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OL Ivory

Quiavideruntocli and I get on here like oil and water, although because we both hold firm beliefs firmly, I like to believe there is a mutual respect; at any rate, I respect his views, and like a virile and robust statement of belief – all of which is a prelude to saying that whilst I am grateful for his post about Mary being mediatrix of all graces, I am baffled by it. When I translate it into English – it is written in that curious jargon RCs fall into when talking about Mary, which always makes me wonder what it would sound like in English as she is spoken and understood by most of us – it seems either to be saying not a lot, or a great deal. Let me expand.

I’m leaving aside the gender pronoun stuff – as that risks falling into the modish rubbish about gender identity being fluid – but it does point up the dangers of thinking in this way. If the soul is female, then what of Paul saying there is neither male nor female in Christ. Men who have a desire to be a bride? Well if QV says so. I’ll leave it to him. I feel no call to be a bride, and can see nothing in Scripture which says I have to become one to to be saved.

If every ‘pure and holy soul’ is to some extent co-redemptrix, mediatrix and any other sort of rix, fine, but so what? Where everyone is something, there’s no particular honour in being that something. But then we get that leap of logic which no doubt makes sense to Catholics but to the rest of us looks like someone has just put into the equation the answer they wanted. If she is the God-bearer, he says – well she is – then that proves she is the “Mediatrix of All Grace’ – sorry, several stages got lost there. You can state it is it is what you believe, but you can’t just state it as though in some way you have proved it. He writes: ‘Communicating the author of Grace, it is plain that she communicates thereby all graces.’ I have no idea what use of the word communicate this might be in the first clause; she gave birth to Jesus, if that is communicating him, fine, and if he means that she gave birth to Jesus who is the source of all grace, fine, but to say she ‘communicates all graces’ is an abuse of English and of logic. She communicated, if you allow the odd use of the world, the source of all graces, but that’s it folks. It would be like saying my mother was the generatirix of my children – true, but what’s the point being made? It is either a truism – she’s one of their grandmothers, or is is to imply some greater claim.

QVO goes on to write:

Our Lady cooperates in the economy of salvation with Our Lord’s work of redemption in a way that is wholly unique. Her participation in His life becomes, by inevitable extension, a participation in the life of every Christian

As a statement of what he and his church believe, fine, but again he presumes the major premise he is proving. Of her participation in his life we know but little. We know he was not terribly keen on starting his mission at Cana, but agreed, presumably to honour his mother. We know that Mary and his family had their doubts about his mission at one point, but we know she was there at the end. This is all excellent, but hardly makes her in some special way a cooperator in the economy of salvation. Salvation comes through faith in Father, Son and Holy Ghost – Mary certainly was the chosen one through whom the Lord came, and we should honour her for that – but at the least it creates a misleading impression to start talking about her being involved in salvation. Yes, it you mean she was the chosen woman; but there is nothing in that to suggest we go to her with prayers or petitions – there is ONE Mediator – Christ. To make statements about anyone else being a mediator in the same way is to imply what is not being stated. If the RCC simply means she’s the Mother of God, excellent, full agreement – but if it does not realise that calling her a mediator raises the idea that she has a role similar to that of her son, they they are either by intention or accident, tone deaf to the use of language. It is like the language used. It is no good saying it is not ‘worship’ if it looks and sounds like it. There’s no point complaining people are not understanding the subtleties of your position – for most if it looks like worship that’s what it is – who, in real life, ever used a word like hyperdulia? No one. It gives the impression you are being at best shifty – well there’s this special word which means our actions do not mean what any observer would assume they mean.

None of this is not respecting Mary; indeed I would be prepared to argue that from everything we know about her, she’d be a bit embarrassed at the extent t which some followers of her son have taken her cult. I am happy to bless her name, as the Spirit said would be the case. But as to all this stuff about female souls and mediatrixes, it all sounds as dodgy as you can get. Mary played an honourable and indeed notable part in the life of Our Lord, she bore the saviour in her womb – for all this she is to be honoured. The rest of it – the whole Marian cult – seems to me an exaggeration, and adding to what we know on a scale unjustified by any Biblical practice. I don’t see it in Acts, I don’t see it in the Apostolic Fathers, and I don’t see it in the way the Orthodox act. They honour the Theotokos – but they don’t have the statues, the hyperdulia and the rest of it.  Rome is welcome to the exaggerated veneration, but I think even it realised some time ago that it is a great obstacle to unity. It is a shame that it has chosen to condone some of the things it has, and as long as it does, the mother of Our Lord will be what she was never meant to be – a focus of disunity. All Grace is from God, he doesn’t needs servants to help him there – he’s omnipotent – One Mediator – Christ Jesus. That’s what St Paul said, and I’m being Biblical there. Yes, I know one can extract from the OT fantastical stories to justify something unBiblical – but I would commend the Orthodox practice here to my RC friends.

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