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Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus: Mary in Relation to Christ, The Predestination of Mary

The following article begins a series of selections taken from the “Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus” by Father Ruggero Rosini. – Asst. Ed.

Mary in Relation to Christ

When one speaks of John Duns Scotus in relation to Our Lady our thoughts usually turn immediately to the Immaculate Conception with which his name is commonly linked, so much so that he is called “Doctor of the Immaculate.”

However, this privilege—as Scotus himself will make us understand—does not stand on its own: this too, like all the other Marian privileges, presupposes a source or principle that gives them life. And what is this Principle to which Mary is indebted for all her gifts?

It is easy to specify: it is Christ.

Through this there is formed a most perfect bond between her and Him, between Christ and Mary; this is so true that only in the light of this association can all of the Marian privileges be explained.

Our task, then, will be to specify above all the nature and origin of that bond existing between Christ and Mary, following the thought of the Subtle Doctor. And we will see that this bond has for its foundation the motherhood and grace of Mary. Both of these privileges, in fact, immediately bind Mary to Christ: the first (motherhood) with natural bonds; the second (grace) with moral bonds.

Yet these two bonds, dependent on Christ, presuppose a third bond, anterior to the Incarnation and depending on God.

Hence our initial considerations must bear on that decree of predestination whereby Christ and Mary were foreseen together, prior to every aspect of the divine plan.

From these three bonds, therefore our outline in this first section emerges: 1) Mary’s predestination, 2) her motherhood and 3) her grace.

The predestination of Mary

Duns Scotus does not speak expressly of Mary’s predestination anywhere in his numerous works. However, his immediate disciples{footnote} Cf., e.g., john basseolis, III Sent., d. 1, q. 5 (Paris 1516) fol. 20 R, who places the Virgin “in second place after Christ.”{/footnote}and afterwards his many commentators,{footnote} Cf. W. sebastian, De beats Virgine Maria universal! gratiarum Mediatrice,Romae 1952, pp. 39-55, where the author reviews various scotistic commentators on the predestination of Mary; A. M. blasucci, La dottrina scotista della predestinazione assoluta di Maria, in Virgo Immacu/ata, IX (Romae 1957) pp. 124-163, who also cites many scotists. [In English: cf. maximilian M. dean, A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ: Bl. John Duns Scotus and the Franciscan Thesis, (Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, 2006), pp.105-109.] {/footnote} in treating of this material, applied to Mary the various principles which Scotus had laid down in explaining Christ’s predestination, placing Mary, however, immediately after Christ. They see the two predestinations of Christ and Mary as being intimately connected and correlated: they are interconnected in one and the same decree. This shall later be seen in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus according to which Christ and Mary were precisely foreseen “uno eodemque decreto” [in one and the same decree]. {footnote} Cf. A. tondini, Le Encic/iche Mariana, Roma 1952, II, p. 32. {/footnote}

It should be sufficient, therefore, to pinpoint Christ’s position according to the divine plan in order to assign Mary hers. We should note, however, that this doctrine can be better understood when examined not only in relation to Christ’s place, but also in terms of the order inherent in the very nature of predestination itself, as it is understood by our Subtle Doctor.

If predestination is, as we shall see, above all ordered to that end which is glory: according to Scotus, the same for all the elect, Christ and Mary included (the only distinctive difference consisting in the ranking of the elect from the highest position to the lowest), then this means that the only distinction admitted on the basis of predestination itself is that of anteriority and posteriority: the ranking of the predestined in terms of before or after one another. {footnote} On the phrase “before and after” see SCOTUS, Lectura II, d. 20, q. 1, n. 22 (Vat. XIX, 195): “God wills in a supremely ordered way and the end first willed by Him, is Himself. But what He immediately wills thereafter, is created blessedness for a created nature capable of beatitude (insofar as we may speak there [in God] in terms of before and after).” {/footnote}

Let us examine the nature of predestination according to the thought of Duns Scotus, and then determine the respective places of Christ and Mary.

The nature of predestination

Predestination constitutes the key point of the entire philosophical and theological system of Scotus; that is to say, in this doctrine the Subtle Doctor reveals how he conceives the origin of all things outside of God. {footnote} Lectura, II, d. 20, q. 1, n. 22 (Vat. XIX, 195): “(Predestination means) to will for someone (the predestined) blessedness (whence predestination is the first action “without”) and after willing predestination (God) wills that person grace and nature, and finally wills him to be born for this and that task.” Hence, predestination primarily involves intellectual beings and only secondarily the irrational, [and further involves intellectual beings] first in the supernatural and then in the natural order; cf. Reportata, III, d. 32, n. 11 (Vives 23, 508): “Next comes the conferral of grace and other supernatural gifts…and thereafter this sensible world and other visible creatures, which exist to serve men.”

[On the scotistic notion of predestination in general and that of Christ and Mary in particular cf. DEAN, A Primer…, cit., in corpore, but especially pp.27-124.] {/footnote}First of all, predestination is characterized by two activities: one eternal regarding the divine intention, the other temporal regarding the realization of the things foreseen. {footnote} When a creature can be put into two categories as disparate as eternal and temporal, should that creature be considered necessary or contingent? Here is the answer of pseudo-Scotus, given in the form of a “rule.” He writes: “The rule is that any statement [about creatures] involving contingent and necessary is [to be understood as affirming them to be] contingent, and any statement [about creatures] involving eternal and temporal is [to be understood as affirming them to be] temporal. Creation, then, although it implies an eternal action on the part of God…is simply temporal.” (De rerum principio, q. 4, n. 36, 4, 317 b). Although this work is not an authentic work of Scotus, nonetheless it reflects the views of Scotus.{/footnote}

Obviously among the two activities-that of intention and of execution-the first always precedes and the second follows: the sculptor must first conceive the statue which he intends to carve and then execute the project conceived. Logically the sculptor, in his work, proceeds in an order the reverse of that followed in conceiving the work: from the less perfect (the block of marble), he proceeds to the more perfect (the statue). And so it is that what was first in intention (the statue), occupies last place in execution. {footnote}Cf. note 3 of the Introduction concerning Aristotle’s principle:

“first in intention, last in execution,” a principle dominating the entire teaching of Scotus on predestination. In regard to the two elements making up the content of predestination: end and means to the end, one should take special note of how the end is nobler than the means.{/footnote}

Hence this process, as it slowly develops from an imperfect to a more perfect condition, becomes a disposition for actualizing the original intention, an intention in turn motivated solely by the end, in our case, to be realized in the glory of the creature.

Every artist working wisely must first pre-establish an end for the work he is about to undertake. This rule surely reflects God’s mode of willing as well. In willing to initiate things outside Himself (ad extra), He first determines their end by an act which is called predestination.

Duns Scotus defines predestination as “an act of the divine will, whereby an intellectual creature is chosen for grace and for glory.” {footnote} Ordinatio, I, d. 40, q. un., n. 4 (Vat. VI, 310). {/footnote} So understood, predestination features several distinctive characteristics.

Above all predestination is free because it is “an act of the will.” {footnote} Ibid.: “Predestination properly speaking expresses an act of the divine will,” a definition differing from that of St. Thomas who makes predestination consist in the divine “foreknowledge” (Summa Theo/ogiae, I, q. 23, a. 2, in corpore). {/footnote} The will, and not the intellect, is formally the cause of all contingent things, both in the natural order and in the supernatural order. {footnote} Cf. Theologiae Marianae Elementa, 181: “Predestination according to the order of intention first concerns the supernatural end and then the natural.” {/footnote} This is the crucial point of scotistic doctrine. As well as being the feature distinguishing the Subtle Doctor’s entire philosophy and theology from that of other scholastics, this teaching on predestination also underscores the nature and primacy of charity in the divine plan of things, a doctrine similarly set in relief in the Decrees and Constitutions of Vatican Council II.

Moreover, predestination is absolute. God’s own goodness{footnote} Elementa, 14:

“First God loves Himself, and second loves Himself for others.” Other texts can be found in my study, // Cristocentrismo di Giovanni Duns Scoto e la dottrina del Vaticano secondo, Roma 1967, p. 26, note 32. {/footnote} is the unique motivation of the divine will in acting without itself (ad extra), in desiring to communicate Himself to other beings. In fact, it is unthinkable that any creature could have influence over the divine will in the act of predestining creation itself, because at the moment of predestination, not only did there any merit or demerit on the part of any creature, but no creature at all existed to merit. {footnote} Ordinatio, I, d. 41, a. un., n. 40 (Vat. VI, 32): “For predestination itself, even from the perspective of the predestined, there is no reason or ultimate purpose.” For other scholastics, instead, the reason for the existence of Christ, and therefore of His predestination, is found in the fact of sin, St. THOMAS, Summa Theologiae III, q. 1, a. 3, in corpore, says: “Were it not for sin, the Incarnation would not have occurred,” and hence “God… predestined the work of the Incarnation as a remedy for human sin” (ibid., ad 4). St. BONAVENTURE, III Sent, d. 1, a. 2, q. 2 (III, 24 a) writes: “The principle reason for the Incarnation was the reparation of the human race…unless the human race had fallen, the Word of God would not have become Incarnate.”{/footnote}

Finally, predestination is simultaneous. It is correct to say that God, by a single act of his will, simultaneously chose all the elect for glory. Consequently, from the very first instant the number of the elect is complete; therefore, it can neither be augmented nor diminished without compromising the very immutability of God. {footnote}”The created will,” Scotus says, “finds its reason for loving rightly in the good as intrinsically loveable for its own sake.” Instead, “this is not the case for the uncreated will in regard to any good other than its own essence.”

In fact, “no other good, therefore, precisely as good, is loved by the divine will, but vice versa [because God loves it, it is good]” (Ordinatio I, d. 41, q. un., n. 54: Vat. VI, 338). {/footnote}

As a kind of conclusion to these points of doctrine concerning predestination, we add the following affirmations of the Subtle Doctor.

First, since the divine will is cause of the intrinsic goodness of things, {footnote} “The created will,” Scotus says, “finds its reason for loving rightly in the good as intrinsically loveable for its own sake.” Instead, “this is not the case for the uncreated will in regard to any good other than its own essence.” In fact, “no other good, therefore, precisely as good, is loved by the divine will, but vice versa [because God loves it, it is good]” (Ordinatio I, d. 41, q. un., n. 54: Vat. VI, 338). {/footnote} the natural measure of their objective quidditas (thisness) is their relation to the “motive” of their origin. Therefore, they will be more or less perfect, more or less good, variously ranked, accordingly as they derive from a greater or lesser spontaneity of the part of God’s will itself. {footnote} Ordinatio, IV, d. 42, q. 2, n. 10 (Vives 17, 568): “What is simply more fitting for perfection, is simply more perfect”; whence “the complete notion [of goodness] under every aspect consists in the will of God accepting this rather than that to such and such a degree, so that such things are good

on those terms and not vice-versa” (Ordinatio, III, d. 32, n. 6 [Vives 15, 432]).


Scotus also maintains that the predestination of no one was occasioned by any fall: neither that of man by the fall of the angels; nor that of Christ by the fall of man; and this is so true that no one has any grounds for rejoicing in the fall of someone else. {footnote} chosen to take the place of the damned, because all the blessed were predestined before anyone was damned… No one is predestined because of the fall of another, nor is anyone’s salvation occasioned by something else; nor was Christ’s Incarnation occasioned by sin”; Rep. Barcinon., Ill, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 182): “Men’s predestination was not on account of the fall of the angels, nor Christ’s on account of the fall of men.” His teaching here is directly contrary to St. thomas, Summa Theo/og/ae, I, q. 23, a. 6, ad 1: “Men were substituted for the fallen angels, and Gentiles for the Jews”; ibid., in corpore: “As many men are saved as angels fell.” {/footnote}

Furthermore, he maintains that all of the elect-angels and men-form but one “family,” namely “the heavenly court,” organized “according to a certain, fixed ranking.”‘{footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n. 4 (Vives 14, 355): “God chose beforehand those angels and men He wished in the heavenly court, according to a certain and fixed ranking”; Rep. Barcinon., ibid. (Elementa, 183): “He willed, therefore, those whom He had chosen to be as it were His family…” {/footnote}

With these typical features of predestination in mind, it will be relatively easy to specify first the position of Christ, and then that of Mary, in predestination of the elect to glory.

The position of Christ

As we have seen, the entire theology of Scotus is articulated about the nature of predestination characterized by a thesis of capital importance. The primary free act involved in being is an act of love: precisely that act of pure love eternally unfolding in the bosom of the Trinity. Our present subject is this: how is this manifested externally?

And here our Doctor responds: “I say, therefore, God loves himself in the first place; in the second place he loves himself in others and this love is holy; in the third place-speaking of love on the part of a being outside himself-he wills to be loved by Him [the man-God] who can love in the highest degree; and finally, in the fourth place, he foresees the union (to the Word) of that nature which shall love him in the highest degree, even if no one had fallen,” {footnote} Rep., Ill, d. 7, q. 4, n. 5 (Vives, 303 b): Ordinatio, ibid., 23, n. 3 (Vives 14, 354 b; d. 32, q. un., n. 6 (Vives 15, 433 a). “I say, therefore, that the fall was not the cause of Christ’s predestination; indeed, even had neither angel nor man fallen, Christ would still have been predestined in the same way, indeed, even if no one but Christ had been created” (Rep., ibid., n. 4). {/footnote} or even more emphatically, “even if no one but Christ had ever been created.”

It is clear, therefore, that the Incarnation, the “greatest work of God,” could not possibly be occasioned, nor could it occupy a secondary place in the divine plan.

In fact, if every soul’s predestination to glory precedes the foreknowledge of sin, then it is even more true of that soul which is predestined to the maximum glory. {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n. 3 (Vives 14, 354): “Since anyone’s predestination to glory precedes…foreknowledge of sin…, so much the more is this true of the soul (of Christ) predestined to the highest glory.”{/footnote}

Since he who wills in orderly fashion, first wills that which is closest to the end, {footnote} Ibid.: “In general, anyone willing in an orderly manner first wills what is

closest to the end.” {/footnote} then logically Christ, predestined precisely to be the Head of the heavenly court, {footnote} Rep.Barcinon., Ill, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 183): “it does not seem that the predestination of Christ, who was predestined to be Head of the heavenly court, was occasioned by the fall or demerit of the damned. God, then, first loves Himself and then what is nearest to this love, to wit, He loves in such

wise that the soul of Christ should have the highest glory in the Word. This, then, was the first object willed among all the creatures willed by God.” {/footnote} occupies first place in that order of willing.

If all of the elect were foreseen and willed to be “co-loving” (condiligentes), {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 32, q. un., n. 6 (Vives 15, 433; cod. Ass. fol. 174 rb):”God loves Himself first…, second He wills to have co-lovers, which is to will others to have His love in them”; on this cf. R. rosini, Le virtu cristiane nel pensiero di Duns Scoto, tra i documenti (doc. IV) nella Positio super cultuatque virtutibus loannis Duns Scoti, Romae 1988, p. 510. {/footnote} how much more the scope of such foreknowledge in respect to Christ. Christ can glorify, and in fact glorifies, the Trinity in a measure greater than all other beings taken together. Rather, their praises can rise to God only by means of Christ and with Christ: “co-loving” (loving with Him and not without Him).

Therefore, Christ too has been foreseen like all of the rest of the elect, according to St. Jerome’s expression, “ante fabricam mundi” [before the foundation of the world]. {footnote} St. jerome, In Epistulam ad Ephesios, 1. 1, c. 1, n. 552. {/footnote} Christ also originates from the divine Goodness, that Goodness which in a singular way desires to communicate itself without the Godhead and therefore is object of absolute predestination: together with all of the elect, Christ also is included in the “complete” number of the predestined. What distinguishes Christ from the rest of the elect is that of being willed first, being closest to the end. {footnote} Cf. supra, notes 19-21. {/footnote}

Neither the divine plan-as understood by our Doctor-nor the order of persons dominating that plan, let it be noted, are simple hypotheses, as some would have us believe. {footnote} Cf. B. H. merkelbach, OP, Mariologia, Parisiis 1939, p. 95: “theologians ask…whether Christ, had Adam not sinned, still have come with the Mother of God.” He then goes on to explain, suddenly shifting terminology: “Would God, on the hypothesis that He wished to create a world different from the present one and in accord with the providence governing such a hypothesis, have decreed an Incarnation? This is a ridiculous question, nor do theologians deal with it, since it is a mere hypothesis, and therefore unsolvable.” Clearly the author either never read or never understood what Scotus actually said, and hence it is rather this theologian’s argumentation that is “ridiculous.” The Subtle Doctor is discussing the “real” world, not a “hypothetical” one. He is talking about a world which as it was “conceived,” such was it “created,” so did it “exist.” That afterwards sin should have affected its existence, was neither the will of God nor something brought to pass by God. Hence, the divine plan, according to the Subtle Doctor, regards before all else the predestination to glory of all the elect (cf. note 19) and first among these is Christ (ibid.), even before the world came to be (cf. note 23) and therefore, all the more before sin entered in. I do not question Fr. Merkelbach’s contribution to Mariology, nor his sincerity in pursuit of the truth. But like so many neo-thomist theologians he pays little attention to what Scotus actually thought and wrote, and bases his very negative assessment on seriously inaccurate and sometimes uncharitable secondary literature. {/footnote} It is revealed truth that the world was conceived and willed as good (cfr. Gen 1:1-31), and likewise that this was realized in Christ and through Christ (Jn 1:1-3, Eph 1:3-6, Col 1:15-20, Rm 8:29-30).

Before closing this section it is appropriate to point out some features distinctive of the specific mode of Christ’s predestination, features which will have an important impact on various mariological questions.

For the sake of clearer understanding we will present these points in the form of questions.

1) In all creation Christ has the supreme glory; what is the cause of this? Scotus responds that Christ owes the gift of supreme glory to the fact of the hypostatic union. In the order of execution, the hypostatic union precedes that glory and therefore becomes a disposition for that glory. {footnote} scotus, Lectura completa, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa 188): “Christ would not have had such glory, nor would He have been so full of grace and truth, unless His nature had subsisted in the subject [person] of the Word”; Rep. Bardnon., Ill, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180): “And thus there existed something appropriately disposing [Christ] to such great glory, and this [hypostatic] union was that something so disposing.” {/footnote} He writes that Christ “would not have had such glory, nor would He have been so full of grace and truth, unless His nature had subsisted in the subject [Person] of theWord.” {footnote} Ibid., Lectura; Rep. Bardnon., ibid.: “because in all action there exists an inverse order governing intention and execution.” {/footnote}

2) Was Christ predestined first to glory or to the hypostatic uniori? It is a question which Scotus himself raises: “Utrumprius praevidebatur isti naturae unio velgloria?” {footnote} Lectura completa, ibid. (Elementa, 189): “whether the union of this nature to the Word or its destination to glory was first ordained.”{/footnote} And he responds Ito that question in this way: “Videtur quod gloria prius.,.” {footnote} Reportata Valentiniensia, III, d. 6, q. 5 (Elementa, 176): “Christ’s predestination to glory was prior to that union, because intending an end is prior to intending those things which are a means to that end.” On this question, much discussed among scotists, cf. R. rosini, II Cristocentrismo…, p. 45, note 19. {/footnote} Sticking to his principle that predestination first regards the end (which is glory) and then the means (the hypostatic union being among these), Christ too, according to the Subtle Doctor, was first predestined to glory and then to union. {footnote} Lectura, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 189): “As any agent acting rationally first intends the end and then the means to that end, so God when predestining someone, first wills that person’s end and thereafter those things which are means to that end. The end of someone predestined, however, is blessedness and glory, and therefore this is what God first ordained in predestining, and only in a second moment ordained so to unite that nature [hypostatically] as make it fit for such glory”; Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n.5 (Vives 14, 358 a-b).{/footnote}

3) Did Christ merit for Himself union and grace? He merited neither the one nor the other for Himself, and this absolutely. Both of these-union and grace-were conferred without any merit, neither on Christ’s part nor on the part of anyone else. This is the fundamental privilege which belongs solely to Christ. On this subject our Doctor is categorical; he maintains: “among all of God’s works there is found no work of pure grace, if not the Incarnation of the Son ofGod alone.”{footnote} Ordinatio, IV, d. 2, q. 1, n. 11 (Vives 248 b); Rep. Barcinon., Ill, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180): “The glory of Christ was such that it could not be within the capacity of a created nature to merit.” To the objection: “it is more glorious to have a reward via merit, than without it” (cf. St. thomas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 19, a. 4, in corpore), Scotus replies: “I maintain that this is true of a reward, which can be had via merits: but this union of the soul of Christ with God in the act of enjoyment was so great and so excellent, that merit could not precede it. In this case it is nobler to enjoy an activity beyond the range of prior merit, in virtue of the liberality of the donor, than to enjoy a lesser activity as the fruit of much prior merit”; (Ordinatio,III, d. 18, q. un., n. 13; Vives 14, 683 b).{/footnote} And this is so because such a conferral “had to manifest the supreme mercy of God by bestowing the supreme good of grace independently of merit.” {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 13, q. 4, n. 9 (Vives 14, 463 b). Two points should be made more precise. 1) “Mercy,” according to Scotus, must be understood, not in relation to “pardon” (or to the demerit of a creature), but in relation to the “gift,” apart from any consideration of a creature’s merit or demerit. Thus, the greatness of mercy is measured by the “gratuity” of the gift: “Mercy cannot be fully explained, unless the highest gift is given without any merit” (Rep., Ill, d. 13, q. 3, n. 14, Vives 23, 337 b). 2) Basing himself on St. AUGUSTINE, De Tr/nitate, 13, c. 9, n. 24 (PL 42, 1033), Scotus defines in what the highest grace consists: “The highest grace is that man be joined to God in the unity of person, and although (Augustine) speaks of grace of union, i.e., the gracious will of God effecting this union, nonetheless concomitantly with this union follows the grace of fruition de facto; therefore,” Scotus concludes, “there existed the highest grace without prior merits” (Ordinatio III, d. 18, q. un., n. 12, 14, Vives 683 b). {/footnote}

However, what Christ did not merit for himself, He merited for everyone else, without exception (either among angels or among men), Christ being the single depository and unique source of grace, since God decreed that “there would be but one Head in the Church, from whom grace would flow into the members.” {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 13, q. 4, n. 8 (Vives 14, 461 b): “No other nature could be head of those possessing grace, because there could not be two heads, as neither could there be two sovereigns in the same order… (therefore) in accord with the laws laid down by divine wisdom, there would be but one Head in the Church, from whom grace would flow into the members.” {/footnote}Hence “all other glory of everyone else capable of blessedness (both angel and man), falls under and is foreseen in terms of merit (not that of the Blessed, but of Christ); hence, these merits too (of Christ in relation to the blessed), fallunder predestination”{footnote} Rep. Barcinon., Ill, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180). The reasoning behind such a doctrine is to be sought precisely in the “means” which dispose to glory. In the blessed, grace constitutes the means, which is subject to merit and in fact is subject to the extrinsic merit (of Christ). In Christ, instead, the hypostatic union constitutes the means. That union being the principle of merit, it cannot be the subject of merit in any way. {/footnote}

The position of Mary

Having examined the nature of predestination and determined the place which Christ occupies in the divine decrees, we can next readily specify the place occupied by Mary in relation to the same decrees.

Let us recall that because predestination according to Scotus concerns all the blessed equally, Christ included, it concerns Mary as well. Hence, she too was foreseen with Christ and with all the other blessed “before the foundation world was made,” {footnote} Cf. supra, note 23. In addition, St. augustine, In loannis Evangelium, tr.105, n. 6 (PL 35, 1910): “In virtue of this predestination (Christ) was already glorified before the world came into existence.” [On the joint predestination of Mary with Christ and her place in God’s eternal decrees, cf. dean, A Primer…, cit., pp.105-109.] {/footnote} independently of any personal merit or demerit whatsoever; Mary too, like Christ and the blessed, was uniquely willed in order “to love,” namely to be “co-loving”;{footnote} Cf. supra, note 22. {/footnote} she too, like Christ and all of the blessed, makes up part of that “heavenly court,” variously ranked in accord with their degree of proximity to Christ as “Head”;{footnote} Cf. supra, notes 17 and 21. {/footnote} in summary, she too belongs to that absolute and simultaneous predestination insofar as it is formally an “act of the divine will.” {footnote} Cf. supra, notes 9 and 13. {/footnote}

Once predestination is seen from this angle the formula of Ineffabilis Deus, “uno eodemque decreto,” {footnote} Cf. supra, note 4: pseudo-augustine, De Praedestinatione et gratia, c. 5 (PL 45, 1668): “We were made within the world, and chosen before the world: and at one and the same time, neither a passing out of being nor a coming to be, but a continuous duration.” {/footnote} not only holds for Christ and Mary, but for all of the blessed as well who are predestined with them for glory. In other words the Bull states that Mary was not foreseen first (before sin) and Christ after (after sin). In that case we would have two separate decrees. Rather all were predestined by one and the same decree which-according to the scotistic understanding-cannot be other than absolute and simultaneous, Christ, Mary, and all the other blessed included: one and the same decree for all, foreseen before sin.

With regard to the end, namely glory, we have perfect unity. Glory by its nature is one and the same for all since it is a gift which excludes any personal merit whatsoever by the blessed; this is so true that not even Christ-as we have said-merits glory for Himself. Therefore, the distinction of that same glory according to its various degrees is to be sought in relation to proximity of those degrees to that same end.

Indeed our Doctor writes thus: “In general, anyone who wills in an orderly manner, first wills that which is closest to the end.” {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3(Vives 14, 354 b). As to the “means” to the end, ours differing from that of Christ, see above, note 34. {/footnote}

It is on the basis of this principle that all the degrees of predestination are determined: from the highest to the lowest. Naturally, the highest is assigned to Christ; Scotus holds, “God first wills the glory of Christ’s soul, and not the glory of another soul”;{footnote} Ordinatio, ibid., 355. We note that: 1) various steps precede the prevision of sin (note 17); 2) these are intimately linked by an intrinsic goodness communicated them by the will of God (note 15); 3) they are ranked from greatest to least, where the first in rank is absolutely independent of the other grades, the lesser depending on the higher and not vice-versa, such that the greatest may exist without the other grades (note 18), and “even had no man or angel fallen, nor had many men been created other than Christ, Christ would still have been predestined” (Elements, 6).{/footnote} this is so because Christ’s soul is closer to the end by virtue of His union to the Person of the Word.

In relation to this highest or first rank are determined all the other rankings on the basis of their proximity to the end. And, after Christ, who shall be closest to the end? The answer can be none other than this: Mary.

We are not dealing here with a simple deduction, but rather a logical consequence. No creature-angelic or human-can have or even claim to have a proximity to Christ more intimate than that which existed between Him and her by virtue of her maternity.” {footnote} Later we will see how Scotus considers Mary linked to Christ via the “natural” bond of motherhood.{/footnote} Therefore, if the Master’s principle, “In general, he who wills in orderly fashion, first wills that which is closest to the end,” helps us to define above all other creatures the transcendence of Christ in predestination, likewise it can help us, rather it must help us, to locate Mary immediately after Christ. After Him, She is the one creature closest to the end intended by God in predestination.

It follows that while Christ owes-as we have said-everything (glory, grace and hypostatic union) to the pure and simple liberality of God, Mary, for her part, owes-as we shall see-everything (glory, grace and maternity) to the pure and simple liberality of the Son. Thus in the divine plan as understood by Scotus, Christ is “the greatest good of God”{footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 6).{/footnote} and Mary is “the greatest good of the Mediator.” {footnote} Ordinatio, III, d. 3, q. 1 (Elementa, 26). Cf. MERKELBACH, Mariologia, p. 97, where is found a conclusion far distant from ours. He writes: “Hence, there is no reason why Christ and the Blessed Virgin cannot be the final, formal and efficient cause of our salvation in general, and yet also depend on us and on our sin as condition and as the material and dispositive cause. Nor is it irrational to refer the perfect to the imperfect…” (sic! Self-explanatory.). {/footnote}

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