The Father William Most Collection
Grounding Marian Devotion
Solid devotion to our Lady needs to rest on the firm rock of sound doctrine --otherwise it is little more than emotion
We meet at once a strange picture: during the second session of Vatican II, on a warm day in October, our irresponsible media blared the report, "The Council has voted to downgrade Mary." This false report shook the Church and caused a great decline in Marian devotion.
But we said the media were irresponsible -- on that day there was a close vote on where to put Marian teaching: in a separate document or in the document on the Church? The presiding Cardinal announced that no matter which way the Bishops would vote, it was not downgrading - so the media announced the precise opposite.
How far did the Council really downgrade? It did the very opposite: it wrote more extensively than all previous Councils combined on her, and gave us Marian doctrine theologically more advanced than all previous councils combined.
One of the oldest teachings about her had been voiced by St.Justin the Martyr, Around 145 AD. Justin taught that she was a New Eve: just as the first Eve had really shared in bringing the damage of original sin, so Mary, the new Eve reality shared in reversing it: In other words: she really shared in redeeming us! To most Catholics this was an astounding thought, that she could actually share in redeeming our race. Yet she did this, by furnishing the humanity in which He could die.
Yet this teaching is most surely true. Not just St. Justin but most of the great Fathers sad the same.
Not only that -- since the Church receives ever increasing light from the Spirit who was promised to led us into all truth, every Pope from Leo XIII up to and including John Paul II, added that she even had a role in the great Sacrifice of Calvary itself!.
Vatican II explained this clearly in Lumen gentium, § 61: "...in suffering with Him 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."
John Paul II explained her obedience: since her fiat at the annunciation she always willed what the Father willed -- and even finally, was called on to will that her Son die then, die so horribly. His obedience even to death won redemption; She joined in that obedience!
Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus wrote that she was "Always sharing His lot." The Council began with the eternal decree for the Incarnation, went on through everyone of the mysteries of His life and death, and showed in detail her role in each, "always sharing His lot."
Now since there is nothing better than to imitate the ways of the Father Himself, then since Vatican II showed, she was employed by the Father in every mystery of His life and death - our best imitation would be to give her a corresponding role at every point in our spiritual lives! To do that would be to live out most fully a Marian consecration, which the Council also recommended.