WAS MARY'S PREDISTINED ?


General Mariology 

Mary's predestination-Catechism of the Catholic Church 

488 "God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him,125 he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":126

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.127

489 Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.128 By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age.129 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women.130 Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established."131

The Immaculate Conception

490 To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role."132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace".133 In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

492 The "splendour of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son".136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love".137

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature".138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. 
"Let it be done to me according to your word. . ."

494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."139 Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace:140

As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."141 Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith."142 Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."143 

FRANCISCAN VIEW OF MARIOLOGY ON PREDESTINATION

by Fr. Peter Damien Fehlner, F. I. The full article can be found in the mariological anthology entitle, Mariology: For Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Seminarians, published by Queenship Publications. 

Franciscan view of Mariology, crucially important, for a correct appreciation of Catholic theology on Mary and the Marian character of “our theology,” viz., the saving knowledge of God possible to us in a time of pilgrimage (1).

Since the close of Vatican II, and despite that Council’s very firm reaffirmation of both mysteries in the traditional sense (2), treatment of the predestination of Mary has disappeared from Mariological study. Some expositions of the Immaculate Conception have either 1) minimized its binding dogmatic character with calls for its “dedogmatization,” viz., its reduction to the status of a thesis pertaining to an unimportant and perhaps out-dated theological system no longer binding in faith on all Catholics; 2) downplayed or even denied its character as a unique privilege of Mary alone, and so reducing the Mother of God to the status of just another woman; or 3) totally naturalized the privilege (along the lines of the ancient heretic Pelagius) by eliminating any reference in its definition to original sin (3).



Closely examined, these trends reflect both the anti-metaphysical, anti-supernatural and ultimately pantheistic character fueling some current theological speculation claiming to offer “new” and “radically different” directions given to Catholic thought and life by Vatican II (4). Pope Benedict XVI has recently (5) described this kind of Vatican II hermeneutic as one of discontinuity, inevitably leading to rupture within the Church. Such a hermeneutic, says the Holy Father, betrays the genuine intentions and meaning of the council texts, which are those of continuity and renewal in harmony with Tradition. Continuity with Tradition in reading Vatican II means not opposing the metaphysical and supernatural character of patristic-scholastic theology, always insisted upon authoritatively by the apostolic Magisterium, to a biblical-historical approach as mutually exclusive alternatives. Rather, continuity with tradition postulates a recognition that the metaphysical and supernatural content of theology is at the very heart of the biblical-historical. Both Bl. Pius IX in the bull of definition of the Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854, and Pope Pius XII in the bull of definition of the Assumption, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950, expressly teach the joint predestination of Jesus and Mary: uno eodemque decreto (in one and the same decree). Vatican II, in its summary of the Mariology of the Church, has done nothing else but point this out, stressing in particular how 1) the joint predestination of Mary with Christ (Lumen Gentium 61 and 62) and 2) the Immaculate Conception as the beginning of her history (Lumen Gentium 56), are starting points for understanding the person and unique role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, both in the mind of God and in the unfolding of the divine counsels of salvation. And John Paul II reiterates, in Redemptoris Mater 8-10, that this doctrine is at the root of the Church’s teaching and of our faith concerning the economy of salvation. This is what is meant when Mariology is described as metaphysical, and when our metaphysics is said to be radically Marian-Christic (6).

Hence, a biblically based theology is radically metaphysical at its core, because in the final analysis the very possibility of an economy of salvation and an order of finite realities outside the Creator and Savior is anchored in the counsels of the divine will, that is, on predestination or the order between various intentions determined by divine mercy and goodness. In turn, a full grasp of theological metaphysics is only possible via Revelation, viz., via Scripture and Tradition. No one has ever seen God or known the counsels of his will except him who is in the bosom of the Father. On entering our world through and from the bosom of Mary, he has told us about this “metaphysics” (cf. Jn 1:18). This is why biblical history is metaphysical, and theological metaphysics is biblical.

Because this is so, the relation between creation and grace, or between creation and predestination to grace and glory in Christ in the order of finite realities outside of God (ad extra), becomes central to any understanding of what exists and why it exists. The mystery of grace, viz., of the metaphysical (i.e., supernatural), is primarily the mystery of the grace of the Incarnation. Inseparably linked to this mystery is the grace of the Immaculate Conception, or unique personal sanctity of the Mother of the Savior God. For this reason the Virgin Mother as a person belongs not only to the economy of salvation as one of the saved-redeemed, but she alone among the saved also pertains to the order of the hypostatic union, because, as the Immaculate Conception or “Full of Grace,” she is capable of being the Virgin-Mother of God.

From these few introductory observations it should be clear that those who claim the authority of Vatican II for something this Council not only did not affirm, but firmly denied, not only reject patristic-scholastic Mariology, but the biblical as well. In doing so they undermine the basis of genuine faith in the Incarnation and redemption.

It is also possible to relate the two mysteries treated in this chapter in terms of a scholastic axiom concerning the divine counsels and their execution outside the mind of God. Quod primum est in intentione, ultimum est in executione (what is first in intention is last in execution). What is first in the divine counsels concerning Mary is the divine maternity; what is first in the implementation of this first counsel is the Immaculate Conception. This last is the unique personal sanctity of the Virgin, her personal consecration to her Son and Savior. Mary’s only reason for existence is to be full of grace and Christ’s Mother, and he would come to be incarnate only through her because she is immaculate. All this would come to be, not by necessity of nature, but by the good-pleasure of the Father. This fittingness, the Scotistic decuit, far from being irrational and arbitrary, is the font of all rationality in creation.



The Predestination of Mary (7)



This mystery has been implicit in all discussions—biblical, patristic, scholastic—of the divine plan of salvation from its first revelation in the book of Genesis. According to almost all the Fathers of the Church (8), discussion of this plan is central to the interpretation of the first words of the Bible, “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1), as denoting not a first moment of time, but the first point in his eternal counsels, namely the incarnate Word, Son of Mary. The first point of those counsels is that God created heaven and earth for the sake of Jesus and Mary. This is why the first man and woman, the high point of the work of six days, were formed before the fall in a spousal context. Marriage as a divinely instituted covenant between Adam and Eve typified Christ and Mary, and through Mary, Christ and the Church. The absolute primacy of Jesus and Mary so indicated in the work of the six days constitutes the ontological basis both for the possibility of redemption from the tragedy of the fall and for the perfection of that redemptive work, namely, its character as most perfect (Bl. Duns Scotus) or quasi-infinite (St. Thomas).

We may call this the fact of Mary’s predestination to be the Mother of God, of the incarnate Word, before the foundation of the world. This fore-love of Mary by the Father may not, however, be regarded as arbitrary or capricious, because the will of God is always ordered and wise. Mary in some intrinsic manner pertains as no other person to the order of the hypostatic union, the grace of graces and source of all order and intelligibility both in the economy of salvation and in creation. To this fact and to the special place enjoyed by Mary in the economy of salvation, both in relation to the mystery of Jesus and of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, ch. 8, title), the whole of revelation affords abundant witness (as sketched out in Lumen Gentium, nn. 55ff.).



Foundation in Sacred Scripture



Taking this authoritative witness as the point of departure, we may indicate how the revealed teaching on the fact of Mary’s unique place within the predestination of all the saved before the foundation of the world in Christ is shown in Scripture and Tradition. Because the coming of the Messiah is via the divine maternity and therefore always Marian in mode, the messianic revelation of the Old Testament is a progressive realization and unveiling of the Marian mode of the divine counsels of salvation. What is true of the prophecies, is also true of the symbols, figures and types bearing on the Savior and his Mother. Their fulfillment under the New and Eternal Covenant is expressly related by St. Paul to the great mystery of predestination (cf. Eph 1:3-14; Col 1:13-20). Careful examination of Romans 1:3-4 (cf. Rom 9:4-5) and Galatians 4:4-7 shows that the predestination of the Son of God to become incarnate, and so son of David, and the predestination of the saved-redeemed to adoptive sonship of the Father in Christ, both hinge upon the woman who conceives and gives birth by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Hence the importance of generic Pauline texts on the predestination of all in Christ (e.g. Eph 1:3ff.), that he might be the firstborn of many brethren, e.g., Romans 8:28-30. On these generic references depend the more detailed explanation of the order of those predestined to Christ and to each other, reflected in texts such as Romans 5:12-21 (Adam—with Eve, Christ—with Mary; original sin vs. superabundant grace), Philippians 2:5-11 (the kenosis of the Son via the virgin birth and Cross is crowned in the glory of the Father), Hebrews 10:4-10 (the assent of Christ to the Incarnation and counsels of salvation, corresponding to the assent of the Virgin Mother, Luke 1:38), Ephesians 5:21-32 (the Church as bride of Christ to the degree that she is one with the immaculate purity of Mary: sine macula, sine ruga—without spot or wrinkle).

Pondering texts from John 1:13 (belief in the one born virginally of God), 1 John 4:10 (the prior love of God) and Luke 1:30 (Mary found grace with God), we may say that the grace of predestination, viz., the prior love of God for us, is concretely our predestination with that of the incarnate Son. It is a mystery only brought to pass through the unique grace found by Mary to be chosen before the foundation of the world to be the immaculate, virginal Mother of the Savior God.



The Witness of Tradition



The predestination of Mary as a fact is frequently mentioned or clearly alluded to by the Fathers from the earliest days of the Church, and so is clearly a doctrine taught by the apostles and their immediate successors. St. Ignatius of Antioch tells us (9) that the virgin birth is one of the three principal mysteries of salvation hidden in the silence of the divine counsels, and inaccessible therefore to the Devil. The basic method of our theology, that of recirculation and recapitulation as set forth by St. Justin and St. Irenaeus, ultimately is grounded in the mystery of predestination. Among the many texts cited in the repertoire of Fr. Roschini (10) are these very explicit affirmations of Mary’s predestination:



St. Augustine: “Before he was born of her, he knew his Mother in her predestination” (Tractatus in Joannem, 9).

St. John Damascene: “Mary was predestined before all time in the foreknowing counsel …” (De fide orthodoxa).

St. Bernard: “The angel was sent to the Virgin … not found recently or by chance, but chosen before the ages, foreknown by the Most High” (Homilia II super Missus est).



To these should be added the testimony of the liturgy, for instance in these verses from the hymn O Virgo Mater (11), used in the office of readings for Our Lady on Saturday:



O Virgo Mater, Filia tui beata Filii

O Virgin Mother, blessed daughter of thy Son

Sublimis et humilisima prae creatures omnibus,

Sublimest of all creatures and humblest,

Divini tu consilii fixus ab aevo terminus,

Thou from eternity preset goal of God’s saving counsels,

Tu decus et fastigium naturae nostrae maximum.

Highest glory of our nature and zenith.



A long text of St. Augustine from The Predestination of the Saints, ch. 15, 30-31, provides an excellent summary of Catholic Tradition on predestination, stressing the simultaneous predestination of all the saints in that of Christ, the grace of graces. This is the point of departure for the systematic elaboration of Scotus, perhaps the profoundest ever achieved.

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