The two articles which follow, by Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri and Dr. Judith Gentle, were recently presented, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, in Rome at the Inside the Vatican Forum’s Marian Day of Dialog on the Fifth Marian Dogma. – Ed.
“THE SENSUS FIDELIUM” of Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate of the People of God – a Nigerian Perspective of the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici Movement
Since the launching of the “Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix” in May 1993, as a popular movement of the People of God from the five continents of the world praying and petitioning the Vicar of Christ to papally define the fifth Marian Dogma of Our Lady as “the spiritual Mother of all Peoples”, in her three motherly roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, a lot of good things have been happening in the Church and in the world as a result of this endeavour. I became a part of this movement not long after assumption of Episcopal responsibility for the See of Kafanchan in 1995 and had participated in two international conferences devoted to in-depth theological reflection on the proposed dogma in Rome 1997, and at Fatima in 2005. I am particularly edified by the contribution of this movement to the enrichment of the content of Mariology and consequently, vibrant Faith-life in the church. I am also very happy with the prospects that this holds for the Church both now and in the future. My contribution therefore at this “Day of Dialogue” is not going to be theological in nature (because a lot has been achieved already as seen in the two volumes on Thelogical Fundations for the definition of the Dogma). Rather, I wish to share the joy and appreciation of many on this dogma, which I personally experienced each time I was invited to make a presentation on this topic during Marian conferences (at diocesan and regional level) or at the celebrations of some of the Liturgical feasts in honour of Our Lady.
Since these three titles of our Lady belong to the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, many of the faithful within our region are quite familiar with them to the extent that some expressed shock in hearing that there has been no formal definition on them as a dogma in the Church. One of those who expressed such concern was a lawyer who had her Chambers named “The Mediatrix”. She looked rather disappointed to hear that these three titles of Our Lady, which had been used severally by top ecclesiates and are found in many works of the Saints and official Church documents – not excluding the Second Vatican Council, are yet to enjoy a formal papal definition. Most Catholics especially those in Marian societies such as: Our Lady Queen of all Hearts, the Legion of Mary, the “Our Lady of Fatima Block Rosary Crusade”, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary etc, do have recourse to our Lady under these three titles which highlight her universal mediation for humanity.
The purpose of this submission is to state that from my practical experience, the fact of Our Lady’s mediation in these three dimensions is to a large extent is already a “living reality” in the lives of many within our environment. And if this is what in official church parlance is described as the sensus fidelium – which is always a necessary requirement, or in other words a fertile soil for the definition of a dogma in the catholic Church, then we can without hesitation lend our voice to those of many, that this is the time “the kairos moment” for the definition of the fifth Marian Dogma. As those with a sense of history in the definitions of dogmas in the Church have been quick in telling us: Every new dogma should rightly be seen as the child not only of authority, but also of love, of the love of the fellowship of the faith of the heart of the praying Church…..There is therefore no piece of dogmatic knowledge which is the knowledge of individuals and not at the same time an experience and love of many in the Holy Spirit (see pg xxii on Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate – The theological foundations).
THRUST OF PRESENT ENDEAVOR
The present dialogue here in Rome should do the following:
1. SEE TO THE UP-DATING AND CREATIVE USE OF STATISTICS ON PETITIONS FOR THE DOGMA: We should acknowledge with gratitude to God the success recorded in the mass mobilization of the people of God for prayer, reflection and petitioning of the Holy Father to initiate and guide the Church in the process that would see to the definition of the fifth Marian Dogma. There is the need for instance, to get up to date statistics on the number of petitions that have been made so far on this matter, and to use these figures creatively in all discuses to highlight not only the love but also the eagerness of the Faithful to see this truth on Our Lady solemnly defined by the Church. In the volume II of Theological Foundations on Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate of 1996, Dr. Miravalle, President of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici stated that four years into the campaign for the fifth Marian dogma, there had been an impressive response from the faithful where: over four hundred and thirty Bishops, inclusive of thirty-nine cardinals, and over four million petitions from more than one hundred forty five countries – in a growing manifestation of the sensus fidelium, all humbly and abundantly requesting the definition of maternal mediation (cf pg52). There is the need for those who are involved in this spiritual work to keep these figures ever in view and to convince ourselves always that this work being done for the glory of God and the good of his Church is a project not of a few but of many Catholics.
2. CONTRIBUTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARIOLOGY: The movement has in its depository a large quantum of theological treatises providing the basis not only for the timeliness but also the appropriateness for the definition of this fifth Marian dogma. This dialogue should consider ways of popularizing these “juicy and very faith nourishing fruits” of this worthy undertaking through conferences, seminars/workshops, special days of prayers and retreats, as ways of conscientization and keeping alive the aspirations of this spiritual exercise.
3. NEED FOR A SUSTAINED PRAYER CAMPAIGN WITH A LITURGICAL THRUST: It is worth noting that as far back as 1921, through a Rescript, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship approved a Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Mediatrix of all Graces, where She is described as the treasure house of all graces (see pg 289…theological foundations Vol 1). This text which (I believe) still remains valid should be identified, updated, and given to Local Ordinaries who are interested and may wish to (after due consultation) grant permission for the celebration of such Masses in their jurisdictions in anticipation to a formal definition of Our Lady’s universal mediation which has as its source in Jesus her Son, the Mediator between God and Man.
One of the purposes of our gathering here today is to acknowledge with gratitude to God the good work that has been achieved in the last seventeen years in raising awareness of the entire Church on the need to proclaim the whole truth about Mary, namely that in addition to the four dogmas already proclaimed by the Church about her, that the fifth and final one on her roles as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate of the people of God be now proclaimed. The Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici has through her two volumes of Theological Foundations provided sound grounds based on Sacred Scripture, Apostolic tradition and the Living Magisterium for this definition. On page 50 of the second volume, a propose text of what should be captured in the fifth dogma runs thus: The Coredemption of Mary is that privilege by which the Immaculate, ever-Virgin Mother of God, freely cooperated with and under Jesus Christ, her Son and redeemer, in the historic Redemption of the human family, from her fiat at the Annunciation, to the sacrifice of her maternal heart at Calvary; and thus, Mary becomes for us the Mediatrix of all the graces of Redemption and Advocate for all God’s people.
There is nothing in this text that will do harm to the Life of the Church. On the contrary, by defining this dogma, the church will be presenting in clear and authoritative manner, the truth that is being lived already by many of its members there by quickening the triumph of the grace of redemption in the world won at such high price by Jesus with Mary his Mother supporting him all through the way up to the end.