Mary’s Cooperation in General in the Work of Redemption

Updated: May 30, 2020

The Course of the Redemption and that of the Fall

It is a well-established fact that, because of her cooperation in the redemption, Mary became truly the contributory cause of the effects of the redemption. This fact, as to its form and reason, has been explained by the remark that, according to God’s plan, the course of our redemption should answer to that of the Fall. On the part of God, the redemption must be considered a work of emulation in opposition to the causing of the Fall on the part of the devil.

The fall of the human race was effected by the devil with the help of a man and a woman. The woman as well as the man, although each in a different way, can and must be regarded as the cause of the Fall. Hence the redemption had to be effected not by the new Adam alone, but with the cooperation of a new Eve, and thus a woman must become a cause of the redemption, since a woman had been a cause of the Fall. As in the cause of the Fall a woman had the initiative, so in the redemption a woman must prepare the way by her activity.

The relation between the economy of the redemption and the origin of the Fall holds the secret. Both sexes having had their share in causing the Fall, both must likewise have their share in bringing about the restoration. Both sexes are united in disgrace and in glory. The devil conquered both in the beginning and, therefore, his defeat was the more complete in the end. And God was given back that honor which had been withheld from Him in the Fall, when a man and a woman cooperated in the service of the enemy to the disfigurement of the divine likeness.

The same relation explains how both factors in this economy could and had to cooperate, so that the whole work might be ascribed to each, while a perfect dependence and subordination of one to the other was maintained. According to St. Paul, since Adam was the head of the race, from his sin alone resulted the guilt of the race. His sin alone, without that of Eve, put the burden of sin on the race. Apart from its relation to Adam’s the sin of Eve in itself had no influence on the sinfulness of the race. It wielded an influence only in that it the means by which Adam was led to sin and on which, therefore, the realization of Adam’s sin depended.

Since in this way Eve knowingly and willingly gave occasion to Adam’s sin, even though she may not have had all consequent results of her action directly in mind, she was, nevertheless, the true and real cause of these results; as in general a person by advice or command is the cause of the consequences ensuing from the actions of another. Adam’s independent responsibility as cause was mitigated so little thereby, that Eve’s culpability rather fades before that of Adam. As a matter of fact, the independent and sufficient causality of Adam permits us to regard Eve’s sin, not only as a preparation for, but also as a complement to that of Adam in its universal meaning and influence. This viewpoint is not usually brought out, though it is of great importance. Indeed, the sin of our ancestress Eve is a complement to that of our ancestor Adam, since it completes his, so as to form a combined sin of our ancestors. It thereby gives to both ancestors, and so to the whole principle of natural propagation, a form which fits in with the propagation of the ancestor’s sin. For, while the sin of the ancestor could have been propagated according to its nature, if Eve had not sinned, still such a propagation, through an ancestress who remained in the state of the original justice, would have been incongruous and unnatural. Consequently, apart from its influence on Adam’s sin, that of Eve had this significance also, that Eye thereby made herself an instrument for the propagation of Adam’s sin, and made her children subject to the influence of that ancestor’s sin.

It is announced in the protevangelium (1), that the woman with her seed, consequently with her Son, would participate in the victory over the devil, that is, in the liberation of mankind from the dominion of the devil, because the first woman had a share in the victory of the devil over mankind. Otherwise the indication of the woman, in the enmity announced to the devil, would be void of meaning. The fulfillment of this divine ordinance is evidenced by the facts. As this apostle witnesses the fulfillment of the one part with the words: “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death … so also by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life” (2); so likewise, from of old, in contrast with the text: “From the woman came the beginning of sin, and by her we all die” (3), the parallel was rightly drawn: “From the woman came the beginning of justice, and by her we all live.”