Mediatrix of all Graces.

Please could somebody explain this to me in simple form as when I read what the Popes and Saints have it feels a bit like a doctor telling me what is wrong in his intellect without saying it in my layman’s terms?


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As I understand it, it means that God essentially ‘funnels’ his graces to the world through Mary.

Mary distributes (mediates, thus-“mediatrix”) God’s grace according to His Will (as she does everything in perfect accord with His Will).

It somewhat depends on what it’s in reference to. :o

There is a movement seeking to have the pope proclaim a “fifth marian dogma” bestowing on Mary the titles of “Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate”. “Advocate” and “Mediatrix” are both terms that are used to describe Mary in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (paragraph 62). “Co-redemptrix” is not used there and seems to be the term that most opponents of the proposed dogma find most objectionable.

Fundamentally, the titles and the proposed dogma are just talking about Church teaching with regards to Mary’s role in our life. In that respect, it is certainly nothing new. We have dogmas about Mary as the Mother of God, being perpetually a Virgin, her Immaculate Conception, and her Assumption into heaven. All of those give us information about who Mary is, who Jesus is, and their relationship. However, the one thing that is not codified into dogma is Mary’s relationship with us. But there is clearly a long tradition of teaching on that matter.

As Mary Ellen succinctly put it, the portion on Mary as “Mediatrix of all Graces” is basically about God freely choosing to funnel all graces through Mary. In some respect, that is a natural extension of the fact that Jesus, the source of grace, literally came into the world through Mary. But then there are those who oppose the term as they think it places too much attention on Mary and/or is limiting to God who is (obviously) the ultimate source and dispenser of all grace.

I really dislike the “funnel” or “neck” imagery. It puts forth an inaccurate picture of the order of grace, positioning our Lady as some kind of celestial disbursement clerk. One for you, another for you, two for you, none for you…

The title Mediatrix can be boiled down to two:

  1. By virtue of her free cooperation with the Incarnation, she brought forth to the world the Source of all grace, thereby obtaining for us all graces sanctifying and actual that will spring from the Cross; and
  2. All grace God gives to man are done through the intercession of Mary. Or put negatively, no grace is given that Mary did not pray for.

#2 is the more difficult concept, but it is not contrary to traditional Christian teaching on the intercession of saints, but it must be admitted outright that it is difficult because it touches on the mystery of Divine Providence. God does not “need” Mary to intercede before he gives grace, but rather, it has been part of his eternal decree that all graces will be given with our Lady’s intercession. The order of grace is fixed from eternity. Mary is not going to change God’s mind on anything, rather, her intercession is already part of that fixed order.

The reason I don’t like the “funnel” or “neck” imagery is that I find it contrary to Catholic teaching. When I worthily receive Christ in Holy Communion, or when I receive his absolution in Confession, I am receiving the grace directly from Christ, through the ministry of his priest. Our Lady did not “distribute” that grace to me. Christ gave it to me directly. But I obtained these graces because our Lady interceded that I obtain them, and the only reason this is so is because God had already ordained that our Lady will pray for me, God will move me by his grace, and by my free response, he will ensure that grace is received and efficacious.

It’s completely orthodox. I do not, however, want it defined as a dogma.

Thank you so much for this post, Porthos.

It has really helped me. I, too, dislike the ‘neck’ analogy.

I found your explanation very clear and I appreciate it.

So she mediates only the actual grace not the sanctifying grace?

St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote (in a personal letter) that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces, and I believe he really meant all. He may have phrased it along the lines of the Holy Spirit choosing to act only through the mediation of Mary.

I’m not sure I’m buying that. Saints write a lot of stuff that isn’t dogma.

Does anyone happen to know, did the idea begin with Kolbe, or perhaps he was the first to commit it to writing, or does it go further back?

All grace, actual and sanctifying. I was rather explicit with that phrase in my post.

There is only one mediator, as Scripture tells us and that is Jesus Christ.
What the Catholic Church teaches, and with which I am full accord is that there would be no salvation without Mary.
Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. It is her fiat that makes our salvation possible.
I tried to explain this to a neighbor who thought that Mary had no choice in the matter. Like us, she never lost her free will. Unlike us, she never sinned. Mary is the New Eve. Her obedience allowed mankind a new beginning.

Mary’s intercession is first demonstrated at Cana. Mary is listed first as a guest to the wedding. Jesus and his disciples are also invited. Mary always points to her Son. "Do whatever He tells you."
Louis de Montfort talks about Mary’s intercession in terms of flowers placed in a vase. While we could simply pray directly to God, Mary takes the prayers, the flowers and places them in a vase on a tray and carries them to her Son.

The answer I heard long ago for those question Mary’s intercessory prayer was, “What Son would not be honored if you were to bring flowers to his mother?”

Very simply, Our Lord answers the prayers we bring to Him through His mother. She intercedes for us. It is in those terms that she is mediatrix.

Dr. Mark Miravalle (one of the leaders in the movement for the 5th marian dogma) has produced a number of volumes that explores the tradition in the writings of saints and popes. He pulls quotes from as early as St. Ephraim in the 4th century. There also quotes from Cyril of Alexandria, Bernard of Clairvaux, and others.

What Popes have repeatedly testified to is that all graces come from Christ the One Mediator through Mary, our “Mother in the order of grace” (Vatican II).

That Mary is Mediatrix of All Graces is the teaching of the ordinary Magisterium.

As Pope St. Pius X affirms in Ad Diem Illum, Mary is the neck of the mystical Body of Christ.

I am one of those people.

Mary as the neck of the body of Christ was used by Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, in his Controversies. The indication of the neck might not be de fide, on the other hand, it is certainly not contrary.

In the Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus, in the beginning of the book (to the reader) he wrote, “The fulness of grace was in Christ as the head from which it flows, but in Mary as the neck through which it is transmitted. This is plainly taught by the angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, who confirms all the foregoing in these words: The blessed Virgin is called full of grace in three ways…”

Using the word neck was indicative of the authoritative teaching at the time. But this oldness, should not hold sway to our conclusions. Their way is often edifying. Further back in time in letter 22, from Flavian to Pope Leo the Great, it starts: “There is nothing which can stay the devil’s wickedness, that ‘restless evil, full of deadly poison’. Above and below it ’ goes about’ seeking ‘whom it may’ strike, dismay, and ‘devour.’ Whence to watch, to be sober unto prayer, to draw near to God, to eschew foolish questionings, to follow the fathers and not go beyond the eternal bounds, this we have learnt from Holy Writ…”

Yes, and the Popes, including recent ones like Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have affirmed that all graces come from Jesus through Mary.

This is all because Mary is the Mother of God. As St Thomas Aquinas says, Mary has a certain infinite dignity because she is the Mother of Infinite Goodness.

Pope Leo XIII explicitly affirms in Iucunda Semper that Mary is Mediatrix of all Graces.

But it’s in Octobri Mense that he most beautifully explains the tremendous mercy involved in Mary’s mediation.

Because Jesus is God and is our judge, He gave us Mary as Maternal Mediatrix to help our frailty.

Here is Pope Leo XIII:

"4. But since the salvation of our race was accomplished by the mystery of the Cross, and since the Church, dispenser of that salvation after the triumph of Christ, was founded upon earth and instituted, Providence established a new order for a new people. The consideration of the Divine counsels is united to the great sentiment of religion. The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity.(5) With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ.(6) Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother. How great are the goodness and mercy revealed in this design of God! What a correspondence with the frailty of man! We believe in the infinite goodness of the Most High, and we rejoice in it; we believe also in His justice and we fear it. We adore the beloved Saviour, lavish of His blood and of His life; we dread the inexorable Judge. Thus do those whose actions have disturbed their consciences need an intercessor mighty in favour with God, merciful enough not to reject the cause of the desperate, merciful enough to lift up again towards hope in the divine mercy the afflicted and the broken down. Mary is this glorious intermediary; she is the mighty Mother of the Almighty; but-what is still sweeter - she is gentle, extreme in tenderness, of a limitless loving-kindness. As such God gave her to us. Having chosen her for the Mother of His only begotten Son, He taught her all a mother’s feeling that breathes nothing but pardon and love. Such Christ desired she should be, for He consented to be subject to Mary and to obey her as a son a mother. Such He proclaimed her from the cross when he entrusted to her care and love the whole of the race of man in the person of His disciple John. Such, finally, she proves herself by her courage in gathering in the heritage of the enormous labours of her Son, and in accepting the charge of her maternal duties towards us all.

  1. The design of this most dear mercy, realised by God in Mary and confirmed by the testament of Christ, was comprehended at the beginning, and accepted with the utmost joy by the Holy Apostles and the earliest believers. It was the counsel and teaching of the venerable Fathers of the Church. All the nations of the Christian age received it with one mind; and even when literature and tradition are silent there is a voice that breaks from every Christian breast and speaks with all eloquence. No other reason is needed that that of a Divine faith which, by a powerful and most pleasant impulse, persuades us towards Mary. Nothing is more natural, nothing more desirable than to seek a refuge in the protection and in the loyalty of her to whom we may confess our designs and our actions, our innocence and our repentance, our torments and our joys, our prayers and our desires - all our of fairs. All men, moreover, are filled with the hope and confidence that petitions which might be received with less favour from the lips of unworthy men, God will accept when they are recommended by the most Holy Mother, and will grant with all favours. The truth and the sweetness of these thoughts bring to the soul an unspeakable comfort; but they inspire all the more compassion for those who, being without Divine faith, honour not Mary and have her not for their mother; for those also who, holding Christian faith, dare to accuse of excess the devotion to Mary, thereby sorely wounding filial piety."

So where did it begin?

Do protestants that see Mary as just someone who brought up Jesus gain Grace through her?

Dear Nelka,

Protestants have Mary as Mother, they just usually don’t know it–pretty like, sadly, many Catholics as well.

Yes, every grace Protestants have received has been given to them through the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God.

As I understand it, even the graces given in the old testament are given in view of the union of the Mother and the Son in the work of our salvation.

But this work is made manifest especially since the time when the Holy Spirit and His Spouse, Mary, conceived Jesus in time.

That’s why the Church fathers saw Mary as the New Eve and Jesus as the New Adam.

Here is Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium:

]56. The Father of mercies willed that the incarnation should be preceded by the acceptance of her who was predestined to be the mother of His Son…7) Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”(6) Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.”(7*) Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her “the Mother of the living,”(8*) and still more often they say: “death through Eve, life through Mary.”(9*)

*]57. This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to His death it is shown first of all when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the precursor leaped with joy in the womb of his mother.(288) This union is manifest also at the birth of Our Lord…

*]58. In the public life of Jesus, Mary makes significant appearances. This is so even at the very beginning, when at the marriage feast of Cana, moved with pity, she brought about by her intercession the beginning of miracles of Jesus the Messiah.(291) … After this manner the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan,(294) grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice,…

The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.

*]61. Predestined from eternity by that decree of divine providence which determined the incarnation of the Word to be the Mother of God,… she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.

]62. This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.(15) By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.(16*) This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.(17*)

*]For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

*]The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary. It knows it through unfailing experience of it and commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more intimately adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.

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