The Vital Queenship of Our Lady

Updated: May 29, 2020

So complete is the dependency of the creature upon the divine power in which he swims, that the creature is not so much a thing as a relationship …. One's inescapable participation in the divine fire. -Bishop Robert Barron, "St. Thomas Aquinas"

This work seeks to survey the theological, scriptural and magisterial foundations of the Church's regard for Our Lady as the divinely appointed universal 'Queen-Mother' whose natural and supernatural powers and prerogatives are described by her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate.

The first half (Parts I & II) of this effort includes a discussion of the interrelationship of the general Christology of the Church with her unique Mariology, specifically as this applies to on-going processes of formulating comprehensive description of the Queen-Mother and her relationships as completion of the Church's cadre of Mariological dogma. Part II attempts to round out the preceding review with a synthesis of general knowledge gained about the Church's Mariological methodologies as specifically applied to the mystery of Our Lady's title-role of 'Universal Queen-Mother.'

The latter half of the work steps farther out from the above backward-looking glance at the Church's relationship with her Mother, in an attempt to extrapolate and apply what has been learned to the current conversation being had about the permissibility, prudence and probability of declaring a final Marian dogma which seeks to complete dogmatic truth about herself and all her on-going relationships as Christ the King's, Queen-Mother.

It is essential to consider the mystery of Mary within the context of the mystery of Jesus.[1]

PART I: Who do they say that I AM?

The Gebirah tradition stands as the explanation of Mary's queenship.[2]

The structure of ancient civilizations included top-down monarchies. The Egyptians, Hittites and Assyrians are among this group and could be said to be notable stand-outs because of both the historical and biblical record of their interaction and influence on the Davidic Dynasty. These kingdoms, as well as that of ancient Israel itself, practiced polygamy. The factor of multiple wives, concubines and offspring from them, made the modern notions of queenship as mostly an honorary designation of the then current wife of the king or simply a female king, untenable on multiple levels, but most particularly where royal succession was concerned. To choose one queen from many wives invalidates the nature of a queen's authority which comes from a unique and close familial relationship to the king.[3]

The kingdoms of Israel circumvented the above issues by their designation of the new reigning king's mother as Gebirah.[4] The term means 'Great Lady' and indicates, only the biological mother of the newly anointed king. Also implicit in the ancient Judaic use of the term:

Royal dignity - holding moral and participative power commensurate with her son, the king's. The former, by way of both having and passing on the royal Davidic lineage. The latter as exercise of her co-equal interest in both the day-to-day and future success of their dynasty. On the throne the queen mother represented the king's continuity with the past, the visible affirmation of God's ongoing plan for his people, the channel through which the Lord's dynastic promise to David was fulfilled.[5]

-Royal Office - unique roles and responsibilities such as advocate/mediator for the people and councilor to the king. In the Davidic Kingdom, the mother of the king held an extremely important and influential office …These various roles of the Gebirah illustrate how the office of Queen Mother played an integral part in the Davidic Kingdom.[6]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines 'Mediator/Mediatrix' as, one who links or reconciles separate or opposing parties. It then differentiates the uniqueness of Mary's title of 'Mediatrix' as being in virtue of her cooperation in the saving mission of Christ who alone is the unique mediator between God and humanity.[7]

With that last crucial differentiation, as the necessary distinction of Our Lady's unique person, power and queenship, correlative extrapolation from the life of the Davidic gebirah, to the Mystery of Our Lady's everlasting role as Gebirah of the Eternal Kingdom becomes possible and permissible.

In fact, the Church sees types, anti-types, symbolism and themes of Our Lady's queenship throughout the Old Testament. These would include 1 and 2 Kings which presents pericopes illustrating the importance of the king's mother from various angles. Of these, the most referenced include; the mention of her name in the introduction of major monarchs (all except three,[8]), citation of one queen-mother specifically as member of the royal court (2 Kings 24) and credence given to the gebirah as possessing an actual office by citing an instance where a king divests his mother of that office, (1 King 15:13). However, the most important vignette showcasing the elevation and interaction of king and gebirah, is often cited as 1 Kings 2:19-20 wherein her son having recently taken the throne of his father, David, Bathsheba makes entrance into public audience with the King without having been formally invited. Notably, even as favored wife of the previous monarch, this act was strictly forbidden. However, Solomon not only allows his mother's presence, but takes that opportunity to publicly elevate her to the power, prestige and office of the 'Gebirah' of his kingdom. He does this first by bowing to her, then leading her to a seat at his right hand. He then manifests her new position by audible acknowledgment that he will not refuse her. The significance of the fact that he hears the request but does not do exactly what she asks is two- fold. First, because it demonstrates the divinely-enhanced wisdom of Solomon and secondly as witness of the inherent assumption of the 'new' 'Great Lady's' maternal right to council, mediate and advocate still always subordinate to the King's own mediational and judicial office as ruler-protector of their mutual realm.

Mary's queenship is not something far removed from the Christian life, an exulted position in heaven that we are to honor only from a distance. "She is not an isolated and extraneous figure, but one who in communion with all Christians, participates in the same reign as Christ …."Mary is queen by which she exercises a 'leadership' in regards to the people of God: with her prestige and with the excellence of her existence as first Christian and 'type' of the Church, she represents a point of reference necessary for the faithful who intend to discover their own royal identity as children of God and give to the Lord a larger space in their lives". [9]

If 1 Kings 2: 19-20 can be said to best illustrate the inaugural event of the most important gebirah of the Old Testament, then perhaps, Jn2:1-10, ('Wedding Feast of Cana'), could be said to best illustrate the first public manifestation of the 'Great Lady' of all of Sacred Scripture. At a minimum, there is much more going on at the Wedding Feast of Cana than meets the un-trained eye or impure heart. We shall speak of Mary's authority but we shall not describe it as an authority over her Son. It is an authority, (a true influence) over grace and consequently over the subjects of her Son's Kingdom. [10]

Submerged beneath this display of human compassion super-charged by Divine Mercy, is a conversation between the heirs-apparent of 'Kingdom Come.' Amid the happy hub-bub that is a wedding and in almost as few words as created Eden, Mother approves timing after Son reminds her of the ramifications of a public display of the Incarnate Word's power.

"Woman, what is this to you and to me, my hour has not yet come?" [11]

"Do whatever He tells you."[12]

Perhaps even more importantly in terms of delving for clues as to the indescribable depth of the Trinity's combined personal love for Our Lady as the Daughter, Mother and Spouse, is the single ancient honorific, Jesus employs to address Mary ('Woman'). Here is divine affirmation and confirmation from the Incarnate Word that His own Mother is the mysterious 'Woman' whose appearances 'book-end' the whole of Sacred Scripture itself.

… the Protoevangelium has been described as a complete synthesis of Mariology, wherein the whole of Mariology is found "in a nutshell" … the luminous figure of Mary is "sketched" in the Protoevangelium as the Mother of God, the Virgin Mother, the Immaculate: ….the associate of the Savior in the work of Redemption, the Mother and Mediatrix of men, the one assumed body and soul into heaven, the victorious Queen united to her Son, the King of the universe.[13]

Does the multi-leveled interaction between the disguised divine king and His gebirah actually contain something like a humanly bearable 'flash' of His immortal Self as He eternally views His Salvific Plan for His creatures? And from the standpoint of this high and peaceful 'plateau' in their lives, does Jesus, in a mortal moment antithetical to the immortal one in which the devil bought Jesus to another, more distant high peak, 'bring' His Beloved Mother up to a similar height at Cana, so that she can see with Him the actual height, depth and breadth of their co-mission? Theologians such as Father Kerwin evidently do not think so (below) but this seems somewhat at odds with the Church's love for 'both/ands' rather than 'either/or':

But this presage of sovereignty (at her Immaculate Conception) is completely enveloped and overshadowed by her union and association with Christ the King. She is vowed to the destiny of the human race because she is bound to Christ's destiny.[14] Mary's consent to the total mystery of Christ was undoubtably obscure in the sense that she did not understand all that was being asked of her in regard to its concrete details; yet her's was a full consent.[15]

Either way, in consideration of all of the above, perhaps it is appropriate to say that the practical and supernatural genius of the gebirah in Sacred Scripture is that by all possible means; blood, spirit, interest and will, the only logical and legitimate objectives of a given gebirah should have been actions toward the peace, prosperity, spread and continuance of her son's kingdom. Yet, like every queen since Eve up to Our Lady, the understanding of and choice for 'self-centric' action always remained. As attested by Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, Mary both 'queen of the dishes and dirty laundry' and divinely-commissioned Queen of the Universe, is the only mother who ever chose Perfection, perfectly.

We cannot speak of the divine maternity alone or in the abstract as being foundation for Mary's proper queenship. It is her divine maternity as it was concretely realized in the order of events as they evolved under divine Providence.[16]

PART II: What do they say that I am?