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MARY
Coredemptrix Mediatrix Advocate

THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS
Towards a Papal Definition?

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Introduction

“It [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 highest after Christ and also closest to us” (Lumen Gentium, n. 54).[1] 

It is precisely in response to this conciliar challenge of greater theological clarification regarding the whole truth about Mary that this work, Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations is offered and dedicated.

One immediately notices the humility of the Council Fathers at the outset of the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.  The Fathers state manifestly that their treatment of the Mother of Jesus (penetrating and inspired in itself) will nonetheless fail to constitute a “complete doctrine on Mary,” as such was not their intention.  The need for greater theological clarification in order to complete  the doctrine on Mary is thereby acknowledged by the Council Fathers.  It is a call for greater doctrinal development, for greater theological penetration, for greater rooting in the Word of God, both written and passed down;[2] in short, a call most familiar to the Church’s theologian.

How unfortunate it is when, rather than accepting the challenge of the Council Fathers for the necessary theological progress in pursuit of the rich fruit of a more complete doctrine of Mary,  pastors and even theologians sometimes refer to Lumen Gentium, chapter 8 as the final word on Mary, as a complete doctrinal presentation that is cited to minimize efforts for further mariological development.  The theological position which states that if the Council does not explicitly teach it on Mary then we cannot believe it represents a claim somewhat antithetical to the words and manifest intentions of Council Fathers. 

The  Fathers explicitly refer to both the incompleteness of Marian doctrine presented in Lumen Gentium, as well as to the licitness of mariological teachings present in Catholic schools  up to the time of the Council.  Anyone remotely familiar with the mariological literature in the years immediately preceding and leading up to the Council is cognizant of the pre-eminent position of the topic of Mary’s universal mediation, as it was ubiquitous in the teachings and discussion in Catholic universities and mariological societies alike.[3]  It is precisely for the full flowering of the doctrinal roles of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, in the heart of the authentic call of the Council that this work is presented.

The missio  of the work can be stated simply and succinctly:  to delineate and develop the theological foundations that support and call forth a papal definition of the universal mediation of Mary in its three essential aspects as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and Advocate for the People of God.  It is to illustrate the true definability of Mary’s universal and maternal mediation as manifested in the sources of Divine Revelation, as developed and articulated theologically by the Church’s fathers, doctors,  theologians, and as explicitly taught and confirmed by the Papal Magisterium.

Within the overall genus of Marian mediation in the Mother’s cooperation with the Saviour to unite humanity with God, three specific elements of this mediation are revealed, constituting distinct yet essential aspects of this universal mediation.  Mary, having been providentially prepared by the Father through her Immaculate Conception,[4] uniquely participated with Jesus Christ, the divine Saviour of humanity as Coredemptrix with the Redeemer,[5] by her free and active fiat at the Annunciation[6] and her faithful perseverance in union with her Son unto the Cross.[7]  After her Assumption into heaven, Mary continues this saving office in service to Christ the one Mediator as Mediatrix of all grace and gifts of eternal salvation,[8] which she performs in intimate union with the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier.[9]  Mary further continues to intercede on behalf of the human family before the throne of Christ, victorious King of all nations, as Advocate for the People of God.[10]  Thus the maternal and universal mediation of the Mother of Jesus are manifested in these three essential doctrinal roles:  Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate. 

To some, the missio of this work might appear as a presumptuous goal for a single volume.  But it must be remembered that this does not constitute a new endeavor, but only the final stage of a doctrinal and theological development that has spanned most of the twentieth century, beginning at least with the efforts of Cardinal Mercier under  Benedict XV.[11]  Hence the significant theological contribution that has preceded our present effort must also be acknowledged, amplified, and incorporated in this present endeavor. 

Further, it is important to remember that the goal is to support an adequate theological foundation for a papal definition of Mary’s maternal and universal  mediation, not to develop an all-comprehensive theological corpus capturing these Marian doctrinal roles.  We must also, with proper theological humility, recognize that we are dealing with revealed mysteries that will never be fully contained even within our highest dogmatic definitional embodiments.  Hence when Pius IX papally defined the Immaculate Conception, or, more recently, when Pius XII defined Mary’s Assumption, neither pontiff could claim an all-encompassing theological grasp of these Marian mysteries, neither before nor after their ex cathedra pronouncements.  What is required rather is an adequate grounding of these revealed mysteries in the Word of God, both Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, coupled with the work of theologians in articulating the foundational and essential truths and applications contained therein, both in themselves and in their relation to other defined and essential Christian truths.  The papal confirmation present in modern Magisterial teachings regarding Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate has greatly encouraged the theological and synthetical efforts in support of a dogmatic definition as presented in this volume.[12]  Providentially, some of the most respected and recognized theologians and mariologists today have chosen to be contributors to this volume and its corresponding missio in striving for a more fully developed and exposited presentation of Mary’s motherly and universal mediation.

 

Appropriateness and Timeliness of a Papal Definition

of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate

 

Apart from questions concerning the theological legitimacy of a papal definition of the Mother of the Redeemer as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, a further question could be raised regarding  the theological appropriateness of a  papal definition on Mary at this time in the Church. What elements would encourage a papal definition of Mary’s coredemptive and mediational participation with the one Redeemer in our present era of ecclesial life?

 

Completion of Marian Dogma

 

In the development of mariological dogma up to the present time, we have the following dogmatic formulations, all of which concentrate primarily on the person of Mary: her divine motherhood, her perpetual virginity,[13] her immaculate conception, and her assumption. These revealed truths about Mary accentuate the incomprehensible dignity of a creature “giving birth to its Creator,”[14]  when “in the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4-5), and the further implications that providentially came with this honor.  Nevertheless, on the highest level of revealed truth we have yet to receive the whole truth concerning Mary’s unique maternal participation with the Redeemer (Coredemptrix) and her consequential maternal mediation[15] to the human family as “Mediatrix” and “Advocate.”[16]  To properly complete the inspired development of Marian dogma throughout the Church’s history, a dogmatic definition of Mary’s coredemption and mediation would manifest the whole revealed truth about the Mother of Jesus and her maternal relationship to the human family.  Clearly, the corpus of Marian dogma will not be complete until the Church presents a dogma directly defining the nature of Mary’s coredemptive missio with the Redeemer and her corresponding ecclesial relationship as “mother to us in the order of grace.”[17]

Even the contextual order of Marian dogmas points to the timeliness and appropriateness of this completion of Marian dogma.  To fully grasp and appreciate the role of Mary in salvation we must first grasp the person of Mary.  It was necessary to first define the Marian truths contained in the Word of God that identified her personal gifts and prerogatives (as contained in the present Marian dogmas) before a definition of her missio in coredemption and mediation.  This reality was theologically confirmed in the petition of the First International Mariological Congress held in Rome in 1950 to Pope Pius XII requesting the dogmatic definition of Mary’s universal mediation based on the desire of “the faithful”:

 

Since the principal, personal attributes of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been already defined, it is the wish of the faithful that it should also be dogmatically defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary was intimately associated with Christ the Saviour in effecting human salvation, and, accordingly, she is the true collaborator in the work of redemption, spiritual Mother of all men, intercessor and dispenser of graces, in a word universal Mediatrix of God and man.[18]

 

We have reached a point in theological history and in the mariological development of doctrine that is eminently ripe for this definition, which will effectively bring to light the fullness of revealed Marian dogma.

 

Marian Dogma: Perfection of Marian Doctrine

 

Some might suggest that there lacks a true need for defining Mary’s universal mediation since her maternal mediation already represents revealed truth de fide divina  in light of its universal ordinary magisterial teaching, and consequently a formal dogmatic declaration would be unnecessary. To this the words of Pius IX preceding his papal definition of the Immaculate Conception provide an answer:

 

The Church labors hard to polish the previous teachings, to bring to perfection their formulation in such a way that these older dogmas of the heavenly doctrine receive proof, light, distinction, while keeping their fullness, their integrity, their own character, in a word, in such a way that they develop within the same object contents and that they remain always in the same truth, the same denotation, the same thought.[19]

 

The formal definition of Mary’s universal mediation is important for the same reason that the definition of every other Marian doctrine was important: it represents the perfection  of  doctrinal formulation  by granting it “proof, light, and distinction,” by clarifying and amplifying the content of the doctrine and by highlighting its organic unity with the depositum fidei as a whole in addition to its unique revelational contribution. The perfection of this Marian doctrine in the precise articulation of a Marian dogma will have profound benefits for the People of God, particularly with respect to their authentic relationship with the Mother of the Redeemer.

This highest level of theological and authoritative articulation of Mary’s universal mediation will also bear immediate pastoral fruit, with a particular timeliness for the contemporary Church both internally and externally.

 

Internal Fruits

 

Internally, the definition will provide a critically needed dogmatic foundation for the great influx of contemporary Marian devotion, that without a dogmatic basis runs the danger of the devotional extremisms of either “false exaggeration” or “too summary an attitude” (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 67).  Authentic love of Mary in the order of devotion must be firmly founded upon the truth about Mary in the order of dogma, and the papal declaration of Mary’s maternal mediation will give clear authoritative and theological foundation and balance to the numerous contemporary Marian devotional movements, particularly those emphasizing Marian consecration and entrustment.

 

 

The Woman with the Man of Redemption

 

Another internal benefit arising from a papal definition of Marian mediation would be in response to the present confusion engendered by contemporary radical feminism.  The defined role of the “Mulier”, the great Woman of redemption who intimately collaborated with the one God-man of redemption, offers a concrete, incarnational example of authentic feminine and maternal dignity in action, designed immediately and personally by the Father himself for an unparalleled, intrinsic relationship in the act of human salvation.  This  feminine, faithful, and free response by the Woman, Mary Coredemptrix, to the will of God offers a dynamic example of the unique gifts of femininity at the service of God (and its profound manifestation in the glory of motherhood), and the appreciation by God for his created feminine principle in the providential plan of redemption.  For the Father “entrusted himself to the Virgin of Nazareth” by confiding the whole of human redemption to the response of a woman.[20]

 Professor Josef Seifert, Rector of the International Academy of Philosophy, points out the particular benefits the dogma of Mary’s coredemption would have in terms of the contemporary questions of feminism:  “This new declaration of the traditional doctrine would show anew a perpetual truth about Mary and about woman, a truth which was always held by the Church:  the greatest deed of God’s gracious love - the redemption of mankind and our salvation - would be declared to be in some real sense also the consequence of a free act of a woman and thus be also the gift of a woman to humanity.  And while the fact of a co-redemptive role is in some general sense true for all of our free participation in the dispensation of grace of God among the members of the Church, it would still be true in the uniquely excellent sense only of Mary and thus only of a woman.”[21]

 

Model of the Church: “Co-redeemers in Christ”

 

A further internal grace would be the rich ecclesial model that the definition of Mary Coredemptrix offers for the People of God as co-workers (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9) or co-redeemers in Christ.[22]   Since she is the pre-eminent model of the Church, every revealed truth about Mary provides the Church inspiration and wisdom in her quest to “conquer sin and increase in holiness.”[23]  The Marian model of Coredemptrix offers a particular richness to the Church with regard to the Christian call to be co-redeemers in Christ in response to the Pauline imperative for every Christian to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of the body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24).   The pre-eminent example of this scriptural call of cooperation in the work of redemption  is most certainly Mary Coredemptrix.  “Co-redeemers in Christ” as a typology for the Church echoes the compelling conciliar theme calling every Christian to bring Christ to the world and to collaborate with the Redeemer in bringing the graces of salvation to contemporary humanity.

Mary’s coredemptive example is a constant reminder to the People of God of the awesome divine mandate and the corresponding human responsibility of every Christian to work alongside the Redeemer in bringing the saving Gospel of Christ into the world; to offer our meritorious sufferings for the glory of God and the salvation of souls in the order of the priesthood of the laity as well as in ministerial priesthood; to participate through acts of charity and Christian works of mercy in the application of the graces of Calvary to the world today that remains in such grave need of the Redeemer’s spiritual and social liberation; to realize the sublime ecclesial dignity of freely and personally cooperating with grace for our own salvation and the salvation of all humanity in the order of subjective redemption; and to be incarnate witnesses after the model of Mary Coredemptrix that human suffering is redemptive. 

This ecclesial model of “co-redeemers in Christ” fashioned upon the Marian dogma of the Coredemptrix can provide a contemporary and concrete model to today’s faithful that the Cross of the Redeemer must again be implanted in the midst of the world and carried by every beloved disciple for the salvation and sanctification of contemporary society.

 

Ecumenical Fruits

 

Externally, the definition of Mary’s maternal coredemption and mediation would, prescinding from initial appearances, perform a true and lasting service to the Church’s authentic ecumenical mission.  A precise biblically and theologically formulated articulation of what the Church does and does not believe about Marian participation in the redemptive act of Christ and its continued mediation would serve to eliminate mistaken fears, oftentimes entertained by our separated brethren, of perceived Catholic Latria-type attitudes and tendencies towards Mary, as well as perceived hesitancies allegedly by the Church in granting to the one Lord the uncompromised primacy of being the one Mediator (cf. 1 Tim 2:5).  John Cardinal O’Connor of New York explains this true ecumenical benefit in an endorsement letter for the papal definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate:

 

Clearly, a formal definition would be articulated in such precise terminology that other Christians would lose their anxiety that we do not distinguish adequately between Mary’s unique association with the redemption and the redemptive power exercised by Christ alone.[24]

 

The ecumenical appropriateness of the Marian title, “Coredemptrix” and the importance for all Christians in acknowledging the unique  coredemptive role of Mary is defended by one of today’s leading Protestant theologians, Oxford Professor John MacQuarrie.  A leading light in the present ecumenical dialogue on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Professor MacQuarrie, in his noted work, Mary For All Christians, affirms that the Mother of Jesus uniquely gives meaning to the expression “Coredemptrix”:

 

In the glimpses of Mary that we have in the gospels, her standing beside her Son, and her prayers and intercessions with the apostles, are particularly striking ways in which Mary shared and supported the work of Christ - and even these are ways in which the Church as a whole can have a share in co-redemption.  But it is Mary who has come to symbolize that perfect harmony between the divine will and the human response, so that it is she who gives meaning to the expression, Corredemptrix.  But secondly there is the further context of the incarnation of the Word.  In this context, the language of co-redemption is also appropriate, but in a different way, for in this regard her contribution was unique and by its very nature could not be literally shared with anyone else.  We are thinking of her now not just as representative or pre-eminent member of the Church, but as Theotokos or Mother of God.  Mary’s willing acceptance of her indispensable role in that chain of events which constituted the incarnation and the redemption which it brought about, was necessary for the nurture of the Lord and for the creation of the Church itself.[25]

 

In his Apostolic Constitution, Fidei Depositum, introducing the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II tells us:  “Guarding the deposit of faith is the mission which the Lord entrusted to his Church, and which she fulfills in every age...The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John XXIII was to guard and better present the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will.”[26]  Part of this sacred deposit is the revelation of the coredemptive role of Mary which, as  Professor MacQuarrie rightly points out, is a Marian truth and a concrete example that all Christians and all people of good will deserve to benefit from in their individual and ecclesial responses to the divine will.  As the Anglican Oxford scholar points out:

 

The matter cannot be settled by pointing to the dangers of exaggeration or abuse, or by appealing to isolated texts of scripture such as 1 Timothy 2:5, or by the changing fashions in theology and spirituality, or by the desire not to say anything that might offend one’s partners in ecumenical dialogue.  Unthinking enthusiasts may have elevated Mary to a position of virtual equality with Christ, but this aberration is not a necessary   consequence of recognizing that there may be a truth  striving for expression in words like Mediatrix and Corredemptrix. All responsible theologians would agree that Mary’s co-redemptive role is subordinate and auxiliary to the central role of Christ.  But if she does have such a role, the more clearly we understand it, the better.[27]

 

It is for the self-same reason that a precise and balanced definition of Mary’s coredemption and mediation will in fact make this revealed Marian truth “more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will,” which was the principal task entrusted to the Second Vatican Council as a whole.

 

Freedom and Dignity of the Human Person

 

There is also a critical theological and anthropological contribution that the defined articulation of Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate can provide to the ecumenical discussions on redemption, justification, and the human person.  In an organic and maternal embodiment (rather than in a more polemical or speculative approach)  the dogmatic focus of Mary’s human and free fiat, as well as her continuing free cooperation culminating at Calvary, manifests the personal dignity in human freedom, the sublime potential for participation in salvation, that God has given to each human person.  Mary’s coredemptive example serves as a corrective to any  theologies of determinism, Reformation or otherwise, that minimize or obscure this dignity of human personhood in freedom. As Professor MacQuarrie again points out:

 

Let us now come back to the consideration of Mary as Corredemptrix . Perhaps we do have to acknowledge that Barth and others have been correct in believing that the place given to Mary in catholic theology is a threat to the doctrine of sola gratia, but I think this is the case only when the doctrine of sola gratia is interpreted in an extreme form, when this doctrine itself becomes a threat to a genuinely personal and biblical view of the human being as made in the image of God and destined for God, a being still capable of responding to God and serving God in the work of building up creation. This hopeful view of the human race is personified and enshrined in Mary.[28]

 

The “biblical view” of the human being is essentially free, personalist, non-determinist; and no creature of the Word of God personifies the dignity and perfection of the gifts of human freedom and human personhood as does Mary, the obedient Virgin and Woman of Scripture, the New Eve, whose free and active cooperation with grace “became for herself and the whole human race the cause of salvation.”[29]  As the Council Fathers teach us:  “The Father of mercies willed that the consent of the predestined Mother should precede the Incarnation.  This is preeminently true of the Mother of Jesus who gave to the world the Life that renews all things, and who was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role...Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation through faith and obedience.”[30]

Professor Dr. Josef Seifert, one of the foremost contemporary thinkers in the philosophy of personalism, highlights the  contribution that the solemn definition of Mary’s coredemption and mediation would make to the understanding of the freedom and dignity of the human person:  “Such a dogma would give witness to the full freedom of the human person and recognize in an ultimate way that a free decision of Mary - which was not exclusively caused by divine grace but was also the fruit of her own personal choice - was necessary  for our salvation, or played at least an indispensable part  in the concrete way and action of our redemption chosen by God.  In an age of personalistic philosophy, and at the same time of terrible anti-personalistic ideologies, such a dogma would be rightfully perceived as a supreme confirmation of this classical Catholic teaching on personal freedom and on the necessity of man’s free cooperation with divine grace.”[31]

 

Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici   

 

Vox Populi Vox Dei” is a perennial ecclesial cry to the reality of the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the universal faithful in matters of faith and doctrinal development.  John Henry Cardinal Newman spoke of the particular obligation to listen to the laity when the subject of a doctrine touched upon the applied domain of devotion: “If ever there was a case where the laity should be consulted, it would be in that of doctrines directly related to devotional expression.”  Newman adds, in his citation on the Immaculate Conception, that:  “The Blessed Virgin is, preeminently, an object of devotion.”[32]

Historically, popes have given great attention and respect to the manifestation of the sensus fidelium through petitions in relation to Marian papal definitions.  Both popes Pius IX and Pius XII, in their respective solemn definitions of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, referred to the petitions from the faithful throughout the world as a major factor leading them to conclusions of appropriateness and timeliness for these Marian papal definitions.[33]  Pius XII notes in the apostolic constitution defining the Assumption:  “In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of Blessed Peter... petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people.”[34]  Pius XII subsequently issued orders of gathering and evaluating these petitions as a major criterion in his prayerful discernment for the definition of the Assumption.[35]

 Earlier in the century, the noted German theologian Karl Adam well articulated the fruitful role of the faithful in the process of dogmatic development as exhibited in the role of the Vox Populi  in the papal definition of the Immaculate Conception:

 

The living community of the faithful, hearing and obeying the revelation which the teaching authority proclaims, itself shares in the infallibility of the Church as it accepts this revelation, cherishes it and bears fruit.  Such is the nature of the influence which the community exercised in the development of the dogmas above mentioned, especially that of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady.  It was the Catholic body, the fellowship of the faithful, in its vital movement, and with its vivid sense and profound instinct for the faith, which refused to abandon these truths, even when authoritative theologians sought to deprive it of them.  All these truths germinated in the soil of the community, like living seeds, to be protected and fostered by pope and bishop until their time came.[36]

 

And as early as the 1930’s, the Tuebingen dogmatic theologian  refers to the selfsame role being manifested by the sensus fidelium  in  fulfilling its role as the fertile soil for the “present ripening” of the dogmatic definition of the universal mediation of Mary:  “It would be by no means difficult to show the compact fellowship of the faithful exercised this quasi-maternal function in the growth and ripening of most of our dogmas, from the consubstantiality of the Son to the infallibility of the pope, and that it is exercising it at present in respect of that belief in the universal intercessory mediatorship of Mary, which is beginning to become ripe for definition.”[37]

Every new dogma should rightly be seen then as “the child not only of authority, but of love, of the love of the fellowship of the faith, of the heart of the praying Church.”  As Adam further explains:  “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.” [38]

It is in this Catholic spirit and precedence of the sensus fidelium and their legitimate role in the dogmatic developmental process that the international movement Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici  finds its identity and mission.  The “Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix” is a contemporary Catholic movement that bases itself on the precedence given to the laity under the pontificates of Pius IX and Pius XII, in seeking to gather petitions from the faithful throughout the world to humbly request the present Vicar of Christ to papally define the Marian roles of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and Advocate for the People of God.

Since the  beginning of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici in May of 1993, the international movement during its short existence has gathered over 2 million petitions  from the faithful from over one hundred thirty countries throughout the world in a growing  manifestation of the sensus fidelium .  All petitions have been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and at the present time (March, 1995), petitions from the laity worldwide are being received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the impressive rate of approximately one hundred thousand per month.[39]

Joining the petitions from the laity are twenty six cardinal endorsements for this papal definition received by Vox Populi Mariae  Mediatrici and forwarded to the office of the Congregation as a likewise significant manifestation from the Church’s contemporary hierarchy.  Large numbers of episcopal endorsements from bishops spanning the six continents have also been recently submitted to the Congregation office in petition and support for the dogma of Mary’s coredemption and mediation.[40]

The continuing (and in fact rapidly growing) manifestation of the Vox Populi  worldwide in affirmative answer to the question of ecclesial timeliness for this Marian definition seems to echo the truth of the Council that:  “the whole body of the faithful who have an anointing that comes from the holy one (cf. 1 Jn. 2:20 and 27) cannot err in matters of belief”(Lumen Gentium, n.12).

To be sure, the above-mentioned themes of timeliness and appropriateness must be set aside for a properly objective and critical inquiry into the question of an adequate theological basis for definability.  Nevertheless, these issues of appropriateness provide a more complete ecclesial framework in which to evaluate the immediate significance of the theological definability of these Marian mediational doctrines.  We can see the legitimacy of these two separate but complementary questions of a) theological definability and b) timeliness and appropriateness of the definition as manifested in the 1946 encyclical of Pius XII, Deiparae Virginis  when in preparation for the ex cathedra  definition of the Assumption, the pontiff asked the bishops of the world the same two  questions: a) whether they believed the Assumption could be defined as a dogma of faith; and b) whether they, and the flock committed to their care, desired the proposed definition.[41]

One can thereby see the relevance of considering the wider contemporary ecclesial framework in terms of timeliness within which this theological anthology is presented, particularly when the first question of theological definability is answered to at least some degree by the theological fact that the three aspects of Marian coredemption and mediation in question already represent Marian doctrines taught by the Church’s Magisterium.  It must be kept in mind that the proposal here is not one of developing a new doctrine, but of raising an existing doctrine to the level of dogma.

Mary is the “dawn” before Christ the “Day”, for the Father willed that the Mother precede the incarnate Son in the history of salvation.  And as the announcement of the motherhood of Mary by the angel Gabriel preceded and prepared for the Incarnation, so one can see the profound appropriateness of the papal definition of the universal maternal mediation of Mary preceding and preparing for the celebration of the third millennium of the Incarnation in the year 2000, and as fitting climax to this universally designated “Age of Mary.”  May the Holy Spirit, Spouse of Mary and Soul of the Church guide this ecclesial discernment, enabling the entire body to listen attentively to what the Spirit is “saying to the Churches” today (cf. Rev. 2:7) about our Common Mother, [42] and to do our contemporary part in fulfilling the great Marian prophecy inspired by the same Spirit that “all generations will call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48).

 

Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D.

Professor of Theology and Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

25 March 1995

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord



[1]    Conciliar citings taken from Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II:      The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New York, Costello                 Publishing Co., 1975.

[2]    Cf. Dei Verbum, n. 9, 10.

[3]    For evidence of the universal and ubiquitous teachings, writings, conferences,               etc. on the Marian roles of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate in the         decades preceding and leading up to the Council by theologians in Catholic          schools, cf. the volumminous entries during the 1940’s, 1950’s and early             1960’s on these Marian roles in the internationally known Marian       publications of the Rome-based, Marianum; the Madrid-based, Ephemerides Mariologicae, the Paris-based Etudes Mariales, Bulletin de la Société francaise       d'Etudes Mariales, the Dayton, Ohio-based Marian Studies.  for international      episcopal approval of Coredemptrix in this time, cf. Carol, De             Corredemptione Beatae Virginis Mariae, Civitas Vaticanna, 1950, p. 608; and      for Magisterial acknowledgement of the universal theological acceptance of                Mediatrix of all grace, cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites under Pius XII,     Miracles for the Canonization of Louis M. Grignion de Montfort, AAS 34,             1942, p. 44: “Gathering together the tradition of the Fathers, the Doctor Mellifluus [St. Bernard] teaches that God wants us to have everything    through Mary.  This pious and salutary doctrine all theologians at the           present time hold in common accord [emphasis author’s].”

[4]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 56; Redemptoris Mater, n. 7.

[5]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, nn. 57, 58; Redemptoris Mater, n. 18; Salvifici     Doloris n. 25; Papal Allocution at Guayaquil, 31 March 1985.

[6]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, nn. 56, 61; Redemptoris Mater, n. 13.

[7]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 58; Redemptoris Mater, n. 18.

[8]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 62; Redemptoris Mater, nn. 21, 41, 45.

[9]    Cf. Lumen Gentium, nn. 56, 59; Redemptoris Mater, nn. 24; Dominum et            Vivificantem, nn. 3, 11, 14.

[10] Cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 62; Redemptoris Mater, n. 21.

[11] Cf. Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of        the Blessed Virgin Mary, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1982, see                MERCIER, DESIRE JOSEPH, CARDINAL, pg. 245:  “At [Cardinal             Mercier’s] request, on 12 January that year, the Sacred Congregation of Rites            approved for the dioceses of Belgium and others which would request it, a            Mass and Office in honour of Mary, Mediatress of all graces.  M. received               450 favourable replies, only three unfavourable, to his letter to bishops       throughout the world asking cooperation in the use of the Mass and                 Office....M. published a Pastoral in 1925 expounding the doctrine of             mediation and the spirituality of St. Louis Marie.  When Pius XI established          a Belgian commission, composed of Fr. (later Mgr.) Lebon, Fr. Merkelback, O.P. and Mgr. Crombrugghe, to investigate and report on the definability of          Mary’s universal mediation, M. became involved in its work, and secured the       help of others...”; See also J. B. Carol, Mariology, Vol. 2, Milwaukee,       Bruce Publishing Company, pg. 432-433, 451.

[12] Cf. Schug, Mary, Coredemptrix: The significance of Her Title in

      the Magisterium of the Church, as found in this volume.

[13]  The inclusion here of Mary’s perpetual virginity as a Marian dogma is done    with an awareness of the current debates on its dogmatic status.  The issues at          stake in these debates, however, have no bearing on the discussion of the             papal definition of Mary’s coredemption and mediation, nor its                appropriateness.

[14]  Cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 51.

[15]  Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, III.

[16]  Lumen Gentium, n.62.

[17] Lumen Gentium, n. 61.

[18] Alma Socia Christi, Proceedings of Rome International Mariological              Congress, 1950, 234.

[19] Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December, 1854, DS 2802, cf., B. de Margerie,            S.J., Can the Church Define Dogmatically The Spiritual Motherhood of     Mary? Objections and Answers, as found in this volume.

[20] Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 39.

[21] Professor Dr. Josef Seifert, Letter of Endorsement for Papal Definition of          Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, 13 February, 1995.

[22] Cf. Miravalle, Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundational            Presence in Divine Revelation, Conclusion, as found in this         volume.

[23] Lumen Gentium, n. 63.

[24] John Cardinal O’Connor, Letter of Endorsement to Vox Populi Mariae              Mediatrici, Feb. 14, 1994, as published in Mary Coredemptrix,      Mediatrix, Advocate, Cardinal Endorsements, Queenship Publications, Santa      Barbara, Ca.,1994.

[25] John MacQuarrie, Mary For All Christians, London, Collins, 1990, pp.113-       114.

[26] John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution, Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992,            p.1; cf. John XXIII, Discourse at the Opening of the Second Vatican    Council, 11 October 1962: AAS 54 (1962), 788-91 in Catechism of the         Catholic Church, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1994, p.2.

[27] John MacQuarrie, Mary For All Christians, p.102. Note: This and other             quotes  by Professor MacQuarrie are made in reference to the truth value of                 the role and title of Mary Coredemptrix, and not in particular support of the            papal definition of this Marian role and title.  There is no intention here to     infer that these words were presented  in any context of  direct support for the      papal definition of the coredemption of Mary. 

[28] John MacQuarrie, Mary For All Christians,  London, Collins, 1990, p.112.

[29] St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, Bk. III.

[30] Lumen Gentium, n. 56.

[31] Seifert, Professor Dr. Josef Seifert, Letter of Endorsement for Papal    Definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, 13 February,               1995.

[32] John Henry Cardinal Newman, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of           Doctrine, London, 1861, pp. 104-5; as quoted in B. de Margerie, S.J., Can              the Church Dogmatically Define the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary?, as              found in this volume.

[33] Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 Dec., 1854; Pius XII, Munificentissimus                Deus, 1 Nov., 1950.

[34] Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Karl Adam, Spirit of Catholicism,  New York, The Macmillan Company,             1935, p. 156.

[37] Adam, Spirit of Catholicism, p. 156.

[38] Adam, Spirit of Catholicism, p. 157.

[39] From Update Report of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici  to the Office of the       Congregation for the Doctrine on Faith, 2 February, 1995. Numbers                verifiable from CDF office.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, Deiparae Virginis, 1 May, 1946.

[42] John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 30.




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