“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part II

Today we pick up right we where left off in Part I and continue to discuss the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. For today’s post, we will focus our attention on paragraphs 58-64.

#58: Although the term, Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redemption are not used in this document, it does mean that the Council Fathers do not teach it – they do. However, because of the ecumenical nature of the Council, the Council Fathers chose not to use the term, but when you read this paragraph carefully, you clearly see Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix is here.

Within this paragraph, we see three elements of Calvary. First, the Council Father’s say that Mary endured with her only begotten son the intensity of his suffering. She endured the pain of the crucifixion. Second, Mary associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart – one sacrifice from two hearts. Finally, lovingly she consented of the annulation, destruction of the victim being offered, of this victim born of her. She not only tolerated the crucifixion, but also consented to it – “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.”

It was this paragraph that became the foundation for Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church, Redemptoris Mater. John Paul II says that Mary’s consent to this sacrifice is not only a “spiritual crucifixion” for her, but it’s also her second “fiat” – the second sorrowful fiat of Mary. As she consented at the Annunciation to the Mother of the Redeemer, so too here she consents during his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

#59: Drawing from Pope Pius IX’s Papal Bull, Ineffabilis, and Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissiumus Deus, and his Encyclical, Ad coeli Reginam, the Council Father’s state,

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords, (cf. Apoc 19:16) and conquer of sin and death.”

Queen Mother

This paragraph speaks of how the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a clear sign that she was Immaculately Conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. In the Kingdom of God, Mary’s role would then be the Queen Mother. She is Queen over all things – here on Earth and in Heaven.

#60: Drawing from St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, the Council Father’s explain a point that is often brought up against Mary as being a mediator – “for there is but one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all (2:5-6).

So how does Mary’s mediation work in relation to St. Paul’s words? First, Mary’s mediation does not compete or obscure the mediation of Jesus Christ. Second, our Lady’s mediation is not an inner necessity. God does not have to use a woman, but He does since it is His will (Gen 3:15). Third, the mediation of Mary is dependent on the one mediation of Christ and fosters union with Christ and the faithful.

#61: Here we see the combination of Our Lady as Co-Redemption, which in turn leads to Mediation. This role is a supernatural role. She is a mother to us in the order of grace – she is Co-Redemptrix and then Mediatrix. It does not make any sense that she would distribute grace, unless she herself first acquired it. In her Immaculate Conception, she receives grace. In her role as Mediator, the term that is often used, and it’s the most ancient title for Mary is Advocate. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the first to use this term.

#62: This paragraph continues to focus on the role of mediator. Mary’s saving office on earth is always subordinate to that of Christ. This saving office in Heaven, where she intercedes for the gifts of eternal life, is still given to her. Through her intercession, we receive protection and sanctification. Although some disagree that these titles should have been added to this paragraph, we see the titles of: Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. In the original schema (the working document), the only term was Mediatrix of all Grace. Some at the Council objected to this term, however, the Council Fathers insisted that this term was included.

#63 & 64: These paragraphs are transitional paragraphs where we see the Blessed Virgin and Mother as the “type” of the Church. It was St. Ambrose of Milan who first defined Mary as a “type” of the Church. Everything that is true of Mary will apply to the Church in its own degree. The terms, virgin and mother, are two examples of the Church. As a mother, The Church gives birth to the sacraments. As a virgin, the Church is entirety and pure – she is pledged to her spouse, Jesus Christ. The Church is both Mother and Bride – “The Church indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother” (#64).

Next week, we will conclude with Part III and examine paragraphs 65-69.

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope John Paul II on Mary’s Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Although the Sacred Scriptures never speak of the Blessed Virgin Mary interacting with Jesus Christ after his Crucifixion on Calvary, it is highly doubtful that He would have never appeared to her or speak to her again.

He does give her to Saint John on the Cross, “Women, behold your son”, who in turn represents all Christians and all of humanity, for she is now our maternal mediator. The Gospel does tell us that he, Saint John, took her into his home from that day forward, but do we really believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ would not have spoken to his own Mother again? Why did the gospel writers choose to not include any conversation between Jesus and Mary into their accounts?

Blessed John Paul II These are the questions that the soon-to-be saint (less than six days now), Blessed Pope John Paul II asks in his Wednesday Audience from May 21, 1997. As we begin the Season of Easter, let us prayerfully contemplate the words of John Paul II –

“In the supposition of an “omission”, this silence could be attributed to the fact that what is necessary for our saving knowledge was entrusted to the word of those “chosen by God as witnesses” (Acts 10:41), that is, the Apostles, who gave their testimony of the Lord Jesus’ Resurrection “with great power” (cf. Acts 4:33). Before appearing to them, the Risen One had appeared to several faithful women because of their ecclesial function: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 28:10).

If the authors of the New Testament do not speak of the Mother’s encounter with her risen Son, this can perhaps be attributed to the fact that such a witness would have been considered too biased by those who denied the Lord’s Resurrection, and therefore not worthy of belief.

Furthermore, the Gospels report a small number of appearances by the risen Jesus and certainly not a complete summary of all that happened during the 40 days after Easter. St Paul recalls that he appeared “to more than 500 brethren at one time” (1 Cor 15:6). How do we explain the fact that an exceptional event known to so many is not mentioned by the Evangelists? It is an obvious sign that other appearances of the Risen One were not recorded, although they were among the well-known events that occurred.

How could the Blessed Virgin, present in the first community of disciples (cf. Acts 1:14), be excluded from those who met her divine Son after he had risen from the dead?

Indeed, it is legitimate to think that the Mother was probably the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared. Could not Mary’s absence from the group of women who went to the tomb at dawn (cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1) indicate that she had already met Jesus? This inference would also be confirmed by the fact that the first witnesses of the Resurrection, by Jesus’ will, were the women who had remained faithful at the foot of the Cross and therefore were more steadfast in faith.

Indeed, the Risen One entrusts to one of them, Mary Magdalene, the message to be passed on to the Apostles (cf. Jn 20:17-18). Perhaps this fact too allows us to think that Jesus showed himself first to his Mother, who had been the most faithful and had kept her faith intact when put to the test.

Lastly, the unique and special character of the Blessed Virgin’s presence at Calvary and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering on the Cross seem to postulate a very particular sharing on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection.

A fifth-century author, Sedulius, maintains that in the splendour of his risen life Christ first showed himself to his mother. In fact, she, who at the Annunciation was the way he entered the world, was called to spread the marvellous news of the Resurrection in order to become the herald of his glorious coming. Thus bathed in the glory of the Risen One, she anticipates the Church’s splendour cf. Sedulius, Paschale carmen, 5, 357-364, CSEL 10, 140f).

It seems reasonable to think that Mary, as the image and model of the Church which waits for the Risen One and meets him in the group of disciples during his Easter appearances, had had a personal contact with her risen Son, so that she too could delight in the fullness of paschal joy.

Present at Calvary on Good Friday (cf. Jn 19:25) and in the Upper Room on Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14), the Blessed Virgin too was probably a privileged witness of Christ’s Resurrection, completing in this way her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery. Welcoming the risen Jesus, Mary is also a sign and an anticipation of humanity, which hopes to achieve its fulfilment through the resurrection of the dead.

Queen Mother

In the Easter season, the Christian community addresses the Mother of the Lord and invites her to rejoice: “Regina Caeli, laetare. Alleluia!”. “Queen of heaven, rejoice. Alleluia!”. Thus it recalls Mary’s joy at Jesus’ Resurrection, prolonging in time the “rejoice” that the Angel addressed to her at the Annunciation, so that she might become a cause of “great joy” for all people.”

This is no way undermines the important role of Saint Mary Magdalene, who is told by our Lord to go and tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. Pope John Paul II is just giving us another expression of the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

It would be from this moment on that She becomes our Advocate, our Queen Mother, and our maternal mediator. As Jesus resurrects and then forty days later ascends into Heaven, Mary’s role as the Mother of the Pilgrim Church would develop. To this very day and till the day when Our Lord Jesus Christ come again, Mary’s role is to lead souls closer to Jesus Christ as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces.

Holy Mother of All Humanity…Pray For Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 2

Continuing with last week’s theme, Mary in the New Testament, this week we will focus on the Mary in the Redemption of Jesus Christ and her role in the life of the Church. For a recap of last week, I would suggest reading, “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 1.

For this blog post, you will need your Bibles, so make sure you have it next to you.

1. The Wedding Feast of Cana (Read John 2:1-10)

The Wedding Feast of Cana has a dual meaning. First, we clearly see the maternal mediation of the Blessed Mother and her relationship with Jesus Christ. As you know, the wedding that Jesus, Mary, and some of the Apostles attend happens to run out of wine. The Mother of Jesus, Mary, intercedes for the couple giving the grace of Jesus Christ (her role as Mediatrix begins to develop here) through the miracle of turning water into wine. She is the Maternal Mediator at the wedding, and during the Crucifixion of Jesus, she will become the Maternal Mediator for all of humanity.

The second meaning behind this miracle (and grace flows from it) is that it’s the first public miracle of Jesus Christ. When Jesus says, “O Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come”, he is essentially saying two things. First, using the term “Woman” is not meant to be demeaning. He is simply connecting Mary with the “Woman” in Genesis 3:15, the same “Woman” who would be at his side at Calvary in John 19:25 and the “Woman” who would be crowned and glorified in Heaven as the Queen of Heaven and Earth in Revelation.

Second, the question he asks is in reference to Calvary. Jesus is saying that if he performs this public miracle, his public mission and the path to Calvary begins. Mary’s “Do whatever he tells you” is her response and readiness to walk with Jesus Christ to Calvary. This would begin the redemption of mankind and Christ as the “Suffering Servant” prophesied in Isaiah (Is 52:13-53:12).

2. Mary at the Foot of the Cross (Read John 19:25-27)

The famous words of Jesus while suffering on the Cross-to Mary and John establish for all of humanity the relationship that we would have with Her for all time. At the point when Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your mother”, symbolically through the disciple John, Mary becomes the Spiritual Mother for all humanity. She is the spiritual gift personally given by Jesus Christ himself to every human person – believer or non-believer. The “beloved disciple” from that moment on takes Mary into his home and treats her as his own mother. We too must invite Mary into our “homes” and allow her to be our mother. The devotion the Catholic Church has to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed from the households of Saint John.

For a deeper understanding of Mary’s role in the “Wedding Feast of Cana” and “Mary at the Foot of the Cross”, please read, The Queenship of Mary: Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix and “Mondays with Mary” – ‘Leads Us to Jesus’ (Pope Benedict’s Homily at Altötting).

Pentecost - Eastern Icon

3. The Presence of Mary in the Upper Room (Read Acts 1:13-2:4)

After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, we see Mary in the Upper Room waiting with the Apostles for the Coming of the Holy Sprit, Mary’s divine spouse. She is the central figure in the Upper Room as well in the life of the infant Church. As she held the infant Jesus in her arms, close to her heart, and feeding him, she holds the infant Church in the same respect. “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” is the nurturer of the early Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. For a more on Mary in the Life of the Church, please read “Mondays with Mary” – Mary is the Church on Pentecost.

4. Pauline Reference of Galatians 4:4 (Read Galatians 4:4)

In Galatians 4:4, Saint Paul tells us the Savior was “born of a woman.” With this statement, the Apostle to the Gentiles gives testimony to Mary’s Divine Motherhood. God the Father sends his only begotten son to redeem all of humanity through Mary. When he says, “born of woman”, St. Paul is stating that Mary is the “Woman” in the Scriptures who works with and under (“co” – not equal to) the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to obtain “adoptive” sons and daughters through the “Spirit of the Father.” They all cry out, “Abba, Father.” Abba in the Hebrew language means “Daddy.”

5. The Woman Clothed with the Sun (Read Revelation 12:1)

Here we see the “Woman” clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. The “Woman” is in battle with the ancient foe, Satan. The “Woman” refers to Mary because Mary only gives her birth to the male child and he will have the scepter of ruling the people. Mary is the Mother of the Church, but uniquely is Mother of Jesus.

First, being “clothed with sun” means that she is veiled in intimacy with the Son. Second, the “moon under her feet” means that the moon reflects the light of the sun without being its source and without the dulling the rays (Saint Bernard). She is not the source of the light, but its reflection. This is the perfect image of our Lady.

Third, she is crowned with 12 stars. She is the Queen Mother of the male-child who will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (scepter). The 12 Tribes of Jacob who were ruled by King David are fulfilled in the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, the new David and fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom. Fourth, the battle with Satan is the cosmic battle for souls. Mary is God’s greatest creature and Satan is his most despised creature, just like in Genesis 3:15. There is complete enmity!

Although Mary ‘s role seems to be minimal in the writings of the New Testament, she plays a major role in the salvation and redemption of humanity as Maternal Mediator, Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces. The Blessed Virgin, the spouse of the Holy Spirit is fundamental to our understanding of Jesus Christ. She is our Mother! We must behold her each day in our homes and most especially, in our hearts.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Queenship of Mary

The Council of Vatican II in the document, Lumen Gentiumthe Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, declares in Chapter VIII –

“Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator” (#62).

On August 22, one week after the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin in heavenly glory, body and soul, participates in her special role in the universal Kingdom of God. Our Queen Mother is not the source of grace, but is a channel where graces flow; therefore she is seen as the Mediatrix.

When Jesus gives Our Lady to John on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes from that point forward the spiritual mother of all humanity (Jn 19:26-27). John, the “beloved disciple”, takes Mary into his own home and cares for her as if she is his own mother. (Important point here: If Jesus had brothers and sisters as modern biblical scholarship claims, then they would have taken care of Mary after Jesus’ death on the cross. However, that does not happen because Our Lord did not have biological brothers and sisters). Our Lady as our spiritual mother is not a new theological concept, but derives from the Early Church Fathers. Mary as our spiritual mother coincides with her role as the New Eve. As our spiritual mother, Our Lady also participates in the role of maternal mediation (a term coined by Blessed John Paul II). Through her roles as spiritual mother and maternal mediator, Our Lady is Co-redemptrix, Advocate, and Mediatrix of All Graces.

As our Spiritual Mother, Our Lady is Queen, maternal mediator and Mediatrix. For this post, I want to simply explain Mary in these roles. For those of you who are inclined to read an academic paper on the subject, I would suggest reading my article – The Gebirah: Our Advocating Queen Mother.

First, let us take a look at her Queenship. As in this case of Mary, Queenship is defined as the mother of the King – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the King of the Mystical Body of Christ that dwells within the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God consists of the saints on Earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven. Mary is the Queen of the Kingdom of God. As the Queen Mother, she intercedes for the members of the Kingdom just as Bathsheba did for Adonijah and the people of Israel to her son, King Solomon (1 Kings 2:19-21). For more on Mary as Queen Mother see my blog posts  – The Visitation of the Blessed Mother and The Magnificat. We also see Mary’s Queenship portrayed in Revelation 12:1. Our Lady has the moon under her feet and she is wearing a crown with twelve stars. Her son happens to be the King who will rule all nations and she will take her thrown next to him (cf. Rev 12:5).

Second, let us understand Our Lady as maternal mediator. The question that is usually asked is – how does the Mother of God mediate? Now that she resides in Heaven through her Assumption, the Blessed Mother mediates in her unique role with Jesus in Redemption as Co-Redemptrix. The term “Co” is not meant to be equal with God. St. Paul says that we are Co-workers with God in 1 Corinthians 3:9. St. Paul is saying that we along with God assist but subordinate to God. The same happens to be true for Mary. She is always subordinate to God, but works as Co-Redemptrix with Jesus in the Redemption of humanity.

This is not an honorary title, but is a function of the Church. God wills this for the Church. As Christ suffers; so does his Mother suffer (Simeon’s Prophecy – Mary’s soul being pierced with a sword – Lk 2:35 -> points to Calvary). As maternal mediator, she also intercedes and brings the petitions of the faithful to the throne of Christ – she is our Gebirah (Great Lady) and Advocating Queen. My article above explains her role as Great Lady and Advocate in detail. Lastly, as mediator she also dispenses the graces of Redemption as a mother nourishing her children. She is the Mediatrix of All Graces.

Lastly, her role as one who dispenses graces (Mediatrix) flows from her role as Co-redemptrix. She is able to dispense grace because she actively participates in receiving the graces of Redemption with and under Jesus. Because of her Immaculate Conception (which I will write about in December for four weeks), she acquires the grace of Redemption by Jesus Christ and is able to dispense that grace to all of humanity through her role as Spiritual Mother. She feeds the faithful the spiritual gifts through Christ’s body in the order of grace. Her function as Spiritual Mother is fundamental in her ability to distribute the graces of Redemption.

A mother who is true to her vocation as mother not only gives birth to her children, but she cares for them, assists in their growth and is the first teacher when it comes to correct formation. There are a few scriptural references that refer to Mary acting as Mediatrix, however, the one I want to focus on is John 2:1-10 – the Wedding Feast at Cana. Mary is Mediatrix here because she directs and gives a specific mediation to the situation at hand (“they have no wine”). She is willing the grace of Jesus Christ at Cana (“do whatever he tells you”). Our Lady intercedes for the grace and Jesus’ first public miracle.

Even though this doctrine as not been declared dogmatic, many theologians, Popes, and the Second Vatican Council have taught extensively on Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces. In recent years, Blessed John Paul II referred to Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces on eight different occasions and Pope Benedict XVI has stated that she is Mediatrix of All Graces, which includes the Seven Sacraments of the Church.