The Blessed Virgin Mary,
Co-Redemptrix of Mankind
The Mass is the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross re-enacted upon our altars. Every day we have the privilege of ascending Calvary's mount to contemplate the Crucifix and the Sorrowful Mother, to participate in the fruits of the Redemption. The Mass is the great apostolate of loving hearts because it gives honor and thanks to God; it obtains mercy and grace for mankind.
In the Mass we are not mere spectators, but participants. In it, we unite with the Blessed Virgin Mary to sacrifice and immolate Jesus, insofar as He is offered for us upon the altar.
Let us consider Mary, our Co-Redemptrix and Reparatrix. Our Lady supplied the Redeemer with the Flesh and Blood with which the Victim of our salvation would be prepared. Moreover, she guarded, nourished, and at the proper time, offered Jesus, with her true consent, upon the Altar of the Cross.
Just as in the Garden of Gethsemani Jesus consented to be immolated, so His Holy Mother Mary gave her consent to His immolation; insofar as it depended upon her, she even cooperated in immolating her Son. It was a different type of consent, but similar to that given for the Incarnation.
The union of their wills, of intentions, and sufferings was never broken between Mother and Son during life; and much less was it broken on Calvary, when Jesus was Crucified, and Mary stood at the foot of the Cross. Because of this union of sorrow, of will, and of intention between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, she became our Co-Redemptrix, Reparatrix, and the Dispenser of the precious fruits of the Cross.
Without question, the Redeemer is Jesus Christ alone. But Our Lady concurred in the Redemption; she cooperated by means of Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the principal Mediator, by His very Office; and the Blessed Virgin Mary is the secondary Redemptrix, and associated to the Great Work through an arrangement of God's Will, Who chose to make her an integral part of His merciful plan for the Redemption of mankind. God indeed is the Source of all grace; thus it is that Our Lord Jesus Christ, as God and Man, alone could have merited Redemption for fallen mankind by virtue of His Divinity. But what He merited through His Divine dignity, the Blessed Virgin merited for us through her intimate participation in His supreme Sacrifice.
The Immaculate Virgin Mary was thus associated with Jesus Christ in the Redemption of all humanity. In general we may say that Our Lady redeemed us in the manner in which Our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us. Jesus did so through His Passion; Mary, through her Compassion, that is, through sufferings united to those of her Divine Son Jesus.
In this wonderful Mystery of God's infinite Justice and Mercy, Jesus and Mary suffered untold pains and sorrows; but They did so out of obedience to the Will of the Father, and out of their immeasurable love for souls. Our Lady's Compassion is not limited to the last hours of her Divine Son's life, namely, His Passion and Death on Calvary; her immolation began on the day of the Annunciation, when she consented to become the Mother of the Redeemer. She was not accepting a common motherhood, but the motherhood of Him Who made Himself Man to voluntarily die for the Redemption of sinful humanity.
The Compassion of Our Lady was much more than the sincere affection, sympathy, and condolence of St. John and the pious women who were at the foot of the Cross at the Death of Jesus. Their sorrow, although very great, was the personal pain that is common to all, although in vastly different degrees. Mary's Compassion, however, embraces the immense complexity of Sorrows which, in the Passion of Jesus Christ and with Him, she endured for the Redemption of men, as Co-Redemptrix in this Great Work. This Compassion of Mary is a singular office, a prerogative unique to her own sacred person, as the Mother of the Divine Redeemer.
Pope Pius IX says that the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with her Son and through her Son, vanquished the powers of Hell. Pope Leo XIII affirms that Our Lady's merits for our Redemption shine forth in the mysteries of the Rosary, and exhorts us to meditate upon the singular merits with which she participated in the redeeming Death her Divine Son. She was not only present, but actively participated, so that she is really the Co-Redemptrix.
Pope St. Pius X teaches that: "Mary merited to be the Co-Redemptrix or Reparatrix of fallen humanity because she had an uninterrupted participation in the labors and Sorrows of her Son; since Jesus positively associated her with His great redemptive mission".
Pope Benedict XV writes: "The Blessed Virgin Mary, insofar as it concerned her, so immolated her Son in order to satisfy Divine Justice for the debts of mankind, that it can be said that she, with her Son, Redeemed the world". And as a direct consequence (of having redeemed the world with Christ), the graces which came to us through the Redemption are administered and distributed, so to speak, by the hands of the Sorrowful Mary.
Pope Pius XI declared: "The Sorrowful Virgin participated and cooperated in the work of Jesus the Redeemer; and so through an ineffable union with Christ, and through her singular grace, Mary is said to be, and is truly the Co-Redemptrix; and the graces which come to us are the fruit of Mary's Compassion, as well as Christ's Passion."
No one can be astonished by such teachings of the Popes if one stops to think that this was indeed the proclamation made by God to the devil; "I will put enmities between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head" (Gen. 13: 15.)
The Redemption, then, is the vanquishing of the devil; a victory brought about through the Woman and her Divine Son. The Holy Fathers see expressly foretold in this passage of Genesis the Redeemer and His Most Holy Mother; in fact, they find the declaration of war, as it were, the eternal enmity of Jesus and Mary against the demon. They see how the devil was defeated by crushing his pride, by endowing a tender Virgin with the dignity of Mother of God. All this is fulfilled through the common work of Jesus and Mary, who collaborated in the Redemption, according to the admirable Providence of God.
Hence St. Alphonsus says: "Just as the Eternal Father did not will that the Divine Word should become Mary's Son before she accepted with her express consent, so also He did not will that Jesus should sacrifice His life for the salvation of mankind, without the cooperation again of Mary's consent, so that together with the Sacrifice of the life of the Son, there should also be sacrificed the Mother's Heart. Hence, for the great merit that she acquired in this immense sacrifice offered to God for the salvation of the world, St. Augustine justly calls Our Lady the Co-Redemptrix of the human race. God chose that Mary should cooperate in our Redemption, and thus become the Mother of our souls."
Two altars are to be contemplated on Calvary: one is the Body of Jesus; the other is Mary's Heart. Jesus immolated His own Flesh; Mary immolated her own soul.
Jesus and Mary are there before us: they are snatching from the devil his prey in order to restore grace and our heavenly inheritance. Each of these holy Ones is in their own appointed station, but their work is in common, their intentions are in common, the fruit of their sacrifice is in common. How deeply the sword has pierced Mary's soul!
O Most Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, united in the same Passion, we love Thee, we thank Thee, we unite ourselves to Thy sufferings! Make us more intimate witnesses of Thy love and sorrow in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there is nothing in our lives; the sun is extinguished. We know that from the Mass and with the Mass one has everything: spiritual heat, light, and life. Grant to us an intense devotion to Holy Mass, which signifies the lighting of the spiritual sun for the world. "God so loved the world, that He gave His Son."
The Son so loved the world that He gave Himself. The Blessed Virgin Mary so loved the world, that she gave her only Son.
The Mass is the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Devotion to the Mass is the way in which we are granted a wonderful participation with Jesus and Mary in the Redemption of mankind. Attendance at Mass, even daily, will demonstrate our comprehension of this marvelous invention of God's love, power, and mercy. No Catholic who truly loves Jesus and Mary, and understands the significance of Their Sufferings would ever neglect an opportunity to be present for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What was done on Calvary is all renewed in every Mass.
The Mass has such copious fruits that through participation at Mass we are immersed in a spiritual dimension, the width, height, length and depth of which is impossible to measure completely. It is thus helpful to remind ourselves of the fruits – or spiritual effects – of the Mass.
Its most general fruit is that it gives an immense glory to the August Trinity. It brings benefits to all men, whether in Heaven or on earth, or in Purgatory where they are fulfilling the last preparations for Heaven.
There is a general blessing imparted to all those who are present at Mass, for those who serve or sing the Mass, for those who assist the Priest; for those who prepare the Priest with spiritual or material help, for those who provide the church, the altar, the furniture, wine, candles, hosts, and so on.
There is also a special fruit, which is applied to those for whom the Mass is celebrated. There is also a very special spiritual fruit, which is reserved to the priest who offers the Mass.
Then we must remind ourselves of the great ends of the Mass: The Mass is a great "Gloria in excelsis Deo"; and at the same time a great peace to men who are of good will. It gives an acceptable glory and worthy thanksgiving to God, because it is presented in Christ, for Christ and with Christ. The Mass is a superabundant satisfaction and petition for all of mankind, according to their needs and spiritual dispositions.
While preparing for Holy Mass it is spiritually helpful to do so in company with the Sorrowful Mother, Co-Redemptrix, and with our loving Redeemer painfully bearing the Cross toward Calvary.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the school of the true apostle of Mary's Immaculate Heart, it is the way of her apostles, and it is the life of her apostles. In fact, the Mass is divided into three parts: the first is instructive, and of great light for the apostolate; it extends from the beginning of the Mass to the Offertory. The second constitutes the Sacrifice, and teaches us how to be zealous for the glory of God and the salvation of souls; it is sacrificial: it begins at the Offertory and ends at the Pater Noster. The third is the unitive part, which is consummated in Holy Communion. Jesus is the life and the strength of the true apostle: in Holy Communion He unites Himself most intimately to our souls.
Let us ever fervently participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by meditating on the Passion, or by following the sacred liturgy, or with some other approved method. The more we enter into the spirit of Jesus, the Redeemer, and of Mary, the Co-Redemptrix, the greater will be the spiritual fruits and blessings which we derive from a pious attendance at Holy Mass.
The Sacred Passion