This exceptional presentation by the late Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, OFM Conv, on the solution to the great crises facing the Church and the world today: the need to re-Marianize the Church by recognizing the Blessed Mother’s universal mediation through the solemn definition of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, was given at the Mary, “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption” Symposium held at Fatima on May 3-7, 2005. – Ed.
I have chosen to entitle this final, concluding conference of our symposium, the “Cause of Mary, Advocate.” Etymologically, cause is a legal term. If its use to summarize our discussion of the mystery of Mary Immaculate and of her unique place in the divine counsels governing the economy of salvation retains a legal scent, that is quite intentional. For the cause of Mary in the economy of salvation, the place she occupies from eternity in the divine counsels of salvation and the crucial role she fulfils so perfectly in bringing these counsels to pass at the Incarnation, on Calvary and in the Church, as well as the recognition of the part she plays by the Church and by every soul redeemed and delivered from sin by her Savior-Son, namely, by those whose salvation in fact hinges upon the successful prosecution of that cause, are very much today a matter of intense dispute. Those who would promote her cause and those who, either violently oppose it or who just as adamantly want to hear nothing of it, are locked in battle.
That battle for souls is very much at the center of what is commonly called the “crisis of faith” in the Church, in times past what was called her “falling into ruin.” “Crisis of faith,” like the older phrase “falling into ruin” is used analogically, not univocally. From the point of view of the “enemy” the crisis of faith is the fruit of that cause understood as the case (the original sense of causa in Latin) of Mary and of her children: that is, of putting Mary and her supporters on trial. From Mary’s vantage point as Advocate that crisis is but an aspect of a process of discernment, sorting out “the thoughts of many hearts”: for or against Christ in view of their willingness to be or not to be children of Mary, above all at the foot of the Cross, therefore children of the Immaculate Coredemptrix (cf. Lk 2:34-35).
Apropos a very similar situation at the time of the Protestant reform the great English convert and apologist, G.K. Chesterton, made this observation: When in the midst of all the din of controversy, with rights and wrongs on all sides, there was heard the mocking and demeaning of the “Virgin Mother mild,” at that moment one distinctly began “to hear the little hiss that only comes from hell” (cf. his A Party Question: Collected Works, vol. XI). In one form or another the entire history of the Church has always been marked by this controversy, an aspect of the battle between the Woman and the dragon, sketched so accurately in the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse. Recalling that heavenly scene revealed to the beloved disciple and apostle especially consecrated to Mary as her child by the Savior Himself should remind us of another aspect of this cause of Mary. She is not in the first instance an object of legal disputation either in the Church or outside. She is rather in her own right and before all others an Advocate, our Advocate in the final settlement of all claims bearing on who owns us: Christ or the anti-Christ. And her intervention or less is the decisive factor. Against that Advocate the Prince of this world and his brood, heavenly or earthly, avail nothing.
That aspect of the enmity between the Woman and the serpent foretold in the Protoevangelium reveals in a special way both the distinctive tactics and weak points of “the liar and murderer from the beginning” (cf. Jn 8:44). He has a certain sophisticated cleverness enabling him to excel in prevarication and seduction of men and so take charge of this world, but he has neither the courage nor the means to confront directly the invincible Woman, the Mother of Truth, which will make you free, namely, from sin (cf. Jn 8:32; Mt 1:21). The dragon can only attack the Woman to the extent he can persuade her children, the “rest of the brethren of her First-born” (cf. Apoc 12:17), therefore His friends (cf. Jn 15:12-17), that she is not the Mater et Magistra Veritatis, and so her “cause” is either irrelevant or downright counterproductive: respectively the position of those indignantly indifferent to it or violently opposed to it.
If, to the contrary, her children are convinced that she is just this: “Pre-eminent Member of the Church” because “super-eminent” as the original Latin of the Council indicates (Lumen Gentium, n. 53), the dragon’s anti-cause is finished. For, other than sensational “bluff,” the dragon has no other effective means of blocking her, but these, so long as She makes our cause Hers. The last great miracle of the sun here at Fatima, 13 October, 1917, should be more than enough to prove beyond argument: 1) that real control of the “forces” of nature is in the hands of the heavenly Woman, the Immaculate Virgin, the Queen of the Angels, with Michael commanding the hosts of heaven in her service, and 2) that the actual powers of the common enemy, of Her and of us, do not extend beyond the theatrical, or perhaps not even the melodramatic, of producing a great deal of nois