Mary’s role in our salvation
I give instruction in the faith and sometimes have problems explaining the role of Mary in salvation history, as the Catholic Church teaches. Please give me a clear picture of what is meant by Mary as mediatrix of all graces. Valerie
The Church teaches and holds that Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between us and the Father: There is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5).
In obeying his Father’s will to die for us, Christ won infinite merits which he mediates, or passes on, to us in the form of grace, that is, God’s undeserved favour towards us and his granting us a share in his supernatural life.
When we pray for one another in the name of Christ the Mediator, we mediate Christ’s merits to one another and so we all are, in a very lowly and secondary way, also mediators of the grace that Christ has already gained for us.
Mary does this in an extraordinary way. She shares Christ’s will for us. She is bodily in heaven with him and is the model of the Church whose call is also to be bodily with him. Because of her privileged position she prays for all, asking God to pour out his blessings and favour on all. In this sense Mary can be called the mediatrix (female mediator) of all graces.
The teaching of Mary as mediatrix has never been defined as Catholic dogma but it goes back many centuries and has been discussed and disputed by theologians down the years. Emphasis was laid on Mary’s free consent to become the mother of the Redeemer, which was seen as her intention to take an active share in Christ’s role as redeemer and mediator.
Also, it was argued, Mary gave birth to Christ, the source of all grace, and she stood at the foot of his cross at the moment of his sacrificial death.
Many popes have defended the teaching. St Bernard of Clairvaux in the 11th century described Mary as the canal that takes us to the heavenly waters. Vatican II reaffirmed Mary as mediatrix but did not clarify the title, probably because there was not enough agreement about how to express it.
In explaining the mediatorship of Mary, it is necessary to stress that Mary needed to be redeemed by Christ, as we all do. Her role therefore in no way usurps the unique mediatorship of her Son.
Please support The Southern Cross
Your support means we can keep Catholic news alive so that many others will have free access to the high-quality, trustworthy news they deserve. We seek your support not simply to survive, but to grow in our mandate to share the Good News and keep you informed about your Church and Catholic faith.
Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference. Support us today – it only takes a minute. Thank you.