Monday, May 26, 2008

Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace

AFTER the Liturgical reform of Vatican II, every 31st of May we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin, St. Elizabeth. But before that, it was an almost universal celebration that every 31st of May was the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces (yes, in the plural which is quite different from the column title which is in the singular).

It was the Belgian Cardinal Désiré Joseph Mercier who started the campaign in the early part of the 20th century to have the title of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces to be proclaimed as a dogma of faith. Later he would make that “twin” campaign for the canonization of then Blessed Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort side-by-side with the campaign for the title of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces. In fact, in his discernment, the proclamation of this Marian dogma will be achieved through the canonization of St. Louis.

Cardinal Mercier died in 1926. By that time, neither was St. Louis canonized nor the particular Marian title defined as dogma of Faith. He had that consolation, however, that Pope Benedict XV granted in 1921 to the whole of Belgium an Office and Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. This Office and Mass were extended by the Holy See to many other dioceses and religious institutes, so that the commemoration became almost universal.

It is told that the definition of the Marian dogma never occurred because of objections of many theologians. Whatever the reason was, the Church did not see it opportune that time.

Finally, in 1947 Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort was canonized. He was one of the outstanding devotees of Our Lady and through his many writings, particularly the book, True Devotion to Mary, he laid out his particular Marian spirituality of total consecration to Mary as her slave.

The word slavery may sound too offending to our contemporary ears. And yet, we can view it in a very positive manner. Slaves, during olden times, were considered commodities and properties of their owners. In a sense, being slaves of Mary means to be owned by her, but neither as a commodity nor a property but instead voluntarily we declare ourselves to be a possession of Our Lady. A possession that she will safeguard and protect from all harm and danger; a possession that she will treasure and cherish.

The slaves as well, in olden times, were chained. They were chained so that they could not go far from their owners. In the spiritual sense, through the Total Consecration to Mary, we freely “chain” ourselves to her so that neither sin nor evil could make us detached or run away from her.

Months after the canonization of St. Louis came the reported apparitions of Our Lady in the Carmelite Monastery of Lipa in 1948. And yes, believe it or not, in those apparitions, Our Lady identified herself as Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace (and yes it was in the singular). Our Lady even explained why it was in the singular form All-Grace, she said that such word refers to Christ who is the source of every and all graces.

In those same apparitions, Our Lady requested the Carmelite nuns to consecrate themselves to her as her slaves following the devotional manner enunciated by St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort.

Were all these coincidences? Most certainly not. We can safely assume these are the fruits of the prayers and efforts of Cardinal Mercier and many others who truly believed in the title of Mary as Mediatrix of All-Grace. And particularly, it crosses our mind that it was Cardinal Mercier who decades before already prayed for the canonization of St. Louis and through that canonization the approval of the title of Mary as Mediatrix of All-Grace.

We are told that Cardinal Mercier in his death bed repeated over and over again, Mary Mediatrix, Mary Mediatrix.

Now, that we are fast approaching May 31 and end of the Marian month of May, we turn to Our Lady yet again in a very special manner under that very special title, Mediatrix of All-Grace. Monstra Te esse Matrem, we sing in the Ave Maris Stella, show unto us that you are our Mother.

May Our Lady indeed come to intercede for all of us, but especially come to the aid of our families whose sanctity and dignity are again facing an onslaught of attacks from many fronts.

Monstra Te esse Matrem! Ave Maria. Ad Jesum per Mariam.