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The Theology of the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

The terminology of the “alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary” comes from an Angelus address given by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II on 15 September 1985, but the concept itself is as ancient as Christianity itself which began with the Redemptive Incarnation. It is another way of speaking about the “indissoluble bond” between Jesus and Mary, about their “joint predestination.” What do I mean? Let us go back to the very beginning, to the Garden of Eden. There we find “the man,” Adam, and his wife and helpmate, Eve. We know the story, but it is necessary to keep averting to it in order to penetrate ever more deeply into God’s eternal plan.

I. The Mystery of Iniquity

In simple, yet poetic and profound language the third chapter of the Book of Genesis narrates the story of the fall of man. Three creatures play the major roles in this momentous drama: the serpent, the woman and the man. The serpent beguiles. The woman who was given to the man as his helpmate lets herself be beguiled and the man follows suit. The story seems deceptively simple, but it has monumental implications. The man, Adam, is the progenitor and head of the human family. The woman, Eve, is his companion. As partners they are equal, but they have different roles. He is the head of his wife and the head of the human family. “The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man.’ By this ‘unity of the human race’ all men are implicated in Adam’s sin.” (1)

At the same time it must be noted that the role of the woman given to the man as his helpmate was far from negligible. Let us note how it is described by the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Eve had a definite, essential position in the First Covenant. The fate of the human race lay with Adam; he it was who represented us. It was in Adam that we fell; though Eve had fallen, still, if Adam had stood, we should not have lost those supernatural privileges which were bestowed upon him as our first father. …but further, as she thus had her own general relation to the human race, so again had she her own special place as regards its trial and its fall in Adam. In those primeval events, Eve had an integral share. … She co-operated, not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. As the history stands, she was a sine-qua-non, a positive, active, cause of it. And she had her share in its punishment; in the sentence pronounced on her, she was recognized as a real agent in the temptation and its issue, and she suffered accordingly. (2)

God metes out punishment first to the serpent (Gen. 3:14-15), then to the woman (Gen. 3:16) and finally to the man (Gen. 3:17-19). What is particularly striking, however, is that already the sentence passed upon the serpent heralds the reversal of the fall. The Lord says: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, while you lie in wait for her heel” (Gen. 3:15). (3) This text has become famous as the Protoevangelium—”first gospel”—and the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why:

The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who

because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,” makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the “Protoevangelium” as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve.” (4)

In fact, the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) has grown ever more convinced of the soundness of this insight of the Fathers and Doctors over the centuries and has come to see the Protoevangelium as a revelation of the indissoluble bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium provides explicit corroboration of such an association by stating that Mary “is inseparably linked to her Son’s saving work” (indissolubili nexu cum Filii sui opere salutari coniungitur) (#103). (5) This follows logically from a principle of capital importance enunciated by Blessed Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1854, namely that “God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.” (6)

II. The Mystery of Mediation

An attentive study of God’s revelation to us in both the old dispensation and the new discloses that God chooses to deal with his people through certain persons whom he designates to act as his representatives to them and as their representatives before him. This may be truly described as the “mystery of mediation.” After the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:6) the first exercises of mediation which we hear about are the offerings of Abel and Cain (Gen. 4:3-5). These offerings comprised an act of worship or sacrifice to God.

What is a sacrifice? Sacrifice, which constitutes the supreme act of external and public worship, may be defined as the offering and immolation to God of something sensible (fruits, liquids, animals) in order to recognize his absolute lordship and in order to atone for sin. Sacrifice, consequently, has two aspects: one material and sensible because it is an external and public act; the other internal and spiritual because in order to have an effective moral value it must be motivated by a spiritual and intimate content. The offering especially of something living such as fruits and, even more, animals and then the consequent immolation or destruction of these offerings is the counterbalance to the creative act of God. As God has given life to all things, man symbolically restores life back to him. Particularly in the immolation to God of a victim such as a lamb, a goat, a calf or a bull through the mediation of a priest, man expresses his total dependence and dedication to God. The ultimate end of the sacrifice is the mystical union of man with his God. (7) In those early days of the human race, even before the establishment of the priesthood of Aaron, Cain and Abel acted as mediators before God.

While we are not explicitly informed about why the sacrifice of Cain was not acceptable, we may well assume that it had to do with the lack of a proper spiritual disposition on his part. From Cain’s slaying of his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8), the sin of our first parents has been subsequently multiplied billions of times over by the personal sins of all their descendants. Consequently the Old Testament shows us numerous instances in which a representative is designated by God himself to intercede on behalf of his people in order that his wrath, stirred up on account of their sins, might be turned away from them and that his people may receive instead his blessings.

The priests, prophets and kings of the Old Testament, each according to his particular office, all shared in this role of mediation. In varied circumstances and with an ever clearer manifestation of God’s plan these chosen mediators reveal to us both 1. the divine dispensation of mediation which God established in order to show mercy to his people and 2. at the same time the provisional role of this mediation.

While it was clear that God required an acceptable reparation in order to restore man to his friendship, it also became clear that no mere man could ever definitively “breach the chasm” which sin had caused between God and his creatures. As the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us:

Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:1-4).

Sin, an offense against the infinite God, in effect required a reparation which man, left to his own devices, remained incapable of making. No mere human creature could really succeed in mediating between God and his people except in incomplete and partial ways which could, at best, foreshadow the full, complete and definitive mediation which was needed.

III. Jesus the Perfect Mediator

At the very heart of the mystery of our redemption is the fact that Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and men … who gave himself as a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:5-6). Why is Jesus the unique and perfect mediator? This affirmation from the new Catechism provides us with the fundamental elements needed to formulate a response:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all. (8)

One with God in his divinity, Jesus is at the same time one with man in his humanity. (9) In his divine person he unites the two natures of the two parties who had become separated by man’s sin: he represents God to man and man to God. As the Word who is one with the Father from all eternity, the Son is not a mediator, but he becomes one from the moment he begins to take flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews would come to grasp that, even though he was not sprung from the priestly tribe of Levi and never referred to himself explicitly as a priest, Jesus was the perfect high priest who succeeded in bridging the gap between God and his people in a way that no other priest ever could (cf. Heb. 4:14-10:18). He did so by offering the sacrifice of himself on the cross. (10)

IV. Collaboration in Jesus’ Mediation

Now while there can be no dispute that Jesus is the priest and victim of that sacrifice by which we are saved and that he alone by virtue of his death and resurrection (the paschal mystery) is the Redeemer of the world, the Catholic Church also holds that

because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. … In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering. (11)

Here is the careful résumé of the Church’s teaching on this matter which Pope John Paul II gave in his general audience address of 9 April 1997:

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary’s cooperation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. St. Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title “cooperator” in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary’s joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer.

Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the 15th century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church’s teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin’s subordination, as cooperator, to the one Redeemer.

Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to cooperate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.

However, applied to Mary, the term “cooperator” 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, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation 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 Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity. (12)

Both of these texts carefully point out that 1. it is possible for creatures to be “associated with Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice” or to be “cooperators in the work of salvation” 2. that Mary was associated or cooperated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of Jesus’ redemptive suffering. Pope John Paul II makes two further and very important points: 1. Mary’s cooperation differs from ours because it took place “during the Calvary event itself” and 2. her totally unique collaboration in the work of our salvation is “subordinate” to that of Christ and “in submission to him.”

Now it must be candidly acknowledged that the Catholic Church’s teaching on man’s cooperation in the work of salvation became a rock of stumbling for Martin Luther (1483-1546) and subsequently for virtually all of the ecclesial bodies that derive from the Protestant reformation. (13) The Catholic Church, however, is convinced that this teaching is rooted in the New Testament and has consistently asserted it, most solemnly at the Council of Trent, (14) more recently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (15) Saint Augustine (354-430) may be taken as a major exponent of this doctrine. He said: “He who made you without your cooperation will not save you without it.” (16) In the course of 1998 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity found it necessary to uphold this teaching in responding to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification. The response asserted that

The Catholic Church maintains, moreover, that the good works of the justified are always the fruit of grace. But at the same time, and without in any way diminishing the totally divine initiative, they are also the fruit of man, justified and interiorly transformed. We can therefore say that eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace

and the reward given by God for good works and merits. (17)

This is a principle of fundamental importance in Catholic theology as well as in the spiritual life.

V. Mary’s Collaboration in Jesus’ Mediation

With wonderful perspicacity the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that “Mary, having entered intimately into the history of salvation, somehow unites in her person and re-echoes the most fundamental doctrines of the faith.” (18) Hence we should not be surprised that these same Fathers recognized Mary as the perfect model of human collaboration with God’s grace “in subordination to Christ and with him in the service of the mystery of redemption.” (19) They pointed out that the “union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is apparent from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death” (20) and they further specified that

The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully maintained her union with her Son even to the cross where she stood in conformity with the divine plan. There she endured with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and united herself to his sacrifice in her motherly heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her. (21)

Let it be well noted that, according to the consistent teaching of the Church, Mary’s collaboration in the work of the redemption spans the entire earthly life of the God-man from the Annunciation to Calvary, but that it reaches its summit on Golgotha where Mary is involved in two simultaneous offerings: the offering of her Son and the offering of herself. This has been repeatedly taught by all of the Pontiffs of the twentieth century. Here is a classic expression of the first offering by the Servant of God Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis of 29 June 1943 to which the above text of Lumen Gentium makes explicit reference:

She (Mary) it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever most closely united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and motherly love, like a new Eve, for all the children of Adam contaminated through this unhappy fall … (22)

In his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum of 13 May 1967 the Servant of God Pope Paul VI emphasized the second offering by emphasizing Our Lady’s charity, strong and constant in the fulfillment of her mission to the point of sacrificing herself, in full communion of sentiments with her Son who immolated Himself on the Cross to give men a new life. (23)

Both of these offerings are magnificently summarized in Pope Benedict XV’s Letter Inter Sodalicia of 22 March 1918 which has become justly famous:

According to the common teaching of the Doctors it was God’s design that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist Him when He was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and, as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind. (24)

Benedict speaks clearly here of our redemption as a joint effort between the “New Adam” and the “New Eve.” This, of course, takes nothing away from the fact that Jesus’ merits were all-sufficient for our redemption or that Mary, as a human creature, could never equal her divine Son. Rather he recognizes that Mary’s presence on Calvary was “according to God’s design,” that it was willed by God as flowing from the indissoluble bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation which was already pointed to in the Protoevangelium.

VI. Mary Coredemptrix

In the course of the centuries the faithful continued to meditate on the secondary, subordinate, but altogether unique role of Mary in the work of our redemption, (25) and eventually coined the word Coredemptrix in order to describe her role. The first use of this word of which we are presently aware dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century. (26) The term Coredemptrix usually requires some initial explanation in the English language because often the prefix “co” immediately conjures up visions of complete equality. For instance a co-signer of a check or a co-owner of a house is considered a co-equal with the other signer or owner. Thus the first fear of many is that describing Our Lady as Coredemptrix puts her on the same level as her Divine Son and implies that she is “Redeemer” in the same way that he is, thus reducing Jesus “to being half of a team of redeemers.” (27) In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes, however, the meaning is always that Mary’s cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, dependent on that of Christ. This is an exact parallel to the role of Eve in our fall. As Dr. Mark Miravalle points out:

The prefix “co” does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word, “cum” which means “with.” The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Savior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity. (28)

From a merely logical or human perspective, one might say that, since Jesus is the perfect Redeemer and the redemption which he wrought on Calvary is more than sufficient for us and all possible worlds, there is no need for a Coredemptrix. The point is that our perspective is not God’s. As a woman had been involved in the fall, so God willed that a woman should be involved in the redemption. This is a datum that has been part and parcel of the Catholic tradition that has come down to us from the Apostles and makes progress in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Dei Verbum #8). The indissoluble link between the “Woman” and “her seed,” the Messiah, is already presented to us in the protoevangelium (Gen. 3:15), (29) where the first adumbrations of God’s saving plan pierce through the darkness caused by man’s sin. The identification of the “Woman” with Mary is already implicit in the second and nineteenth chapters of the Gospel of St. John where Jesus addresses his mother as “Woman” (30) and in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. (31) The Apostle Paul had already explicitly identified Jesus as the “new Adam” (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49) and it was a natural and logical development for the sub-Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr (+ c. 165), Irenaeus of Lyons (+ c. 202) and Tertullian (+ c. 220), to see Mary as the “New Eve,” (32) the God-given helpmate of the “New Adam.”

Virtually all of the experts are agreed that the classic presentation of Mary as the “New Eve” achieves full maturity in the writings of Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. Of Irenaeus’ Eve-Mary comparison René Laurentin says

Irenaeus gives bold relief to a theme only outlined by Justin (Martyr). With Irenaeus the Eve-Mary parallel is not simply a literary effect nor a gratuitous improvisation, but an integral part of his theology of salvation. One idea is the key to this theology:

God’s saving plan is not a mending or a “patch-up job” done on his first product; it is a resumption of the work from the beginning, a regeneration from head downwards, a recapitulation in Christ. In this radical restoration each one of the elements marred by the fall is renewed in its very root. In terms of the symbol developed by Irenaeus, the knot badly tied at the beginning is unknotted, untied in reverse (recirculatio):

Christ takes up anew the role of Adam, the cross that of the tree of life. In this ensemble Mary, who corresponds to Eve, holds a place of first importance. According to Irenaeus her role is necessary to the logic of the divine plan. …

With Irenaeus this line of thought attains a force of expression that has never been surpassed. Later writers will broaden the bases of the comparison but to our day no one has expressed it in a way more compact or more profound. (33)

In effect, the concept of Mary as the “New Eve”—which is directly linked to that of Coredemptrix—is very deeply imbedded in the Apostolic Tradition. Here it will not be out of place to underscore why Saint Irenaeus is such an important figure for our consideration. Not only is he invoked implicitly—by being included among the Fathers—in the Marian magisterium of Blessed Pius IX, but he is also referred to explicitly in that of Pius XII, Paul VI, the Second Vatican Council and most notably in that of John Paul II. (34) The Lutheran scholar Jaroslav Pelikan provides us with a fascinating hint about the importance of the Bishop of Lyons:

When it is suggested that for the development of the doctrine of Mary, such Christian writers as Irenaeus in a passage like this (in Proof of the Apostolic Preaching) “are important witnesses for the state of the tradition in the late second century, if not earlier” that raises the interesting question of whether Irenaeus had invented the concept of Mary as the Second Eve here or was drawing on a deposit of tradition that had come to him from “earlier.” It is difficult, in reading his Against Heresies and especially his Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, to avoid the impression that he cited the parallelism of Eve and Mary so matter-of-factly without arguing or having to defend the point because he could assume that his readers would willingly go along with it, or even that they were already familiar with it. One reason that this could be so might have been that, on this issue as on so many others, Irenaeus regarded himself as the guardian and the transmitter of a body of belief that had come to him from earlier generations, from the very apostles. A modern reader does need to consider the possibility, perhaps even to concede the possibility, that in so regarding himself Irenaeus may just have been right and that therefore it may already have become natural in the second half of the second century to look at Eve, the “mother of all living,” and Mary, the mother of Christ, together, understanding and interpreting each of the two most important women in human history on the basis of the other. (35)

Put simply, Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. There is every reason, then, to believe that what he transmits to us about Mary as the “New Eve” is an integral part of “the Tradition that comes to us from the Apostles.” (36)

It was precisely as a result of meditation of the faithful (saints, mystics and theologians) on Mary’s role as the “New Eve” in the course of centuries that the theology of Marian coredemption developed. (37) From theological usage the word Coredemptrix passed into the vocabulary of the magisterium. It was first used in official documents issued by Roman Congregations at the beginning of the century (38) and subsequently by Pope Pius XI in allocutions to pilgrims (39) and in a radio message on 28 April 1935 for the closing of the Holy Year at Lourdes. (40)

VII. Opposition

Although, as we have seen, the doctrine of Mary’s unique collaboration in our redemption was clearly taught by the Second Vatican Council, the word Coredemptrix was not used. While Father Besutti confirms that the word “Coredemptrix” did appear in the original schema of the Marian document prepared in advance for the Council, (41) the Prænotanda to the first conciliar draft document or schema on Our Lady contained these words:

Certain expressions and words used by Supreme Pontiffs have been omitted, which, in themselves are absolutely true, but which may only be understood with difficulty by separated brethren (in this case Protestants). Among such words may be numbered the following: “Coredemptrix of the human race” (Pius X, Pius XI) … (42)

This original prohibition was rigorously respected and hence the term “Coredemptrix” was not used in any of the official documents promulgated by the Council and, undeniably, “ecumenical sensitivity” was a prime factor in its avoidance (43) along with a distaste for the general language of mediation on the part of more progressive theologians. (44) We remain free to debate about the wisdom and effectiveness of such a strategy. (45)

One might well shrug and ask “So what?” The Council clearly taught the doctrine of Mary’s unique collaboration in the work of our redemption without using the title “Coredemptrix.” “What’s the problem?” The problem is precisely that two generations after the Council the doctrine is very largely unknown, even among serious Catholics and it is ignored, scorned and even denied by professors of theology. I know of cases in which the word had to be removed from doctoral theses in order for the writer to receive the doctorate. I have become firmly convinced that once one understands that Our Lady’s role in the work of our redemption is always secondary and subordinate to that of Our Lord and totally dependent on him, there is no other word which expresses her role with such clarity. How about cooperator, collaborator, co-worker, associate, ally, partner? All of these could also be predicated of us in one way or another. None of them points to the absolute uniqueness of Mary’s position without requiring further modifiers. I believe that the word Coredemptrix provides a kind of key to the doctrine just as Theotókos did at the time of the crisis caused by Nestorius.

Now what is truly remarkable is that after this period of artificial suppression Pope John Paul II used the word “Coredemptrix” five times and “coredemptive” once in order to describe Mary’s intimate cooperation in the work of our Redemption (46) and I have documented this in a number of studies. (47) Despite these facts there has been what seems to be a very carefully orchestrated chorus stating that none of these instances are of any theological value. But that is not all. An ad hoc committee was convened at the Mariological Congress held in Czestochowa, Poland in August 1996 to deal with petitions which the Holy See had been receiving for a dogmatic definition of Mary’s role in the work of our redemption as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. None of us who had done any studies in support of such a definition were consulted and of the 23 theologians who rendered the negative decision against considering a definition, one was Anglican, one was Lutheran and three were Orthodox. The rationale proffered was the following:

The titles, as proposed, are ambiguous, as they can be understood in very different ways. Furthermore, the theological direction taken by the Second Vatican Council, which did not wish to define any of these titles, should not be abandoned. (48)

What is particularly dumbfounding about this statement is that in the prologue to the Marian chapter of Lumen Gentium explicitly states that

This sacred synod … does not, however, intend to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified. Those opinions therefore may be lawfully retained which are propounded in Catholic schools concerning her, who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and also closest to us. (49)

As if this questionable statement of the signers of the Czestochowa statement didn’t suffice, the same edition of L’Osservatore Romano which carried their declaration also carried an unsigned article stating that

With respect to the title of Coredemptrix, the Declaration of Czestochowa notes that “from the time of Pope Pus XII, the term Coredemptrix has not been used by the papal Magisterium in its significant documents” and there is evidence that he himself intentionally avoided using it. An important qualification, because here and there, in papal writings which are marginal and therefore devoid of doctrinal weight, one can find such a title, be it very rarely. (50)

It seems that the primary reason why Pius XII did not use the title, even though he clearly taught the doctrine as we have seen, was because of the discussion of theologians which had only reached a virtually unanimous theological consensus at the Mariological Congress of Lourdes in 1958 a few months before his death. (51)

What I wish to underscore here, however, is how what I have elsewhere described as “Vatican II triumphalism” (52) tramples even upon the papal magisterium whenever it suits the purposes of its practitioners. The fact that Pope John Paul II used the term “Coredemptrix” five times and “coredemptive” once in speaking about Our Lady is simply dismissed as “marginal and therefore devoid of doctrinal weight” with no reference to Lumen Gentium #25 says about the ordinary magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. I would simply add that the Czestochowa Declaration itself is hardly above criticism for the way it attempts to deal with facts and may be far more appropriately described as “marginal and therefore devoid of doctrinal weight.”

Why is there such stiff resistance to recognizing the development of doctrine which has taken place, especially in the course of the last pontificate, and in celebrating and proclaiming the role that the “New Eve” had in the working out of our redemption and the role which she continues to carry out in dispensing the graces of the redemption and interceding on our behalf? Clearly, this is not simply resistance to a title, (53) but to the reality of Mary’s role in the work of our salvation. There are many partial answers, but ultimately, I believe this opposition can only be explained in terms of the eternal enmity between the serpent and the “Woman” of Genesis 3:15.

VIII. The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Now you may well ask: “What does all of this have to do with the ‘Alliance of the Two Hearts’?” My response is that it has everything to do with it. To speak of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a kind of shorthand way of speaking about their persons, especially about their interiority. Furthermore, to employ the word “heart” as common to both of them implies that there is an analogy, a certain similarity, though not total, between Jesus and Mary.

The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of three ways of predication. (54) The first one is univocal, that is one term is predicated of different things according to a meaning which is absolutely one and the same; for example the term “animal” is predicated of both a horse and of an ox and signifies that each one is a living sensory substance. The second mode of predication is equivocal. In this case the same term is predicated of various things according to totally different meanings as is evident from the term “dog” predicated both of a constellation and of a certain species of animal. The third way of predication is analogous. The same term is predicated of various things according to a meaning that is partly the same and partly different: different as regards the different modes or relation, but the same as regards that to which there is a relation. To say that there is an analogy between two things is to say that there is a “likeness in difference” between them.

To say that there is an analogy between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is to say that there is a similarity between them, but not an absolute identity. The Heart of Jesus is the heart of the God-man; the Heart of Mary is the heart of a creature. Even though there is an infinite distance between God and his creatures, there is a greater similarity between Jesus and Mary than between Jesus and any other creature. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, has a “certain infinite dignity” (quandam dignitatem infinitam) (55) and Bl. Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus states that Mary possesses “that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.” (56) Even though they are not on the same level, there is an evident analogy between Jesus and Mary in terms of their being and their doing. The late Pope John Paul II put it beautifully in his homily of 24 September 2000:

Mary has a unique relationship with the second person of the Trinity, the Word made

flesh, since she is directly involved in the mystery of the Incarnation. She is his Mother, and as such Christ honours and loves her. At the same time, she recognizes him as her God and Lord, making herself a disciple with an attentive and faithful heart (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51), and his generous associate (Lumen Gentium, n. 61) in the work of Redemption. In the incarnate Word and in Mary the infinite distance between the Creator and creature became a supreme closeness; they are the holy space for the mysterious nuptials of the divine nature with the human, the place where the Trinity is revealed for the first time and where Mary represents the new humanity, ready to take up again, in obedient love, the dialogue of the Covenant. (57)

One could hardly ask for a more lucid commentary on the analogy between Jesus and Mary. The Pope refers to Mary as a “disciple with an attentive and faithful heart” and Jesus’ “generous associate in the work of Redemption”—this is the language of Marian coredemption. He goes on to state that “In the incarnate Word and in Mary the infinite distance between the Creator and creature became a supreme closeness.” He speaks of the covenant or alliance in which “Mary represents the new humanity.”

This is truly a marvelous statement which succinctly condenses the theology of the alliance of the Two Hearts. “Mary represents the new humanity, ready to take up again, in obedient love, the dialogue of the Covenant.” The Covenant or alliance itself is “the holy space for the mysterious nuptials of the divine nature with the human, the place where the Trinity is revealed for the first time.”

It may be hard to believe, but much of today’s theological establishment is firmly set against emphasizing the analogy between Jesus and Mary. One high-ranking theologian has gone so far as to state that there is no analogy between Jesus and Mary; rather their relationship is equivocal. (58) Quite obviously this flies in the face of the entire Catholic tradition. Placing the images of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary together is an iconographic way of insisting on this analogy and the joint work of Jesus and Mary in bringing about our redemption. This is the divinely designed imagery on the reverse side of the miraculous medal and, according to Sister Lúcia, the reason the Lord himself gave for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

Because I want my whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cultus later on and put the devotion to this Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart. (59)

Indeed I maintain that the recognition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for the people of God is a condition for the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. The Lord wants the heart of the “New Eve” next to that of the “New Adam” and he wants us to enter into that admirable alliance for the world’s salvation.

Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins was an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome, a contributing member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the author of Totus Tuus. He is internationally known for his numerous articles on Our Lady and for his scholarly work in the fields of dogmatic and spiritual theology.


(1) Catechism of the Catholic Church = CCC #404.

(2) John Henry Newman, Letter Addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D. on occasion of his Eirenicon in Philip Boyce (ed.), Mary: The Virgin Mary in the Life and Writings of John Henry Newman (Leominster, Herefordshire; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001) 206-207.

(3) I have followed here the Douay-Rheims version which is a translation of St. Jerome’s Vulgate. For a discussion on whether the pronoun in the second part of the verse should be translated as he or she (favored in the Catholic tradition for well over a millennium) cf. Thomas Mary Sennott, The Woman of Genesis (Cambridge, MA: The Ravengate Press, 1984) 37-60. For a discussion of whether the verb should be translated as “bruise” or “crush,” cf. Sennott 61-80. For an overall treatment of the text cf. Stefano M. Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology Revised and Enlarged Second Edition trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) = Manelli 20-37.

(4) CCC #411.

(5) One already finds the description of the “bond” between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation as “intimate and indissoluble” (arctissimo et indissolubili vinculo) in the Venerable Pius IX’s Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1954 (Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstelt, 1971) I:607 (Our Lady: Papal Teachings, trans. Daughters of St. Paul (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) = OL #46). Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium uses the same language in #53 when it speaks of Mary’s being united to Jesus “by a close and indissoluble tie” (arcto et indissolubili vinculo unita). Likewise Paul VI speaks of the “close and indissoluble bond” which joined Mary to the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption” (Arcto et indissolubili vinculo mysterio Incarnationis et Redemptionis) in his Professio Fidei or “Credo of the People of God” of 30 June 1968 (AAS 60 (1968) 438-439; The Pope Speaks 13:278).

(6) Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta I:599 (OL #34. This principle was repeated by Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus (AAS 42 (1950) 768; OL #520), LG #61, Paul VI in Marialis Cultus #25 (AAS 66 (1974) 136) and by John Paul II in Redemptoris Mater #8-9 (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana) = Inseg X/1 (1987) 687; St. Paul Editions 14).

(7) Antonio Piolanti, Dio Uomo (Pontificia Accademia Teologica Romana: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995) 575-577.

(8) CCC #616.

(9) Heinrich Denzinger, S.I., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum: Edizione Bilingue (XXXVII) a cura di Peter Hünermann (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2000) #301 (Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (ed.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church Originally Prepared by Josef Neuner, S.J. & Jacques Dupuis; Sixth Revised and Enlarged Edition (New York: Alba House, 1998) #613).

(10) Cf. CCC #606-618.

(11) CCC #618.

(12) Inseg XX/1 (1997) 621-622 (L’Osservatore Romano, weekly English edition (First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page) = ORE 1487:7; Pope John Paul II, Theotókos – Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000) = MCat 185-187).

(13) Cf. Brunero Gherardini, “Ecumenisomo e Corredenzione” in Maria “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione.” Atti del Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, Fatima, Portogallo 3-7 Maggio 2005 (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 463-475.

(14) Cf. D-H #1545-1546, 1548, 1554, 1559, 1574, 1576, 1581, 1582 (TCF #1946-1948, 1954, 1959, 1974, 1976, 1981-1982).

(15) CCC #2006-2010, 1017, 2025.

(16) Sermo 169, 11, 13 (PL 38, 293). Cf. Brunero Gherardini, “Qui Fecit Te Sine Te Non Te Iustificat Sine Te,” Divinitas XL (1998) 3-18.

(17) L’Osservatore Romano, daily Italian edition =OR 4 Luglio 1998, p. 4 (n. 3) (ORE 1549:2).

(18) Lumen Gentium = LG #65.

(19) LG #56.

(20) LG #57.

(21) LG #58.

(22) Acta Apostolicae Sedis = AAS 35 (1943) 247-248 (OL #383). Pius XII quoted this text again in his Encyclical Letter Ad Cæli Reginam of 11 October 1954, AAS 46 (1954) 635 (OL #705).

(23) AAS 59 (1967) 470 (St. Paul Editions, NCWC trans. 6).

(24) AAS 10 (1918) 182) (OL #267).

(25) Cf. Mother Maria Francesca Perillo, F.I. and Sister Maria Rosa Pia Somerton, F.I., “The Marian Coredemption Through Two Millennia” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – II: Acts of the Second International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002) 79-111.

(26) René Laurentin, “Le Titre de Corédemptrice. Étude historique,” Marianum 13 (1951) 399-402.

(27) Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., Understanding the Mother of Jesus (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1979) 93.

(28) Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship, 1993) xv.

(29) Cf. Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary(Wilmington: Michael Glazier, Inc.; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1982) = Theotokos 370-373; Manelli 20-37.

(30) Cf. Theotokos 373-375; Manelli 364-383.

(31) Cf. Theotokos 375-377; Manelli 394-414.

(32) Cf. Theotokos 139-141.

(33) René Laurentin, A Short Treatise of the Virgin Mary trans. by Charles Neumann, S.M. (Washington, N.J.: AMI Press, 1991) 54, 57. Emphasis my own, except for “recapitulation” and “recirculatio.”

(34) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Marian Co-Redemption and the Contemporary Papal Magisterium” in Maria “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione.” Atti del Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, Fatima, Portogallo 3-7 Maggio 2005 (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 116-121.

(35) Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996) 43-44. Emphasis in second part of passage my own.

(36) Cf. my study “Maria Reparatrix: Tradition, Magisterium, Liturgy” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross, III: Maria, Mater Unitatis – Acts of the Third International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2003) 223-232.

(37) Cf. Pope John Paul II’s Marian catechesis of 25 October 1995, Inseg XVIII/2 (1995) 934-937 (Mcat 25-28).

(38) AAS 1 (1908) 409; 5 (1913) 364; 6 (1914) 108.

(39) Domenico Bertetto, S.D.B. (ed.), Discorsi di Pio XI 2:1013; OR 25 Marzo 1934, p. 1.

(40) OR 29-30 Aprile, 1935, p. 1.

(41) Giuseppe M. Besutti, O.S.M., Lo Schema Mariano al Concilio Vaticano II. Documentazione e note di cronaca (Rome: Edizioni «Marianum» and Libreria Desclée & C.i, 1966) 28-29; Ermanno M. Toniolo, O.S.M., La Beata Maria Vergine nel Concilio Vaticano II (Rome: Centro di Cultura Mariana «Madre della Chiesa», 2004) 36.

(42) Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani Secundi, Vol. I, Pt. VI (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1971) 99; my trans. Cf. Besutti 41; Toniolo 98-99.

(43) Cf. Thomas Mary Sennott, O.S.B., “Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, Vatican II and Ecumenism,” Miles Immaculatae 24 (1988) 151-167; Theotokos 242-245.

(44) Cf. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D., The Rhine Flows into the Tiber; A History of Vatican II (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1985, 1st ed., 1967) 90-95; 153-159.

(45) Cf. my article “‘Towards Another Marian Dogma?’ A Response to Father Angelo Amato,” Marianum LIX (1997) 163-165.

(46) The specific instances may be found in Inseg V/3 (1982) 404; VII/2 (1984) 1151 (ORE 860:1); VIII/1 (1985) 318-319 (ORE 876:7); 889-890 (ORE 880:12); XIII/1 (1990) 743:1; XIV/2 (1991) 756 (ORE 1211:4).

(47) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption” in Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., (ed.), Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Theological Foundations II: Papal, Pneumatological,Ecumenical (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1997), 121-125; “The Mystery of Mary the Coredemptrix in the Papal Magisterium,” in Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D. (ed.), Mary Co-redemptrix: Doctrinal Issues Today (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 2002) 41-44; “Pope John Paul II’s Ordinary Magisterium on Marian Coredemption: Consistent Teaching and More Recent Perspectives” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – II: Acts of the Second International Symposium on Marian Coredemption(New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002) 28-29; also published in Divinitas XLV «Nova Series» (2002) 179.

(48) OR 4 giugno 1997, p. 10 (ORE 1494:12).

(49) LG #54.

(50) OR 4 giugno 1997, p. 10 (ORE 1497:10).

(51) Cf. Alessandro M. Apollonio, F.I., Il “calvario teologico” della Corredenzione mariana (Castelpetroso: Casa Mariana Editrice, 1999) 7-8.

(52) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Marian Co-Redemption and the Contemporary Papal Magisterium” in Maria “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione.” Atti del Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, Fatima, Portogallo 3-7 Maggio 2005 (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 145.

(53) Cf. Hendro Munsterman, Marie corédemptrice? Débat sur un titre marial controversé (Paris: Cerf, 2006).

(54) In XI Metaph. lect. 3, no. 2197.

(55) Summa Theologica I, q. 25, art.6, ad 4.

(56) Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstelt, 1971) I:597-598 (OL #31).

(57) Inseg XXIII/2 (2000) 458 (ORE 1661:1).

(58) Cf. the critique by Brunero Gherardini, “A proposito di un’intervista” in Immaculata Mediatrix IV:3 (2004) 437-443.

(59) Letter of 18 May 1936, Memórias e Cartas da Irmã Lúcia with introduction, notes and English trans. by António Maria Martins, S.J. (Porto, 1973) 415.


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