one converted on the spot: he was to enter Paradise that very day.
At the foot of the Cross, then, the Immaculate Coredemptrix obtains the grace of conversion for poor sinners and there, on Calvary, she even begins applying them, as in the case of the repentant thief. The Holy Doctor St. Alphonsus comments that “from that time Mary began to perform for us this office of a good Mother because… the penitent thief, through the prayers of Mary, was converted and saved. Therefore the good thief repented, because the Blessed Virgin, standing between the Cross of her Son and that of the thief, prayed to her Son for him.” (45) The intercession of Our Lady on behalf of poor sinners is absolutely efficacious. “Even for the most desperate sinners,” writes Venerable Allegra, “if they are confident in the Heart of the Immaculate Mother, a tender, filial act of contrite love is worth more than an hour of examination of conscience made in a stoic manner, that is without love for Him who came to be called ‘the friend of sinners’ and for her who is the Mother of sinners… In order to arrive at such a repentance, at such an evangelical metanoia—conversion—trust in the Mother of every grace is needed.” (46)
We do well to recall here the conversion of the nominal Jew, Alfonse Ratisbonne, who accepted in jest to carry a miraculous medal from a Catholic friend. At a certain point he entered a church to see some of the artwork while his friend took care of some last minute preparations for a funeral. Then, suddenly, light radiated from another part of the church. Ratisbonne narrates: “I turned my eyes towards the chapel from which was emanating a bright light and I saw, standing on the altar, alive, great, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy, the most Holy Virgin Mary… In the presence of the most Holy Virgin, even though she did not speak even a word to me, I understood the horror of the situation in which I found myself, the heinousness of sin, the beauty of the Catholic religion, in a word I understood everything.” (47) He was baptized within weeks and went on to become a Roman Catholic priest. This thought of St. Maximilian is not surprising then: “Every conversion and every step along the way of sanctification is a work of grace, while the Dispensatrix of all graces that flow from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is none other than His Mother, the Immaculate.” (48)
Marian Coredemption is, therefore, an unfathomable reservoir of grace for poor sinners. Through her tears and her sorrowful Heart, the Immaculate Coredemptrix convicts and purifies us from sin in union with her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean, F.I. is a member of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and author of several Mariological publications.
(1) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, O.F.M. Conv., in his extensive volume on the Marian itinerary of the soul to the Most Holy Trinity, Maria Vita Dell’Anima, underlines the fact that Our Lady’s role in the soul’s ascetical and mystical life is extremely underdeveloped in theology and that faithful, Marian souls are “asking that a solid and secure itinerary be traced out for them which (through Our Lady, obligatory passageway for climbing to the heights of the Most Holy Trinity) might quickly transport and fix them in the Divine Unity…” He goes on to ask the poignant question: “How come theology does not take this whole matter into consideration and present a Marian asceticism and mysticism which is theologically solid at its base and well-framed within the harmonious structure and architecture of Christian spirituality?” (Maria Vita Dell’Anima, Frigento (AV), Italy, 1984; p.97-98).
(2) On this point one can see the profound theological insights of Bl. Columba Marmion in Christ the Life of the Soul, P.II, C.XII, intro.; St. Louis, MO, 1925; p.340.
(3) St. Bonaventure, “Nunquam legi aliquem Sanctorum, qui non haberet specialem devotionem ad Virginem gloriosam.” Serm. 2 de Purif. B.M.V.; IX, 642a.
(4) Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.725.
(5) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., observes: “She (Our Lady) forms the body of the Son of God; and it is into this body that we the members are incorporated, precisely by the mediatory maternal action of the same virginal Mother of God. It is an action which in the Church begins with baptism and is completed in the Eucharist, as the Seraphic Doctor notes in a sermon on the Eucharist.” The Mystery of Coredemption According to the Seraphic Doctor St. Bonaventure, 1998 (unpublished English edition, used with permission, p.21); Il Mistero della Corredenzione secondo il Dottore Serifico San Bonaventura, in Maria Corredentrice: Storia e Teologia II, Frigento, Italy, 1999, p.43.
(6) St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, reported in Aim Higher, Zambia Catholic Bookshop, 1987; P.I, Ch.2, n.2; St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort confirms this in his classic book, True Devotion to Mary, when he writes: “The Holy Spirit gives no heavenly gift to men which He does not have pass through her virginal hands. Such has been the will of God, who has willed that we should have everything through Mary…” (n.25).
(7) Ven. Fr. Michael of St. Augustine, Vita Mariaforme, Rome, Italy, 1982; Ch. 1, p.32.
(8) In His Marian Catechesis (abbreviated MC from here on) during His Wednesday audiences from 1995-1997, Pope John Paul II beautifully highlights that, “The recognition of her role as Mediatrix is… implicit in the expression ‘Our Mother,’ which proposes the doctrine of Marian mediation by placing the accent on her motherhood.” (translated from the Italian in Maria Madre di Cristo e della Chiesa: Catechesi Mariane, by Pope John Paul II, Casale Monferrato, Italy, 1998; MC 65 n.2).
(9) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, O.F.M. Conv., Maria Vita Dell’Anima, Frigento (AV), Italy, 1984; p.21.
(10) Cf. Pio XII, Radiom. 1947; also see Mistici Corporis, #75.
(11) Lumen Gentium, n.61. Underscoring this point, His Holiness John Paul II states: “The Church, in her earthly pilgrimage, ‘continually’ experiences the efficacious action of the ‘Mother in the order of grace.'” (MC 65 n.6).
(12) Ibid., n.62.
(13) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n.38-45; Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, in speaking about the Blessed Mother’s involvement in the work of universal salvation and redemption states: “When, however, we ask what is distinctive about this involvement (in the work of universal salvation and redemption), we shall say: hers is a maternal mediation, i.e., the form which her mediation takes is maternal and enables us to know maternity in its most perfect form, first in respect to the formation of the human body of the Son of God and then in respect to the interior life of those who are born of water and the Holy Spirit.” (Immaculata Mediatrix: Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Queenship Publishing Co., Santa Barbara, CA, 1997; p. 278).
(14) St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, reported in Aim Higher, (edition cited); P.I, Ch.2, n.5.
(15) Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical on the Rosary, Sept. 22, 1891.
(16) St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, in his book The Secret of Mary, states: “I affirm that in order to find the grace of God, it is necessary to find Mary” (n.6).
(17) Following his Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, who called Our Blessed Lady the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit” (Antiphon for the Office of the Passion; cf. K. Esser, Die Opuscula des hl. Franziskus von Assisi,Grottaferrata, 1976; p.339), St. Maximilian sees this indescribable union of the Immaculate with the Holy Spirit as the basis for her Mediation. He writes, for example, that “it is licit to conclude that Mary, by the fact that she is the Mother of God the Savior, became the Coredemptrix of the human race, while, by the fact that she is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, taking part in the distribution of all graces… Above all in these times we are seeing that the Immaculate, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is manifesting herself as our Mediatrix”; he later notes that “Every grace is the fruit of the love of the Holy Spirit and of the Immaculate” (Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe, (abbreviated SK from here on) Rome, Italy, 1997; n.1229, 1284).
(18) Ven. Fr. Gabriel Mary Allegra, O.F.M., Il Cuore Immacolato di Maria, Acireale (CT), Italy, 3rd edition, 1991; p.70.
(19) Bl. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus; in Latin: “unum eodemque decretum.”
(20) Pope John Paul II maintains that, “Mary’s concurrence (in the work of our Redemption)… is actualized during the very event itself and by the title of Mother… In union with Christ and submitted to Him, she collaborated in order to obtain the grace of salvation for the whole of humanity” (MC 48 n.2).
(21) His Holiness John Paul II clearly states: “Mary, though conceived and born without the taint of sin, participated in an admirable way in the sufferings of her Divine Son so as to be Coredemptrix of humanity.” Inseg., V/3 (1982) 404. For a complete exposition on the Pope’s use of the term Coredemptrix cf. Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins, Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Queenship Publishing Co., Santa Barbara, CA, 1997; pp.133ff.
(22) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., writes with acumen when he states: “In virtue of her Immaculate Conception and in union with the Holy Spirit therefrom she enjoys the rank of universal Mediatrix of all graces for all men and angels. That mediation is properly maternal, first by way of the divine Maternity with God in the initial establishment of an economy of salvation, consummated coredemptively through her obedience and compassion at the foot of the Cross; and then with Christ in the Church in the distribution of all graces” (Immaculata Mediatrix: –work cited; p. 296). Fr. Severino Ragazzini holds the same position; this is clear from the fact that he considers the Coredemption as part of Mary’s earthly mediation whereas the distribution of grace forms part of her celestial mediation: “Her terrestrial mediation, then, which has already been the subject of a separate chapter in this present work under the title of Coredemption, a title which is preferable not only for its most precise and immediate meaning, but also because it is already universally accepted by the piety of the faithful” (Maria Vita dell’Anima, edition cited, cf. pp.51-53).
(23) Splendid are the words of Pope John Paul II: “We turn again… to the foot of the Cross where the Mother ‘suffered profoundly with her Only-Begotten Son and associated her maternal spirit to His sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her.’ (Lumen Gentium 58). With these words the Council recalls to us the ‘Compassion of Mary’ within whose Heart strikes afresh all that Jesus suffers in soul and body, underlining the will to participate in the redemptive sacrifice and to unite her own maternal suffering to the priestly offering of the Son” (MC 47 n.2).
(24) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., “That role (of Mary with the Holy Spirit on our behalf) at the initiation of the work (of Redemption) was to make possible the divine maternity; at the consummation of the sacrifice it is to make possible the spiritual maternity. The Incarnation of the Son by being conceived of the Virgin Mary includes the espousals of the human race in the bridal chamber. The actual participation in the wedding feast depends on sharing in the sacrifice of the Incarnate Savior. At both moments the Immaculate Virgin is Mediatrix, because at either moment the entire Christian people is being produced from the womb of the glorious Virgin.” The Mystery of Coredemption…, (work cited, p.34-35); Il Mistero della Corredenzione (work cited, p.67).
(25) Friar M. M. De Cruce, F.I., In Pursuit of Souls: Meditations on the Role of Redemptive Suffering, Silence, and Prayer in the Missions, from the unpublished text (used with permission), P.III, s.III, Acquired Contemplation; p.52.
(26) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., Immaculata Mediatrix: –work cited; p. 301.
(27) St. Leopold Mandic, L’Immacolata Concezione, in Bollettino francescano 15 (1916) p.160.
(28) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited); p.39; he previously describes this personal, Marian dimension in our regeneration, saying: “… every time she holds her Beloved in her hands, not ignorant of his excruciating end, as also when, kneeling along the way to Golgotha, she sees Him appear before her in a pitiable state and beyond recognition, and above all at the foot of the Cross, she is offering and sacrificing Him for me, freely and generously making a holocaust (according to a happy expression of Pope Benedict XV AAS 10(1918) ) of her maternal rights and of her mother’s love… Our Lady did this spontaneously, with full-knowledge of her contributing something strictly her own towards the acquiring of the regenerating grace of my soul” (p.36).
(29) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., emphasizes the unique, redemptive merit of Our Lady: “…with Christ and under Christ, Mary forms, in virtue of their joint predestination, a single redemptive personality. Hence, like Him, she is a public person, viz., one capable of meriting not only for herself, but for others ‘de condigno.’ And if that merit is redemptive, she is Coredemptrix. We want to stress: Mary pertains in this unique way to the redemptive order in such wise as to merit condignly for others, because she pertains as no other to the order of the hypostatic union.” (Immaculata Mediatrix: –work cited; p. 284-285). To some, Fr. Fehlner may seem to say ‘too much’ in attributing ‘de condigno’ merit to Our Lady and to contradict Pope St. Pius X (cf. Ad diem illum, Feb.2, 1904) who explicitly teaches that Our Lady merits ‘de congruo’; however, the fact is that Fr. Fehlner makes the subtle distinction that when one considers Mary Coredemptrix as distinct from the Redeemer, her merit is ‘de congruo,’ whereas when one considers her in union with the Redeemer, viz., as essentially part of the Redemption by divine decree because of the Marian mode of the Incarnation and Redemption, her merit is ‘de condigno’ (cf. p.285-286).
(30) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited; p.15). It is interesting to note that Pope John Paul II seems to speak of Marian Coredemption as a dynamic, ongoing role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and not just a mere moment when he states: “In fact, Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son” (Inseg., VIII/1 (1985) 318-319; ORE 876:7).
(31) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.I., Immaculata Mediatrix: –work cited; p. 326.
(32) St. Louis Grignon Marie de Montfort notes: “Mary has received from God a special dominion over souls in order to nourish them and make them grow in God… Consequently, as a child draws all its nourishment from its own mother who proportions the food according to his fragility, so too the predestined draw every spiritual nourishment and vigor from Mary” (The Secret of Mary, n.14).
(33) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited); p.36; describing Our Lady’s mystical Motherhood he writes: “Our Lady carries me in her most pure womb for my whole life (mystical Maternity), so that she can give birth to me in the full light of Heaven. In this manner, once conceived during the span of my life, and just like my earthly mother did for the nine months of gestation, she continually deepens within me the spiritual life by her Coredemption which redeems me, and by her Mediation which continually obtains grace upon grace for me” p.33.
(34) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited); p.357.
(35) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited); p.261.
(36) Pope John Paul II teaches that at the Annunciation Our Lady “initiated her participation in the drama of Redemption… The association of the Virgin to the mission of Christ reached its summit in Jerusalem at the moment of the Passion and Death of the Redeemer” (MC 47 n.1-2).
(37) Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, O.F.M. Conv., Fr. Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.: His Mariology and Scholarly Achievement, in Marian Studies Vol. XLIII, Dayton, OH, 1992; p.46.
(38) St. Bonaventure,“Fuit Virgo omnis sanctificationis principium diffusivum… ex ea omnes sanctificantur… »Serm. 2 de Purif. B.M.V.; IX, 242a.
(39) Fr. Severino Ragazzini, (work cited); p.33.
(40) Bl. John Duns Scotus, “Dico tamen quod lapsus non fuit causa praedestinationis Christi, imo si nec fuisset Angelus lapsus, nec homo, adhuc fuisset Christus sic praedestinatus… Item, si lapsus esset causa praedestinationis Christi, sequeretur quod summum opus Dei esset occasionatum, quia gloria omnium non erit tanta intensive quanta erit Christi, et quod tantum opus dimisisset Deus propter bonum factum Adae, puta si non peccasset; videtur valde irrationabile” (R. P. III, d.7, nn.4-5, XXIII, 303-304).
(41) St. Bonaventure states of Our Lady, “Mediatrix est inter nos et Christum, sicut Christus inter nos et Deum”(III Sent, d 3, pars 1, a 1,q 2); St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe confirms: “Jesus Christ is the one Mediator between God and humanity; the Immaculate is the one Mediatrix between Jesus and humanity” (SK 577).
(42) Lumen Gentium, n.11.
(43) cf. Pope Benedict XV, Inter sodalicia.
(44) Friar M. M. De Cruce, F.I., (work cited), P.II, 5th dolor; p.21.
(45) St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori, The Glories of Mary, P.II, Disc.IX, 5th dolor.
(46) Ven. Fr. Gabriel Mary Allegra, O.F.M., Il Cuore Immacolato di Maria, (edition cited); p.86.
(47) Fr. A. M. Ratisbonne, Conversion de M. M.A. Ratisbonne, racontée par lui-meme, Le Mans 1842; reported in SK 1057. In English cf. The Conversion of Ratisbonne: Narratives of Alphonse Ratisbonne and Baron Theodore de Bussieres, R.C.Books, Fort Collins, CO 2000, pp. 34,70; cf. also see Abbé Omer Englebert’s study Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne in Catherine Labouré and the Modern Apparitions of Our Lady, New York: P.J. Kennedy and Sons 1959; pp.62-106.
(48) St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, SK n.1277, cf. 37, 577, 1331, etc.; elsewhere the Saint writes: Our Lady, “the second Eve,” “distributes all the graces of conversion… to the inhabitants of this valley of tears… There is no conversion in which, in one way or another, the hand of Mary has not operated…” (SK n.1029).