Mary’s Advocacy

Theosis: The Ultimate Goal of the Human Experience

Andrei Rublev [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Andrei Rublev [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

by Jayson M. Brunelle

How tremendous and unspeakable a blessing we have received in Christ Jesus, Who is, in His Person, words and deeds, the fulfillment and completion of the Heavenly Father’s Divine Revelation of Himself to humanity, and, as Pope St. John Paul II would so often remind us, is additionally God’s revelation of man to man; that is, the stupendous dignity and vocation of each human person, called by God to become a “partaker of the divine nature.”  Indeed, the great St. Athanasius, an early Church Father, clearly taught that “God became man so that men might become gods.”  This, of course, is not to be confused with a more Eastern form of pantheism; rather, it is an extremely orthodox, fundamental tenet of our Christian faith.   Indeed, Sacred Scripture abounds with evidence for this truly exalted and, quite frankly, rather stunning status that God wishes to bestow upon humanity in Christ Jesus.  Thus, the “Good News” of the Gospel of Christ Jesus is nothing less than the stupendous news that, in Christ, we have all been made adopted sons and daughters of the Father, true brothers and sisters of Christ!  Or, in other words, He Who Is the Only Begotten Son of God, the Father, wishes to share with us, mere mortals, the exalted status of His Own Divine Sonship of God the Father.  This reality is truly incomprehensible, surpassing anything the human mind could ever dream of; hence, the very apt words of St. Paul: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as entered into the mind of man what God has in store for those who love Him.”

This concept of Theosis, or Deification, is largely foreign to many who self-identify as “Christian,” who might well decry this theological reality to be some pantheistic heresy.  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.  Far from being heretical, it is precisely this reality of the exalted vocation of every human person that illumines not only the dignity of each human person, thereby underscoring the sacred gift of every human life (from the moment of conception until natural death), but additionally, the radical nature and purpose of the Seven Sacraments instituted by Christ and imparted by His Church.  For, it is precisely through our full, active participation in the Sacramental life of Christ’s Church on earth, with primacy of place being given to the two Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Baptism, that theosis, or divinization, can and does occur.  Let us, then, take a moment to explore these two exalted sacraments; namely, the Holy Eucharist and Baptism, by which God freely shares with us His two-fold Divine Essence as Life  and Love.

In the “Eucharistic” or “Bread of Life” discourse in John’s Gospel, Christ states, “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever…. I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you” (Jn 6:51, 53).  Additionally, it is a well established, accepted, agreed upon and understood doctrine of Christianity, in general, and of Roman Catholicism, in particular, that the Holy Spirit of God, the Third Divine Person of the Holy Trinity, is, indeed, the very “Love” of God, Himself, and that His existence as a Divine Person, from all eternity, is a necessary consequence of the reciprocity of Divine Love that exists between God the Father, the First Person of the Holy Trinity, and God the Son – the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  Indeed, it can be evidenced from the earliest of Christian writings and from among the most influential of the early Church Fathers that such is indeed the case.  Regarding this issue, the great St. Augustine has this to say: “Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God? . . .” (The Holy Spirit, Gift of God’s Love, St. Augustine).

It becomes most evident, then, that while the Holy Eucharist is the chief sacramental means by which our Lord wishes to effect our participation in His own Divine Life, in like fashion, Baptism is the chief sacramental means by which our Lord wishes to effect our participation in His own Divine Love.

It is interesting to point out that when speaking of God, in His very Divine Essence, two terms are always invariably associated, as though these two dimensions are two sides of one coin.  I am speaking here of Life and Love.  With regard to the former, God the Father, in revealing His own most holy name to Moses in the Burning Bush, reveals Himself as “I AM HE WHO IS.”  This self-revelation of God to Moses is the most philosophically accurate name for God, for, as St. Thomas points out, God is the sole being whose essence it is to exist.  Simply put, God cannot not be; He MUST exist.  Indeed, His existence is the only existence that is Necessary.  Thus, St. Thomas goes on to state that God is the only being whose essence and existence are one and the same.

Moreover, we read in Sacred Scripture, very plainly, that, “God is Love.”

Thus, these two dimensions of God’s essence – Life and Love – are, without question, the most salient aspects of God’s own essence.  Further, it has pleased the Almighty God to call human persons to participate in these glorious dimensions of His being through the Sacraments of Baptism, which is the Sacrament of His Mercy, and the Holy Eucharist, which is the Sacrament of His Own Divine Life.

The radical significance of the devotion to, and the image of, the Divine Mercy, as revealed to St. Faustina, is here underscored.  The Red Ray which emanates from the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Our Lord is symbolic of His Most Precious Blood – the Life-Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant, by which we share in  the very Divine Life of Christ, is the gift of God’s Grace. The pale or White Ray is symbolic of the Waters of our Baptism, by which we are forgiven and cleansed of the Original Sin.

Thus, Baptism serves as the “Bridal Chamber,” as it were, where the bride-to-be (that is, the Mystical Body of Christ) prepares for her union with the beloved of her soul.  This union, begun in Baptism, is brought to its highest expression (at least while on earth) in our reception of the Holy Eucharist, where we are transformed by God’s Grace, which is nothing other than God’s free and unmerited gift of our participation in His own, supernatural Divine Life, and this through, with, and in the Divine Person of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Theosis, or deification, is – or ought to be – the goal of every Christian.  As we read in 2 Peter 1:3-4: as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4).

With the above sentiments in mind, let us together offer the following prayer:

Dearest Jesus, beloved of my soul, through the intercession of Mary, grant me the grace to imitate Thee, Who laid down thy life for love of me, that I might live again in Thee; may I lay down my life for the love of Thee, that Thou may livest again in me.  Amen.

Mary Mediatrix, Spouse of the Spirit of the Divine & Unitive Love of God: A Fresh Approach to Marian Mediation

Mother Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace and Mercy

Mother Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace and Mercy

by Jayson M. Brunelle

Introduction

In what follows, this author shall attempt to provide a deeper analysis of just how and why Mary, the Mother of Christ, is indeed the Mediatrix of every grace, and that nothing of the vast treasury of God’s Grace – which may be defined as the unmerited gift of participation in God’s own divine, Trinitarian and Family Life, through, with and in Jesus Christ – reaches humanity except through the willed intercession and consent of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

More specifically, it shall be the task of this author to explain this unique Maternal role of the Blessed Virgin in light of her spousal union with the Holy Spirit.  For Mary, not unlike most women in most cultures, assumes the “family name” and “mission” of her spouse.  In the case of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she too assumes the titles and mission of her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit of God, Who is chiefly the “Advocate” and the “Unifying and Binding Principle” as the very “Love of God,” Who, as explained by St. Maximilian Kolbe, must be understood to be the “Un-created Immaculate Conception,” Who is the divine fruit of that perfect reciprocity of love between the Father and the Son.

I Divine Revelation and Mariology

Before delving into the theology of the Holy Spirit and His Spousal relationship with Mary, however, I would be doing the reader a great disservice were I not to proceed according to the traditional theological exposition of some truth (or rather, a series of truths) to which both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the twin-fold source of God’s Divine Revelation, attest.  Moreover, considering the logical, philosophical reality that an effect cannot be greater than it’s cause, and furthermore, considering that the most holy and divine Word of God, that is, the Sacred Canon of individual books, letters, and other writings that comprise the Two Testaments of Holy Scripture could not possibly be what Christians the world over believe and adamantly claim them to be – namely, both “Inspired and Inerrant” – had not their sources – the Biblical authors and the Churchmen who identified and “canonized” the texts, themselves been “Inspired” and prevented from teaching any error regarding anything and everything which pertains to faith and morality. 

The faith that all Christians have in the “Inspired and Inerrant” nature and essence of Sacred Scripture makes absolutely no sense whatever without additionally believing in and attesting to the truth and reality of the existence of an equally inspired “Sacred, Living, Oral Tradition,” which made it possible for the Roman Catholic Bishops to be guided by that Same Spirit of Divine Authorship, in determining which of the multiple texts, letters, books and sundry other writings would, indeed, be incorporated into the Sacred Canon of Inspired and Inerrant Scriptural texts  “Inspired.”  Would it not take Inspiration to know, discern and identify Inspiration?

A proper understanding of the twin-fold source of Divine Revelation as being equally comprised of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition is of paramount importance in the study and comprehension of Mariology, for, many of the sacred “Truths, Dogmas and Doctrines” regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary, while present in a seminal form in Sacred Scripture, are not nearly as fleshed out as, say,  the parables of Christ, or other essential elements of the faith.  Now, I’m fully aware that the statement I have just made will be read and filtered with great suspicion and skepticism by numerous of my beloved Protestant Brethren, and I can appreciate that.  My only response is what I’ve already stated above regarding the equality of dignity possessed by Sacred Tradition, pointing out that an effect (such as an “Inspired” Scripture) cannot be greater than its cause (an uninspired Church).

II Sacred Tradition

Dr. Mark Miravalle, Full Professor of Theology and Mariology at Franciscan University, recognized the world over as one of the leading authorities within the field of Mariology, has made tremendous contributions to the literature in this, his field of expertise.  Additionally, as a scholar working in academia, he represents those exceedingly rare theologians who, in truth, “does Theology on his knees.”

Having been so blessed by Our Lord and Our Lady as to have studied under Miravalle,  during my tenure at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH, I have witnessed his genuine piety and deep humility, the latter being a character trait that is almost never seen amongst college professors. It is evident that  Miravalle is living the life of a saint through his earnest efforts at living his Total Consecration to Jesus, through Mary.

Alas, I digress… The reason for my musings on Dr. Miravalle have to do with the fact that he has done the Church and the world a great service in writing, with such lucidity and depth of comprehension, on this very topic of Mary’s Maternal Mediation, specifically, to save the rest of us the time and effort of having to pour over pages of papal encyclicals, mottus propios, Wednesday Audiences, Papal Anguleses, and so on and so forth.  In a small booklet of no more than 42 pages that he wrote for the Marian Movement of Priests, he lists all of the instances when Popes of the 20th Century have referred to Mary as  “Mediatrix.”  This list is no small feat, and speaks to the consistency and repetition necessary to raise a certain teaching of the faith to the level of official Catholic “doctrine,” to which all the faithful must give full assent of intellect and will, as a divinely revealed truth, contained in the “Deposit of the Faith.”  Let us take a look at this impressive display of repetition and consistency in Ordinary Magisterial teaching::

  1. Benedict XIV: “Our Lady is like a celestial stream through which the flow of all graces and gifts reach the soul of all wretched mortals” (Pope Benedict XVI, Op Omnia, v. 16, ed., Prati, 1846, p. 428.
  2. Pius VII: “Dispensatrix of all graces (Pope Pius VII, Ampliatio privilegiorum ecclesiae B. M. Virginis ab angelo salutatae in coenobio Fratrum Ordinis Servorum B.V.M. Floretiae, AD., 1806;  in J. Bourasse, Summa aurea…, V. 7. Paris, 1862, col. 546).
  3. Pius IX: “For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her [are] obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation” (Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Letter, Ubi Primum, 1849).
  4. Pius IX: “With her only-begotton Son, [Mary is] the most powerful Mediatrix and Reconciler of the world (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).
  5. Leo XIII: “…through whom [Christ] has chosen to be the dispenser of all heavenly graces (Pope Leo XIII, Jucunda semper, 1883).
  6. Leo XIII: “It is right to say that nothing at all of the immense treasury of every grace which the Lord accumulated – for “grace and truth come from Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17) – nothing is imparted to us except through Mary… (Pope Leo XIII, Octobri Mense, 1891).
  7. St. Pius X: “[Mary is the] dispensatrix of all the gifts aquired by the death of the Redeemer” (Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, AAS 36, 1904, p. 453).
  8. St. Pius X: “…she became most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world’ and dispensatrix of all the gifts that our Savior purchased for us by his death and his blood” (Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, 1904;cf., Eadmer, De Eccellentia Virginis Mariae, c.9).
  9. St. Pius X: “For she is the neck of our Head by which He communicates to His Mystical Body all spiritual gifts” (Pope St. Pius X, Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, 1904).
  10. Benedict XV: “For with her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death…. One can truly affirm that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race…For this reason, every kind of grace we receive from the treasury of the redemption is ministered as it were through the hands of the same sorrowful Virgin…” (Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter, Inter Sodalicia, AAS 10, 1918, p. 182; Mass and Office of Mediatrix of All Graces approved 1921).
  11. Pius XI: “…the Virgin who is treasurer of all graces with God….” (Pope Pius XI, Apostolic Letter, Cognitum sane, AAS 18, p. 213.
  12. Pius XI: “…We know that all things are imparted to us from God, the greatest and best, through the hands of the Mother of God.” (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter, Ingravescentibus malis, AAS 29, 1937, p. 380).
  13. Pius XII: “…it is the will of God that we obtain all favors through Mary; let everyone hasten to have recourse to Mary.” (Pope Pius XII, Superiore anno, AAS 32 1940, p. 145).
  14. Pius XII: “She teaches us all virtues; she gives us Her Son and with Him all the help we need, for God wished for us to have everything through Mary.” (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 1947).
  15. Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 62: “Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth, surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home.  Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” (Lumen Gentium, Para. 62).
  16. St. John Paul II: “Thus there is mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of its wants, needs and sufferings.  She puts herself  “in the middle”, that is to say, she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as Mother.  She knows that, as such, she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind and in fact, she “has the right” to do so.” (Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 1987, no. 21).

This impressive display of consistency and repetition in the Papal teachings of the past 150 years leads Miravalle to make the following statement in the aforementioned booklet: “We must thereby keep in mind that the role of Our Lady as Mediatrix of Grace is anything but a new doctrine, but rather constitutes the consistent doctrinal teaching of the Papal Magisterium.”

III Sacred Scripture

(To Be Cont’d…)

IV Two, In Becoming One, Become Three

Divine Revelation, via it’s twin-fold source of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (with the latter being a “living” Tradition that is guided by the Spirit Himself) makes known to us that the Spirit is both the “Advocate” and the “Love of God.”  As the “Love of God,” the Holy Spirit is, as it were, the “divine fruit” of the love that exists, from all eternity, between the First Two Persons of the Holy Trinity; namely, the Father and the Son.  Thus, while the Father eternally begets the Son, and as the Son inherits the fullness of everything that the Father is and has, including the absolute fullness of His divinity, the Son experiences the most perfect, profound and metaphysically intense love for His Father – a Divine love that is perfectly reciprocated by the Father for the Son.  It may be stated that the divine love between the Father and the Son is so ontologically perfect and fecund, that it gives rise to a new, Third Divine Person, Who can be said to be the divine personification of the love between the two aforementioned Divine Persons. (more…)

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart, Marian Consecration and the Purpose of Fatima

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta - visionaries of Fatima.

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta – visionaries of Fatima.

by Jayson M. Brunelle

On July 13, 1917, during the third apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother spoke the following words:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

This message is of tremendous significance for our times, as it contains prophecies that have, indeed, already come to pass as well as prophecies that have yet to come to fruition.  I shall, then, divide the article into two parts.  In the first section, I shall discuss the theology of co-redemption, salvific suffering and, ultimately, the apex of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is total consecration to Mary’s Heart.  As we shall see, Marian Consecration, with its corresponding devotions of the wearing of the Brown Scapular and the daily praying of the Holy Rosary, is truly the antidote to the spiritually infectious disease of Marxist Atheism, the “error” that has, indeed, been spread throughout the world and that has given rise to the great apostasy through which we have been living in recent decades.  In the second section, attention will be given to the cosmic battle taking place between the “Woman” of Genesis and Revelation and the “Huge Red Dragon,” “the Black Beast,” and “the Beast like a Lamb.” (more…)

Examining the Immaculate Conception as One of Four Marian Dogmas, and the Push for a Fifth

by Jayson M. Brunelle

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX solemnly issued the Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus, wherein – exercising the uniquely Petrine charism of infallibility, which all valid successors of Peter enjoy, and which, itself, was solemnly defined during the First Vatican Council – His Holiness defined the longstanding doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of the Sacred Deposit of Faith, demanding full assent of intellect by all the faithful. 

This Ex Cathedra pronouncement was formulated thusly:  “Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful” (Ineffabilis Deus). (more…)

Celebrating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Anne, St. Joachim, and Mary (Public Domain)

On this day in the Liturgical Calender, the Church celebrates the great Marian Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Those who have consecrated everything they are and everything they have to Her, as well as those who have yet to make a solemn act of consecration to Jesus through Mary, must know that celebrating and reflecting upon this Feast of Mary’s Nativity is integral to a better understanding of that profound littleness and poverty of spirit which authentic Marian devotion ultimately leads us to.  For, it is precisely on this feast, which celebrates the “littleness” of our infant Mother Mary, that we learn from her the necessary virtues of littleness, humility,docility, meekness, obedience and silence – that constellation of virtues which the Lord finds so very pleasing, and which laid the foundation for the exalted role that Mary, as the New Eve, would play with her son, the New Adam, in the economy of salvation.  For, it is precisely through poverty of spirit, littleness, weakness, and the recognition of our radical dependence on God, a God Who not only loved us into existence, but, additionally, redeemed us from sin while we were still mired in sin, that the Spirit, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is capable of working in those souls who, totally consecrated to Mary, are truly childlike.  For, as Christ states, “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). It is through the gift of our total consecration, or entrustment, to Mary that the Immaculate Mother of God, through whom the Holy Spirit has freely chosen to work, forms within our souls the image of the silent, obedient, meek, humble and crucified Christ.  Let us, for a moment, revisit the great Canticle of Mary, or the Magnificat (recited each day toward the end of Evening Prayer, by all bishops,  priests, deacons and religious of the Catholic Church, in the Liturgy of the Hours), in order to better comprehend not only Mary’s own reaction to the knowledge of the exalted role that she had been chosen by God to play in the economy of salvation, but additionally to understand that true poverty of spirit which she necessarily leads all of her clients and consecrated children to, provided they adhere to the dictates of her Motherly Heart and the solemn promises made to her via their total consecration: (more…)