First, Mary uniquely shared in the work of Jesus to redeem the human family, both by giving Jesus his body, the very instrument of Redemption (cf. Lk. 1:38; Heb. 10:10), and by suffering with Him at Calvary in a way unparalleled by another other creature (cf. Jn. 19:25-27). For this extraordinary role with Jesus in saving souls, Mary has been called the “Co-redemptrix” in the Church since the 14th century. Fear not—“co” means “with” not “equal.” Mary’s not a goddess on a level or equality with Jesus. She is the unique immaculate human co-redeemer with Jesus, just as every Christian is called to be a “co-redeemer in Christ,” to use the expression of Bl. John Paul II.
Secondly, Mary nurtures us in the order of grace by distributing the graces obtained at Calvary to the human family through her role as the Mediatrix of all graces. The papal Magisterium of the last two centuries has consistently taught this Marian role, and Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus published this same title on the day he announced his resignation (Feb. 11, 2013). The Wedding of Cana (Jn. 2:5) reveals to us what the Second Vatican Council teaches us: that the Mother of Jesus “intercedes for the gifts of eternal life” (LG 62).
Thirdly, Mary, as Spiritual Mother, pleads for us before the throne of Christ the King as our Advocate. Her most ancient title (from the second century), Our Lady’s role as Advocate simply confirms that this Mother intercedes for our wants and needs with a maternal perseverance and power beyond that of any of the other saints.
February 11, 2013, will be remembered as the day on which Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign from the papacy. The day was also the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 21st World Day of the Sick.
In his Latin-language letter naming Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as his special envoy to the solemn celebration of the World Day of the Sick at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting (Germany), Pope Benedict entrusted the prelate’s mission “to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all graces” [intercessioni Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae, Mediatricis omnium gratiarum].
I have a theory. Pope Benedict is all about conversion through a free process of conviction brought about by means of personal encounter with Christ. His reluctance to define the dogma has to do with what he considers the unnecessary use of papal authority to define something inherently controversial and hard for many to understand. Nonetheless true, he wants to see people embrace this kind of teaching freely, rather than because of a canonical demand. Continue reading