By Pope John Paul II
from the October 16, 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae
Among the titles attributed to Mary in the Church's devotion, chapter eight of Lumen gentium recalls that of "Mediatrix." Although some Council Fathers did not fully agree with this choice of title, (1) it was nevertheless inserted into the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church as confirmation of the value of the truth it expresses. Care was therefore taken not to associate it with any particular theology of mediation, but merely to list it among Mary's other recognized titles.
Moreover the conciliar text had already described the meaning of the title "Mediatrix" when it said that Mary "by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation." (2)
As I recalled in my Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: "Mary's mediation is intimately linked with her motherhood. It possesses a specifically maternal character, which distinguishes it from the mediation of the other creatures." (3)From this point of view it is unique in its kind and singularly effective.
With regard to the objections made by some of the Council Fathers concerning the term "Mediatrix," the Council itself provided an answer by saying that Mary is "a mother to us in the order of grace." (4) We recall that Mary's mediation is essentially defined by her divine motherhood. Recognition of her role as mediatrix is moreover implicit in the expression "our Mother," which presents the doctrine of Marian mediation by putting the accent on her motherhood. Lastly, the title "Mother in the order of grace" explains that the Blessed Virgin co-operates with Christ in humanity's spiritual rebirth.
Mary's maternal mediation does not obscure the unique and perfect mediation of Christ. Indeed, after calling Mary "Mediatrix," the Council is careful to explain that this "neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator." (5) And on this subject it quotes the famous text from the First Letter to Timothy: "For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all" (1 Tim 2:5-6).
In addition, the Council states that "Mary's function as Mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power." (6)
Therefore, far from being an obstacle to the exercise of Christ's unique mediation, Mary instead highlights its fruitfulness and efficacy. "The Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men originates not in any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it." (7)
The value of Mary's mediation derives from Christ and thus the salutary influence of the Blessed Virgin "does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it." (8)
The intrinsic orientation to Christ of the "Mediatrix's" work spurred the Council to recommend that the faithful turn to Mary "so that, encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer." (9)
In proclaiming Christ the one mediator (cf. 1 Tim 2:5-6), the text of St. Paul's Letter to Timothy excludes any other parallel mediation, but not subordinate mediation. In fact, before emphasizing the one exclusive mediation of Christ, the author urges "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men" (2:1). Are not prayers a form of mediation? Indeed, according to St. Paul, the unique mediation of Christ is meant to encourage other dependent, ministerial forms of mediation. By proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ's mediation, the Apostle intends only to exclude any autonomous or rival mediation, and not other forms compatible with the infinite value of the Savior's work.It is possible to participate in Christ's mediation in various areas of the work of salvation. After stressing that "no creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer," (10) Lumen gentium describes how it is possible for creatures to exercise certain forms of mediation which are dependent on Christ. In fact, "just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold co-operation which is but a sharing in this one source." (11)
This desire to bring about various participations in the one mediation of Christ reveals the gratuitous love of God who wants to share what he possesses.
In truth, what is Mary's maternal mediation if not the Father's gift to humanity? This is why the Council concludes: "The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful." (12)
Mary carries out her maternal role in constant dependence on the mediation of Christ and from him receives all that his heart wishes to give mankind.
On her earthly pilgrimage the Church "continuously" experiences the effective action of her "Mother in the order of grace."
Pope John Paul II, General Audience, October 1, 1997, L'Osservatore Romano, English Edition, October 8, 1997, p. 11.
(1) Cf. Acta Synodalia III, 8, 163-164.
(2) Lumen gentium, n. 62.
(3) Redemptoris Mater, n. 38.
(4) Lumen gentium, n. 61.
(5) Lumen gentium, n. 62.
(6) Lumen gentium, n. 60.
(7) Lumen gentium, n. 60.
(9) Lumen gentium, n. 62.
(10) Lumen gentium, n. 62.
(11) Lumen gentium, n. 62.
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