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Mary in the Redemption

Updated: May 29, 2020

The following is an excerpt from Adrienne von Speyr’s book Mary in the Redemption, a powerful and theologically profound work on the Blessed Mother.

The Son wants to redeem the world for the Father. This redemption is obtained through his suffering, in which he bears all sins as his own and the Father recognizes all sinners in him. The moment will therefore come when the Father sees in the Son the sum of all the disgrace he has endured. This is an event of love devised by the Son out of love for the Father and for the world. Now it is fitting that, from the outset, the Father and the Holy Spirit show to the Son the efficacy of the Cross. In this regard, Mary is from the beginning a gift made by the Father and the Holy Spirit to the Son, almost as if the Mother, in her instrumentality, signified a form of pre-gift or deposit.

In pre-redeeming the Mother toward the Cross (which ultimately means from the Cross), the Father and the Holy Spirit show to the Son the suitableness of the path upon which he has struck. It is an act of redemption by the Son from the Cross that he has yet to suffer, but in such a way that, from the outset, he re-ceives for this act the Mother, who without sin will con-ceive him. In thus showing to the Son the suitableness of the Cross, the Father simultaneously shows him the way in which he will realize the Incarnation.

With the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, Mary therefore stands at a point of intersection in the Trinity, because she is a gift both from the Son to the Father and from the Father to the Son; the Father is preeminent in this since it is he who gives her to the Son in order to be able to get his work underway in the first place. Mary is planned and created both from and for the Cross. The Spirit, who bears the seed of the Father into the womb of the Mother, accompanies this pre-redeemed Mother throughout her entire life. He receives her, as it were, from the Father’s hands so as to give her back into these hands. He participates as her advocate and comforter by keeping her away from all sin; he also participates, however, as the advocate and comforter of the Son by showing to him the feasibility of the plan; and as advocate and comforter of the Father by demonstrating to him how, by virtue of the Mother’s pre-redemption by the Father, the Son can have no doubt about carrying out his work. From the start, Mary makes the redemption clear and graphic for the Son, the redemption that is meant for all and that will be sufficient for all.

Mary’s Pre-redemption from the Beginning of Creation (Mary as the First Eve)

Mary, the pre-redeemed, is already active as the one planned by God. In this respect, she forms a unique encounter between creation and (pre)-redemption. A human father can say, “I want my son to be a doctor. From the day he was born I’ve done everything I can to make sure it happens.” But the son is of course always free to do something else. When, however, God the Father begins with Mary and her pre-redemption, the realization of his plan already exists, so to speak. It is absolutely certain that she will henceforth belong to heaven and that her place there was secured from its creation. She is not pre-redeemed in a mere image or idea, but in fact and reality. It is a fact with real consequences. In eternal life such concrete certainties do exist. Accordingly, something of her already existed at the creation of the world. Her characteristics do not float around unpossessed, but rather she possesses them from the beginning. She has her place in the course of the world’s creation precisely because of her function as “Co-Redemptrix.” The idea of “co-redemption” is “older” than that of pre-redemption: the latter is a consequence of the former, a means to an end.

In Mary resides the idea of the perfect human being, an idea that God had when he created the first human being. Thus Mary is in fact not the second but the first Eve; she is the one who did not fall and who sees how the second Eve does fall.

Assume that a sculptor has a block of marble. Because the block has a certain form, he decides to shape the statue in a certain way. He will get to work on the statue, however, only once he has made a model out of ordinary clay of what he has in mind. Although the shape of the stone played a part in determining the idea, which is now exact in his mind, he will get to work on the marble only once he has made the clay model. In relation to Eve, Mary is the piece of marble that was there from the start.

On the Pre-redemption

It must be remembered that not only the Lord’s Cross but also his life before the Cross, looking toward his approaching suffering, is meritorious in the Father’s sight as a pre-Passion. During his life, the Lord forgave the sins of Mary Magdalene. This is most certainly not at the exclusion of his suffering on the Cross but, nonetheless, shows that even now he has the power and the opportunity to forgive. This “part” of the merit that resides in the life of Jesus is not forgotten or annulled on the Cross; it is somehow “withdrawn” from the Cross. This is important for the pre-redemption of the Mother. It cannot simply be said that the Son suffers on the Cross for the Mother. She is redeemed in a pre-light of the Cross. This demonstrates the magnanimity of the Father, a gift in advance from the Father to the Son.

Mary’s Co-redemption

There is God, the God-Man, man. Alongside this tripartite division, there is also a five-part division: God, God with man in himself, the God-Man, man with God in himself, and man as man. There is just one single human being who in a physical sense has God within herself: Mary. In heaven she has her beginning after the Son and on earth before the Son.

There is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then there is God with man in himself, which means with the Son before he becomes man on earth, because the Son, beginning and conceived in time, gives his humanity a share in the attributes of his eternal divinity. In God, the Son has within himself the pre-redeemed Mother, just as the Mother will bear within herself the one who has redeemed her. And because the Son resolves in heaven to redeem the world, this resolution contains within it another specific resolution: to come into the world as man. Furthermore, this resolution contains within it the fact that he will be become a human being through a human being whom he has pre-redeemed. He therefore establishes the beginning of his Mother in eternity, just as the Mother establishes the beginning of the Son through her Yes on earth. The first is an absolute heavenly relationship, but one that includes within it the earthly relationship. The second is an earthly relationship, but one that has come into being through grace and, in the Son, encloses heaven within it by virtue of the grace granted by heaven. The Mother already possesses this grace when the Son, in making his plans about his Mother, has the assurance of her Yes before she has given it on earth. In this assurance resides the grace he will give her. The Mother therefore possessed this grace long before she became a human being. It was a pre-gift that rested, not just on her bearing the Son, but also on the fact that she received her place at the core of his resolution to redeem the world, a place for that cooperation of hers without which this specific plan could not be executed. Until she existed, this cooperation was accomplished by the Son, who of course began his work of redemption long before she appeared, yet on the presumption of her Yes. The Yes she later gave possessed the strength of having already worked together with the Son in his acceptance of the Mother. It is also this strength that allows her to give her complete Yes and to implement it. Her Yes was a Yes and was a word: a Yes as the determination of her free will and a word as a given word, which was both the Word of God in her (as faith) and the Word of God in the highest sense: the Son. This is contained in her answer: “Let it be to me according to thy word.” These are the premises.

There then follows the course of her earthly life: the pregnancy, the birth, the hidden life, the life during the Son’s active years. Finally, there follows the Mount of Olives: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” The will of the Son is his resolve, which encloses the will of the Mother and, furthermore, his human will. Yet he hands over his entire will to the Father. Enclosed within this will resides the Mother’s will to express her Yes and to remain true to the Son in all things; her will to participate in the Son’s work, through his grace, in the manner allotted to her; her will, therefore, with this kind of effect from eternity, which has lost nothing of its strength, in the Son, to whom she has willingly confessed by virtue of her freely given Yes, without, however, seeing the full scope of everything he will demand of her.

The Son, however, will demand what he has given her from eternity. At a certain point, this will become clear in her co-redemption at the Cross; a co-redemption that can be efficacious because of her having lived in him forever since his resolve strengthened within him, because of her being interwoven in his work and inseparable from him (as Mary remains true to him in all things); a co-redemption that is now actually borne by the Son as he bears the Cross, just as he has always borne her Yes in his. The Son on the Cross therefore bears the co-redemption through the Mother, while the Mother beneath the Cross participates in the Son’s suffering as he gives it to her, but in such a way that her share in it cannot be separated out or divided from the total sum of suffering. The sum total belongs to the Son: he has gathered it and bears it; and the Mother suffers with him without dissociating her suffering from his. The Son no doubt endures sin, but seen from the other side, he endures the redemption of the world through his sacrifice and the sacrifice of the Mother enclosed within it. In the Mother’s suffering dwells what the Son has given her to suffer. There might dwell within this something that belongs especially to her and is reserved for her; but this can be neither fathomed nor separated out from the whole. Whenever a sinner converts, for example Saul, and then gains a share in the Lord’s suffering, it cannot be ascertained precisely what he is suffering for his own guilt and what, over and above this, participates in the Lord’s suffering. He simply cooperates in atoning for sinners to whose number he belongs. All the less can it be ascertained how much Mary suffers for her Son’s work of redemption and how much she suffers for her own co-redemption.

But she is Co-Redemptrix. However, she was Co-Redemptrix before she spoke her personal Yes. This is because the Son has chosen her; with her Yes she pierces the dam and, to a certain degree, does so without knowing what she is doing. She only knows that she is preparing the way for the Redeemer and is willing to do everything he demands without preempting anything in her own thoughts.

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