Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hail WHO? Part Seven -- And Your Heart, Too Shall Be Pierced By A Sword

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

We are getting back to our "Hail WHO? -- What Do Catholic Really Believe About Mary" series. For those of you just joining, the Mary series started out with some great questions on Mary sent in by a reader. In response, I am laying out the Catholic Church's teachings on Mary in a systematic way. Thanks to those of you who've given me good feedback on the series -- I was anticipating more questions (which, of course, are still welcomed!), and since I haven't gotten too many so far, I'll conclude that: a) you're still considering what's been laid out, and waiting to see where I'm going with all of this; b) you've stopped reading, because the series has gone on so long and you ran out of coffee; c) you fully intended to continue reading, but then fell asleep (again, because you ran out of coffee?); or d) you're afraid to ask a question that might seem silly. If you chose 'd', please know that I love questions (even 'silly' ones!), and that it was my own questions and the questions of others that led me to study the history of the Church's teachings and doctrinal developments on Mary. So feel free to read, pray, and ask away!

Tonight, I'll continue on with next section of my paper on Mary as the new Eve. This section briefly addresses perhaps the most controversial and misunderstood title of Mary -- 'Co-Redemptrix.' Let's dive in!

Open Wide the Gates - Mary as the New Eve

And Your Heart, Too Shall Be Pierced By a Sword -- Mary, Co-Redemptrix

Mary is inseparably united to her Son in the work of our salvation. As John the Geometer describes, "'The Virgin, after giving birth to her Son, was never separated from him in his activity, his dispositions, his will.'" (42) Not only are Jesus and Mary united in will, but also in heart, as Mary's Immaculate heart is pierced by the same sword of suffering as her Son's at Calvary. This union of the sinless hearts of Jesus and Mary allow for their union in the work of redemption. As Pope John Paul II explains, "It was fitting that like Christ, the new Adam, Mary too, the new Eve, did not know sin and was thus capable of cooperating in the Redemption." (43)

Herself a creature, Mary could only participate in Christ's redemptive work after having herself been redeemed. Christ's own merits were applied to Mary in a way that preserved her from Original Sin and allowed her to participate in His work of redemption in a profound and singular way. Pope John Paul II describes this, saying that
"Sin, which washes over humanity like a torrent, halts before the Redeemer and his faithful Collaborator. With a substantial difference: Christ is all holy by virtue of the grace that in his humanity derives from the divine person: Mary is all holy by virtue of the grace received by the merits of the Saviour." (44)
Indeed, Mary's willingness to embrace suffering out of love, her free and active participation in Christ's own suffering, gives her also the role of redeeming with Christ in a subordinate though significant and unique way. Mary is thus rightly called Co-Redemptrix, she who redeemed with Christ through the union of her own Immaculate heart with His Sacred Heart, both hearts pierced by a sword at Calvary to bring forth spiritual life for the world. As Pope Pius XII asks, "are not Jesus and Mary the two sublime loves of the Christian people? Are they not the new Adam and the new Eve whom the Tree of the Cross unites in pain and love to atone for the sin of our first parents in Eden?" (45)

Mary is the model of redemptive suffering, showing all people that the capacity to willingly unite our sufferings with Christ's out of love can bear great spiritual fruit. Mary is the perfect example of creaturely suffering, she who embraced Jesus' Cross of pain in her own maternal heart and preferred the Father's will to her own. In Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II describes that
"after the events of her Son's hidden and public life, events which she must have shared with acute sensitivity, it was on Calvary that Mary's suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. And the words which she heard from His lips were a kind of solemn handing-over of this Gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the whole community of believers." (46)
42. Calkins, Rev. Msgr. Arthur Burton. "The Mystery of Mary Coredemptrix in the Papal Magisterium." In Mary Co-redemptrix - Doctrinal Issues Today. 2002. p. 65
43. Calkins, p. 85
44. Ibid.
45. Calkins, p. 52.
46. Salvifici Doloris - "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering." Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 1984. (Pauline Books and Media, Boston). #25.
 As always, thanks for stopping by. Be assured of my prayers!

Peace and all good,

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