«CURRENT THEOLOGY MARIOLOGY O U R LADY'S COOPERATION I N T H E REDEMPTION. Progress in the theses dealing with Mary's coredemptive functions ...»
O U R LADY'S COOPERATION I N T H E REDEMPTION. Progress in the theses
dealing with Mary's coredemptive functions continues. The proposal, discussion, and even elimination of new views are part and parcel of theological
progress and of that proper development and elaboration of the deposit of
faith—providing always that new theories are not some ill-thought-out and
spurious hypotheses. It is well known that theologians are still divided on fundamental issues, the principal difference being that which concerns Our Lady's share in the objective redemption. [Cf. THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, 1 (May, 1940) 2, 187-189].
There are agreements along with the differences of opinion. Thus, all agree that Mary had her part in the redemption, subjectively considered.
And all who dispute the question of the redemption, objectively considered, have assumed certain positions, to which, recently, objection has been made. For both the defenders and antagonists of Mary's immediate cooperation in the redemption, objectively considered, hold unanimously that the immediate principle, or grace, whereby Mary could be conceived as cooperating, depended essentially and unconditionally on the achievement of the redemption by Christ. If Mary was privileged to collaborate at all, she was enabled to fulfill her function formally as a redeemed person; her incapacity to collaborate was remedied through some grace, and this grace was a gratia Redemptoris.
A new theory which upsets these fundamental agreements has been proposed. In 1939, J. Lebon, S.J., published an essay, entitled, "Comment je conçois, j'établis, et je défends la doctrine de la médiation mariale." [Ephemerides Theologieae Lovanienses, 1959, pp. 65 5 ff.] The new opinion is also defended by the Reverend Sylvester O'Brien in his second article on "The Universal Mediation of Mary," [Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 57 (April 1941) 880, pp. 289-308].
The essay of Father Lebon is marked as tentative; it opens a new field for discussion and for progress, either by elimination or modification. The fundamental position is taken that if Our Lady was enabled to cooperate in the redemption through sanctifying grace, then other persons also with sanctifying grace can be considered as collaborators. For the grace in Mary and in others is specifically the same. H e seeks, therefore, something in Our Lady in which no other shared, and makes the divine maternity the immediate principle of Our Lady's collaboration. Christ did not belong to the fallen race because of a personal title; Mary did not, through her title of Mother of God. Mary indeed received her prerogative of extraordinary sanctifying grace, and even from the first moment of her existence, in view of the foreseen merits of Christ the Redeemer; this is defined in the
CURRENT THEOLOGYIneffahilis Deus of Pius IX. But her ability to cooperate as Mother of God was not conferred intuitu meriti Salvatoris.
Father Lebon hopes to evade certain difficulties in the doctrine of the mediacy of grace through this theory. In making the divine maternity the immediate principle whereby Mary is associated with Christ in meriting the redemption, the principle, principium meriti non cadit sub merito, is safeguarded. For Mary's association is not to be ascribed to the merits of Christ's cross. All her effective cooperation is radicated in the prerogative of the maternity; it is conferred on her intuitu maternitatis, non intuitu gratiae sanctificantis per merita Christi collatae. Lebon asks if it does not belong to the divine wisdom to confer on Mary the power to collaborate— a power through grace—in view of the fact that the same wisdom decreed that she should be mother and cooperatrix. Certainly, grace derived from the merits of Christ was required for the personal redemption of Mary, and for her personal merits for her own crown; but not for her merits which availed, with those of Christ, for the redemption of man. Thus, while the maternity is an immediate principle, of itself it is not a ground of meriting, and hence needs (and postulates in view of the divine intention) a special gift to remove its insufficiency.
The first criticism of the proposed theory of Father Lebon to come to hand is that of Father Tummers, S.J., in his article, "Het Mede-Verdienen van de H. Maagd in het Verlosingswerk." [Bijdragen van de Philosophische en Theologische Faculteiten der Nederlandsche Jezuieten, 3rd part, 1940, 1, 199-213]. Only the first part of the article has appeared; some of its criticisms of Lebon's theory are reported.
Father Tummers seeks light on several important points. If the maternity is le principe immédiat of Mary's cooperation, one asks how this—it is a relation—can be such a principle. Again, if the maternity is an immediate principle, why is there need of supplying for an insufficiency; there should be no alleged insufficiency. Again, the prerogative of the maternity is held in no way to have depended on the merits of Christ. Further, there are difficulties in the view that Mary collaborated in the redemption but not through a grace which came from the cross. Finally, since the theory holds that a special gift was given Our Lady, and one not of a justificatory character, whereby Mary could merit, and merit de condigno, the defender is forced to contend, against the traditional view, a grace which is neither gratia gratis data or gratia gratum faciens; it must be some gratia sui generis.
Lebon's fundamental positions lead him to certain corollaries. In Christ there was a renunciation of His own life for the redemption of men, and this act proceeded from the virtue of religion. Correspondingly (and cooperatively) there was a renunciation made by Mary whereby she forewent her maternal rights to the life of her Son. According to Lebon, "Dans 418 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES le plan divin de la rédemption et selon la volonté divine, ces deux renonciations sont associées en un hommage religieux total (italics ours) que Jésus opère et que Marie 'co-opère' avec lui." Father Tummers objects that the two acts are on so different a plane that they cannot form the alleged hommage religieux total.
Again, Father Lebon, with St. Thomas, makes no real distinction between the gratia personalis and gratia capitalis in Christ, however clear are the two aspects of the same grace. Through His personal accidental holiness Christ can be conceived to have merited the vision for Himself on the title of merits; through the grace He had as head of the race, He can be conceived to have merited the redemption of the race. Now it is disputed whether Christ needed accidental holiness (sanctifying grace) at all in order to merit in either case. The Salmantans asserted the absolute need of such grace; Suarez, noting that Christ was on the plane of the supernatural by the grace of the Union, denied any need of accidental holiness, sanctifying grace, as a requisite for the capacity to merit.
However this disputed point may be settled, it is not clear how a similar question can arise in the case of Our Lady. In order to merit she would need sanctifying grace, and by this she would be on the plane of existence in which her merits would be applicable to those who were to be enabled to reach their end, the vision. She has no prerogative which is analogous to the Hypostatic Union of her Son. Father Lebon sees this lacuna in his theory, and hence he is driven to introduce the don special... "qui, sans la (Marie) justifier, était le principe de la proportion objective entre son acte de Corédemptrice et la récompense de la vie éternelle."
But one asks if this gift is sufficient for the carrying out of the task assigned. It is supposed to serve the function of enabling Mary to merit in a way in which the gratia unionis would in the view of Suarez. Yet the only known principle which is proportionate to life eternal and the vision is the participation in the divine nature through sanctifying grace. In Mary this is not sanctifying grace in the view of Father Lebon, for it does not justify. Indeed, Lebon must hold this, for in his view this gift is given before she is conceived as having received personal redemption through the merits of Christ, and Mary cannot be conceived as being justified before the Immaculate Conception. Hence, it would seem that we are driven to the common opinion, namely, that in whatever way Mary merited to share in the work of redemption, she had that share through having sanctifying grace, and this was a gratia Redemptoris. It would seem that the common opinion that Mary cooperated, formally as a redeemed person, should not be abandoned, and that, whatever view is held concerning the measure of her collaboration, all her capacity to share and to merit is due somehow to the merits of the cross.
CURRENT THEOLOGYThus, in his first article, Father Tummers brings sharp criticism to bear on one point, the immediate principle of Mary's cooperation; a second article will consider the difficulties which are encountered in the matter of Mary's condign merit. On the other hand the critic calls attention to the many questions which are opened up for discussion. The clarification of these will mean real progress in a very subtle and beautiful part of our Marian theology. We must remember that Father Lebon has put forth his theory as tentative; he leans, however, to the acceptance of his own view.. This is clear from the title of his essay, and also from these words in the body of it: "Cette manière de comprendre et d'expliquer l'intervention de la Vierge dans Pacquisition du mérite rédempteur, est-elle à rejeter de prime abord, comme insoutenable et impossible? Il ne me semble pas que son impossibilité soit évidente.... " Father Tummers appreciates the keenness of the new theory, and remarks in conclusion that "wij met geen faux problème te doen heoben,"—we are not dealing with a spurious theological problem.
HYPERDOULIA. ARCHEOLOGICAL NOTICES. T H E BASILICA AT BETHLEHEM.
It has been known for many centuries that the basilica at Bethlehem was built so that the sanctuary of the church is above the grotto of the Nativity.
One descends a circular stairway from the upper church to come to the place where the altars of the Nativity and Magi stand. A summary account of the archeological certainties and problems concerning this site appeared in the Oriens Christianus [35 (1939) 227-234] by A. Rücker under the title, "Bericht über die archäologischen Ergebnisse der Untersuchungen in der Geburtskirche in Bethlehem." According to Rücker the old dispute concerning the builder of the present structure is settled; some held that it is the Basilica of Justinian (525-565), while others held that it is the work which Constantine (306-337) undertook. The archeological data favor Constantine. The most important of the recent discoveries is that of an octagonal building whose foundations were found over the grotto in the repairs which were undertaken in 1934.
This octagon has given rise to numerous questions. There is no doubt that its foundations supported some sort of a building over the grotto—but Christian or pagan? Constantinian or earlier? An architectural unit with the rest of the church or an intrusion or an ancient building absorbed in the new church of Constantine? One of the greatest archeological authorities in the Church, Father Vincent Abel, O.P., who was present during the repairs of 1934, came to the conclusion that the octagon was part of Constantine's work and is to be dated about 320 A.D.; it served to mark the most sacred part of the shrine. Abel argued ingeniously to show that the octagonal structure within the church did not destroy the general architectural unity of the basilica. This part of his thesis was criticized as the least convincing. The essays of Abel appeared in the Revue Biblique in 1936 (544-573) and 1937 (93-121).
420 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES As early AS 1934 an alternative opinion appeared from Father Mamert Vionnet; it reappeared, taking into account the opinion of P. Abel in Í938.
In this view the octagonal foundations are the sub-structure of an older church over the grotto which was in ruins by the time of Diocletian (196 A.D.). When Constantine came to build his church a century and a quarter later this shrine was too venerable a Christian relic to be destroyed. It was included in the plans of Constantine's architects even though it did not fit in with the architectural unity of the new church.
Vionnet goes a step further. It is well known from Origen and St.
Jerome that to prevent the Christians from paying their devotions at the shrine of the Nativity, the Emperor Hadrian (117-135) constructed a temple of Venus and Adonis at the grotto. It is the claim of Vionnet that the Christians of the 2nd century made Hadrian's pagan temple into a church, keeping the octagonal form of Hadrian and laying mosaics in the floor with Christian symbols. Black crosses on a white base have been uncovered.
But while the inference made from the crosses seems at first glance to be correct, P. G. de Jerphanion, S.J., remarks in his "Bulletin d'archéologie chrétienne et byzantine," [Orientalia Christiana Periodica, 6 (Jan.-June 1940) 1-2, p. 150] that the crosses may be no more than geometrical floordesigns which are found elsewhere without any specific Christian significance; similar designs are found in Herculaneum which was destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
SAINT MARY MAJOR I N ROME. In the bulletin of P. G. de Jerphanion, already mentioned, there is a note showing how the basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome is a century-old witness of the orthodox faith in Mary's maternity, through its connection with the church in Ephesus where the Council declared that Our Lady is truly Theotókos. We recall that in the divine office for August 5, the nocturns of S. Mariae ad Nives have the story of the first construction of the church on the Esquiline under Pope St.
Liberius (356-366). But after some seventy years the church needed reconstruction and enlargening. This was done by Pope St. Sixtus III (432whose reign followed upon the Council of Ephesus in which the heresy of Nestorius was condemned.