In an earlier blog post, Sean Ater wrote about “Mary and Evangelization.” Specifically, he listed three ways in which Mary teaches us both to evangelize and to be evangelized. In this month of May, which the Church dedicates to Mary, let’s take this a step further. Let’s consider the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation.
A Neglected Teaching about Mary
Did you know there are five Marian doctrines? The first four are easy enough to list:
- Mother of God: She is the mother of Jesus, who is God
- Immaculate Conception: She was conceived without sin and remained sinless her whole life
- Perpetual Virgin: She was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus
- Assumption: Having completed the course of her earthly life, she was raised body and soul into heavenly glory
It’s the fifth one that might trip you up: “Mediatrix of All Grace.” What does this mean?
When we say that Mary is the Mediatrix of All Grace, we mean that Mary cooperated and continues to cooperate in an extraordinary way in the saving mission of Jesus. This has been the teaching of the Church from the earliest centuries.
But What about Jesus?
It may seem peculiar at first to think of a human being working with God to bring us grace. We tend to think of only Jesus doing that. Yet, while Jesus alone is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, Scripture reveals that He also wishes to give us some participation in His saving and redeeming work.
For example, St. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22). He considered himself to be, in a sense, an actual savior of the people he served. But, Paul was not dethroning Jesus. Instead, he was working with Jesus. Paul was “God’s fellow worker” (1 Cor 3:9), “working together with Him.” (2 Cor 6:1)
Now, if Paul can play his part in Jesus’ saving work, then certainly Mary can. In fact, we all can. The difference is that Mary does it better. No one can participate in Jesus’ saving work the way Mary did and continues to do. This is why she has the special title of “Mediatrix of All Grace.”
How She “Roles”
We see this special role of Mary in three stages of her life:
- First, in her fiat: Mary’s response to the angel, “Let it be done to me according to your word,” was the occasion for the Son to enter human history. She gave Him the flesh that He nailed to the Cross for our salvation. In a very real way, Mary brought salvation to the world.
- Secondly, at the foot of the Cross: Since Mary was sinless, she was able to stand with Jesus and perfectly unite her will and her suffering with the will and suffering of her Son. Whenever someone suffers for the sake of someone else, that someone else is rewarded with grace. That’s what “offering it up” is all about. When we consider that Mary did this perfectly, and for the whole Church, then there’s no doubt that a ton of grace was poured out.
- Finally, in heaven: Once Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. As Queen, she sits at the right hand of the King, as mothers always did in the Davidic Kingdom, and she intercedes on our behalf. Since “the prayers of the righteous are very powerful in their effects” (Jas 5:16), we can be sure that if anyone turns to Christ or does any good thing, it is because Mary intensely desired it and prayed for it.
I know, this is a lot to take in, and I hope I haven’t scared you away. I encourage you: Pray about this! Ask Jesus to show you what a relationship with His mother might look like for you. In this “month of Mary,” ask Jesus to open your heart and fill it with His love so that you can love His mother the same way He did.