Bishop Dewane: The Work of Mary is United in Christ Print this post

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Historically, May is a month dedicated by the Catholic Church to Mary, the Mother of God. As it is well known, Mary plays an important and irreplaceable role in the spiritual life of the Church. Her “yes” to the angel Gabriel cemented Her legacy and perpetual virtue for the rest of time, and into eternity.

Mary’s closeness with Our Savior Jesus Christ is the reason why the Magnificat prayer is included within the Liturgy of the Hours, which clergy, religious, and many lay people pray on a daily basis. Salvation History is filled with examples which demonstrate the many ways in which Mary serves the Church and Our Lord.

The four dogmas of the Church regarding Mary are: Her Divine Motherhood, Her Perpetual Virginity, Her Immaculate Conception, and Her Assumption into Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a dogma as “the revealed teachings of Christ which are proclaimed by the fullest extent of the exercise of the authority of the Church’s Magisterium.” While not officially recognized as one of the dogmas of Mary, Her title of “Co-Redemptrix” has been discussed for centuries and offers deep insight into Her rich contribution to the salvation of souls.

Simply put, Mary’s title of Co-Redemptrix recognizes that Mary participates with the Redemption of men and women through Christ. With “Redemptrix” bearing the obvious connection with “redemption,” it would be easy to think that Mary is equal to Christ in the work of Redemption. Understand first, that Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer and Savior of His people. Mary participates in Redemption, but nobody is able to actually redeem the sins of men and women except for Jesus.

The title of “Co”-redemptrix properly translated from the Latin does not mean “equal to” but instead comes from the Latin cum and thus means “with.” This should alleviate concern that Mary is being placed on “equal ground” with that of Jesus Christ.

It is Mary’s virtuous exercise of freewill and absolute obedience to God that affords Her this glorious title as Co-Redemptrix. The first Chapter of the Gospel of Luke reads, “And coming to her, he [the Angel Gabriel] said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the Angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.’”

All people have freewill. How each person exercises that freewill has an impact on the capacity with which they allow Christ to work in their life. Similarly, Mary’s free decision to obey the Lord ushered in Redemption by Christ, and therefore our opportunity for salvation as well. This is the way in which Mary participates in the Redemption.

Later in the same chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Mary says, “For he [God] has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”

Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. When the Angel of the Lord greets Mary as “favored one” and says that the Lord is with Her, all would do well to consider why this is written. As noted above, even Mary, Herself, was taken back by the greeting. Why? Because of the greeting’s profound significance.

Mary is often referred to as the “New Eve,” because whereas Eve, and implicitly Adam as well, said “yes” to the temptation of the serpent in the garden, Mary restored humanity by saying “yes” to the Angel Gabriel. Mary’s “yes” to Christ’s Incarnation made possible humanity’s liberation from the bondage of sin and death. Without Her courageous response, humanity would remain in darkness; but with Christ’s Redeeming power there is Light for His people.

There is an important reality to be recognized in the witness given by Mary. While Her eternal title as Co-Redemptrix is not a title any other person will be given the honor to hold, it is precisely Her response of “yes” to the call of God that each person should emulate in his or her life.

The question is this: do you have the courage to say “yes” to Christ in humble obedience? By responding to Christ’s call in our lives with a resounding “yes,” the power unleashed, not by our own doing but instead by Christ’s, is incalculable. The challenge before each one of us is to be humble and obey Christ’s call, as Mary did.

During the month of May, pray about how Christ is calling you to draw closer to Him. In doing so, ask for the grace to act in His service, and that you might have the courage, like Mary, to say yes and do the will of the Lord.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida


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