Dr. Lawrence V. McCrobie, Ed.D.-KHS | Catholic Liturgist & Educator
Author: Lawrence McCrobie
Lawrence McCrobie is a member of the Equesrtrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He also serves as a Catholic Liturgist and Educator in the Midwest. Founder the Catholic Evanglization Ministry of "One Step Closer Catholic" in April of 2018.
Religious diversity has always been a defining characteristic of human society, fostering a rich tapestry of beliefs and practices. Unfortunately, this diversity has also been a source of division and hostility throughout history. One such example is the historical conflict between Catholics and Protestants, which has often resulted in discrimination and bullying. In this article, we will explore instances where Catholics have faced bullying from Protestants and shed light on the need for religious tolerance and understanding.
The division between Catholics and Protestants dates back to the Reformation in the 16th century, when Protestantism emerged as a movement questioning certain practices of the Catholic Church. This theological schism resulted in centuries of political, social, and religious conflict. From the Irish Troubles to the European Wars of Religion, tensions between these two religious groups have persisted for centuries.
Instances of Catholic Bullying:
•Northern Ireland Conflict: One of the most well-known examples of Catholics facing bullying from Protestants can be seen in the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Troubles, a period of violent strife between Irish nationalists (predominantly Catholic) and unionists (predominantly Protestant), resulted in widespread discrimination, sectarian violence, and loss of life.
•Anti-Catholic Legislation: Throughout history, Protestant-majority countries have enacted discriminatory laws against Catholics. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Test Acts of the 17th and 18th centuries imposed severe restrictions on Catholics, depriving them of political rights, access to education, and employment opportunities.
•Social Exclusion: Catholics have often faced exclusion and ostracism from Protestant communities. In certain regions, Catholic families have been subjected to social isolation, limiting their opportunities for social interaction and economic advancement. This exclusionary behavior can manifest in schools, workplaces, and even neighborhoods.
•Stereotyping and Prejudice: Stereotypes and prejudices against Catholics have been perpetuated by some Protestant individuals and communities. Such stereotypes often portray Catholics as backward, superstitious, or disloyal. These prejudiced views contribute to a hostile environment and can lead to bullying and harassment.
Effects and Consequences:
The impact of religious bullying on individuals and communities cannot be underestimated. Catholics who experience discrimination and bullying from Protestants may suffer from emotional distress, anxiety, and a diminished sense of belonging. It can also perpetuate a cycle of violence and deepen the divide between the two groups, hindering social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.
Promoting Religious Tolerance:
To address the issue of religious bullying, it is crucial to promote religious tolerance and understanding among different communities. Education plays a vital role in fostering empathy and dispelling stereotypes. Schools should teach students about different religious traditions, encouraging dialogue and respect for diversity.
Interfaith initiatives and dialogues can also facilitate better understanding and cooperation between Catholics and Protestants. By creating opportunities for interaction and collaboration, these initiatives can break down barriers, challenge misconceptions, and build bridges of understanding.
Government and religious leaders have a responsibility to condemn religious discrimination and promote religious freedom for all. Policies and laws should protect individuals from discrimination based on their religious beliefs, ensuring equal rights and opportunities for everyone, regardless of their faith tradition.
Religious bullying against Catholics by Protestants has been a distressing reality throughout history. Instances of discrimination, social exclusion, and stereotypes have perpetuated division and hindered social progress. It is essential for individuals, communities, and societies as a whole to promote religious tolerance, understanding, and respect. By embracing diversity and fostering empathy, we can create a world where all individuals can live harmoniously, regardless of their religious background.
Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is a significant Christian holiday that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the birth of the early Christian Church. It holds immense religious and historical importance, symbolizing the empowering of believers and the spread of the gospel. This article explores the origins, significance, and traditions associated with Pentecost.
Origins and Biblical Significance
Pentecost has its roots in Jewish tradition and finds mention in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival celebrated seven weeks after Passover. However, the Christian observance of Pentecost carries deeper theological meaning. The event is described in the New Testament in the Book of Acts, where the apostles and other disciples gathered in Jerusalem following Jesus’ ascension to heaven.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were together in one place when suddenly a sound like a rushing wind filled the room, and tongues of fire appeared, resting upon each of them. They were then filled with the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to speak in various languages. This miraculous event drew the attention of people from different regions who had gathered in Jerusalem, and they were astounded to hear the disciples speaking in their native tongues.
The Birth of the Church
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter delivered a powerful sermon, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. This sermon, often referred to as Peter’s Pentecost Sermon, resulted in the conversion of about three thousand people who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and were baptized. This marked the beginning of the early Christian Church.
Significance and Symbolism
Pentecost holds great significance for Christians worldwide. It symbolizes the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide, empower, and comfort believers. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost brought about a radical transformation in the lives of the disciples, enabling them to boldly proclaim the gospel and perform miracles. This event marked the transition from the earthly ministry of Jesus to the spread of the Christian faith by the early Church.
The Holy Spirit’s Role
The Holy Spirit plays a pivotal role in Christian theology, providing spiritual guidance, strength, and discernment to believers. It is often referred to as the “Comforter” or “Advocate” and is believed to dwell within every believer, empowering them to live a life that reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Traditions and Celebration
Pentecost is celebrated with various customs and traditions across different Christian denominations. Churches are adorned with red decorations, symbolizing the flames of fire that appeared on the heads of the disciples. Special services are conducted, focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Hymns and prayers invoking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit are sung.
In some Christian traditions, Pentecost is associated with the sacrament of Confirmation, where individuals receive the Holy Spirit through an anointing with oil. The feast is also a time for believers to reflect on the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Pentecost is a joyous celebration that commemorates the empowering of believers through the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church. It serves as a reminder of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, equipping them to proclaim the gospel and live according to Christ’s teachings. As Christians observe Pentecost, they seek to embrace the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in their lives, fostering spiritual growth and strengthening their faith.
Conflict is an inevitable part of life, and it can often be challenging to stay positive when dealing with it. In the Catholic faith, there are many teachings and practices that can help individuals stay positive in the face of conflict.
First, Catholics believe in forgiveness [at least we should]. Forgiveness is a key aspect of the faith and is seen as a way to heal relationships and move forward. When dealing with conflict, it can be difficult to forgive [and often it is, as we fall into a mode of attack], but it is important to remember that forgiveness is not only beneficial to the other person but also to oneself. Forgiveness allows individuals to let go of anger and bitterness and focus on positive emotions such as love and compassion.
Second, Catholics believe in the power of prayer. Prayer is a way to communicate with God and seek guidance and strength during difficult times. When dealing with conflict, taking the time to pray and reflect on the situation can help individuals gain a clearer perspective and find inner peace [the notion of taking a step back and praying about it first]. Through prayer, individuals can ask for wisdom and discernment in how to handle the conflict in a positive way.
Third, Catholics are encouraged to practice humility. Humility involves acknowledging one’s limitations and weaknesses and recognizing the value and dignity of others. When dealing with conflict, humility can help individuals approach the situation with an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn from the other person. Instead of being defensive or confrontational [of which I personally struggle with], individuals can seek to understand the other person’s perspective and find common ground. Though common ground must be met from both sides.
Finally, Catholics believe in the power of community. Being part of a faith community can provide support, encouragement, and accountability during difficult times. When dealing with conflict, it can be helpful to seek the advice and guidance of trusted friends, family members, or spiritual leaders. These individuals can provide a listening ear, offer perspective, and provide practical advice on how to handle the conflict in a positive way.
In sum, staying positive when dealing with conflict in a Catholic perspective involves forgiveness, prayer, humility, and community. By embracing these teachings and practices, individuals can approach conflict with a positive and constructive mindset and find ways to heal relationships and move forward in a positive direction.
Pray for me as I pray for all that come into my life.
Canon law is the set of laws and regulations that govern the Catholic Church. These laws guide the beliefs and practices of the Church, and they are updated from time to time to reflect changes in society and the needs of the faithful. In recent years, there have been several significant reforms in canon law, aimed at making the Church more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of its members.
One of the most significant changes in canon law in recent years is the 2019 motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi, which established new procedures for reporting and investigating cases of clerical sexual abuse. The document requires that all bishops and religious superiors promptly report any allegations of abuse to the appropriate authorities, and it establishes a system for the investigation of such claims. This reform is a response to the widespread sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Church in recent years, and it is intended to ensure that victims are heard and that abusers are held accountable.
Another significant reform in canon law is the 2021 apostolic letter, Traditionis custodes, which restricted the use of the traditional Latin Mass. The document states that the Latin Mass can only be celebrated with the permission of the local bishop, and that priests who wish to celebrate it must be trained in the theology and liturgy of the post-Vatican II Church. This reform is a response to concerns that the traditionalist movement within the Church is promoting a narrow and exclusionary vision of Catholicism, and that it is undermining the unity and diversity of the Church.
In addition to these reforms, there have been other changes in canon law in recent years aimed at promoting transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in the Church. For example, the 2020 apostolic letter, Authenticum charismatis, simplified the process for establishing new lay associations and movements in the Church, and it emphasized the importance of lay participation in the life and mission of the Church. Similarly, the 2020 motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, changed the law to allow women to be formally installed as lectors and acolytes in the Church, a role previously reserved for men.
Overall, these recent reforms in canon law reflect the Church’s commitment to responding to the needs of the faithful and to promoting the common good. They demonstrate a willingness to adapt and change in response to the challenges of the modern world, while remaining faithful to the Church’s rich tradition and heritage. As the Church continues to evolve and grow, we can expect to see further changes in canon law that will help to shape its future direction and mission.
One area of canon law that is likely to see further reform in the coming years is the role of women in the Church. While recent reforms, such as Spiritus Domini, have expanded opportunities for women to participate in the liturgy and ministry of the Church, there is still a great deal of debate and discussion about the role of women in leadership and decision-making roles within the Church. Some advocates for women’s ordination argue that the Church must move beyond its traditional understanding of gender roles and embrace a more egalitarian approach, while others maintain that the Church’s teaching on this matter is unchangeable.
Another area where we may see further reform in canon law is the Church’s response to social and political issues. As the Church seeks to address issues such as climate change, migration, and economic inequality, it may need to adapt its canon law to better reflect the changing realities of the world. This could involve changes to the Church’s social teaching or to its approach to political engagement.
In conclusion, the recent reforms in canon law represent an important step forward for the Catholic Church. By responding to the needs of the faithful and adapting to the changing world around us, the Church is demonstrating its commitment to promoting the common good and to fulfilling its mission of spreading the Gospel to all corners of the world. As the Church continues to evolve and grow, we can expect to see further changes in canon law that will help to shape its future direction and mission, while remaining faithful to its core beliefs and values.
Transgender identity is a topic that has garnered significant attention in recent years, with growing visibility and acceptance in many parts of the world. However, the Catholic Church’s position on transgender identity is complex and multifaceted, reflecting both the Church’s traditional teachings on gender and sexuality and its evolving understanding of human dignity and pastoral care.
At the heart of the Catholic Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality is the belief that God created humanity male and female, with inherent differences and complementary roles. This understanding of gender is rooted in the Genesis creation story, where God creates Adam and Eve as complementary beings, each with unique characteristics and responsibilities. The Church also teaches that sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, and that any sexual activity outside of this context is considered sinful.
For transgender individuals, these traditional teachings can present significant challenges. Transgender individuals experience a disconnect between their gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. This can lead to feelings of distress, discomfort, and dysphoria, and many transgender individuals seek to transition to live in a way that aligns with their gender identity.
The Catholic Church’s position on transgender identity is rooted in its understanding of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God. The Church recognizes that all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, are called to a life of holiness and are deserving of dignity and respect. At the same time, the Church also recognizes the importance of the biological and psychological aspects of gender, which are seen as integral to the human person.
In 2019, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education released a document titled “Male and Female He Created Them,” which reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teachings on gender and sexuality. The document states that “gender theory” is “an attempt to remove the difference between the sexes, and proposes a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.” The document goes on to state that the Church recognizes the suffering experienced by those with gender dysphoria, but also emphasizes the importance of accepting one’s biological sex as part of one’s God-given identity.
The document received significant criticism from many LGBTQ+ advocates, who argued that it was a step backwards for the Church’s relationship with the transgender community. Some critics argued that the document showed a lack of understanding of the complexity of gender identity and the experiences of transgender individuals. Others saw it as a missed opportunity for the Church to show greater compassion and understanding towards those who are marginalized and often excluded from religious communities.
Despite the controversy surrounding “Male and Female He Created Them,” the Catholic Church has taken steps in recent years to engage with the transgender community and offer support and pastoral care to those who are struggling with issues of gender identity. In 2019, the Jesuit-run Georgetown University hosted a conference titled “Transcending Boundaries, Transforming Lives,” which brought together theologians, pastoral ministers, and healthcare providers to discuss ways to better support transgender individuals within the Catholic Church.
The conference was an important step towards greater engagement between the Catholic Church and the transgender community, and it highlighted the importance of offering pastoral care that is both compassionate and grounded in Church teaching. Participants in the conference emphasized the importance of listening to the experiences of transgender individuals and working to create a more inclusive and welcoming Church community.
In addition to conferences and other initiatives, there are also individual priests and pastoral ministers who are working to provide support and pastoral care to transgender individuals within their communities. These individuals recognize the challenges faced by transgender individuals, and they are committed to offering support and guidance rooted in Church teaching and a deep sense of compassion and understanding.
However, the Church’s position on transgender identity remains a source of controversy and tension, both within the Church and in broader society. Many critics argue that the Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality are outdated and out of touch with modern understandings of gender identity and expression. They also argue that the Church’s emphasis on binary gender roles and traditional family structures can be harmful and exclusionary to those who do not fit into these narrow categories.
On the other hand, supporters of the Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality argue that these teachings are grounded in the natural law and reflect the inherent dignity and value of every human person. They also argue that the Church’s teachings provide a framework for healthy relationships and families, and that they offer a path towards greater happiness and fulfillment.
The complexity of the Catholic Church’s relationship with the transgender community highlights the ongoing tension between tradition and innovation within the Church. While the Church is committed to upholding its traditional teachings on gender and sexuality, it is also recognizing the importance of engaging with and supporting those who do not fit neatly into these categories. This tension can be difficult to navigate, and it is likely to continue to be a source of controversy and debate in the years to come.
Ultimately, the Catholic Church’s position on transgender identity reflects its broader understanding of the human person and the importance of respecting human dignity and promoting the common good. While the Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality may be challenging for some, they are also grounded in a deep sense of compassion and a desire to offer support and guidance to all who seek it. As the Church continues to engage with the transgender community and offer pastoral care to those who are struggling with issues of gender identity, it will be important to maintain a sense of openness, compassion, and understanding, while also remaining faithful to its traditional teachings and values.
Depression is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is a complex condition that can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, relationships, and overall well-being. Depression is not limited to any particular religious or cultural group, including those who identify as Catholic.
Within Catholicism, there is a growing recognition and understanding of depression as a legitimate mental health issue. The Catholic Church acknowledges that depression is a real and complex condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their faith or religious beliefs. The Church recognizes the importance of treating depression and supporting those who are struggling with it.
One of the challenges that individuals with depression face is the feeling of isolation and shame that can accompany the condition. However, within Catholicism, there is a rich tradition of supporting those who are struggling with mental health issues. The Catholic Church recognizes that depression is not a personal failing or a lack of faith, but rather a medical condition that requires proper care and attention.
The Catholic Church encourages those who are struggling with depression to seek professional help, including medical treatment and counseling. The Church recognizes that these resources can be valuable tools in the treatment of depression and can help individuals to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
In addition to seeking professional help, individuals with depression can also turn to their faith as a source of comfort and support. Within Catholicism, there are many spiritual practices and traditions that can be helpful for those who are struggling with depression. Prayer, meditation, and participating in the sacraments can all be powerful tools for coping with depression and finding strength and hope in difficult times.
One of the most important things that the Catholic Church emphasizes in the context of depression is the importance of community and support. The Church recognizes that individuals with depression often feel isolated and alone, and that having a supportive community can be a powerful source of healing and strength. This is why many Catholic parishes and communities have support groups or other resources available for those who are struggling with mental health issues.
In conclusion, depression is a real and complex condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their faith or religious beliefs. Within Catholicism, there is a growing recognition and understanding of depression as a legitimate mental health issue. The Catholic Church recognizes the importance of treating depression and supporting those who are struggling with it. By seeking professional help, turning to spiritual practices, and finding support within a community, individuals with depression can find the resources they need to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
As of 2023, the relationship between the German Bishops and the Holy See remains complex and strained. The German Catholic Church, which is one of the richest and most powerful Catholic churches in the world, has been at the forefront of some controversial issues in recent years.
One of the major issues that have strained the relationship between the German Bishops and the Holy See is the issue of the ordination of women. The German Bishops have been advocating for the ordination of women to the priesthood, which goes against the official teachings of the Catholic Church. The Holy See, on the other hand, has been against this move and has threatened to excommunicate any Bishop who ordains a woman.
Another contentious issue has been the Church’s stance on homosexuality. The German Bishops have been more open to accepting and welcoming homosexuals [*use of homosexuals is personal preferred word for those who experience same-sex attraction and are sexually active] into the Church, while the Holy See has maintained a more traditional stance on the issue.
In 2021, the German Bishops launched a two-year “synodal process” to address some of the Church’s most pressing issues, including the issue of clerical celibacy, the role of women in the Church, and the Church’s teachings on sexuality. This move was met with resistance from the Holy See, who argued that the synodal process was an attempt to create a parallel Church and undermine the authority of the Vatican.
The tensions between the German Bishops and the Holy See reached a boiling point in 2022 when the German Bishops defied the Vatican’s instructions and proceeded to bless same-sex unions. The Vatican, in response, issued a statement declaring that the Catholic Church could not bless same-sex unions as they were “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
This move by the German Bishops sparked outrage from conservatives within the Church and further strained relations between the German Bishops and the Holy See. Some conservatives even accused the German Bishops of heresy and called for their excommunication.
As of 2023, the relationship between the German Bishops and the Holy See remains tense, with the two sides continuing to hold different positions on some of the most critical issues facing the Church. It remains to be seen how this tension will be resolved and what impact it will have on the Catholic Church as a whole.
In response to the tensions, Pope Francis has called for dialogue and mutual respect between the German Bishops and the Vatican. He has expressed his desire to find a way forward that is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church but also takes into account the realities of the modern world.
Some observers believe that the tension between the German Bishops and the Holy See reflects a larger struggle within the Catholic Church between traditionalists and progressives. The issue of clerical celibacy, for example, has been a point of contention for many years, with some arguing that the Church’s strict celibacy requirement is outdated and impractical.
The synodal process launched by the German Bishops is seen by some as an attempt to push the Catholic Church in a more progressive direction, while others view it as a threat to the Church’s traditional teachings and authority.
Despite the tensions, there have been some signs of progress. In 2022, the Holy See announced that it would allow the ordination of married men in certain circumstances, a move that was seen as a concession to the German Bishops and other advocates for change within the Church.
Additionally, the Vatican has been more open to engaging with the German Bishops on the issue of clerical abuse, with Pope Francis calling for a “zero-tolerance” approach to abuse and urging Church leaders to do more to address the issue.
Overall, the relationship between the German Bishops and the Holy See remains complex and multifaceted, with both sides grappling with some of the most significant issues facing the Catholic Church today. While there are certainly differences of opinion and approach, there are also signs of willingness to engage in dialogue and find a way forward that is in the best interest of the Church and its followers.
With the recent official release of the US Supreme Court decision on the Dobbs v. Mississippi case https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf, there has been great divisiveness in the country. There are those that are celebrating in JOY over this decision as it reversed and overturned the 1973 Landmark decision Roe v. Wade and also the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. There are also those that believe this decision is taking women back into the past, and eliminating their choice to make decisions as to what is best for them.
There is also an argument that ABORTION should be something on “demand” and that it is “essential” to a woman’s health. How absurd this notion is. Can any medical procedure be sought “on demand”? Can I walk into a hospital and tell them to provide me with an MRI at that immediate moment? But how is it also even able to be equated to something “essential”? If I don’t have an abortion I will die… Is that the argument?
In fact, the decision clearly establishes an injustice that was handed down 49 years ago. Abortion, no matter your stance, is not a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, [https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript]. Thus, The SCOTUS should have never heard, or issued, ROE v WADE. This latest decision reversed the position of the last 49 years and qualifies it with: Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohib- iting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.
How can this decision be against any segment of the population? It literally GIVES THE PEOPLE the right to make a choice. It is, however, a TREMENDOUS win for the ProLife [https://www.usccb.org/prolife] position which stands in favor of recognizing that ALL LIFE is important, valued, and comes as a Gift from God.
Watching the news, listening to leaders call for uprisings, hearing chants that the Supreme Court is “illegitimate” are all disturbing. Nothing the court said, or did, is illegitimate. In fact, it removed the court from being the sole source of protection for a medical “right”– should you even consider it as such. The court [at any level] was never meant to be the legislative authority. Courts are designed to settle disputes, to give an account of the interpretation of legislation and to make decisions. If one is upset at a ruling, then they should simply take it up in a legislative manner–WHICH IS WHAT THE COURT HAS DECIDED. There is no reason to become ill, spread hate and anger, or to belittle one side or the other. That accomplishes nothing.
Let me be clear. I am OVERJOYED that the life of an unborn baby is being fought for. I am happy to see that the SCOTUS agrees that Abortion is NOT a Constitutional Right, and thus should not have federal protection. I am happy that this fight is headed in the right direction. I am sad however that people find this negative. What has our world come to? Why are people so intent on allowing babies to be murdered to further ones agenda? Why is getting pregnant seen to be a favorite “pass-time”? Why have our morals as a society been degraded to one-night stands, and hook-ups, and booty-calls? Why can we not simply enjoy the company of one another, to make memories, live a life full of love, charity, and compassion?
For this, and many other things, I think we should all PRAY. Pray for HOPE, Pray for PEACE, pray for UNITY, and PRAY FOR THE UNBORN.
The focus of the study is based on offering evidence on how theology helps to equip one to achieve the call of holiness and apostolate. To hold relevance in the study, the analysis will cover on the introduction; God’s calling to holiness and apostolate, and the theological perspective of achieving a holy life. Additionally, the research will include on how theology equips one to make a spiritual life and the challenges of living a religious life. The research will further offer recommendations on the strategies towards the achievement of a spiritual life. Finally, the study will provide a comprehensive conclusion on the study.
The focus of the study is based on offering evidence on how theology helps to equip one to achieve the call of holiness and apostolate. To hold relevance in the study, the analysis will cover on the introduction; God’s calling to holiness and apostolate, and the theological perspective of achieving a holy life. Additionally, the research will include on how theology equips one to make a spiritual life and the challenges of living a religious life. The research will further offer recommendations on the strategies towards the achievement of a spiritual life. Finally, the study will provide a comprehensive conclusion on the study.
The study of theology is resourceful in nurturing the way of life of Christians in various instances. It is important to identify that discipleship can never be reduced to learning and teaching. However, Christian education through theology plays a critical role in shaping and driving the acts and the attitudes of Christians (John Paul II, 2017). Theology is more involved as it goes beyond the content of Christian education rather it involves the process of instructions and the discernment. The individuals are therefore taught in personal identity and help to interpret the realities of life (Pope Paul IV, 1965). The foundation of theological studies is structured to model the lives of Christians towards the achievement of holy life. In this analysis, the central focus of the study is on how theology equips one to achieve the call for Holiness and apostolate.
God’s Call to Holiness and the Apostolate Life
Before the analysis of the significance of theology in the promotion of faith, it would be important to identify the universal call to holiness in the church. It is evident that Christ, God and the spirit is uniquely holy. Through showing love to the Church, Jesus gave up his life so that every Christian would get a chance to be sanctified from sins and achieve a spiritual life. It is within the demands of Christianity that every follower should manifest the virtues of holiness. The manifestation on individuals differs within the disciples and Christians as there are diverse ways towards achieving a divine life free from sin.
Jesus Christ is the spiritual teacher on holiness which He made through preaching to his disciples. He further invoked the Holy Spirit to aid the disciples and the followers to act as a helper in the achievement of a holy life. The followers of Christ are called by God in accordance to His purpose and grace. The calling makes them sons of God and them, therefore, share in the divine nature of God.
It is within the expectation that Christians should achieve a holy life regardless of the social status or rank in the society. Christians are called to the fullness of life and for the perfection of charity life (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964). The duties and the responsibilities of a Christian are many, but it is within the expectation that achieving Holiness is among the requirements. Depending on the stage of growth and development the expectations on living a proper life of Holiness continue to change. The married couples should follow the correct path and the parents are expected to achieve faithful love. It is within the expectation that they should sustain each other in grace in the entire life of the individuals.
Theological Perspective on the Holy Life
The study on theology helps people to understand what God means when he demands a life of holiness (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2017). According to the old covenants, it reflects on the significance of adherence to dozens of laws that help to achieve a clean life that defines a better relationship with God. For example, some of the laws required that Christians should not eat some of the animal organs. The old covenant regulations are defined in Leviticus. The book developed many laws that governed the nature of one being holy and not being holy.
The old testaments teachings and regulation were brought to fulfillment through Jesus Christ (Matthew5:17). The teachings of Jesus Christ were focused on showing the moral and ethical behavior that defined the acts of being clean and unclean. The old approach to the laws and regulation of the book of Leviticus were overridden on the cross upon the death of Christ.
For example, after the cross the policies and the legislation that separated the Gentiles and the Jews they were no longer enforced.
In the new covenant, the reflection on living a righteous life is significantly affected by the purity and the conditions of the heart (John Paul II, 2017). According to Christ, he identified that the terms of the heart significantly determines the moral behaviors adopted by an individual. The beginning of living a holy life begins with accepting Jesus as the Lord and savior and further accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (International Theological Commission, 2017). Therefore, achieving a holy life does not require for individuals to follow the physical rituals. Christians can acquire a spiritual life due to the sacrifice that Christ did on the cross. The fact that one accepts Jesus as the Lord and savior, it implies that the followers will continue to pursuit of a life that pleases Him through righteousness. Therefore, the new covenant is all about achieving a life of spiritual cleanness.
The theme on holiness runs through the scriptures in the Bible and theological studies. God is perceived as holy, and people should emulate the life of Jesus Christ as he is also holy and go wants Christians to be holy. Many Christians are caught up in a dilemma on what it means to be holy and the separation from the ordinary life. In the theological studies, the meaning of holiness is considered as the separation from the ordinary. It is evident that God is holy and the fact that He requires us to emulate Him it is difficult as Christians can never achieve the life of holiness as God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964). Therefore, the demand for the human beings is to behave righteously by doing what is right. The dynamic of holy life is attributed by doing what is right, and therefore, Christians can achieve to be holy without living a righteous. The New Testament foes not do away with bodily practices; it perfects them. The center of the New Testament Christian life is in the Sacraments, which are physical signs that confer spiritual grace.
How Theology Equips One to Fulfill the Call to Holiness and the Apostolate
Before the analysis of theology provides people to the appeal made by Holiness it is rational to identify the objective and the goals of the Catholic universities which acts as the primary facilitators of theology. The core purpose of the institutions is to instill an institutional manner in which there is a Christian presence in the educational facilities. Therefore, the Catholic Universities are identified with the following characteristics that facilitate the growth in holiness. Firstly, the facilities act as a source of Christian inspiration for the individuals and the university community. Secondly, the services operate as a continuous reflection of the Christian faith on the living treasure of human knowledge. Additionally, the institutions encourage fidelity as Christians message as gets to them through the church. Therefore, besides the characteristics, it is evident that teachings, research, and services are commonly oriented at achieving the call to Holiness and developing the apostolate personality.
It is important to identify that theology holds the importance of the church in every stage of Christian growth and helps people to respond to the plan of God. The relevance of theology in aiding to achieve the set objectives and the call to holiness is witnessed through the values it equips Christians. It is evident that Donum Veritatis acts as a guide towards leaving a morally upright life (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964). Christian morality is among the strategies that aid in achieving a holy life. Theology, therefore, helps to define the right and the not correct actions. A life of holiness implies living a life that one does what is good without necessarily being righteous. The Gospel acts as the word of life, and therefore, it serves as the guide for human behavior and inspires the adoption of a Christian life.
Among the most important values that theology equips Christians including achieving the life of truthfulness. There are key identifiers that make Christians identified as appreciating the call of happiness (John Paul II, 2017). The key attributes that help achieve the life of holiness include the life of truth. According to the Donum Veritatis, it identifies that a life of Christian faith that integrates knowledge, faith, and existence which are intrinsically connected. The truth helps to set Christians free, and it is considered as a gift of Jesus Christ. The teachings on theology identify that “Man’s nature calls him to seek the truth while ignorance keeps him in a condition of servitude.” The emphasis on the need for the truth, therefore, aids in achieving a life of holiness and the segregation from ills. Through attaining the life of truthfulness, Christians partially fulfill the call to holiness.
Theology contributes to the communication of faith, and therefore it helps to create an appealing understanding to the people who do not know Christ yet. Therefore, it helps create a pull to the non-Christians to help them seek and find faith in Jesus. The call of salvation marks the beginning of living a life of faith and holiness. Therefore, the incentive to the non-Christians is a resourceful tool in achieving a life of faith. The origin of theology was inscribed on the interior life of Christians and developing the missionary vocation and the discipleship life.
The core task of theology is to create the understanding and the meaning of the revelation, and therefore, the phenomena require the application of the philosophical concepts. Theology, therefore, draws the theories from the surrounding, the culture and other variables that influence the human nature. The integration of the world diversity helps to develop the challenges that may affect the secure adoption of the Christian religion. In response to the challenges, it aids to nurture the Christian life in achieving a life of holiness.
The Catholic Universities and theological schools are objected with the responsibility to reserve to the cause of truth. Therefore, it helps to dignify man and the right of the church. The school activities, therefore, serve a critical role in the promotion of Christian religion and morally upright life. Most significantly, the facilities serve a significant role in equipping the students with resourceful knowledge on how to achieve a holy life. In the current society, it is common that the youths and the adolescents are caught up in the dilemma of morality, and peer pressure serves a critical role in influencing the behavior. The Catholic universities and the organizations that facilitate theological studies are focused on raising a better society that appreciates morals and value for human life. The current generation significantly requires the type of the disintegrated services that nurtures behavior, values, and morals.
Challenges of Fulfilling of the Call to Holiness and the Apostolate
Although theology and other Christian services serve a significant role in modeling people in achieving a life of faith, there are adamant challenges that inhibit the growth of Christian life as apostles of Christ. The core problems are the increase of sciences and technology in the society (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964). The technological and scientific discoveries contradict the developments as they identify enormous growth in the economy and industrial genres, and thus leave the spiritual realm unaccounted for.
It is important to recognize that some of the increase in sciences compromise the spiritual beliefs and it is the reason the rise of some atheists continue to grow. For example, scientific research significantly criticizes the theory of creation and offer scientific explanations that nullify the religious beliefs of Christians (Pope Paul IV, 1965). Theology serves a critical role in emphasizing on the significance of human value. The responsibility of the church in the achievement of a holy life is therefore intense.
Other challenges that face the Christian religious life include the miss-conceptualization of the teachings of the gospel. It is common that the meaning of some important values has been disputed by the new ideas (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2017). Furthermore, the development of new religions, some of them borrows some of the ideas from the theological teachings. Therefore, it has led to confusion on the correct and appropriate religion that people should follow. The general confusion has, therefore, resulted in the misinterpretation of the biblical teachings. There is need to address the challenges to promote knowledge of the Christian gospel teachings.
Recommendations on Achieving a Holy Life
Although technology and science challenge the call to happiness, the technology can be inversely used to promote the call to Holiness. Technology in this context can, therefore, be used as a tool for communication and the promotion of the gospel. For example, using the social media forum, the evangelists can use the panels to educate and train Christians on ways on achieving a righteous life of truth (International Theological Commission, 2017). Other tools of technology include the internet which serves a critical role in offering a knowledge base on the gospel teachings and the models that guide Christian morality. Videos, texts, images, articles, and documentaries can be developed and posted in the online websites to facilitate the knowledge of Christian teachings. Other strategies that can aid addressing the pointed challenges is the intense promotion of the teachings of the gospel (John Paul II, 2017). The theological teachings should not be bounded in the University institutions rather it should be spread in the global context to eliminate the confusion and the wrong conceptualization of the biblical teachings. The full range includes the use of the religious campaigns, the mass media, conventions and other tools like the social media. The strategy will help promote knowledge of the requirements and the need for developing and fulfilling the call to holiness. However, it is important to recognize that theology has served a critical role in the promotion of achieving the call to Holiness.
The current world is intensely intricate in the devaluation of Christian values and achieving the call of holiness has been significantly challenged. However, theology has considerably served a critical role in the promotion of Christian religion gospel, teachings, and further faith. Through the teachings and the development of knowledge, it has enabled Christians to fulfill the call to holiness and apostolate (Pope Paul IV, 1965). The theological perception of religion has attached critical significance on the segregation from the ordinary life of sins. It emphasizes the call to Holiness as a requirement for all Christians who are expected to emulate Christ because He is holy.
The core challenges to fulfilling the call to holiness are aggravated by technological and the scientific researchers. The study contradicts the teachings, and the findings further question religion. Other problems include the current generation that is anchored on deception and wrong articulation of morals. However, the problems can be addressed using technologies to facilitate the promotion of knowledge and gospel on Christian teachings of faith and holiness (Pope Paul IV, 1965). Despite the challenges, it is evident that theology has served a critical role in the promotion of Christians towards the fulfillment of the call to Holiness and the apostolate.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (2017). Instruction Donum Veritatis on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. (1964). Lumen Gentium: Solemnly Promulgated by his Holiness Pope Paul IV.
International Theological Commission. (2017). Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria .
John Paul II. (2017). Apostolic Coonstitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II on Catholic Universitiees.
Pope Paul IV. (1965). Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolican Actuositatem Solemnly Promulgated by his Holiness, Pope Paul IV.
The foundation of Christianity, under the Catholic doctrine, heavily derives from the selfless love that Mary, the mother of Jesus, exhibited by acceding to the spiritual call to bear the baby- Jesus. “Be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). These words of ultimate trust marked the beginning of the New Testament between humankind and God, as Mary accepted her participation in the redemptive task. The Catholic clergy, led by the Pope, together with the pastoral committees, in the year 2001 convened an extraordinary consistory to declare that Mary was the mother of all Peoples. The first ever living human being to receive the message about the redemption was Mary, a virgin from Nazareth. In the year 2012, then Pope Benedict XVI underscored the study of Mary (Mariology) as one seminal aspect in the Study of Truth (via veritus). It is through this study of truth that we get the revelation about the path of beauty (via pulchritudinis) and the path of love (via amoris). Hence, in studying the Christ himself, we must be in a position to understand the unique role of the person who brought the message to the universe. The glorification of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix is a way of personalizing the church so that the church assumes the characteristics of human beings, but not merely the buildings. The dogmatic constitution of the Vatican (Lumen Gentium) is, however, categorical in explicating that the Co-Redemptrix role of Mary must not overshadow the presence of Christ himself. Hence, the church moderates between the minimalists and the maximalists extremes in this matter.
This is a qualitative research paper, which entails a review of some thoughtful literature as written by different scholars and churches. The dogmatic Vatican constitution provides adequate knowledge about Mariology and the future of studying Mary as the Co-Redemptrix. The papal office, together with the Catholic community, expresses its opinions in different conferences as regarding the idea of declaring Mary as a co-redeemer of the universe. Mariology, according to the Roman Catholic dogma is a systematic study that immortalizes Mary as the bearer of the new message of salvation (Flanagan, 1998). The Catholic Church’s theology respects the place of Mary in the beginning of salvation, and thus she is treated with dignity, taking into consideration the fact that she was the mother of redemption. In this discourse, the literature will revisit the Papal Apostolic Letters and other teachings that relate to Mariology in Catholic literature and teachings.
The literature review shall include different ecclesiastical readings together with scholarly articles defining the Catholic concept of Mary. The evangelical guidelines by the Catholic cardinals and other pious souls, direct the attention of the world towards the conception of Mary as a co-redeemer, as seen in the recent conferences where the clergy asserted that the Pope declares her a Co-Redemptrix officially. The interpretive message in this discourse shall happen entirely in the context of Catholic faith (Novo Millennio Ineunte) and the guidelines provided by the clergy. The assertion here is that Mary was the first ever to meet the Christ or rather hear the Good News of Christ. Hence, Mary situated the foundation of the redemption. This unique role is not derogative to any other question in the Catholic piety and is seen in the current curriculum on Mariology. The Catholics today invoke the blessings of Mary in their prayers as a way of appreciating the fact that she was as significant, but not equal to Jesus himself.
This is a pure religious study with all the concepts derived from the doctrines of the Roman Catholic guidelines. The Catholic Church foundation sets the principles from which the theological studies must take place, and as such, the study is constrained to them. The Biblical allusion shall form a greater part of this research, with special interest in Gospel Books according to St. Luke. Other Epistle readings confirming the free will of Mary into the call to salvation shall also accompany the Gospel allusions. The Catholic deity, at the pinnacle of the top most authority, stresses on the ecumenical imperative that resonates around the recognition of Mary as a Co-redeemer of the world. Through her experience in the pilgrimage of faith, Mary demonstrated a special preservation and commitment to unity with Christ, even during the time of His death. The Way of the Cross is a Catholic ideology, defining the path that Jesus followed until His Crucifixion. In this journey, Mary was always by His side, agreeing to the immolation of the innocent victim that was her very son.
The magisterial Marian foundation as a Co-Redemptrix is hence the most important in the study of Mary according to the Catholic Church. However, in the recent context, there has been contention from different groups questioning how Biblical is that act of glorifying Mary to the level of a co-redeemer. This is one instance of criticism that can serve to elaborate further on the matter at hand. Different social science perspectives like feminism and patriarchy shall be part of the discussion, especially when it comes to the critic of Mariology by some psychologists and sociologists, be acknowledged.
Foundation of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix
The realization of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix in the Catholic Church began following the many instances of papal teachings about the same. Pope John Paul II, more than any other Pontiff in the Catholic Church, is regarded as the main proponent that brought awareness to the Church, about the idea of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix (Calkins, 1996). This doctrine intertwines with the mystery of the Rosary, reawakening the suffering of Mary alongside Jesus.’ The sufferings of Mary from the birth of Christ to His Crucifixion are enough testimonies that Mary did not only agree to bear Jesus, but to walk with him until His last days on the earth, sharing in each portion of His suffering. It is hence, through the suffering of Mary that salvation comes to the full completion according to the Gospel according to Luke. “Woman, behold your son…son, behold your mother” (Jn.19:26-27). The scripture according to Saint John elaborates that Mary and Jesus were both redeemers.
Other than the Biblical foundation, the development of Mariology stands on four firm facets of Catholic dogma, that is, Mother of God, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and other assumptions (Flanagan, 1998). Since its inception that took place as early as 16th Century, the idea has been shaped in several occasions following papal statements, the writings of the saints and other theological analyses based on the Catholic dogma. Pope Benedict XVI, in many of His summons, had indicated that we cannot understand Jesus devoid of the unique role played by Mary. In following the path of truth, (via veritus), we must personalize the church by immortalizing Mary as a Co-Redemptrix. “Upon this rock, I will lay my foundation” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus declares that Peter shall carry the Christian faith to the next generation. The Catholic faith also understands the role of Mary in the foundation of the church, placing her side-by-side with Peter. The objective holiness of the church derives from the dual role played by Mary and St. Peter in founding the same church. We understand the two as exhibiting spiritual soundness and charisma that as carried the church up to the place it is today. Love was the major virtue of the duet, and this love serves to create spiritual soundness in the church today. Hence, in the Catholic teachings, the dual role of St. Peter and Mary are not secondary doctrines but are part and parcels of the Gospel dissemination criteria.
Defining Mary as Co-Redemptrix
Many theologians and deities have raised objections towards the inclusion of such terms in the Vatican Constitution, Lumen Gentium (LG). As such, Chapter VIII of the LG avoided the mentioning of such terms pending the settling of the differences. At this time, many issues remained controversial in the Catholic faith, including the naming of Mary as “Mother of God.” However, the clear definition of Immaculate Conception, which was the predeterminant of Co-Redemptrix, came to be promulgated in the year 1854 under the leadership of Pius IX. This move set the pace for the inclusion of Co-Redemptrix, allowing the theologians and the Council to have a basis for argument.
Mariology as a foundation of the Co-Redemptrix
The teleological steps in defining Mary as a Co-Redemptrix traces from the early movements by the Christians around the First Century, to deliberately reflect upon Mary in their arts, teachings, and writings. Christians around this period had identified the unique role of Mary as a bridge between the past and the new world; the path that would be chat by the salvation. In this regard, the Christians crafted a particular piece of prayer to Mary entitled ‘sub tuum praesidium.’ In other regions like Egypt, many Christians were already venerating Mary as early as the Third Century. This is also the same period that the venerable Catholic term ‘Theotokos’ came into inception (Miravalle 2013). The term describes the concept that Mary bore ‘God’ and hence was worth the adoration. The mushrooming Christian Churches across the world assumed a personal outlook that identified them with the coronation of Mary. A pilgrimage to Rome reveals Santa Maria Maggiore as one church whose antiquity exemplifies the ideal place of Mary in the Catholic faith. Constructed as early as Fifth Century, the church still stands defiantly, and its magnanimous shape forms the template for the Christians Catholic churches established across the universe today.
As time grew, Mariology spread like a wildfire across the universe, while many more prayers to Mary were coming into place. “Ave Maria”, “Ave Maris Stella” and “Salve Regina” are some of the songs that extolled Mary (Miravalle 2013). At the same time, the immortalization of Mary was witnessed in many aspects of art and masterpieces in the Christian faith. Leonardo Da Vinci, Boticelli and Raphael were among the first people to present the concept of Mary in painting. These were just, but the first steps in explaining Mary’s role in the salvation journey.
In the modern art movement, the veneration of Mary was relived through the deliberate act of the Catholic pope, Pope John Paul II in his writing “Redemptoris Mater.” In this writing, the pope was forthcoming and intentional to mention that Mary enjoined in the misery and the suffering of Jesus, and hence, Mariology should note, with greater concern, that Mary herself was a redeemer. The papal office and the Vatican Council are some of the top most authorities that influence the conceptualization of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix. Through the long process of Catholic theology, the deacons, and the theologians’ highlight on the seminal role that Mary played, not only in the birth of Jesus, but also the step of faith that Mary took in response to the redemption call. Early saints and Christians reflected in the nexus between the doctrine of Mariology and the study of Christianity, with many of them asserting that the two are inseparable. ‘Compendium Mariologiae’ is a study book established in the year 1964 by one of the founders of Mariology, Gabriel Roschini. In this religious book, Gabriel insists that the significance of Mary in the Christian church is not only limited to her role in bearing Jesus, but also encompasses the spiritual union that Mary got into with Jesus throughout His entire journey. Later, Pope Pius X came to echo this voice during the ‘Ad Diem’, stating that Mary is the only sure road to the unification of the Christian church today. Hence, another rejoinder, Raymond Cardinal Burke also mentioned that it is the duty of Christians today to affirm this faith through the coronation of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix.
Titling Mary as a Co-Redemptrix
About fifty fathers at the Second Vatican Council voted for entitling Mary as a Co-Redemptrix in a bid to strengthen the Catholic faith in Christ. This was the first step towards incorporating the idea in the Vatican constitution Legum Gentium (LG). According to (LG, n. 57), Mary walked with Christ from the time of His vigil conception up to His last moments on earth. As such, the only way to appreciate such a kind spirit of cooperation is through elevating her to the level of a Co-redeemer, in what came to be called Co-Redemption. The general feeling was that the title “Co-Redemptrix” in the Catholic doctrine was not derogative to any approval, just like it was the case with the title “Mediatrix” available in (LG, n. 62). The title was accepted unanimously, even though some members of the council raised questions citing the ambiguity in the title and that of Jesus. However, it became apparent that the title Co-Redemptrix posed no difficulty in relating the role of Mary and that of Christ. Formerly, there had been many contentions around other titles like “Salvatrix” and “Redemptrix,” with some people arguing that the Virgin herself cautioned against elating her to this level, since it would create confusion between her role and that of God or Christ himself.
In the 15th Century the term, Co-Redemptrix, first appeared in a hymn, signaling the fact the term ‘Redemptrix’ had evolved to ‘Co-Redemptrix.’ The conceptualization of this term as a mother of Redeemer then began to become apparent, showing progress in its full use among the Catholics. In the hymn, the term was specific in its relating of Mary as “she who shared in the suffering of Jesus”. Mary was then an invincible woman who had a special position in the church, as a woman who gave birth to a redeemer, hence the title ‘mother of salvation.’ More doctrinal issues began resonating around this idea of passionate suffering with Christ. This title should not be construed as a challenge to the supremacy of Christ by the Catholic dogma. It merely associates Mary with the redemptive work of Christ. The Catholic Church is not claiming any equality between Christ Jesus and Mary, His mother. Christ is the Redeemer, while Mary is an associate in the redemption task.
The collaboration of Mary as a mother offers her a unique position in the discourses regarding the redemptive task of Christ. Saint Paul affirms the participation of human beings in the salvation journey of Jesus Christ in a number of scriptures he writes after the death. In his letter to the Romans, Paul stressed that we were buried together with Jesus and hence will resurrect together with him. (Romans. 6:4). In this respect, the first human being to remember in the death and suffering of Jesus is none, other than the mother, Mary. Paul carries the same message to Ephesus where he writes “God made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). As much as the salvation task was the idea of the Father, there is an equal call to task among the human beings who receive the very salvation. Legend has it that many died in Ephesus.
The message of the apostle Paul was crystal clear. His message was specifically concerned with divine transcendence, and we shouldn’t view it as precipitating competition with God. If anything, we must perceive this activity as directly emanating from the spiritual guidance. Paul was one of the Apostles who regarded Jesus as the ‘Lord’, acknowledging that Jesus was the supreme master of the church. Sincere cooperation between human beings and Jesus is not evil in any way, and as such, the Pauline expression of ‘Co-Redemptrix’ is a mere extension of the relationship. The privileges assigned to Mary by the Catholic Church are not a rift between the church members and Christ, as some critics may put it. They are privileges that come as a package with the redemption work of Jesus Christ and follow the path defined by the Holy Spirit. Much more, what we should be most concerned with is the challenge that Mary’s Co-Redemptrix role poses to us as the ardent followers of Christ. In this endeavor, we must bear in mind that the Catholic faith does not superimpose Mary as Jesus’ equal. As much as the Christians may be described as redeemers, it is still justified to consider Mary a co-redeemer. Mary is one normal human being that stands as the umbrella to all the faithful who consider themselves as redeemers. This is because just like the redemption, the Co-Redemption also has its unique position in the lives of Christians and the apostles today. The tenant of this reasoning is that each Christian has a duty to ensure the continuity of the work that was started by Jesus.
Scriptural Foundations of the aspect of Marian Mediation
The truth of our faith originates from the Divine Revelation, which is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium of the Church, which is mandated with the role of guarding faith and confirming the faithful based on the word of God, recommends the two references. A complete understanding of Mary and her role in salvation is only possible after a full understanding of the scripture and how it portrays her. We can only achieve this by carefully studying the two main covenants between God and His people; the New and the Old Testaments. Mary is considered the bridge between these two covenants (Rossier, 2001). They offer basic knowledge about the divine plan of salvation and the role of Mary in this salvation history. This organic synthesis of theology of Marian Mediation, will only analyze the elements of available in the Bible to understand Mary as the Co-Redemptrix of humanity.
According to the scriptures, the Marian mediation is not only evident from her unique participation in the birth and education of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Even after incarnation, Mary continued with her role of mediation in the Gospels, which is considered her intercession of mankind. John’s gospel usually minimizes the significance of Mary but her presence comes at the crucial moments of the gospel. These moments represent the beginning and the end of the ministry of Christ. There were other intercessors in the salvation history before Mary in the Old Covenant. Intercession prayer is considered one of the most efficacious forms of mediation that a person can make with God. However, the theme of intercession has not been addressed by many Biblical scholars.
We can describe Marian mediation in three different aspects that are intertwined. These aspects are the ‘Mediatrix of redemption or the Co-Redemptrix of mankind,’ ‘Mediatrix of all graces (Dispensatrix of every grace),’ and the ‘Mediatrix of defense and comfort (Advocate, or protectress of the children of God).’ (Lumen Gentium, 62). Understanding these aspects enables us to grasp the concept of the mystery of Marian mediation. Jesus accomplished the salvation of mankind through His death on the Cross. But the initial plan of God, was to ensure that the mission is accomplished by collaboration of a woman, still honoring her free will. Galatians 4:4 expresses this concept, ‘When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.’
Co-Redemptrix aspect in the scripture
The Scripture shows that God’s plan for salvation of mankind would involve two parties, one human, and one divine. This is described first in Genesis where God says ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head…’ (Gen. 3:15). The ‘woman’ and the ‘seed’ refer to the two persons who must collaborate to bring salvation to the world. This scripture foreshadows the prophecy of Mary and Jesus, her divine son, in the victory over evil, the serpent. It also shows the will of God to the two parties will have similar ‘enmity’ of ultimate opposition between them and the serpent. This is a foreshadowing of the divine work of redemption by Jesus in collaboration with his Mother Mary. The church calls this collaboration between Mary and Jesus, the ‘Marian Co-Redemption’ which suggests that Mary is the ‘Co-Redemptrix with Redeemer.’ Her role here is purely secondary and subordinate to Jesus Christ, which means that they don’t share equality or glory. God intended to let human beings contribute in His works. The sharing doesn’t reduce the glory of God because He is infinite, but it allows the glory of God to shine even further (Rossier, 2001).
The New Testament, again describes the divine redemption during the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). The Scripture also describes the cooperation of the two parties. The Virgin Mary is called and asked to accept to carry the Savior of the world in her womb. The story also reveals God’s respect of Mary’s free will; he doesn’t force her to take the responsibility. She wasn’t ordered, but after the angel delivered the message to her, she received an active role and God waited for her to give her consent. Through her free will to collaborate in the divine plan to redeem the human race, she became the Co-Redemptrix. However, her role in redemption is unique and comprehensive, as Simeon prophesies to her that ‘a sword will pierce through your own soul also’ (Luke 2:25). This prophecy prepares her of the impending pain and suffering she would undergo in the mission of salvation.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary shared in the pain that Jesus experienced. She lies at the bottom of the cross, consoles her child, and goes through the same agony of death of Christ. This reveals that Mary too participated in the mission of her son to save the world, making her the Co-Redemptrix. This shows that the initial plan of God was not only to redeem the world through the crucifixion of the Messiah, but for mankind to share in the entire mission of Jesus Christ. Even so, the sharing doesn’t make Jesus less of a Redeemer .Mary is the Co-Redemptrix because she shared with Christ, the mission of redemption, whose climax was the Calvary. Her suffering with the Savior during His crucifixion makes her the ‘mother of all peoples.’
Mediatrix aspect in the Sacred Scripture
Apart from being a collaborator in redemption, Mary is also considered a ‘Mediatrix of all graces.’ The word Mediatrix can either refer to the objective redemption, which is the overall title to grace for all, or the subjective redemption, which is the sharing of this grace with individual subjects, or both. In the scripture 1 Timothy 2:5, Jesus is ‘the sole mediator between God and His people,’ but all believers are called to take part in the mediation of Jesus. When we pray for one another, we fulfill this calling as well as through our evangelism and charity work. God asked Mary to take part in the mediation mission of Christ, in a unique way.
Therefore, the title ‘Mediatrix of all graces’ is justified because Mary gave birth to the Messiah. By carrying out this role, she mediated Jesus (the author of all graces) to the world and became the ‘God-bearer.’ The Annunciation, revealed at the annunciation, which signifies the mediation of Mary, reveals her mediation role when she is put in the ‘middle’ (between God and man). She freely accepts to take this unique responsibility. When Mary visits Elizabeth in Luke 1:41, her physical appearance mediates grace to John the Baptist while he is still in His mother’s womb. Mary presents to John the sanctity of the unborn Messiah, leading to the sanctification of John the Baptist. This story shows that the ‘Mediatrix of all graces’ title suits Mary.
At the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11), even though Jesus knew that the new couple didn’t have enough wine to serve the guests, she talked to Jesus to help them out. She placed herself between her son and the troubled couple. She interceded for them to Jesus, revealing her mediation as well as the role of this intercession when John says, ‘This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and his disciples believed in him’ (John 2:11).
Before Jesus died on the cross, he looked at His grieving mother and said, ‘Woman, behold, your son…Son, Behold, your mother!’ (John 19:26). In doing so, Jesus gave Mary the new role of the mother of the church and is called to exercise her divine duty of as a spiritual mother of all peoples. He task would be to nourish her children, the Christians, by mediating the graces of salvation of Christ to man. This means that she is the ‘Mediatrix of all graces.’
In the Scriptures, the term ‘advocate’ just means ‘called in to help.’ Jesus and the Holy Spirit are advocates with God in the divine plan of redemption. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit cleanses us. We call Mary an advocate because she intercedes for us to her Son. The Bible describes Mary’s role as an advocate for our needs. She became our advocate when she consented to give birth to the Messiah at the Annunciation. She also demonstrated her advocacy during the wedding at Cana by interceding for the guests at the event. Through her intercession, she obtained the needs of the people from Jesus (John 2:8-10).
Through prayer, Mary intercedes for us at Pentecost for the descending of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). This shows that her advocacy made everyone receive one of the divine advocates of the Holy Trinity. In the gospel of John 19:26, Mary is given to the mankind as a mother. She becomes the advocate for all believers even after her assumption into heaven. Vatican II quotes, “By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62.) Therefore, Mary is an advocate for the people, the ‘Mediatrix of defense and comfort.’
Magisterial Foundations of the respective aspect of Marian Mediation
For over two hundred years, the papal Magisterium provides clearer indications about Mary’s intimate collaboration in the redemptive mission of Christ. The pope’s address on 25th October 1995, he gave his important contribution to this essential part of the catholic teachings by saying, “the Virgin Mary … is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer” (LG, 53). Vatican II Council applied this reference to link Mary’s motherhood to Redemption. After Mary became the Mother of the Messiah and therefore the Mother of God, the church and theologians explained her cooperative nature in redemption. This was a gradual process that took a long period of time because the early ecumenical councils abandoned other dogmas and concentrated on unfolding the truth on Christ’s identity in all its richness. Throughout history, Mariology takes the direction of Christology. At the council of Ephesus, the divine motherhood of Mary was acknowledged to affirm the oneness of Christ’s identity. Furthermore, the church acquired a deeper understanding of Mary’s presence in the redemptive journey of the Savior.
Towards the end second century, St, Irenaeus identified Our Lady’s contribution in salvation. He acknowledged Mary’s consent during the Annunciation and recognized that Her obedience to and the belief in the divine message was contrary to Eve’s disobedience and disbelief. The responses from the two women influenced the destiny of humanity. Eve’s response brought death, while that of Mary brought salvation. The fathers of the Church didn’t develop this affirmation in a consistent manner until the 10th century. They affirmed that Mary maintained the unity between her and Jesus Christ, both in ‘attitude and wish.’ St. Bernard’s disciple elaborated further on the offering at Calvary. He identified ‘two altars: one in Mary’s heart, the other in Christ’s body. Christ sacrificed His flesh, Mary her soul.’ This meant that Mary sacrificed herself spiritually in communion with Jesus, and ensured redemption of mankind. He says, “What the mother asks, the Son approves and the Father grants” (De septem verbis Domini in cruce, 3: PL 189, 1694). After pondering over this mystery, the church began teaching about Mary’s collaboration in the redemption work.
From the 20th century, many authors have used the Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix roles of Mary as one, with ‘mediation’ as the general term for both. Some scholars argue that Mariologists use the role of ‘Mediatrix’ to refer to the second phase of Mary’s mediation, which is the cooperation of Mary in the distribution of grace. Co-Redemptrix role is reserved for the initial phase, where Mary consented to the Immaculate Conception. The two roles are considered the two major divisions of the broader category of ‘Marian mediation.
The dogmatic constitution of Vatican, Lumen Gentium chapter 8, gives an analysis of the five Marian doctrines. The chapter also legitimizes the use of the word Co-Redemptrix to describe Virgin Mary, but stopped using it to avoid conflict with the Protestant counterparts. In other words, the second Vatican council agreed to the cooperative role of Mary in redemption, but avoided the use of the term Co-Redemptrix. The council consents that Mary’s role as the ‘mother of God’ (Theotokos) that she chose to take from the Annunciation, has earned her the rightful title ‘mother in the order of grace’ or ‘spiritual mother’ in her mediation of grace to mankind. The council gives us further understanding about the role of Mary as Mediatrix. As discussed above, Mary’s Co-Redemption involves her role in collaboration with her son in His redemptive mission. Mary is Co-Redemptrix with Christ but not equal to the Redeemer. Her only responsibility is to contribute or rather participate in accomplishment of the mission. According to Gherardini, Co-Redemptive doctrine is ‘Mary’s proximate, immediate, objective, active and universal cooperation’ with Jesus.
The magisterial aspect of Marian Co-Redemption describes Mary as the ‘mother of the church’ and advocate. The goal of redemption is accomplished in her. The Catholic doctrine argues that by the merits of Jesus, Mary is incomparably holy. This gives her the unique capability to cooperate actively with Christ, the divine mediator between God and man. She becomes our Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate (Lumen Gentium, 56-58, 60-62). Her mediation is the divine plan by which humanity gets right with Christ, and enjoys God’s blessings that Jesus acquired for us in His redemptive mission that was completed at Calvary. Mary’s mediation is the final step when the love of the Trinity, through the Holy Spirit, enters God’s creation, a point that brings to pass the incarnation and redemption. Mary’s active role of intercession with Jesus is referred to as the ‘ascending mediation’ while her direct active role of mediation of graces is called the ‘descending mediation.’ Both roles constitute her Co-Redemption in the sacrifice at the cross, which constitutes the mystery of the Eucharist (descending mediation).
In the 20th century, Pope Saint John Paul II, proclaimed the Fifth Marian dogma that gave Mary the three roles ‘Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God.’ By 1998, the Vatican had received over four million petitions from 157 nations appealing for a papal presentation of the new dogma. Since then, there have been numerous debates between the Marian maximalists, who seek the elevation of Mary and the Marian minimalists, who disagree with such proposals. Between the definition of the Immaculate Conception dogma (1854) and the definition of the Assumption (1950), there were intense Marian studies and devotion. More attention was paid to the role of Mary in the salvation of man, especially on the topics of Co-Redemption and mediation. The council concluded that the cooperation of Mary showed her complete loyalty to God’s work of redemption. The grace of God made this possible and her active and free participation was out of her faith and obedience as the chapter says, ‘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.’ (Lumen Gentium 57). The consent of Mary is consummated at the cross. She was candid enough to watch her son suffer and persevere in faith, believing in the redemptive plan, associated herself with her child’s persecution and agreed to all of it (LG 61). These words prove the Catholic faith on the cooperation of Mary with Jesus’ work of redemption. Even though the council didn’t use the term Co-Redemptrix, it is still justified because it is still embraced as a theological term. Pope John Paul II has also used the term Co-Redemptrix for at least six times between 1982 and 1991 (Calkins, 1996).
Mary acts as the role model of the church, and she shows us the way. Through her maternal compassion, Mary shared in the suffering of the Savior of the world. We are also called to connect our sufferings with Christ so that our experiences will also become ‘redemptive’ and our lives will acquire a new meaning. Many saints and martyrs have also identified with the Crucifixion of our Lord through their personal suffering. This implies that the church and all partakers of the body are Co-Redeemers with Jesus, bearing a subordinate role and relying on the maternal mediation by ‘the mother of the church.’
The term Mediatrix refers to the feminist role of a ‘mediator.’ A mediator is a person who intervenes between two parties with the intention of restoring peace and friendship. Mary’s title Mediatrix originated from the East in the Fourth Century and later in the Ninth Century in the West. The Catholic Church and the magisterium adopted this term in the 17th century, commonly known as ‘the Mediatrix of all graces.’ Hence, Mary obtains graces on our behalf. Before Mary, people lived by the graces of her future merits, while people after her Assumption, obtain all graces through her mediation. This is because Mary became the ‘handmaid’ (Leo VIII, Adiutricem Populi 1895) after her assent at the Annunciation and an associate of the savior in the obtaining of grace. This made her the collaborator of the divine mediator in the distribution of grace to all human races (Anderson, Stafford, & Burgess, 1992).
According to Pius X, Ad Diem illum (1904), the union of Mary with the suffering of Christ made her the most appropriate restorer of the lost people, and consequently ‘the distributor of all gifts.’ This suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus makes Mary a worthy distributor of grace that restores people’s friendship with God.
Pope Benedict XV, inter sodalicia (1918), argues that the role of Mary as the Co-Redemptrix makes her the distributor of graces of redemption. The dogmatic constitution, Eight Chapter, contains a very significant reference to the Mediatrix. The Second Vatican Council had requested the definition of the mediation of Mary. The first draft described her as the ‘minister and dispenser of heavenly gifts.’ The later draft described her as the ‘Mediatrix of all graces’ since cooperated with Jesus to acquire the graces. She is invoked by the believers as the advocate because she is the associate of Christ; she is the intercessor of the people through Christ. Therefore, the Lumen Gentium Article 62, gives Mary the titles used by the church; the advocate, helper, benefactress and the Mediatrix. However, these titles don’t reduce or add anything to the efficacy and dignity of Christ the one divine Mediator.
In conclusion, the Second Vatican Council used words that provide doctrinal support to the teaching of the church on Mariology. These doctrinal descriptions of the Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate are very deep. Regardless of the council not using the term Co-Redemptrix to avoid confusion, and using the terms Mediatrix and advocate sparingly, the doctrinal definitions provided are still adequate. These doctrines form the basis of catechism (Miegge, 1955). The teachings also have a deep traditional usage in the papal magisterium of the 19th and the 20th centuries. They also consists a unique contribution by the current papal magisterium of Pope Saint John Paul II. Vatican II teachings do not prevent the definition of the maternal mediation but seek a better theological contribution and completion of the Marian teachings (Calkins 1996).
Mother the Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate are portrayed in the Sacred Scriptural revelation through the historical collaboration in the redemption of the world in ‘actu primo ‘that was consummated at the cross and given the responsibility of acquiring the graces that redeem the world. Through her Mediatrix of grace, she helps her children to protect the salvation of those who are redeemed.
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