This is from a French-Roman style “fiddleback” vestment made for yours truly when I was a chaplain in Lourdes for a couple of years by a wonderful group of ladies from a parish north of Toulouse, whose pastor was concerned that a chaplain in Lourdes responsible for reinstituting the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was surely to have the proper vestments. I think that, in fact, the new vestments were made using bits of pieces of vestments which had been discarded from Lourdes when the shrines suffered wreckovations on every level imaginable. I sure did and do make good use of these vestments to this day!
I received a number of emails from readers in different parts of the world saying that today is, in their local or monastic calendars, also by way of indult, the feast of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces.
I think it was in 1960 that a group of Discalced Carmelite Fathers from the Teresianum made their way to the Apostolic Palace for a private audience with Pope John XXIII, requesting that the Pontiff finally declare, by way of Apostolic Constitution, our Lady to be mediatrix of all graces, reflecting what we read in Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church and note in the liturgy and writings of the saints throughout the ages. Blessed John XXIII replied, to their disappointment, that this was unnecessary, given that there is no one who questions this about our Lady anywhere in the universal Church.
Such a statement is, however, one more rather significant example of this belief that can be noted by subsequent Pontiffs in their reflections on our Lady. As it is, I think various and sundry people have counted some dozens of times that a subsequent Blessed Supreme Pontiff went a step beyond this title of mediatrix, using the phrase co-redemptrix for our Lady, namely, of course, Blessed John Paul II.
Many are offended by this title for the reason that they understand neither original sin nor the immaculate conception of our Lady, and therefore cannot begin to fathom her being the mediatrix of all graces, much less co-redemptrix.
The offense that many of what I would call neo-conservative seminarians and young priests is entirely emotional, that is, it issues from the passion to be politically correct with those who take offense for “ecumenical reasons,” etc. This is both intellectually dishonest and flippant in regard to their mother, the theology* regarding whom they should take more seriously because she is their good mother who loves them so much. Moreover, the fact that a beatified sucessor of Saint Peter should have insisted so much on this title should give them pause to reflect that brow beating others into rejecting our Lady both as mediatrix and co-redemptrix is really rather ugly and obtuse. (*Theology studies God and other things and persons inasmuch as they are related to God. Mary is Mother of God!)
Back to our Lady as Mediatrix! — Briefly: Because Mary was immaculately conceived and therefore had an agility of soul and clarity of vision that was perfect, she could take in, she could understand what was happening to her Son on the Cross. In seeing all the hell which we vomited out on her Son on the Cross, from the first man, Adam, to the last, she could see, in looking upon Him, exactly what we needed from her Son by way of Redemption and Salvation. Seeing this perfectly, her heart being pierced with a sword of sorrow (as Simeon prophesied so many years earlier in the Temple), she could therefore have the capactity to intercede, to pray for us perfectly. All she had to do was to be in solidarity with her Son of the Cross. And she was. This makes her, so to speak, mediatrix of all graces. She does not stand between God and ourselves. There is only One Mediator between God and Man, the God-man Jesus Christ, Mary’s Son. Yes! That’s true. But, think of it this way: is it not appropriate that there be one of us, Mary, who prays for all that which her Son wishes to provide to us? Yes, in justice, this is most appropriate. It is most appropriate that she who is the Mother of the Head of the Body of Christ intercede for us that she might then become also the Mother of all the members of the Body of Christ, for she is Mother of entire Christ, Head and members. Understanding this maternal aspect of her prayer, it is natural to use the title Mediatrix with our dearest Mother. She is such a good and kind mom or mum as some say.
But what of the title of co-redemptrix. Surely that is inconvenient for ecumenical relations. Surely we are to brow-beat others into submission of accepting that this is ultra-exaggerated piety of the fringe conservatives who do not know how to be aloof from being with Jesus as little children of Mary, who do not know how to build consensus at ecumenical gatherings. Sigh…
Once — my dear seminarians and priests (and bishops!) reading this blog — once we explain, catechize and most importantly show our unrelentingly respectful and joyful appreciation of our Lady, being brought up into Jesus’ own love for her, it is this, in fact, which will bring many into the Church.
There are many evangelicals and other non-Catholics, even pagans, who have begun to recite the rosary. I hear of them frequently enough. Take that in… reflect on that… The harvest is ripe! How to begin? First of all, be utterly joyful and thankful to our Lady. Thank her. Say it to her, out loud! Do it! “Thank you, Mary, for being my mother!” Didn’t do it? Can’t do it? Out loud? It makes a difference. There can be a bit of a mental block. “That’s so childish!” No. Childlike. That’s what good sons of their mothers do. Just say it, out loud: “Thank you, mom!” “Thank you, mum!”
I bet that made you smile, didn’t it? I bet it did!
Happy feast day!