Mary and Jesus Christ:
Handmaid, Associate, Cooperatrix

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Handmaid, Associate, Cooperatrix. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
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Documents II. Mary and Jesus Christ / 3. Handmaid, Associate, Cooperatrix
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • handmaid of the Lord, Lk 1:38 [consenting to the word of God] 56
  • associated herself with his sacrifice 58
  • generous associate and humble handmaid
  • committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God's saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God 56
  • freely cooperating not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience 56
  • This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death. 57
  • cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in giving back supernatural life to souls. 61
Mense Maio, 1965 x
  • Mary most holy is [Jesus: "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort's" (2 Cor 1:3)] appointed steward and
  • generous bestower of the treasures of His mercy. 10
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • celebration accorded to the humble "handmaid of the Lord" [Lk 1:38] [Ephesus 431] 2
  • was accorded a special "role... in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the mystery of the Mystical Body," [LG 54] that is, "in the economy of salvation." [LG 55] 5
  • She is the mother of Jesus Christ and His closest associate in "the new economy...." 8
  • She participated in her Son's sacrifice for our redemption in such intimate fashion that he designated her the mother not only of John the Apostle but also - it seems legitimate to say this - of the human race, which he somehow represented. [LG 58; Leo XIII] 10
  • From that moment [Annunciation: she as handmaid] devoted herself wholly to serving not only her heavenly Father and the Incarnate Word, but also the whole human race, inasmuch as she had come to realize that Jesus would free his people... 17
  • the Lord's humble handmaid [then and now] one of loving service 19
  • United wholeheartedly with her Son...she lived a life of total dedication. 20
  • most faithful handmaid of the Lord 21
  • was her Son's associate in restoring supernatural life to souls [see LG 61] 29
Creed, Paul VI, 1968
  • continues...cooperating 15
General Catechetical Directory, 1971
  • She "summons the believers to her Son and to his sacrifice, and to love for the Father." (LG, 65; note: LG uses the word "prompts" and the context meant is the liturgy) 68
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • We recognize her unique and exalted role in the redemption her Son brought to men. 8
  • Kept free from original sin, she was able to give herself wholeheartedly to the saving work of her Son. 18
  • By accepting the Annunciation, she became intimately associated with all the saving mysteries of Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection. 18
  • Embracing God's saving will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son. (LG 56) 55 [See also 69]
  • Through her life of faith on earth, and now through her union with the risen Christ, the Mother of Jesus is the supreme example of loving association with the Savior in His mission of redeeming mankind. (LG 62) 66 [See also 81]
  • The Gospels provide few details of Mary's life; but they do delineate a remarkable portrait of the woman who gave herself wholeheartedly to her Son and His mission in perfect faith, love and obedience. 69
  • What Mary began on earth in association with the saving mission of Jesus, she continues still, in union with the risen Christ. 69
  • always one with her Son's purposes ( PO 18) 69
  • handmaid of the Lord 106
  • His [the priest's] distinct calling to be fellow worker with Christ bears a resemblance to Mary's unique association in the saving work of Jesus. 120
  • Her humble circumstances left little choice but to accept what life brought, but her splendid obedience made her an associate of her Son's saving work. 126
  • From the time of the Annunciation, she was the living chalice of the Son of God made man. 131
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • March 25: a commemoration of the Blessed Virgin's free consent and cooperation in the plan of redemption. 6
  • Presentation of the Lord (February 2). Blessed Virgin was intimately associated as the Mother of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. 7
  • [liturgy, doctrinal theme] Mary's cooperation in the work of her Son 11
  • [love for the Church] as is wonderfully expressed in the prayer after Communion in the Mass of September 15: ".... that as we recall the sufferings shared by the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may with the Church fulfill in ourselves what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ." 11
  • [liturgical movement, see above] worthy Associate of the Redeemer 15 handmaid of the Lord [see Daughter of the Father] 21
  • the associate of the Redeemer, who already shares fully in the fruits of the Paschal Mystery, the prophetic fulfillment of her own future [the Church] 22
  • "What is given to the handmaid is referred to the Lord; thus what is given to the Mother re-dounds to the Son; .... and thus what is given as humble tribute to the Queen becomes honor rendered to the King." (S. Ildephonsus) 25
Gaudete in Domino, 1975
  • associated in an eminent way with the sacrifice of the innocent Servant.
Dives in Misericordia, 1980
  • At the same time, [as she received mercy] still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God's mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son ...Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to his own love, to the covenant that he willed from eternity and that he entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in the revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross. 9
  • through her hidden and at the same time incomparable sharing in the messianic mission of her Son, was called in a special way to bring close to people that love which he had come to reveal: the love that finds its most concrete expression vis-a-vis the suffering, the poor, those deprived of their own freedom, the blind, the oppressed and sinners, just as Christ spoke of them in the words of the prophecy of Isaiah 9
  • It was precisely this "merciful" love, which is manifested above all in contact with moral and physical evil, that the heart of her who was the Mother of the crucified and risen One shared in singularly and exceptionally--that Mary shared in. 9
Ephesus, 1550th Anniversary, 1981
  • the first cooperator with the power of the Almighty 3
  • The most Blessed Virgin is she who, by the overshadowing of the power of the Trinity, was the creature most closely associated with the work of salvation. 3
  • "Embracing God's saving will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son" and "the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as cooperating in the work of human salvation through free faith and obedience." [LG 56] 4
  • consented to be the handmaid of the Lord. 5
  • This link [with the Church] was revealed especially beneath the cross, where she, "enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart... She was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a Mother to his disciple, with these words: 'Woman, behold your son!'" [LG 58] 8
Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986
  • The Virgin Mary, who "had conceived by the Holy Spirit," (cf. Lk 1:35) sensed this [the interior availability which comes from faith] even more clearly, when she pondered in her heart the "mysteries" of the Messiah, with whom she was associated. (cf. Lk 2:19, 51) 16
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • If they lift their eyes to her from their earthly existence, they do so because "the Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren (Rom. 8:29),(LG 63) and also because "in the birth and development" of these brothers and sisters "she cooperates with a maternal love." (LG 63) 6
  • "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lk.1:38). ... The mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished when Mary uttered her fiat: "Let it be to me according to your word," which made possible, as far as it depended upon her in the divine plan, the granting of her Son's desire. 13
  • In faith she entrusted herself to God without reserve and "devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son." (LG 56) 13
  • Although through faith she may have perceived in that instant that she was the mother of the "Messiah-King," nevertheless she replied: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Lk. 1:38) 15
  • "suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son and joining herself with her maternal spirit to his sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim to whom she had given birth," in this way Mary "faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross." (LG 58) 18
  • Ss the messianic mission of her Son grew clearer to her eyes and spirit, she herself as a mother became ever more open to that new dimension of motherhood which was to constitute her "part" beside her Son. Had she not said from the very beginning: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word"? (Lk. 1:38) 20
  • By the design of divine Providence, the mother who nourished the divine Redeemer, Mary became "an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord's humble handmaid," who "cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls." (LG 61)22 [See also 39; LG 62] "generous companion" 38
  • [handmaid's decision] Mary consents to God's choice, in order to become through the power of the Holy Spirit the Mother of the Son of God. ... this consent to motherhood is above all a result of her total self-giving to God in virginity. Mary accepted her election as Mother of the Son of God, guided by spousal love, the love which totally "consecrates" a human being to God. By virtue of this love, Mary wished to be always and in all things "given to God," living in virginity. The words "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord" express the fact that from the outset she accepted and understood her own motherhood as a total gift of self, a gift of her person to the service of the saving plans of the Most High. And to the very end she lived her entire maternal sharing in the life of Jesus Christ, her Son, in a way that matched her vocation to virginity. 39
  • [united in] first coming, so through her continued collaboration with him she will also be united with him in expectation of the second 41
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • Let us also take Mary as Mother into the interior "home" of our priesthood. For we belong to the "faithful in whose rebirth and development" the Mother of God "cooperates with a maternal love." (LG 63) 6
  • The Mother of God, who (as the Council teaches) cooperates, with a mother's love, in the rebirth and the training of all those who become brothers of her Son - who become his friends - will do everything in her power so that they may not betray this holy friendship. So that they may be worthy of it. 6
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • She is the faithful handmaid who "devoted herself totally... to the person and work of her Son, serving under him and with him, the mystery of redemption." (LG 56) 7
  • She is the cooperatrix with the Redeemer: "She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented him to the Father in the Temple, and was united with him in suffering as he died on the cross. In an utterly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Saviour's Work of restoring supernatural life to souls." (LG 61, cf. 56, 58) 7
To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988
  • These thoughts concerning the consecration of the person through the profession of the evangelical counsels keeps us constantly within the sphere of the Paschal Mystery. Together with Mary, let us seek to be sharers in this death which brought forth fruits of "new life" in the Resurrection: a death like this on the Cross was infamous, and it was the death of her own Son! 17
  • But precisely there, at the foot of the Cross, "where she stood, not without a divine plan," (LG 58) did not Mary realize in a new way everything that she had already heard on the day of the Annunciation? Precisely there, precisely through "the sword which pierced her soul" (cf. Lk 2:35), through an incomparable "kenosis of faith," (RM 18) did not Mary perceive completely the full truth about her motherhood? 17
  • Precisely there, did she not definitively identify herself with that truth, "rediscovering her soul," the soul which, in the experience of Golgotha, she had to "lose" in the most painful way for the sake of Christ and the Gospel? 17
  • It is precisely into this complete "rediscovery" of the truth about her divine motherhood which became Mary's "part" from the moment of the annunciation that there fit Christ's words on the Cross, the words referring to the Apostle John, referring to a man: "Behold, your son!" (cf. Jn 19:26) 18
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • She who is "full of grace" feels the need to express her personal relationship to the gift that has been revealed to her, saying: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." (Lk 1:38) ... In the expression "handmaid of the Lord," one senses Mary's complete awareness of being a creature of God. The word "handmaid," near the end of the Annunciation dialogue, is inscribed throughout the whole history of the Mother and the Son. [the Son who has come to serve (Mk 10:45)] 5
  • From the first moment of her divine motherhood, of her union with the Son ... Mary takes her place within Christ's messianic service. (cf. RM 38-41) [to serve means to reign] 5
  • "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the firstborn among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29), namely, among the faithful. In their birth and development she cooperates with a maternal love." (LG 63) 22
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • [Incarnation] This is precisely the mystery in which Joseph of Nazareth "shared" like no other human being except Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word. He shared in it with her; he was involved in the same salvific event; he was guardian of the same love, through the power of which the eternal Father "destined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ." (Eph 1:5)1
  • Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery. Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God's self-revelation in Christ. 5
Veritatis Splendor, 1993
  • Mary is also mother of mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his church and all humanity. At the foot of the cross, when she accepts John as her son, when she asks, together with Christ, forgiveness from the Father for those who do not know what they do (cf. Lk 23:34), Mary experiences, in perfect docility to the Spirit, the richness and the universality of God's love, which opens her heart and enables it to embrace the entire human race. Thus Mary becomes mother of each and every one of us, the mother who obtains for us divine mercy. 120
  • and she accompanied him in the supreme act of freedom which is the complete sacrifice of his own life. By the gift of herself, Mary entered fully into the plan of God who gives himself to the world. 120
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • The Virgin Mary responded to God's call with complete openness: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." (Lk 1:38) 54
Evangelium Vitae, 1995
  • The one who accepted "Life" in the name of all and for the sake of all was Mary, the Virgin Mother; she is thus most closely and personally associated with the Gospel of life. 102
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
  • [Handmaid, see also 148, 510]
  • 494 ... obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." (Lk 1:28-38; cf. Rom 1:5) Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace .... (cf. LG 56)
  • 964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death"; (LG 57) it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

    Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son." (LG 58); cf. Jn 19:26-27)
  • 973 By pronouncing her fiat at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body.
Letter to Women, Beijing Conference, 1995
  • Mary called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the word of God she accepted her lofty, yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic "reign." It is not by chance that she is invoked as "queen of heaven and earth." The entire community of believers thus invokes her as their "queen." For her, "to reign" is to serve! Her service is "to reign!" 10
Vita Consecrata, 1996
  • Every mission begins with the attitude expressed by Mary at the annunciation: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38) 18
  • Having lived with Jesus and Joseph in the hidden years of Nazareth, and present at her Son's side at crucial moments of his public life, the Blessed Virgin teaches unconditional discipleship
Ecclesia in Oceania, 2001
  • Through Christ's Cross and Resurrection, God has reconciled the world to himself, and he has made the Lord Jesus the Prince of Peace for every time and place. May Mary, Regina Pacis, help the peoples of Oceania to know this peace, and to share it with others! At the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium, may true justice and harmony be God's gift to Oceania and to all the nations of the world! 53
  • She has been a wondrous helper in all the Church's efforts to preach and teach the Gospel in the world of the Pacific. 53
  • We look to you that we may see your Son, our Lord. We lift our hands that we may have the Bread of Life. We open wide our hearts to receive the Prince of Peace. 53
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • As we contemplate each mystery of her Son's life, she invites us to do as she did at the Annunciation: to ask humbly the questions which open us to the light, in order to end with the obedience of faith: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). 14
  • Blessed Bartolo Longo saw them [chain of beads] also as a "chain" which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A "filial" chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a "servant" out of love for us (Phil 2:7). 36
  • When we repeat the name of Jesus - the only name given to us by which we may hope for salvation (cf. Acts 4:12) - in close association with the name of his Blessed Mother, almost as if it were done at her suggestion, we set out on a path of assimilation meant to help us enter more deeply into the life of Christ. 33
  • "Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries." (CCC 2679) 16

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

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