In Stabat Mater, I touched on the subject of the role of Mary in our salvation. I find this to be one of the strongest arguments in favor of a future definition of the dogma of Marian co-redemption. Allow me to revisit that argument in detail.
Jesus is the quintessential solar myth but He is different from the mythical Siegfried, Horus, or Apollo because Jesus is a true myth a God that entered history and walked among the men He created.
The name Jesus chose for Himself is very appropriate: the Hebrew meaning of Yeshua is “God is Salvation.” The purpose of His coming into the world was to reverse the effects of original sin. In Genesis we are told how Eve was seduced by the devil into desiring to be like God. The devil was originally an angel of light who was appointed to be very close to the throne of God. There he allowed envy to grow in his mind. He had everything an angel could possibly have but he wickedly coveted for himself the glory of God. Because the devil could not possibly realize such insane desire, he set himself to ruin God’s creation. Often the envious destroy those things they cannot selfishly retain for themselves. So that angel of light lost the original glorious position he had in God’s family. He could not reflect the glory of God any longer. He condemned himself to eternal darkness.
While the devil had some measure of freedom to move around, he paid a visit to Eve and cunningly manipulated the first woman into envying God’s sovereignty and wisdom. Eve was fooled into believing that by disobeying God she could become like God. The same wicked ambition entered mankind through her. In doing so she foolishly lost the glorious honor of being the mother of all the living, passing to all her offspring the gift of eternal life. Instead she gave birth to a dying race and to all the suffering, strife, and pain that plagued her sons and daughters every single day for thousands of years.
The instant this disaster occurred God began to work to correct the situation and save mankind from eternal death. In time God’s Son came to solve the problem. The offense committed against an infinitely good God can only be an infinitely good sacrifice. In His mercy, God sent His only Son because mankind could not possibly repair the damage done.
We find Mary at Calvary many centuries later. She is there at the foot of the Cross, desiring for herself the sufferings of her Son. Mary is there to reverse Eve’s error who envied what could only belong to God. On the Cross Jesus is offering His perfect, infinite sacrifice. In taking a human nature, Jesus humbled Himself even to an undeserved death, the worse kind of death: death on a Roman cross. There He suffered several hours deprived of all His glory until even light was denied to Him when a supernatural darkness covered the Earth shortly before His death. While on the Cross, our quintessential Sun-God, the Son of God, radiated His suffering to all around Him but only one person there reflected it perfectly and that was Mary of Nazareth, the perfect mother with a perfect heart just like Eve’s. One can easily imagine her prayer: “Lord of Israel, let me suffer the Cross in Jesus’ stead.” In the innermost part of her pure heart she must have remembered the day she heard the prophecy from Simeon at the Temple: “Behold, this child is set for the fall … and a sword will pierce through your own soul also …” In the midst of darkness the secret light of the pure undistilled suffering necessary for salvation was piercing Mary’s heart, the kind of suffering that only a perfect human being can take without dissolving into death.
Before someone thinks that this was some kind of mere symbolic representation meant to simply “fit” a prophetic type while lasting only a few hours, let me remind you that Mary was a perfect mother, prepared from the beginning of time to be the “mother of all the living” for all eternity.
Since the early times of the Church, Mary was compared to the morning star. We honor her with that title in many prayers and hymns. Observing the eastern sky before sunrise one may see Venus rising in the horizon before the sun appears. Venus surpasses Earth every 584 days in its orbit and that causes it to change from the “Evening Star,” visible after sunset, to the “Morning Star,” visible before sunrise. I find in that a sort of an astronomical allegory of Mary who appears in History to be the mother of Jesus and will come back one more time — as many saints and prophets have foretold — to prepare the world for the eternal reign of her Son. The Scriptures talk about this celestial character of Mary’s mission.
“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. ” Revelation 12:1-2
St John the Evangelist sees Mary in her eternal role of Mother of the Church. Her obedience through the ordeal of Calvary has gained for her the very thing that the devil coveted! She is now clothed with the glory of her Son but even so her mission is to accompany mankind being a witness to all the sufferings of the Church just as she was a witness to all the sufferings of the Crucified.
So when some of us are called to suffer with Christ, we have first the assurance that Mary was there first. We can follow her example and give our imperfect heart to the Lord as an oblation. No one was ever nearer to Christ’s Heart than Mary of Nazareth and yet she was not spared to suffer alone what none of us could possibly bear to go through. To those nearest to His Sacred Heart, Jesus reserves the choicest splinters of the Cross.
When great trials come, remember Mary and rejoice in the nearness of Him who will turn all suffering into joy, all the darkness of tribulation into everlasting glory.