Mary Coredemptrix in
Scripture: Cooperation in Redemption
Rev. William G. Most
Fr. Most is a member of the Pontifical
International Marian Academy, Rome, Past President of the Mariological Society
of America and the Catholic Biblical Association of America.
Gen 3:15 - Mary Coredemptrix
Shares in the Struggle and the Victory
A ll God's decrees are eternal, since He is
unchangeable. So it is evident that from
all eternity He decreed the Incarnation.
But then of course He necessarily decreed the Mother through whom it was
to take place, our Lady. So she is
eternally joined with Him by divine decree.
fact that she was to be associate as well as Mother was expressed in the very
first prophecy of the Redeemer: "I
will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He
shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen 3:15).
Scripture scholars today profess they find it hard to understand this
text. They say there was only one woman
alive at the time, Eve. So how could it
be Mary? But the Jews, strangely,
understood more than some Christian scholars on this text. We have ancient
Jewish documents, the Targums. They are Aramaic versions, mostly rather free,
of the Old Testament. We have for
example, four different versions for the Pentateuch. They let us see how the Jews in ancient times
understood these prophecies. The Jews
did not use "hindsight,” seeing them fulfilled in Christ, whom they
rejected. A great Jewish scholar of
today, Jacob Neusner, author of over 300 books on Judaism, made a great survey
of all Jewish writings after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. in Messiah in Context (Fortress, Phila.
1984). He found, remarkably, that up to
the time of the Babylonian Talmud, 500 - 600 A.D., there was practically no
interest in the Messiah. Then interest
returned in the Talmud, but the only major point mentioned was that the Messiah
was to be of the line of David. In
contrast, the Targums see the Messiah in so very many texts. It is obvious,
that these texts could hardly have been composed (we think the Targums first
existed in oral form) during literally centuries when there was virtually no
interest in the Messiah. Hence those
portions of the Targums must go back at least before 70 A.D. Some scholars, e.g., R. Le Deaut The Message of the New Testament and the
Aramaic Bible, (Rome, Biblical Institute, 1982, pp.4-5) think the Targums
first began in the 5th century B.C., in the scene we read about in Nehemiah
know with certainty that the Targums are ancient, and they show us how the
ancient Jews understood these prophecies.
Hence on Gen 3:15, instead of
dubiously saying that the passage means “women do not like snakes” -- as some
prominent commentaries suggest -- the Targums knew better. For example, Targum Neofiti says: "And I will put enmities between you and
the woman, and between your sons and her sons.
And it will happen: when her sons keep the Law and put into practice the
commandments of the Law, you will aim at and wound him on the heel, and make
him ill. For her son, however, there
will be a remedy, but for you, serpent, there will be no remedy. They will make peace in the future in the day
of King Messiah" (Cf.
Sampson H. Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic
Interpretation [Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974] pp. 2-3. Michael J. Klein, The Fragment - Targum on the Pentateuch [Biblical Institute, Rome,
1980] I, p. 46).
other Targums, Pseudo-Jonathan and the Fragmentary Targum speak similarly,
except that they use the plural, sons, instead of the singular. But all three speak of a remedy for the son
or sons of the woman, but not for the serpent.
today point out that the same Hebrew verb shuf
is used twice, for the son of the woman striking at the head of the serpent,
and for the serpent striking at his heel.
So, they say: no victory, just a tie. But the ancient Jews knew
better. They knew there was a remedy for
the son of the woman. It is true, they
cloud the picture a bit by injecting allegory, so common at the time, but yet
the basic message is clear: The son of
the woman will have a victory.
the magisterium of the Church is quite right in seeing Our Lady and her Son in
this text, and seeing them as associated in the victory over the serpent. Vatican II sagely pointed out, speaking of
this text and Isaiah 7:14: "These
primeval documents, as they are read in the Church, and are understood in the
light of later and full revelation, gradually bring before us the figure of the
Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this
light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise given to our
parents, fallen into sin, of a redeemer (cf. Gen 3.15...cf. Is 7.14)."
Lumen Gentium n.55 seems to have
indicated that perhaps the human authors of these texts may not have understood
all that the Church now, with full light
and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is enabled to see. Our Lady was prophetically foreshadowed in
the promise. So Eve is the type, a prophecy of Mary to come. We see here a clear indication that just as
the first Eve really contributed to the damage of original sin, so the New Eve,
as the Fathers so often called her, would really contribute to reversing that
Irenaeus, quoted twice by the Council on this matter in Lumen Gentium n.57, saw this typological sense. Evenmore, he stated, as the Council quoted
it: "Thus then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the
obedience of Mary." We saw that St.
Irenaeus probably was inspired, for just before these words he had pictured all
sin, original and personal, as a tangled, complex knot. Then it was that St. Irenaeus added: "Thus then, the knot of the disobedience
of Eve, was untied through the obedience of Mary." But - and this is why we are led to suppose
special inspiration for St. Irenaeus - the knot was not untied at the
annunciation, the moment presupposed in the context of St. Irenaeus. No, the knot was not untied until the divine Victim cried out: "It
is finished" (Jn 19:30). Hence
objectively, possibly without realizing it himself, St. Irenaeus implied even
her cooperation on Calvary.
is not out of place to suppose that a Father of the Church, an agent in the
hand of the Holy Spirit, might write more than he personally understood. Indeed, Lumen
Gentium itself may be seen to imply this selfsame possibility in n.55,
which we cited above. For it indicated that perhaps the original writers of
Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14 did not understand all that the Holy Spirit had in
mind, all that the Church today, under His continued guidance, sees clearly.
the same hold true for the Council’s production of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium? Even though the Council at the start of
chapter 8 said it did not intend to settle controversies in Mariology, there is
reason to believe it wrote more than it realized, being likewise an instrument
in the hands of Divine Providence.
is clear already at the start from Gen 3:15 that not only was the Women to be
the Mother of the Redeemer, but also that she was to be associated with Him in
the victory over Satan. For Pius XII,
beginning with Gen 3:15, reasoned that the victory over sin in which she was to
share would not be complete if she had ever been under original sin, and in Munificentissimus Deus built the
definition of the Assumption precisely on the fact that she was associated with
Him in the "struggle" against the infernal enemy, and so, since the
struggle was a work "in common," the fruit there of, glorification,
had to be similarly in common: Resurrection
and ascension for Jesus, assumption for Mary.
should be further noted that many Scripture scholars, among them Pope John Paul
II (Redemptoris mater n.24), believe
the use of the word "woman," perhaps an editorial adjustment, was
used in Scripture to tie together four passages: Gen 3:15, the Cana Episode (Jn 2:4), the
scene at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:26), and the woman clothed with the sun
in Apocalypse 12.
Mary’s plenitude of grace, a providential preparation for her role as
Coredemptrix, there are some translations today that appear to weaken the full
strength of the passage such as we see with the translation “favored one.” But the official text of the Church, the
Vulgate, does have the rendering “full of grace.” And not without reason. St. Luke used the
Greek word kecharitomene, a perfect
passive participle, which is a very strong form. Further, the basic verb is charitoo. Verbs ending in omicron omega form a class which in
general means to put a person or thing into the state indicated by the root of
the verb, e.g., leukos means white, leukoo means to make white. The meaning of the root of charitoo is favor or grace. Hence the verb means to put her into favor or
grace. But we need to be careful. If by
favor we have in mind only that God as it were sat there and smiled at her, but
gave her nothing, we would have the Pelagian heresy. Thus we might as well use the word grace at
the start, to indicate a gift He gave.
Still further, the Gospel uses kecharitomene
in place of her personal name, Mary.
That is a usage comparable to our English pattern in which we might say
of someone that he is "Mr.
Tennis," meaning the ultimate in the category of tennis. So then she would
be Miss Grace, the ultimate in the category of grace!
cannot help noticing too that though many today deny that Isaiah 7:14 speaks of
a virgin birth - although St. Matthew saw it - Mary could not have missed
it. For she saw it being fulfilled in
herself. It is true the Targum as we now
have it did not mark this passage as messianic. But we know why, thanks to some
splendidly honest modern Jewish scholars: Jacob Neusner (Messiah in Context pp.173 and 190), Samson Levey (The Messiah, An Aramaic interpretation,
Hebrew Union College, 1974,p,.152 and note 10), and H. J. Schoeps (Paul. The Theology of the Apostle,
Westminster, Phila, 1961, p.129).
Neusner tells us (p.190) that when the Jews saw the Christians using
this prophecy, they pulled back, and said it was not the Messiah. But they gave
themselves away, for the Targums do mark Isaiah 9:5-6 as messianic, and
everyone admits that the child in both 7:14 and 9:5-6 is the same child, for
both passages belong to what is commonly called the book of Emmanuel.
The Infinitely Meritorious Life of the Redeemer and
The Immensely Meritorious Life
of the Coredemptrix
Christological question might well be asked:
Since Jesus Christ had come to redeem the world, why did He spend most
of that time, about 30 years, in a
hidden life? The answer is clear: He was
redeeming the world even then. Truly, Jesus merited for us not only on the
cross but in His whole life. The Greek
Fathers understood this especially well with their theology of “physical
mystical solidarity.” They held that all
humanity forms a unit, a solidarity. The
humanity of Christ then comes to be part of that solidarity. But His humanity is joined, in the unity of
One Person, with the Divinity.
Therefore, as it were, a force or power spreads out from the divinity,
across the humanity of Christ and heals the rest of humanity. This was so firm in the minds of the Eastern
Fathers that St. Gregory of Nazianzen in
his Epistle 101 was able to reason
against Apollinaris: "What He has
not assumed, He has not healed" (St. Gregory, Epistle 101. MG 37.181.).
Apollinaris had said Christ had no human rational soul (Cf. J. Quasten, Patrology [Spectrum, Utrecht 1966] III.,
pp. 379-83). Within the framework of physical mystical solidarity, St. Gregory
could argue that if He did not assume a human rational soul, he did not heal
human rational souls.
the Greek Fathers knew that even the first instant of His incarnation could
have been enough to bring about the whole of Redemption. Had He been born not in a stable, but in a
palace, had He stayed only moments, long enough to say: “Behold, I come to do your will, O God....Father
forgive them," that would have been an infinite redemption, coming from an
infinite person. The theme of His whole
life was: "My food is to do the
will of Him who sent me," an echo and continuation of His initial words:
“Behold I come to do your will, O God" (Heb 10:7).
God-man thereby spent about 30 out of His 33 years in the seclusion of a hidden
life. But since that hidden life was
doing the will of the father, it was infinitely meritorious. He wanted to teach the value of a family life
according to the Father's plan.
His Mother was joined with Him in all this, and her part in all this was
meritorious, not infinitely, but immensely. We already saw that the New Eve
theme was contained in Genesis 3:15. So
as the New Eve, Mary’s merit was not just that of a private person, but that of
the one appointed by the Father to join in reversing the damage done by the
full perfection and sinlessness of Jesus the Son of Mary, and the similar
sinlessness of His Mother would make this difficulty of meshing two lives far
less. Yet Mary and Joseph, and their
Son, knew that in living this family life they were following the Father's plan
for mankind. And by doing everything with
the precise intention of fulfilling that plan, they were, as He said later
at the Jordan, "fulfilling all justice" (Mt 3:15). They were doing what the Father willed.
it is one thing to say that her living that family life was meritorious, and
quite another thing to say that it was meritorious for our race. We already noted that as New Eve she was
appointed to help merit for all.
get further light with the help of St. Paul, who in 1 Cor 12:26 wrote: "If
one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice
together." We find this same thought - not strangely, for Paul was trained
as a Rabbi - in a text of Simeon ben Eleazar in the 2nd century, in the Tosefta, Qiddushin, 1.14: "He
[anyone] has committed a transgression: woe to him. He has tipped the scale to
the side of debt for himself and for the world. He has carried out a
commandment: blessings on him. For he has tipped the scale to the side of merit
for himself and for the world.”
though this text belongs to a century after St. Paul, the idea that sin is a
debt is so prevalent among the Rabbis, that we may be confident it was there in
Paul's day too. Truly, the concept of sin as a debt which the Holiness of God
wants to have paid is found all through the Old Testament, the intertestamental
literature, the New Testament, the Rabbis, and the Fathers of the Church (Cf.
“Appendix: Sedaqah in
Jewish/Christian Tradition” in Wm. G. Most, The
Thought of St. Paul [Christendom College, Front Royal, Va] 994, pp.
is so strong that Leviticus 4 calls for a sacrifice to be offered for even sheggagah, an unwitting violation of the
law. The Holiness of God wants all that
is right to be done. In the intertestamental literature, for example, we read in Testament
of Levi 3.5: "In heaven next to it are the archangels, who minister and
make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous;
and further, the Psalms of Solomon 3:8-9: “The righteous man continually searches his
house to remove utterly [all] iniquity
[done] by him in error. He makes
atonement for [sins of] ignorance by fasting and afflicting his
soul." Nor is the theme lacking in
the New Testament. In Luke 12: 47-48 on the lips of Our Lord Himself: "The
slave who knew his master's wishes but did not prepare to fulfill them will get
a severe beating; but the one who did not know them, but did things
[objectively] deserving blows will get off with fewer stripes." St. Paul in 1 Cor 4:4 had this sort of
concept in mind when he wrote: "I have nothing on my conscience, but that
does not mean that I am justified." The First Epistle of Clement in 2.3 tells the Corinthians: "You stretched out your hands to the
almighty God, beseeching him to be propitious, if you had sinned at all
unwillingly." In the liturgy of St.
John Chrysostom there is still a line before the Epistle: "Forgive us
every offense, both voluntary and involuntary."
as we said, it is one thing to say the Virgin Mother merited much during her
hidden life, and another to say she merited for the human race. We read several times that Moses appealed to
the merits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and thereby won forgiveness for the
sinful people. In Exodus Rabbah 44.1. R. Samuel ben Nahmani says Moses stood in
prayer 40 days and 40 nights asking God to forgive the sin of the golden calf,
but without any result. But when he mentioned the merits of the fathers, God at
once forgave them. (Cf. A Marmorstein, The
Doctrine of Merits in Old Rabbinical Literature (KTAV, 1968, p.
151).....The reason is that Abraham was the Father of the whole people, and as
such, his merits were of avail for all.
Mary pronounced her fiat, she became
the mother of the Head of the Mystical Body in the supernatural order for the
entire human race. As Pius XII observed in his message to the Marian
Congress of Ottawa, Canada, on June 19,1947: "But when the little maid of
Nazareth uttered her fiat to the
message of the angel...she became not only the Mother of God in the physical
order of nature, but also in the supernatural order of grace she became the
Mother of all who...would be made one under the Headship of her divine Son. The Mother of the Head would be the Mother of
the members. The Mother of the Vine
would be the Mother of the branches."
So already on that day of the annunciation (Lk 1:38) she became the mother
of the members of the Mystical Body of which her Son Christ was the Head.
therefore follows that if the merits of Abraham counted for all His people, so
did the merits of Mary count for all those of whom she became the spiritual
mother. Thus just as Jesus Christ
merited for all of us not only on the cross, but also in His whole earlier
life, so Mary too merited for all of us.
She did this, of course, not independently of Him, but as His Mother and
member. She, in her humility was completely unlike Philo's picture of Abraham (On Rewards and Punishment 4.27) who
"by the innate goodness of his natural dispositions had acquired a
spontaneous, self-taught, self-implanted virtue."
word “merit” is in question today among some contemporaries, but it should not
be so. A merit is really a claim to
reward. But all of us gain a claim to a
reward not by our own power - not even Our Lady can do more - but inasmuch as
we are members of Christ and like Him.
In Romans 8:17: "If children, then heirs, heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, provided we
suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." In that
way, and to that extent, we gain a claim to a reward. To put it another way: By grace we are adopted as sons of God, and
even given a share in His very divine nature, as 2 Peter 1:4 tells us. Sons, as
sons, do have a claim to be in their Father's house. It is only in this sense
that we, and even Mary, merit heaven. So
the Council of Trent (DS 1532) taught that we are justified without any merit
at all on our part. But, the possession
of that justification, since it makes us sons of God, and sharers in the divine
nature, gives us a claim to entrance into the mansions of our Father (DS 1582)
whose sons we are. A claim, as we said,
is the same as a merit. So it is only in
this sense that we merit heaven. St. Paul sums it up compactly in Romans 6 :12: "The wages of sin is death, but the free
gift of God is eternal life." Of
course, once we achieve that dignity of sons and sharers in the divine nature,
then our works take on a great dignity, which calls for additional reward (DS 1582).
unique merit of the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer
merit of Mary at the foot of the Cross was practically measureless. For among other things, there are three
special factors that affect how greatly an action is meritorious: the dignity of the person, the work that is
done, and the love with which it is done.
then of all that Mary did, with the quasi infinite dignity of the Mother of
God, as Pius XI wrote, in an Encyclical written for the 1500th anniversary of
the Council of Ephesus, which defined her divine motherhood: "From this dogma of the divine
motherhood as from the font of a hidden gushing spring, flows the singular
grace of Mary and her dignity, second only to God. In fact, as Aquinas
writes: “the Blessed Virgin, from the
fact that she is the Mother of God, has a sort of infinite dignity from the
infinite good that God is” (Pius XI, Lux
Veritatis, Dec. 25, 1931. AAS 23.513, quoting Summa, I.q.25,a.6, ad 4).
The love with which she acted manifested her
attachment to the will of God. But that
attachment, which is the same as holiness, was so great that even at the start
of her life, as Pius IX wrote in Ineffabilis Deus was so great that "none greater under God can be thought of,
and no one but God can comprehend it." Of course, God being all powerful,
could create a creature capable of understanding her holiness/love. But He has
not done that. So actually, only God Himself can comprehend it.
regard to the work, the difficulty of the work done greatly increases
merit. It is not that difficulty as such
is worth anything. Not at all. But we
have in us only one thing that is free, our free wills. Therefore if we could make that free will
match entirely the will of the Father,
there is nothing else to do. Full
perfection is attained. But when someone
acts in the face of great difficulty, then his or her will must adhere to that
will of the Father with all the greater force, or else fail.
is in view of this that the Father often puts persons in situations where they
must as it were hold on in the dark.
Abraham had been told by God that he was to be the Father of a great
nation through Isaac (cf. Gen 17:16-19). Yet later - we do not know how long it
was - God told Abraham to kill that son in sacrifice (cf. Gen 22:2). Abraham might well have said at that point:
Now I recall you told me I am to be the Father of a great nation through this
son Isaac. I must believe your word, and I do believe it. But now you tell me to kill him before your
promise can begin to be fulfilled. So
please tell me which of the two things you will me to do, and I will do it.
Abraham said nothing of the kind. He simply started out, working in the dark,
that is, adhering to the will of the
Father when it seemed utterly impossible to do what the Father commanded
(cf. Gen 22:3-11). We know the
outcome. By putting Abraham into such a
difficult position, God wanted Abraham
to profit spiritually in an enormous degree. Abraham did that, and His faith
was a merit for all his posterity.
Lady was put into such difficulty many times.
First at the annunciation, she knew at once from the words of the
archangel that her Son was to be the Messiah.
For the angel had told her that her Son would reign over the house of
Jacob forever. Practically all Jews then believed that only the Messiah would
reign forever. Yet she knew the prophecy
of Isaiah 53 about the terrible suffering and death of the Messiah. Ordinary
Jews seem to have had great difficulty with it, to such an extent that the
Targum on Isaiah 53 turned the meek lamb into an arrogant conqueror. Mary would not do that, she would understand.
works of the Coredemptrix were holy as she was holy. Isaiah loves to stress: God is the Holy
One. Zeus/Jupiter, chief god of Greece
and Rome, was not so much immoral as amoral.
He lived beyond the reach of morality.
The gods of Mesopotamia, from whence the Hebrews came, were often of
much of the same temper. Thus the
Mesopotamian gods sent the great flood not to punish the immorality of the
human race, but simply out of whim, and then were afraid of it and cowered on
the battlements of heaven until it was over.
a striking revelation was it then for the world when Psalm 11:7
proclaimed: "God is sadiq and He loves sedaqoth.." He Himself observes morality, and He loves things
that are done in accord with morality - such as the actions of Jesus and Mary
in the Holy Family.
word “Holy” which the angels triply proclaimed before the astonished gaze of
Isaiah (Isaiah 6:3), really means that God loves all that is morally
right. We can see this fact throughout
the Old Testament, the intertestamental writings of the Jews, the New
Testament, the Rabbis, and the Fathers of the Church.
have grown accustomed to the idea that there are three Persons in the one
God. But in Mary’s culture, and even
possibly to her, that idea was strange.
Of course it is really incomprehensible to us too. It is just that we have grown up with it, and
so it never did have the impact it would have when it first burst forth upon
saw it was obvious she knew her Son was to be the Messiah. That understanding
would be helped by Genesis 49:10, a line which again some contemporary scholars
find hard to understand, while some Jewish scholars see it clearly. Thus Jacob Neusner (op.cit.,p.242) cites that
line and then says: "It is
difficult to imagine how Gen 49:10 could
have been read as other than a messianic prediction." Not long before the annunciation, it was
clear that the time for the prophecy was at hand. For there had been some sort of ruler from
the tribe of Judah all along, until 41 B.C. when Rome imposed Herod on them as
Tetrach, and then in 37, as King. Herod
by birth was not of the tribe of Judah, was half Arab and half Idumean. Neusner
also reports (p.12) that messianic
expectation was intense and high at the time.
Scriptural Events of Coredemptive Suffering
Woman with the Redeemer began to suffer and so to merit for us at the
annunciation, for then as we said, she knew the terrible prophecy of Isaiah
53. The Daughter of Zion knew Psalm 22
which Jesus was to recite on the cross: "They have pierced my hands and my
feet" (22:16). She knew the related prophecy of Zechariah 12:10: "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son."
Even the Revised Standard Version fears to render the italicized pronouns as
the Hebrew has them. But the message is
plain: The one who is pierced is divine,
“me”; and “Him” refers to the Messiah as if another person.
all spiritual perfection lies in aligning one's will with the will of the
Father. And when what He positively wills is known, it is required that one
positively will what the Father wills. So the Coredemptrix is called upon even
from the start of her association with the suffering Messiah to will what she
knew the Father willed, what she knew her Son willed. She spoke her fiat to all that, perhaps not fully realized at the very moment of
the annunciation, yet surely present to her soul as she pondered all these
things in her heart, meriting immensely along with Him.
even the nativity scene, with the song of the angels, was exempt from trials.
His circumcision (cf. Lk 2:21), the first shedding of His blood, was painful to
Him and therefore to her as well.
presentation in the temple was most difficult: We might well call it the
offertory of the great sacrifice (cf. Lk 2:24). Other parents bought their sons
back from the service of God. She, in
obedience to the law, went through that same ritual. But she would know it was
not buying Him back. Rather, it was giving Him over. The CCC tells us in n.606: “The Son of God came down from heaven not to
do His own will....He said on entering into the world...Behold I come...to do
your will O God...(Heb. 10:5-10)....” At
His presentation in the temple, He interiorly renewed, or rather, continued
this obedience of will. As the heading
to CCC n.606 said: “All the life of
Christ is an offering to the Father.”
She, similarly continuing her fiat, echoed this will. So His presentation in the temple was most
in the prophecy of Simeon it would be painful for the Coredemptrix to have to
hear explicitly that a sword would pierce her soul as her Son would be the
stone on whom some would stumble and fall, though some would rise (cf. Lk 2:35).
there came the threat to His life from Herod.
This was in a way strange indeed:
He, the Messiah, whom she most likely knew to be even divine, could He
not protect Himself? But Joseph and Mary obeyed the angel and went into exile
into Egypt (cf. Mt 2:13-15).
the Redeemer was twelve years of age, something strange happened. He allowed
His parents to be in grief and distress for three days, while seeking Him, to
find Him in the temple. His reply puzzled them:
“Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?” (cf. Lk
2:48-50). It need not mean they did not
know who He was. Rather, it is evident
that His way of behaving was such a radical departure from His usual kind and
considerate way. It is that they could
not understand, and so had to hold on in the dark, with immense merit, until
the light dawned.
the long years of that hidden life, humanly Mary might well have wondered: When will He begin the mission for which He
came? And yet, she would find the
thought of that mission hard to bear, for she knew all too well to what it
the start of His public life came the wedding at Cana. The Mediatrix of his public ministry did not
technically ask Him to do anything, she merely hinted, saying: “They have no
wine” (Jn: 2:3). His response in Jn 2:4
was such as to cause again an occasion of holding on in the dark for her, with
a chance for great spiritual merit and growth:
For the words "What is it to you and to me" in the Old
Testament do not carry a favorable color.
There are two types of this usage. One is in the sense of "What did
I do to bring this on?" Examples
are in Judges 11:12; 2 Chron 35:21 and 1 Kings 17:18. The other type is about the same as
saying: "This is your affair, not
mine." Examples are found in 1
Kings 3:13 and Hosea 14:8.
Woman did hold on well in the dark, as we can see from her words to the
waiters: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn
2:5). And the outcome proved her faith
was not misplaced. It brought His very first miracle, the first open example of
the power of her intercession with Him (cf. Jn 2:11). He advanced the hour. Some think that word always
refers to the hour of His death. But
that would not at all fit here. Rather,
it is the time He had set for beginning His miracles even though He did not
change the time: In making His decision before then as to when the time would
actually come, He had taken into account in advance her intercession. Without
the Woman’s intercession, the time would have been somewhat later.
might be tempted to think that between the best of Sons and the best of
Mothers, everything would be sweetness and light. We already saw the strange
episode of finding Jesus in the Temple at age 12, a case that required holding
on in the dark. We saw another at Cana. Now we see some very surprising
cases. As Luke 11:27 tells us: “And it happened,
when He said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to
Him: ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked.’ But He said: ‘Blessed
rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.’”
thought is much the same in another passage, from Mark 3:20-35: Some of those about Him, seeing He preached
so intently that He would not stop to eat, thought Him out of His mind, and
went out to take Him by force. Then -- if indeed the incident is
chronologically placed -- the scribes said He was casting out devils by the
devils. Next, His Mother and relatives
came to a crowd where He was speaking. It was announced to Him. Instead of
inviting her in and telling the crowd: I
want you to meet my Mother, He replied "Who are my mother and my
brothers? And looking around on those
who sat about Him He said: Here are my Mother and my brother. Whoever does the
will of God is my brother and sister, and mother."
incidents just mentioned not only do not praise or accept the Coredemptrix, but
appear to reject or to put her down.
Surely, both were difficult occasions for immense merit of holding on in
the dark. It would be only by pondering
in her heart that she could find the right interpretation.
II supplies the correct understanding in Lumen
Gentium n.58: “In the course of His
preaching, she received the words in which her Son praised those who heard the
word of God and kept it, as she was faithfully doing, more than the reasons and
bonds of flesh and blood.” That is, He was making a comparison of two forms of
greatness: that of being the Mother of God
‑ which as we saw, is a quasi-infinite dignity - and hearing and
keeping the word of God. The second
category is greater than the first. But
she was at the peak in both categories.
She had indeed received the Word of God at the annunciation, and thereby
received the Word made flesh, and further she had kept His words faithfully, as
Vatican II said. That was even in her a
greater dignity than that of the Mother of God.
only on the occasions just mentioned, but all throughout His public life, when
the Saviour received the acclaim of the crowds, Mary, in humility, had remained
in the background in continual offering in fulfillment of her coredemptive
the end, the Apostles, and so many others would have been able to see that the
Redeemer was in danger of death. There may be a hint of that in Mark
10:32: They are on the road to
Jerusalem, and "Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and
those who followed were afraid."
Already long before this point His enemies had resolved to kill
Him. They were afraid to arrest Him
openly, for the crowds considered Him a prophet. But He, even without the vision in His human
soul, just naturally, could have seen this coming. And Mary too must have seen it coming. Yet just as He went ahead, wanting to fulfill
His redemptive sacrifice, so too would she.
He was in agony in the garden (cf. Lk 22:44), she must have known even if at
some distance. Mary must have perceived
His agony, and continuing her fiat would
have willed what she knew the Father willed.
the Redeemer was arrested (cf. Lk 22:54), and everything was all too
obvious. Mary Coredemptrix, as we said,
had modestly and humbly remained in the background when He was acclaimed by the
crowds. But now, when the terrible blackness came over Calvary, she moved out
of the shadows and into that darkness, to share His disgrace, to merit with
Him, even though of course only in subordination to Him.
is not enough to say that He redeemed us by dying. Of course that is true. But
we still ask: How did that operate?
There are three aspects to the redemption: new covenant, sacrifice,
payment of debt or re-balance of the objective order. Mary shared in a singular way in all aspects,
by her obedience to the will of the Father.
see this first in the new covenant. At
Sinai, God had promised favor with obedience as the condition. Jeremiah 31:31-33 had foretold a new
covenant, again with obedience as the condition. Probably Jeremiah did not see that the obedience was to be that of the divine
Messiah and His Mother. Yet that was to be it. At the Last Supper, He said over
the chalice: "This is the chalice
of my blood, the new and eternal covenant, which is to be shed for you and for
all so that sins may be forgiven" (Mt 26:28). Yes, the Father's love of objective goodness
did not wish to forgive sins without a re-balance of the moral order. So His blood was to be shed "so that
sins might be forgiven.” But as we said
the condition of that new covenant was obedience, His obedience even to death. But also Mary’s obedience in willing what the
Father willed was to play a providential part.
She had been appointed to this work as the New Eve, as the one foretold in
Genesis 3:15 as sharing in the struggle and the victory over sin and death.
it was the great sacrifice. Mary was
even physically present at it. In Isaiah
29:13 God had complained: “This people
honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me...” But now the Hearts of Jesus and His Mother
were not far from the will of the Father.
Rather, they, knowing what He willed, willed the same; all sanctity as
we said consists in conformity of one's will with the will of the Father. And when the soul knows what He positively
wills, then it must and will positively will it. So she then at immense cost, did even will
that He die, die then, die so horribly.
I come to do your will, O God.” The
Coredemptrix in unison of Heart has said her fiat which she not only never retracted, but intensely continued,
even to the Cross. The difficulty of
willing His death is literally beyond our comprehension. For to do that was to go most directly
contrary to her love for Him. Mary’s love was so great that it went beyond the
comprehension of anyone but God Himself.
This is most strictly true and is no mere rhetoric. For Pius IX (Ineffabilis Deus), in defining the Immaculate Conception, had said
that her holiness at the start was so great that "none greater under God
can be thought of, and no one but God can comprehend it.” But, in practice, holiness and love of God
are interchangeable terms. Therefore,
her love, a principal measure of her suffering, was really beyond the ability
of any actually existing creature to comprehend. We said "actually existing
creature" since of course God being almighty, could have created a
creature capable of comprehending her love and suffering. But as a matter of fact, He has not done
that. So only God could comprehend her
love, and consequently, her suffering.
This was done in union of will.
It was that obedience of will which gave all the value to His
sacrifice. Without that it would have
been a tragedy, not a sacrifice. It
would have been as empty as that of which God complained about in Isaiah
29:13. But she by her obedience, at cost
beyond our comprehension, joined in that will which gave all the value to His
sacrifice. She did it as the new Eve,
the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer, as the one foretold as sharing in the
victory over sin and death.
third aspect is that of the re-balance of the objective order, or the payment
of the debt of sin. We saw that the
Holiness of God really means His love of all that is objectively right. Sinners had taken from the scales, as it were
- we recall the words of Simeon ben Eleazar - what they had no right to take.
Jesus, and Mary in union with Him, both owing nothing, yet gave up, put back
more than all sinners of all ages together had taken away. This was a self-emptying spoken of in
Philippians 2:7. This was the sacrifice
that made our peace and won all forgiveness and grace, once for all.
have been working basically with Scripture alone to show the fact of Our Lady's
immediate cooperation in the objective redemption, by way of obedience, which
was part of the covenant condition of the essential interior disposition of the
sacrifice or re-balancing the objective order.
This fits perfectly with the teachings of the Magisterium. There are 17 documents, from every Pope from
Leo XIII to John Paul II inclusive, plus Vatican II that teach this truth. To illustrate, we look at Lumen Gentium n.61:
The Blessed Virgin,
predestined from eternity along with the incarnation of the divine Word as the
Mother of God, by design of divine Providence was the gracious Mother of the
divine Redeemer, in a singular way more than others, and the generous associate
and humble handmaid of the Lord. In
conceiving Christ, in bringing Him forth, in nourishing Him, in presenting Him
to the Father in the temple, in suffering with her Son as He died on the Cross,
she cooperated in the work of the
Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope and
burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result, she is our Mother in the order
is indeed a magnificent text. It begins
as we did, with Mary’s union with Jesus in the eternal decree for the
Incarnation. It speaks of her
association with Him throughout all His life, and especially in the great
sacrifice itself. It says she did this
in a singular way, which means that even though St. John was present at the
Cross, he was not in the position in which she was, the New Eve, His associate,
the one appointed "by design of Divine Providence" to act thus. It stresses especially that her role was one
of obedience. Lumen Gentium n.56 had
twice said her role was accomplished by obedience, in contrast to the
disobedience of the first Eve, to undo what the first Eve had bound by
disobedience. John Paul II in Redemptoris
Mater n.19 expressed the same truth excellently, “as a sharing in the
sacrifice of Christ - the new Adam - it becomes in a certain sense the
counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first
parents. Thus teach the Fathers of the
Church and especially St. Irenaeus, quoted by the Constitution Lumen Gentium: ‘The knot of Eve's
disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience. ...’”
Active sharing in Redemption
is something really remarkable here. At
the start of Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium
the Council had said it did not intend to settle debates in Mariology. Yet, in this author’s opinion, it is clear
that it did settle the chief debate. Such a thing is very possible. We saw
above that in Lumen Gentium n.55 the
Council indicated that perhaps the human writers of Gen 3:15 and Is 7:14 did
not understand all that the Church now, guided by the Holy Spirit, has
gradually come to see. It is likely that
Jeremiah did not fully understand his prophecy of the new covenant. We saw that St. Irenaeus implied more than he
is likely to have seen, in his words about the knot, cited by the Council.
So too the Council, an instrument in the hands of Divine Providence,
certainly could, if God so willed, write more than it saw.
the Council there were two positions about Mary’s cooperation on Calvary: 1)
The theory of active receptivity, in which she would, as it were, merely put
forth her hand [active] and pick up what she had no share in producing
[receptivity] (cf. otto Semmelroth, Urbild
der Kirche, Würzburg, 1950, pp. 54,56,60). 2) The position of Cardinal
Santos and associates, according to which she shared by meriting, that is,
contributing to establishing a claim to all forgiveness and grace. Hence in Lumen
Gentium nn.61 and 56 the Council said, three times, that she shared by
obedience. But as we have explained,
obedience is sharing in the covenant condition, sharing in the interior
disposition which gave all its value to the great sacrifice, obedience is
re-balancing the objective order of paying the debt incurred by the
disobedience of our first parents, and all other humans. Of course that is not merely picking up
something which she had no share in producing.
No, she shared actively in the ways indicated.
actively we might ask? Any soul should
positively will what the Father wills.
Since there is in us only one free thing, our free wills, to align that
will with the will of the Father is all that perfection requires. She in that dread hour knew what the Father
willed, that her Son die, die then, die so horribly. So she was called upon not
to just passively acquiesce, but to actively will what the Father willed! She did that, heroically, and did it going
counter to her love, which was so great that, according to Ineffabilis Deus “none greater under God can be thought of, and no
one but God can comprehend it.” Again,
John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater,
after saying in Redemptoris Custos that
he intended to deepen the theology of Vatican II on her faith, wrote in
n.18: “How great, how heroic, then, is
the ‘obedience of faith’ [Rom 1:5] shown by Mary in the face of God's
‘unsearchable judgments’! How completely she 'abandons herself to God’ without
reserve, ‘offering the full assent of the intellect and the will’ to him whose
‘ways are inscrutable’.... At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith
in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying [cf.Phil 2:5-8]. This is perhaps
the deepest ‘kenosis’of faith in
human history. Through faith the Mother
shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death....” Since according to St.Paul, faith requires
belief in God's word, confidence in His promises, and above all, the ‘obedience
of faith’ [cf.Rom 1:5], that is, the full alignment of human will with the will
of the Father, so she by her faith shared in the obedience that is the covenant
condition, in the interior disposition of the sacrifice, in the re-balancing of
the objective order or paying the debt of all sin, which is really the same as
the price of redemption (cf. 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23).
course, this is far beyond any mere “active receptivity.” We can see that truth by Scripture, as we
have done, by the words of Vatican II, and by the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater.
Mary Redeemed and Mary Coredemptrix
is also an objection that since Mary had to be redeemed, she could not
cooperate in the redemption, which would include her own redemption. To this objection, we have two replies: 1) One major aspect of the redemption is that it
is a new covenant. There are two comments on that:
He who makes a covenant does not ask, need not ask of a proposed
covenanter: Are you worthy to fulfill this condition, so that if
you do this, I will do that? No, the one
who makes the covenant has the right to set whatever terms and conditions He
wishes, especially when the originator of the covenant is God Himself. He could have set as a condition for the
whole of redemption an animal sacrifice by any ordinary human, and have even
bound Himself by advance promise to accept it.
There are two levels within the new
covenant, so that if we ask why God gives good things under it, there are two
answers, on the two levels. First, on
the most basic level, everything He gives is unmerited, unmeritable in the
sense that no creature by its own power can establish a claim on God. And He cannot be moved at all. But then, on
the secondary level, that is, given the fact that the Father has freely created
and entered into a covenant, then if the human fulfills the condition set, the
Father owes it to Himself to give what He has promised. Even the death of Jesus was on this secondary
level. It was because the Father always
loved us that Jesus came, not that Jesus came and then the Father dropped His
old language on this subject often spoke much of meriting redemption on a basis
of justice. But we must never forget
that no creature at all can ever establish any kind of claim on God, whether in
justice or on a lesser level, by its own power.
It can establish a claim only if God as it were says: “If you do this, I will do that." So St.
Augustine wrote well in saying to God (Confessions
9.5): "You deign to even become a debtor by your promises to those to whom
you forgive their debts."
there is no need to think of logical momenta in her cooperation, as if she had
to earn on a primary, basic level. No,
as we saw, even the work of Jesus, infinite though it was, was on the secondary
level. It was, to borrow an expression
from St. Thomas, a hoc propter hoc
(ST I.19. 5.c): “Vult hoc esse propter hoc, sed non propter hoc vult hoc.” That is: God in His love of good order, of
all that is right, loves to have one thing in place to serve as a reason or
title for giving the second thing, even though that title does not at all move
Him. We must not forget that He cannot
be moved, and needed not to be moved to love us.
had a very indulgent grandfather who acted somewhat in this way. Each year the
day before New Year's Day he would tell me: "Now phone me tomorrow. If you can say Happy New Year before I do,
you win a dollar."
of course was a setup. He arranged a
condition which he did not at all need, which did not at all earn the
dollar. But in his generosity he was
trying to find a fine way to give. St.
Irenaeus tells us (Against Heresies 4.14.1. MG 7. 1010.): “In the beginning God formed Adam not because
He stood in need of man, but that He might have someone to receive His
ought to grasp this perspective and realize that even the merits of His Son did
not move the Father, who did not need to be moved and who could not be moved,
but who made a setup suited to His own purpose:
We already saw that purpose entailed two things: His desire to fully satisfy everything that
was right, i.e., to re-balance the scales of the objective order, and, secondly
to provide a means of giving to us, of making us open to receive... and then we
think again of my grandfather on New Year's Day.
then, such a framework, with such an attitude on the part of Our Father, if He,
the supreme master who makes the covenant, wants to set whatever condition it
pleases Him to set, then if any human, even if it were a mere ordinary human,
if that human fulfills the convenant condition, then the human is providing the
Father with a reason for giving, which the Father did not need, but yet willed
for the two reasons just reviewed.
Mary, Mother of Jesus and the providentially chosen New Eve, joins in the
condition set by the Father, there is no problem at all: She is meeting the
condition which His excessive generosity liked to set, as a means of giving for
a great New Year's Day.
comparison limps. Very true. And our does limp. But to limp means to be partly parallel,
partly not. So there is in our
comparison a lack of parallel in that what the Father in Heaven calls for is
not just a phone call, but the terrible suffering of His Son, and of the Mother
of that Son, and even, as St. Paul says in Rom 8:17: "We are heirs provided we suffer
with Him...." But there is still a great parallel in that
in both cases the Father receives no benefit.
What is done at His request does not at all move Him: Non
propter hoc vult hoc. The request
made by the Father is still basically a means of giving which He loves to have
for the two reasons given above, that He loves all objective goodness (here,
re-balance), and that it is to benefit us His children.
The second reply to the objection is that the Magisterium has taught
repeatedly, so often as to constitute an infallible teaching in this author’s
opinion, that she did so cooperate. Even
if we could not explain the how, we
should still believe an infallible teaching.
The saying is very true: a thousand difficulties do not add up to one
doubt, when the assurance of the truth is full.
that all graces have been earned, once for all (cf. Hebrews 9:29), is there further role for Our
Lady? The mere fact that she shared in
earning all graces -- for Calvary did not earn just some graces, but all graces
-- would all by itself warrant our calling her the Mediatrix of all
there is much more. We saw above that
Moses more than once appealed to the merits of Abraham in asking God to grant
forgiveness. Did this mean that Abraham
at the precise moment asked the Father to give forgiveness? Before the death of Christ, Abraham would not
have yet had the beatific vision, in which He could see what Moses was asking
and then respond. Yet in some way we may
suppose God did take Abraham into account.
could have been in two ways. First, The Father even without giving Abraham the
beatific vision could have made known to Abraham that Moses was appealing for
help. Then Moses could have responded. Second, even if Abraham was not made aware of
the request of Moses, yet the established merit of Abraham would of itself
provide a reason, a “hoc propter hoc”
for giving forgiveness.
may speak in a parallel way about our Lady, except that there is no doubt that
she now sees all her spiritual children and all their needs in the face to face
vision of which St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 13:12, the beatific vision. That
vision is of course, infinite. A
creature will see in it in proportion to the degree of grace with which that
creature left this life. But Mary was
full of grace, grace so great that
"none greater under God can be thought of, and only God can comprehend
it." Or, as we saw, her suffering
with Her Divine Son was beyond our comprehension. So she even now sees in that face to face
vision all of her children and knows all of their needs. She can then actively ask for them by way of intercessory
prayer. We are tremendously numerous, and our needs numerous, yet that is not
too much for her soul to take in, enlightened by a light proportioned to her
fullness of grace.
even if she were not asking individually for our needs, yet her merits, beyond
our comprehension, provide a "hoc propter hoc", a reason for the
granting of what we need. The Father
already wants to grant all forgiveness and grace; He bound Himself by accepting
the price of redemption, which is infinite, to grant forgiveness and grace
infinitely. So there is no limit at all
to that to which He has bound Himself to give. The only limit is imposed by the
receptivity or lack thereof on the part of us individually. We recall that His commandments were given to
tell us how to be open to receive that which He so intensely wills to give.
we see two scriptural reasons why we may and should call her Mediatrix of all
we can say that Mary Mediatrix has a role in each Mass, the very heart of the
distribution of all graces. For a
sacrifice has two elements, the outward sign, and the interior disposition. As to the outward sign, the body and blood on
the altar are still those which she provided for her Son. As to the interior disposition, just as His
attitude of obedience to the Father today is a continuation of that with which
He left this world, so too her acceptance of the Father's will which she had at
Calvary, did not diminish thereafter, and now is permanently continuing in the
glory of heaven. John Paul II confirmed these deductions in an address to the
crowds in St. Peter’s square on Sunday Feb. 12, 1984 (Osservatore Romano, English edition, Feb. 20, 1984, p.10): "Today I wish to dwell with you on the
Blessed Virgin's presence in the celebration of the Liturgy.... Every liturgical action...is an occasion of
communion...and in a particular way with Mary.... Because the Liturgy is the
action of Christ and of the Church...she is inseparable from one and the
other.... Mary is present in the memorial - the liturgical action - because she
was present at the saving event.... She is at every altar where the memorial of
the Passion and Resurrection is celebrated because she was present, faithful
with her whole being to the Father's plan, at the historic salvific occasion of
as before, we see that the Magisterium confirms our Scriptural understanding
just given that she is Mediatrix of all graces.
II, in Lumen Gentium n.62 did call
her Mediatrix. It did not, however, add
the words "of all graces”. The
reason? First of all, it was not needed.
For as we said, the very fact that she shared in acquiring not just some
but all graces, means she shares in every grace that is given out. Secondly, there was the significant influence
of Protestant observers at Vatican II. As C. Balic, one of the drafters of
Chapter 8, tells us (in "El Capitulo VIII de la Constitucion 'Lumen Gentium' comparado con el Primer
Esquema de La B. Virgen de la Iglesia" in Estudios Marianos 27,1966,p.174), Protestant observers had said in
advance that if the Church said too much, dialogue on the topic would be ended.
further, the Council itself added a footnote to its statement that she is
Mediatrix, referring us to texts of Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI, and Pius
XII, which call her Mediatrix of all graces.
There are still more papal texts: Leo XIII (Encyclical, Octobri mense adventante, Sept 22,1891) wrote: "nothing at all of that very great
treasury of all grace which the Lord brought us...is imparted to us except
through Mary" and again (Iucunda
semper, Sept 8,1884 internal quote is from St. Bernardine, Sermon on the Nativity of B.V.M. n.6): "'Every grace that is communicated to
this world has a threefold course. For by excellent order, it is dispensed from
God to Christ, from Christ to the Virgin, from the Virgin to us.'" St. Pius X (Ad diem illum, Feb. 2, 1904) called her "Dispensatrix of all
the gifts which Jesus gained for us by His death." And in Litterae
Apostolicae, of August 27,1910, he called her "the treasurer of all
graces." Pius XI three times also
called her "treasurer of all graces" (in AAS 14,186; AAS 16,152, and
AAS 18.213). Pius XII (Bendito seia,
May 13,1946) said "nothing is excluded from her dominion." John XXIII (Epistle to Cardinal Agaganian, Jan 31,1959) wrote: “Did not the Lord will that we have
everything through Mary" and in Discorsi
II,66: “From her hands hope for all
The People Of God
Son promised to send us a new Advocate (Jn 15:26; 16:7). He Himself had been their Advocate and still
is (1 Jn 2:1). She was and is, as we saw, intimately associated with Him as
Advocate. Further, just as Israel was considered
the spouse of God (Is 54:5; Hos 2:19), and as St. Paul spoke of the Church as
the spouse of Christ (2 Cor 11:2; cf. Eph 5:25), so too we could speak of her
as the spouse of the Holy Spirit to whom
she is ever most perfectly faithful, her soul ever responding to any slight
breeze from the Spirit sent through His Gifts.
Isaiah 55:9 God said: "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my
thoughts than your thoughts." On
hearing this a man might well wonder: How then can I understand God, how know
what He wills, how to deal with him? But
in Jesus we have the answer. He, though a Divine Person, has a fully human
heart, which we can understand. Pius XII in Haurietis
aquas even says that Jesus has a love of feeling in His human heart. But then, someone might still say: Yes, but
His heart is the heart of a Divine Person.
However, her heart is purely, entirely human, and yet it is completely
in unison with His. So her Immaculate
Heart can and does assure us we have in heaven an Advocate whom we can
understand, who understands us, who loves us to the extent that like the
Father, she did not spare her only Son, but gave Him up for all of us.
Apocalypse/Revelation 12 we find the image of the woman clothed with the
sun. Interpretation is debated. We have statements on it by several Popes. St. Pius X (ASS 36.458-59) said "No one
of us does not know that woman signifies the Virgin Mary.... John saw the Most
Holy Mother of God already enjoying eternal happiness, and yet laboring from
some hidden birth. With what birth? Surely ours." Pius XII( AAS 41.762-63) said: "...the Scholastic doctors have
considered the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as signified not only in
the various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with
the sun." Paul VI (Signum
Magnum, May 13, 1967) said that this vision "is interpreted by the
sacred liturgy, not without foundation, as referring to the Most Blessed Mary,
the Mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer." John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater n.24) says the use of the word woman ties
together Gen 3:15, Cana, the foot of the cross, and this vision.
seems that some features of the vision do refer to Our Lady, others to the
Church, in view of the labor. There is a
well known Hebrew pattern in which an individual stands for and is identified
with a collectivity. Thus this image
could stand for her as an individual, but as identified with the Church.
Le Frois, in a dissertation for the Biblical Institute in Rome in 1954, The Woman Clothed with the Sun suggests
that if the image stands for both, it might be a forecast that before the end
the Church will take on an especially Marian character, in an age of Mary. St. Louis de Montfort, in True Devotion n.49 does predict an age
this might be taken as a scriptural image of her as the Church, which is the
spouse of Christ and/or the Holy Spirit, and so our Advocate.
Solemn Papal Definition
conclusion, we have seen, using Scripture alone as a basis, without relying on
the Magisterium, to which of course we do adhere, that Scripture gives us solid
support for the teaching that Our Lady really did cooperate on Calvary by way
know from Scripture that the redemption was, among other aspects, a new
convenant. We know too that the critical
condition of a covenant is obedience. It
was also the essential condition (cf. Isaiah 19:13) of the great once-for-all
Sacrifice. By Mary’s fiat, once given,
never retracted, but unwaveringly continued even to the Cross, she did join in
the covenant condition, and in the interior condition of sacrifice, which in
His case was expressed by St. Paul in Romans 5:19.
know this also from the fact that any soul that adheres to God is required,
once the soul knows the positive will of the Father, to positively will what
the Father wills. It is obvious what
suffering this would cost to will that her Son die, die then, die so horribly
before her eyes, and to do it in a clash with her love, too great for us to
know that the Coredemptrix did this not just as a private person, but as the
Mother of the Mystical Body of which St. Paul speaks, for clearly, she could
not be the Mother of the Head without ipso
facto being the Mother of the Members.
St. Paul reasoned in parallel about the resurrection of all, from the
resurrection of Christ the Head, in 1 Cor 15.
We saw that this role was the same sort of thing that the Old Testament
tells us of in the case of Moses invoking the merits of the head and font of
the People of God, or Abraham, with the
addition of Isaac and Jacob.
study of the Old Testament, the Intertestamental Literature, the New Testament,
as clarified by the Rabbis, and the Fathers, reveals that it is the Holiness of
God that wills that the debt of sin be repaid, or, to put it another way, that
the imbalance to the righteous order be restored (cf. Isaiah 5:15-16 and
Ezekiel 28:22; as well as Leviticus 4, to name but a few passages).
Protestants, and even some Catholics, object that this very advanced doctrine
of Mary’s Cooperation is unscriptural, we are happy to be able to show that it
can be demonstrated fully by the use of Scripture alone. And of course, it is fully in line with 17
documents from every Pope, starting with Leo XIII, going through Vatican II,
and on to John Paul II inclusive.
doctrine with such support from Scripture and repeated Ordinary Magisterium -
the repetition shows clearly the intent to make the teaching definitive - should
be recognized as already infallible. So
it is most suitable that Mary’s coredemptive role be given a solemn
proclamation as such.