by Jayson M. Brunelle
By now, most of my readers have become aware of what this author considers to be a chief goal of this website; namely, (1) underscoring, explaining and promoting Consecration to Mary; (2) promoting and explaining the theology of Mary’s salient and exalted roles as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix; and (3) our own participation in the ongoing work of redemption, which is renewed daily, throughout the world, in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Throughout this site, the first two themes have been dealt with at length, both separately and together, with Mary’s roles as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix serving as the firm, sound theological foundation upon which the great devotion of Consecration to Mary in general, and her Immaculate Heart in particular, rest. Yet, implied in the making and living of one’s act of Consecration to Mary and her Immaculate Heart is the reality that through this total gift-of-self, or oblation, that we make to our most holy Mother, we are opening, as widely as possible, the doors of our hearts, inviting Mary and the Holy Spirit, her well-beloved and Divine Spouse, to make their dwelling in our Hearts and souls for the great purpose of conceiving and, ultimately, giving birth to the image of the crucified Christ in our souls; that we, too, might become willing participants in the redemptive suffering of Christ, as so many co-redeemers, in imitation of Our Lady, Co-redemptrix. Blessed Pope John Paul II, who shall likely be canonized later this year, stated the following in his marvelous encyclical letter, Salvifici Doloris:
“Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: ‘In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.’ . . . Thus to share in the sufferings of Christ is to suffer for the kingdom of God.”
Moreover, in Romans 8: 14-17, St. Paul again points out the value and even necessity of salvific suffering, as he states: “”14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. ‘15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry,’Abba,[b] Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8: 14-17). Note the last sentence, where St. Paul states quite clearly that “we are…co-heirs with Christ, if indeed, we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Thus, St. Paul is going so far as to state that participation in the sufferings of Christ is not only a possibility; it’s a necessity for salvation and glorification!
Yet, few Christians grasp this dimension of their faith, this call to participate in the sufferings of Christ, much less respond with the generosity of the saints. While the majority of Christians do seem to understand that they are, indeed, called to imitate Christ, our Lord, in all the sublime mysteries of His life, they’re quite content believing that Christ has suffered for them, in their stead, and that all that is required of them is an act of faith in the once-for-all, perfect redemption accomplished by Christ some 2000 years ago.
Yet, as we shall soon see, there’s no such thing as profound, heroic sanctity without profound, heroic suffering. The two necessarily go hand-in-hand. Those who labor for the kingdom of God never cease to encounter obstacles, difficulties, hardships, persecution, calumny, humiliation, and so on, and so forth.
It has been said that, “the salvation of the many depends of the sanctification of the few.” This statement encapsulates the truth that while only a small handful of individuals actually respond to what the Second Vatican Council refers to as the “Universal Call to Holiness,” which constitutes the title of Chapter Five of Lumen Gentium, it is, however, in accord with the Divine Will that all souls should subjectively cooperate with the grace and mercy that is objectively made available to them through both prayer and each of the Church’s Sacraments, particularly, the Most Holy Eucharist. The soul that generously responds to the universal call to holiness will, indeed, become transformed by grace, and will be configured and conformed to the image of the Crucified Christ. Such souls participate in an especially intimate fashion in the redemptive suffering of Christ, the fruit of which is participation in the meriting of the grace necessary for the salvation of the many, especially in these times of the great apostasy, prophesied in Sacred Scripture, with so many souls in grave danger of eternal perdition.
Further still, these souls most closely resemble Our Lady in her role as Co-redemptrix, for, they too, in imitation of Our Lady, unite their prayers and sufferings to Christ’s perfect offering of Himself, as both Priest and Victim – that is, the once-for-all, perfect offering of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to the Eternal Father, which is renewed and truly made present in an unbloody fashion each time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered by a validly ordained priest. Yet, Mary’s Co-redemption is not simply an example or model to be imitated; rather, just as she stood at the foot of Jesus’ Cross of Redemption, she continues this same work of maternal love in regard to each of her Spiritual Children, enduring the intensity of each child’s pain, and helping each one to make his or her offering well, through, with and in her divine Son, Jesus, to the perfect glorification, adoration and honor of God, the Almighty and Eternal Father. Thus, we can say that Mary’s Co-redemption extends to the entire Mystical Body, collectively, and to each member, individually, as she continues to carry out, in eternity and with her glorified body, which was assumed into heaven, the same Co-redemptive role that proved to be of such tremendous comfort – the sole comfort – to her dying Son. Mary continues to offer her Son, Who lives, works, prays and suffers again through, with and in all of the members of His Mystical Body, especially those who communicate daily ( “The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I in him” [Jn 6:56].)