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The MOST Theological Collection: Mary in Our Life

"Appendix VII: The Queenship Encyclical: Ad Caeli Reginam"


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As a fitting crown for the closing of the Marian Year, Pope Pius XII, on October 11, 1954, issued a beautiful new Encyclical, the Ad Caeli Reginam in which he established the liturgical feast of the Queenship of Mary. This Encyclical is especially noteworthy in that it marks the first time that a Pope has spoken at such length on Mary's immediate co-operation in the objective redemption, her sharing as the New Eve in atoning and in earning all graces for us on Calvary. Earlier texts of Pope Pius XII and other Popes had already taught this doctrine, as we have shown in Chapter III and Appendix III of this book, but it is gratifying to add the weight of this new and more extensive papal text to those earlier documents.

First of all, the very context and setting in which the Holy Father placed the paragraph on Mary's co-operation in the redemption are quite illuminating. Before taking up her role in the redemption, he said:

... the most Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because she, by the will of God, had an outstanding part in the work of our eternal salvation.1

Here the Pope clearly distinguished Mary's Divine Motherhood from her "outstanding part" in the work of redeeming us. Hence this "outstanding part" cannot be the same thing as the Divine Motherhood, but must be some further, some important additional cooperation.

After several intervening paragraphs, in which he described at length this co-operation in the redemption, the Holy Father summed up again the two grounds on which her royal title rests, and drew a conclusion:

... from this association with Christ arises her royal power, by which she is able to dispense the treasures of the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer....2

Thus we see that her "outstanding part" in the work of redemption is distinct3 not only from her Divine Motherhood, but also from her role as Mediatrix of all graces. It remains that the Holy Father must have meant of an "outstanding part" taken by Mary on Calvary.

But let us turn now to the paragraphs in which the Pope tells us more directly and explicitly what he means by this "outstanding part" played by Mary.

After recalling the fact that one title for Christ's Kingship is the fact that He redeemed us "with a great price ' the Holy Father continued: (emphasis added)

Now in accomplishing this work of redemption, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was certainly intimately associated with Christ; rightly therefore do we sing in the Sacred Liturgy: "Holy Mary, the Queen ... stood sorrowful by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."4

We note how the word "this," since it refers back to the "great price" of our salvation, helps to place Mary's co-operation in the context of Calvary, the very heart of the objective redemption. The rest of the sentence just quoted tells us that, as a result of Mary's association in this work, "therefore" the Liturgy "rightly" sings of her sufferings on Calvary. Now if the Pope really had in mind only a remote cooperation on Mary's part, ending with Bethlehem, would it not be misleading, to say the least, to say that "therefore," as a result of a co-operation that was remote from Calvary, the Liturgy sings of her sorrows at the cross?

The passage that follows makes the extent of Mary's association entirely dear. After quoting Eadmer and Suarez to illustrate his thought, the Holy Father entered into the very heart of his teaching on Mary's co-operation: (emphasis added)

... if Mary, in obtaining spiritual salvation, was, by the will of God, associated with Jesus Christ, the principle of salvation itself, and in a way quite similar to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the principle of death ... and if she really was the one "who ... always most intimately united with her Son, as the New Eve, offered Him on Golgotha ..." then, without a doubt, we can conclude: that just as Christ, the New Adam, should be called King not only because He is the Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so by a certain kind of analogy, the most Blessed Virgin is Queen, not only because she is the Mother of God, but also because, as the New Eve, she was associated with the New Adam.5

The thought is easy to follow: Mary, in a subordinate way, was associated with Christ in the restoration, in a way quite similar to that in which Eve was associated in the fall. As we have already seen (Chapter I) Eve really did contribute to bringing down the anger of God upon our race, and she did this not just remotely, but immediately. Similarly, Mary must have shared immediately in the very act of restoration, in Calvary itself.6 Then, lest anyone wonder whether we can confidently press the New Eve parallel so far as this, the Holy Father made his thought more explicit, saying, in the words of his Encyclical on the Mystical Body,7 that Mary was "always most intimately united with her Son" ( and therefore her association would not stop short of Calvary) and that she "as the New Eve, offered Him on Golgotha, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and love...." Hence her association really did extend to the very heart of the objective redemption: she joined in offering Him on Golgotha, and included in that offering "the holocaust of her maternal rights and love...."

But there is more: the Holy Father said that Mary's two titles for Queenship form "a certain kind of analogy"8 with the two titles for Christ's Kingship: Christ is King, as the Pope had said earlier in this Encyclical, "not only by natural right ... but also by an acquired right ... Christ bought us 'with a great price,'" that is, He is King "not only because He is the Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer." The conclusion is obvious: Mary is Queen not only because she is the Mother of God, but also because she was associated with that Redeemer in the payment of that price. Were we to deny such a sharing, the second half of the analogy would be destroyed.

Finally, as we have seen above, the Pope summed up his own thought, saying:

... Mary ... as the Mother of Christ ... the associate in the work of the Divine Redeemer, and in His struggle with the enemy and in His victory gained over all, shares in the royal dignity.... from this association with Christ arises her royal power, by which she is able to dispense the treasures of the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer....9

What is this "struggle" in which Mary is the associate, the "ally" (socia) of her Son? Clearly, it is none other than that "struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son,"10 of which the same Pope wrote in his constitution defining the Assumption. It is the struggle which brought about "that most complete victory over sin and death," of which "the resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign" and which, for Mary "had to be closed by the 'glorification' of her virginal body." In other words, it was the dread struggle of Calvary, the heart of the objective redemption, in which the "great price" was paid for our salvation: the struggle that was "common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son," in which she was His associate and ally.

To sum up, then, Mary is "intimately associated with Christ"- not only in being His Mother, not only in the "power by which she is able to dispense the treasures of the Kingdom"-but also because she "as the New Eve, offered Him on Golgotha," so that the reasons for her Queenship are parallel to those for His Kingship: both have royalty "by right of redemption," by victory in the "struggle," as well as by the fact that He is the Son of God, she, the Mother of God.

The majority of theologians, even before the Ad Caeli Reginam, saw clearly from earlier papal texts that Mary really did share immediately in the objective redemption. However, a minority professed to be unable to find this teaching in the papal texts. Within this minority, we may distinguish two groups: the earlier typified by W. Goossens, H. Lennerz, and G. Smith, and a newer group that has arisen recently,11 headed by H. Köster, O. Semmelroth, and A. Müller. The Ad Caeli Reginam provides a powerful refutation of both groups.

Since we have already shown, both in this supplement, and in the body of the book, that Mary really did co-operate immediately in the objective redemption, we have already refuted both groups.12 We considered the first group in Appendix III. Here it may be well to add a few special considerations on the theories of the newer group. For convenience, we shall refer to them as "receptivity theologians."

The receptivity theologians, strange to say, use language that speaks of a co-redemptive role for Mary on Calvary, and they appear, at first sight, to defend her immediate co-operation in the objective redemption-yet they explain her role in such a way as to exclude her immediate co-operation in the objective redemption!

Although these writers disagree among themselves even on certain fundamental points, they agree in saying that Mary on Calvary did not really contribute to the payment of the price of redemption, but instead, that she merely gathered up, as it were, and accepted for humanity, the graces being earned by Christ alone. Thus her role could be described as one of perfect receptivity.

Now the objective redemption involves the payment of a price, the earning of salvation; while in the subjective redemption, the fruits of this sacrifice are received. That is, in the objective redemption, an oblation is given to the Eternal Father-in the subjective redemption, mankind receives grace and forgiveness. Thus there are two movements-an ascending and a descending movement. In the ascending movement, an oblation rises up to the Father-in the descending movement, the fruits of the sacrifice come down to man. Therefore, to say that Mary was engaged merely in perfect receptivity, is to say that she shared not in the objective, but in the subjective redemption. A beggar taking a coin with outstretched hand is perfectly receptive: but in no sense would we see an ascending movement, a gift from him to the donor, or a payment of a price by the beggar, or an earning of the alms. But, as we have already shown, Mary really did co-operate immediately in the objective redemption: hence the receptivity theory is incorrect.

But someone may object: "Perhaps the three phases which the Pope distinguished in the Queenship Encyclical really are: her Divine Motherhood, her receptivity on Calvary, and her later distribution of the fruits of Calvary."

At first sight such an interpretation might appear plausible: however, a careful study of the words of the Pope shows that the receptivity theory is quite incompatible with many of the statements of this Encyclical.

To begin, the receptivity theory would not agree with the New Eve principle, which the Pope extends even to Calvary. For Scripture and Tradition do not present Eve as "receiving" a sin from Adam, but as co-operating in sinning, as sinning herself.13 Furthermore, in the passage quoted from the Encyclical on the Mystical Body, the Holy Father said that the New Eve "offered Him ... together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and love." Thus he describes an oblation ascending to the Father, in which Mary joined, since she both "offered Him" and included in that offering "the holocaust of her maternal rights and love." Now it is one thing to make a joint offering, to send an oblation up to the Father-quite another thing merely to be "receptive" to its fruits.

Again, the Pope said that the reasons for Mary's Queenship are analogical to those for Christ's Kingship. Christ is King not only because He is God, but also by right of redemption: Mary is Queen not only because she is the Mother of God, but also by association in the redemption. Now when the Holy Father, in this passage called Christ our Redeemer, he referred to Christ's gift of Himself, as an oblation ascending to the Father in payment of the price of redemption: therefore, if Mary's role is to form any analogy at all with His, she must have shared in the ascending movement. If she shared only in the descending movement, we would have more of a contrast than an analogy.

Finally, when the Pope said that Mary was a sharer or ally in a "struggle with the enemy" which led to a "victory," he hardly means that she was merely "receptive." If he had said that she shared only in the victory or in its fruits, his words might be compatible with a receptivity theory. But to say that she was a sharer in a struggle with the enemy could hardly apply to a mere receiving of the spoils- rather, it seems to tell of a quite active and eff ective contact with the infernal enemy.14

The receptivity theologians are so profoundly impressed by the relation of Mary to the Church that they conclude she could not do more in the objective redemption than the Church, or the individual, can do in the subjective redemption.15 Now, they say, neither the Church nor the individual can do more than to accept his own redemption, inasmuch as our co-operation adds nothing to the work of Christ or to the power of grace. The same must be said of Mary.

At the outset, let us note well: 1. Although we can only accept, not merit, the first grace for ourselves ( since our very ability to merit depends on it), we can merit it (congruously) for others, 2. The assumption that Mary could not do more than the Church is far from proved. Actually, she is the Mother of the whole Mystical Body, which is the Church, possessing a dignity "second only to God," as Pius XI said, and a completely unique mission.

But let us review the complete picture. The fundamental cause of the redemption is the mercy of God who is love. With the intense generosity of a person making a vow, the Father's infinite goodness wanted redemption and grace to be given not only in mercy: He willed also to bind Himself to grant it in justice also. Hence He sent His only Son, to whom He could owe all grace because: 1. the acts of the Son, being those of a Divine Person, have infinite worth, 2. that Son fulfilled the task commanded to Him, carrying out His part of a contract, as it were. But our Father willed to owe grace not only in the objective, but also in the subjective redemption. Hence His Son instituted the Mass, in which the same infinite offering is presented again, to pay the price of the dispensation of all graces.16 Our Father willed also that we creatures should share in Christ's just claim to all graces. He made that possible by making us members of Christ, who should merit by being conformed to Him, and by imitating, in a lesser way, the two titles on which He earned grace: 1. He adopted us as sons, so that our works might have a certain intrinsic dignity, 2. He bound Himself by promise to reward our good works.

We cannot, of course, merit for ourselves the very first grace, on which our very ability to merit depends: we only accept it. But beyond this point, by the two titles mentioned, we truly merit17 for ourselves: we even merit the very first grace for others (congruously). Nor are we merely receptive. For there are two phases in performing a good work. In the first, we have not even the power to accept18 grace: St. Thomas tells us we can only reject, or refrain from rejecting the grace offered. But if we do not reject, then God not only moves us to accept, but gives us also the power of actively carrying out a good work which earns reward on a twofold title. This good work can fuse, as it were, with the offering of the whole Christ in the Mass, and so be part of the price paid for the dispensation of grace.

Now Mary could not do less in the objective redemption than we do in the subjective redemption. She could not, of course, earn the first grace for herself. But just as we can merit (congruously) even first grace for others, so she, in a much more wonderful way,19 having received power from God through the offering of Christ, could actively co-operate, so that her work would fuse with that of Christ, to become part of the one great price paid in the objective redemption. She too had a double title of merit, less than that of Christ, but far greater than ours: 1. her contribution had a special kind of intrinsic worth, being that of the Mother of God who is full of grace, and the inseparable associate of the Redeemer, being united with Him in one eternal decree, 2. She too fulfilled the work enjoined on her, so fully that the "struggle" of Calvary was "common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son," as Pope Pius XII said.

Just as we, in a good work, are in the same instant being moved by God to act, and acting ourselves by His power, so also Mary could simultaneously be redeemed20 and share in redeeming others. Again, just as our contribution is accepted by the Father as part of the price of the dispensation of grace, even though Christ's offering in the Mass is infinite in worth, so Mary's contribution was accepted by the Father as part of the price of objective redemption, even though the merits of Christ were infinite in themselves.

Therefore we conclude, both from papal teaching, and from our study of the theology of grace, that Mary really did contribute to paying the very price of the objective redemption. Or, in the striking words of Pope Pius XII, in his great Sacred Heart Encyclical: "... our salvation flowed from the love and sufferings of Jesus Christ, intimately joined with the love and sorrows of His Mother...."21


1 Note in Context:
Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, Oct. 11, 1954: AAS 46:633. Cf. Marianum XVII (1955) pp. 354-68 and Estudios Marianos XVII (Madrid, 1956).
2 Note in Context:
AAS 46:635.
3 Note in Context:
The distinction of the Divine Motherhood from this "outstanding part" is made even dearer by the subsequent paragraphs.
4 Note in Context:
AAS 46:634.
5 Note in Context:
AAS 46:634-35. The internal quotation is from Mystici Corporis: AAS 35:247.
6 Note in Context:
The association of Eve and of Mary was not private but official: Mary was associated "in obtaining spiritual salvation ... with the principle of salvation itself" and this was true not by private design but "by the will of God." Similarly, Eve "was associated with ... the principle of death." The Fathers make clear that Eve really did contribute to bringing down the wrath of the Creator on our race. Thus St. Irenaeus (cited by the Pope in the complete text) says that "just as the human race was bound over to death through a virgin, so was it saved through a virgin." Cf. St. Augustine (De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione 1.16:21): "... in Ecclesiasticus (25:33) it is written: 'From the woman came the beginning of sin, and by her we all die.'" Whether it be said to come from the woman or from Adam, both refer to the first human (homo), for, as we know, the woman is of the man, and there is one flesh for both. Hence it is also written (Gen. 2:24): 'And they shall be two in one flesh.'"
7 Note in Context:
See p. 22 above.
8 Note in Context:
The qualification "a Certain kind of analogy" seems to point to the fact that the parallel is not complete in the first half of the analogy: Christ is the Son of God, and Mary is the Mother of God, but she is not Queen by very nature, while He is King by nature. But the parallel in the second part is exact, and must mean a subordinate but immediate co-operation in the objective redemption. If her share were only remote, that would be identified with the first part of the analogy, leaving nothing for the second; if her share were not in the objective redemption, there would be no parallel at all, for the work of Christ mentioned here is precisely the heart of the objective redemption. The fact that the same Pope used identical words, "by right of conquest" for both Jesus and Mary in presenting the same parallel in an earlier text (see pp. 22-23) confirms this interpretation.
9 Note in Context:
AAS 46:635.
10 Note in Context:
AAS 42:768.
11 Note in Context:
H. Köster, in Die Magd des Herrn (Limburg, 1947 & 1954) and Unus Mediator. Gedanken zur Marianischen Frage (Limburg, 1950); O. Semmelroth, S.J., in Urbild der Kirche. Organischer Aufbau des Mariengeheimnisses (Würzburg, 1950 & 1954); and A. Müller, in "Um die Grundlagen der Mariologie" in Divus Thomas (Freiburg) 1951, vol. 29, pp. 385-401. There are certain other theologians, especially C. Dillenschneider, whose opinion is difficult to classify. They disagree with Köster, Semmelroth, and Müller on several major points. Yet they agree in denying that Mary had any real effectiveness in paying the price of redemption. Hence, at least logically, they seem to reduce her role to receptivity.
12 Note in Context:
For special comments on the earlier group, cf. pp. 264-67 above. On pp. 266-67 we outlined the chief ways in which the theory that Christ alone merited "accessibility" (acquisition) of grace, while Mary merited only its application, is incompatible with the earlier papal texts. Here we may add that the Ad Caeli Reginam calls Mary "the associate in the work of the Divine Redeemer, and in His struggle with the enemy and in His victory." Now it is obvious that in this passage the Pope refers to Christ's work of paying the price of our Redemption, in making grace "universally accessible." In calling Mary the associate in the work of Christ, the Pope must mean she was associated in that work of Christ of which he is speaking, that is, the acquisition, not the application of the treasury of grace. Further, this association is in an official, not a private role, for she "as the New Eve offered Him." Cf. also the analogy treated in note 8.
13 Note in Context:
Cf. the many patristic texts which speak of Eve as a cause of sin and death and of Mary as a cause of salvation (many are cited in Appendix I above). Cf. also note 6 above.
14 Note in Context:
Earlier papal texts yield the same conclusion. Thus, if Mary "merited for us congruously what Christ merited condignly" she must have contributed to paying a price, for to merit is to earn a reward by a good work which is, as it were, a kind of price. Similarly, Benedict XV's teaching that she "immolated her Son" means the same as the Mystici Corporis text (see above). Further, one title for the royalty of Jesus and Mary is the "right of conquest" (pp. 22-23 above): hence she must have shared in conquering, not just in receiving the spoils of conquest.
15 Note in Context:
Semmelroth even tries to make the fact that Mary is a sort of prototype of the Church into the primary principle of Mariology, from which all else flows. It is difficult if not impossible to reconcile this view with the words of Pius XI and Pius XII (cited above, p. 14).
16 Note in Context:
On Mary's role in this price, see pp. 162-66 above.
17 Note in Context:
Cf. the definition of the Council of Trent in Denzinger, op. cit., §§ 842, 836. Cf. also 809 and ST I-II, q.112, a.2, ad 1: the good act of accepting first grace merits the first degree of heaven.
18 Note in Context:
ST I-II, q.111, a.2, ad 2, and Contra Gentiles III, 159. Note also ibid.: "... only they are deprived of grace who set up in themselves an impediment to grace...."
19 Note in Context:
Since Mary fulfilled her part of a contract, as it were, her claim seems to be based on justice, so that her merit deserves to be called "condign" more than our merits do, though less so than the merits of Christ. More and more theologians are now coming to this view of her merit (we agree with them). Cf. note 9, p. 24 above.
20 Note in Context:
On this matter see p. 265 above.
21 Note in Context:
Haurietis aquas (May 15, 1956) AAS 48:352. Note that the English translations are incorrect in rendering "flows", in the present: the Latin has perfect subjunctive (sit profecta). Present tense might indicate the subjective redemption: the past refers to the objective redemption.

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