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Mary's Maternal Mediation

Interview With Father Jesús Castellano Cervera

ROME, MAY 20, 2004 (Zenit) - Prayer "to Mary and with Mary" not only stirs up "her sentiments in us," but also those of her Son, says a specialist in Marian studies.

Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, a professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum and a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained to below Mary's maternal mediation in the mystery of salvation.

Q: One of the central mysteries of the Catholic religion refers to Mary. Why did God decide that Jesus should be born of the Virgin?

Father Castellano Cervera: Mary enters the history of salvation by a free decision of God. Starting from the details in Scripture, especially the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, but also in some allusions of Mark, we can discover the centrality of Mary in the history of salvation, from the very beginning, as Vatican Council II has well shown in the constitution "Lumen Gentium," especially numbers 55 to 59, where with great sobriety and profundity Mary is presented in the history of salvation at the biblical level.

Obviously the centrality of Mary depends on the centrality of Christ, on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word who willed, in God's plans, a real human birth of the Word from a real Mother who has given to the Son of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, our human nature in a conception and birth from a Virgin.

Only the unfathomable condescension of God, who willed that the Word should become our flesh, explains the maternal function of Mary, her dignity and her importance.

Starting from this event, willed by God, Mary is at the center of the whole mystery of Christ and of the Church, linked to the work of the Trinity, to the mystery of the Church, to the mystery of salvation.

Q: Why was Mary chosen?

Father Castellano Cervera: God chose Mary because in his plans he desired on one hand the normality of a birth from a mother of the People of Israel, and on the other, the unique peculiarity of being born from a Virgin Mother.

Because of this, God prepared this creature from the beginning, filling her with grace and benevolence. He created in her a particular virginal and maternal psychology which also developed with her freedom in the context of a hope of the People of Israel.

According to the Gospel of Luke, the event of the Annunciation enables us to enter into those plans of God, hearing the words of the Angel, messenger of the Good News, and of the Virgin, free and wise who abandons herself totally to the will of God.

Q: With the birth of Jesus, Mary became the seal of the covenant between the Creator and humanity. Is it also because of this that the faithful address her as our advocate, as the one who is most heard by the Lord?

Father Castellano Cervera: The covenant of the Incarnation is already part of the new covenant promised by the prophets, and Mary is the protagonist.

In different ways we can emphasize this character of covenant in Mary between God and humanity. It is a new and gratuitous covenant because it depends on the will of God. It has the novelty of a covenant made this time with a woman-mother.

It is a covenant that is realized with the union between the divine and the human with the human maternity of Mary and the fecundity of the Spirit.

It is the covenant in which Mary, with a new and renewed heart by the grace of the Holy Spirit, gives herself totally to the will of the Father. It is a covenant in which Mary, in addition to her personal participation, also acts as the new Israel and first fruit of the Church.

From this leading role of Mary we can understand the meaning of her maternal mediation in the mystery of our salvation and recognize that among all of Mary's titles, as Vatican Council II teaches, she is also called Mediatrix, Auxiliatrix and Advocate.

They are titles that must not obfuscate her dependence on Christ, our advocate with the Father, and of the Spirit, who is also Paraclete, advocate in our prayer. Mary prays for us with the groans of the Spirit and intercedes with the Spirit for the salvation of all.

Q: What importance does Marian devotion and prayer have in the life of a Catholic?

Father Castellano Cervera: Urs Von Balthasar spoke of the Marian principle or profile of the Church, and he said that Christian spirituality is Marian spirituality, especially in the sense that the Christian looks at Mary to have her same sentiments: to receive with docility the word of Jesus, to incarnate his personal and communitarian presence in the world, to give Christ to others.

Prayer to Mary and with Mary, "filial communion" with Mary, as I like to stress, expresses the contemplation, the invocation and the imitation of Mary, in such a way that closeness to Mary in prayer can create in us her sentiments and with them those of Christ Jesus.

Marian prayer leads to contemplation, to imitation, but also to the grace of feeling oneself in communion with Mary, who creates in us the "features of the firstborn," as Paul VI wrote in "Marialis Cultus," in a very apt synthesis of the meaning of Marian piety and spirituality.

In consequence, contemplating the filial love toward the Father, maternal toward Christ, spousal toward the Spirit, universal toward all, we learn the real meaning of piety and the duty of universal and concrete charity.

Mary constantly says to us: "Do whatever he tells you." Sister Lucia of Fatima has described this phrase as "Mary's commandment."


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