The Voice of Thy Salutation
when the ark of the Lord was come into the city of David,
Michol the daughter of Saul, looking out through a window,
saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord.
2 Samuel 6, 16
whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come
to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in
my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Luke 1, 43-44
Still, the universal Magisterium of the Catholic Church reminds us that Mary is only a human creature. If God has chosen her to be our 'Mediatrix', it is strictly because she freely consented to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour and intimately associate herself with him in his redemptive work. Meanwhile, what she has and can merit for us is in co-operation with her Son and participation in his merits, but not in coordination with them.
Thus, we must always remember that Mary's association with her Son in his saving work receives its raison d'être in the free decision of the Father. Mary must not be counted together with her divine Son in his unique mediation, which alone is necessary for our redemption and without which her factual mediation for an increase in sanctification or justification would be non-existent. Mary's whole ability to do anything in God's plan comes entirely from her Son, the principle of all human merit in his sacred humanity and the divine source of all saving grace.
Finally, we should note that the term Mediatrix of all Grace refers to all actual or signal graces that are needed for effecting our increase in sanctification and the attainment of eternal life with God (2 Cor 2:15; 4:16; Col 3:10, etc.). These include the actual graces of faith, hope, charity, repentance, chastity, and final perseverance, without which we cannot reap the fruits of Christ's saving work. On an individual basis, the baptized are in the process of "being saved" and "renewed" daily. The justification of the person isn't a one-time and completed event. So, Catholics petition Mary for these helping graces when, for example, they recite the Rosary. These graces, of course, do not include the initial grace of justification and forgiveness for our sanctification which has been merited and produced by Christ alone.
There is Mary, Mediatrix and Dispensatrix of grace. These titles signify that, by God’s special ordinance, all the graces merited by Christ for our salvation are conferred and distributed through the actual mediation of his mother. These are the actual graces which Christ pours out to us through the Holy Spirit for an increase in our sanctification or justification by Mary’s moral influence with her divine Son. Mary’s association with her divine Son is moral in nature. Our Blessed Lady co-operates with him by her maternal prayerful intercession in applying saving grace to all people in spiritual need according to God’s will. Mary co-operated in the same way when she, in charity and the state of grace, freely consented to be the mother of our Lord for the redemption of mankind in the shadow of the Cross on Calvary (Lk 2:34-35).
The Virgin Mary’s co-operation describes what Catholic theologians call “subjective redemption.” Unless we freely co-operate with the graces God mercifully wills to give us for our sanctification, we have no hope of being saved, for sanctification is supernatural life with God. The Holy Spirit operates through Mary, our intermediary and chief steward of grace, just as He operates through the seven Sacraments in the conferral of actual graces and sanctifying grace. Unlike Mary, however, the sacraments are physical instruments that communicate grace as opposed to a moral influence for its conferral.
Sacramental grace is communicated by the valid and fruitful reception of any of the seven sacraments. A distinctive sacramental grace is imparted by each of the sacraments in accord with their respective purpose in the supernatural life of the soul. The actual graces given upon the reception of the sacraments efficaciously sanctify the soul making it just. The faithful, however, do not receive graces that are physically channeled through supernaturally transformed properties naturally intrinsic to Mary, as they are conferred by the application of the sacramental water of baptism or the oil of chrismation. On the contrary, the graces that they receive through her mediation are a share in those graces which she herself has received from the Holy Spirit without making any physical contact with her.
Sanctifying grace is the supernatural state of being by the efficacious infusion of God’s grace which permeates the soul. Sanctifying grace is a quality of the soul effected by the activity of the Holy Spirit through His efficacious actual graces. If then, one should happen to receive an actual grace by touching the hem of Mary’s mantle, that grace would be contained in this sacramental garment as a supernatural healing property of it and not in Mary herself, though she would undoubtedly be endowed with that same grace which effects the supernatural quality of her soul through the working of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, many people were cured of their illnesses and liberated from demonic oppression or possession simply by touching the handkerchiefs that were used by Paul to wipe sweat from his body and the aprons he wore (Acts 19:12).
When we place our faith in the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the other hand, we are essentially placing our faith in her divine Son who has granted his mother the maternal prerogative of morally channeling the dispensation of his grace, so that we may continue to abide in his love by faithfully observing all his commandments (Jn 15:9-10). Christ’s redemptive work in our souls continues from the time we are baptized and through our pilgrimage of faith, as we grow in spiritual perfection to attain our salvation by bearing fruit and persevering in grace to the end (Col 1:11-12; 3:9-10). The grace of final perseverance is one of the many actual graces we can receive through the intercessory prayers of our loving Blessed Mother by her supernatural merits, if only we humbly implore her intercession as her Son desires (Prov 15:29; Jas 5:17).
“Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God.
Do not reject our supplications in necessity,
but deliver us from danger.”
– Sub Tuum Praesidium (c. A.D. 250)
the ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom
the Gethite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom,
and all his household.
2 Samuel 6, 11
Mary abode with her about three months;
and she returned to her own house.
Luke 1, 56
John the Baptist's coming into the world to prepare mankind for the coming of the Messiah was foretold by a prophet who spoke of him as “A voice of one calling in the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3). And another: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty” (Mal 3:1). If John had been sanctified and justified by being made holy in his mother’s womb, making him more than a prophet, it would have happened in anticipation of his ministry to administer or mediate the grace of justification and forgiveness through the sacrament. John baptized his followers in the Jordan River, which signifies the drowning of their old life in the flesh and their emergence out of the water of purification into a new life in the spirit by the foreseen merits of Christ.
The sanctifying grace that the infant John received in his mother’s womb originated from the Divine infant in Mary’s holy womb. But it was by the mediation of the mother that he was cleansed of original sin. The powerful influence which the mother of our Lord wielded resided in the voice of her salutation. It was through Mary’s mediation that the infant John entered communion with Jesus. In Heaven, the sweet sound of Mary’s prayers for her children never escapes the attention of her divine Son. With that same dynamic influence, only a mother can possess over her son, the Blessed Mother petitions on behalf of all her children. David leaped and danced with joy in the presence of the Ark of the Old Covenant, as John the Baptist had in his mother’s womb in the presence of the Ark of the New Covenant which, in the personification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mediated God’s physical presence and grace on earth.
The Israelites bowed towards the Ark and lay prostrate before it in profound veneration when it was carried in procession. And while it was kept in the Holy of Holies in the tent of meeting and three hundred years after its construction in the temple in Jerusalem, God’s chosen people would bow towards the sanctuaries there in which the Ark was placed, for where the Ark was, God’s manifesting presence could be felt. Likewise, Catholics venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary in whom dwelled the physical manifestation of God in the person of the Divine Word and Testimony made man, the eternal "High Priest in the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 7:13-17), and the "true manna come down from heaven" (Jn 6). When looking towards her, the presence of God incarnate is strongly felt, for His physical manifestation took place in the holy sanctuary of her womb within the holy temple of her body. Elizabeth felt the same way when her cousin Mary came to her home, which explains why she unusually greeted her adolescent kinswoman with solemn deference (Lk 1:43).
We meet our Lord Jesus Christ in his blessed mother Mary, as the ancient Hebrews met God when YHWH physically manifested Himself in the glory cloud (Shekinah) which descended on the sanctuary and enveloped the Ark to be with them. Mary was overshadowed in a similar way by the Holy Spirit so that she would conceive the Son of God and he would physically dwell among his people (Ex 25:8; 40:34-35; Lk 1:35; Jn 1:14).
Gary G. Michuta (Making Sense of Mary: Grotto Press) cites Zechariah 2:10 to connect the verse with John 1:14. In the prophecy, God says, "I am coming to dwell among you." The author informs us that the Greek word for "dwell" is kataskenoso, whose root word for "tent" or "tabernacle" is skene, viz., the portable tent or tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant before Solomon built the Temple. In the Gospel of John (1:14), the Greek word for "dwelt" is eskenosen, which is derived from the same root word skene. So, the evangelist is literally saying, "The Word became flesh and 'tabernacled' among us." This occurred when Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived our Lord. God's incarnated presence filled the temple of her body and the sanctuary of her womb in which He personally dwelled and filled with His glory as He had the Ark of the Covenant. Since Jesus comes to us through his blessed mother Mary, we can come to him only through her. As the living Ark of the New Covenant, our Blessed Mother mediates the graces we need to tear down the walls or barriers in our souls which separate and keep us from God and the life of grace.
By Mary's mediation, Jesus came to re-create the world and depose the Prince of darkness. The walls of his dominion in the world came crashing down through the mediation of our Lord’s mother by whom He physically manifested Himself and made His presence felt. The Virgin and Immaculate Mary carried in her pure womb the One who claimed, “The water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting” (Jn 4:14). Jesus was alluding to the supernatural life we receive through Baptism, the sanctifying grace, and charity that raises us from spiritual death unto eternal life. This supernatural life of grace merited for us by the Son was made possible through the merciful and charitable mediation of our Blessed Mother, who brought the living Font of all saving grace into the world by the sacred tabernacle of her womb. The sound of Mary’s Fiat ascended to God’s heavenly throne sweeter than the fragrance of a burnt sacrificial offering: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38).
God instructed Moses to construct the Ark for mediating the divine theophany and God’s providential grace for His people, the two primary credibilia: God who is and God who saves. To inaugurate His New and everlasting covenant a millennium later, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin who was espoused to a man named Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary (Lk 1:27). It was she who was blessed above all women by being drawn into the mystery of the hypostatic order of Christ’s incarnation and his redemptive work (Lk 1:42). God willed Mary's mediation, that we must go to the Son through His mother. All should be accomplished by her intercession from the time she joyously gave her salutary consent to be the mother of the Lord to the time she sorrowfully stood beneath the Cross on Calvary to make temporal satisfaction to God for the sins of humanity – and beyond this climatic event in salvation history until the end of this age, during which period (the new exodus anticipated by the Jews) she hasn’t laid her saving office aside as our Queen Mother (Gebirah) and Advocatrix.
Indeed, God decreed by His consequent will that “all good should come to us through the hands of Mary”. God gave us this Mediatrix by “His most merciful Providence” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Jucunda sempre). Our Lord and Saviour constituted her “Mother of Mercy, Queen and a most loving advocate, Mediatrix of His graces, Dispenser of His treasures” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Radio Message to Fatima). ‘When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her, and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand. “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.” The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you”' (1 Kgs 2:19-20).
Mary received her office of Queen Mother and Advocatrix from God. By being the royal mother of the King, whose genuine Davidic lineage is received from her, she is closely linked to Christ’s saving mysteries and the restoration of the Davidic kingdom as foretold by the prophets (Lk 1:31-33). As our maternal advocate, Mary offers our petitions to her Son for the graces we need to inherit the kingdom. By this title, we are not so much her subjects as we are her children, her being the mother of our Head and Body of which we are the members. By her life, the Blessed Virgin Mary personally relates to us as a genuine mother should. Mary is not just a metaphor. “She teaches us all the virtues; she gives us her Son, and with Him all the help that we need, for God has willed that we should have everything through Mary” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Encyclical, Mediator Dei).
God said to the serpent: "I will put enmities between you and the woman, and between her seed and your seed; she will crush your head, as you lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15). In the wake of the fall, of Adam and Eve, God foretold that He would designate Mary to be the universal Mediatrix to help repair and undo the fall of mankind in union with her Son. This was right after He chastised the serpent for having caused the fall by deceiving the virgin Eve in her innocence. The Virgin Mary was chosen “before all ages, prepared for Himself by the Highest” to be the “Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity” (Cf. Pope Pius lX, Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus). At the beginning of creation, at the time of the fall which God foresaw, but permitted for the sake of a greater good, “Mary was set up as the pledge of restoration of peace (with God) and salvation” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Augustissimae).
Mary is the Immaculate Mother of the Church who is at total enmity with the serpent by being without sin and standing ever-just before God as our pre-eminent patroness. In a universal capacity, our Blessed Mother serves to help repair the fall of humankind by giving her children a filial spirit through the graces they receive by her maternal intercession. Mother Mary desires nothing more than we cease to offend God and be reconciled to Him. She is there to teach us the docility she had as a servant of God. Mary calls us to supplicate her for the graces we need to humble ourselves before God and abide in His love. She truly is our heavenly mother, for through her maternal patronage we receive the divine life if, in a childlike spirit, we truly wish to turn towards God through her and be one with her divine offspring as from her regenerating womb at enmity with the serpent and its offspring: sinful and wicked humanity.
The late Catholic theologian, Father Garrigou-Lagrange (Mother of the Savior: Tan) tells us that true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sign of being predestined to glory. So, now that we Christians have been predestined to grace, being adopted sons and daughters of God by partaking of the divine life, we have a far greater chance of attaining our salvation and realizing our hope if we take recourse to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother for the actual graces we need to persevere in faith. This is because her divine Son has ordered it this way. In Heaven, Mary prays for all God's created children, but she is more attentive to the spiritual needs of those who are regenerated in Christ and humbly implore her intercession. It is for his mother's sake more than ours that Jesus confers his graces on us from conversion through repentance to final perseverance (the principle of predilection).
The prophet Elijah prayed fervently so that it might not rain, and so, it did not rain for three years and six months. Then when he prayed that God would provide rain for the fruit harvest, his prayer was answered. This was because God heard the prayers of the righteous who aligned their will with His. If God could work great wonders such as these in response to the prayers of a prophet, what greater wonders must He perform in response to the prayers of His own mother. All Christians are exhorted to pray for the conversion of sinners that they might be healed and saved by the grace of God (Jas 5:13-19).
In the order of grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary leads the way. By joining our prayers to God with hers and asking her to put in a good word for us, we can be confident that our Lord will shower down an abundance of grace on us from Heaven. This is because our Blessed Mother is holy with absolute perfection, as we continue to strive towards that heavenly perfection she has been graced with in our pilgrimage of faith on earth. Mary has attained her salvation in a singular way: the redemption and glorification of her body in anticipation of ours, and she has received her eternal reward for her labor in Christ’s vineyard, while there is no guarantee that we will attain ours. Thus, it’s imperative that we implore our Blessed Mother for her moral assistance, since she has an immeasurably far greater influence on her Son than we can ever hope to have in our fallen human state. Christ himself has designated his blessed mother Mary to be Our Lady of Perpetual Help. And so, by this title, the pilgrim Church implores her powerful maternal intercession in Heaven.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is Mediatrix in the dispensation of grace – our Dispensatrix. She undertook the discharge of her maternal duties when the Church was born at Pentecost. She nurtured the infant Church in Jerusalem “by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, and her fruitful prayers”. She was in truth “the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Apostles” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Ubri primum). Jesus entrusted the Church to his mother Mary’s tender care and the whole human race in the disciple John from the Cross (Jn 19:26-27). Mary received the redefinition of her motherhood while uniting her sorrow with the suffering of her beloved Son. She prayed more fervently for sinful humanity while she was smitten with great sorrow and a sword pierced her heart, all because of the perfect love she had for her Son who was unjustly "wounded for our transgressions." Thus, God accepted her prayers as they were joined with her Son's self-sacrifice for the expiation of our sins. Only by suffering for the sins of the world and dying to self together with Him could Mary become the mother of us all and reign with her Son the King of kings as our Queen Mother (2 Tim 2:11).
The sword that pierced our Great Lady's heart or soul undid the vain and selfish pleasures Eve sought for herself while she presumed she could be like God apart from Him and before Him (Lk 2:35). By her sorrow, Mary repaired what Eve had wrought to God’s satisfaction. Jesus would not undo what Adam had wrought in his pride unless his mother stood at the foot the Cross and united her interior suffering with his suffering in accordance with the Father's will. “From this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that our Saviour purchased for us by His death and by His blood…By this union of sorrow and suffering which existed between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed through the august Virgin to be the most powerful Mediatrix and advocate of the whole world with her divine Son” (Pope Pius X, Encyclical, Ad diem illum).
Hence, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the “help of Christians” and the “refuge of mankind”. She is “triumphant in all battles” with the serpent as she makes war against it with her children in their spiritual warfare. In view of this cosmic battle between light and darkness, in which we are involved as descendants of Adam and Eve, we should humbly prostrate ourselves before the heavenly throne of our Queen Mother as her loyal suppliants, “confident that we shall obtain mercy and grace, the needed assistance and protection, during the calamities of these days…through the goodness of [her] motherly heart” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Radio Message).
The Blessed Virgin Mary is intimately associated with our Lord Jesus forever with infinite power and majesty, in virtue of her royal dignity as a daughter of King David and the mother of Christ the King in the New Dispensation of all the saving graces which flow from the redemption gained for us by her royal Son. This is all made possible because “she gave us Jesus, Himself the source of grace”. Mary has been the mediatrix and dispensatrix of all graces since the Annunciation. Predestined to be the mother of our Lord, “she has been appointed the mediatrix of all the graces which look towards sanctification” in and through the merits of her divine Son (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Apostolic Constitution, Sedes sepientiae).
All baptized Christians, whether alive or dead are visible or invisible members of the mystical Body of Christ, which comprises both the heavenly and the pilgrim church on earth. We read in sacred Scripture that all members of Christ's body are bound together by mutual love (Jn 13:34-35; Rom 12:10, 13:8; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:2, 16:1, etc.). The Head has composed his body so that all its members "may have the same care for one another" (1 Cor 12:25-27). Death doesn't drive a wedge between the love that unites all the saints with each other in Christ's mystical Body (Rom 8:38-39). Christians remain "in him" as living members of his body even after death (Eph 2:5-7). Thus, the saints who have passed from this world stay united with the saints who are still living on earth.
By being connected members of Christ's Mystical Body, the saints in Heaven can express their love and concern for the pilgrim saints on earth as best they can, that is by prayer, which presupposes an awareness of the needs of these brothers and sisters in Christ and a communicative link with them. Meanwhile, they don't rely on the physical sense of hearing or any form of natural mental awareness, existing in God's eternal presence beside real time. The saints in Heaven have a direct vision of Christ and the Beatific Vision of God, which enables them to intuit what the Lord knows, and in this capacity, be like him in his glorified state and shared humanity (1 Jn 3:2). The saints in Heaven can intuit all that God knows about the saints or other beings on earth who are of concern, except what God knows about Himself. God reveals His knowledge to them so that they can express their love for others on earth the best way they can. The saints in Heaven must know what concerns the spiritual welfare of the saints on earth, if they are to show concern for them. After all, we are all members of one mystical Body in Christ the Head and comprise the family of God as His adopted children.
We read in the Apocalypse that the prayers of the saints (in heaven and on earth) are presented to God by the angels and human saints in heaven. This reveals that all the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also shows that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven (Rev 5:8). Further, the martyred saints in Heaven are shown to be crying out to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 6:9-11; cf. Ps 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This vision indicates that the saints in Heaven are aware of what is happening to the pilgrim Church on earth in the wake of persecution. The saints are praying for their loved ones and all the other pilgrim members of the Body. What affects one member affects the other. These prayers for God’s judgment on the persecutors resemble the imprecatory prayers of the Jews in the Old Testament. In the same vein, God hears and answers the intercessory prayers of the saints in Heaven for those who are being treated unjustly on earth (Rev 8:1-5). In the order of grace, therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession is maternally based on her care for Christ, who alone is both the Head and the Body. Since we who belong to her Son are members of his body, we too are sons and daughters of hers (Rev 12:5, 17).
In Heaven, our Blessed Mother has assumed the royal office of Queen Mother, whose throne is situated in the heavenly court on the right of the throne of our Lord and King in the royal line of David (Lk 1:31-33). Being our Queen Mother or "Great Lady" (Gebirah), the Blessed Virgin Mary serves as our Mediatrix and Advocatrix. She prayerfully intercedes for us by presenting our petitions to her Son. Not unlike the other saints in Heaven, our Blessed Mother cares for us, but with a maternal love that immeasurably surpasses the love which all the other saints combined have in their concern for our spiritual well-being. Thus, she constantly prays for us with the most perfect and solicitous maternal love, being aware of our individual spiritual needs.
The pilgrim saints on earth have a far greater chance of growing and persevering in grace and attaining their salvation if they petition their Queen Mother daily in true filial devotion. Our Lord and King knows all our needs even before we present our petitions, either directly to him (but not without the other member's awareness in his Body) or indirectly, by asking his Blessed Queen Mother and our Mother, the pre-eminent member of Christ's Body, to put in a good word for us while we pray. This is because our Lord Jesus desires that we, stewards of grace, pray for one another in mutual, filial love as members of God's family.
Hence, of all such stewards who Peter and Paul speak of, the Blessed Virgin Mary is immeasurably the most influential member in God's heavenly kingdom because of the supreme office she holds in her Son's royal court. Her Son the King will not refuse her. By seeking God's grace through Mary, the pilgrim saints on earth will surely receive it. By petitioning the King through his Blessed Queen Mother, they will surely receive her loving maternal patronage which pleases God, who for her sake more than anyone else's, who lacks her spiritual perfection, shall dispense His grace wherever it is wanting in a human soul.
and give you support from Zion.
Psalm 20, 2
the Pure One opening purely
that pure womb, which generates men unto God.”
– St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180-189)
by her name of the Church. Christ’s body she nurtures by the power (grace) of
the Word; the people reborn, for whom the Lord on the Cross hung in agony,
lovingly cradling as children, and wrapping them deep in the blood (justice) of
– St. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 202)
of your compassion and mercy, for, after God, we have no hope but in you!”
– St. Ephraem of Syria (c. A.D. 361)
but in reality, it is from Mary that Life was truly born to the world,
so that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary might also become
the Mother of all the living.”
– St. Epiphanius of Salamis (c. A.D. 374)
– St, Basil the Great (A.D. 379)