Our Lady, Mediatrix of Mercy

In his 1987 Marian encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II used a new title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, which unfortunately has been fundamentally ignored. He stated that our Blessed Virgin Mary “also has the specifically maternal role of Mediatrix of Mercy at Our Lord Jesus’ coming.”

In this single title is contained the two greatest spiritual movements initiated by heaven for the twentieth century: the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Triumph of Divine Mercy.

Can we not see in this title both the reference to the critical intercession of the Mother of God in our own times, and at the same time a profound complimentarity with the messages of St. Faustina and Divine Mercy?

I would like to discuss this title, “Mediatrix of Mercy,” under two aspects: firstly, it’s theological foundations, and secondly, it’s prophetic context. In regards to its theological foundations, how can we call Our Lady the “Mediatrix of Mercy”? On what basis can we call her “Mediatrix” if, seemingly, Scripture speaks of only one Mediator? With regard to this title’s prophetic dimension, in what manner does the Mother of Jesus and Our Mother exercise this title and role for humanity in our present historical moment? Does it fit in with the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart in the time we find ourselves? What special cry and what special source and instrument of grace is it for us at this critical moment for the Church and for the world today?

Let us first examine the theological foundations for the title Mediatrix of Mercy. It is important to establish from the beginning that Mary’s role as Mediatrix is a result of a unique participation in the acquisition of the graces of Calvary, for which she received from the Church the title “Co-redemptrix.” It is the Church that has given Our Lady this title, and John Paul II, following the precedent of previous Papal Magisteriums, referred to this role of Our Lady when on at least six documented occasions he called her the “Co-redemptrix.” The prefix “co,” of course, never means “equal,” but always means “with,” from the Latin root “cum.” The title means “the woman with the Redeemer,” not equal to the Redeemer.

Our Lady is Mediatrix because she first participates in the acquisition of the graces of redemption as the Co-redemptrix. The Papal Magisteriums have made it very clear that every grace and gift given from Christ to humanity comes through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the omnium gratiarum, the Mediatrix of all graces and gifts, which come from our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, because she first participated with our Lord as the Co-redemptrix in acquiring those graces.

Sacred Scripture profoundly reveals the role of our Blessed Mother as Co-redemptrix. At the Annunciation, when Mary says “yes” to the angel and thereby gives her fiat (cf. Lk 1:38), she gives to the Redeemer the instrument of redemption, his human body. In a discussion I had with the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta regarding the solemn papal definition of the co-redemptive role of Our Lady, within the first two minutes of speaking Mother said, “Of course she is Co-redemptrix, of course. She gave Jesus his body and the body of Jesus is what saved us.” I replied, “Mother, that’s the difference between sanctity and theology. You say in two minutes what it takes the theologians three volumes to write.”

We can also look to the Presentation in Luke 2:25ff, wherein Simeon’s prophecy also identifies the Mother of Jesus as a sign of contradiction. Any mother of a sign of contradiction will most certainly have the vocation of suffering. Simeon tells us that the child to be born of Mary will be the cause of the rise and fall of many. He then gazes at the mother and says, “your heart too will be pierced.” (Lk 2:25). Thus for thirty-three years the Mother with the Redeemer ponders the works of Simeon that her child is born to die, the child to which she alone gave flesh. Only one woman gave carne to the Incarnation, gave flesh to the Word made flesh, and the goal of this Incarnation was redemption and co-redemption. If we were to summarize the single mission that the Father gave to the Son and to the Woman, it is, as Galatians tells us, a mission of redemption and co-redemption (Gal 4:4). That is the purpose of the union of the Two Hearts, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Our Mother Mary.

The inestimable graces acquired by Jesus, the New