following are excerpts from Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
by Dr. Ludwig Ott, published by Tan Books & Publishers, Inc.,
+Cornelius, Ep. Corgagiensis et Ap. Adm. Rossesis, October 7, 1954.
MOTHER OF THE REDEEMER
1: MARY’S MOTHERHOOD
denial of the true humanity of Christ involves the denial of the
true motherhood of Mary, and the denial of the Divinity of Christ
logically also leads to the denial of Mary’s motherhood of God.
Thus the Nestorians (in the Fifth Century) refused to
recognize Mary’s title: Theotokos (= Mother of God), and
designated her by the names of “Mother of Man” or “Mother
Gregory Nazianzus (about the year 382) writes: “If anyone does
not recognize the Holy Mary as the Mother of God, he is separated
from the Divinity” (Ep. 101, 4).
The principal defender against Nestorians of the Marian title
of honor is St. Cyril of Alexandria.
the objection made by Nestorians that Mary is not the Mother of God
because from her was taken the human nature only, but not the Divine
Nature, it is replied that not the nature as such, but the person
was conceived and born. As
Mary conceived and bore the Person of the God-Logos subsisting in
human nature, she is truly the Mother of God.
Thus the title of Theotokos includes a confession of
the Mother of God, Mary transcends in dignity all created persons,
angels and men, because the dignity of a creature is the greater the
nearer it is to God. And of all created things after the human nature of Christ,
which is hypostatically united with the Person of the Logos, Mary is
nearest to the Triune God. As
a true mother she is related by blood to the Son of God according to
His human nature. Through
the Son she is associated intimately also with the Father and the
Holy Ghost. The Church
honors her on account of her position as Mother of God, and on
account of her high endowment with grace deriving from her position
as Daughter of the Heavenly Father and Spouse of the Holy Ghost. In a certain sense Mary’s dignity is infinite, since she is
the mother of an Infinite Divine Person.
Fathers stress the connection between Mary’s fullness of grace and
her dignity as Mother of God. St.
Augustine, having based her sinlessness on her dignity as Mother of
God, says: “Whence, then, do we know with what excess of grace
she was endowed, in order to conquer sin in every regard, who
merited to conceive and to bear Him of whom it is certain that He
had no sin?” (De natura et gratia, 36, 42).
Thomas Aquinas sees in Mary’s fullness of grace a verification of
the axiom: The nearer a thing is to a principle, the more it
receives from the operation of that principle.
But of all creatures Mary His Mother stands nearest to
Christ, who is the source of Grace, as God auctoritative, as
man instrumentaliter. Consequently
she duly received from Him a supreme measure of Grace.
But above all Mary’s vocation to be the Mother of God
demands for her the richest endowment with Grace.
QUEENSHIP OF MARY
right to reign as Queen of Heaven is a consequence of her Divine
Motherhood. Since Christ, because of the hypostatic union, is as man the
Lord and King above all creation, so Mary as “the Mother of the
Lord” shares in the royal dignity of her Son.
Furthermore, Mary’s royal merit is based on her intrinsic
connection with Christ in His work of Redemption.
Just as Christ is also our Lord and King, because He has
redeemed us with His precious Blood, so, in an analogical way, Mary
is our Lady and Queen because she, the new Eve, has shared
intimately in the redemptive work of Christ, the new Adam, by
suffering with Him and offering Him up to the Eternal Father. Mary’s sublime dignity as the Queen of Heaven and Earth
makes her supremely powerful in her maternal intercession for her
children on earth.
the 8th December, 1854, Pope Piux IX, in the Bull “Ineffabilis”
promulgated the following doctrine as revealed by God, and therefore
to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful: “The
Most Holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by
a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of her
merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from
all stain of original sin.”
cause was the Redemption by Jesus Christ. It follows from this that even Mary was in need of
redemption, and was in fact redeemed.
By reason of her natural origin, she, like all other children
of Adam, was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin,
but by a special intervention of God, she was preserved from stain
of original sin. Thus
Mary also was redeemed “by the grace of Christ” but in a more
perfect manner than other human beings.
While these are freed from original sin present in their
souls, Mary the Mother of the Redeemer, was preserved from the
contagion of original sin. Thus
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in no way contradicts
the dogma that all children of Adam are subject to original sin and
CO-OPERATION IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION
OF THE REDEMPTION
may regard the Redemption objectively or subjectively.
Objectively the Redemption is the work of the Redeemer,
subjectively the Redemption is the realization of the Redemption in
individual men, or the application of the fruits of the Redemption
to individual men (Justification).
Christ’s work of Redemption effected the salvation of
humanity from the burden of sin.
But sin, by its very nature, is a turning away from God (aversio
a Deo) and a turning towards the creature (conversio ad
the work of the Redemption must consist in the turning away from the
creature, and the turning towards God.
Redemption signifies the freeing of men from the tyranny of
sin and in attendant evils (servitude to the devil and death).
It also signifies the restoration of man’s supernatural
union with God, which was destroyed by sin.
The Redemption objectively considered, was fulfilled through
the teaching and directing activity of Christ.
In a supreme degree, however, it was effected by the
vicarious atonement and the merits of Christ in His sacrificial
death on the Cross. Through
the Atonement, the insult offered to God by sin was counterbalanced,
and the injury to the honor of God repaired.
Through the merits of Christ the supernatural riches of
salvation were acquired which are to be dispensed in the Subjective
The source of the Subjective Redemption is the Triune God.
Since however, the communication of grace is a work of the
Divine Love, it is “appropriated” to the Holy Ghost, i.e., to
the Personal Divine Love. Nevertheless
it is effected by the Three Persons in common.
The Subjective Redemption, however, is not the work of God
alone. By reason of the
fact that God has endowed human nature with reason and free will,
Justification requires the free co-operation of men.
The unfathomable mystery of the doctrine of grace lies in
this intimate mutual co-operation of Divine power and human freedom.
All the controversies and the heresies that have arisen
concerning Justification derive from the difficulties posed by this
mystery of co-operation. In
the working-out of man’s Subjective Redemption, God supports man,
not merely by an inner principle, grace, but also by an outward
principle, the efficacy of the Church in its doctrine, its guidance
of men and its work of dispensing the grace of Christ through the
Sacraments. The final
object of the Subjective Redemption is the Beatific Vision.
MEDIATORSHIP OF MARY
Pope Pius XII says in the Encyclical: “Mystici Corporis”
(1943), 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.”
As “The New Eve” she is, as the same Pope
declares, in the Apostolic Constitution: Munificentissimus Deus”
(1950) “the sublime associate of our Redeemer”
statement of Pope St. Pius X in the Encyclical “Ad diem illum”
(1904): “The Blessed Virgin merits for us de congruo what
Christ merited de condigno” is not indeed to be taken as
referring to the historical Objective Redemption, which occurred
once and for all, but to her ever-present, intercessory co-operation
in the Subjective Redemption.
her assumption into Heaven, Mary co-operates in the application of
the grace of Redemption to man.
Pope Leo XIII says in the Rosary Encyclical “Octobri
mense” (1891): “From that great treasure of all graces,
which the Lord has brought, nothing, according to the will of God,
comes to us except through Mary, so that, as nobody can approach the
Supreme Father except through the Son, similarly nobody can approach
Christ except through the Mother.”
Pope St. Pius X calls Mary “the dispenser of all gifts,
which Jesus has acquired for us by His death and His blood.”
Pope Benedict XV declared: “All gifts which the Author of all
good has deigned to communicate to the unhappy posterity of Adam,
are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence,
dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin.”
The same Pope calls Mary: “the mediatrix with God of all
St. Bernard of
Clairvaux (1153) says of Mary: “God wished that we have
nothing, except by the hands of Mary” (In Vig. Natigit.
Domini Serm. 3, 10).
St. Albert the Great calls Mary: “The universal
dispenser of all riches” (Super Misus est q. 29).
In modern times the doctrine that Mary is the Universal
Mediatrix of Grace was advocated by St. Peter Canisius, Suarez, St.
Alphonsus Liguori, Scheeben, and it is supported by the opinion of
numerous theologians at the present day.
The doctrine of Mary’s Universal Mediation is based on her
co-operation in the Incarnation and the Redemption, as well as on
her relationship to the Church:
Since Mary gave the source of all grace to men, it is to be
expected that she would also co-operate in the distribution of all
As Mary became the spiritual Mother of all the redeemed, it
is fitting that she, by her constant motherly intercession should
care for the supernatural life of all her children.
As Mary is “the prototype of the Church (St. Ambrose, Expos.
Ev. Sec. Luc. II 7), and as all grace of redemption is
obtained by the Church, it is to be assumed that Mary, by her
heavenly intercession, is the universal mediatrix of grace.
more on the Blessed Mother’s role for our salvation, there are
many excellent sources including: The Mother of the Savior and
Our Interior Life by Fr. Reginald Marie Garrigou-LaGrange,
O.P., published by Tan Books & Publishers, 1993)