- Slides: 32
MARY MOTHER OF JESUS, MOTHER OF GOD Federico Fiori Barocci's Madonna del Populo (1575– 1579) Part Six: VIb The Mediatorship of Mary “And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation. ” (2 Corinthians 5: 19)
Mary’s Role as Mediatrix of All Graces This title has been received into the Liturgy of the Church through the introduction of the Feast of The Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces (1921). Mary is designated Mediatrix of all Graces in a double sense: 1. Mary gave the Redeemer, the Source of all graces, to the world, and in this way she is the channel of all graces. (Sententia certa; Certain theological opinion) 2. Since Mary's Assumption into Heaven no grace is conferred on man without her actual intercessory co operation. (Pius and probable opinion; Sententia pia et probabi. Iis).
Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces by her co operation in the Incarnation. Mary freely and deliberately co-operated in giving the Redeemer to the world. Instructed by the angel as to the person and the task of Her Son she freely assented to be Mother of God. Luke 1: 38 Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done unto me according to thy word. The Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Redemption of mankind by the vicarious atonement of Christ were dependent on her assent. In this significant moment in the history of Salvation Mary represented humanity. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 1274) “At the Annunciation the concurrence of the maiden was awaited as a representative of all human nature”. (S. Th. III 30, I)
Pope Leo XIII (1878 1893) “To a certain extent she (Mary) represented the whole human race. ” D 1940 a.
Exception to “Mediatrix of All Graces” The Virgin Mary is Mediatrix of Grace. Pope Pius XI even calls her “Mediatrix of all graces. ” However, a correct understanding of this title requires two exceptions to the phrase “Mediatrix of all graces. ” 1. The Virgin Mary is not the Mediatrix of the grace given by the Divine Nature of Christ to the Human Nature of Christ. There is no mediator between Christ’s Divine and Human Natures, therefore, there can be no mediatrix between Christ’s Divine and Human Natures. The Virgin Mary does not intercede with the Divine Nature of Christ to obtain grace for the Human Nature of Christ. The Virgin Mary does not intercede with the Most Holy Trinity to obtain grace for the Human Nature of Christ. Mary does not pray for Christ to be saved or to be blessed by God. Christ is Mary’s Savior and God, so He never requires her intercession in the least. Mary never interceded for Christ; from the time of the Annunciation, Mary always understood that Christ is God.
2. The Virgin Mary is not the Mediatrix of the grace given by the Trinity to the Virgin Mary. When Mary receives grace, from Christ as Source of grace by virtue of His Divinity, and through Christ as Mediator by virtue of His Humanity, she is the recipient, not the Mediatrix, of that grace. She cannot be both mediatrix and recipient of the same grace. She cannot stand as Mediatrix between Christ and herself. No Other Exceptions There are no other exceptions to Mary’s role as Mediatrix of all grace. Mary is Mediatrix of all grace given to all angels and to all created persons, other than Christ and Mary. The Virgin Mary is the Mediatrix of grace given by God throughout all Time and all Creation. How can Mary be the Mediatrix of grace given by God before her own beginning at the Immaculate Virgin Conception? If Heaven were stretched out in Time, with events occurring in an absolute order of before and after, she could not. If Heaven was within Time, then she could not dispense grace to persons living before she arrived in Heaven. But Heaven is beyond Time and the Virgin Mary left earth for Heaven at the time of her Dormition.
Mary’s Mediatrix Role in the Fathers of the Church The Fathers called Mary the “go-between” (mediatrix). St. Ephrem (306 373) “After the Mediator thou art the mediatrix of the whole world. ” (Oratio IV ad Deiparam. 4 th Lesson of the Office of the Feast) The Fathers contrast Mary's obedience at the Annunciation with Eve's disobedience. Mary by her obedience became the cause of the Salvation, while Eve by her disobedience became the cause of death. St. Irenaeus (c. 115 – 202) “As she (Eve) who had Adam as her husband, but was nevertheless a virgin, was disobedient, and thereby became the cause of death to herself and to the whole of mankind, so also Mary, who had a pre ordained husband, and was still a virgin, by her obedience became a cause of her own salvation and the salvation or the whole human race. ” (Adv. haer. III 22, 4; cf. V 19, I) St. Jerome (340 420) “By a woman the whole world was saved. ” (Tract. de Ps. 96).
Tertullian (c. 160 c. 225) “Mary brought forth him who should sometime bring to salvation his brother according to the flesh, Israel, by whom he himself was slain. So then, God brought down into the womb his own Word, the good brother, that he might erase the memory of the evil brother: for the salvation of man Christ must needs come forth from that organ into which man already under condemnation had entered. ” (De carne Christi 17)
Mary Mediatrix in Church Documents The title, Corredemptrix = Co redemptress, which has been current since the fifteenth century, also appears in some official Church documents. Pope Pius X (1903 1914) Encyclical “Ad diem” “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, as the result of this participation between Mary and Christ in the sorrows and the will, she deserved most worthily to be made the restorer of the lost world and so the dispenser of all the gifts which Jesus procured for us by His death and blood. ” (D 1978 a) The title must not be conceived in the sense of an equation of the efficacy of Mary with the redemptive activity of Christ, the sole Redeemer of humanity. I Timothy 2: 5 For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.
As she herself required redemption and in fact was redeemed by Christ, she could not of herself merit the grace of the redemption of humanity in accordance with the principle: The author of an act of merit cannot be a recipient of the same act of merit. Her co operation in the objective redemption is an indirect, remote co operation, and derives from this that she voluntarily devoted her whole life to the service of the Redeemer and, under the Cross, suffered and sacrificed with Him. Pope Pius XII (1943) Encyclical “Mystici Corporis” She “offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and her motherly love like a new Eve for all children of Adam. ” (D 2291)
Mary is “The New Eve”, the same Pope declares, in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” (1950) Christ alone truly offered the sacrifice of atonement on the Cross; Mary merely gave Him moral support in this action. Thus Mary is not entitled to the title “Priest" (sacerdos). Indeed this is expressly laid down by the Holy Office (1916, 1927). Council of Florence (1438 1445) “Jesus Christ, . . . alone laid low the enemy of the human race by destroying our sins and opened the entrance of the kingdom of heaven. . . ” (D 7 II) In the same way, He alone acquired the grace of Redemption for the whole human race, including Mary.
Luke 1: 38 Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Luke implies Mary's mediate, remote co operation in the Redemption. St. Ambrose (337 397) “Christ's Passion did not require any support. ” (De inst. virgo 7) In the power of the grace of Redemption merited by Christ, Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her Divine Son for men, made atonement for the sins of men, and merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In thus manner she co operates in the subjective redemption of mankind.
Pope St. Pius X (1904) Encyclical “Ad diem” “The Blessed Virgin merits (“promeret”) for us de congruo (along with) what Christ merited de condigno (alone worthy) and is the first minister of the graces to be bestowed. ” (D 1978 a) The present tense “promeret” (“merits”) shows, not indeed to be taken as referring to the historical objective Redemption, which occurred once and for all, but to her ever present, intercessory co operation in the subjective redemption.
Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces by Her Intercession in Heaven Since her assumption into Heaven, Mary co operates in the application of the grace of Redemption to man. She participates in the distribution of grace by her maternal intercession which is far inferior in efficacy to that of the intercessory prayer of Christ, the High Priest, but surpasses far the intercessory prayer of all the other saints. According to the view of the older, and of many of the modern, theologians Mary's intercessory co operation extends to all graces, which are conferred on mankind, so that no grace accrues to men, without the intercession of Mary. The implication of this is not that we are obliged to beg for all graces through Mary, nor that Mary's intercession is intrinsically necessary for the application of the grace, but that, according to God's positive ordinance, the redemptive grace of Christ is conferred on nobody without the actual intercessory co operation of Mary.
Recent Popes have declared in favor of this doctrine. Leo XIII (1891) Encyclical “Octobri mense” “From that great treasure of all graces, which the Lord has brought, nothing, according to the will of God, comes to us except through Mary, so that, as nobody can approach the Supreme Father except through the Son, similarly nobody can approach Christ except through the Mother. ” (1940 a) Pope St. Pius X (1835 1914) Mary “the dispenser of all gifts, which Jesus has acquired for us by His death and His blood. ” (D 1978 a) Pope Benedict XV (1914 – 1922) “All gifts which the Author of all good has deigned to communicate to the unhappy posterity of Adam, are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence, dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin. ” (AAS 9, 1917, 266)
Pope Benedict XV (1914 – 1922) Mary is “the mediatrix with God of all graces. ” (AAS II 1919, 227) Pope Pius XI Encyclical “Ingravescentibus malis” (1937) quotes the words of Saint Bernard : “Thus it is His (God's) will that we should have everything through Mary. ” (AAS 29, 1937, 373)
Mary as Mediatrix in Scripture Express scriptural proofs are lacking. Theologians seek a biblical foundation in the words of Christ, John 19: 26 Woman behold thy son, son behold thy mother. According to the literal sense these words refer only to the persons addressed, Mary and John. The mystical interpretation, which became dominant in the West in the late Middle Ages (Dionysius the Carthusian), sees in John the representative of the whole human race. In him Mary was given as a mother to all the redeemed. Moreover, it corresponds to the position of Mary as the spiritual mother of the whole of redeemed humanity that she, by her powerful intercession, should procure for her children in need of help all graces by which they can attain eternal salvation.
The idea of the spiritual Motherhood of Mary is part of the Ancient Christian tradition, independently of the interpretation of John 19: 26. Origen (185 253/254) “Every perfect person no longer lives (of himself) but Christ lives in him; and because Christ lives in him, it is said of him to Mary: Behold thy son Christ. ” (Com. in loan. 14, 23) St. Epiphanius (310 403) “She (Mary) is she of whom Eve is the prototype, who, as such received the appellation' mother of the living'. . . as to externals the whole human race on earth stemmed from that Eve. Thus in truth, through Mary, the very life of the world was borne, so that she bore the Living One, and became the Mother of the Living. Thus in prototype Mary was called ‘ Mother of the living. ’” (Haer. 78, 18) St. Augustine (354 430) bases Mary's spiritual Motherhood on the mystical unity of the faithful with Christ. As the bodily Mother of God, she is, in a spiritual fashion, also the mother of those who are articulated with Christ. (De s. virginitate 6, 6)
Express testimonies, though few in number, to Mary's position as Mediatrix of grace are found since the eighth century. They became more numerous during the peak period of the Middle Ages. St. Germanus of Constantinople (d. 733) “Nobody can achieve salvation except through thee. . . O Most Holy One. nobody can receive a gift of grace except through thee. . . O Most Chaste One. ” (Or. 9, 5. Lesson of the Office of the Feast) St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. II 53) “God wished that we have nothing, except by the hands of Mary. ” (In Vig. Nativit. Domini serm. 3, 10) Pseudo-Albert the Great (c. 1193/1206 1280) “The universal dispenser of all riches. ” (Super Missus est q. 29)
In modern times the doctrine that Mary is the Universal Mediatrix of Grace was advocated by St. Peter Canisius (1520 1597), Francisco Suarez (1548 1617), St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696 1787), Matthias Joseph Scheeben (1835 1888). and it is supported by the opinion of numerous theologians at the present day. Speculatively the doctrine of Mary's Universal Mediation is based on her co operation in the Incarnation and the Redemption, as well as on her relationship to the Church: a) Since Mary gave the source of all grace to men, it is to be expected that she would also co operate in the distribution of all grace. b) As Mary became the spiritual Mother of all the redeemed, it is fitting that she, by her constant motherly intercession should care for the supernatural life of all her children. c) As Mary is “the prototype of the Church” (St. Ambrose, Expos. ev. ec. Luc. 11 7), and as all grace of redemption is obtained by the Church, it is to be assumed that Mary. by her heavenly intercession, is the universal mediatrix of grace.
Definability The doctrine of Mary's Universal Mediation of Grace based on her co operation in the Incarnation is so definitely manifest in the sources of the Faith, that nothing stands in the way of a dogmatic definition. Her position as Mediatrix of Grace in virtue of her intercession in Heaven is less definitely attested. Since however it is organically associated with Mary's Spiritual Motherhood which in turn is based on Scripture and with her intimate participation in the work of her Divine Son, its definition does not seem impossible. So then, why do some persons promote the idea of a “fifth and final Marian dogma? ” They have been influenced by the false apparitions and false messages of this claimed private revelation at Amsterdam. This false private revelation promotes the doctrine of Mary as co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, but also distorts that doctrine in a number of ways. One distortion is the claim that this doctrine is fifth and final. This insidious error implies that the Magisterium cannot teach and define any further dogmas about the Virgin Mary, and it implies that other teachings about Mary (her Immaculate Heart, her Queenship, her suffering at the foot of the Cross, etc. ) are not dogmas.
Summary of Correct Doctrine Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, Mediator, Advocate. Christ is assisted by the Virgin Mary in her triune role as Co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix. The following points are an important part of a correct understanding of this doctrine. 1. Mary’s role is Co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix. 2. All three aspects of this one role are substantially different from, and wholly subordinate to, Christ’s triune role as Redeemer, Mediator, Advocate. 3. Mary’s role is different from, and subordinate to, Christ’s role because, in God’s plan for Creation, the role given to women is different from, and subordinate to, the role given to men. 4. The “co ” prefix in Co Redemptrix refers to Mary’s cooperation with us; it does not mean that Mary is Co Redeemer, not even with and under Christ.
5. Mary is not a Co Redeemer and is not able to save anyone, not even with and under Christ alone redeems; Mary merely assists Christ in His work of redemption. Her role is not co redemptive. 6. Mary is Mediatrix of all graces, but with two exceptions. She is not Mediatrix of grace given to Christ, nor is she Mediatrix of grace she herself receives from Christ. 7. Mary is also Mediatrix of Divine Providence and of mercy and of all that God does within Creation, except with respect to Christ and herself. Therefore, she should be called: “Mediatrix. ” 8. Mary is Advocatrix. The term “Advocate, ” when applied to the Virgin Mary, is theologically deficient because it lacks the feminine form, which would distinguish Mary’s different and subordinate role from Christ’s role as Advocate. Use of the Latin form of the word allows a clear theological definition to be attached to the term, unfettered by the various connotations which the word “advocate” has when translated into various languages.
9. The expression “Advocate of the People of God” can only be used to refer to Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. The Virgin Mary has no role of advocacy herself; instead, her role as Advocatrix is to assist Christ, our Advocate. Mary is not “Advocate of the People of God, ” but rather is a humble assistant to Christ, the Advocate of the People of God. 10. Mary does not stand before God as Co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix. In truth, only Christ stands before God to redeem, mediate, and advocate. The Virgin Mary humbly kneels before Christ, in worship of Him, and assists Christ fully in His work of redemption, mediation, advocacy. 11. Mary is truly Co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix. But this true doctrine is neither the fifth Marian dogma, nor is it the final Marian dogma. The claim that this doctrine is “the fifth and final Marian dogma” is a serious theological error which contradicts the teaching of the Church.
The idea that Mary has a role in God’s plan as Co Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix does not come from private revelation, but is implicit in Tradition and Scripture. Pope Leo XIII even used the terms “Co Redemptress” and “Mediatrix” in the 1890 s and Pope Pius X called Mary “advocate” in the early 1900 s.
The Veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, is entitled to the Cult of Hyperdulia. (Sententia certa; certain theological opinion) Theological Proof In view of her dignity as the Mother of God and her fullness of grace, a special veneration is due to Mary. This is substantially less than the cultus latriae (= adoration) which is due to God alone; but it is higher than the cultus duliae (= veneration) due to the angels and to the other saints. The special veneration thus given to Mary is called cultus hyperduliae. The Scriptural source of the special veneration due to the Mother of God is to be found in: Luke 1: 28 Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. .
Luke 1: 42 Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Luke 1: 48 For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Luke 11: 27 Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that gave thee suck.
Historical Development During the first three centuries, the veneration of Mary was intimately connected with the veneration of Christ. From the fourth century onwards there is a formal veneration of Mary herself. St. Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) Hymns on the birth of the Lord “are almost equally songs of praise for the Virgin Mother. ” (Bardenhewer, Sermons on Mary II) St. Gregory Nazianzus (d. 390) Refers to the invocation of Mary's intercession by saying of the Christian maiden Justina, that she had “besought the Virgin Mary to assist a maiden in danger, ” when her virginity was threatened. (Or. 24, II) St. Epiphanius (d. 403) The Collyridians whose member paid an idolatrous veneration to Mary: “Mary should be honored, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost should be adored. Nobody should adore Mary. ” (Haer. 79, 7)
Saints Ambrose (337 397) and Jerome (340 420) depict Mary as the prototype of virginity, and demand that she should be imitated (St. Ambrose, De virginibus, II 2, 6 17; St. Jerome, Ep. 22, 38; 107, 7). The veneration of Mary was greatly promoted by the definition of her dignity as Mother of God, advocated by St. Cyril of Alexandria (378 – 444), at the Council of Ephesus (431).
In the years following, Mary was glorified innumerous sermons and hymns; in her honor Churches were built and feasts instituted. Side by side with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Greek Hypapante), and the Annunciation, which were originally feasts of the Lord, there emerged, even in Patristic times, the Feast of the Home Going (Assumption) of Mary, and of the Birth of Mary. The veneration of Mary achieved its richest development in the Middle Ages. Martin Luther (1483 1546) fearing that Divine honor would be paid to a creature, and that the unique mediatorship of Christ would be prejudiced, sharply criticized many forms of the veneration paid to Mary, but held fast to the traditional belief in Mary's Motherhood of God, her perpetual virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her intercession. He paid homage to her as the model of humility and faith, and recommended that appeal be made to her intercession. (Interpretation of the Magnificat 1521) Ulrich Zwingli (1483 1546) also acknowledged the Church's belief in Mary, and held to the veneration of Mary, but rejected the practice of making petition to her.
The same attitude was adopted by most of tile Old Lutheran Theologians, although it must be remarked that they often confounded petition with adoration. A resolute opponent of the veneration paid to Mary was John Calvin (1509 1564) who rejected it as adoration of idols Even within the framework of Lutheranism the three biblically founded Feasts of Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Visitation were solemnized up to the time of the Enlightenment, while the Feasts of the Birth of Mary and Her Assumption, after they had been maintained for some time, as Luther wished, were abandoned in the sixteenth century. Under the influence of rationalism the religious veneration of Mary deteriorated and sank to the level of regarding her as a sublimely moral model but a merely natural person. Wherever in Protestantism belief in the Incarnation is still living, veneration of the Mother of God is not entirely extinguished.
End of Mary the Series, Mediatrix, Part VIb Go to Mary the Series, Her Apparitions, Part VIIa