“In me is all grace of the way, and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.”
In her we shall find the grace to attain unto Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
To attain unto the Truth as the Apostle would have us do, we must first find Mary. To find Mary means to be united in intimate communion with her. This necessity is not intrinsic, but the Eternal Father has freely willed it that way and no other. Who shall say Him nay?
How do we know that the Father wants it that way? To understand this we must know something of Our Lady’s place in the divine economy of salvation. This is something not too clearly understood by many Christians.
The Excellence of Mary
To understand her, we must first comprehend how God has endowed His Queen, how He has adorned her with matchless beauty and loveliness, irresistible power and ineffable glory.
St. Augustine says that whatever we may say in praise of Mary is little in comparison with what she deserves. Pope Pius IX in defining the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception says that her sanctity exceeds that of all the Angels and Saints put together, and that it is so great that only the mind of God can comprehend it (Papal Bull of Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus). St. Thomas Aquinas says: “From the fact that she is the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin has a certain infinite dignity, derived from the Infinite Good who is God, and on this account cannot be anything better, just as there cannot be anything better than God” (Summa Theol, la qu. 25 art. 6, ad. 4).
The only thing great enough to be compared with Mary is number itself. Number is not infinity. The bounds of number are lost in mystery, but an immeasurable void separates it from infinity. It is intrinsically impossible to imagine anything being added to infinity. Number however is capable of indefinite increase. Let us imagine the greatest number we can comprehend – more can always be added to it. Indeed we can multiply it by itself, cube it, raise it to any power. Human understanding falters and fails to grasp even comparatively low numbers; only the mind of God can comprehend it all.
So with the perfections and the glory of Mary. She is not infinite; a boundless chasm yawns between her perfection and those of God. But her perfections are as vast as number, and only the mind of God will ever comprehend them.
Why did God endow her so? Can we give all His reasons? “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?” But when we understand the nature of the objective and the subjective redemption, we begin to see a gleam of light.
By His sufferings and death, Our Lord filled the infinite reservoir of divine grace. This was the objective redemption.
To the Holy Sprit we attribute the work of dispensing these graces, of sending the limpid waters down upon the parched desert and making it bloom. This is the subjective redemption, and it is still going on.
The Divinity does not do this by Itself alone. God associated a human being with Him so closely that the nearest comparison of this world is the union of marriage, wherein two, retaining their individual natures in a sense, become one. This one He called His spouse, and gave to her the administration of all the graces, so that she grants the divine largesse “to whom she wills, as much as she wills, as she wills and when she wills.” She became the Mediatrix of All Graces, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Queen of the Angels, Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Her position is unique in dignity and power. Her word is sufficient do draw down all graces. But neither does she work alone. St. Robert Bellarmine says that if Christ is the Head of the Mystical Body, then she is the neck through which everything passes from the Head to the rest of the body.
The rest of the Mystical Body, by their sufferings, prayers, love and atonement, have a subordinate part in drawing down the waters from the reservoir.
So it will be until the end of time. When the last grace has been given to the last man according to the eternal Divine Plan, then the Mystical Body will be complete, the Redemption will be accomplished not only objectively but also subjectively, and the new Creation will begin.
It is by accomplishing the subjective redemption, the drawing down and the application of the infinite merits of Christ, and dispensing them to mankind, that the work of the Head is completed in the rest of the Body, and the words of St. Paul are fulfilled: “I fill up those things that are wanting to the sufferings of Christ” (Col. 1:24).