How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
By Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
Our Blessed Lady is rightly venerated under many vivid and enduring titles. Taken compositely, these honorifics bespeak of her relationship with God and with us.
Throughout the last two decades, there has been an increasing interest in three words used to honor Our Blessed Mother and describe her role in our regard: Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. How do we understand Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate? Are we required to believe these three Marian teachings that are represented by this trio of titles?
Space does not permit either a thorough recital of the history of these titles or a complete account of their foundations in Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, the Fathers of the Church, the Papal Magisterium and the writings of the Saints, spiritual authors and theologians that identify and explain these distinctions bestowed by God Himself on the Ever-Virgin. The reader would do well to consult the texts listed in the endnotes.
I. How Do We Understand Co-Redemptix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
In his helpful Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion1, Deacon Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, offers a valuable explanation of this term.
"The title, “Co-redemptix,” refers to Mary’s unique participation with and under her Divine Son Jesus Christ, in the historic Redemption of humanity. The prefix, “Co,” comes from the Latin “cum,” which means “with.” The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s Redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of Redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Savior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity."2
Mary’s entire existence has been one of cooperation with the Lord. So it was on Calvary. She who was preserved by God from Original Sin at the moment of her conception and heard from the mouth of Simeon that “you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”3 accepted the salvific death of her Son not with a “hands-off” approach but instead by embracing it. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965), in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of November 21, 1964, painted this picture of Our Blessed Lady’s collaboration with the Almighty, which included her heroic surrender to Christ’s ignominious death.
"Thus 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."4
Deacon Miravalle spells out precisely what Mary did next to her dying Son.
"Mary uniquely participated in the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary and in the acquisition of the graces of Redemption for humanity (theologically referred to as “objective redemption”). Mary offered her Son and her maternal rights in relation to her Son to the Heavenly Father in perfect obedience to God’s will and in atonement for the sins of the world. Mary’s offering of her own Son on Calvary, along with her own motherly compassion, rights and suffering, offered in union with her Son for the salvation of the human family, merited more graces than any other created person. As Pope Pius XII confirmed in his encyclical On the Mystical Body, Mary “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.” 5
Despite her enormous grief as she watched her Son die, Our Lady generously “yielded” Jesus to the purpose the Father through the Holy Spirit intended, namely the reconciliation of the human race to its Creator. Although what Mary did on Calvary was secondary and subordinate to what Christ did, it was, nevertheless, necessary because God made it so. In His unparalleled wisdom, the Lord required this all-encompassing—and real—sacrifice from Mary, who said her fiat with incredible trust in God as she had at the Annunciation.
Mediatrix of All Graces
The term Mediatrix is used to “refer either to the general category of Mary’s Maternal Mediation with Christ the one Mediator . . . or to her specific role in the distribution of the ...
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