“Be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Mary says “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel, and thus mediates to us the Redeemer to the world.
The role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mediatrix” cannot be separated from her prior role as the “Co-redemptrix.” When the Church teaches that Mary is the “Mediatrix of all graces” it refers to her spiritual role of distributing the graces of the Redemption to humanity. But this motherly role of dispensing the graces of the Redemption pre-supposes her role with Jesus in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption.
“Co-redemptrix” is a Marian title dating back to the 14th Century. Pope Pius XI called Mary the Co-redemptrix on three occasions, and Blessed John Paul II did so on at least six occasions. Co-redemptrix refers to Mary’s unique participation with Jesus in obtaining the graces of redemption for humanity’s salvation.
Mary helped Jesus save souls like no other creature. She did so by freely consenting at the Annunciation to bring the Redeemer into the world, and hence giving the Redeemer his body, the human instrument of Redemption (cf. Lk 1:38; Heb. 10:10). Mary also shared in the ongoing sufferings of Jesus throughout his life mission of salvation (cf. Lk. 2:35), and, most of all by being “spiritually crucified with her crucified son” at Calvary, to use Blessed John Paul II’s expression, (cf. Jn. 19:25-27; O.R., 31 Jan, 1985). Mary’s role with Jesus in obtaining the graces of Redemption precedes and makes possible her subsequent role in dispensing the graces of redemption with Jesus. Mary is Mediatrix of all graces only because she is first Co-redemptrix in the meritorious obtaining of all redemptive graces with and under Jesus, the divine Redeemer.
Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix provides the historical, theological, and causal foundation for her consequential role as Mediatrix. As the Second Vatican Council teaches:
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and faithfully persevered in union with her son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim born of her. Finally she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words“ Woman, behold thy son” (Jn. 19:26-27). (Lumen Gentium, 58)
Because of Mary’s coredemption or “suffering with” Jesus at the Cross, the Council points out that she uniquely cooperated in the Redemption accomplished by the Savior and, “for this reason”, becomes a mother to us in the order of grace:
Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is a mother to us in the order of grace. (Lumen Gentium, 61).
After her Assumption into heaven, the Second Vatican Council further instructs that Mary continues her role of motherly intercession to bring us the “gifts of eternal life” and thereby she is rightly invoked under titles which include “Mediatrix”:
Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside her saving office, but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation…Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. (Lumen Gentium, 62).
Mary is first the Co-redemptrix, and then, for this reason, the Mediatrix.
In a recent March 18, 2012 message from the reported Medjugorje apparitions, Mary herself proclaims her role as the Mediatrix: “I wish to be the bond between you and the Heavenly Father – your Mediatrix.” Since Mary’s role as Mediatrix is inseparably united and dependent upon her role as Co-redemptrix, Our Lady’s words serve to confirm both titles, and most importantly, her desire that the world know and understand these titles. Yes, her words at Medjugorje do support and encourage the solemn proclamation or “dogma” of her united roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. Let the proclamation of this fifth Marian Dogma come soon, as the world right now desperately needs the full exercise of Our Lady’s powerful intercessory roles, motherly roles which can only be brought into full spiritual action through the solemn recognition and definition of these roles by Pope Benedict XVI, humanity’s highest authority and greatest representative.
Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville