Worth School, Sussex, England Wednesday, July 21 to Sunday to July 25, 2004
On Wednesday, July 21, 2004, the Worth School in Sussex will host the
Fifth Annual International Conference on Marian Coredemption sponsored by Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in cooperation with “A Day with Mary” organization. The title for this year’s conference is Redemption and Coredemption in the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This year’s title is significant for this year commemorates the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. For all those who have been familiar with previous symposiums, the title is very appropriate this year also as Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception is her singular privilege in light of her role as the Mother of God. The great Jesuit theologian Francisco Suarez, one of the earliest proponents of Mariological Studies in the sixteenth Century wrote: “The way, therefore, to attain knowledge of the Son is rightly prepared by study of the Mother; nor could they, who were so greatly united by blood and affection, be severed by disputation (i.e. study)” (Dr. Robert Fastiggi, “Mary’ Coredemption According to Francisco Suazez, S. J. 1548-1617,” Acts of 4th Annual International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, 2003).
This year’s conference will highlight the close link between the divine Maternity and Coredemption based on the mystery of Immaculate Conception. Blessed Pius IX in his solemn definition Inefabilis Deus, made in 1854, says of the Immaculate Conception: “The most holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin..... God so love her with a unique predilection that He filled her with the greatest abundance of his celestial gifts and her participation in the Divine Life exceeds that of all angels and saints together. Her life reflects so great a fullness of innocence and sanctity that a more exalted creature cannot be conceived of except by the creator Himself.” These solemn words in a magisterial pronouncement of Holy Mother Church certainly has inspired this year’s speakers to study the theme of Our Lady’s participation in the divine mystery of the Redemption of mankind by her
beloved Son. One of this year’s talks by Mgr. Arthur Calkins of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in the Vatican, will be specifically on “The Immaculate Conception in the Magisterium of Blessed Pius IX.”. Other talks will highlight Coredemption in the light of the thought of great saints and figures of the Church: Bl. John Duns Scotus, Jacopone da Todi (Stabat Mater), Dom Prosper Gueranger, St. Bonaventure, Ven. Maria Agreda (“Mystical City of God”) and Fr. Gabriele Roschini (Servite). For all those who were impressed with Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ” and his depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there will also be a paper on “The Passion of the Christ and the Compassion of the Mother: Mel Gibson’s Marian Triumph.” All in all, this year’s talks should illuminate the words of Pope John Paul II: “Mary, conceived without stain of sin, has participated in an admirable way in the sufferings of her Divine Son to be Coredemptrix of humanity.” (8 Sept., 1982). This year’s talks should also illuminate “her participation in the Divine Life” which “exceeds that of all the angels and saints together, as Bl. Pius IX described her in Ineffabilis Deus.
The noted English author, Philip Trower, in his introduction to the acts of the First International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (published under the title, “Mary at the
Foot of Cross I), made some very insightful comments of the various talks in the symposium which he attended in the year 2000 at Ratcliffe College. “Will the Church define Our Lady’s role as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Universal Advocate, making five Marian dogmas in all? The other four are the Immaculate Conception, the Divine Motherhood, the Perpetual Virginity, and the Assumption.....Until I attended this conference, I was, I imagine, like most other Catholics who feel in an unexamined way that no honours can be too great for Our Lady as long as they are in keeping with her status as a creature... I did not really understand the theological issue at stake, nor how strong the case for a definition was, particularly in the case of the title Coredemptrix....The first two objections I have mentioned – the title Coredemption will be misunderstood and damage ecumenical relations—do have a certain cogency as long as we view the subject from a purely natural standpoint. I believe that a matter like this, however, has to be looked at differently. We shall not grasp God’s will in the matter if we ignore the overall development of Marian devotion and doctrine, and the recognized apparitions of the last two centuries. When these are taken into account, Marian Mediation and Coredemption appear as the climax to which the other doctrines and dogmas have been pointing, the crown of them all, and the missing pieces that at last link them all together.” (p. vii & p. xii) This is what this year’s conference helps to do: to show how Our Lady’s Divine Maternity and Immaculate Conception are integral to her Coredemption and Mediatrix of All Graces. Considering the importance of this proposed dogma, there is certainly a spiritual warfare waged by the forces of evil who wish to do everything they can to defeat this proposal.
The spiritual warfare between “the woman and her seed” and “the serpent” (cf. Gen. 3:15 and Rev. 12:1 ff) can be seen in the “Declaration of the Theological Commission”, a commission whose members attended the Twelfth International Mariological-Marian Congress held in Czestochowa, Poland in 1996. According to Dr. Mark I. Miravalle in his paper at the 2002 symposium, “In Continued Dialogue with the Czestochowa
Commission,” the members of this commission “were never informed that they were acting as a ‘commission established by the Holy See’ but only on the request by some authority within the Holy See to offer their opinion on the question on the definition, the results of the Czestochowa ecumenical ad hoc group and their negative conclusion concerning the proposed definition of Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, was promulgated by the Catholic and secular press as a definitive magisterial rejection...of the proposed fifth Marian Dogma, with headlines of ‘No New Marian Dogma’ circulated worldwide.” (p. 360-1, At the Foot of the Cross III ). Dr. Miravalle, who heads the movement Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici for the proclamation of this fifth Marian dogma, then proceeded to show how deception and confusion can be used to forestall the proclamation of the dogma. He closed his paper by showing how often in “serious theological disagreement,” it is often “the witness of sanctity” that “provides light and clarity to an important theological dispute.” He then went on to quote Mother Teresa of Calcutta MC (now Bl. Teresa of Calcutta): “Mary is our Coredemptrix with Jesus. She gave Jesus his body and suffered with him at the foot of the Cross.// Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace. She gave Jesus to us, and as our Mother she obtains for us all his graces.// Mary is our Advocate who prays to Jesus for us. It is only through the Heart of Mary that we come the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.// The papal definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate will bring great graces to the Church.// All for Jesus through Mary.” The truth of the Holy Spirit through His saints is always simple and direct.
In the past four symposiums, English scholars have highlighted the role of Mary in England’s Catholic roots. In the year 2000, in a talk by Fr. Martin Edwards, “Our Lady’s Dowry—England’s Ancient Boast,” he opened with a quote from Cardinal Newman: Arise, Mary, and go forth in thy strength into that north country, which was once thine own... O, Mary my hope, O, Mother undefiled, fulfil to us the promise of the spring. (July 13,
1852). Later in the same paper, Fr. Edwards quotes our Holy Father Pope John Paul II when he was in England in 1982: ...Let us learn this from Mary our Mother. In England, ‘the Dowry of Mary,’ the faithful for centuries, have made pilgrimage, to her shrine at Walsingham. Today Walsingham comes to Wembley, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, present here, lifts our minds to meditate on our Mother...Through the rosary, the great Gospel prayer, she will help us to know Christ. In that same year, Mgr. Calkins highlighted the role of the great English priest of the Brompton Oratory, Fr. Frederick W. Faber in his paper, “Mary the Coredemptrix in the Writings of Frederick William Faber.” Mgr. Calkins in answering the confusion about the meaning of coredemptress quotes Fr. Faber’s book, The Foot of the Cross: the Sorrows of Mary. There is no question about the lawfulness of using such language, because there is such overwhelming authority for it. ... We certainly shrink from asserting that the language of the saints has no meaning, or is inadvisable; and, at the same time, we have no doubt that our Blessed Lady is not coredemptress of the world in the strict sense of being redemptress, in the unshared sense in which our Lord is Redeemer of the world, but she is coredemptress in the accurate sense of that compound word.” Pp. 89 & 370-1) Few today even know who Fr. Faber was and that he was a great Marian theologian as it was he who gave us the first English translation of St. Louis de Montfort’s classic on Marian devotion, True Devotion to Mary. This year, Fr. Timothy Finigan will give a paper on “The Immemorial Cult of the Conception of Mary in England. There seems little doubt that the conversion of England depends upon how much the English embrace Our Lady as they did in the days of her Catholic past.
For those who cannot attend this year’s symposium and for those who would like to read or hear the talks of the previous symposiums, they have been put into book form and audio cassettes. This certainly is great benefit especially considering the nature of the international character of the various
speakers over the years. The great French theologian of happy memory, Fr. Bertrand de Margerie, SJ spoke at the first three symposiums. This year’s list of speakers promises to be of similar high quality as several former speakers are returning: Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI, the founder of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate will give a paper on “The Immaculate Conception in the Stabat Mater of Bl. Jacopone da Todi,” Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, FI., Chairman of the Conference, will give a talk on the influence of “Redemption, Metaphysics and the Immaculate Conception.” Several other speakers from as far away as the United States of America and Argentina, including Fr J. Ferrer, a founding member of the Navarre University, will round out the list of speakers in the fourteen conferences during the first four days. The final fifth day, Sunday, there will be a devotional tribute to Our Lady, A Day With Mary. Many devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary are familiar with this format of Holy Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Processions, Rosary, Hymns and Stations of the Cross as is done frequently in the parishes of London and the other dioceses of England. During the conferences, there will also be Marian exhibitions, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and rosary, question and answer sessions, and concerts in the evening.
AvsMr Trower mentioned already arious other Marian dogmas seem all to point to Our Lady’s Coredemption as a crowning jewel. This is so because it has always been the devotional practice in the Church to go to Mary to find Jesus, “To Jesus through Mary.” The problem for most of the world is that it no longer has the faith of years past. This is why the great Marian saint of the twentieth century, St. Maximilian Kolbe, said, “Modern times are dominated by satan, and it will be more so in the future.” He also told us that “The reason the world does not know Christ the King is that it does not know His Mother.” This is why there is such darkness in the world today. This is why we have a culture of death with abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia. We need come again to the Blessed Virgin. She is the Mother of God and our Mother, and she will teach us about her Son, Jesus. This is why we need to go to “Mary at the Foot of the Cross.” This is why we need to contemplate her in her sorrows and her sacrifice of her Son to the Father at Calvary. Father Faber sums it up so well in his hymn: “O Come and mourn with me awhile;/ see, Mary calls us to her side;/ O come and let us mourn with her;// Jesus our love, Jesus our love,/ is crucified.” We need to see Mary, as Lumen Gentium of Vatican II, tells us: “(Mary) conceived Christ, gave birth to him, reared him, offered him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son’s suferings as He died on the cross. This was her wholly unique co-operation in the Saviour’s work for the restoration of supernatural life for souls.” (LG, #6) This is what will be explained at this year’s conferences on “Redemption and Coredemption in the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.”
Fr George Mary Roth, F.I.