What exactly does it mean, then, to say that Mary is Coredemptrix of the human race? The answer to this rather broad question may be discovered by examining it through the lens of the six “journalistic questions” (who, what, when, where, how, and why – the order is varied from the usual sequence to fit the logical flow of this study) that many writers use to organize and analyze complicated subject matter. Each question will illuminate different aspects of Mary as Coredemptrix so that, in the end, the entire picture of this splendid Marian role will come into focus.
Who Is Mary Coredemptrix?
The foundations of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix of the human race lie in who she is as a person. Often, people’s actions, what they do, spring from who they are as individuals, and Mary is no exception to this tendency. So, then, who is Mary Coredemptrix? Mary herself answered this question during an apparition to St. Bernadette at Lourdes. “I am the Immaculate Conception,” she proclaimed. (3) St. Maximilian Kolbe, whom Pope John Paul II called the “Apostle of the New Marian Era,” spent nearly his entire life contemplating Mary’s mysterious declaration. (4) He concludes that Mary, as the sinless Immaculata, is “the most perfect of all creatures…the most sublime…” (5) Further, “from the first instant of her existence there never was in her the least conflict with God’s will.” She has been sinless from the moment of her conception, pure, clean, and totally united with the will of God. What God wants, Mary wants. What God ordains, Mary accepts. What God does, Mary imitates. She is God’s “perfect masterpiece,” the height of creation, the only boast of the human race. (6) Kolbe continues his analysis, noting that Mary, as the Immaculate Conception, is the spouse, the instrument, and the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, Whom Kolbe recognizes as the uncreated Immaculate Conception, the “flowering of the love of the Father and the Son.” (7) Because Mary exists in a perfect, spousal, “interior union” with the Spirit, she can take His Name, Immaculate Conception, as her own. (8) In terms of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix, her Immaculate Conception, which was raised to the level of dogma by Pius IX in the 1854 document Ineffabilis Deus and confirmed by Vatican II in #56 of Lumen Gentium, (9) specially prepared Mary her unique collaboration in the Redemption of the human race. Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins explains, “…Mary’s cooperation with God’s plan for our salvation actually began with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. He created her full of grace precisely in view of the role which He had predestined for her.” (10) Mary’s unique fullness of grace, her immaculate nature, is an integral, indeed the integral, part of who she is as a person, and it supplies a crucial foundation for the coredemptive activity the Lord asked her to fulfill throughout her life.
This Immaculate Conception, this fullness of grace, also prepared Mary to assume another of her principal personal characteristics, namely, her motherhood. Most mothers would say that their motherhood is not so much a task they perform as a facet of who they are, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, God-made-Man, would certainly agree. In giving her consent to the Incarnation of the Word of God, Mary became a mother, and as all mothers, she never stopped being one. (11) Her motherhood became ingrained in her very being, and, as many Mariologists and theologians maintain, it provided an additional foundation for her coredemptive activity. For instance, Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli remarks, “…the Coredemption and the spiritual Maternity imply each other...[Mary] is Coredemptrix because she is our Mother”; Mary’s maternity is “a redemptive Maternity, entirely aimed at ‘restoring supernatural life to souls.’” (12) Mary, as mother of the Redeemer, participates in a special, intimate way in the Redemption won by her Son. It is her nature and right as a mother to be active in what her Child does, and in this case, what her Child does is “ransom back” the entire human race. (13) Mary, the Coredemptrix, works beside her Son, as only a mother can, to assist Him, support Him, cooperate with Him, and suffer with Him, not because she is strictly necessary to His work but because she is His mother, and that is what mothers do. (14) Once again, who Mary is as a person, as a mother, is the foundation for what she does as Coredemptrix.
3. H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of St. Maximilian Kolbe (Libertyville, Ill.: Marytown Press, 2001), 5.
4. Ibid., xxvi, 6.
5. Ibid., 162.
6. Mark I. Miravalle, “In Battle Array with the Coredemptirx,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 41; Scott Hahn, “She Gave the Word,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 171.
7. Manteau-Bonamy, 3, 4, 5.
8. Ibid., 4.
9. Miravalle, Introduction, 69; Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” in The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing Company; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1998), 415.
10. Arthur B. Calkins, “The Proposed Marian Dogma: The ‘What’ and the ‘Why,’” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 27.
10. Miravalle, Introduction, 52.
11. Stefano Maria Manelli, “Mary Coredemptrix in Sacred Scripture,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 67.
12. Mark I. Miravalle, “Mary, Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundational Presence in Divine Revelation,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 257.
13 Richard Gribble, “The Coredemptrix, the Cross, and Contemporary Society,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 95; Bertrand de Margerie, “Can the Church Define Dogmatically the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary? Objections and Answers,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 193, 203; Mark I. Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-Redemptrix (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing, 2003, 9.