Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Honoring our Mother, the BVM

Over on his apologetics board, Patrick Madrid has made the followin comment concerning the recent move by several Cardinals to request that the Spirtual Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin be declared a dogma of the Church:

Personally, I hope the pope does not act on this petition. I see it as theologically problematic, due to the high likelihood of it being misunderstood and misconstrued by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The petition is pastorally unnecessary and hugely inopportune.

Patrick is a good Catholic man and one of the great Catholic apologists of our time. He is also my friend. The position he is espousing here is taken by many other good Catholics as well so I am not questioning his Catholicity or his faithfulness to the Church. But on this matter I must take exception with him.

I don't agree. Every Mariology text book in the last 100 years has included the rationale for seeing the BVM as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces. The Patristic evidence for the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary dates back to the mid 2nd Century and includes statements by St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus. The Popes in the last 160 years -- up to and including Pope John Paul II -- have been strong supporters of the Spiritual Motherhood of the BVM and taught such in their encyclicals. The Eight Chapter of Lumen Gentium specifically gave the BVM the titles Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This statement by a General Council means that the Spiritual Motherhood of the BVM is already OFFICIAL CATHOLIC TEACHING. Raising such a teaching to a dogma therefore adds nothing to the Catholic faith that has not already been proclaimed by the Magisterium but it does make it clear that the BVM has a role to play in salvation and that this is a central tenet of the Holy Catholic Faith that is not negotiable.

The opinions and sensibilities of Protestants and other non-Catholics about Catholic teaching should be of no concern to the Catholic Church. These outsiders are a mish-mash of unbeleivers, heretics, apostates, and schismatics albeit most of them are only materially so. Are we not to proclaim the divinity of Christ because the Jehovah's Witnesses might take offense? Are we going to suppress calling Jesus the Son of God because it makes the Muslims unhappy? Do we avoid calling Jesus the Messiah because the Jews will balk?

What other things are we going to suppress to assuage the Protestants? The Substantial Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Apostolic Succession? The indissolubility of SACRAMENTAL marriage? The anathemas of Trent?

If we Catholics are people of faith, we must profess a robust faith, not one that bends to the objections of infidels. My experience with anti-Catholic bigots is that they have no scruples about dissing us no matter what concessions we make. So we should make no concessions. None of them have any scruples about mocking Catholics, our Church and our beliefs. I am unaware of any Protestant denomination that has refrained from taking a doctrinal position becasue it might offend Catholics. Think of it: women priests, women bishops, LESBIAN bishops, abortion, contraception, divorce with remarriage, Homosexuality, IVF, defective forms of baptism. If they do not restrict their doctrine to assuage us, why are we doing so to assuage them?

Vatican II made a few off-hand comments that anyone with savvy would have recognized as attacks on Communism. Yet it never attacked the Communists by name. Many Traditionalists saw this as a capitulation to the enemy. Now 40 years later we can see it for what it was. Communism was a flash in the pan and it did not deserve anymore than trivial attention. Mere men did not know that in the 1960s. They did not know that within 25 years, Communism would be relegated to the ash-heap of history. But the Holy Spirit knew, and he moved the Council to basically ignore Communism except as a trivial nuisance. Protestantism deserves the same kind of pejorative neglect.

Meanwhile the BVM in her own words "magnifies the glory of God". She prophesied about herself that "all generations shall call me blessed".

Glory and honor is due to the greatest human person who every lived: the Blessed Virgin Miriam, Mother of God and Mother of the Church. Do not let the whining of non-Catholics silence our praises of her and her Son!

Omnes semper - ad Jesum, per Mariam, cum Petro.


InCatholicTruth said...

Excellent Post Art!

I could not agree more. I have two of Fr. Luigi Gambero's books on our dear Blessed Mother Mary and the Fathers of the Church and Mary in the Middle Ages.

Both provide clear and copious evidence of the unique role Mary plays in salvation history and in the Church.

I've been know to tell Fundamentalists who rail again my newfound Catholic faith that "they would not be so mean if they'd get to know their Spiritual mommy".

Peace this Lent,


James said...

I tend to agree with Pope Benedict's past statements that this dogma is not a necessary one to declare. The Co-Redemtrix title is implied already through the Church's many other statements on our Blessed Mother. Of course if the Church decides otherwise I will gladly accept it. If we are to understand Our Blessed Mother as the "Mediatrix of all Graces", does this imply that God cannot or will not extend graces outside of her? If we look at this objectively, did Jesus extend grace directly from Himself when He walked this earth healing people etc, or are we to conclude that those graces came through her as well? I can see a symbolic extension of Jesus' grace coming through her in the sense that she is the Mother of God, and she brought him into this world through the incarnation. But does that mean that all graces after that that go through her as well? Any thoughts?

Arthur C. Sippo MD, MPH said...

Excellent questions. The Church has not come upon a formulation for "Mediatrix of All Graces" that seems to be JUST right. That is one part reason that I think has held back the dogma being declared in the past.

To understand Mary's essential role in salvation, we must remember that the Immaculately conceived Mother of God was the necessary pre-condition to the Incarnation. As the Franciscan theologians have pointed out, the Immaculate and the Incarnate Son were predestined together from all eternity. All grace comes from God to man through the mediation of Jesus Christ. He is the sole mediator between God and man. God has not chosen to save anyone apart from Him. Jesus Christ comes to the human race through Mary and only through Mary. The only way to exclude Mary is by trying to find another way to God apart from the Incarnation. She is "our tainted nature's solitary boast."

It was Mary who mediated humanity to Christ from the moment of his conception. She possessed the closest human relationship to him. She was his first teacher and would remain for him the model of who and what a human being should be.

I do not think it is at all far-fetched to say that while Jesus went to the cross for the sake of all mankind, he went there first and foremost for Mary, his true mother. He wanted to bring her to Heaven with him and share the divine nature with her as she had shared her human nature with him.

When you see it in that light, you realize that we are to be like Mary: joined to Christ in an intimate relationship of mutual self-donation. But this is not an individual relationship, but a communal one. We are not merely united to Christ but also to the rest of his body, the Church. The single common family link that we all share is Mary, Mother of the Church and of Christians.

You cannot have God as your Father and Jesus as your brother if you do not have Mary as your mother.

Knowing this, there is no grace we receive that Mary has not received. There is nothing good that comes from God to mankind that does not involve Mary. If Jesus is the head of the body, Mary is the neck.

Some people get very upset by this as if it robs God of his prerogative to deal with his creatures. But we are talking about the graces of salvation that come to us from Christ. None of these graces ever comes to individuals in isolation. They are granted through the body to individuals for the body. All grace is in that sense communal.

As such, the mediation of Mary as the one link between Jesus and mankind is the way that God chose to save us. His graciousness comes to us in and through the Incarnation and from no other source. The graces therefrom come to us through the Church. But ultimately the Incarnation comes to mankind through Mary who is the Church's first and greatest member.

J.P. said...

As a whining non Roman Catholic, i just have to interpose (probably in vain) that all depends on what you value more:
The Bible or

While Hebrews 8:6, 9:16 and 12:24 seem to leave room for a "co-mediator" (eventhough there already is a link established between mediator and redemptor), 1 Tim 2:5 abolishes all such fancies:

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"

So what weighs more, the tradition or the bible that limits the amount of mediators to one.

Your choice. But as any choice not one with consequences

Arthur C. Sippo MD, MPH said...

Ah yes. Protestant whining never stops. They all think that they are so much smarter than Catholics merely because they have invented new religions that have no connection to Historic Christianity. And of course they also think that no one ever read the Bible until Luther came along.

Sorry JP, but you have just proven to me once again that PROTESTantisms are just anti-Catholic rants with no biblical basis whatsoever.

Let us read 1Tim 2:5 IN CONTEXT (something that whining prots NEVER do):

1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.
1Ti 2:3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Ti 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.
1Ti 2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
1Ti 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

This is one of the most important parts of the NT and -- as usual -- prots get the meaning of the passage COMPLETELY wrong.

St. Paul is advocating that Christians should make "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all men" even non Christians! In other words we are all called to be mediators for each other and for those who do not know Christ.

{BTW, the word for 'thanksgiving' in Greek is Eucharistia, so St. Paul was advising his congregation to offer Mass for the benefit of all men. Doesn't sound very Protestant to me!}

Why does St. Paul advocate that we Christians pray for all men? Because Jesus is the sole ULTIMATE mediator between God and man. All access to God goes through him. And so each Christian is to act as a mediator on behalf of all humankind because only we can pray to God through Christ. Non-Christians cannot do this.

Now, When it comes to the BVM and the Saints in glory, they too are beseeching God continuously as the Book of Revelation shows us:

Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne;
Rev 6:10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"
Rev 6:11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Rev 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
Rev 7:10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne;
Rev 8:4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

And What about the BVM? Is she relegated to the mass of the other saints as just another Christian? NO!! She hold a prominent place in Heaven on her own:

"The Woman clothed with the Sun" in Rev 12:1 stands there resplendent in the Divine Temple in Heaven. She "brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations" (Rev 12:5) who was Jesus Christ. This is the BVM, JP. It can be no one else. She stands in a special place in Heaven because of her divine Motherhood.

Now no one is saying that Mary or the saints pray to God apart form Christ. They mediate for us THROUGH Christ.

So quit proof-texting and actually READ your Bible, JP.

And while you are at it, read James 2:24 IN CONTEXT. You will find that it condemns the central Protestant doctrine as heresy. Faith is completed by works and cannot save apart from them. Those who count on faith alone cannot be saved.

AND the choice to believe the errors of Luther and Calvin over the truth of God's Inscripturated word will have consequences.

I call on you JP to repent of your errors and to come out of the Massa Damnata of the Protestant Lie before it is too late.