Mary, Mother of Our Redeemer
Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello

 The Holy Father promulgated the encyclical, Mother of the Redeemer, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation,  March 25, 1987 in anticipation of the Marian Year which would open on the coming Pentecost Sunday, June 7, 1987 and conclude on the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption August 15, 1988.

The first scriptural reference in the encyclical is St. Paul's letter to the Galatians, "When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal.4:4) This is the same quote which opens the chapter on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Vatican II documents. Mary is chosen by God in a precise plan in the work of salvation.

Throughout both the Vatican II documents and the Pope's encyclical, the same theme prevails: " The Blessed Virgin Mary advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and loyally persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross." (Lumen Gentium 58) Mary is seen as the model of faith, hope and charity whom the Church honors as the mother of Christ and who is in a particular way united to the members of the Church.

During this Paschal Season, the events of Jesus Christ's suffering, death and Resurrection are have been renewed in our lives through the liturgical celebrations of the Lenten season and Eastertide. This also gives us the opportunity to consider Mary's work of collaborating with her Son in our Redemption. The Second Vatican Council speaks of the subordinate role played and does not hesitate to call her "Auxiliatrix and Adjutrix" which translates into Helper and Collaborator. (LG 62)

This theme of Mary's cooperating with her Son in the work of our Redemption is a theme which both Pope Benedict XV (d. 1922) and Pope Pius XII (d. 1958) addressed. According to Pius XII," Mary cooperated in our redemption in such a way that our salvation flowed from the love of Jesus Christ and His sufferings, intimately joined with the love and sorrows of His mother." (AAS 48 [1956], 352). Pope John Paul II echoes these thoughts in his writings as Mary, the Mother of Mercy in his 1980 encyclical, On the Mercy of God. (Dives in Misericordia)

The Blessed Virgin Mary's cooperation with her Son, the Redeemer of the human race is reinforced by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 511: "The Virgin Mary cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation." The Collection of Masses of the Virgin Mary, published in 1992 states this most beautifully in the Preface II of Mary at the Foot of the Cross: Father, in Your divine wisdom, You planned the redemption of the human race and decreed that the new Eve should stand by the cross of the new Adam: as she became His mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of Your love, she was to be a partner in his passion, and she who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church. (Sacramentary, Preface 12)


The above article appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic January 1996. Reprinted with permission of the author and publisher.


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