The following is a transcription of a presentation given by Dr. Mark Miravalle on May 31, 1997, in Rome before an international gathering of over 50 cardinals and bishops concerning the essential relationship between the proclamation of the fifth Marian dogma and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. – Asst. Ed.
The dynamic drama of how “God saves man” as ordained in the perfect providence of the Eternal Father, He who is Father of All Mankind, is revealed in Galatians 4:4-6. Let us reflect on this passage, which our beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, so often quotes in his principal Marian addresses. From the New Vulgate: “Ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Filium suum factum ex muliere. . . ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus. Quoniam autem estis filii, misit Deus Spiritum Filii sui in corda vestra clamantem: Abba, Pater,” “When in the fullness of time, God sent His Son, born of a woman, so that we may be adopted sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying: ‘Abba! Father!'”
The Dogma and the Triumph
This statement is St. Paul’s only direct reference to the Mother of God and our own Mother Mary. Here he gives us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, an unequaled summary in seven pillars of revelation concerning the entire plan of human salvation:
“Ubi venit plenitudo temporis.” “When, in the fullness of time.”
In an authentically Marian sense, we have reached the fullness of time. We have reached that which has been called the climax of the Age of Mary, an apex, a summit, a high point that has been preceded by many holy events and great saints and teachers. We need only consider the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe, for example, and the efforts of Cardinal Mercier of Belgium who was the first to receive, through his intercession and petitioning to Pope Benedict XV, the Mass and Office of Mediatrix Omnium Gratiarum (Mediatrix of all graces). Let us recall also the many theologians and the many bishops, religious, and lay people who over the centuries kept Our Lady Coredemptrix and Mediatrix of all Grace deeply within their hearts. It is because of them also that we are now privileged to be living in the climax of the Age of Mary.
Let us recall also the messages and titles of our Heavenly Mother that have been approved by the Church from such places as Rue du Bac, La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, Beauraing, Amsterdam, Akita, as well as the numerous contemporary reported Marian apparition sites. All elements of theology, faith and ecclesial life are calling us to the awareness that we have reached the climax of the Age of Mary.
Above all, we are grateful to our prophetic, heroic pontiff, Pope John Paul II. It is because of his courageous witness and leadership as the “Totus Tuus” Vicar of Christ that we can say with peace and with courage, “Yes, through no merits of our own, we are called to a great responsibility, to participation in this climax of the Age of Mary.” Because he is totally hers, because he belongs totally to the Blessed Virgin, we must remember the unconditional requirement for participation in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; the sine qua non, is full and complete obedience and loyalty to our Holy Father. He is “Petrus” (cf. Mt: 16:15-20). He is the shepherd. We, as the sheep, must listen to his voice, and we must hear his voice. Our Lord Jesus says, “My sheep know Me, and I know Mine” (John 10:14). We must know Him and His vicar on earth, not only in the mind, but in the heart.
“Misit Deus Filium tuum.” “God sent His Son.”
The Father of all mankind initiates everything. We can never forget that the plan of salvation comes from God the Father. The Son is sent—”missio.” The greatest mission of human and celestial history is the sending of the Son by the Father. Too long have we neglected to focus theologically and liturgically on the Heavenly and Eternal Father from whom all things come. He is the infinite Creator and also the “Abba,” which properly translated means, “Papa,” “Daddy,” “the Close One.” We must never forget that the mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which comes to us through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, originates in the Heart of the Abba Father. The mercy of Jesus is the mercy of the Father. The Son is the sacrifice, the core, the center, the climax of history of heaven and earth. He is the cosmic Redeemer, the universal Redeemer, but He always acts in obedience to the Abba, Eternal Father of all.
“Factum ex muliere.” “Born of a woman.”
But this is no ordinary woman. She is the Woman of Genesis, the Woman of Revelation, the Woman of Cana, and the Woman of Calvary. She is above all the Woman of Redemption, who is always and in every way subordinated to the Redeemer Son. It was eternally predestined by the Father that a woman would be part of the mission of Redemption and Coredemption. Pope Pius IX in his great proclaiming document, Ineffabilis Deus, makes it very clear that it was a singular intention of the Father both to “send his Son,” and to send his Son “factum ex muliere,” “born of a woman.”
Pope John Paul II also points out in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, that the Heavenly Father “entrusted himself to the Virgin of Nazareth.” (1) This woman was eternally and providentially designed to be a part of the plan of human salvation, not merely as a biological “host” but as an intimate partner in his mission. In our own times, when the true dignity of woman is so misunderstood, so scattered by many illusory, false concepts of woman, it is in Mary that we find the ultimate dignity of the woman, because the Father has made this woman an integral part of the plan of salvation ab initio, from the beginning. This Woman is the Father’s greatest masterpiece.
All artists are sometimes called to do less than their greatest for reasons of money or occupation. All authors are sometimes called to do less than their greatest. All builders are at times called to do less than their greatest. But each should have the opportunity at least once in their life to show the full beauty, the full ability, the full power of their talents: in short, their masterpiece. The greatest masterpiece of the Abba, Father is the Woman.
Our Mother Mary was created immaculate by the Eternal Father precisely so that she could be the Coredemptrix. In the early 1970’s our Holy Father, while he was still Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, gave a beautiful address on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In this talk he made it very clear that Mary was created immaculate from the moment of her conception precisely so that she could be the perfect partner of Redemption with the redeeming Jesus. That which unites the Hearts of Jesus and Mary like nothing else, ontologically, is the mission of Redemption and Coredemption. Mary is the “Coredemptrix” because she was first the “Immaculate Conception.”
“Ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus.” “So that they might be adopted sons of God.”
We are born in sin. This is the fundamental human condition. And yet in our times, this truth is being lost by many. Pius XII prophetically stated that, “The greatest sin of the twentieth century is the loss of the sense of sin.” If we do not know that we are in the midst of sin, then how can we see our need for a redeemer? Clear awareness of the plan of salvation is only possible when we understand our need for a redeemer, and for a coredemptrix by recognizing our own sin.
Grace is participation in the life and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint Thomas Aquinas said that one baptized infant has more ontological goodness than the entire created universe put together, because that child is participating in Trinitarian life. But there is a price for this grace, there is a price in becoming adopted sons of the Father. Because there is only one true Son of God, and only one woman who is mother of that Son, it is the uncompromised historic efforts of the Redeemer and the Coredemptrix which allow us to become adopted sons. It is the Mediatrix of All Grace who brings us the graces of the Redemption, but everything starts at Calvary in the definitive battle to redeem humanity.
“Quoniam autem estis filii, misit Deus Spiritum Filii sui.” “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son.”
It is the Divine Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit, who brings us the graces of the Redemption. Saint Maximilian Kolbe tells us that the Holy Spirit acts exclusively through the Immaculata: “The union between the Immaculata and the Holy Spirit is so inexpressible, yet so perfect, that the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, His Spouse.” (2) Saint Maximilian tells us that to understand and appreciate fully the unity of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculata, we must look by way of analogy to the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ.
The intimate union between the Holy Spirit and Mary is comparable to the inseparable union of the divine nature and human nature in the one Divine Person of Jesus Christ. And although the Holy Spirit and Mary are two totally distinct and separate persons, and the Holy Spirit never became incarnate. Nonetheless, as St. Maximilian tells us, this union is so inexpressible, so profound, that the Spirit acts only through the Bride, not by necessity but by divine desire, by divine disposition. And so our Mother is the Advocate, she is the human advocate who works in unitate cordae, in complete unity of heart with the Divine Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit. Thus, “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come'” (Rev. 22:17), invoking the Lord Jesus to come at this climactic point of human history, but also to come at every moment into every human heart. The Spirit offers His divine invitation to sanctification only through the Bride, the Immaculata, who is the human instrument of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is Source of all grace, and Mary is His created human instrument, then, of course, the Immaculata is the Mediatrix of all graces.
“In corda vestra clamantem: Abba, Pater.” Into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’
The Holy Spirit under divine illumination, calls each one of us to recognize the One from whom the entire plan of salvation comes. No longer understood as the Old Testament God of justice, the Spirit reveals that the infinite mercy of the Trinity originates in the Heart of the Father. He is to be called not “omnipotence,” not “omniscience,” not “all-perfection,” but “Abba.” Thus, we should see the Heavenly Father’s close, paternal love for each human child, and understand and appreciate the paternal love of the Abba for each one of us as infinitely surpassing that of the greatest of human fathers. For the Father of all mankind has the hairs of our head counted (cf. Matt. 10:30). The Holy Spirit ensures that none of us forget this revealed truth. He is ever leading us back to the beginning, back to the Abba, to the Father, who is Love, who is the Paternal Originator of the entire plan of human salvation.
In summation, in Galatians 4:4-6 we have a synthesis of the divine drama of salvation, culminating in Jesus and Mary’s perfect obedience to the will of the Father on Calvary. The Redeemer and the Coredemptrix lead the way. Their path of sacrificial love does not come to fruition in our lives unless we too are willing to travel to Calvary with them, opening our hearts to the graces coming from Redemption and coredemption.
Our Mother Coredemptrix at the Foot of the Cross
To imitate our Mother Coredemptrix, each one of us, each faithful, must be willing to carry our cross unto Calvary. The motto which should be emblazoned on the hearts of those consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary must always be: “Mary Coredemptrix persevered unto Calvary for us. We must persevere unto Calvary for Mary Coredemptrix.”
Our Mother’s participation in the Redemption has been profoundly expressed by our Holy Father in his Wednesday Audience of April 2, 1997, in which he said the following about Our Lady’s participation in the historic redemptive act of Jesus Christ:
“Mary joins her suffering to Jesus’ priestly sacrifice. With our gaze illumined by the radiance of the Resurrection, we pause to reflect on the Mother’s involvement in her Son’s redeeming Passion, which was completed by her sharing in his suffering. Let us return again, but now in the perspective of the Resurrection, to the foot of the Cross, where the Mother endured ‘with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her Mother’s heart, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her’ (Lumen Gentium, n.58).
With these words, the Council reminds us of ‘Mary’s compassion’; in her heart reverberates all that Jesus suffers in body and soul, emphasizing her willingness to share in her Son’s redeeming sacrifice and to join her own maternal suffering to his priestly offering.
The Council text also stresses that her consent to Jesus’ immolation is not passive acceptance but a genuine act of love, by which she offers her Son as a ‘victim’ of expiation for the sins of all humanity.
Lastly, Lumen Gentium relates the Blessed Virgin to Christ, who has the lead role in Redemption, making it clear that in associating herself ‘with his sacrifice’ she remains subordinate to her divine Son.
. . . Mary’s hope at the foot of the Cross contains a light stronger than the darkness that reigns in many hearts: in the presence of the redeeming Sacrifice, the hope of the Church and of humanity is born in Mary.” (3)
In his Wednesday Audience of April 9th, 1997, the Holy Father further elucidates:
“Mary’s co-operation is unique and unrepeatable. However, applied to Mary, the term ‘co-operator’ acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with the Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.” (4)
Not only is our Mother the Mediatrix of all grace, distributing the grace of Calvary, but the Pope tells us here that she also (and first of all) participates sacrificially in the event, she actively participates in the acquisition of the graces of the Redemption. In the obtaining of the graces of Calvary as the New Eve with the New Adam, she takes an intimate part in what has been called “objective redemption.” She is Mediatrix of all grace because she is first the Coredemptrix.
To reject the gift of Mary Coredemptrix is to reject the final gift of the crucified Lord to each human heart. Why do many have difficulty accepting this gift? We are living in a time of great confusion, and thus some think that to speak the whole truth about Mary is a violation of authentic Catholic ecumenism. I would say in the most explicit terms that in order to be fully ecumenical we must be fully Marian. It is only through the full truth about the Mother that we find the foundation for ultimate Christian unity.
During times of doubt we can hear the words of the Savior saying to us, and saying to our separated brothers and sisters from Calvary, “It is I who give you my Mother. It is I” (cf. Jn 19:26). The gift of Mary’s motherhood comes from the merciful heart of the Crucified, and it is given to every single human being. This is not a gift initiated by the Mother; it is initiated by our Savior himself.
The gift of the Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, which is also the gift that comes to fruition at Calvary, is intimately united to Our Lady Coredemptrix, because His Precious Blood is also her own. His Precious Blood was given to Him by the Mother; the Hearts of Jesus and Mary were first united in the womb of the Mother, when the blood from the Immaculate Heart was pumped to her womb where the Heart of Jesus was formed. From the blood of the Immaculate Heart came the human, incarnate Heart of Jesus Christ, in utero. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:14). His flesh is formed entirely from Mary’s flesh. And thus, the precious gift of the Eucharist, our Lord’s very Body and blood, in which is found the Heart of Christ, is made possible to us only through the mediation of Mary. The gifts of the Eucharist and our Lady Coredemptrix are in a real sense inseparable.
In the great fifteenth century work The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis, the meditations are expressed in the first person singular, as if Jesus is speaking directly to the heart of the reader. In similar fashion, we could well hear the words of Our Lord saying to each human heart:
“Abandon yourselves to Me, into My hands, commend your spirit and I shall present you to My Father in Heaven. Do not hold back any part of yourselves; trust Me. I am your Lord and Savior. I am the strength of your life. You will not die if you die to yourself, but I shall give you everlasting life. Take My Body and My Blood, and join with Me in Eternal Union. Feel My presence within you and be joyful. Look for My presence in others and join with them in fellowship, for I am with you all always. Do not despair, but rejoice, for I am with you. Remember My Passion, that I suffered for mankind; do not let it be in vain. Come to the foot of My Cross and stand with My Mother. Listen to her, take comfort from her, let her be your guide. Keep her company at the foot of My Cross, she is waiting there for you always with open arms. Come to Me, I wait for You.”
When our spiritual life is in our own hands, there is peril. When our spiritual life is in the hands of the Sacred Heart of Jesus there is security, sustenance, and strength. We should never fear to make this offering of ourselves to Him. The early martyrs knew that even life itself was an appropriate offering to the Eucharistic Jesus—He who had given His Body and Blood for them. They understood that the offering of their bodies, if necessary, was a sacrifice appropriate for the greater glory of God. They understood, in the heart of their souls, the eternal fruit and real crown of accepting death for life; of losing their life so as to find it; of the dimness of the temporal compared with the brilliant light of the eternal. The eternal crown to martyrdom is of the greatest honors in the Heavenly Jerusalem, which knows no end. So too, we are called to the altar of sacrifice for our Eucharistic Jesus, for our Mother Coredemptrix, for our Holy Father, and for the glory of the Church. If the early martyrs knew that this cause was worthy of bodily sacrifice as well as spiritual sacrifice, we too must have the same conviction of heart. We must have the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who was willing to become flesh, who was willing to become “God’s wheat, ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may be found pure bread.” (5)
In Saint John’s Gospel Jesus tells us, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood shall have life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53-54). In the Eucharist we experience a foretaste of the great era that is promised, the Era of Peace, the Eucharistic era. Through this sacrament we are enabled to recognize the Eucharistic presence in one another, even in the interior tabernacles of our heart.
This is true unity. This is authentic ecumenism. As the early Church knew, there is no full Christianity without coming to the Eucharistic sacrifice and partaking of the Eucharistic banquet as one, a manifestation of the full unity of faith.
Our Mother Coredemptrix is always at the foot of the cross, and she is always present with us spiritually at every tabernacle, where her Son awaits us in silence. If Our Lady is at the foot of the cross, then Our Lady’s family, Our Lady’s co-hearts, Our Lady’s remnant, must have the courage to go and join her at the foot of the cross. This remnant may be great in numbers or small, but we must remember that on Calvary only a handful of disciples gathered with Mary and the beloved disciple. Our task is not to count numbers, but to be faithful.
Scripture tells us in Revelation 12:17: “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the remnant, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”
Saint Paul writes in Romans 9:27: “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved.'”
And in Romans 11:5: “So, too, at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.”
The prophet Zechariah tell us: “For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, and the ground shall give its increase, and the heavens shall give their due; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all things” (Zechariah 8:12).
And the prophet Micah says, “I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob. I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men” (Micah 2:12).
Our Mother Coredemptrix calls her remnant to gather at the foot of the cross. In this, we must return, grasp, and benefit from the rich spirituality of the early Church which well understood that martyrdom, in both forms of white (spiritual) and red (physical) martyrdom, was a real and present aspect of the total witness asked of all followers of Jesus. So too the spirituality of John Paul II is essential for us, because Totus Tuus, the total giving of self, does not end at Nazareth, it is consummated at Calvary. All of us as a Totus Tuus people must be willing to courageously carry our crosses unto Calvary. Furthermore, we must keep before the eyes of our heart the certainty that if we follow Our Lady to Calvary, then we will also follow her to the Resurrection and to Pentecost, for she is the first and pre-eminent Disciple of the Lord Jesus.
What could prevent us from joining our Mother Coredemptrix at Calvary? What could keep us from answering the call of St. Paul to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24)? This passage from St. Paul is one of the most mysterious of all Scripture, one which, if we do not have an understanding of the Mystical Body, can appear to be blasphemy, assuming that we as mere creatures could “make up what is lacking” in the suffering of our God-Savior. With an understanding of the Mystical Body, however, we enter into a deeper awareness of what it means to be co-redeemers with Jesus our Redeemer, and with our Mother Coredemptrix.
What could prevent us from living more fully in this mystery? There are many factors, but foremost among them is the great spiritual obstacle of pride. It is pride that says we do not need a redeemer. There was a prevailing attitude in the 1970’s in various sections of the West, which was captured in the expression, “I’m OK, You’re OK.” The presupposition of the attitude was that there is fundamentally no need to fear or worry about sin and RedemptioI’m not OK, and you’re not OK, but it’s OK becaun from sin because there really is no original sin. In response, St. Augustine would have said, “se of Christ!” We are able to face our fallen condition because we have been redeemed by a God who loves us even in our sin and weakness. But pride would have us deny the truth about ourselves; it would have us deny what the Holy Father calls, “the whole truth about man.” Pride enters deeply into the heart, but also into the mind. How many have fallen to the great temptation of intellectual pride? Intellectual pride is a special difficulty for the educated, for those who hold office, for those who are called to speak and teach in the name of the Church. For those who are gifted intellectually, it is all too easy to succumb to the false notion that the head must dominate the heart, which can lead to an act of ecclesial disobedience based on one’s own perceived “intellectual breakthrough,” which can ultimately end in a position of theological dissent from authentic magisterial teachings. Instead, the mind must work in union with the heart—both suffused with grace—for in this way we are freed to make the act of loving obedience to the divine authority of Christ, as expressed through his Vicar on earth, and at the same time to use the mind for the glory of God, as captured in the classic definition of theology: fides quarens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).
Tragically, many in our own age have said, “I will decide what is true or not true; I will decide what I will obey; I will decide whether or not the Pope has discerned matters as astutely as I have.” Such thinking opens the mind and heart to grave spiritual dangers. And when this attitude applies itself to the role of the Mother of God, we should not be surprised when it expresses itself in opinions such as, “I do not need to climb into the arms of my Mother, I can run myself.”
Those of us who have the vocation of family life, of living in the ecclesia domestica, sometimes see examples of this in our children. Often a mother will be in a hurry, and will make the request to her three year old child, “Please, let me carry you. We’re late. We must go quickly.” And the child responds with obstinacy, “No, mommy, I’ll do it myself. I’ll run.” But the mother says, “Please, we’re late. We must go quickly.” And the child stubbornly says again, “No, I will run.” But the willfulness and independence of the child delays greatly the work of the mother, for the full speed of the child’s run is incomparable to the speed of the Mother’s run. We have the same invitation. Our Mother Coredemptrix is saying to each one of us, “Let me pick you up so we can run to our Eucharistic Jesus and to the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, at a speed which you cannot obtain on your own.”
We must learn to recognize within ourselves the voice which says, “No, mother, I’ll run on my own.” We must not listen to this voice. Instead, let us allow our Mother to pick us up and carry us to the Triumph. Let us have the humility of a child, as in the great spirituality of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, so that we can spiritually see that we are called to go to the breast of our Mother, Mediatrix of all grace, for the spiritual milk of sanctifying grace. It takes humility to accept that we do not know all the answers, to realize that we need the Mother. She is the Seat of Wisdom, and with her help we will retain the gifts of the intellect, but in proper submission to and unity with the divine presence in the heart of the soul, and in obedient submission to the Holy Father who himself, by the power of the Spirit, is in submission to the will of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
A second great obstacle to joining our Mother Coredemptrix at the foot of the cross is lack of perseverance. And here we are all called to examine our hearts, to examine our consciences. In our lives, have we had the experience of a great grace given to us by the Blessed Mother, but have not properly cooperated with that grace? Have our hearts been touched by her during a particular visit to the Blessed Sacrament, after receiving Holy Communion, during a Rosary, during a visit to a Marian shrine, during a visit to a Marian apparition site on pilgrimage? Has that touch grown cold? Have we failed to incorporate that grace into our daily Christian living? Can we think back to a moment when our Mother, Mediatrix of all grace, has been especially generous, and how at that moment we embraced her Immaculate Heart, but since then we have let it go to some degree, lost in our busy lives and daily agendas?
Those moments of special blessing must be made present again in our hearts with a renewed love and appreciation for the graces our Mother has given us in the past. We must also assist others to make this same Marian examination of conscience. Our beloved pastors, who are charged with the shepherding of souls, have a special calling to this renewal. Because all actual grace is temporary, it must be incorporated into the quasi-permanent gift of sanctifying grace, the grace intended by God to remain in the human heart and to grow dynamically ad finitum. And this renewal of the heart can be assisted by the gift of memory. We are called to remember those moments in the past when our Mother has touched us with the tenderness of her maternal kiss, and to renew and return that grace into our lives today. Let us visit that Marian shrine or pilgrimage location daily in our hearts, and re-kindle that zeal for Christ and the Church that we once obtained there.
We are also called to be Marian evangelizers. To preach and to teach the love of Mary is a prerequisite of the Triumph, and for this we must obtain a new boldness of heart. For many of us, some of the greatest offenses we suffered as children were those sad incidents when someone made a derogatory comment about our mother. If they criticized us, or criticized the place where we lived, or criticized our race or creed, oftentimes we were able to handle it. But if they criticized our mother, that was the “last straw.” This is the courage we must obtain for the bold, stout-hearted, but always charitable defense and evangelization of the message of Mary Coredemptrix. She persevered unto Calvary for us, amidst criticism and mockery of all sorts. Can we not endure the same for her and the truth about her?
Let us reflect on the following spiritual meditation, as if, following the traditions of the 17th century spiritual work, Imitation of Mary, our Blessed Mother would have personally conveyed these words of consolation and peace to each one of us:
“Come my children, come, pray with me. I am here at the foot of my Son’s Cross. I am here praying with you in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I am with you when you walk through your valleys and when you rejoice.
“So many have come to pray with me, to rejoice with me, to weep with me, but then have left again, drifting away from prayer, from union with my Son. Some feel the separation when they wander too far away and they come running back to Him at the foot of His Cross where I wait for them also with open arms. Some, however, wander very far away and become lost and afraid, but are too proud to call out for help. My heart weeps for these; woe be to them. If you know lost ones like this, please tell them that it is not too late to call out, I will gladly guide them back to my Son, but if they refuse, then pray for them that they will not be lost forever in darkness. Please know that I wish always to lead you to my Son, to guide you through the darkness into the light.
“Pray, pray, pray with me, then you shall always be in union with my Son, and you will no longer be in danger of wandering from His most Precious Heart.
“Come, rest between the heartbeats of His Sacred Heart and my Immaculate Heart.”
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The ultimate fiat, the ultimate “yes” to our Mother Coredemptrix, and the ultimate pre-condition for further participating in the Triumph, is consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
What is consecration? Consecration is a promise of love and a gift of self which gives all that we are and all that we do, without limitation, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that she can bring us most perfectly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Marian consecration leads to the great fruit of most perfectly fulfilling our baptismal promises to Jesus Christ.
Origen, for example, tells us that the Christian life is nothing more than being true to our baptismal promises. Of course we can seek to live our baptismal promises on our own—”No, Mommy, I’ll do it myself!” On the other hand, we can attempt to live our baptismal promises with the full God-given power of the Mediatrix of all grace. Why would we choose the former, when our Crucified Lord, from the cross, has offered us the latter? Where is the loss in giving ourselves to the Mother of Jesus? The only reason we might hesitate is if we did not truly know the person to whom we were giving ourselves.
Do we sometimes treat our Mother as if she were a stranger at the front door? When there is a stranger at the front door, we tend to deal with him there, because we do not know him; we do not invite him into our home. But when a neighbor comes to the front door, we invite him in with hospitality and ask him to enter the living room. If it is a family member at the front door, we go even further, saying, “My house is your house.”
What do we say to the Mother of Jesus? Are we afraid to let the Mother of Jesus into our homes? Are we afraid that if we let her in that she might steal something? That she might take some of the coins off the counter? That she might steal a precious object? There is nothing to fear from the Mother of God! We must not be afraid to let her into our homes entirely.
“Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, there is your son.’ In turn he said to the disciple, ‘There is your mother.’ From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27).
Our Holy Father, referring to this passage in his Marian encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, tells us that “We are all called to imitate John, the beloved disciple.” (5) Mary is given to John from the lips of the Crucified as Mother. And in obedient love, the beloved Disciple takes Mary into his own home.
The Greek translation is not ‘into his home,’ but ‘into his own.’ The emphasis in the latter is on possession, not geography. Our Holy Father also tells us that the ultimate home, the ultimate own, is the human heart. Thus, we are called to give the Mother of Jesus complete access, unconditional entry and welcome, into our human hearts, into our interior lives, into our spiritual lives. We are to say to her, “Mother, my heart is yours.” And as our Blessed Mother showed us at Fatima, in the seventh apparition to Sister Lucia in the 1920’s, we are called to spiritually take our hearts from our chests and offer these hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She did it first! She first took her heart, a heart surrounded by thorns, and offered it to us. Can we not give the Mother the same gift? This unconditional giving of our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is Marian consecration.
We are celebrating this year the tenth anniversary of Redemptoris Mater, the great encyclical of our Holy Father on the Mother of the Redeemer. In this encyclical, he calls us to the spirituality of Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort. “Totus Tuus ego suum et omnia mea tua sunt, O Virgo benedicta,” I am entirely yours, and all that I have is yours, O Blessed Virgin.
The first fruit of Marian consecration is always a Eucharistic fruit. The Mother will always say to us what she said at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Just as Vatican II called us to appreciate the Eucharist as the font and summit of the Christian life, our Mother Coredemptrix will always direct our hearts to an ever-greater love of our Eucharistic Jesus as the summit of our spiritual life. Marian consecration leads to the living of a Eucharistic spirituality with a Marian clarity, not on our own, but with the focus of the Immaculate One. She will always lead our hearts to adore Jesus in the tabernacle of our Churches and the tabernacles of our hearts.
How do we make our hearts tabernacles for Jesus? We have tabernacles throughout the world where we can adore Him, but we are also called to make our hearts interior tabernacles. We can prepare our hearts to be interior tabernacles with the indwelling Jesus by following the ancient formula for conversion, to be followed with the great sacrament of Reconciliation where we meet our sweet and merciful Divine Physician.
First of all, we must ask Our Lord to remove from our hearts any willfulness, any agenda, any attachments to worldly possessions, reputation, pride of position, authority, or power. We must remember always that our Mother loves the Anawim, the blessed little ones. And if we want her to pick us up and advance us in the spiritual life, we must become “little ones.”
So, here again, a challenging examination of conscience is asked of us. Is there any title, or position, or possession that keeps us from staying at the foot of the Cross with our Mother Coredemptrix? If there is, we must offer that to her. Whatever keeps us from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus must be given to our Mother to be purged, to be detached, to be purified.
Secondly, we must welcome the Eucharistic Jesus into our hearts. Remember the theological distinction, ex opere operato and ex opere operantis, which means that the objective grace of the sacrament is present, but the degree of the reception is dependent on our spiritual predisposition, our spiritual preparation. As many of the mystics and saints have said (for example, Saint Teresa of Avila, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity), if we are baptized and in the state of grace, Jesus and the Trinitarian life dwells in our souls. We are walking tabernacles, and the awe of this must always be preserved. We must always keep in mind that wherever we go we bring the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with us. Even if difficulties come, even if in the future there arise obstacles to reception of the Holy Eucharist, or if access to our Eucharistic Jesus is denied us, or visits to the tabernacles where our Eucharistic Jesus await us are prevented, such physical impediments (already experienced in some regions of the world) cannot prevent us from continuing to adore