Following a recommendation of our host, Chalcedon, I got hold of a copy of a book by Mgr Florian Kolfhaus called The School of Mary. Rather than ‘do a Bosco’, I sincerely ask Catholics here to help me with this, as I do not understand what is being said – at least if it is what it seems to be.
We are offered (p.19) the words of the Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) – no me neither – said in a prayer to Mary: “You are almighty by Grace”. It is for this reason, we are told, that the Church ‘uses the Christological titles also in the feminine form, for his mother: King – Queen, Mediator – Mediatrix – Saviour – Salvatrix’, St Catherine of Sienna (and yes, I have heard of her) we are told, calls Mary “Redemptix” because ‘Mary is so deeply involved in Jesus Christ’s work of redemption that there is truly no way other than her that leads to Jesus’. The author then quotes Pope Leo XIII in Octobri Mense:
With equal truth may it also be affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us the immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for ‘grace and truth were realised by Jesus Christ’. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.
The author finishes this section by commenting:
As Christ is the only way to the Father also for the ones who do not know and pray to Him because they blamelessly or as a result of insurmountable obstacles have not found Him, so is Mary always and for everyone the gate that gives access to her Son’.
I have not quoted out of context. The author himself clearly states that this hyperdulia is about ‘excessive praise’ reserved for Mary alone.
So, to my misgivings and the hope they can be put to rest. First, I have no problem with excessive praise of Mary. How could one? She was the Mother of God, she took on herself the burden of becoming pregnant not be her fiance, she bore the sword that pierced her own heart, she is worthy, if that is one’s way, of all praise. That’t not my problem. The problem comes with what I take to be rather extravagant language, but which, if taken literally, does risk elevating Mary to a position she never claimed.
Scripture is clear – there is one mediator – Jesus Christ. If you want to claim some role for Mary, use another word. Mediator is tied to Jesus, and it is inevitable that, if you use it, people will think you are claiming for Mary what belongs -in Scripture – to one person alone. You don’t have to be Bosco to think that – the use of the word pushes you there. The same is true of the idea that there is no road to Jesus other than Mary. If that is meant literally it is simply wrong. Not one single convert in the NT is led to Jesus by his mother. That is not to insult her, she is the mother of my Lord, and I am sure like all good Jewish boys he loves her and expects me to do so too. It is to insist there is a distinction between him and her, and to say that passages such as the ones quoted blur it.
I cannot even understand what the author means when he talks about those who cannot come to Jesus coming to Mary as the ‘gate’. If you don’t know who Jesus is, how on earth are you going to get there through his mother? Sorry, maybe the translation from the original German is faulty, but this either means nothing much, or it implies that someone one can know Mary before one knows Jesus – and I can attach no meaning to that.
Chalcedon suggested that I share my views here because he thinks that it would help others, like me, to have the answers in plain sight. I am happy to oblige. For those who have read my stuff here, you will know I am not writing out of any desire (God forbid) to insult Mary, I am a simple old Baptist puzzled by such language – and happy to be enlightened.