The Blessed Virgin Mary: Co-redemptrix

The Four Marian Dogmas

Regarding Our Blessed Mother, there are four specific dogmas which Catholics should all know – and which we must all believe in without exception:

  1. That She is the Mother of God;
  2. That She was ever-Virgin;
  3. That She was immaculately conceived;
  4. That She was assumed into Heaven and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Some have called for a fifth Marian dogma asserting beyond all doubt that our Blessed Mother is Mediatrix of all Graces, Co-redemptrix and Advocate for the Catholic faithful.

Co-redemptrix in Scripture

Regarding the specific use of the title of “Co-redemptrix,” theologians have asserted this unique role of our Blessed Mother for centuries, even though it has not been dogmatically defined as the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception were infallibly defined by the Vicar of Christ.

Sadly, the current Bishop of Rome made dubious comments on March 24th which contradicted the Church’s venerable tradition and centuries of saints who have asserted Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix.[1]

As recorded in the Gospel, the Archangel Gabriel, whose feast day is coincidentally also on March 24th, spoke to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“And the angel answering, said to Her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon Thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow Thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of Thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold Thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God” (Luke 1:35-37).

By this address to the Virgin Mary, the Archangel showed Her the sign that nothing is impossible with God, as has been shown through St. Elizabeth’s conception of St. John the Baptist. And our Blessed Mother replied with insurmountable humility and wisdom in such a way that deserves repeating both now and forever: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to Me according to thy word. And the angel departed from Her” (Luke 1:38)[2]

This radical humility is essentially the cornerstone of the Gospel. Without humility there would be no Savior. He chose to dwell among us and humble Himself to suffer hunger, thirst, work, and the Cross. Mary also humbled Herself in such a radical way by allowing Christ to take Her body and turn it into the Ark of the New Covenant, where the greatest of all treasures would be kept. This is preciously one reason Mary is given the title Co-redemptrix, because She consented to be the Mother of God; but it is also because Mary plays a pivotal role in Christ’s sufferings and death.

In no way, however, does the title of Co-redemptrix mean that Mary is equal to God as She also needed a Savior. As expressed with certainty and clarity in the Collect Prayer for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christ saved His mother from sin before Her conception:

O God, Who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, didst prepare for Thy Son a worthy habitation, we beseech Thee, that as Thou didst preserve her from every stain by the foreseen death of this Thy Son, so Thou wouldst grant that we also being cleansed from guilt by her intercession, may come to Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, addressing this important point, affirms the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-redemptrix while asserting, contrary to the false claims of Protestants, Her inferiority in comparison with God Himself:

“The title of Co-redemptrix applied to Mary never places Her on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s regular and unique sharing (although subordinate and dependent) with Her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. 

“The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of Her Son, Who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in His glorious divinity and humanity. Because of Her intimate and unparalleled sharing in the mysterious work with the divine Redeemer, both at the Incarnation (cf Lk 1:28) and at the work of redemption at Calvary (cf Jn19:26), Mary has merited the Church title, ‘Co-redemptrix’ which literally means, ‘with the Redeemer.’”

The Popes on Mary as Co-redemptrix

The title “Co-redemptrix” first received Papal sanction under Pope St. Pius X, by his approval of its use in a decree of the Congregation of Rites concerning the Feast of the Seven Dolors (A.A.S., Vol. 41, 1908, p. 409). Centuries of tradition also affirm the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix (i.e., working with the Redeemer) to bring about the world’s salvation.

Pope St. Pius X explains: “[F]rom this common sharing of sufferings and will, She merited to become most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world, and so the dispensatrix of all the gifts which were gained for us by the death and blood of Jesus. … since She was ahead of all in holiness and union with Christ, and was taken up by Christ into the work of human salvation, She merited congruously, as they say, what Christ merited condignly, and is the chief minister of the dispensation of graces” (Ad diem illum, Feb. 2, 1904).

His successor, Pope Benedict XV, teaches: “With Her suffering and dying Son She suffered and almost died, so did She surrender Her mother’s rights over Her Son for the salvation of human beings, and to appease the justice of God, so far as pertained to Her, She immolated Her Son, so that it can be rightly said, that She together with Christ has redeemed the human race” (Admodum probatur, June 20, 1917).

The Sources of Catholic Dogma (Denzinger) plainly states: “In the decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (section on indulgences), Sunt quos amor, June 26, 1913 (AAS 5 [1913] 363), he [Pope Benedict XV] praises the custom of adding to the name of Jesus the name of ‘His Mother, our coredemptor, the blessed Mary’; cf. also the prayer enriched by the Holy Office with an indulgence, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is called ‘coredemptress of the human race’ (Jan. 22, 1914; AAS 6 [1914] 108).”

And after the death of St. Pius X, Pope Pius XI continued to affirm Mary as Co-redemptrix throughout the years:

“The Virgin participated with Jesus Christ in the very painful act of the redemption” (Explorata res, 1923).

“And now lastly may the most benign Virgin Mother of God smile on this purpose and on these desires of ours; for since She brought forth for us Jesus our Redeemer, and nourished Him, and offered Him as a victim by the Cross, by Her mystic union with Christ and His very special grace She likewise became and is piously called a reparatress [Co-redemptrix]” (Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928).

“[Mary became the Mother of Jesus] in order that She might become a partner in the redemption of the human race” (Auspicatus profecto, 1933).

The Theological Certainty of Mary as Co-redemptrix:

Fathers Iesu Solano and J.A. de Aldama, in Sacrae Thologiae Summa IVa “On the Incarnate Word; On the Blessed Virgin Mary”, affirm the certainty of this title:

“That Mary cooperated with the work of the Redemption, at least mediately, is a matter of faith.

“That She also cooperated immediately is a doctrine more in conformity with the quoted texts of the Holy Pontiffs. Indeed these texts, taken together as a whole, signify the constant teaching for a century of the Roman Pontiffs proposed to the whole Church more clearly with the passage of time for they are not unaware of the disputes of theologians over this matter.

“That the title of Co-redemptrix is used rightly is certain; and it is not licit to doubt about its suitability.”

Simply put, those who claim that Mary should not be given the title of Co-redemptrix gravely err and cause scandal to the entire Church. For such errors, I suggest offering the following prayer of reparation. 

Prayer of Reparation for Insults Against Our Lady, from the Raccolta:

O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, look down in mercy from Heaven, where Thou art enthroned as Queen, upon me, a miserable sinner, Thine unworthy servant. Although I know full well my own unworthiness, yet in order to atone for the offenses that are done to Thee by impious and blasphemous tongues, from the depths of my heart I praise and extol Thee as the purest, the fairest, the holiest creature of all God’s handiwork. I bless Thy Holy name, I praise Thine exalted privilege of being truly Mother of God, ever Virgin, conceived without stain of sin, Co-redemptrix of the human race. 

I bless the Eternal Father Who chose Thee in an especial way for His daughter; I bless the Word Incarnate Who took upon Himself our nature in Thy bosom and so made Thee His Mother; I bless the Holy Spirit Who took Thee as His bride. All honor, praise and thanksgiving to the ever-blessed Trinity Who predestined Thee and loved Thee so exceedingly from all eternity as to exalt Thee above all creatures to the most sublime heights. 

O Virgin, holy and merciful, obtain for all who offend Thee the grace of repentance, and graciously accept this poor act of homage from me Thy servant, obtaining likewise for me from Thy Divine Son the pardon and remission of all my sins. Amen.


END NOTES

[1]  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-jesus-entrusted-mary-to-us-as-a-mother-not-as-co-redeemer

[2]  We remember these same words everyday if we pray the Angelus at the traditional times of 6 AM, 12 Noon, and 6 PM. We should get in the habit, even if not praying them at these precise times, to at least pray them before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The present-day form of the Angelus traces back to 1560 and is a prayer composed of three short sentences, each followed by a response and then followed by a Hail Mary. It is an excellent prayer, reminding everyone of Christ’s Incarnation as the gift of Himself – born to come, to die, and to save. The Church also blesses this devotion with indulgences. 

The Angelus is prayed three times daily, and is said throughout the year except during Easter Time (from Easter Sunday until the end of the Octave of Pentecost) when the Regina Coeli is prayed instead. Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed while kneeling; except on Sundays and Holy Days when it is prayed, standing with a genuflection (bowing on one knee) during the statement: “And dwelt among us.”

If you are praying in a group, the leader says the “V” parts and you say the “R” parts; but if you are praying alone, you will pray all parts.

The Prayer:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And She conceived by the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary…

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
R. Be it done unto Me according to thy word. Hail Mary…

V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary…

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

V. Let us pray.
R. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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