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The following are excerpts from Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott, published by Tan Books & Publishers, Inc., 1974.  Imprimatur: +Cornelius, Ep. Corgagiensis et Ap. Adm. Rossesis, October 7, 1954.







The denial of the true humanity of Christ involves the denial of the true motherhood of Mary, and the denial of the Divinity of Christ logically also leads to the denial of Mary’s motherhood of God.  Thus the Nestorians (in the Fifth Century) refused to recognize Mary’s title: Theotokos (= Mother of God), and designated her by the names of “Mother of Man” or “Mother of Christ.”


St. Gregory Nazianzus (about the year 382) writes: “If anyone does not recognize the Holy Mary as the Mother of God, he is separated from the Divinity” (Ep. 101, 4).  The principal defender against Nestorians of the Marian title of honor is St. Cyril of Alexandria.


To the objection made by Nestorians that Mary is not the Mother of God because from her was taken the human nature only, but not the Divine Nature, it is replied that not the nature as such, but the person was conceived and born.  As Mary conceived and bore the Person of the God-Logos subsisting in human nature, she is truly the Mother of God.  Thus the title of Theotokos includes a confession of Christ’s Divinity.


As the Mother of God, Mary transcends in dignity all created persons, angels and men, because the dignity of a creature is the greater the nearer it is to God.  And of all created things after the human nature of Christ, which is hypostatically united with the Person of the Logos, Mary is nearest to the Triune God.  As a true mother she is related by blood to the Son of God according to His human nature.  Through the Son she is associated intimately also with the Father and the Holy Ghost.  The Church honors her on account of her position as Mother of God, and on account of her high endowment with grace deriving from her position as Daughter of the Heavenly Father and Spouse of the Holy Ghost.  In a certain sense Mary’s dignity is infinite, since she is the mother of an Infinite Divine Person. 


The Fathers stress the connection between Mary’s fullness of grace and her dignity as Mother of God.  St. Augustine, having based her sinlessness on her dignity as Mother of God, says: “Whence, then, do we know with what excess of grace she was endowed, in order to conquer sin in every regard, who merited to conceive and to bear Him of whom it is certain that He had no sin?” (De natura et gratia, 36, 42).


St. Thomas Aquinas sees in Mary’s fullness of grace a verification of the axiom: The nearer a thing is to a principle, the more it receives from the operation of that principle.  But of all creatures Mary His Mother stands nearest to Christ, who is the source of Grace, as God auctoritative, as man instrumentaliter.  Consequently she duly received from Him a supreme measure of Grace.  But above all Mary’s vocation to be the Mother of God demands for her the richest endowment with Grace.   





Mary’s right to reign as Queen of Heaven is a consequence of her Divine Motherhood.  Since Christ, because of the hypostatic union, is as man the Lord and King above all creation, so Mary as “the Mother of the Lord” shares in the royal dignity of her Son.  Furthermore, Mary’s royal merit is based on her intrinsic connection with Christ in His work of Redemption.  Just as Christ is also our Lord and King, because He has redeemed us with His precious Blood, so, in an analogical way, Mary is our Lady and Queen because she, the new Eve, has shared intimately in the redemptive work of Christ, the new Adam, by suffering with Him and offering Him up to the Eternal Father.  Mary’s sublime dignity as the Queen of Heaven and Earth makes her supremely powerful in her maternal intercession for her children on earth.




On the 8th December, 1854, Pope Piux IX, in the Bull “Ineffabilis” promulgated the following doctrine as revealed by God, and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful: “The Most Holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of her merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

   The meritorious cause was the Redemption by Jesus Christ.  It follows from this that even Mary was in need of redemption, and was in fact redeemed.  By reason of her natural origin, she, like all other children of Adam, was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin, but by a special intervention of God, she was preserved from stain of original sin.  Thus Mary also was redeemed “by the grace of Christ” but in a more perfect manner than other human beings.  While these are freed from original sin present in their souls, Mary the Mother of the Redeemer, was preserved from the contagion of original sin.  Thus the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in no way contradicts the dogma that all children of Adam are subject to original sin and need redemption. 






We may regard the Redemption objectively or subjectively.  Objectively the Redemption is the work of the Redeemer, subjectively the Redemption is the realization of the Redemption in individual men, or the application of the fruits of the Redemption to individual men (Justification).  Christ’s work of Redemption effected the salvation of humanity from the burden of sin.  But sin, by its very nature, is a turning away from God (aversio a Deo) and a turning towards the creature (conversio ad creaturam).  Accordingly, the work of the Redemption must consist in the turning away from the creature, and the turning towards God. 

   Redemption signifies the freeing of men from the tyranny of sin and in attendant evils (servitude to the devil and death).  It also signifies the restoration of man’s supernatural union with God, which was destroyed by sin.  The Redemption objectively considered, was fulfilled through the teaching and directing activity of Christ.  In a supreme degree, however, it was effected by the vicarious atonement and the merits of Christ in His sacrificial death on the Cross.  Through the Atonement, the insult offered to God by sin was counterbalanced, and the injury to the honor of God repaired.  Through the merits of Christ the supernatural riches of salvation were acquired which are to be dispensed in the Subjective Redemption. 

   The source of the Subjective Redemption is the Triune God.  Since however, the communication of grace is a work of the Divine Love, it is “appropriated” to the Holy Ghost, i.e., to the Personal Divine Love.  Nevertheless it is effected by the Three Persons in common.  The Subjective Redemption, however, is not the work of God alone.  By reason of the fact that God has endowed human nature with reason and free will, Justification requires the free co-operation of men.  The unfathomable mystery of the doctrine of grace lies in this intimate mutual co-operation of Divine power and human freedom.  All the controversies and the heresies that have arisen concerning Justification derive from the difficulties posed by this mystery of co-operation.  In the working-out of man’s Subjective Redemption, God supports man, not merely by an inner principle, grace, but also by an outward principle, the efficacy of the Church in its doctrine, its guidance of men and its work of dispensing the grace of Christ through the Sacraments.  The final object of the Subjective Redemption is the Beatific Vision.




As Pope Pius XII says in the Encyclical: “Mystici Corporis” (1943), Mary “offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and her motherly love like a new Eve for all children of Adam.”  As “The New Eve” she is, as the same Pope declares, in the Apostolic Constitution: Munificentissimus Deus” (1950) “the sublime associate of our Redeemer


The statement of Pope St. Pius X in the Encyclical “Ad diem illum” (1904): “The Blessed Virgin merits for us de congruo what Christ merited de condigno” is not indeed to be taken as referring to the historical Objective Redemption, which occurred once and for all, but to her ever-present, intercessory co-operation in the Subjective Redemption.


Since her assumption into Heaven, Mary co-operates in the application of the grace of Redemption to man.  Pope Leo XIII says in the Rosary Encyclical “Octobri mense” (1891): “From that great treasure of all graces, which the Lord has brought, nothing, according to the will of God, comes to us except through Mary, so that, as nobody can approach the Supreme Father except through the Son, similarly nobody can approach Christ except through the Mother.”  Pope St. Pius X calls Mary “the dispenser of all gifts, which Jesus has acquired for us by His death and His blood.” Pope Benedict XV declared: “All gifts which the Author of all good has deigned to communicate to the unhappy posterity of Adam, are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence, dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin.”  The same Pope calls Mary: “the mediatrix with God of all graces.”

   St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1153) says of Mary: “God wished that we have nothing, except by the hands of Mary” (In Vig. Natigit. Domini Serm. 3, 10).  St. Albert the Great calls Mary: “The universal dispenser of all riches” (Super Misus est q. 29).  In modern times the doctrine that Mary is the Universal Mediatrix of Grace was advocated by St. Peter Canisius, Suarez, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Scheeben, and it is supported by the opinion of numerous theologians at the present day. 

   The doctrine of Mary’s Universal Mediation is based on her co-operation in the Incarnation and the Redemption, as well as on her relationship to the Church:


a)     Since Mary gave the source of all grace to men, it is to be expected that she would also co-operate in the distribution of all grace.

b)     As Mary became the spiritual Mother of all the redeemed, it is fitting that she, by her constant motherly intercession should care for the supernatural life of all her children.

c)     As Mary is “the prototype of the Church (St. Ambrose, Expos. Ev. Sec. Luc. II 7), and as all grace of redemption is obtained by the Church, it is to be assumed that Mary, by her heavenly intercession, is the universal mediatrix of grace.


(For more on the Blessed Mother’s role for our salvation, there are many excellent sources including: The Mother of the Savior and Our Interior Life by Fr. Reginald Marie Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P., published by Tan Books & Publishers, 1993)

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