Mary’s mediation in heaven which she has exercised since the Assumption has as purpose to obtain for us the application at the appropriate time of Jesus’ merits and hers, acquired during their life on earth and especially on Calvary. …
Mary’s Power of Intercession
Even during her life on earth, Mary appears in the gospels as distributing graces. Jesus sanctifies the precursor through her when she comes to visit her cousin Elisabeth. Through her he confirms the faith of his disciples at Cana by performing the miracle for which she asked. Through her he confirms John’s faith on Calvary, saying: “Son, behold thy mother.” Through her finally the Holy Spirit gave himself to the Apostles, for we read in the Acts (Acts 1:14) that she prayed with them in the Cenacle while they prepared themselves for the apostolate and for the light and strength and graces of Pentecost.
With still greater reason is Mary powerful in her intercession now that she has entered heaven and has been lifted up above the choirs of the angels. The Christian sense of the faithful assures us that a mother in heaven knows the spiritual needs of the children she has left behind her on earth, and that she prays for their salvation. It is a universal for the faithful to recommend themselves to the prayers of the saints in heaven. As St. Thomas says (1), when the saints were on earth, their charity led them to pray for their neighbor. With still greater reason do we say that in heaven they pray for their neighbor since when their charity is inflamed by the beatific vision it is greater than it was on earth: Their charity in heaven is uninterrupted in its acts and proceeds from a fuller realization of human needs and the value of life eternal.
The Council of Trent defined that the saints in heaven pray for us and that it is useful to invoke them (Denz. 984). Their merits and their expiation have ceased, but not their prayer—no longer a prayer of tearful supplication but one now of intercession.
St. Paul tells us that our Blessed Lord does not cease to make intercession for us (2). He is the principal and necessary intercessor. But Jesus himself wishes that we should have recourse to Mary so that our prayers may have greater value through being presented by her.
As Mother of all men Mary knows the spiritual needs of all men, knows all that concerns their salvation. Because of her immense charity she prays for them. And since she is all-powerful with her Son because of the love by which they are united, she obtains from him all the graces for which she asks—that is to say, all the graces we receive.
This power of Mary’s intercession is proclaimed by the faithful each time they recite the Hail Mary.
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Theology explains the belief of the faithful by pointing to three fundamental reasons for Mary’s power of intercession.
The first of these is that since Mary is Mother of men she knows all their spiritual needs. It is a principle admitted by all theologians that the happiness of the blessed in heaven would not be complete if they did not know what happens on earth to the extent to which it concerns them by reason of their office, their role, or their relations with men. Such knowledge is the object of a legitimate desire which must find its satisfaction in beatitude, and with all the more reason when the knowledge they desire is of men’s spiritual needs and is therefore desired in charity: it is in charity that the saints desire men’s salvation so that they may glorify God with them for all eternity and share thus in their happiness. Fathers and mothers, for example, know from heaven the needs of their children, especially those which bear on their salvation. The same may be said of the founders of religious institutes. With all the more reason may the same be said of Our Lady, who has the highest degree of glory after her Son: as Mother of all men she must know everything which bears directly or indirectly on the supernatural life which she has been commissioned to give us and to nourish in us. This universal knowledge, certain and detailed, of all that concerns our destiny—our thoughts, desires, the dangers in which we are, the graces we need, temporal affairs which have some connection with our salvation—is a prerogative which belongs to Mary because of her motherhood of God and her spiritual motherhood of men (3).
Knowing our spiritual needs and even the temporal needs which are connected with our salvation Mary is obviously impelled by her great charity to intercede for us. If a mother but suspects that her child needs her help she flies to its side. There is no question here of Mary’s acquiring new merits in heaven but simply of her obtaining that her merits—and her Son’s—be applied to us at the appropriate moment.
Is Mary’s prayer omnipotent? Tradition has honored Mary with the title,
Omnipotentia supplex, omnipotence in the order of supplication (4).