Monday, May 30, 2011

Mary Coredemptrix - Part 12

Mary Coredemptrix: A Model for All Christians

          The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculata and the Mother of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, freely and actively cooperated with her Son in redeeming the human race. In doing so she became the “Coredemptrix,” the Woman with the Redeemer. This study has examined Mary’s coredemptive activity from several different angles: first, defining Mary Coredemptrix theologically through the lens of the six journalistic questions; second, analyzing Scriptural data to see how the Bible presents this Marian role; third, summarizing Sacred Tradition’s presentation and development of Mary Coredemptrix; and finally, exploring the teaching of the Magisterium on the Woman with the Redeemer. For this study to be complete, however, it must turn its attention to the significance of Mary Coredemptrix in the Catholic Church today. How can this doctrine help modern Catholics grow in their faith, hope, and love? As all good mothers, Mary is a model for her children. Christians are required to participate in the Redemption brought by Jesus Christ. They are invited to say “yes” to Jesus, to allow Him to come into their hearts and grow in them. They are called to intimate unity with their Savior. They are summoned to unite all of their sufferings with those of Jesus in order to make them valuable and redemptive. They are instructed to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of the body, that is, the Church” (see Colossians 1:24). (180) Mary shows her children how to do all these things; she shows the Christian family how to be “coredeemers” with Christ. (181) Of course, Mary is unique as a Coredemptrix because only she, the Immaculata, the Mother of God, is able to actually acquire or merit graces with her Son in the process of objective Redemption, but all Christians must participate in distributing this treasury of graces (an activity properly labeled “subjective Redemption”) through their prayers and sufferings in union with Christ. (182) By following the example of their loving Mother, Mary Coredemptrix, Christians learn to love. They learn to love their Mother. They learn to love each other. They learn to love their Lord and Redeemer, Mary’s Son, their Brother, Jesus Christ.

Praised be Jesus Redeemer and Mary Coredemptrix!!!

180. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 320.
181. Ibid., 319-320.
182. Ibid., 321. Note: For more on Mary Coredemptrix as a model for Christians as “coredeemers,” see Miravalle, introduction, xvi-xvii; de Margerie, “Patristics,” 4, 44; Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 45; Calkins, “Proposed Marian Dogma,” 22; Miravalle, “In Battle Array,” 42, 46; Hahn, 172; Manelli, 68; de Margerie, “Spiritual Motherhood,” 210-212; Gribble, 98.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 11

Mary Coredemptrix in the Teachings of Vatican II

          The documents of Vatican II never call Mary the Coredemptrix of the human race, but they do uphold and explain the doctrine of coredemption. The concept is introduced in the very first document of the Council, Sancrosanctum Concilium. Paragraph #103 in the chapter on the liturgical year discusses the honor given to Mary throughout the Church’s annual cycle of liturgical celebrations. Mary, the document teaches, “is inseparably linked with her Son’s saving work.” (166) She is “the most excellent fruit of redemption,” but she is also intimately and actively involved in that Redemption. (167) The Council further explores Mary’s coredemptive activity in Lumen Gentium, Chapter 8, which is dedicated to Mary. Here the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix is taught explicitly even if the word itself is not used. Paragraph #58 reads in part, “…the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her.” (168) The themes of coredemption are explicit here: God’s ordaining of Mary’s coredemptive activity, Mary’s unity with her Son, her suffering beneath the Cross, her maternal sacrifice, her consent to her Son’s sacrifice, and her offering of the Victim. A few paragraphs later, in #61, Lumen Gentium once again expounds the doctrine of coredemption with the words, “…in a wholly singular way [Mary] cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls.” (169) The Council thus teaches that Mary actively participated with Jesus in saving humanity, despite the Fathers’ choice not to use the specific term “Coredemptrix.” (170)

Mary Coredemptrix in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

          Finally, in discussing the Magisterium’s teaching on Mary Coredemptrix, one much not ignore the remarkable document entitled the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism, which Pope John Paul II called “a valid and legitimate tool in the service of ecclesiastical communion” and a “sure norm for instruction in the faith,” (171) clearly presents Mary’s coredemptive role in several paragraphs spread throughout the document. In the first “pillar” of the Catechism, “The Profession of Faith,” Mary’s coredemptive activity is mentioned in #411, where, in a discussion on the Protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15), Mary is identified as the woman announced in the prophecy and is called the “new Eve.” (172) Also in the first pillar, in the section on “Mary’s predestination” (#488), the Catechism speaks of God’s desire for the “free cooperation of a creature” in the Incarnation of His Son. (173) Mary, of course, was the one to give that free cooperation through her consent to the Word becoming flesh. As noted earlier, this was one of her most important tasks as Coredemptrix, to give the Redeemer His instrument of Redemption, His human body. This point is reiterated in #502, which explains Christ’s redemptive mission and the “welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.” (174) Again, Mary freely said “yes” to the Redeemer’s entry into the world, and in doing so, became a co-cause of the Redemption of humanity. Paragraph #529 explains the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and Mary’s role in it, mentioning specifically the “sword of sorrow” that would pierce her mother’s heart. (175) Her co-suffering with her Son was predicted by Simeon and actually began in earnest as she was reminded that Jesus would be the glorious Messiah but also “a sign that is spoken against.” (176) The Catechism’s #964 quotes Lumen Gentium #57-58 at length to emphasize once more the intimate, inseparable union between Jesus and Mary that was “made manifest above all at the hour of His Passion.” (177) Here the Catechism makes the teaching of Vatican II its own in order to stress Mary’s coredemptive activity. The “In Brief” section that follows succinctly sums up the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix: “By pronouncing her ‘fiat’ at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish.” (178) Mary agreed to freely cooperate with the entire plan of Redemption when she gave the angel her positive response, thereby becoming the Coredemptrix, the one who, with and under her Son, would save humanity. Finally, the Catechism returns to Mary’s coredemptive role in its fourth pillar on prayer. In a section on prayer to Mary, the document notes in #2618, “It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross, that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true ‘Mother of all the living.’” (179) On Calvary, Mary fulfilled the prophecy of the Protoevangelium. With her Son, she gained victory over the serpent, Satan, and crushed his head. Eve, the first mother of the living, disobeyed God and brought death to humanity; Mary, the new mother of the living, obeyed God and cooperated with her Son to restore supernatural life to all people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, then, while following in the steps of Vatican II by not mentioning the title “Coredemptrix,” clearly proclaims this important Marian role.

166. Vatican II Council, “Sancrosanctum Concilium,” in The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing Company; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1998), 29.
167. Ibid.
168. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” 417.
169. Ibid., 418.
170. The original drafts of Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium contained much stronger language describing Mary’s role as Coredemptrix: “[Mary] is called Mediatress of all Graces, because she was associated with Christ in acquiring them…” Many bishops even called for the use of the actual title. However, the Fathers decided to forego the term and revise the language in order to avoid conflicts with Protestant Christians. Cf. Michael O’Carroll, “Mary, Coredemptress, Mediatress, Advocate: Instrument of Catholic-Orthodox Unity,” in Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 120-124.
171. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Christoph Schönborn, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 26.
172. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Vatican: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 104.
173. Ibid., 122.
174. Ibid., 127.
175. Ibid., 134.
176. Ibid.
177. Ibid., 251.
178. Ibid., 254.
179. Ibid., 630.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 10

The Coredemptrix in the Magisterium

          Rev. John A. Schug and Dr. Mark I. Miravalle observe that “the ordinary Magisterium of the Church – in substance and in word – portrays Mary as a direct, immediate, effective cooperator with her Son in His redemptive sufferings – a Marian role that is fittingly called ‘Coredemption,” with Mary fittingly called our ‘Coredemptrix.’” (132) Indeed, a survey of evidence supporting the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix would not be complete without a glimpse into this Magisterial teaching, especially that of the popes, the Vatican II Council, and the Cathechism of the Catholic Church. Each of these sources further consolidates and develops Mary’s coredemptive role, adding even more depth and beauty to this profound doctrine.

The Popes on Mary Coredemptrix

          Papal teaching on the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix has been abundant during the reigns of popes from Pius IX through John Paul II. In fact, these Vicars of Christ, building on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, have “become the main impetuses for the complete development of the doctrine,” expounding it to the point of a possible formal dogmatic definition as soon as the current Holy Father deems it appropriate. (133) Representative excerpts from the writings of each pope will reveal the essence of his teaching on Mary Coredemptrix.
          As early as Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758), Holy Fathers began referring to Mary’s coredemptive activities. Benedict XIV, in Gloriosae Dominae, the first ever Marian Encyclical, notes that Mary is “the Mystical Ark of the Covenant, in whom the Mysteries of our reconciliation have achieved their goal.” Mary, he explains, was with Christ at the foot of the cross, where she was given to humanity as mother, thereby participating in and even completing the reconciliation of God and man. (134)
          Pius IX (1846-1878), in Ineffabilis Deus, speaks of Mary as a Reparatrix and the New Eve: “…the most holy Virgin, united with [Jesus] by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with Him and through Him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.” (135) Mary shared intimately in both the enmity between her Son and the devil and in her Son’s great victory over the evil one.
          The Rosary Pope, Leo XIII (1878-1903), teaches in Jucunda Semper that Mary suffered with Jesus at Calvary “in the very depths of her soul,” and “Insofar as her Son was concerned, she offered Him to the justice of God. In her heart she died with Him…” (136) Furthermore, Mary, according to Leo in I, was Jesus’ aid or “cooperatrix” “in effecting the sacrament of Redemption of mankind” and “the restorer (reparatrix) of the whole world” who was “intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation.” (137) In a 1901 Encyclical on the Rosary, Leo teaches that through this prayer, “we recall Mary’s exceptional merits by which she became a participant with her Son Jesus in the Redemption of mankind…She was not only present in the mysteries of our Redemption, but she played a part in them…the Virgin Mother…is the means and the agent of our salvation…” (138) Leo does not yet use the term “Coredemptrix,” but his meaning is clear. Mary suffered with her Son, offered Him to God, and, through her merits, helped Him save humanity.
          Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) went a step further than Leo by sanctioning the use of the title “Coredemptrix” by three Congregations of the Roman Curia: first, in a decree by the Congregation of Rites on the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, and then, in two documents from the Holy Office on indulgences. (139) For the first time, the Magisterium endorsed the term as well as the concept of Mary Coredemptrix. Pius clearly teaches the doctrine in his personal writings as well. In Ad Diem Illum, he states, “So perfect was the identity of [Mary’s] suffering with her Son that, if at all possible, she would sustain even more intensely all the torments her Son endured. Through this communion of pain and will between Christ and Mary, ‘she merited to become the most worthy restorer of a lost world…’” (140) He goes on to further explain Mary’s meritorious cooperation: “…because she surpasses all in holiness and in union with Christ, and because she was chosen by Christ to be His partner in the work of human salvation, she merits for us de congruo, as they say, that which Christ merits for us de condigno…” (141) Because of the inseparable, intimate union between Jesus and Mary and because of God the Father’s “generosity of grace,” Mary merited “in the order of fittingness” or de congruo what her Son merited by right or de condigno. Pius X was the first pope to recognize and teach this distinction, contributing thereby to a greater development and deeper understanding of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix.
          Pius’ successor Benedict XV (1914-1922) chose to focus his attention on Mary’s personal sacrifice in the coredemptive act. In Inter Sodalicia, he notes, “To the same extent to which she almost died with her suffering and dying Son, she abdicated her maternal rights over her Son to save mankind and appease the justice of God. With every fiber of her being she immolated her Son, so that she may rightly be said to have redeemed the human race together with Christ.” (142) Mary offered Jesus as a Mother. She gave up all the rights she would normally have to protect her Child, to comfort Him, and to prevent His death. She obediently said “yes” to the Father when He asked her to sacrifice Jesus to Him for the salvation of humanity. (143) Benedict recognizes that Mary’s role as Coredemptrix was performed at greatest personal cost to this most loving Mother.
          The next Vicar of Christ, Pius XI (1922-1939), teaches in Miserentissimus Redemptor that Mary “offered the Victim of sacrifice at the foot of the cross” as “Reparatrix” because of her “inscrutable and absolutely unique bond with Christ.” (144) This pope personally used the term “Corepemtrix” three times. In a 1933 papal audience, he says, “In the very nature of things, the Redeemer could not help but associate His Mother in His work; and therefore we invoke her under the title Coredemptrix.” He goes on to explain that Mary gave humanity its Savior, raised Him, and suffered with Him on Calvary. (145) The next year, in another papal audience, Pius XI tells pilgrims that they must “follow the thoughts and wishes of Mary most holy, who is our Mother and Coredemptrix.” (146) Finally, in a 1935 radio message to Lourdes, the pope prays to Mary, saying, “O Mother of love and mercy, when your sweet Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, you stood next to Him, suffering with Him as a Coredemtprix…” (147) Pius XI had finally joined the term “Coredemptrix” to the doctrine that had been so long expressed in papal teaching.
          Pius XII (1939-1958), while not using the actual word, continued to maintain and develop the doctrine of coredemption. In Mystici Corporis Christi, his great Encyclical on the Church, he describes Mary as the New Eve who offered her Son “on Golgatha to the Eternal Father, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and love, on behalf of all the children of Adam.” (148) Other texts like Munificentissimus Deus, Ad Caeli Reginam, and a 1946 radio message to Fatima also emphasize Mary’s role as the New Eve who, along with Christ, the New Adam, brought supernatural life back to the human family. (149) The 1956 Encyclical Letter Haurietis Aquas sums up Pius XII’s position on coredemption: “By the will of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably joined with Christ in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption, so that our salvation flows from the love of Jesus Christ and His sufferings intimately united with the love and sorrows of His Mother.” (150)
          John XXIII (1958-1963) wrote prolifically on Mary, to a total of 476 pages. On Mary Coredemptrix, he teaches that Mary is “intimately associated in the Redemption in the eternal plans of the Most High.” (151) Like his predecessor, John XXIII emphasizes that Mary is Coredemptrix because God willed her to be so.
          John’s successor, Paul VI (1963-1978), continued teaching the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix in his 1967 Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum, where he writes, “Mary, the Mother of God, has been united with Christ in a tight and indissoluble bond. To her has been granted a most exceptional responsibility in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body, that is, in God’s plan of salvation.” (152) Bound as she is to both Jesus and, as Paul adds in Marialis Cultus, to the Holy Spirit, Mary is intimately associated in the process of human Redemption through her consent to the Incarnation of the Word of God and through her presence at the foot of the Cross, were she was “associated as a mother in the sacrifice of the Son for the redemption of the human race.” (153)
          The next pope, John Paul I (1978), reigned for only about a month. Unfortunately, he did not have time to contribute to the ongoing development and deepening of the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix as he might have done had he lived longer.
          John Paul II (1978-2005) has been titled “The Pope of Mary Coredemptrix,” and indeed he has spoken at “greater length and more often” than any other pope on the “theme of collaboration in the work of Redemption” and particularly on Mary’s active cooperation as Jesus’ associate, the New Eve, the one who offered both her Son and herself to the Father, and the one who sacrificed her maternal heart on the altar of the Cross. (154) Mary’s coredemptive activity, as Msgr. Arthur Burton Calkins remarks, was a “significant component of [John Paul II’s] ordinary magisterium,” and this pope unfolded and refined the doctrine more than any previous Vicar of Christ. (155) A few brief excerpts from John Paul’s many reflections on Mary Coredemptrix will illustrate this point. (156) This Holy Father uses the term “Coredemptrix,” or a variation of it, at least five different times in published statements, revealing how deeply committed he was to the expansion and greater understanding of the doctrine. (157) For example, during a general address in Ecuador he notes that when Mary said yes at Nazareth and on Calvary, “accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her Son,” she became “the dawn of Redemption” and was “[c]rucified spiritually with her crucified Son”; she continues her “role as Coredemptrix” even beyond Calvary due to her “privileged experience” of her Son’s Passion and Resurrection. (158) Note that John Paul II is the first pope to point out that Mary’s coredemptive activity extends beyond her Son’s glorification and into her own eternal life in Heaven as she assumes the roles of Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of God. (159) This illustrious pope elaborates further on Mary’s role as Coredemptrix in documents like Salvifici Doloris and Redemptoris Mater. In the former, he writes, “It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view…which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world.” (160) He goes on to remark that Mary’s “ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son.” (161) Mary was not just passively standing at the foot of the Cross; she was actively participating in some beautiful, painful, mysterious way in her Son’s sufferings and thereby helping gain salvation for the world. Redemptoris Mater delves even more deeply into this mystery. In #38 of this document, John Paul II explains that Mary, as the Mother of the Son of God is His “‘generous companion’ in the work of redemption.” (162) He continues in the next paragraph, “…she advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and in this pilgrimage to the foot of the Cross there was simultaneously accomplished her maternal cooperation with the Savior’s whole mission through her actions and sufferings.” At the foot of the Cross, John Paul notes in #18, Mary completely “‘abandons herself to God’ without reserve, offering full assent of the intellect and the will to Him whose ‘ways are inscrutable’…Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in His self-emptying.” (163) She “shares in the death of her Son,” offering Him and abandoning herself to the Father for the salvation of humanity. (164) One could cite numerous other teachings from John Paul II on Mary’s role as Coremptrix, but these few show clearly his deep grasp of the doctrine and his rich theological reflection.
          Will the current Holy Father, Benedict XVI, be the pope to provide a formal dogmatic definition of Mary Coredemptrix? Only time will tell. Certainly Benedict XVI is a brilliant scholar who upholds and even enriches the teachings of his predecessors. Evidence suggests that he does support the doctrine of Marian coredemption. For instance, in an address on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2008, he calls Mary the New Eve who “followed the New Adam in His suffering.” (165) Supporters of the dogma of Mary Coredmptrix can rest assured that Benedict XVI will allow himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, as well as by the work of his predecessors as Vicar of Christ, and define the dogma as soon as he feels the time is right.

132. Schug and Miravalle, 246.
133. Miravalle, “With Jesus,” 149.
134. Schug and Miravalle, 218.
135. Ibid., 219.
136. Ibid., 220.
137. Ibid., 221; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 261; Calkins, “Liturgy,” 72.
138. Schug and Miravalle, 222.
139. Ibid., 223-224; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 155-156.
140. Schug and Miravalle, 222-223.
141. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 261.
142. Schug and Miravalle, 225.
143. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 263.
144. Schug and Miravalle, 225.
145. Ibid., 226
146. Ibid., 227.
147. Ibid.
148. Ibid., 228.
149. Ibid., 229-230.
150. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 67.
151. Schug and Miravalle, 231.
152. Ibid., 234.
153. Ibid., 235.
154. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 189; Arthur Burton Calkins, “Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 113, 126-144.
155. Calkins, “John Paul II,” 144-145.
156. To copy out every one of John Paul’s references to Mary’s coredemptive role would be beyond the scope of this study. For more information on John Paul II and Mary Coredemptrix, see Calkins, “John Paul II,” 113-147; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 189-211; Schug and Miravalle, 235-242; and Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 266-268.
157. Calkins, “John Paul II,” 121.
158. Ibid., 123. Note: See this reference for the wording of John Paul II’s other four uses of the term “Coredemptrix.”
159. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 269.
160. Schug and Miravalle, 237.
161. Ibid.
162. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater
163. Ibid.
164. Ibid.
165. Benedict XVI, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 15, 2008 (Vatican), (accessed October 14, 2008).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 9

The Coredemptrix in Sacred Tradition

          It would be impractical and impossible in the course of this small study to discuss every Church Father, saint, doctor, theologian, or liturgical text that has contributed to the Church’s understanding of the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix. However, since Sacred Tradition further develops the conceptual seeds “planted” in Sacred Scripture, a few examples are necessary to show how the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix has “blossomed” over the centuries.

The Fathers of the Church

          The early Church Fathers never used the term “Coredemptrix” to describe Mary, but they did lay the theological foundations for the doctrinal development that would lead to the common use of the term many centuries later. (95) When saintly Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyon, Melito of Sardis, Cyril of Alexandria, Ephraem, Epiphanius, Ambrose, Augustine, Peter Chrysologus, and Jerome spoke of Mary’s role in the salvation of humanity, they thought primarily in terms of the Incarnation, which they viewed as “the Redemption begun and anticipated,” and focused on the theme of Mary as the New Eve. (96) To the Fathers, Mary was indeed the New Eve, who with the New Adam, shared in the enmity with the serpent and crush his head. She was the New Eve who, unlike the first Eve, obeyed God’s will and remained free from all sin. She was the new mother of the all the living who actively participated in bringing new life, redeemed life, to the human race by saying “yes” to Incarnation of the Word of God. (97) What the first Adam and the first Eve lost, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, and the second Eve, Mary, His mother, restored. (98) For instance, St. Irenaeus of Lyon writes that Mary, through her perfect obedience became the “reparatrix” of the disobedience of Eve and Eve’s “advocate.” (99) “The knot of Eve’s disobedience received unloosing through the obedience of Mary,” he continues. “For what the virgin Eve bound by unbelief, that the virgin Mary unfastened by faith.” (100) By her cooperation in obedience and faith, Mary, the New Eve, always dependent upon Christ, the New Adam, “was the cause of the salvation of the whole human race.” (101) Just as Eve was an “instrumental cause” in humanity’s loss of grace, Mary was an “instrumental cause” in humanity’s regaining of grace. (102) Other Church Fathers firmly agree with Irenaeus’ interpretation. St. Ephraem notes that Mary is the “New Eve” and “the instrument of our salvation.” (103) St. Epiphanius maintains, “Since Eve brought the cause of death to the human race, through which death entered the world, Mary furnished the cause of life, through Whom life was produced for us.” (104) St. Augustine teaches, “A woman handed the poison to the man who was to be deceived. A woman hands salvation to the man to be restored. A woman, by bringing forth Christ, compensates for the sin of the man deceived by a woman.” (105) Scores of other examples might be given, (106) but these few capture well the concept of Mary as the New Eve who brings humanity its salvation by her fiat to the Incarnation of the Redeemer. St. Jerome succinctly sums up the Fathers’ thought with the phrase, “Death through Eve; life through Mary.” (107)

The Doctrine Develops

          As the years passed, the Church meditated more and more on the doctrine of coredemption, which grew and blossomed, assuming a greater complexity, richness, and depth. Again, one might mention numerous saints, Fathers, Doctors, mystics, and theologians to illustrate this development, but for the sake of brevity, only a few will be cited. As the Church moved from the Patristic era into the Middle Ages, contemplation on the coredemptive role of Mary began to expand from a nearly-complete focus on the Incarnation to a combined concentration on Mary’s participation at the Incarnation and at Calvary. (108) Theologian and Byzantine monk John the Geometer was one of the first to make this connection. He writes:

"The Virgin, after giving birth to her Son, never separated from Him in His activity, His dispositions, His will…When He went away, she went with Him, when He worked miracles, it was as if she worked them with Him, sharing in His glory and rejoicing with Him. When He was betrayed, arrested, judged, when He suffered, not only was she everywhere present beside Him and even realized especially then His presence, but she even suffered with Him…Terribly sundered, she would have wished a thousand times to suffer the evils she saw her Son suffering." (109)

From the Annunciation, through her entire life, and all the way to Calvary, Mary, perfectly united with her Son, participated intimately in His mission of Redemption, John maintains. Other ecclesial writers agree. St. Peter Damian, still focusing primarily on the Incarnation and the New Eve theme, teaches, “Through a woman, the earth was filled with a curse; through a woman, blessing was restored to the earth. The hand of a woman offered the cup of bitter death; the hand of a woman offered the chalice of sweet life.” (110) Rupert of Deutz progresses further in his thought, writing that on Calvary “the Blessed Virgin truly suffered the pangs of a woman in childbirth, and because in her Son’s Passion she gave birth to the salvation of us all, she is clearly the Mother of us all.” (111) St. Bernard of Clairvaux speaks of Mary’s “compassion” or “co-suffering” with Jesus on Calvary, explaining that, with great agony, she offered her Son for the Redemption of humanity. (112) Bernard’s disciple, Arnold of Chartres actually notes that Mary was “co-crucified” in her heart as she suffered with Jesus on Calvary and that Jesus and Mary together, “accomplished the task of man’s redemption…both offered up one and the same sacrifice to God: she in the blood of her heart, He in the blood of the flesh.” (113) St. Bonaventure remarks that Jesus and Mary were both “Repairers” of humanity and that Mary, with her Son, “paid the price” on Calvary to buy back the human race. (114)
          In the Scholastic period, saints like Albert the Great and Thomas of Aquinas further developed the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix through the use of technical terminology like “merit.” (115) Albert, for example, teaches, “To [Mary] alone was given this privilege, namely, a communication in the Passion; to her the Son willed to communicate the merit of the Passion, in order that He could give her the reward; and in order to make her a sharer in the benefit of Redemption, He willed that she be a sharer in the penalty of the Passion, in so far as she might become the Mother of all through re-creation even as she was the adjutrix of the Redemption by her co-passion.” (116) The great St. Thomas himself speaks of Mary’s coredemptive role. First, Thomas clearly explains the underlying principle of coredemption, namely, that Mary, and indeed all Christians, can and must share in Christ’s unique mediation with the Father. He writes, “Christ alone is the perfect Mediator between God and man…but there is nothing to prevent others in a certain way from being called mediators between God and man insofar as they, by preparing or serving, cooperate in uniting men to God.” (117) As noted above, Mary is Coredemptrix as part of her role as Maternal Mediatrix, and she can, as Thomas says, be a mediatrix because she helps unite human beings with God. Christ’s perfect mediation does not exclude other secondary mediators but rather invites them and offers them room for their own subordinate mediatory actions, in this case, Mary’s assistance in meriting the graces of human Redemption. (118) Thomas also speaks of how Mary, in offering her free consent to the redemptive Incarnation, gave all human beings the opportunity to freely accept redemptive grace. (119) Mary’s fiat, Rev. Bertrand de Margerie explains, summarizing Thomas, “merited for us the grace that we may personally consent to our salvation.” (120) Mary opened the way for Redemption. Without her, Jesus would not have lived, died, unlocked the way to Heaven, and offered all people the chance to become God’s children.
          The doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix continued it developmental journey in the centuries following St. Thomas. Mystic St. Bridget of Sweden, for instance, received a confirmation of Mary’s coredemptive activity from Mary and Jesus Themselves, the former proclaiming, “My Son and I redeemed the world as with one heart,” and the Latter announcing, “My Mother and I saved man as with one Heart only, I by suffering in My Heart and My Flesh, she by the sorrow and love of her Heart.” (121) A fourteenth or fifteenth century liturgical hymn found in Salzurg actually uses the term “Coredemptrix,” perhaps for the first time, as it addresses Mary:

"Good, sweet and kind,
 Absolutely worthy of no grief;
 If you would root out mourning from here
 As one suffering with the Redeemer,
 For the captured transgressor
 You would become co-redemptrix." (122)

Alain de Varènes, a French theologian, also uses the term in his theological treatise on Mary’s cooperation in God’s plan of Redemption, explaining that she, as Coredemptrix, “crushed the head of the serpent.” (123) Other ecclesial writers joined de Varènes in meditating upon the doctrine, building on the ideas of those who came before them and further clarifying the Church’s understanding of Mary’s coredemptive role. (124) The seventeenth century brought what some authors call “The Golden Age of Mary Coredemptrix,” during which references to Mary’s coredemptrive activity flourished and theological reflection grew deeper and richer. (125) During this time, writers like St. Lawrence of Brindisi, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Jesuit de Salazar, Augustinian priest Fr. Raphael, Franciscans Angelo Vulpes and Roderick de Portillo, the contemplative Novati, professor Maximillian Reichenberger, and St. John Eudes explored such concepts of Mary’s spiritual priesthood, her share in meriting human Redemption, her co-suffering with her Son, and her proximate and immediate cooperation in salvation. (126)
          Subsequent centuries saw further confirmation and development of the doctrine from the likes of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, and St. Maximilian Kolbe. St. Louis discusses Mary as Coredemptrix, without using the actual term, several times in True Devotion to Mary. For instance, he explains that Jesus

"gloried His independence and His majesty in depending on the sweet Virgin in His conception, in His birth, in His presentation in the temple, in His hidden life of thirty years, and even in His death, where she was to be present in order that He might make with her but one same sacrifice and be immolated to the Eternal Father by her consent…It is she who nourished Him, supported Him, brought Him up and then sacrificed Him for us." (127)

St. Alphonsus agrees, adding that Mary, whom he does identify by the title “Coredemptrix,” cooperated in the salvation of humanity when she so “united her will to that of her Son” that on Calvary the two “offered one and the same Sacrifice.” (128) John Henry Cardinal Newman, too, recognizes Mary as the Coredemptrix, noting that she “fulfilled a real meritorious cooperation, a participation with the reversing of the fall as its price.” (129) Finally, St. Maximilian Kolbe adds that Mary, the Coredemptrix, was chosen by the Holy Spirit as His special instrument to accomplish the Incarnation of the Word and that she, therefore, shares in crushing the head of the serpent and bringing about humanity’s redemption. (130)

Scores of other saints and teachers (as well as authors of liturgical texts) (131) have contributed their reflections and insights to the ongoing discussion and development of the doctrine of Mary Coredemptrix, and those mentioned here are a mere sample of the many ways in which the Church’s ever-deepening, ever-blossoming Tradition has added richness and vibrancy to the “seeds” of coredemption planted in the Sacred Scriptures.

95. Schug and Miravalle, 217.
96. Most, 151; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 63-65; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 253.
97. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 64-65; de Margerie, “Spiritual Motherhod,” 204; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 253.
98. Gribble, 77.
99. de Margerie, “Patristics,” 9.
100. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 67.
101. Ibid.; de Margerie, “Patristics,” 11
102. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 67.
103. Ibid., 70.
104. Ibid.
105. Ibid., 71.
106. These might include St. Justin Martyr, who states that Jesus became Man “by means of the Virgin…in order that the disobedience which began from the serpent might have its undoing in the same way in which it arose”; St. Ignatius of Antioch, who focuses on Mary’s free and unique cooperation in the act of Redemption; St. Melito of Sardis, who calls Mary the “ewe lamb” who “brought forth the unique Lamb of God”; St. Cyril of Alexandria, who prays, “Hail, Mary, Mother of God, by whom all faithful souls are saved”; St. Ambrose, who says that Mary “saved the world” by consenting to the conception of the Savior; St. Peter Chrysologus, who notes, “The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries”; Gregory of Nyssa, who remarks, “Eve brought in sin by means of a tree; Mary, on the contrary, brought in Good by means of the tree of the Cross.” Cf. de Margerie, “Patristics,” 5-21; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 63-73.
107. Ibid., 73. Note: This summery of the Fathers’ ideas on Mary’s coredemptive role is necessary brief and incomplete as fitting for a study such as this one. The Fathers also spoke often of the concepts of Recapitulation and Recirculation, pointing out the fittingness that Mary, a woman, participate in Redemption, just as the woman Eve, participated in the loss of humanity’s original state of grace. Cf. Fehlner, 310-311.
108. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 77.
109. Ibid., 81.
110. Luigi Gambero, Mary in the Middle Ages: The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin Theologians, trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 98.
111. Ibid., 127.
112. Mirvalle, “With Jesus”, 86.
113. Ibid., 87.
114. Ibid., 95.
115. Ibid.
116. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 259.
117. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 28.
118. Ibid., 26.
119. de Margerie, “Redemption and Coredemption,” 109.
120. Ibid.
121. Mirvalle, “With Jesus”, 97.
122. Ibid., 102.
123. Ibid., 104.
124. St. Antoninus notes that “It was Mary alone to whom was given the privilege of communication in the Passion…she was adjutrix of the Redemption by her co-passion” and the “Redemptrix of lost man”; Ambrose Catarino, an Italian Archbishop, teaches that Christ and Mary both “merited salvation for us by their sufferings – first indeed and principally Christ as Man and then the Virgin herself as woman”; Jesuit Alphonsus Salmerón calls Mary the “co-redemptrix, mediatrix, cooperatrix of the salvation of mankind,” who “co-suffered” with Christ; and St. Peter Canisius explains, “Standing under the cross of her Son, she remained intrepid in her faith, and offered Christ, a true and living Victim, for the expiation of the sins of he world.” Cf. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 103-109.
125. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 113.
126. Ibid., 114-124.
127. de Montfort, 12-13.
128. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 134.
129. de Margerie, “Patristics,” 17.
130. Manteau-Bonamy, 166-167.
131. Cf. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 45-118. Note: This source offers numerous quotations from the current Roman liturgy, particularly from the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to illustrate Mary’s roles as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. For instance, an opening prayer from the Mass of Our Lady of Sorrows reads, “Father, as Your Son was raised on the cross, His mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings,” and an opening prayer from the Mass of Mary at the Foot of the Cross announces, “Lord, our God, You placed at the side of Your suffering Son His mother to suffer with Him, so that the human race, deceived by the wiles of the devil, might become a new and resplendent creation.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 8

John 2:1-11 – The Coredemptrix at the Wedding in Cana

          For the next eighteen years, Jesus lived as a carpenter’s Son, learning and practicing his foster-father’s trade and enjoying His family. Eventually, though, this had to change. Jesus still had a mission He needed to fulfill. St. John relates that “there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.” (79) Those present may not have known it, but the stage was set for the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. When the hosts ran out of wine, Mary approached Jesus. “They have no wine,” she told Him simply. (80) “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come,” He replied. (81) Other translations read, “Woman, what is this to you and to Me? My hour has not yet come.” (82) This might seem at first glance to be a refusal of Mary’s implicit request. However, Jesus may actually have been saying something to the effect of “Are you ready now, Mother, for this mission to begin in earnest? Are you ready for My hour to come? Are you ready to give Me up? Are you ready to surrender yourself? Are you ready to suffer more than you ever have? If you say “yes,” we will start the journey toward this climax of our mission. Are you ready?” (83) Mary, with perfect understanding of her Son’s meaning, once again gave her consent with her humble words to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” (84) The “Woman” (notice Jesus’ use of the word, connecting Mary with the “Woman” Coredemptrix of Genesis 3:15) was indeed ready to climb toward the summit of human Redemption. (85) She was ready to walk the road toward the Cross.

John 19:25 – The Climax of Coredemption

          St. John recounts that the Mother of Jesus stood at the foot of the Cross. She looked up at her divine Son, contemplating His battered Body, meditating on His pierced hands and feet and on the crown of thorns that pierced His head, and suffering more than words could say. Her role as Coredemptrix reached its climax as she stood there, as always, saying “yes” to God’s plan, sharing intimately in her Son’s suffering and offering her own compassion, her own co-suffering, to the Father for the Redemption of the human race. (86) As a mother, she certainly would have loved to scream at her Son’s torturers, to cry out that He was innocent, to stop His suffering, but she did not. She gave up her longings, her rights, as a mother because she knew why her Son was choosing to suffer so violently, and she knew why she was also choosing to suffer. (87) She knew it was for love. She knew it was for the reconciliation of God and humanity. So she chose, as Lumen Gentium #58 teaches, to persevere with Jesus even to the Cross, “enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, [as she] associated herself with His sacrifice in her mother’ heart, and lovingly consent[ed] to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her.” (88) As Coredemptrix, she gave another painful fiat, uniting her will with God’s will, offering Jesus to His Father for the salvation of humanity, and joining her sufferings with His to help merit a long-awaited Redemption. (89)

Revelation 12:1-6 – The Coredemptrix in Eternity

          Since a prophecy of Mary Coredemptrix appeared in the first pages of Sacred Scripture (Genesis 3:15), it is fitting that a vision of Mary Coredemptrix should appear final pages of Sacred Scripture. In Revelation 12, St. John describes an amazing vision:

"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a Son, a male Child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod." (90)

The Fathers of the Church, and many theologians following them, have identified this Woman of Revelation as Mary, the mother of the Redeemer who stood beside the Cross, suffering greatly as she helped to gain eternal salvation for the human race and give birth to the Church of her Son. (91) Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli notes, “…according to a biblical-theological exegesis of [Rev.] 12:1, we find described in plain language the direct and immediate coredemptive suffering of Mary who gives birth to each of us as her ‘son.’” (92) Because of her immaculate nature, Mary did not suffer when she physically gave birth to Jesus, but she most definitely did suffer horribly in the rebirth of the human race as she stood at the foot of the Cross, sharing in the sufferings of her Son and receiving from Him the role of “spiritual mother” to all of humanity as represented by the Beloved Disciple, St. John. (93) Furthermore, Mary, the Woman of Genesis, the Woman of Revelation, and the “co-redeeming Mother,” eternally shares in the mystical battle against the dragon (or serpent or Satan), who is waging “war against the rest of her offspring,” still suffering spiritually in order to save the souls of her spiritual children, providing them the graces they need for their salvation, and knowing that the ultimate victory belongs to her Son and herself as Redeemer and Coredemptrix. (94)

79. John 2:1-2, NAB.
80. John 2:3, NAB.
81. John 2:4, NAB.
82. Miravalle, Introduction, 35.
83. Cf. Ibid.
84. John 2:5, NAB.
85. Manelli, 96.
86. Most, 160-162; Manelli, 93-94; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 45-50.
87. Manelli, 96-97.
88. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” 417.
89. See the sections on Tradition and the Magisterium for more commentary on Mary at the foot of the Cross.
90. Rev. 12:1-5, NAB.
91. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 51-54; Miravalle, “Battle Array,” 41.
92. Manelli, 101; emphasis original.
93. Ibid.; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 53.
94. Ibid., 102; Ibid.; Rev. 12:17, NAB

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 7

Luke 1:26-38 – Mary Says “Yes” to Her Role as Coredemptrix at the Annunication

          God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce the impending birth of the Savior, the Messiah, the One Who would rule on David’s throne, “over the house of Jacob forever,” in an everlasting kingdom. (55) Mary asked Gabriel how she could possible give birth to a child since she was a virgin. The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (56) After listening to Gabriel’s reply, Mary humbly and simply said “yes” to God’s invitation to become the Mother of His Son, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, became incarnate in her womb. With her simple “yes,” Mary gave the Redeemer the tool He would use to redeem humanity, namely, His human body (see Hebrews 10:10). (57) The process of Redemption had begun and so had Mary’s role as Coredemptrix. (58) Did Mary know this? Did she know what she had just agreed to? Did she know the implications her “yes” would have for humanity, for herself? Many theologians answer affirmatively. For instance, Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli explains that Mary gave her consent to the “objective Redemption” with a “fully conscious faith.” (59) She knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. She knew that He would be the “Suffering Servant” predicted by Isaiah. She knew that her Son was to be this Messiah, this Suffering Servant, and still she said, “yes.” She fully understood what her answer would entail, what her agreement would bring; she was perfectly aware of the mission her Son would undertake and fulfill, and still she said, “yes.” (60) What is more, she did so with a “joyful desire,” shown by the optative mood of the words she used and St. Luke preserved. (61) At the Annunciation, then, with her humble fiat, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” Mary, with full knowledge, gave the Word of God His human body and, in doing so, consented to and began her role as Coredemptrix of the human race. (62)

Luke 2:22:38 – The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

          In obedience to the Law of the Old Testament, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple forty days after His birth. Mary herself was ritually “purified” at the same time. Before their arrival at the Temple, the holy couple probably had no idea of the significance these common religious acts were to have in their lives and the life of their Son. Simeon, an old man guided by the Holy Spirit, met them in the Temple’s outer courts, took the Baby in his arms, and allowed the Spirit to speak through him a prophecy that would bring Mary both joy and suffering. Hearing little Jesus called the salvation of God, “prepared in the sight of all the peoples”; a “light for revelation to the Gentiles”; and the glory of Israel must have thrilled Mary, causing her heart to nearly burst with joy. (63) A few moments later, though, that joy was replaced with pain as Simeon continued his prophecy, announcing, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will piece) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (64) How Mary’s heart must have already felt the sword when she heard those words! She knew the mission her Son was to fulfill, but to hear it said right out loud must have caused her great suffering, especially since the message included a reminder that more intense suffering was to follow. (65) Pope John Paul II comments on this scene in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater #16. He notes that Simeon both confirmed “the truth of the Annunciation” and offered a “second Annunciation to Mary,” telling her “the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish His mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. (66) Mary’s motherhood, he continues, “will be mysterious and sorrowful,” and she “will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior.” (67) Mary experienced significant coredemptive suffering as she presented her Son at the Temple and heard the prophecy of Simeon. As she endured the pain caused by the old man’s words, Mary knew that she was already beginning the process of offering her Son to the Father, if only symbolically, at that moment. Rev. William Most calls the Presentation, “the offertory of great sacrifice. (68) He explains, “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.” (69) Some scholars have accurately called this Presentation a “real and mysterious foreshadowing of Calvary,” in which Mary, as a suffering Coredemptrix, offered her Son to God, understanding that her distress was only a small beginning of the grief and pain she would later face at the foot of the Cross. (70)

Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus is “Lost”

Mary’s coredemptive suffering, which was so clear at the Presentation, continued throughout her entire life (see above). Certainly the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and their exile there caused her anguish (Matthew 2:13ff.), and there must have been daily sufferings and sacrifices throughout Jesus’ childhood that cut His mother to her heart. Mary’s suffering as Coredemptrix is presented plainly in Luke 2:41-52 when the twelve-year-old Jesus is “lost” during a visit to Jerusalem on the feast of Passover. Separated from her Son for three days, Mary must have been terrified and filled with grief, as any mother would be in such a situation. Rev. William Most calls the three days of separation a time of darkness and great sorrow for Mary and Joseph. (71) Other theologians note that the incident was actually a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and the three days of intense grief Mary would experience before the Resurrection. (72) When Jesus was finally discovered in the Temple, after all that time of frantic searching, His apparently nonchalant attitude must have caused Mary even more suffering. “Son, why have you done this to us?” Mary asked. “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Jesus’ response was enigmatic at best: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (73) How was Mary to grasp these words? Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson suggests that perhaps Jesus was prepared to begin His redemptive work immediately, the instant He became a legal adult (which in Jewish law was at age twelve) and Mary and Joseph were no longer responsible for His actions. (74) Johnson sees Jesus’ question and answer session with the Temple priests and scholars as a challenge to them, one that could get Him in serious trouble. (75) Other self-styled prophets and messiahs had been overthrown and killed not long before, and the Temple priests must “have been troubled to hear such things from yet another man claiming to be the Messiah,” especially One Who was so young. (76) Was Jesus ready to suffer and die for humanity at that very instance? Did Mary know this? Johnson argues that she did and that she decided to delay her Son’s mission for a little while. (77) Johnson continues:

"At her word, Jesus returned with them to Nazareth and obeyed them. Mary’s reason for imposing the delay isn’t clear from the Gospel account. It may have been that she was unwilling to be parted from Jesus at that early age; it may have been that she could not have borne seeing Him crucified at the age of twelve. Certainly, she knew why He had come and what He had to do…[but] the Gospels are abundantly clear on the central points: that Mary did delay Christ’s confrontation with the authorities, and more significant than even this, that He obeyed her." (78)

If Johnson is correct in his interpretation, it seems that Jesus allowed Mary, the Coredemptrix, to make a very important decision. He allowed her to delay His Passion and death. He allowed her to hold on to her Child for a little while longer. In an act of almost unfathomable obedience of God to a human creature, Jesus showed His Mother how important she was in His redemptive plan, how important she was as Coredemptrix, when He a permitted her to take control over His mission and His life.

55. Luke 1:26, 32, 33, NAB.
56. Luke 1:35, NAB. 
57. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 34; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 251.
58. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 35, 37.
59. Manelli, 85.
60. de Margerie, “Spiritual Motherhood,” 204; Fehlner, 301; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 256.
61. Ignance de la Potterie, “The Mediation of the Mother of Jesus at the Incarnation: An Exegetical Study,” in Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 186.
62. Luke 1:38, NAB.
63. Luke 2:30, 32, NAB.
64. Luke 3:34, 35, NAB.
65. Most, 157-158.
66. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (Vatican), (accessed July 9, 2008).
67. Ibid.
68. Most, 157.
69. Ibid.
70. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 40.
71. Most, 158.
72. Manelli, 90; Gribble, 86.
73. Luke 2:48-49, NAB.
74. Kevin Orlin Johnson, Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads (Dallas: Pangaeus Press, 2002), 259.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid., 260
77. Ibid.
78. Ibid., 260-261.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 6

Mary Coredemptrix in Sacred Scripture

          Evidence for Mary’s role as Coredemptrix abounds in Sacred Scripture from Genesis all the way through Revelation. Particular attention must be paid to the prophecies of Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14; the Annunciation, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and Finding of Jesus in the Temple in the Gospel of St. Luke; the Wedding at Cana and Calvary in St. John’s Gospel; and the vision of the Woman in Revelation 12.

Genesis 3:15 – A Prophecy of Mary Coredemptrix

          The parents of the human race had just committed the first sin. They had turned their backs on God, seeking knowledge that was not theirs to have. Tricked by the serpent, Adam and Eve ate from the tree and suddenly knew that they were naked and that they had done wrong. They hid from God, but of course, He knew exactly what they had done, and He sought them out both to punish them, for they certainly deserved it, and to offer them words of hope, a prophecy of a Savior. Speaking to the serpent, God announced, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heal.” (48) Since the earliest days of the Church, theologians have identified this passage as the Protoevangelium, maintaining that it prophesies the coming of a Redeemer, One Who would be at enmity with the serpent, Satan, and would, as other translations read, crush his head. The prophecy does not, however, announce only a Redeemer; it also predicts a Woman who would have complete enmity, total opposition, and absolutely no association with Satan and would even share in the victory of her Offspring, her Redeemer Son. Some translations clarify this shared victory by replacing the “He” in “He will strike at your head” or “He will crush your head” with “She or “They.” No matter which pronoun is used, however, the Woman, the mother of the Redeemer, is to share in her Son’s enmity with and victory over Satan. She, too, will crush the enemy’s head, bringing salvation to the human race. This Woman of the Protoevangelium is, according to many Scripture scholars and theologians, a prophetic type of Mary, mother of Redeemer and Coredemptrix. (49) Such an interpretation is magisterially confirmed by Pope Pius IX in his Encyclical Ineffibilis Deus. He writes, “…the most holy Virgin, intimately and indissolubly united to Christ, became with Him the everlasting enemy of the venomous serpent, and thus shared with Her Son His victory over the serpent, crushing as she did the serpent’s head with her virginal foot.” (50) Further, the Fathers of the Church claimed for Mary the title of the New Eve, who cooperated with the New Adam, Jesus Christ, in reversing the fall of humanity. (51) This point will be explored in greater detail later in this study. For now, suffice it to say that Mary is indeed the Woman of Genesis 3:15, Woman with the Redeemer, the one who would share in crushing the enemy’s head.

Isaiah 7:14 – Another Old Testament Prophecy of Mary Coredemptrix

          In Isaiah 7:14 the prophet predicts a great sign, “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” (52) This Child, born of the virgin, would, according to the prophet, become the famed “Suffering Servant,” the One Who would be “pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins.” (53) Who could possibly claim that the virgin mother of the Suffering Servant would not suffer alongside her Son? Who could possibly claim that Mary, the virgin Mother of Jesus, the divine Suffering Servant, did not suffer alongside her Son? In the midst of those incredible sufferings, Mary, the virgin of Isaiah 7:14, carried out her role as Coredemptrix. (54)

48. Gen. 3:15 NAB (New American Bible).
49. Most,146-150; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 247-249; Manelli, 71-76; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 18-23; Calkins, “Proposed Marian Dogma,” 15-16.
50. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 22.
51. Most, 152; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 248; Manelli, 76-80.
52. Is. 7:14, NAB.
53. Is. 53:5, NAB.
54. Most, 150; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 249.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 5

How Does the Coredemptrix Perform Her Role?

           How can this be? How, actually, does Mary act as Coredemptrix all the time and in every place? In perfect obedience to the will of the Father, Mary 1. consents to the Incarnation of the Word of God; 2. offers her whole life for the salvation of humanity; 3. shares intimately in the Passion and death of her Son, suffering only as a Mother can; and 4. distributes the graces of Redemption as Mediatrix of All Graces and intercedes for humankind as Advocate.
          First, Mary performs her role as Coredemptrix by freely consenting to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of humanity. Mary’s generous “yes” to her divine motherhood was, as Dr. Josef Seifert explains, “necessary for our salvation, or played at least an indispensable part in the concrete way of our Redemption chosen by God.” (30) Does this mean that God could not have redeemed human beings in some other way? Certainly not! God is omnipotent. Yet, it is God’s will that “the greatest deed of God’s gracious love – the Redemption of mankind and our salvation – is in some real sense also the consequence of a free act of a woman and thus also the gift of a woman to humanity.” (31) Seifert continues, “…Mary’s act [of free consent] rendered our Redemption itself possible and thus mediated for mankind the most high gift of our divine Savior Himself.” (32) Mary is Coredemptrix, then, because she gave the world its Redeemer. She said yes to the beginning of the redemptive process, the Incarnation of the Word of God. (33)
          Mary also said “yes” throughout her entire life, contributing to humanity’s Redemption every moment through her joys and sufferings in perfect faith, trust, and obedience as the Immaculate Mother of the God-Man. (34) Her entire life was a self-emptying sacrifice that allowed her to merit (see above), with Jesus Christ and subordinate to Him, the graces of Redemption. (35) All the pain she experienced as Mother of the Savior, the exile in Egypt, Simeon’s heart-piercing prophecy at the Presentation, the separation from Jesus when He was twelve years old, the false accusations against her Son during His public ministry, Mary offered to God, and as the Immaculata, she could do so perfectly, in association with her Son, for the Redemption of humanity. Mary’s “whole meritorious life” was one great act of coredemption. (36)
          The coredemptive activity of Mary reached it climax on Calvary. It was at the foot of the Cross as she watched her Son die a torturous death to save humanity that Mary cooperated in Redemption to the utmost degree by “co-suffering” with Jesus, standing beside Him with compassion (literally, “suffering with”), and offering her suffering to the Father to acquire the graces of Redemption for humankind. (37) As Lumen Gentium #58 teaches, at the foot of the Cross, Mary “stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and loving consenting to the immolation of the Victim which was born of her.” (38) With courage and faith and with the greatest possible suffering, Mary surrendered her rights as a mother and sacrificed her own “maternal heart,” not seeking to protect her Son but, once again, saying “yes,” the most difficult “yes” of her life, to the salvific plan of God. (39) On Calvary, Mary was Coredemptrix to the highest degree, cooperating with her Beloved Son in His Passion and death to bring life to the human race.
          Finally, Mary continues her coredemptive activity even after her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension and her own Assumption into heavenly glory. She does so in the order of “subjective Redemption,” distributing and interceding for the graces she helped merit in the process of “objective Redemption.” Mary, therefore, remains a Coredemptrix even as she performs her maternal roles as Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate. She is still helping her Son, Jesus, redeem the world by nourishing her spiritual children with saving grace and pleading for them before the throne of God. (40)

Why Is Mary the Coremptrix?

          The last of the journalistic questions asks why Mary is the Coredemptrix. This has already been partially answered in the section on who Mary is. She can be Coredemptrix because she is the Immaculate Mother of God who is capable as no other person in the history of the world of cooperating with her Son in the acquisition, or meriting, of the graces of Redemption. Preserved from all stain of sin, pre-redeemed by her Redeemer Son, she could uniquely share in meriting the graces of ransom for her fellow creatures. (41) Moreover, her exclusive status as Immaculate Mother allowed her to be more united to the Persons of the Trinity than any other creature, giving her a unique share in God’s plan of salvation. Rev. Bertrand de Margerie observes, “The Trinity makes of Mary a participant in its salvific and redemptive will” as a created Coremptrix in perfect union with the “Three divine, uncreated Coredeemers,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (42) As the daughter of the Divine Father, Mary remains united to Him in perfect faith, love, and obedience. As the mother of the Son, Mary is joined to Jesus in a remarkably close union, causing St. Louise de Montfort to exclaim, “Since Jesus Christ chose her for the inseparable companion of His life, of His death, of His glory and of His power in Heaven and upon earth, He gave her by grace, relatively to His Majesty, all the same rights and privileges which He possesses by nature.” (43) As the spouse, instrument, and sanctuary of the Spirit, Mary is His inseparable companion, through whom He constantly works. (44) Existing as she does in such an inseparable union with the Trinity, how could Mary not participate fully and intimately in God’s redemptive activity? Finally, Mary is the Coredemptrix because God willed her to be so. (45) Quite simply, God designed His plan of salvation in a particular way for a particular time, and He created Mary to be an indispensible part of that plan.

The Evidence

          The above journalistic exploration of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix has constructed something of a theological definition of this important position the Blessed Virgin occupies in the redemptive plan of God. The next three sections of this study will build upon that definition, providing evidence from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium to support and amplify its claims. The Second Vatican Council’s Dei Verbum teaches that the first two sources, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, “make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God,” which the Magisterium serves, guards, listens to, and expounds. (46) The document continues, “…in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others.” (47) Support for Mary’s role as Coredemptrix must, therefore, be extracted from all three in order to clearly show how the Mother of God helped save the world.

30. Josef Seifert, “Mary as Coredemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces: Philosophical and Personalist Foundaitons of a Marian Doctrine,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 166.
31. Ibid., 167-168.
32. Ibid., 168.
33. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 3. Note: More on this concept will follow in the sections on the Annunciation and the early Church Fathers.
34. Gribble, 83, 88.
35. Most, 162.
36. Bertrand de Margerie, “Mary Coredemptrix: In the Light of Patristics,” in Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 38.
37. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 68.
38. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” 417.
39. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, “Immaculate Mediatrix – Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 298.
40. Miravalle, introduction, xi.
41. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 29.
42. de Margerie, “Patristics,” 42; Bertrand de Margerie, “Redemption and Coredemption,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 111.
43. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, trans. Frederick Faber (Rockford: Tan Books & Publishers, 1941), 46.
44. Manteau-Bonamy, 3, 4, 5.
45. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 12; Most, 165-166; Calkins, “Liturgy,” 49.
46. Vatican II Council, “Dei Verbum,” in The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing Company; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1998), 755-756.
47. Ibid., 756.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mary Coredemptrix - Part 4

When Does the Coredemptrix Perform Her Role?

          The answers to the next three journalistic questions, when, where, and how, will progressively build upon each other to reveal the specifics of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix. First, when does Mary perform this role? Simply, Mary is the Coredemptrix from the time of the Incarnation of Jesus, when she says “yes” to the announcement of the angel and consents to become the mother of the Redeemer; through her daily life as a mother who encounters trials, struggles, and sufferings; to the Passion of her Son, when she suffers with Him as only a mother can. (27) Furthermore, her care for her spiritual children, given to her by Jesus as He hung on the Cross, (28) does not cease with the death of her Son. As Lumen Gentium #62 teaches, Mary continues to act on behalf of humanity even after her Assumption as an “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix,” bringing her children “the gifts of eternal salvation” in a heavenly extension of her position as Coredemptrix. (29)

Where Does the Coredemptrix Perform Her Role?

          Logically, then, Mary performs her role as Coredemptrix wherever she is from the time of the Annunciation in her home at Nazareth; throughout her travels to Elizabeth’s house, the Temple, and Egypt; as she accompanied Jesus in His public ministry; to the foot of the Cross on Calvary; wherever she went during the time she remained on earth after the Resurrection; and finally in Heaven as she continues her coredemptive tasks as Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate. Mary’s role as Coredemptrix never ends; no matter where she is, she always cooperates with her Son in bringing salvation to the human race.

27. Miravalle, introduction, x-xi; Cf. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” Chapter VIII, Section II, on the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin from the Annuciation through Calvary and beyond.
28. See the discussion on the Mary at the foot of the Cross in Scripture below.
29. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” 419; Miravalle, introduction, xi.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 3

What Is a Coredemptrix and What Does She Do?

          Before moving further into a discussion of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix, it is necessary to pause for moment to define this term and examine what, exactly, a Coredemptrix does in the order of Redemption. The word “Coredemptrix” technically means a female (designated by the suffix “-trix”) who actively participates in the Redemption (from the Latin verb redimere, “to buy back”) with the Redeemer. (15) The prefix “co-” is especially significant here. Deriving from the Latin preposition cum it means “with” but not equal. In its true sense, “co-” implies dependence, subordination, inferiority, or at the very least, something less than total equality. (16) Applied to Blessed Virgin, then, as it is exclusively is in Catholic thought, “Coredemptrix” refers to “the unique and active participation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the work of Redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, the divine and human Redeemer.” (17) Further, this participation of Mary with Jesus is “secondary, subordinate, and dependent.” (18) Mary is not equal to Jesus, she is not a “redeemer” in her own right, and she is a creature and not God. Jesus is the one divine Redeemer of the human race, Who paid the price for its salvation and opened the way to eternal life for all people. Mary’s cooperation in this process, while unique and privileged (i.e. unlike any other cooperation, human or angelic) due to her immaculate nature and her divine motherhood, is always strictly inferior to and derived from the Redemption wrought by Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. (19)
          Mary’s role as Coredemptrix can be identified as part of her broader role as Maternal Mediatrix between God and humanity. This maternal mediation may be considered an “overall genus” of cooperation with Jesus’ redemptive work that is divisible into three “specific elements” or moments of mediation: Coredemptrix (collaboration in acquiring the graces of Redemption), Mediatrix of All Graces (distribution of the graces obtained in Redemption), and Advocate (intercession with God on behalf of humanity). (20) Often, however, non-Catholics, and sadly, sometimes Catholics as well, ask, “How can Mary be a Mediatrix, much less a Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, or Advocate? How can anyone actively participate in the one Redemption of the one Redeemer or in the distribution of the graces He won without taking away from His primacy and privilege?” Basing their arguments on 1Timothy 2:5, they contend that there is only one Mediator between God and man and that any other mediation by anyone, even His mother, would detract from Jesus’ unique mediation and dishonor Him. What they do not recognize, however, is that the passage in question does not exclude the possibility of other subordinate mediators. Instead, its very wording opens up the way for such secondary mediation. St. Paul had two choices for the word “one” in the verse; he could have used either “eis” or “monos.” The first of these has the connotation of “first” or “primary” while the second means “exclusive.” St. Paul chose the first, “eis,” thereby leading readers to conclude that Jesus is indeed the first and primary Mediator between God and man but not necessarily the exclusive Mediator. The word “eis” indicates that others can share in the one mediation of Jesus Christ, and this is what Mary does as a Maternal Mediatrix in her roles as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate. (21)
          Now that the definition and classification of Coredemptrix have been established, the question of what a Coredemptrix actually does must be explored. Essentially, Mary as Coredemptrix actively participates in the process of “objective redemption,” acquiring, or meriting, the graces of salvation for the human family. Two important points must be considered here: 1. the term “objective redemption” and 2. the concept of merit.
          Mary, the unique Coredemptrix with the Redeemer, takes part in the process of “objective Redemption” or Redemption in actu primo. This means that she actually helps acquire the graces of Redemption rather than merely aiding in the distribution of those graces, which is called “subjective Redemption.” (22) As the unique Coredemptrix with the Redeemer, Mary is a true, though secondary, cause of humanity’s Redemption, a process that, through graces attained at the price of great sacrifice and suffering, establishes a new covenant between God and humanity and pays the debt man accrued to God through his sin. (23) Mary participates in this process by meriting the graces of Redemption along with, yet subordinate to, the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
          This leads to the second point, the concept of merit. What does it mean that Mary “merits” grace along with and subordinate to Jesus Christ? Merit can be defined as “a claim to reward.” (24) Non-Catholics would argue that the only One Who can merit anything, or claim any reward, is Jesus Christ and that to assert that anyone else is capable of meriting dishonors Jesus. The fact that Jesus merits perfectly and primarily, however, does not exclude others from meriting secondarily and subordinately. Dr. Mark I. Miravalle explains, “…human creatures may also ‘merit’ in the sense that God has placed a supernatural value on certain human acts, and if freely performed by man, God rewards His sons and daughters with an increase of His grace and divine goodness for themselves or for others.” (25) Mary, of course, goes further in her meriting than any other human being. She actually merits the graces of Redemption for humanity. How can this be so, especially since Mary herself had to be redeemed by Jesus? Again, Dr. Miravalle responds. Mary, he explains, was redeemed by Jesus through the process of “preservative redemption” and therefore never received a fallen nature. She was immaculately conceived and preserved from original sin, so she did not have to be ransomed from sin like the rest of humanity. She could therefore merit graces of ransom for others without having those graces apply to herself. She did not, of course, merit the “first grace” of God that guaranteed her preservation from sin. (26) Mary, therefore, merits, with and under Jesus Christ, the graces of humanity’s objective Redemption, so she can, and must, be called Coredemptrix.

15. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 9-10.
16. Ibid.; John A. Schug and Mark I. Miravalle, “Mary, Coredemptrix: The Significance of Her Title in the Magisterium of the Church,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 217.
17. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 10.
18. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 49.
19. de Margerie, “Motherhood,” 206; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 11.
20. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 45; Miravalle, introduction, x.
21. Hahn, 173; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 271-272; Mark I. Miravalle, “The Whole Truth about Mary, Ecumenism, and the Year 2000,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 23-24.
22. Manelli, 65; Calkins, “Proposed Marian Dogma,” 21; Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 62; William G. Most, “Mary Coredemptrix in Scripture: Cooperation in Redemption,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 162.
23. Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 294; Most, 160-161; Calkins, “Liturgy,” 81.
24. Most, 154.
25. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 118
26. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 29.