12 April 2021


On this Annotine Easter, my prayers and good wishes to readers who received the Sacraments of Initiation last year.

Have you ... has any of us ... thought much about the way by which Salvation has, seen historically, come to each one of us?

Perhaps we could situate this enquiry within a new look at the Dogma of our Lady as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces, since a very high authority in the Church has recently emcouraged us to give this beautiful dogma a lot of thought.

Of course, I will need an Aunt Sally, a straw figure conveniently constructed by myself,  for me to direct my blows at.

So I will set before you an imaginary English Reformation-style Calvinist, whom I will call Calvinianus. You may, if you like, abbreviate that name.

Calvinianus might tell you that he does not believe in Human Mediation and Human Mediators. All he needs is what he finds within the Bible which he has resting there upon his knee. He has no need for 'human intermediaries'. Sola Scriptura!!

But how did he get that Bible? His Calvinist God is (surely) powerful enough to have sent it down to him, directly from the clouds of Heaven. But his God ... even if He is a Calvinist ... chose not to do that. What He chose to do was to send it down through the will and agency of vast numbers of human intermediaries. Who gave you that Bible? Who printed it? Who transmitted the text through the Dark Days of Monkish Error? Who translated it? Who gave employment to your benefactor so that he could afford to buy it for you?  Who is responsible for the Christian Faith of your Benefactor, which moved him to give you that Bible? Who maintains the bookshop from which he procured it? Who led the shop-assistant (who sold that Bible over the counter) to get a job there? Who built the shop? Yes; I know that, if that assistant had not been on duty, another one could have sold the Bible ... but then I would be asking the self-same question about her.

The plain fact is that we live in a world which God has created to be almost unbelievably complex and interrelated, with innumerable interlocking causalities. A recent scientific populariser has explained that, in modern physics, Reality is relational; that nothing exists except in relation to something else. "A mother is a mother because she has a child; a planet is a planet because it orbits a star; a predator is such because it hunts prey; a position in space is there only in relation to something else."

So, to summarise:

(1) The Creator might not have created.

(2) When He did create, He might just have created one single monadic Time and Place and Being.

(3) Instead, it was His Will and Nature to create an immense and interlocking complexity of times and places and beings.

(4) He situated in this Creation endless chains of causes and effects. He thus placed Causality in His creation as its most striking and most important feature. (That is why intercessory and expiatory prayer is not an attempt to twist God's arm or hubristically to achieve a result outside His will; instead, it is His wonderful gift of the opportunity of entering into His will; of sharing His own causality.)

Think about it: what more could a loving Creator give?

This is why S Paul (I Cor 3:9) can call us sunergoi (fellow-workers) of God, and can so blithely, so naturally claim that he himself in his flesh completes what is lacking (antanaplero ta husteremata ton thlipseon tou Christou en tei sarki mou huper tou somatos autou, ho estin he ekklesia, hes egenomen ego diakonos kata ten oikonomian tou Theou ktl!!!) in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church (Col 1; 24).

S Paul must stand in the sequences of causality of the Faith of millions of Christians down the ages, and today. But there is one person from whom every single such chain of causality inevitably takes its fontal start (arkhe; principium).

Because Mary, by an act of free will, brought into the World the Coequal Son, to be the Redeemer of anyone who is redeemed, every chain of causality which has brought any person to Saving Faith is inevitably traced back to her Fiat. That is why she is the unique Co-operatrix in Redemption; the Mediatrix of every grace which has ever come, and still does come, to humankind.

This all seems to me so blindingly obvious that my first instinct has usually been to say how unnecessary it is for it to be defined as dogma. But Jorge Bergoglio, apparently, so he has recently admitted to us, has problems with it. So, obviously, it does need to be defined. Dogmatic definitions, S John Henry Newman argued, should be necessary responses to doctrinal error. And, if this truth is not defined, Salvation is going to look rather like one of those gnostic 'truths' which drift majestically down unmediated from Heaven ...

... just like a Calvinist Bible! King James Version, of course, and bound in black leather!! Like the one Bill Clinton, that doughty old Calvinist Prod, used to take to Church with him!


Paul in Melbourne, Australia said...

This is hinted at in the visions of St Mary of Jesus of Agreda. As my fellow readers will know, many are uncomfortable about the term as it may be misunderstood to mean equal rather than subordinate. Although the term is not used by Jesus to Mary in the visions of Servant of God Cora Evans, in those visions he requests Mary to give her consent to playing a role in salvation by leading souls to redemption through her apparitions. Jesus tells her "you will truly be the Gate of Heaven," a title which my fellow readers will recognise from the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

I see Paul above has made a similar point to that which I intend.

The problem it seems is not the theology but the language, even evidently with the Pope. They interpret "co-redeemer' to imply 'co-equal', as if, were Christ called away on some other business, the co-redeemer could carry on and redeem Mankind on his (Her?) own. Clearly Pope Francis thinks this, as he said "no, it is going too far." The implication being that we somehow see a fourth Person of the Holy Trinity.

Co-redeemer means "cooperator with the Redeemer", a collaborator who works beside the Master. So if one collaborator goes (like your bookshop girl), another can take over, but she cannot run the bookshop single-handed, nor would presume to! Let alone write and publish the books.

The Church has not wasted much time speculating what would have happened has Mary not said "Fiat". God would have found and prepared another girl, and presumably, our Saviour would not have been called Jesus; or perhaps He would, but with a different mother than Mary and another foster-father than Joseph son of David. And we should never have known. But Mary did, so why dwell on it? And by doing so she performed her first co-redemptive act. Even if you say it was her only such act, and that the Dolours count for nothing, the Motherhood of the Church given from the Cross counts for nothing, none of this can take away from her "Fiat".

The eternally resounding Fiat of the Co-Redemptrix.

Nancy said...

This was helpful, thank you. My research goal for the morning is to begin to untangle what is going on with the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (May 31?) having morphed into the Visitation (May 31) and then the queenship moved to August 22, seven days after the Assumption, which does seem logical. Any further insight into the honors due Mary and her role, however, is always appreciated.

Jhayes said...

If this quotation is correct, I think Francis's statement is a useful clarification:

"As a mother, not a goddess, not as a co-redeemer. as a mother. It's true Christian piety always gives her beautiful titles, just as a son gives them to his mother. How many beautiful things a son says to his mother whom he loves so much! How many beautiful things! But we must be careful: the things the Church and the saints say, the beautiful things they say to Mary, don't take anything away from the redeeming uniqueness of Christ. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love that a son says to his mother, they may be exaggerated, but we know love leads us to do exaggerated things, but they come from love."


John Allen points out that Benedict also said that the use of " co-redemptrix" created misunderstandings. Also, according to Allen, a proposal to establish a dogmatic definition of Mary as "Co-Mediatrix" was proposed but not adopted at the Second Vatcan Council. Which means there is no Dogma of Mary as Co-Redemptrix.

"Speaking with Peter Seewald for the book-length interview published as God and the World: A Conversation, the then cardinal said: “The formula ‘co-redemptrix’ departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers, and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings.

Everything comes from Him [Christ], as the Letter to the Ephesians and the Letter to the Colossians, in particular, tell us; Mary, too, is everything she is through Him,” Ratzinger said. “The word ‘co-redemptrix’ would obscure this origin. A correct intention being expressed in the wrong way.”

the idea of declaring it [Mary as Co-Redemptrix] as a church dogma was discussed, though not adopted, at the Second Vatican Council"


shrink said...

I am speechless by this excellent summary of faith!

Francis said...

There is a new post today on Fr. Z’s blog which picks up on an article in Catholic World Report by an American priest who laments the Holy Father’s constant stream of attacks on priests in general (“rigid,” “torture chambers” etc. etc.) and the harmful effect of this sniping on priestly morale. It got me thinking. Why on earth is this man in charge? How does it fit into the divine plan? Then I remembered PF’s latest attack on the title of Our Blessed Lady as Co-Redemptrix. PF’s utterance has had a tremendous effect: just read the blogs and watch the vlogs! It has rallied the pope’s critics around the title of Co-Redemptrix and galvanised support for it. For many years, I have privately favoured the formal definition of a new Marian dogma of Co-Redemption but saw little chance of this gaining traction in the Church. Now we may finally be getting the traction…Which brings me back to why Francis is pope.

coradcorloquitur said...

What a gift this column has been to me. I never had difficulties with the title for the Blessed Lady as "Mediatrix of All Graces," as clearly Grace Himself came through her great fiat and physical as well as moral mediation. But "Co-Redemptrix," not yet being a defined dogma, was a bit difficult because I read into it an implicit notion of Christ's redemption being in need of assistance or completion. But in the words of the old popular hymn (hymns for me often a source of consolation and instruction), "I once was blind, but now I see." Our Lady's participation in he Son's redemption is in keeping with God's order for the universe: familial, lovingly collaborative, and gracious---but not due to any lack on the part of the Redeemer. Moreover, the fact that Francis I seems to cast doubt on the co-redemption notion (as he often does with much Catholic dogma, especially those touching on the BVM; She seems to stick in his craw and are we surprised?) is a welcome catalyst for me in understanding and embracing this undefined doctrine. You see, Francis does have, once in a blue moon, after all an unintended salutary doctrinal effect on some of us---totally unintended, mind you!

John Patrick said...

In an airliner, the copilot helps fly the plane but the pilot is the one in charge. No confusion there, so why is there confusion about co-redemptrix?

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

C.A.C.L says “totally unintended, mind you.” But is it? PF said himself he wanted to “make a mess.” Well - mission accomplished. He is like a tired 1980’s trendy professor, endlessly throwing up outrageous challenges in the patronising belief that it will make stubborn minds think. We have nearly all been taught by such unpleasant men at some stage. Now I firmly believe we have one for pope.

coradcorloquitur said...

To John Patrick above: Does it seem logical to make a comparison between the technical act of flying a plane (by human beings) and redeeming the human race (by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity)?