Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God into heaven, body and soul and I’m going to confession at Our Lady Star of the Sea, in Brookings. My soul must really need a thorough washing as it just this moment began raining outside as I write this… A gentle reminder of an already predisposed need.
On this post yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI declared this about today’s feast and the reality of heaven:
Today’s feast impels us to lift our gaze to Heaven; not to a heaven consisting of abstract ideas or even an imaginary heaven created by art, but the Heaven of true reality which is God himself. God is Heaven. He is our destination, the destination and the eternal dwelling place from which we come and for which we are striving.
Sacred scripture supports the notion that God is Heaven. Every Christian is bound to proclaim Jesus Christ as God incarnate in the flesh. And so His own words on earth take on substantial meaning: “The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.” Again, John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea, prior to pointing out Jesus to his own followers on the banks of the Jordan: “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
All this has to do with what I teach my CCD students about the meaning of their lives–which is to: Come to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be with Him forever in the next.
And this is exactly the role the Mother of God plays within the spiritual lives of all people’s destined for salvation in and through Her Son.
To Jesus Through Mary is no singular Catholic Doctrinal truth. It is a spiritual reality discovered within the Holy Spirit…
Today is a good day for a visitation by Mary in the power of the spirit, it leads to our own assumption in the end: Read this prayerfully… [CLICK HERE] More below…
CNA STAFF, Aug 15, 2010 / 05:11 am (CNA).- Today, Catholics and many other Christians will celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The significant feast day recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the mother of Jesus Christ from the earth, when both her soul and her resurrected body were taken into the presence of God.
Venerable Pope Pius XII confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as the perennial teaching of the Church when he defined it formally as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, invoking papal infallibility to proclaim, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
His Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” (Most Bountiful God), which defined the dogma,
contained the Pontiff’s accounts of many longstanding traditions by which the Church has celebrated the Assumption throughout its history.
The constitution also cited testimonies from the early Church fathers on the subject, and described the history of theological reflection on many Biblical passages which are seen as indicating that Mary was assumed into heaven following her death.
Although the bodily assumption of Mary is not explicitly recorded in Scripture, Catholic tradition identifies her with the “woman clothed with the sun” who is described in the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The passage calls that woman’s appearance “a great sign” which “appeared in heaven,” indicating that she is the mother of the Jewish Messiah and has “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Accordingly, Catholic iconography of the Western tradition often depicts the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven in this manner.
Eastern Christians have also traditionally held Mary’s assumption into heaven as an essential component of their faith. Pius XII cited several early Byzantine liturgical texts, as well as the eighth-century Arab Christian theologian St. John of Damascus, in his own authoritative definition of her assumption.
“It was fitting,” St. John of Damascus wrote in a sermon on the assumption, “that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,” and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.”
In Eastern Christian tradition, the same feast is celebrated on the same calendar date, although typically known as the Dormition (falling asleep) of Mary. Eastern Catholic celebration of the Dormition is preceded by a two-week period of fasting which is similar to Lent. Pius XII, in “Munificentissimus Deus,” mentioned this same fasting period as belonging to the traditional patrimony of Western Christians as well.
The feast of the Assumption is always a Holy Day of Obligation for both Roman and Eastern-rite Catholics, on which they are obliged to attend Mass or Divine Liturgy. In 2010, however, it falls on a Sunday.
As we enter another month of May we can’t help but turn our thoughts to Mary, the Mother of the Lord and our dear spiritual Mother. For whatever reason some people have difficulty relating to the Blessed Mother. On the other hand, tens of millions of us love her dearly and can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. I have always thought, “If she’s good enough for Jesus, She’s good enough for you!”
We find ourselves caught in a violent spiritual war today. We need all of the help we can get. One of the greatest aids God has given us is the gift of His own Mother. We are foolhardy indeed if we refuse or fail to avail ourselves of this powerful gift.
Pray the Rosary every day. If we do not do this I’m afraid we’ll bear much of the responsibility for the state of the world-which is catastrophic. Can God bless a country that formally and legally embraces such human rights abuses as the genocide of abortion? Can God look fondly on a world that sanctions things such as fetal stem cell research, human cloning, and gay marriage? These things constitute an assault on life itself, yet the average person is apparently too dull witted or morally blind to see this.
At decisive times in human history, when all seemed dark, desperate, and nearly lost, the Church turned to Mary, the Mother of the Lord and our Mother, the Woman Clothed with the Sun. She interceded for poor humanity with her Son and won the day. We are at such crossroads now and this May let’s not fail to turn to her in all of our needs. Everything we give to her, all of our prayers, go immediately to Jesus, Who gives them to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I strongly urge you to totally consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary, pray the Rosary every day, and have confidence in her maternal intercession. Above all love your Mother, for I promise you-your Mother loves you.
What is your first response when you hear someone refer to the mother of Jesus Christ as the “Co-redemptrix”?
Extreme? Excessive pietism, even if well-intended? Heresy? Only Jesus is the Redeemer. If not directly heresy, then extremely dangerous? At least anti-ecumenical? At best confusing?
Witness of the Saints
Now let’s look at some people who have in fact called the Virgin Mary the Co-redemptrix: John Paul II (on six different occasions); Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta; St. Padre Pio, stigmatic wonder worker of the 20th century; Sr. Lucia, the Fatima visionary; St. Francis Cabrini, the first American citizen to be canonized; St. Jose Maria Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei; St. Edith Stein, co-patroness of Europe; papal theologians Cardinals Ciappiand Cottier; contemporary Church leaders such as Cardinal Schönborn, General Secretary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; Mother Angelica, foundress of worldwide Catholic television and radio network EWTN; and a host of other saints, popes, mystics, prelates, theologians, doctors of the Church, and lay leaders, with an ecclesial line of succession dating back to the 14th century.
Do we see dangerous extremism, heresy, or any anti-ecumenical spirit in people like John Paul II and Mother Teresa? Would saints like Padre Pio and Mother Cabrini participate in Marian excess to the detriment of Jesus and his Church? Would Cristoph Cardinal Schönborn, general editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, use and defend the Co-redemptrix title if it were in any way unorthodox or theologically questionable? Would a Fatima visionary use, explain and defend the Co-redemptrix title six times in her last great writing, Calls from the Message of Fatima, when doing so would be offensive to the Holy See, who granted the imprimatur to her book? Or, even more, to Our Lady herself, with whom Sr. Lucia experienced direct mystical communications for decades?
Why, then, would we fear calling Mary the Co-redemptrix with Jesus, the divine Redeemer of humanity, when these pontiffs, saints, theologians and mystics for the past 700 years have done so?
What do people like John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio and the throng of saints, mystics, and popes, precisely mean when they say that Mary is the Co-redemptrix? First of all, let’s be clear as to what do they not mean: 1.) They do not mean that Mary is equal to Jesus. 2.) They do not mean that Mary has an equal share in the redemption of the human family. This would indeed be heresy.
What they do mean when they refer to the Mother of Christ as the Co-redemptrix is that Mary uniquely cooperated with Jesus and entirely subordinate to and dependent upon Jesus, in the historic work of human Redemption.
What is Redemption?
Let’s define our terms. What is Redemption? Redemption is the saving act of Jesus Christ, through his life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection, repairing our relationship with the Father by offering just compensation for the sins of humanity, and thus restoring the possibility of sanctifying grace, and friendship between God and humanity, which results in the inheritance of heaven.
The term, “redemption,” derives from the Latin, redimere, and literally means “to buy back.” Jesus, through the merits of his passion, death, and resurrection buys us back from the bondage of Satan and the debt of original sin.
Can a Creature Participate in Christ’s Redemption?
Now the question remains: can a human creature participate in this divine historic redemptive work of Jesus Christ?
It is important to remember that the Redemption of Jesus Christ is an act of restoring what was lost by two human beings, Adam and Eve. Although Adam, as father of the human race, was principally responsible for the original sin passed on to his descendants (cf. Rom 5:12), Eve also has an instrumental though secondary role in the loss of grace for the human family (cf. Gen 3:6). This is why the Fathers of the Church referred to Mary as the “New Eve” or “Second Eve,” since through her obedience with Jesus Christ the “New Adam” (cf. 1 Cor 15:45), she became in the words of the 2nd century Church Father, St. Irenaeus the “cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race” (Adv. Haer. III, 22, 4: PG 7, 989 A).
But can a human creature participate in a divine act, such as the divine act of Redemption?
Let us begin with ourselves. Can you or I as creatures positively participate in the salvation of someone else by our cooperation? By our prayers, by our good works, by our sacrifices, but our Christian witness, have we done anything that assisted in the “buying back” of another person from the bondage of Satan through the grace of Jesus Christ?
If you are a father or a mother and have raised your children in the Christian faith and had them baptized into the divine life of Jesus, did you not cooperate in their Redemption? What about if you are a priest who has a role in distributing the other sacraments of Jesus? Do you not participate in the redemption of other people, even though, once again, it is completely dependent upon Jesus Christ, the only and all necessary divine Redeemer?
Every time you pray for someone to say yes to Christ; every time you evangelize Christ by word or example; every time you pray to sustain a family member in faith during a crisis; every time you pray for perfect strangers who will die this day to accept their Redeemer with their final earthly breath-in all these prayers and works of Christian intercession, you are cooperating in the Redemption of another human being. You are participating in the application of the saving work of Jesus Christ in buying back members of the human family from Satan and sin.
While it is true that none of us participate in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption merited by Jesus at Calvary, every Christian is nonetheless called to participate in the distribution of his redemptive graces through prayer, sacrifices, and works of faith, hope, and love (cf. Col 1:24). It is precisely our Christian responsibility and obligation to participate in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This is why Pope John Paul II called all Christians to become “co-redeemers in Christ” (Jan. 13, 1982).
If we, therefore, can and should cooperate in the redemption of others, as long as it is absolutely clear, once again, that it is first and in every way dependent upon the redemption wrought by Christ, the one mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim 2:5), then why would there be a problem with the Mother of Jesus cooperating in the Christian Redemption of others as well?
Biblical Witness to Mary Co-redemptrix
In fact, the Bible reveals that the Mother of Jesus cooperated in the historic act of Jesus’ Redemption like no other creature.
At the Annunciation Lk 1:38, when Mary says “let it be to me according to your word” Lk 1:38 to the angel Gabriel to become the Mother of Jesus, can we not say that she uniquely contributes to the mission of Redemption by giving to the Redeemer, the very instrument of Redemption – his human body? The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10). The instrument of Redemption was given personally and intimately to Jesus by Mary. What other creature, in virtue of the Incarnation alone, could claim to have a more direct and proximate cooperation with Jesus in his redemptive mission? But it does not stop there.
When the infant Christ is presented by Mary in the Temple and the prophet Simeon identifies Jesus as the “sign of contradiction” who will fulfill his redemptive mission (Lk 2:34), Simeon then refers through the power of the Holy Spirit to Mary’s own unique suffering with Jesus in the work of Redemption: “… and a sword shall pierce through your own soul, too” (Lk 2:35).
Scripture explicitly reveals that Mary will have a unique role of suffering with Jesus-the piercing of her heart-because she is so closely and uniquely a cooperator with her Son, the Redeemer. What mother would not suffer in seeing her beloved child die horrifically on the cross, especially if her child was a divine, innocent offering sacrificed for the redemption of the world?
Ultimately, the climactic hour of human Redemption takes place at Calvary (Jn 19:25-27). What happens at Calvary? Jesus is crucified, dies and offers his life in just compensation for the sins of humanity. Mary, Scripture testifies, is present, for the fulfillment of the self-same mission of Redemption. What is happening in the heart of Mary? She is faithfully offering the suffering of her Son, joined with her own, in obedience to the Father’s plan for Redemption. As a result of her unparalleled suffering with the Redeemer, the dying Christ gives, as his final gift to John and to all who seek to be beloved disciples of Christ, the gift of his coredemptive mother to be our own: “Woman, behold your son … Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:26-27).
Regarding both the Incarnation and the Redemption, the Bible reveals that Mary uniquely cooperated with Jesus in the historic work of Redemption. It is little wonder that as a result of her unparalleled sharing in the obtaining of the graces of Redemption, that God would see fit to grant the Mother of the Redeemer the privileged role of the distribution of the graces of Redemption as the spiritual mother of all peoples (cf. Lk 1:38; Jn 2:1-10; Jn 19:25-27; Rev 12:1).
Do we intercede by our prayers to bring the saving graces of Jesus Christ to others? Then why not, and especially, the Mother of Christ?
“Crucified spiritually with her crucified Son … Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.”
Pope John Paul II (Jan. 31, 1985)
“Mary is our Co-redemptrix with Jesus. She gave Jesus his body and suffered with him at the foot of the cross.”
Bl. Mother Teresa (Aug. 14, 1993)
Are you afraid to call Mary the Co-redemptrix? You shouldn’t be. John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Sr. Lucia, and the endless list of other saints, mystics, popes, theologians, and Christian faithful who refer to her as Co-redemptrix do so with the assurance of Scripture, the Papal Magisterium, and the consolation of the Holy Spirit.
It is safe, it is true, and it is a title that she overwhelmingly deserves in virtue of the greatest human suffering in the history of man after that of her Son – a suffering offered in union with Jesus, for you and for me.
Be not afraid of Mary Co-redemptrix.
Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
President – Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici
For more information on Mary Co-redemptrix, or to join the millions who have already submitted their petition to Pope Benedict XVI for a fifth Marian dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate,
183. Popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important and universal ecclesial phenomenon. Its expressions are multifarious and its motivation very profound, deriving as it does from the People of God’s faith in, and love for, Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, and from an awareness of the salvific mission that God entrusted to Mary of Nazareth, because of which she is mother not only of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but also of mankind in the order of grace.
Indeed, “the faithful easily understand the vital link uniting Son and Mother. They realise that the Son is God and that she, the Mother, is also their mother. They intuit the immaculate holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in venerating her as the glorious queen of Heaven, they are absolutely certain that she who is full of mercy intercedes for them. Hence, they confidently have recourse to her patronage. The poorest of the poor feel especially close to her. They know that she, like them, was poor, and greatly suffered in meekness and patience. They can identify with her suffering at the crucifixion and death of her Son, as well as rejoice with her in his resurrection. The faithful joyfully celebrate her feasts, make pilgrimage to her sanctuary, sing hymns in her honour, and make votive offerings to her. They instinctively distrust whoever does not honour her and will not tolerate those who dishonour her”(208).
The Church exhorts all the faithful – sacred minister, religious and laity – to develop a personal and community devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the use of approved and recommended pious exercises(209). Liturgical worship, notwithstanding its objective and irreplaceable importance, its exemplary efficacy and normative character, does not in fact exhaust all the expressive possibilities of the People of God for devotion to the Holy Mother of God(210).
184. The relationship between the Liturgy and popular Marian piety should be regulated by the principles and norms already mentioned in this document(211). In relation to Marian devotion, the Liturgy must be the “exemplary form”(212), source of inspiration, constant reference point and ultimate goal of Marian devotion.
185. Here, it will be useful to recall some pronouncements of the Church’s Magisterium on Marian devotions. These should always be adhered to when elaboration new pious exercises or in revising those already in use, or simply in activating them in worship(213). The care and attention of the Pastors of the Church for Marian devotions are due to their importance, since they are both a fruit and an expression of Marian piety among the people and the ecclesial community, and a significant means of promoting the “Marian formation” of the faithful, as well as in determining the manner in which the piety of the faithful for the Blessed Virgin Mary is moulded.
186. The fundamental principle of the Magisterium with regard to such pious exercises is that they should be derivative from the “one worship which is rightly called Christian, because it efficaciously originates in Christ, finds full expression in Christ, and through Him, in the Holy Spirit leads to the Father”(214). Hence, Marian devotions, in varying degrees and modes, should:
give expression to the Trinitarian note which characterises worship of the God revealed in the New Testament, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the pneumatological aspect, since every true form of piety comes from the Spirit and is exercised in the Spirit; the ecclesial character, in virtue of which the faithful are constituted as the holy people of God, gathered in prayer in the Lord’s name (cf. Mt 18, 20) in the vital Communion of Saints(215);
have constant recourse to Sacred Scripture, as understood in Sacred Tradition; not overlook the demands of the ecumenical movement in the Church’s profession of faith; consider the anthropological aspects of cultic expressions so as to reflect a true concept of man and a valid response to his needs; highlight the eschatological tension which is essential to the Gospel message; make clear missionary responsibility and the duty of bearing witness, which are incumbent on the Lord’s disciples(216).
On New Year’s Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because “through her we have received the Author of life”(127).
The solemnity of the 1 January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when duly catechised, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners”.
In the West, 1 January is an inaugural day marking the beginning of the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the beginning of the new year and exchange “new year” greetings. However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful, naturally, realise that the “new year” is placed under the patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging new year greetings they implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord’s dominion, since to him belongs all time (cf. Ap 1, 8; 22,13)(128).
A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on 1 January the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts and actions, and those of the community during the course of the year(129).
New year greetings also include an expression of hope for a peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and incarnational origins. The “quality of peace” has always been invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and destructive times of war.
The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since 1967, 1 January has been designated “world day for peace”.
Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See. In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.