Video – Dr Mark Miravalle – MaryCast #16: Finding of Jesus in the Temple

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Marycast #16 ( 10min) Play - Now Dr Mark Miravalle continues to examine Our Lady in the Scripture. In this episode, he touches on one of Our Lady's Sorrows: the finding of Jesus in the temple. Listen to how Dr Mark Miravalle explains how this event is in perfect harmony with the plan of God, for the loss of Jesus for three days is a foreshadowing of the three days after His crucifixion. Ave Maria! +++

To ask questions regarding Mary, email Dr Mark Miravalle: marycast@airmaria.com

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Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Hello Liz,

    You ask whether Mary should be dogmatically declared Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate on the grounds that doing so will lead to an outpouring of additional graces. Your concern is that declaring a fifth Marian dogma because we will get something good out of it is too expedient. This is an excellent question.

    Though I cannot speak for Dr. Miravalle, I can think of one possible answer. If these titles truly apply to Mary, and if there is an adequate theological basis for declaring a fifth Marian dogma, then we should do so out of respect for the truth itself, not out of a desire to attain additional graces. Theologically, this is similar to why we should love and obey God. If we love and obey Him, a consequence will be that we receive the blessing of the beatific vision in the next life. However, our primary reason for loving and obeying God is not that we’ll be rewarded with the beatific vision but that God is inherently good and hence deserving of our love and obedience. Indeed, He is perfect goodness itself.

    Similarly, we should speak the truth provided that we have good reason to believe it, not because we’ll be rewarded for speaking the truth, but because speaking the truth when we have good reason to believe it is inherently right. Thus if it is true that Mary is Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, and if we have good reason to declare this truth as a dogma (e.g., because it is contained in the deposit of faith, or because it is required for the explanation of a truth that is contained in the deposit of faith), then a fifth Marian dogma should be declared. Once that is done, a consequence might be additional graces flowing to the Church. Yet this consequence is not itself the primary reason for declaring a fifth Marian dogma.

    It remains open whether currently there is an adequate theological basis for declaring a fifth Marian dogma, and whether additional graces that aren’t already being received can only be received after the declaration of a fifth Marian dogma. These are among the questions that scholars like Dr. Miravalle continue to debate.

    Dr. Dillard

  • Fr Angelo says:

    Dr. Dillard,

    I agree with you, but would add that if there is an adequate theological basis for the definition, which I believe there is, then Our Lady deserves to be honored as Coredemptrix. She merited our salvation in the objective redemption and, therefore, in justice should be honored for Her cordemptive sacrifice by those who are thereby indebted to Her.

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr Angelo,

    I think your view depends on whether, in serving as Co-redemptrix, Mary performed freewill actions which not only gave Christ his body/human nature and assisted him in performing his salvific work but which also co-merited our salvation. I’m not sure about the latter, and I’ll explain why.

    It is plausible to hold that Mary was under a moral obligation to cooperate with Christ. She did so freely, but it was the right thing for her to do and so she should have done what she did. In other words, it was her moral duty. Someone does not merit anything by simply doing what she has a duty to do anyway. By contrast, Christ was under no obligation to save us. By doing what he was not under any obligation to do, he merited our salvation, among other things.

    What do you think?

    Dr. Dillard

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo,

    In a neo-Scholastic spirit, I offer a few more comments on the question of whether Mary co-merited our salvation. (I may have inadvertently sent an unfinished draft of this post. Sorry! Please use this one.)

    Either Mary was morally obliged to cooperate with Christ or she was not. I have argued if she was morally obliged to cooperate, then her cooperative freewill actions did not co-merit our salvation. Suppose now that she was not morally obliged to cooperate, so that her actions, though praiseworthy, were not strictly required by her moral duty to God. On this supposition, do her cooperative freewill actions co-merit our salvation? Here are two arguments in favor of a negative answer.

    (1) If Mary’s cooperative freewill actions co-merited our salvation, then there is more than one Co-redemptrix. For John the Baptist also freely chose to cooperate with Christ. Though not from the moment of his conception, while he was still in the womb he was sanctified at the Visitation and thus freed from the penalties due to Original Sin. His freely choosing to cooperate with Christ’s salvific work even included suffering for it under Herod. Since Mary was under no moral obligation to cooperate, neither was John the Baptist. But then if Mary’s cooperative freewill actions co-merited our salvation, so did his, in which case there is more than one Co-redemptrix. Yet there is only one Co-redemptrix. Therefore, Mary’s cooperative freewill actions did not co-merit out salvation.

    (2) One person’s cooperating with another person who then merits something for a third person does not suffice for the first person to co-merit that same thing for the third person. For example, imagine that I am taken prisoner and that Jim merits my release by paying my ransom. Jane freely cooperates with Jim by wiring the money he pays to my jailer. However, in doing so, Jane does not herself co-merit my release. She only preeminently assists with the one who totally merits my release. Therefore, the fact that Mary cooperates with Christ when he merits out salvation does not suffice to show that Mary herself co-merits our salvation.

    The conclusion that Mary does not co-merit our salvation is consistent with her being Co-redemptrix in the following sense: she gave Christ a human soul/body free from Original Sin, which he then used to merit our salvation. She also assisted him in his salvific work. Since no one else did both of these things, she is the preeminent instrumental Co-redemptrix. But she is not what we might call a meritorious Co-redemptrix. Or if she is, that remains to be shown….

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Dr. Dillard

  • Fr Angelo says:

    Dr. Dillard,

    As always, you keep us on our toes. Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

    Just to clarify. The purpose of my comment was to indicate that if we were to grant that Mary is Coredemptrix in the sense in which it is argued by our community, then not only would it be appropriate to define the dogma in order to propagate the truth, but because the honor that would thus accrue to Our Lady by the definition is Her due.

    That being said, I would first of all disagree that moral obligation vitiates merit. If that were the case then those who are in the state of grace would not be able to merit an increase of sanctifying grace and glory which the catechism teaches is the fruit not only of supererogation but also, and more fundamentally of our fulfillment of God’s commandments. I know the Coredemption is a special case, but it is the principle of the causal relation of obligatory acts to merit that is in question.

    Even more, the taking of vows by those who are so called by God is the subject of special merit, and this is precisely due the nature of the worship that is rendered to God by virtue of the fulfillment of obligation.

    We say also that Christ was obedient unto death, and that the merit of his obedience was the cause of our redemption. While we may assert that as God, one in nature with the Father and Holy Spirit, Christ exercised His divine will in a way not exactly the same as the will of a servant, He would have so exercised his human will, even though He is a divine person. He was not merely a divine person with a human will, He was a man, and as we say, in justice man had to pay the debt of man’s sin. Christ obeyed, and He merited by that obedience.

    Nevertheless, the whole of Our Lady’s special power to merit in the objective redemption does not, in my opinion, hinge on whether her actions were a matter of obligation or cooperation, but on Her predestination to be The Woman who is joined with Her Seed in the crushing of the serpent’s head, prophesied in Genesis 3 and Revelations 12. The scriptural data is confirmed by teaching of both Blessed Pius IX and Pius XII who confirm the theological tradition of the joint predestination of Christ and Our Lady “in one and the same decree.” The Holy Fathers taught this in the papal bulls defining the Immaculate Conception and Assumption respectively. Mark well, especially paragraph 40 from Munificentissimus Deus of Pius XII:

    Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.

    Not only does the old objection to the Immaculate Conception fall away in the light of such an predestination, but, in my opinion, so does the objection to the Coredemption. It was said by those who argued against the Immaculate Conception that Mary could not be conceived without sin because then She would not be redeemed. On the contrary, Her redemption in view of the merit of Christ gives Him more glory and manifests a greater causal dependence and indebtedness than ours because it is preventative rather than liberative. So too, the Coredemption glorifies the Redeeming power of Christ more than any other conceivable collaboration with God, because He created His own Mother so perfect by virtue of the joint predestination that She would be capable of meriting with Him our salvation.

    What Our Lady consents to in the first instance of the Redemptive Incarnation, namely at the Annunciation, is Her meritorious obedience which fulfills the joint predestination and establishes Her as Queen Mother, and the One who, in fact, has maternal rights relative to Jesus. It is that predestination and maternity that forms the basis of the special power and merit of Her obedience.

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo,

    Thank you for your detailed reply.

    You make a good point when you say that moral obligation does not vitiate the abiltity to merit. So, for example, we are obliged to love God and to cooperate with His grace. When we do so we can still merit increases in sanctifying grace culminating in final glory. Although this does not yet show that Mary co-merited our salvation, it does show that her being under a moral obligation to consent to the Incarnation and to assist Christ in his salvific work by themselves do not prevent her from co-meriting our salvation. Very good.

    Reverting to my example of Jane preeminently cooperating with Jim when he merits my release by paying my ransom, even if Jane is morally obliged to cooperate with Jim by wiring the money he pays to my jailer–perhaps because Jim is Jane’ssuperior to whom she owes obedience–nevertheless Jane does not herself in any way merit or co-merit my release. Only Jim does that. Mutatis mutandis, one might argue, for Mary and Jesus.

    Moreover, I do not yet see how the proposition that Mary co-merited or was capable of co-meriting our salvation follows from doctrine that Mary was predestined to be the immaculate Mother of God. Notice that in the passage you quote from Pius XII, there is no mention per se of Mary’s special power to merit objective redemption for us as one of the privileges she receives in light of her immaculate divine motherhood. There is mention of her as Christ’s “noble associate,” but this falls short of “co-redeemer.” Notice also that the clause “who has won a COMPLETE triumph over sin and its consequences” (my emphasis) seems to refer only to the divine Redeemer–i.e., Christ, not to Mary, though perhaps there is some ambiguity here.

    Thanks for keeping me on *my* toes too!

    Solie Deo Gloria,

    Dr. Dillard

  • Fr Angelo says:

    Dr. Dillard,

    I have not tried to provide a comprehensive argument as to what the salvific will of God was relative to the participation of Mary in the work of Redemption. This has been done here and elsewhere many times.

    My first comment was merely to answer the question “what is to be gained by proclaiming the dogma?” It seems to me that the sufficient answer is that if Mary is Coredemptrix it is Her due to be honored as Coredemptrix.

    I also answered, as you have seemed to concede, that merit is possible even where one is obliged. Furthermore, I affirmed that the real power of that merit is by virtue of the saving will of God, by which He makes us worthy to merit.

    It is in this sense that the joint predestination is important. Our Lady is chosen to be the Mother and Mediatrix. I admit that I have not fully developed the argument; however, I think that on the face of things the Coredemption is far more consistent with the defined Marian dogmas than otherwise. For example, Pius XII, who is most explicit about the joint predestination gives greater priority to Mary’s role at the foot the Cross than to the Immaculate Conception, when considering the reasons for Her bodily assumption.

    Jesus and Mary are jointly predestined to bring about our salvation; this clearly is the sense of Genesis 3:15. Maternal Mediation in the order of grace is a fact; this is clearly the sense of Redemptoris Mater. Mary reigns in heaven, assumed bodily and crowned queen by right of conquest at the foot of the Cross; this is the meaning of the Assumption and Queenship. Consistent with the arguments of Dun Scotus which grounded the Immaculate Conception in the greater glory of Christ, we can say that She who has been so perfectly redeemed so as to share in the objective Redemption gives more glory to Christ than if She were not so redeemed. Furthermore, the tradition that supports this is not an innovation but rooted in the same tradition that led to the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. If joint predestination is consistent between the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, why should it not also be consistent with the Coredemption?

    The joint predestination concerns the crushing of the serpent’s head, which is wholly a matter of merit in order to undo the demerit of the old Adam and Eve in the original sin. And original sin is undone by merit precisely at the Cross by the new Adam and Eve. Why should we affirm the Marian dogmas and then stop short of what is perfectly consistent with them and rooted in tradition?

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo (and any others following this thread),

    It is good for us to sharpen our mental pencils on this question, since doing so promises to generate the very sort of dialogue I believe should occur before a dogmatic definition of Mary as, among other things, Coredemptrix is appropriate. To that end, I shall analyze the best case I can think of for the doctrine that Mary co-merited our salvation in a manner that justifies proclaiming her as meritorious Coredemptrix.

    In ST 2a q.114 a.6, St. Thomas Aquinas argues that a person in a state of grace can congruously but not condignly merit for someone else the first grace whereby the recipient initially turns toward God and is then capable of being saved by cooperating with God’s additional graces. The basic idea of Aquinas?s argument is that it is highly appropriate for a merciful God to reward a person who, in a state of grace, prays for the recipient?s salvation by bestowing the first grace upon the recipient, even though He is not strictly required to do so. (Someone who performs a service for me when we are both under a contract condignly merits my payment for his service. By contrast, someone like a waiter who performs a service for me when we are not under a contract congruously merits a gratuity from me even though strict justice does not require that I give him one.)

    From the moment of her conception, Mary is in a state of grace. As Duns Scotus argued, her being in such a state is a direct consequence of her Immaculate Conception via the foreseen merits of Christ. It might be then argued that the actions Mary freely performs when she cooperates with Christ?s salvific work, along with her sufferings on his behalf, congruously but not condignly merit the first graces for us in the process of our salvation. (Or perhaps they congruously merit other graces we receive on the path toward salvation and final glory.) Therefore, Mary co-merits our salvation, and hence is properly designated not only as instrumental but also as meritorious Coredemptrix.

    Let us grant that Mary can congruously merit some grace(s) for us. Does it follow that Mary co-merits our salvation in a manner that justifies proclaiming her as meritorious Coredemptrix? It seems not, for the following reasons:

    (1) As St. Thomas observes, *anyone* in a state of grace can congruously merit the first grace for someone else. We all can, and hopefully many of us actually have. Consequently, if congruously meriting graces for another is sufficient to be a meritorious Coredeemer, there would be many such Coredeemers. But then being meritorious Coredeemer would not be unique to Mary, so that proclaiming her as *the* (meritorious) Coredemptrix would not be justified.

    (2) It might be replied that Mary is the unique meritorious Coredemptrix in view of the fact that she and she alone is the Immaculate Conception who congruously merits graces for us. Obviously, none of us was immaculately conceived! However, although not from the moment of his conception, while he was still in Elizabeth?s womb John the Baptist was sanctified by the hypostatic union of the Word with the embryonic/fetal human body and soul of Christ at the Visitation. From then on, John was in a state of grace (freedom from the penalties due to Original Sin) comparable to the one Mary was in from the moment of her conception. Moreover, as I noted earlier, John freely cooperated with Christ?s salvific work and also suffered on his behalf. Thus John?s actions and sufferings after his sanctification could and most likely would congruously merit graces for us in the process of our salvation. But then, as before, there would be more than one meritorious Coredeemer, so that proclaiming Mary as the unique meritorious Coredemptrix would not be justified.

    (3) I sense another possible motivation for the doctrine that Mary is meritorious Coredemptrix. This motivation lies in the idea of a unique union between the hearts of Mary and Jesus: not a literal union, but a unity of love, purpose, and action. It might be argued that this unity extends to the order of grace. Specifically, Mary congruously merits certain graces operative in our salvation, while Jesus condignly merits the graces necessary for our salvation. Perhaps the graces merited congruously by Mary and the graces merited condignly by Jesus form a single ?amalgam of grace,? as it were. It is this total amalgam of grace that merits our salvation.

    An immediate question is whether the graces congruously merited by Mary are necessary to merit our salvation. The answer, I believe, must be no. For if they were, then the graces condignly merited by Christ would not be sufficient to merit our salvation. I take it that no orthodox Catholic should accept that proposition.

    Could the ?amalgam of grace? work in the following way? The graces condignly merited by Christ are totally sufficient to merit our salvation. Nevertheless, the graces congruously merited by Mary constitute a superabundant addition to the former graces, so that the total amalgam (graces congruously merited by Mary + graces condignly merited by Christ) as a matter of fact merits our salvation. An analogy: I can lift the table by myself, but if I allow you to help me we in fact both lift the table. Similarly, the suggestion is that Christ can condignly merit the graces sufficient for our salvation, but that he allows Mary to cooperate by contributing the graces she congruously merits to the total salvific effort.

    We must be very careful here. To say that the graces Christ condignly merits for us by suffering and dying is to say that these graces themselves are what strictly earn our salvation (provided that we accept him as Lord and cooperate with God?s additional graces), just as the worker?s service to me when we are both under a contract is what strictly earns a commensurate payment to him from me. But then it is difficult to see how any superabundant graces Mary congruously earns for us contribute to the fundamental earning power of Christ?s suffering and death. The situation begins to look like the one I described with Jim and Jane, where strictly speaking only Jim?s payment earns my release while Jane?s cooperative act of wiring the funds to my jailer, though worthy of praise, contributes nothing to earning my release. If so, then considerations about the ?amalgam of grace? do not suffice to show that Mary is meritorious Coredemptrix.

    I apologize for the length of this post, yet I beg your indulgence because the issue is both fascinating and incredibly important. I have laid out the detailed architecture of my analysis to clarify my own thinking, as well as to enable others to discern more readily any flaws in it.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Dr. Dillard

  • Fr Angelo says:

    Dr. Dillard,

    Sharpening my pencil.

    In respect to the nature of Our Lady’s merit at the foot of the cross, I suggest you read Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner’s Immaculata Mediatrix ? Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption. There Fr. Peter examines the possibility of considering the merit of the Coredemptrix as “de digno,” a concept of St. Bonaventure, adopted by the Scotists, which describes a certain form of merit “as a subordinate form of condign rather than congruent merit: relative, however, rather than absolute.” The title of justice afforded by that which constitutes meritorious causality “de digno” would be the joint predestination of Jesus and Mary.

    Compare the idea that Our Lady receives obedience from Christ under the title of justice, since She is actually His Mother and He is truly human, though a divine person. So by virtue of Her predestination to be the Immaculate Mother, Mary assumes the role as the Woman, the New Eve, the true Mother of all the Living who by a title of justice shares in the headship over the family of God.

    (1) The idea of Marian Coredemption is not comparable to any other form of congruous merit, irrespective of considerations of the possibility of merit de digno, because we are not talking about the second act of Redemption, that is, the distribution of grace already merited by the redemption, but the first act of Redemption, that is, the meriting of all the grace in the first instance. A sharing in the first act of Redemption is unique to Our Lady alone.

    (2) Neither is the Immaculate conception comparable to the sanctification of John the Baptist, insofar as we might consider Our Lady’s sanctification as being unique only because it happened earlier in Her existence than everyone else’s. The difference between preservative redemption (Mary) and liberative redemption (St. John the Baptist and the rest of us) is the difference between being unstained and stained. The Immaculate Conception is related to the joint predestination in such a way that Mary is conceived and given existence in order to be the True Ark of the Covenant, the first Tabernacle Emanuel. In fact, She is in a position to merit by a unique title of justice, though, as Fr. Peter states, one that is relative to the joint predestination, not absolute as would be the case with Our Lord.

    (3) I understand, given the development of your thought why you would consider the Union of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Redemption as producing, via meritorious causality, an “amalgam of grace.” I think you can see, given the development of my thought, why I would not use that term.

    Whether we consider the first act of Redemption or the second act, God does not need anyone; however, regardless of our position on coredemption, we know as a matter of faith that God does use others to bring about His redemptive intentions, not just Jesus, but the rest of us, at least through condign merit in the state of grace.

    It is really not a question as to whether God strictly needed the Blessed Mother or not. We know he does not need anything. The question is what is His salvific will? Whether we accept the Coredemption or not, we know that by His design He willed that His Redemptive intentions should be conditioned upon Mary’s consent, at the very least in the Annunciation.

    Christ’s merit can never in any way be considered insufficient in and of itself; however, this does not preclude the possibility that God provided His Son’s Mother with a title of justice by virtue of Her joint predestination with His Son, Her shared headship over the human family and the family of the Church makes Her, by a title of justice, New Eve and Mother of the Church.

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo,

    I will have to consult Fr. Fehlner’s book before I am in an position to comment on it. However, concerning the possibility that Mary co-merited our salvation via a merit “de digno,” a subordinate form of condign merit, I think the following observations are relevant.

    An action merits condignly when as a matter of strict justice it is due a commensurate reward. Without Christ, Mary cannot condignly co-merit our salvation or anything else in the order of grace. Perhaps the suggestion that Mary condignly co-merits our salvation in a manner subordinate to Christ amounts to something like this: Christ strictly merits our salvation. He could do so without Mary, yet in the actual economy of salvation his meriting our salvation includes his meriting that Mary will co-merit our salvation–i.e., that she contribute something meritorious to the merits which are jointly sufficient for our salvation.

    The problem is that I do not see how this is supposed to work. Suppose Jim’s meriting the release of many prisoners involves his meriting that Jane co-merit their release in a condign manner subordinate to him. Either Jane’s subordinate condign merit is strictly necessary to win the prisoners’ release or it isn’t. If it is, then Jim’s primary condign merit is not sufficient for their release, which we both agree cannot serve as a model for Christ’s salvific work. If, on the other hand, Jane’s subordinate condign merit is not strictly necessary for the prisoner’s release, then that is because Jim’s primary condign merit has already totally merited their release. But then, strictly speaking, Jane’s actions do not co-merit the prisoners’ release. They may be non-meritorious cooperative actions, like her wiring Jim’s funds to the jailer. Or they may be acts of distributing rewards/releases which have already been solely merited by Jim. (For this reason, I am more sympathetic to the doctrine that Mary is distributive Mediatrix of all graces than I am to the doctrine that she is meritorious Coredemptrix, though I accept that she is instrumental Coredemptrix.) What they are not, however, are co-meritorious acts. The point is not unique to this example, for it can be applied to other similar cases as well…including the case of Mary and Jesus.

    Regarding John the Baptist, my point is that the slight difference between the moment of his sanctification (early in the womb) and her Immaculate Conception (from the moment of her conception) does not preclude both of them being in a state free from the penalties of Original Sin and hence congruously meriting graces which are applied to our salvation and glorification. I think we should sharply distinguish Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which nobody here denies, from Mary’s congruously meriting graces in a unique manner that warrants declaring her to be “(meritorious) Coredemptrix.” On your proposal, the difference between Mary and John the Baptist can be indicated merely by emphasizing that she was preserved from sin from the moment of her conception, and thus was not strictly speaking “liberated” from it (i.e., at no point in her life did she pass from an ontological state stained by the penalties due to Original Sin to a state not stained by them.) Not so for John, who very early on in his development was liberated. But then we don’t need the title “Coredemptrix” to mark this distinction.

    Please note that I am not advocating the “amalgam of grace” model as an explanation of how Mary might serve as meritorious Co-redemptrix. To my mind, such a model confuses the order of causation, where several causes can be accumulated to bring about one effect, with the order of merit, where once some reward is strictly merited no amount of additional “merit” for it is possible.

    In conclusion, I quote a passage from Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.:

    “As Co-Redemptrix, [Mary] is in no sense equal to Christ in his redemptive activity, since she herself required redemption and in fact was redeemed by her Son. He alone merited man’s salvation. Mary effectively interceded to obtain subjective application of Christ’s merits to those whom the Savior has objectively redeemed”(Pocket Catholic Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1985. The entry on “Co-Redemptrix,” p. 94).

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Dr. Dillard

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo,

    A brief addendum:

    Perhaps an analogy for the “de digno” view is this: Jim first condignly merits Jane’s release from prison, and then they work together to condignly merit the release of the other prisoners.

    Applied to the situation of Christ and Mary, this seems to imply that as a matter of fact Christ’s salvific actions are not sufficient to merit condignly our salvation. They are sufficient to merit condignly Mary’s “release,” but after that her cooperative actions and sufferings are also needed to finish condignly co-meriting our salvation. Christ *could* have condignly merited our salvation by performing additional acts, but as a matter of fact he did not.

    I find such a consequence troubling–not only because it seems to derogate from Christ’s actual sacrifice, but also because the typical understanding of that sacrifice appears to preclude the consequence that Christ did not actually condignly merit our salvation though he could have. For Christ’s salvific actions are *inifinitely* meritorious; his suffering and death for us place infinitely many merits in the so-called “treasury of merit.” But if Christ’s actual salvific actions win infinitely many merits, then is it not the case that by themselves his actions must strictly merit our salvation, and in fact must merit even more than that?

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Dr. D

  • Fr Angelo says:

    Dr. Dillard,

    Thank you for this engaging and stimulating discussion. I appreciate and respect your reasoning, but again assert that joint predestination is the key to understanding the logic of the Coredemption.

    The doctrine of the Coredemption, in its substance if not in its terminology, is of ancient origin. Like the Dogma of the Immaculate conception, its fact, in my opinion, is not prejudiced by our difficulty to explain it; however I admit that “the way it works” will have to be articulated clearly according to the analogy of faith before any definition can be made. I think the joint predestination and merit de digno are the keys.

    Meritorious acts de digno do merit by a strict title of justice, though that title is relative to a predestinated dignity bestowed by God, not by a title of absolute justice proper to God alone.

    Suppose a king crowns his queen, who of herself has no title to nobility, but now possesses it solely by right of her crowning by the king. The king can and does grant to her a title of nobility by which she does, by strict justice, command the fealty of all the king’s people. Suppose further that the king places at her disposal all his domain and all his armies, and then chooses to go to battle against his enemies with His queen at his side as mother and mistress of all his people. Say they are completely victorious over the enemy and merit for the whole realm freedom and prosperity. Even though the queen’s title is only hers through the king, and even though the king can conquer without her aid, that does not preclude her from meriting, and meriting by a strict title of justice, though relative and not absolute.

    We know that the Redemption wrought on our behalf by Christ could have taken any form willed by the Father. The Incarnation alone was sufficient to merit the redemption of an unlimited amount of fallen worlds. The specific form it took was willed by the Father and accepted by the Son out of a superabundance of love. That God should redeem at least one of His creatures so perfectly that that person could merit the salvation of others by a strict title of justice does not demean the Redeemer but glorify Him more perfectly than which could be conceived. The fact that He can do it without assistance does not preclude the possibility of His bestowing on one of His creatures a dignity sufficient to so merit by a strict title of justice. That merit is subordinated to His and coordinated with it not by metaphysical necessity but by the fitting disposition of God’s salvific will.

    An infinite Redemption is superabundant by definition. This in no way restricts God from choosing any plan which He judges most fits his salvific will. Our redemption is the inverse of our Fall, and it includes a true New Eve and Mother of the People of God. That motherhood is not metaphorical, but exercised properly as a true motherhood.

    In regard to St. John the Baptist, while he was sanctified uniquely, he was not free from the effects of Original Sin. Ineffabilis Deus, teaches that the enmity between the serpent and the Woman is radical and complete because the serpent has no hold on her whatsoever at any moment, and therefore, She is associated with Her Seed in the crushing of the serpent’s head. While we may conclude that the manner of their sanctification permits both Mary and St. John to merit congruously, Mary, over and above St. John, has a title to special merit by virtue of Her unique holiness and predestination.

  • Dr. Peter Spotswood Dillard says:

    Fr. Angelo,

    Thank you for your substantive contributions and patience, too. I feel that we have reached a fundamental impasse. Perhaps it is a good time for both of us, and for all who have been following this discussion, to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Meditation, contemplation, and prayer must take up where reason and dialectic leave off.

    I will conclude for now with this thought. I understand your king/queen analogy, but I do not see how it explains how Mary co-merits our salvation with Christ. Christ’s salvific actions win infinitely many merits.
    Hence Christ’s salvific actions actually have infinitely meritorious value.
    The conclusion follows from the premise via the principle that something can be denominated as having infinitely meritorious value if it simultanouesly wins infinitely many merits. This applies to the order of merit the same principle Duns Scotus applies to the order of knowledge (viz., that an intellect capable of knowing an infinite number of things simultaneously can itself be denominated as infinite; see De primo principi, 4.48) and to the order of power (viz., that power capable of causing an infinite number of things simultaneously can itself be denominated as infinite; ibid., 4.70) to prove that God’s intellect and power (=God Himself) are infinite.

    Given that the actual salvific actions performed by Christ are worth an infinite magnitude of merit, once they are performed on our behalf they are sufficient in and of themselves as condign merits to “purchase” our salvation and much more. If Christ bestows some of this value on Mary, he is not giving her the ability to merit anything else pertaining to our salvation, since everything pertaining to our salvation has already been merited by him; rather, he may be giving her the privilege of applying merits he himself has already won. Similarly, if I win an infinite amount of money I may give you a portion of the amount to buy a diamond ring. However, strictly speaking, you do nothing to *earn* the ring. I earn it, and I then give you the privilege of applying some of my earnings toward purchase of the ring.

    I confess that at this time I cannot state my position any more precisely. No doubt you will not be convinced by my arguments, as I am not convinced by yours. Yet I greatly appreciate your taking the time to indulge the musings and meanderings of an inveterate metaphysician. My goal is always to give full honor to our Lady and full glory to our Lord.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Dr. Dillard

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