The words usually used to present Mary’s Mediation are still theologically “confusing” and incomplete. However, I would like to present Our Lady according to the clarity shed by the Gospel and by the French School of Spirituality of the 17th Century (Grignon de Montfort represents it. See also J. J. Olier) which is entirely different. Consequently, if we continue to see her as an “intermediary” between Jesus and us, our vision remains blurred.
The Gospel, on the other hand, is clearer. Here She is described as “The Good Soil” (See Mt. 13 Parable of the Sower), the “New Skin” (Mt. 9:17), the “Ark” of the Covenant bearing the Eternal Word of God incarnate (See the parallel between Luke 1 and 2 Sam. 6). In this context, the “Good soil” is not an “intermediary”. It is the Subject of our Faith (Fides Qua), as opposed to the Object of our Faith (Fides Quae) – Jesus.
Mary, as the Catechism and Vatican II express, is the embodiment, the Archetype, of the perfect Disciple. “The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith.” (CCC 148) “Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.” (CCC 149) “The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith,” (CCC 273) “… the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity… is the “exemplary realization” (typus) of the Church.” (CCC 967)
In this sense She embodies much more and becomes much less of an “intermediary”. We might not be totally aware of it, but it is her Faith – the Faith of the Church – that we receive in Baptism, and it is her faith that needs to grow in us. The Lord says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and to carefully observe My ordinances.” (Ez 36:26-27) Therefore any faithful’s prayer could be: “Lord, the new heart you gave me in Baptism, that is Mary’s Heart and Faith, and all the virtues, make it grow so it can contain you, love you and worship you in Spirit and in Truth” or “Lord, renew in me my heart, give me a heart like Mary’s in the Annunciation, so I can listen to your Word and put it into practise, and receive you in the Eucharist.”
Mary is the mother of the Church and the Mother of the Church’s Faith, not only the perfect embodiment of our faith, but the mother of our faith. She transmits her faith to us: “Mary’s faith, according to the Church’s apostolic witness, in some way continues to become the faith of the pilgrim People of God” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 28) Note that in this quote from Pope John Paul II, it is the same faith, Mary’s, that is passed on to us. “Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as ‘the bride without spot or wrinkle.’ This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”” (CCC 773) (“Petrine” i.e. “of Peter”, Petrus)
In this deep sense, in Baptism God gives us two things:
- The Subject of our Faith (her Faith, herself as the Disciple) and
- The Object of our Faith (Himself, the Trinity).
In this sense She is not an “intermediary”. She lives in us, grows in us, She contemplates and loves Jesus in us, through us and with us. Both She and us – us in her – face Jesus and worship Him, contemplate, love and praise Him. It is her eyes and her heart that we use to contemplate and love Jesus. The difference between this understanding of the exact place of Mary and the common fervent one about mediation is gigantic. Note: we can as well say: us in her.
To put it in an even clearer way, we should analyse what is occurring in us: on the one hand I have my modality to go to Jesus, but on the contrary, She is the modality to go to Jesus. To think that I go “directly” to Jesus is an illusion. I am in fact using “my way” (modality/mode). I, then, am an intermediary. This exposes our innate need for a perfect subject, so instead we use ourselves, our own means.
It now follows that the “mediation” can be understood and lived in two ways at least:
1- a weak way (the usual way) which is distant: She is with Jesus there, removed from us, and talks to Him for us (see diagram below). We remain where we are (below the blue line, below heaven). More important still – Jesus remains far removed from us.
2- She is in us, we use her Eyes and her Heart to contemplate and love Jesus. So, in a way, in this case we are at her level with her, within her, facing Jesus so to speak, in sum, we stand where She stands.
Yet, the People of God, especially the most fervent among the People of God, still understand Mary’s Mediation in the first way. Rarely, in the second way.
So, the “Privileged Way” to reach Jesus that many fervent Catholics see in Mary can still be understood and lived according to the weaker option. Moreover, it is paradoxically judged to be the only known option, despite evidence in the Scriptures, Montfort, John Paul II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. However, the second option is much stronger, higher, purer and Divine. And the good thing is that we get to be embraced by Jesus, in a divine way – Mary’s way.
In addition, to say that Mary is “The Privileged Way” would seem to indicate that there are other ways! This in turn could indicate that other ways could be successful. Wrong. Our belief is that She is still the best way, but significantly, not the only way. In this sense we fail to understand what exactly her place is. The Parable of the Sower does not say that any of the other soils bear fruits. There are positively no fruits whatsoever. Only THE Good Soil does (see the Parable in Mt. 13 and parallels). We ourselves have changed the Parable of the Sower into the Parable of Our Options.
A daring feat, indeed, to think of changing the Gospel, it must be avowed.
The same thinking applies to the Gospel of St. Luke, who did not say that Zacharias could have believed even in the minutest way. Rather, he said: only Mary believed hence it follows that She believed for Zachariah and Elisabeth and you and me: “The Virgin Mary… uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.” (CCC 511) The difference is huge. Again, we are changing the Gospel to our way of thinking.
She believed for us, this is why She is called “Blessed”. Elisabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, praises her correctly: “you believed.” “And blessed is the one having believed that there will be a fulfillment to the things spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45) This implies, for us, also, that this is why She is “blessed”. Luke 1:48: “For behold, from henceforth all the generations will count me blessed” because She believed for us.
Luke offers us two entrance doors to the Lord’s Gospel to choose from: Zachariah’s Faith and Mary’s. The one could not believe and the other who believed for us. Therefore, there can only be one conclusion: there is only one door and one “way”. The narrow door and the narrow path are Mary.
Luke even goes further in his last version of Luke-Acts where we have the modified text to offer us a personal Pentecost. (see the following Article)
A Pentecost that happens with Mary’s visit to each one of us.
One of the best ways to illustrate Mary’s place in our relationship with Jesus is the image of the reciprocal embrace of the Moon and the Sun.
Mary has this unique relationship with Jesus. And this is, beyond the clouds, in heaven. She is the embodiment of the perfect disciple; She contemplates (see the eyes) and loves (see the heart) Jesus with a divine perfection. Our heart is a mix of the first three soils, and to make matters worse is not bearing any fruit! By contrast, Mary is the embodiment of fecundity – She bears fruits thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. But the good news is that God gives us her eyes and a heart so we can contemplate and love Jesus with them! “I will give you a new heart and will fill it with my Spirit” (Eze. 36).
As we can see on the diagram, our heart (in white) is introduced into Mary, and there receives her eyes and her heart. The mediation of Mary is the stronger force, the one that creates a total, perfect and divine intimacy with Jesus.
We may not be aware of it, but many icons represent Mary carrying the Child Jesus. In fact, this representation is one of the most widespread ones. But we forget two things at least:
- the icon mirrors something deep inside of us, Mary and our spirit, carrying and embracing Jesus.
- in many of these representations, Mary looks at us and shows us Jesus, like in the icon below.
Through Mary’s eyes we are introduced into her and can hold with Her and through Her Jesus himself. The moon (Mary) embraces Jesus. The Platytera icon’s title is: “the one who can contain the one that heavens can’t contain”. It is the same mystery as the Ark. It contained the two tablets of the Law and Mary contains in her heart (as St. Augustine puts it), before containing Him in her body, the very Son of God, the very Eternal Word of the Father. St. Augustine affirms that the Virgin “conceived in her heart [by faith] before her womb” (Discourses, 215, 4).
In this case it is not a mediation, it is a transformation in Mary, being kneaded in Mary. It is much more than just a distant mediation. She believed for us, hence She is our real spiritual mother. In our turn we receive from the Holy Spirit her capacity to believe and love. Finally, it is St. Therese of the Child Jesus’ striking observation that says it all: isn’t it that the virtues of the Mother belong to her child?
For a precise theological development see also: Our Place in God, our Place in Mary.