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!