“Together they [Christ and Mary] accomplished the task of man’s redemption…both offered up one and the same sacrifice to God; she in the blood of her heart, he in the blood of the flesh…so that, together with Christ, she obtained a common effect in the salvation of the world.” –Abbot Arnold of Chartres (1144-56), friend and disciple of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – Doctor of the Church
“Think of what the Saints have done for their neighbor because they loved God. But what Saint’s love for God can match Mary’s? She loved Him more in the first moment of her existence than all the Saints and angels ever loved Him or will love Him. Our Lady herself revealed to Sister Mary Crucified that the fire of her love was most extreme. If Heaven and earth were placed in it, they would be instantly consumed. And the ardors of the seraphim, compared with it, are like cool breezes. Just as there is not one among all the Blessed who loves God as Mary does, so there is no one, after God, who loves us as much as this most loving Mother does. Furthermore, if we heaped together all the love that mothers have for their children, all the love of husbands and wives, all the love of all the angels and Saints for their clients, it could never equal Mary’s love for even a single soul.” -Saint Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary
For quite some time now theologians have been discussing the possibility of making a definition of yet another dogma that directly concerned out Lady. If you go all the way back to the mid-18th century and take a look at probably the greatest book ever written on our Lady: The Glories of Mary, by that great Doctor of the Church Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori one finds this doctrine already explained and fleshed out. So what then is this proposed dogma? It is the role of our Lady as: “Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace, and Advocate”. Simply put this dogma would properly define what has always been taught about our Lady’s integral part in her Sons work of Salvation.
This dogma has been quite thoroughly defended and strenuously advocated for by man Bishops and Theologians for quite some time. In fact, Blessed Pope John Paul II was poised to make this definition sometime during the latter half of his pontificate. He was very much behind the proposal to make the definition and wanted to make it, but sadly he was put under terrible pressure by a number of powerful figures in the curia, which forced him to abandon his plan and I believe this was very difficult for him. Dr. Mark Miravalle, a professor of Theology at Franciscan University and a strong promoter of this proposed definition, says that the definition was not made out of fears of the negative impact with respect to interreligious dialoged. Of course this is completely silly. The Church has never and cannot now begin to allow it’s teachings to be dictated by those who are opposed to her.
It cannot be highly recommend enough that one read The Glories of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri as well as the True Devotion to Mary, by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort and you will see the truth of this teaching and the need for it’s definition as a due honor for our Lady just as with the other four already made.
Here then are a few quotes supporting each of the three titles to be applied to our Lady, and following that we look to Rev. Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange for a solid theological treating of this subject.
Mary as Our Advocate
“She enriches our good works by adorning them with her own merits and virtues. It is as if a poor peasant, wishing to win the friendship and favour of the king, were to go the queen and give her an apple – his only possession – for her to offer it to the king. The queen, accepting the peasant’s humble gift, puts it on a beautiful golden dish and presents it to the king on behalf of the peasant. The apple in itself would not be a gift worthy of a king, but presented by the queen in person on a dish of gold, it becomes fit for any king.” –Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” -Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church
Mary as Mediatrix of All Grace
“Mary has the authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven. As a reward for her great humility, God gave her the power and mission of assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels who fell away through pride. Such is the will of the almighty God who exalts the humble, that the powers of heaven, earth and hell, willingly or unwillingly, must obey the commands of the humble Virgin Mary. For God has made her queen of heaven and earth, leader of his armies, keeper of his treasure, dispenser of his graces, mediatrix on behalf of men, destroyer of his enemies, and faithful associate in his great works and triumphs.” –Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary
“After the Mediator thou art the Mediatrix of the whole world.” -Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Father and Doctor of the Church
“As the moon, which stands between the sun and earth, transmits to this latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out upon us who are in this world the heavenly graces that she receives from the divine sun of justice.” -Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Father and Doctor of the Church
“All our hope do we repose in the most Blessed Virgin — in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: in her who is the glory of the prophets and apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the saints; in her who is the safest refuge and the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers.” –Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus
“The power thus put into her hands is all but unlimited. How unerringly right, then, are Christian souls when they turn to Mary for help as though impelled by an instinct of nature, confidently sharing with her their future hopes and past achievements, their sorrows and joys, commending themselves like children to the care of a bountiful mother. How rightly, too, has every nation and every liturgy without exception acclaimed her great renown, which has grown greater with the voice of each succeeding century. Among her many other titles we find her hailed as ‘our Lady, our Mediatrix,'[St. Bernard, Serm.II in Adv.] ‘the Reparatrix of the whole world,'[St. Tharasius, Orat. in Praesentatione.] ‘the Dispenser of all heavenly gifts.'[On Off. Graec., 8 Dec. ]” –Pope Leo XIII, Adiutricem
“Undoubtedly the name and attributes of the absolute Mediator belong to no other than to Christ, for being one person, and yet both man and God, He restored the human race to the favour of the Heavenly Father: One Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a redemption for all (1 Tim. ii. 5, 6). And yet, as the Angelic Doctor teaches, there is no reason why certain others should not be called in a certain way mediators between God and man, that is to say, in so far as they cooperate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God (Summa, p. 111., q. xxvi., articles 1, 2). Such are the angels and saints, the prophets and priests of both Testaments; but especially has the Blessed Virgin a claim to the glory of this title. For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind. hastening to eternal ruin, a Saviour, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the Angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race ( Summa. p. III., q. xxx., art. 1). She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly His mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable ‘Mediatrix to the Mediator.’” -Pope Leo XIII, Fidentem piumque animum
“It was not only the prerogative of the Most Holy Mother to have furnished the material of His flesh to the Only Son of God, Who was to be born with human members (S. Bede Ven. L. Iv. in Luc. xl.), of which material should be prepared the Victim for the salvation of men; but hers was also the office of tending and nourishing that Victim, and at the appointed time presenting Him for the sacrifice. Hence that uninterrupted community of life and labors of the Son and the Mother, so that of both might have been uttered the words of the Psalmist”My life is consumed in sorrow and my years in groans” (Ps xxx., 11). When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the Cross of Jesus there stood Mary His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her Only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind, and so entirely participating in His Passion, that if it had been possible she would have gladly borne all the torments that her Son bore (S. Bonav. 1. Sent d. 48, ad Litt. dub. 4). And from this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world (Eadmeri Mon. De Excellentia Virg. Mariae, c. 9) and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that Our Savior purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood.
It cannot, of course, be denied that the dispensation of these treasures is the particular and peculiar right of Jesus Christ, for they are the exclusive fruit of His Death, who by His nature is the mediator between God and man. Nevertheless, by this companionship in sorrow and suffering already mentioned between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed to the august Virgin to be the most powerful mediatrix and advocate of the whole world with her Divine Son (Pius IX. Ineffabilis). The source, then, is Jesus Christ “of whose fullness we have all received” (John i., 16), “from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together by what every joint supplieth, according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in charity” (Ephesians iv., 16). But Mary, as St. Bernard justly remarks, is the channel (Serm. de temp on the Nativ. B. V. De Aquaeductu n. 4); or, if you will, the connecting portion the function of which is to join the body to the head and to transmit to the body the influences and volitions of the head — We mean the neck. Yes, says St. Bernardine of Sienna, “she is the neck of Our Head, by which He communicates to His mystical body all spiritual gifts” (Quadrag. de Evangel. aetern. Serm. x., a. 3, c. iii.).” -Pope Saint Pius X, Ad diem illum
Mary as Co-redemptrix
The last quote in the preceding section is a good segue into this one, and because this subject seems to be so often misunderstood and taken the wrong way I turn once again to Dr. Ludwig Ott and his great work: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (the references of “D” followed by a number refer to Denzingers Sources of Catholic Dogma, which is another must have for every Catholics library, and which contains the primary source texts for all the essential teachings of the Catholic faith):
Mary’s co-opeartion in the Redemption
The title Corredemptrix=Coredemptress, which has been current since the fifteenth century, and which also appears in some official Church documents under Pius X (cf. D 1978 a), must not be conceived in the sense of an equation of the efficacy of Mary with the redemptive activity of Christ, the sole Redeemer of humanity (I Tim. 2, 5). As she herself required redemption and in fact was redeemed by Christ, she could not of herself merit the grace of the redemption of humanity in accordance with the principle: Principium meriti non cadit sub eodem merito. (The author of an act of merit cannot be a recipient of the same act of merit.) Her co-operation in the objective redemption is an indirect, remote co-operation, and derives from this that she voluntarily devoted her whole life to the service of the Redeemer, and, under the Cross, suffered and sacrificed with Him. As Pope Pius XII says in the Encyclical “Mystici Corporis” (1943), she “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” (D 2291). As “The New Eve” she is, as the same Pope declares, in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissiumus Deus” (1950) “the sublime associate of our Redeemer” (alma Redemptoris nostri social [cf. Gn. 3, 12]). Cf. D. 3031: generoso Divini Redemptoris socia.
Christ alone truly offered the sacrifice of atonement on the Cross; Mary merely gave Him moral support in this action. Thus Mary is not entitled to the title “Priest” (sacerdos). Christ, as the Church teaches, “conquered the enemy of the human race alone (solus)” (D 711); in the same way, He alone acquired the grace of Redemption for the whole human race, including Mary. The words of Luke I, 38: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” imply Mary’s mediate, remote co-operation in the Redemption. Saint Ambrose expressly teaches: “Christ’s Passion did not require any support” (De inst. Virg. 7). In the power of the grace of Redemption merited by Christ, Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her Divine Son for men, made atonement for the sins of men, and (de congruo) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In this manner she co-operates in the subjective redemption of mankind.
The statement of Pope Pius X in the Encyclical “Ad diem illum” (1904): (Beata Virgo) de congruo, ut aiunt, promeret nobis, quae Christus de condigno promeruit (D 1978 a) (The Blessed Virgin merits for us de congruo what Christ merited de condigno) is, as the present tense ‘promeret” shows, 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.
And finally here is the full explanation from our friend Father Garrigou-Lagrange.
CHRIST THE SAVIOR
Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
A Commentary on the Third Part of St. Thomas’ Theological Summa
Seventh Article: The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Universal Mediation
The holy Mother of the Redeemer is often called by the Fathers “the new Eve” or the spiritual mother of all men. Afterward, more and more explicitly her universal mediation was affirmed in the liturgy and in the works of theologians. In the Middle Ages St. Bernard says: “Mary is the procurer of grace, the mediator of salvation, the restorer of the ages,” St. Albert the Great calls Mary “the coadjutor and associate of Christ,” Finally, in most recent times, the Supreme Pontiffs expressly affirm that she is the Mediatrix of all graces.
Leo XIII says: “It is God’s will that nothing be bestowed on us except through Mary; so that, as nobody can reach the supreme Father except through the Son, so that almost nobody can approach Christ except through Mary.” Leo XIII also says: “She is the one from whom Jesus was born, His true Mother, and for this reason the worthy and most accepted Mediatrix to the Mediator.”
Pius X more explicitly declared: “But from the communion of griefs and purpose between Mary and Christ she merited, as Eadmer says, to become most worthily the reparatrix of a lost world, and therefore the dispenser of all the gifts which Jesus procured for us by His death and the shedding of His blood…. Since she excelled all others in sanctity and in her union with Christ and was summoned by Him in the human work of salvation, it was congruous, as they say, that she should merit for us what Christ condignly merited for us; and she is the principal minister in the dispensation of graces.”
Benedict XV likewise says: “As she suffered with her Son in His passion and, so to speak, shared in His death, so she abdicated her maternal rights over her Son for the salvation of men and, as far as it was in her power, sacrificed her Son for the appeasement of divine justice, so that it can truly be said, that along with Christ she redeemed the human race.”
Pius XI said in equivalent words: “The most sorrowful Mother participated in the work of redemption with Jesus Christ.”
Finally, a decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office praises the custom of attaching the name of Jesus to that of Mary: “His Mother, our co-Redemptress, the blessed Mary.”
Therefore the title “Co-Redemptress of the human race” is approved.
Theological proof. It shows the genuineness of this title, for in the strict sense this title of co-Redemptress and universal Mediatrix befits the Mother of the Redeemer, if she is associated with Christ in the work of the redemption of the human race by way of merit and satisfaction. But she was truly so associated with Him by a perfect communion of will and suffering, inasmuch as she gave her consent to the mystery of the Incarnation. Thus she gave us the Redeemer, and afterward, especially on Calvary, along with Christ congruously merited and satisfied for all of us; now finally in heaven she intercedes with Christ for us and distributes all graces we receive. Therefore the aforesaid title strictly befits her.
But this association with Christ the Redeemer is properly understood when we exclude what it is not. Certainly the Blessed Virgin Mary was not the principal and perfective cause of our redemption, for she could not condignly redeem us in justice. For this, Christ’s theandric act of infinite value, as the head of the human race, was necessary. The Mother of the Savior could not elicit a theandric act of reparation, nor was she constituted the head of the human race. But, subordinated to Christ, she is really the secondary and dispositive cause of our redemption.
It is said “subordinated to Christ” not only in this sense, that she is inferior to Him, but that she concurs in our salvation, by the grace which comes from Christ’s merits. Thus she operated in Him and through Him. Hence Christ is the supreme mediator of all, and the Blessed Virgin Mary was redeemed by Him by a most perfect redemption, not by being freed from sin, but by being preserved from it.
She is also the dispositive cause of our redemption, inasmuch as she disposes us to receive Christ’s influence who, as the author of salvation, perfects the work of our redemption.
Some have raised the objection, that the principle of merit does not come under merit. But the Blessed Virgin Mary was redeemed by the sacrifice of the cross. Therefore she could not even congruously merit the attainment of graces for us.
Reply. I concede the major and minor, but the conclusion does not follow. All that follows is that she could not even congruously merit the attainment of all these graces for herself, this I concede. But she could merit these for us.
Christ merited condignly all the effects of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s predestination, except the divine motherhood, because in such a case He would have merited the Incarnation and therefore Himself. Hence Christ merited the first grace and final perseverance for the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the Blessed Virgin Mary did not even congruously merit for herself either the first grace or final perseverance, because the principle of merit does not come under merit. But the Blessed Virgin Mary merited for us congruously what Christ merited for us condignly, namely, all the graces we receive, even the first grace and final perseverance. In this there is no contradiction, but great harmony.
Hence the Blessed Virgin Mary was indeed redeemed by Christ through the sacrifice of the cross in the preservative sense, and so she was immaculate; but as a consequence of this, she merited congruously with Christ for us, not only the distribution or application of graces, but the attainment of graces that flow from the sacrifice of the cross; for in the strict sense together with Christ she offered this sacrifice. Thus she merited with Him redemption in the objective sense, namely, our liberation from sin and our reinstatement in grace.
But I insist. The Blessed Virgin Mary merited congruously for us what, for example, St. Monica congruously merited and obtained for St. Augustine, namely, the grace of conversion. Therefore there is only a difference of degree between her and other saints who intercede for us, and it must not be said that she is the Co-Redemptrix in the strict sense, but only in an improper sense, as the apostles are said to have labored for the salvation of souls.
Reply. The difference is that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave us the Redeemer, and with Him offered the sacrifice of the cross by meriting and satisfying. St. Monica and other saints, on the contrary, did not offer with Christ the sacrifice of the cross, and therefore did not merit congruously the attainment of graces that flow from this sacrifice but only the application of these, and therefore cannot be called co-redeemers. They can be said only to labor in the salvation of souls. They did not merit congruously our redemption in the objective sense.
Hence St. Albert the Great could say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not assumed into the ministry of our Lord, but as a consort and help, in accordance with the saying: “Let us make him a help like unto himself, ” (Gen. 2:18). In this the Blessed Virgin is above the apostles and she alone can be properly called the Mediatrix and co-redemptrix of the human race.
The Way The Blessed Virgin Mary Merited The Liberation And Restoration Of The Human Race
In these times, as is known, in divers theological periodicals, especially in Belgium, and also in Italy, France, Spain, and Germany, there was and still is a controversy concerning the exact meaning of this doctrine that is commonly accepted among theologians and is sanctioned by Pius XI, namely, that what Christ merited de condigno for us, the Blessed Virgin Mary merited de congruo for us as the Mediatrix of the human race.
What is the exact meaning of saying that the Blessed Virgin Mary merited de congruo for us? Many theologians say that, although she did not merit condignly, yet she still merited in the proper sense, or strictly congruously, the liberation and restoration of the human race. The Blessed Virgin Mary properly merited for us de congruo also the first grace and also the last grace, namely, that of final perseverance, but under Christ, through Him and in Him, inasmuch as she was most closely and indissolubly united with Him in offering up the sacrifice of the cross.
Among these theologians, some, a few indeed, hint and sometimes say that merit in the strict sense is condign merit. Therefore the Blessed Virgin Mary, if she strictly merited for us the first grace, merited it also condignly, which is admitted by very few theologians.
Against this last conclusion several wrote that this would detract from the primacy of Christ the Redeemer, by whom the Blessed Virgin Mary was redeemed by preservative redemption, and they appealed to the common teaching as formulated by St. Thomas, who says: “No one can merit condignly for another the first grace, except Christ alone… inasmuch as He is the head of the Church, and the Author of human salvation,” In fact, some, but a few, replied that merit in the strict sense is condign merit; but the common teaching is that the Blessed Virgin Mary did not merit condignly for us. Therefore she did not merit properly but only improperly for us the first and the ultimate grace.
Therefore these last theologians wish to reduce the Blessed Mary’s merit for us to merit improperly so called or to the impetratory power of prayer, which can be in the sinner without merit, and which continues now in the blessed with merit. They interpret the following words of Pius X in this sense: “Since she excelled all others in sanctity and in her union with Christ, and was summoned by Him to the work of human salvation, it was congruous, as they say, that she should merit for us what Christ condignly merited for us.” According to this interpretation Pius X, concerning the merit of the Blessed Virgin Mary for us, would have had in mind only merit improperly so called of intercession such as that which continues in heaven, which is not strictly merit, and which therefore does not refer to the attainment of graces, but only to their application, just as other saints intercede for us. This last opinion is admitted by very few.
Theologians generally hold that the Blessed Virgin Mary merited for us strictly speaking, but only congruously, the first and last grace.
I do not now wish to enter into the particulars of this controversy, but I should like to make some preliminary observation, which has not been sufficiently noted, the necessity of which is clearly seen from the extremely opposite views on both sides. Both parties to the controversy hold that merit in the strict sense is condign merit; and one party to the controversy deduced therefore that the Blessed Virgin Mary merited condignly for us, which is contrary to the common teaching; the other party to the controversy deduces therefore that the Blessed Virgin Mary did not strictly merit for us, which is likewise against the common teaching, but in the opposite sense.
This controversy seems to result from an insufficient analysis of the notion of merit in general. On the one hand, the adversaries take a quasi-univocal view of merit, and therefore consider merit in the strict sense to be only condign merit. Wherefore either the Blessed Virgin Mary merited condignly for us, or did not strictly merit for us; and both parties depart from the common opinion.
But the first question to be asked is whether the notion of merit is univocal or analogical; and whether merit that has its foundation in an amicable right may be called analogically but still properly merit.
We often take univocally what must be understood analogically, and we do not sufficiently distinguish between what is said analogically and metaphorically, as when we say that God is angry, and what is said analogically and properly, as when we say that God is just.
Some, for example, seem to consider that cause in general is predicated univocally of the four causes, whereas it is predicated only analogically, or proportionately, but nevertheless it is still predicated properly of the final cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the material cause. Others speak as if cognition would be predicated univocally of intellection and sensation, whereas it is predicated of them analogically, but still properly, for sensation is the lowest kind of cognition, but it is still cognition in the strict sense. Likewise love is predicated analogically of spiritual love and of sensitive love, but this second kind is strictly love. Also, life is predicated analogically of divine life, of our intellectual life, our sensitive life, even of vegetative life, which still is life properly so called, distinct from life in the metaphorical sense, as when we speak of living water. Also, being is not predicated univocally but analogically of God, created substance, and accident; although accident is being in another, it is still properly something real; the quantity of bread, the wisdom of the doctor, are strictly something real and entirely distinct from a logical being, which is not strictly being. In all these examples analogy of proper and not merely metaphorical proportionality is verified.
Finally, according to the teaching of St. Thomas, sin is not predicated univocally but analogically of mortal sin and venial sin; nevertheless, venial sin is still sin in the strict sense, and thus is distinct from imperfection, for example, from less generosity or promptness in following the divine counsel. But if sin or demerit is predicated analogically, but still properly, of venial sin, likewise merit is not predicated univocally but analogically of condign merit and congruous merit; and why could it not still be properly predicated of merit that has its foundation in an amicable right?
What St. Thomas says of sin or of demerit is equally applicable to merit. He writes: “The division of sin into venial and mortal is not a division of a genus into a species, which have an equal share of the generic nature, but it is the division of an analogous term into its parts, of which it is predicated, of the one first, and of the other afterward, consequently the perfect notion of sin, which Augustine gives, applies to mortal sin. On the other hand, venial sin is called a sin in relation to mortal sin, even as an accident is called a being, in relation to substance, in reference to the imperfect notion of being.” Nevertheless, just as accident is still properly something real and not a logical being, so venial sin is still in the proper sense sin, but imperfectly so, just as vegetative life is very imperfect life, but it is still, however, properly called life.
Likewise merit, or the right to a reward analogically and not univocally is predicated of merit in the natural order, for example, in civil life or military life, and of supernatural merit. Likewise, in the supernatural order merit is predicated analogically: (1) of merit that has its foundation in strict justice in accordance with the absolute equality between the work performed and the reward, namely, Christ’s theandric merit is of infinite value; (2) condign merit still has its foundation in justice, yet not so that the work performed is equal to the reward, but proportionately so and according to the divine ordination and promise; (3) congruous merit properly so called has its foundation in merit, or in an amicable right to a reward, presupposing the state of grace, and in the Blessed Virgin Mary fullness of grace. So far merit has been predicated analogically, indeed, but still in the proper sense, just as accident still is being, and just as vegetative life still is life properly so called; (4) merit is predicated improperly or metaphorically of congruous merit in the broad sense which has its foundation in God’s liberality or mercy; then there is no more a right, not even an amicable right to a reward, because this last improperly called right does not suppose the state of grace, but a certain disposition for grace or prayer that the sinner offers, which has not a meritorious but an impetratory power.
St. Thomas, inquiring whether a man can merit the first grace for another, says: “No one can merit condignly for another his first grace; since each one of us is moved by God to reach life everlasting through the gift of grace; hence condign merit does not reach beyond this motion, but Christ’s soul is moved by God through grace, not only so as to reach the glory of life everlasting, but so as to lead others to it, inasmuch as He is the head of the Church, and the author of human salvation…. But one may merit the first grace for another congruously; because a man in grace fulfills God’s will, and it is congruous and in harmony with friendship that God should fulfill man’s desire for the salvation of another.” Thus it is commonly held that St. Monica not only obtained by her prayers, but also merited fittingly, though not condignly, the conversion of St. Augustine; a fortiori, the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, the Mother of God and the spiritual mother of all men, merited for us in a strictly congruous sense the first grace, in fact, all the graces we receive and for the elect the ultimate grace of final perseverance, which they cannot strictly merit for themselves, because thus the principle of merit or the state of grace lasting until the moment of death would come under merit.
This congruous merit has its foundation not only in God’s liberality and mercy, like the impetratory power of a sinner’s prayer, but has its foundation in an amicable right or in the rights of friendship, and presupposing the state of grace, and in the Blessed Virgin Mary fullness of grace, is still merit properly so called.
Nevertheless the idea of merit is not absolutely the same in condign merit and in strictly congruous merit; this notion is simply different, but in a qualified manner the same, that is, in accordance with a proper proportionality and is not merely metaphorical.
Thus the notion of life is not simply the same in the divine life and in the vegetative life, they are only proportionately the same; nevertheless the vegetative life is still life properly so called, and is not so metaphorically as when we speak of “living water.” Thus it remains true that the Blessed Virgin Mary properly merited for us the first grace and others, yet not condignly, but in a strictly congruous sense. Thus the Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ, through Him, and in Him congruously merited objective redemption, that is, the liberation and restoration of the human race, or the attainment of graces, which afterward are applied to individuals.
Thus the solution of the objections against the title “co-Redemptress” presents no difficulty.
Objection. Only Christ is the Redeemer.
Reply. That Christ alone is the Redeemer essentially, condignly, perfectively, this I concede; the Blessed Virgin Mary is co-Redemptress through Christ, congruously and imperfectly.
But I insist. The principle of merit does not come under merit. But Mary was redeemed by Christ. Therefore she cannot be the co-Redemptress.
Reply. That she cannot be her own co-Redemptress, this I concede; of others, I deny. Thus she could not even congruously merit for herself either the first grace or the immaculate conception, or the grace of final perseverance; for in such cases the principle of merit would fall under merit. But she could merit in a strictly congruous sense for us the first and last graces which Christ merited for us condignly. First of all the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from sin, and she was afterward the co-Redemptress.
Still I insist. Redemption is one and indivisible. Therefore, if the Blessed Virgin Mary is redeemed and hence is not her own co-Redemptress, she is also not the co-Redemptress of others.
Reply. Father Merkelbach distinguishes the antecedent as follows: That redemption is one and undivided according to the principal and perfective cause, and thus is a theandric act of Christ, this I concede; that redemption is one and undivided in its effects as a secondary and subordinated cause, this I deny. This presupposes the preservative redemption of the Virgin in her action as Mediatrix and co-Redemptress for others. Thus the soul, which vivifies the head, through the mediation of the head moves the members. Thus Christ was predestined first of all before us.
Thus Christ’s primacy is absolutely maintained, for the Blessed Virgin Mary is Mediatrix only, subordinately and in dependence on Christ. Only in virtue of her suffering and grace in union with Christ has she merited and satisfied congruously for us. It is only by Christ’s grace that the Blessed Virgin gave her consent on the day of the Annunciation, and on Calvary said: “May the Father’s will be done.”
Final objection. The Blessed Virgin Mary could not immediately cooperate with the act of redemption, or offer the sacrifice of the cross, because she was not a priest.
Reply. That she could not immediately cooperate in the redemptive act, by eliciting a theandric act, or by exercising a truly sacerdotal and sacrificial action, this I concede: that she could not by suffering with Him, this I deny. It is in this sense that Benedict XV says: “As she suffered with her Son in His passion and, so to speak, shared in His death, so she abdicated her maternal rights over her Son for the salvation of men and, as far as it was in her power, sacrificed her Son… so that it can truly be said, that along with Christ she redeemed the human race.”
In this sense the Blessed Virgin Mary congruously merited in the strict sense the attainment of graces that flow to us from Christ’s passion, whereas other saints can only congruously merit for us not the attainment but the application of graces that flow from the passion. And just as Christ condignly merited all the graces we receive, so the Blessed Virgin Mary merited them congruously; and just as Christ merited for the elect all the effects of predestination, namely, calling, justification, and glorification, so the Blessed Virgin Mary congruously merited these effects for the elect. Thus she is to us the Mediatrix of all graces, and can and must be called the co-Redemptress as subordinated to Christ in the work of our salvation. This nowise detracts from Christ’s primacy, but better affirms it, for just as God gave to creatures the dignity of causality, so Christ gave to His mother the dignity of causality, as regards meriting and satisfying for us.
Thus the unity of Mariology is preserved intact. There are not two quasi-equal principles, namely, Mary is the Mother of God, and Mary is the Mediatrix of all. The supreme principle in Mariology is: Mary is the Mother of God the Redeemer, and hence she is intimately associated with Him in the work of redemption.
The mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as subordinated to Christ’s mediation, is not necessary, but most useful and efficacious and is granted to us by God because of His mercy and our weakness. Truly the Blessed Virgin Mary congruously merited for us in the strict sense what Christ condignly merited. She also congruously satisfied for us, whereas Christ condignly satisfied for us.
Now in heaven the Mother of the Savior exercises her universal mediation by means of her all-powerful intercession, and by the distribution of all graces, congruously, since she already merited what she asks for. In this distribution, she is more probably, like Christ, not only the moral cause, but also the physical and instrumental cause of grace. Thus the parallelism with the Savior is preserved, as regards these four: namely, merit, satisfaction, intercession, distribution. There is no reason to deny this causality, which is found also in the priest absolving a penitent and in the wonderworker when he performs miracles. This causality is suggested in the liturgy when it chants: “Make my heart burn with the love of God…. Make me bear in my body the death of Christ…. Grant that I may be wounded with His wounds…. Grant that I may be inebriated with the teaching of the Cross.”
On account of the aforesaid reasons the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Universal mediation seems to be proximately definable.
The Blessed Virgin Mary especially shows herself as Mother of mercy toward men, inasmuch as she is the health of the sick, the refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians, mother of holy joy.
Similarly, as Mother of the Savior, she is queen of all, queen of angels, of patriarchs, of apostles, of prophets, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins. As Mother of God, she is entitled to the cult of hyperdulia.