Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mary - Mediatrix of All Graces in Catholic Dogma

I found this quote from Pope Leo XIII's encyclical "Octobri mense" (1891) to be appropriate to Thos' recent discussion on the subject:

The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity. With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.
And also this one from his encyclical "Fidentem" (1896):
For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind, hastening to eternal ruin, a Saviour, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the Angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race (Summa. p. III, q. xxx., art. She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly His mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable "Mediatrix to the Mediator."
(Emphasis added) So I think the Catholic Church has clarified (even dogmatically) in what sense she is called the Mediatrix. But perhaps most important and clearly written is this one from Pope St. Pius X in his encyclical "Ad diem" (1904):
We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace - a power which belongs to God alone. Yet, since Mary carries it over all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, she merits for us de congruo, in the language of theologians, what Jesus Christ merits for us de condigno, and she is the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces. Jesus "sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high"
How wonderful God's plan is. I've said it before, all our fictions merely imitate the greatest story ever told - the Redemption of mankind. So if we are to look at one of the greatest stories ever told by men, I think the Lord of the Rings has to be up there around the top whoever you are. Mary is Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. (Of course there is no direct allegory according to Tolkein but if there were...)

Don't you see, Gandalf understood it. Only the simple unassuming Hobbit in his innocence could deliver the ring to mount doom. Only the "Yes" from Mary, immaculately conceived, could bring the ring (evil/satan) to the power of Mt. Doom (calvary). Or in the words of St. Irenaeus we could remind ourselves that virginal disobedience could only be undone by virginal obedience.

Here we have the lowest and humblest of creatures, a simple Jewish woman devoted to God in chastity delivering the Christ in the lowest of places and living a simple life with her husband the carpenter. And this narrative illustrates the climax of human history. And the simple, lowest creature becomes the greatest hero (heroine) of mankind.

Frodo is not the author of the power that destroyed the ring and neither is Mary the author of grace. And we could ask ourselves, "could the ring have been destroyed without Frodo"? or "could Christ have been born without Mary"? yet both of these questions are futile - the second more than the first. It WAS by Frodo's hands that the ring was destroyed. Salvation for middle earth came because of the innocence of the Hobbit. Salvation/grace for man did come through the obedience of Mary. I think the parallel is valid. What do you think?


AWW said...

I’ve often thought about this book and the connections to Christianity. Even though Tolken’ would say it’s nothing more than a good story. For example, Frodo’s unwillingness to kill even the most evil characters. While in the cave’s Gandalf tells Frodo that even the wisest man has the right to deal death (or something along those lines.) Frodo is given some pretty awesome weapons but he never uses them for harm. Sam does the killing for him but only when necessary. So maybe you could say that Frodo had no sin? In the book, this was even more visible at the end of the Return of the Kings when the hobbits returned to the Shire only to find it was overrun with evil humans from Saruman’s army. The hobbits used their gifts and new abilities to bring order to the town. Some of them had to resort to killing and fighting, but Frodo refused to harm any living thing. While the others were strong and fierce fighters Frodo had special powers of insight that the others lacked. Great pro-life story.

japhy said...

I've been meaning to continue writing my series on the Rosary encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII... there's plenty of good stuff in there!

Excellent post, Tim.

Devin Rose said...

Very informative post, Tim.

I think that this statement helps clarify part of the discussion on Thos' Ecumenicity blog: "We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace - a power which belongs to God alone."