We here present a classic defense of Our Lady’s role as the Co-redemptrix as articulated by the late Fr. Juniper B. Carol, renowned mariologist and founder of the Mariological Society of America. Even though the article is written before the Second Vatican Council, and the pontificate of John Paul II and his extraordinary contribution to Marian Coredemption, Fr. Carol’s treatise still represents the unquestionable presence of Marian Coredemption in Scripture, Tradition and the Papal Magisterium. – Ed.
Those who are fairly abreast of current Catholic thought scarcely need to be apprised of the importance attached to the problem of Our Lady’s Coredemption in contemporary theological literature. They are aware of the fact that during the past twenty-five years particularly, few questions in the vast field of the sacred sciences have engaged the attention of theologians more frequently and absorbingly than the one we are about to discuss. Even the Protestant theologian Giovanni Miegge recognizes this truth when he maintains that Mary’s Coredemption is the central and fundamental issue in twentieth-century Mariology. (1)
Indeed, considering “the pressure of public opinion,” it is easy to foresee that this Marian prerogative will soon be solemnly defined by the Roman Pontiff. (2) If we believe Pierre Maury, another Protestant writer, the Coredemption is not only one of the primary principles of Mariology; (3) in the mind of the Popes and Catholic theologians, it is the very synthesis of the Marian tract. (4)
Despite their exaggerated appraisal, it is obvious that these non-Catholic authors reflect the current doctrinal preoccupations of their Catholic brethren. Be that as it may, it remains true that many dogmatic questions will not be satisfactorily solved nor properly understood until they are solved and understood through a well-focused prism of the fundamental doctrine relative to Our Lady’s position in the economy of salvation.
Perhaps it is well to remark at the outset that, in writing this article we make no pretense of either originality or thoroughness. Both are impossible under the circumstances. Our aim is simply to acquaint English-speaking readers with the result of the many years of study which modern Mariologists have devoted to this complex yet enthralling doctrine. Considering the vastness of the field, our presentation will be, of necessity, somewhat sketchy and superficial. (5) It will follow the usual pattern adopted in similar dissertations, namely:
preliminary notions and state of the question; the argument from the Magisterium (Section I); the teaching of Sacred Scripture (Section II); the data of Tradition (Section III); the nature and modalities of the Coredemption (Section IV); difficulties and solutions (Section V).
Preliminary Notions and State of the Question
Since the word “Coredemptrix,” by its very definition, designates Our Lady’s share in the work of man’s supernatural rehabilitation as brought about by Christ, it is obvious that in order to have an accurate understanding of the doctrine expressed by that word, we must first have exact notions concerning the essence of Christ’s redemptive work and likewise of the various ways in which Mary may be said to have co-operated therein.
We take the term “Redemption” to mean exclusively the restoring of the human race to the divine friendship lost by sin, in virtue of the meritorious and satisfactory acts which the Savior performed while still on earth, and which He offered to the Eternal Father with and through His sacrificial death on the cross. The “price” which Christ paid for our ransom from the slavery of Satan was actually the sum total of His merits and satisfactions from the time of the Incarnation until His self-immolation on Calvary. The Eternal Father was so pleased with this price offered by His beloved Son, that He canceled our debt, was reconciled to the human race, and showed Himself ready to grant us again the graces necessary for our salvation. The Redemption just described is called by some objective Redemption, (6) by others, Redemption in actu primo, and again by others, Redemption sensu proprio. The actual application of this Redemption to individual souls is referred to by some modern authors as the subjective Redemption (Redemption in actu secundo; Redemption sensu lato). In this article we are directly concerned with the Redemption itself (Redemption in the proper sense)