Father Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., born in Cardenas, Cuba, on February 19, 1911, was the youngest of eight children. He eventually made his way over to the United States, where he would fulfill his vocation. “On February 20, 1935, he was ordained priest at the Immaculate Conception Shrine in Washington, D.C.” (1)
Father Carol spent his consecrated life advancing the primacy of Christ, which brought about a greater Marian devotion. (2) Through lectures, books, and numerous articles, Father Carol challenged minimalist approaches in Mariology, in the hopes that our witness as followers of Christ would become that which imitates our Lord’s fullest expression in honoring Mary. Mariology for Carol started with the Christological or Trinitarian perspective, and from this foundation a proper ecclesial understanding was established. How God considered and honored Our Lady, in as much as we can deduce this, should impact our own Marian expression. Having spearheaded and started the Mariological Society of America, which produced the periodical Marian Studies, Father Carol gave readers the opportunity to contemplate Mariological issues both current and traditional. In addition to the publication, an annual symposium would be given, inviting leading theologians to present lectures and engage in further Mariological dialogue. (3) His periodicals addressed all things Marian, but father Carol seemed to have a few Mariological favorites he focused upon.
Three areas of emphasis in Carol’s Mariology will be examined. First, Our Lady’s predestined primacy with and under Jesus. (4) Mary, with Christ, was predestined by the will of God the Father, thereby giving back to the Trinity the greatest glory offered by humanity (5) within herself, having been being intentionally selected as the Mother of God. (6) This is not only a Franciscan position, but also a Thomistic one. Applying this teaching to the redemptive aspects of the Incarnation will also be examined to clarify theological differences.
For Father Carol, Mary’s association with Jesus is not dependent upon or impacted by the stain from Adam, because Jesus’ Incarnation was not reliant upon sin. His becoming flesh and dwelling among us was the perfect expression of the Father’s love toward His creation. Although Father Carol is a Franciscan, his work has been extremely balanced in presenting differing viewpoints fairly. (7) We will focus on Mary with Christ, emphasizing her predestined role in God’s oikonomia. (8) In viewing the Incarnation, the Passion, and the eternal reign of the Messiah we shall address other subjects of concern in Carol’s Marian scope.
Another area of prominence for Reverend Carol is his penetration of the controversy surrounding the “debitum peccati.” (9) Original sin is something that impacts us all, (10) and its application to us as descendents of Adam brings about questions on Our Lady’s preservation from it. What is Mary redeemed from, if she is sinless? Certainly with the definition of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception in 1854, (11) we have clarity from a Magisterial perspective, and from this we are able to work out many applications in the field of soteriology. There are still areas of question though, (12) and whether Mary was ever, or could have ever been, under the debt of sin is one such topic under investigation. How far does the reach of humanity’s flawed father extend to this daughter of Zion, who is completely separate from the stain of sin?
The redemptive role of Christ is certainly imperative to Father Carol’s Trinitarian comprehension and expression, and thus it has Mariological ramifications, in that he sees Our Lady as Coredemptrix. Because Mary is predestined with Jesus primarily for expressing and responding to the Father’s love, she is certainly associated with Our Lord’s redemptive plan, through His generous intentionality. Her association with Jesus’ redemptive mission as Coredemptrix is the final area of specific emphasis for our review concerning this Franciscan theologian. He will be a guide from whom we will examine these topics in Scripture, Magisterial documents and current theological contributions. These three areas of interest for Carol are intertwined one with the other. Each could be examined under the category of Trinitarian generosity, or, for Father Juniper, under the universal primacy of Christ. The ecclesial ramifications of Our Lady’s invitation into such Divine intimacy certainly speaks of what the Church is, and what we are called to be as followers of Christ. (13) There are eternal consequences to proper Mariology.
Investigating the early Church, we note how defining Mary’s role as Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., and ever-virgin at the Lateran Council in 649 by Pope Martin the first, safeguarded a proper understanding of Christology. (14) As it was then, so it is for us today. Mary will always point us to Christ, and with this in mind we can see great value in the theological efforts of Father Juniper Carol’s Mariology.