Click here to advertise on

The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology

"XXI. How Did the Redemption Operate?"


Browse by Title
New Search
Table of Contents for this Work

Of course, Jesus redeemed us by His death. But we must go deeper, and ask in what way His death accomplished that.

Mt 20. 28: "The Son of Man... came to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mk. 10. 45 is the same).

Gal. 3. 13: "Christ has bought us back from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us." (Cf. also Gal 4. 5).

1 Cor. 6. 20 (cf. 7. 23): "You were bought at a price."

COMMENT: The question had to arise: to whom was the price or ransom paid? It would seem at first sight that it was paid to the one who held our race in captivity, to satan. St. Ambrose, in Epistle 72 went so far as to accept that. Most Fathers and later writers recoiled from that. Yet the idea that sin was a debt was very ancient. It is found for example in the Our Father: "Forgive us our debts"

St. Athanasius probably was not original on the point, but he does tell us of four possible answers: (1) Substitution: "He takes to Himself a body capable of death that it, by partaking of the Lord who is above all, might be worthy to die instead of all... . All being considered to have died in Him. [Cf. 2 Cor 5. 14]." (On the Incarnation 9). (2) Blunting or absorbing the impact of a force. He died so that "the law involving the ruin of men might be undone, inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body." (On the Incarnation 8). (3) Physical-mystical solidarity: "Such a union was made so He might join what was by nature divine with what was by nature human, so (human) salvation and divinization might be secure." (Second Oration Against the Arians 70). The notion is that all humanity forms a unit, a solidarity. But the humanity of Christ is part of that solidarity. Further, in Him that nature is joined in one Person to the divinity. So a power spreads out from the divinity through His humanity to all humanity to heal it. And in his Oration 2. 70; "Such a union was made [in the incarnation] for this reason [namely] so that He might join together that which was by nature divine with that which was by nature human, so that his [man's] salvation and divinization might be firm." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, in Catechetical Oration 32: Just as in the case of our bodies, the activity of one of our senses works throughout the whole system which is united to that part, so too, as if our whole nature [all humanity] were one living things, the resurrection of the part passes through to the whole, being given to the whole according to the continuity and unity of [our] nature." And again: ibid. 25:" "Now therefore the One who keeps nature in existence has been mingled with us; then [at the incarnation] He was mingled with our nature so that it [our nature] by mixture with the divine, might become divine." (4) Payment of a debt: "The Word of God... by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all, satisfied the debt by His death." (On the Incarnation 9).

St. Anselm (1033 - 1109) in Cur Deus homo? following up on the debt idea, said that man was created for obedience, service, devotion to God. By sin he evaded it. So God had to demand satisfaction in justice. Hence the Incarnation, the means of satisfying the debt. Many have been displeased with the Anselmian theory. First, God does not have to do anything. Second, people could say: If someone offends me, I often just let it go. Why cannot God be so kind?

However, the notion of sin as a debt to be paid is found in the OT, in intertestamental literature (where Hebrew and Aramaic hobah is often used to mean sin, while its basic sense is debt. It is found in the NT. It is found widely in rabbinic literature. Pope Paul VI, in Indulgentiarum doctrina, Jan 9, 1967. AAS 59. 7, wrote: "Every sin brings with it a disturbance of the universal order, which God arranged in His inexpressible wisdom and infinite love... So it is necessary for the full remission and reparation of sins... not only that friendship with God be restored by a sincere conversion of heart, and that the offence against His wisdom and goodness be expiated, but also that all the goods, both individual and social, and those that belong to the universal order, lessened or destroyed by sin, be fully reestablished, either through voluntary reparation... or through the suffering of penalties."

The same thought is brought out well in the image of a two-pan scales by Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar, in Tosefta, Kiddushin 1. 14. He wrote c 170 AD, and says he is quoting Rabbi Meir, a disciple of the great Rabbi Akiba: "Someone has carried out one commandment. Blessings [on him]. He has tipped the scales to the side of merit for himself and for the world. Someone has committed a transgression. Woe [to him]. He has tipped the scales to the side of debt for himself and for the world."

A sinner takes from one pan of the scale what he has no right to. The scale is out of balance. The holiness of God wants everything morally right, and so wants it rebalanced. If the sinner stole property, he begins to rebalance by giving it back. If he stole a pleasure, he begins to rebalance by giving up some other pleasure he could have lawfully had. But in either case, he only begins - for the imbalance from even one mortal sin is infinite. Hence if the Father wanted full reparation - he was not obliged - the only way to accomplish it would be to send a Divine Person to become man.

So there is a price of redemption, not paid of course to satan, nor to the Father (He was not the captor) but to the objective order, to rebalance it, as willed by the holiness of God. This price is the sacrificial death of Christ, done in obedience: cf. Romans 5. 19 and LG 3. Had He died as a merely physical event, not in obedience, it would have redeemed nothing.

Another aspect is that of covenant, as foretold by Jeremiah 31. 31ff . The obedient death of Christ was the covenant condition. Again, without obedience it would have been a tragedy, not a redemption.

A sinner, as we said, takes from one pan what he has no right to take. Jesus in His painful death gave back more than all sinners have taken. And the infinity of His Person would have made even a slight thing from Him infinitely valuable. His Mother too, completely sinless, joined in that rebalance as we shall see.

Since the price of the redemption was infinite, the Father bound Himself by infinite objective title to offer forgiveness and grace without limit to our race. Further, there is an infinite objective title in favor of each individual person. So St. Paul says in Gal 2:20:"He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Vatican II, Church in Modern World §22, said: "Each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me."

Now Jesus did not die for just part of our race, but for all. Hence this infinite title applies also to those before His coming. It is true, the external means of grace - Mass and Sacraments were not to be seen then. But God can and does make grace available interiorly even without them. And it seems that some have more need of His special helps than others: Cf. 1 Cor 1:27-30; Ezek 3:5-7 and 5:6; Jonah 3; Lk 10:30-37; Mt 11:21; Lk 17:11-19. As to texts that seem to speak of God as measuring out graces, like Eph 4:7-13 and Rom 12:3-8 -- they speak of the charismatic graces, not of sanctifying graces. Sanctifying graces since needed for salvation, which God wills for all (1 Tim 2:4) and coming under the infinite covenant are given without measure. Charismatic graces are otherwise: 1 Cor 12:11.

The infinity of His offering does not dispense us, His members, from doing what we can. St. Paul makes clear that we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are not only members of Christ, but also like Him. That likeness of course must include this sharing in rebalancing. St. Paul says we are members of Christ: 1 Cor 12. 12-27. We must do all with Him: Rom 6. 3-8; 8. 18; Col 3. 1-4. We must be like Him: Rom 8. 9, 13 & 17. What we can call merit is really our getting on the claim generated by Christ, by being His members and being like Him.

Patristic teaching: Our Lady's cooperation in the redemption appears in the earliest Fathers, in the New Eve theme. It begins with St. Justin the Martyr, around 150 AD. It is then taken up widely in the other Fathers. St. Paul had spoken of Christ as the New or Second Adam. The Fathers teach there was also a New or Second Eve. The thought is this: Just as the first Eve really contributed to bringing down the damage of original sin on our race, so the New Eve, Mary , really contributed to reversing that damage.

(1) St. Justin Martyr, ( c. 100-165) Dialogue with Trypho 100: "... we have understood that He came forth from the Father before all things... and was made man of the Virgin, so that the disobedience brought on by the serpent might be cancelled out in the same manner in which It had begun. For Eve, being untouched and a virgin, conceiving the word from the serpent, bought forth disobedience and death. But Mary the Virgin, having received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced to her that the spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, so that the Holy One born of her would be the Son of God, answered: 'Be it done to me according to your word. '"

(2)St. Irenaeus (c. 120-202) Against Heresies III. 22. 4: "Just as she... being disobedient, because a cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary... being obedient, became a cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race... . for in no other way can that which is tied be untied unless the very windings of the knot are gone through in reverse: so that the first joints are loosed through the second, and the second in turn free the first... . Thus, then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the obedience of Mary." V, 19. 1: "Although the one had disobeyed God, the other was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And just as the human race was bound over to death through a virgin, so was it saved through a virgin; the scale was balanced - a virgin's disobedience by a virgin's obedience."

COMMENT: We notice the words about balancing the scales - of the objective order. We note too that Vatican II, LG 56 cited most of the first of the above texts of St. Irenaeus, and put stress on obedience in 56 and 61. Also, the knot was not really untied until Calvary was completed -- so the words of St. Irenaeus objectively imply more than he is likely to have seen. As a Father of the Church, Divine Providence could use him to express more than Irenaeus himself saw. He saw her cooperation in the objective redemption (the once-for-all gaining of a title to forgiveness and grace). But he had in mind the annunciation. That would be a remote cooperation. The immediate cooperation would be a cooperation on Calvary. As we said, it was only then that the knot was really untied.

(3) Tertullian (c 150 -c 240). On the Flesh of Christ 17: "Therefore, since we are told that the first Adam was from the earth, God fittingly also made the next, the new Adam, into a life-giving spirit out of the earth - that is, of a flesh not yet used for generation. And yet, so I may not miss the opening provided by the name of Adam - why did the Apostle call Him Adam if Christ as man was not of earthly origin? But here reason also helps to show that God, by a rival [parallel but in reverse] method, restored His image and likeness which had been captured by the devil. For into Eve when she was yet a virgin had crept the word that established death; likewise, into a virgin was to be brought the Word of God that produced life: so that what had gone to ruin by the one sex might be restored to salvation by the same sex. Eve had believed the serpent, Mary believed Gabriel. What wrong the one did by her unbelief, the other destroyed by her belief."

(4) St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) Catecheses 12. 15: "Through the virgin Eve came death. It was necessary that life appear through a virgin, or rather, of a virgin, so that just as the serpent deceived the one, so Gabriel brought the good tidings to the other."

(5) St. Jerome ( c. 347-419), Epistle 22. 21 [internal quote: Is 9. 6): "But after the Virgin conceived in her womb and brought forth for us a child for whom 'the government is upon his shoulder... God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come,' the curse was dissolved. Death through Eve; life through Mary".

(6) St. Ambrose (c 333 -397) Epistle 63. 33): "Through a man and a woman flesh was cast out of paradise; through a virgin it was joined to God." On the Gospel of Luke 4. 7: "From the virgin earth [came] Adam, Christ [came] from a virgin; the former was made to the image of God, the latter [was] the image of God; the former was exalted above all irrational animals, the latter above all living things. Through a woman [came] folly, through a virgin [came] wisdom. Death [came] through the tree, life through the cross."

(7) St. Augustine ( 354 - 430):Sermon on Psalm 149. 2: "For He received flesh from us and offered it. But whence did He receive it? From the womb of the Virgin Mary, so that He might offer clean flesh for the unclean." On the Christian Combat 22. 24: "Here also is a great mystery: since death had come upon us through a woman, life was born for us through a woman, so that the conquered devil was tormented by both sexes, that is, male and female, since he had rejoiced in the ruin of both. His punishment would have been too small if both had been freed and had not been freed through both." On Holy Virginity 6. 6: "... but certainly she is the Mother of His members, which we are; for she cooperated in love that the faithful might be born in the Church." Sermon 289. 2: "Since our original fall took place when a woman conceived in her heart the poison of the serpent, it is not surprising that our salvation came when a woman conceived in her womb the flesh of the Almighty. Both sexes had fallen; both had to be restored. Through a woman we were sent to ruin; through a woman salvation was restored to us."

COMMENT: A more extensive collection of Patristic New Eve texts in English is found in: T. Livius, The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Six Centuries (London, 1893). Other Fathers quoted in Livius are: St. Theophilus of Antioch, Origen, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Amphilocius, St. Ephrem, St. Epiphanius, St. Maximus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Peter Chrysologus, St. Proclus, St. Eleutherius Tornacensis, and the Epistle to Diognetus. Still more texts in Latin are to be found in Gabriel M. Roschini, Mariologia (2nd ed. Rome, 1947. II, 300-01, 304-09.

Vatican II, picked up and further developed this Patristic New Eve them, clearly extending her cooperation to Calvary itself. Constitution on the Church, §58: "So also the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully bore with her union with her Son even to the cross, where, in accord with the divine plan, she stood, vehemently grieved with her Only-Begotten, and joined herself to His Sacrifice with a motherly heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her."

§61: "In conceiving Christ, in giving birth to Him, in feeding Him, in presenting Him to the Father in the Temple, in suffering with her Son as He died on the cross she cooperated in the work of the Savior in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls."

COMMENT: Her cooperation was by way of obedience, which was the covenant condition, the very thing that gave the sacrifice its value, for without obedience, it would have been only a tragedy, not a redemption. Hence in §3 of the same constitution: "By His obedience, He brought about redemption." Cf. also Romans 5. 19. Further, we notice that she cooperated officially, "in accord with the divine plan" as the New Eve. She was made interiorly apt for this by the Immaculate Conception. Such a cooperation is clearly active, in generating the title for redemption.

John Paul II. Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987. AAS 79. 382. 83. Vatican Press Translation. "How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God's 'unsearchable judgments'! How completely she 'abandons herself to God without reserve,' offering the full assent of the intellect and the will' to Him whose 'ways are inscrutable... . Through this faith, Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying... . At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest 'kenosis'of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in His redeeming death... . as a sharing in the sacrifice of Christ - the new Adam - it becomes in a certain sense the counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first parents. Thus teach the Fathers of the Church and especially St. Irenaeus, quoted by the Constitution Lumen gentium: 'The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed by her faith. '"

NOTE: There are 15 other documents from Popes, every Pope from Leo XIII to John Paul II, all teaching her immediate cooperation in the objective redemption on Calvary: Leo XIII, Encyclicals, Iucunda semper, and Adiutricem populi, in ASS 27. 178 and 28. 130-31; S. Pius X, Encyclical Ad diem illum, ASS 36. 453-55; Benedict XV, Epistula, Admodum probatur, AAS 10. 182; Pius XI, Apostolic Letter, Explorata res est AAS 15, 104; Pius XI, Encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor and Radiomessage to Lourdes, AAS 20, 178 and Osservatore Romano, April 29, 1935; Pius XII, Encylical Mystici Corporis, AAS 35. 247 and Radiomessage to Fatima, AAS 38. 266 and Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, AAS 42. 768 and Encyclical, Fulgens Corona, AAS 45. 583 and Encyclical, Ad caeli Reginam, AAS 46. 634-35; John XXIII, Radiomessage to Eucharistic Congress of Catana, AAS 51, 714 and Homily AAS 65. 10.

It is a basic principle that if something is taught repeatedly on the Ordinary Magisterium level, it is infallible. Surely 17 repetitions suffice to make infallible the teaching that she cooperated immediately , on Calvary, in the objective redemption.

COMMENTS: 1. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, the same Pope said that in Redemptoris Mater, he intended to deepen the teaching of Vatican II on Mary's faith. Now since faith involves total adherence of a person to God, requiring intellectual assent, confidence in promises, and the "obedience of faith" [Rom 1. 5], and since all spiritual perfection lies in the alignment of one's will with the will of God, it is clear that on Calvary her conformity to the will of the Father required that she positively will the terrible death of her Son. To do that was indeed the deepest kenosis of faith in all history, for she had to will His death in spite of her love, which was so great that Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus, in 1854, taught that at the very start of her life, her holiness (= love of God) was so great that "none greater under God can be thought of, and only God can comprehend it." - The very value of His death depended on His obedience to the will of the Father (cfr. Lumen gentium §3 and Rom 5. 19) for that obedience was the condition of the New Covenant. But then, her cooperation consisted in the obedience of faith, and so was a share in the covenant condition, in His obedience; hence her obedience became "the counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first parents." - She did this as the one appointed by the Father to cooperate, as the New Eve, who was there, as Lumen gentium §§ 58 &61 said, "by plan of divine Providence."

It was surely possible for the Father to accept her obedience as part of the covenant condition: He called for it at immense cost to her, as we have seen. He made her intrinsically apt. He appointed her to cooperate. Could we then suppose He would not accept that which He Himself had arranged? Not at all.

So, factually, He did accept her cooperation as part of the covenant condition, which generated a claim to all forgiveness and grace. This is far beyond what the German Mariologists supposed, with their theory of mere active receptivity. Their comparison says it is as if she put out her hand, an active move, and then passively picked up what she had no share in generating. This which sounds so much like the position of Luther saying our role is mere appropriation.

This does not mean she was on the same level as Jesus. Her very ability to do anything came from Him. Further, even His offering was on the secondary level of the covenant. We mean this: If we ask why does the Father give good things under the covenant, there are two answers, on two levels. On the basic level, no creature can generate a claim on God: everything given is mere generosity, unmerited, unmeritable. But on the secondary level, i.e., given the fact that He freely decided to enter a covenant, saying in effect: "If you do this, I will do that" then, if humans carry out their condition, He owes it to Himself to give what He has pledged. So it is not that the Father began to love us because Jesus came and died - no, He always loved us -rather, Jesus came and died because the Father loved us, so the Father did not cease being angry because Jesus came and died: rather, it was because the Father always loved us that He came.

2. Answer to an objection: Vatican II, in LG 54 said it did not intend to settle debates among theologians, chiefly, between the German Mariologists and those who hold she actively contributed to generating a title to all forgiveness and grace. Yet, In LG 55 the Council made clear that even if the human writers of Gen 3. 15 and Is 7. 14 may not have seen the full import of their words, the Church now does see them, in the light of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah the prophet in 31. 31 ff. wrote more than he knew. St. Irenaeus wrote more than he understood, with his knot comparison. Why could not the Council, an instrument of Divine Providence, also write more than it realized? We have seen, by careful analysis, that its words do objectively mean more than it realized. Still further, Msgr. G. Philips of Louvain, one of the chief drafters of LG, shows in his commentary that he himself did not fully understand all that he wrote. In his commentary on §§ 61 and 62 of LG (L'Eglise et son mystère aux Deuxieme concil du Vatican. Histoire, text et commentaire de la Constitution Lumen Gentium, Desclée, Paris, 1968. It was reprinted in Ephemerides Mariologicae XXIV, 1974, pp. 87-97. We cite from this reprint) he thinks that only (p. 92) "a mental distinction... between the acquisition and the distribution of grace is possible." That is, between objective and subjective redemption. But on p. 90 of his commentary, he says that her cooperation was "concretized in her unconditional obedience." While on p. 92 he said her present role (subjective redemption) is one of intercession. Intercession and obedience are not at all the same thing. In obedience, she does the will of the Father, in intercession she asks the Father to do her will, to grant graces to her children.

3. When the Pope spoke of the deepest self-emptying on the part of Jesus and His Mother, he did not mean that Jesus thought He was abandoned by the Father. Rather, He recited the opening part of Psalm 21 to show He was then fulfilling the things prophesied in that Psalm.

John Paul II in a General Audience of Nov 30, 1988 said: "If Jesus feels abandoned by the Father, He knows, however, that that is not really so. He Himself said: 'I and the Father are one. ' ... . dominant in His mind Jesus has the clear vision of God and the certainty of His union with the Father. But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and He no longer feels the 'presence' of the Father... . However, Jesus knew that by this ultimate phase of His sacrifice, reaching the intimate core of His being, He completed the work of reparation which was the purpose of His sacrifice for the expiation of sins."

St. Francis de Sales (Treatise on the Love of God 9. 3) speaks of the fine point of the soul. Or, we could think of a tall mountain, 25, 000 feet in altitude. On some days, the peak will stick out above the dark clouds and be in sunshine, while all the lower slopes are in storm and distress. We mean this: in a human being there are many levels of operation, in body and in soul. It is possible to have peace on only the highest level, while all below is in distress. So it was in the humanity of Jesus when He recited the start of Psalm 21.

4) The alternatives of redemption: If we imagine the Father looking over the scene after the sin of our first parents, of course He willed to restore our race. But there were several alternatives open to Him: (1) He could forgive with no reparation at all. This would not satisfy His generosity to us, nor would it at all rebalance the objective order, as His Holiness wanted. (2) He could have appointed any mere human and ordered that one to perform any religious act. That would be of finite value, but He could have accepted, even could have bound Himself by promise to accept it as the whole of redemption. (3) He could have sent His Son to be born in a palace, fitted with every possible luxury. The Son would not need to die at all. The mere fact of becoming Incarnate was a come-down for a Divine Person, and so would be infinitely satisfactory and meritorious. He could have added a short prayer, perhaps,"Father, forgive them" and then could have ascended in a blaze of glory without ever dying. This would have been an infinite redemption. (4)He went beyond the palace to the stable, beyond a deathless prayer to the Cross. Without any rhetoric we can say: this is beyond infinity. In the lowly terrain of mathematics, infinity plus a finite quantity does not increase. But this is the realm of divine generosity, which wills to make everything as rich as possible. (5) Further, recalling He could have used a mere human for the whole of redemption: why not use the Virgin Mary as the associate of the Divine Redeemer? Our magisterium texts and analysis have shown He did precisely that.

Of course, He did not need to give her such a role - she was in a sense needed since some Mother was needed for the incarnation. But He freely chose to put her everywhere in His approach to us - as Vatican II showed in LG § 55-59, 61-62, in going through her role in every one of the mysteries of His life and death, from the eternal decrees, to eternity after the end of time, and at all points in between. Yet He willed to use her role thus, in His love of good order (cf. ST I. 19. 5. c), and to make all things as rich as possible for us. Similarly, on the same principles, He willed to bring in the intercession of the ordinary Saints in the subjective redemption. - And in one way He did not really need to have the Mass, since all graces were earned before it. Yet: 1) in love of good order He willed it; 2) He wills that we be like Christ and join our obedience to His. Hence: "Do this in memory of me", so we have a place at which to join our obedience with His, to form the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and members.

5) Parallel to the Mass: The Mass, says Vatican II (On Liturgy § 10) is the renewal of the New Covenant. But, as we just said. in that renewal we, the members of Christ, are called on to join our obedience to His, to form the one great offering of the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and members. Therefore, if the renewal is faithful to the original, there must have been in the original a parallel, i. e, the infinite value of the obedience of Christ, to which was joined the obedience of His Mother, who is also our spiritual Mother. For Vatican II, in LG § 61, right after the portion already quoted, added: "As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace." An ordinary Mother must do two things: (1) Share in bringing a new life into being - Our Spiritual Mother did share in that, in immense pain, by the Cross. (2) She must take care of that life so long as she is needed, willing, and able. In time children naturally outgrow the need of great help from their earthly mother. Not so Mary: we will need her help, since all graces come through her, until we finally reach the mansions of the Father. Ordinary mothers may be unwilling or unable to help. Not so Mary, who is never unwilling, always most able.

6) Mediatrix of All Graces: From the fact that Our Lady shared, as we saw, in earning all graces, it is a natural consequence that she should share in distributing all graces. There are Magisterium documents from the following Popes saying that she is Mediatrix of graces. The names underlined make explicit in various ways that she is Mediatrix of all: Leo XIII:(8 documents, 5 saying all graces); St. :Pius X (2 documents, both saying all graces); Benedict XV (2 documents, both saying all graces); Pius XI, (4 documents, each saying all graces); Pius XII, (2 documents, one clear on all graces); John XXIII (one document, all graces).

Protestants object from 1 Tim 2:5:"There is one Mediator." We reply: 1)Jesus is unique on three counts: He is the only necessary Mediator - the only one who can work by His own power --the only one by nature in between God and man, having both natures. 2)In His love of good order, God is pleased to frequently have one thing in place to serve as a title for the second, even though it does not move Him, and is not necessary. Thus He bound self by promise to hear prayers; "Ask and you shall receive". Similarly He bound self by covenant to offer all graces. This is in line with St. Thomas I. 19. 5. c. which says that God in His love of good order does like to have one thing there to serve as a title for the second. Similarly, in this vein, He wanted Jesus to have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit - cf. Isaiah 11:1-3-- even though as divine, there was no need. But the Father wanted all things to be filled in fully. Similarly, He did not need Our Lady except that He needed a human Mother for His Son. Yet He gave her an immense role -- LG chapter 8 shows in detail her role in every phase of the mysteries of His life and death. In OT He used appeals to other mediators, e. g, Job 42:8, He promised to accept Job's prayer for the sins of his "friends". Moses often begging God appealed to His relation to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This meant His promise to them, but also likely meant their intercession.

Against this background it is not surprising, rather, it is to be expected that He would be pleased to use secondary mediators, Our Lady, in both objective and subjective redemption, and the lesser Saints in subjective redemption. He also uses the Mass to provide a title for giving out the graces already paid for in the objective redemption by the price of redemption.

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

Making Moral Progress? 12 hours ago
Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision July 2
Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited July 2
A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15
Cardinal Kasper: Pope never approved my proposal CWN - June 4