Mother Of Divine Grace By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P. The Plenitude Of Universality. Part 3.

The harmony which obtained when our first parents were created, and which it was God's purpose should also exist in their descendants, was destroyed when Adam fell. The inferior powers rebelled against the higher, just as these, the faculties of mind and will, had risen in revolt against God. This rebellion of the faculties and inferior powers has been transmitted to every human being. It is termed concupiscence, desire, inclination or tendency to evil. It does not follow that the inclination to evil will necessarily take shape in actual wrong-doing. It may be resisted, as it has been resisted by many servants of God; but the inclination or tendency is there. It was non-existent in our Blessed Lady.

St. Thomas explains how this could be, though living as he did when the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was still under discussion, he does not teach the doctrine of the non-existence of this inclination to evil in our Blessed Lady. Having shown how this tendency is evil because inordinate, and that it is inordinate because it is contrary to reason, the Angelic Doctor proceeds: " We may say that this tendency was completely destroyed because of the abundant Grace conferred upon the Blessed Virgin, which so disposed her faculties of soul that the inferior powers never acted except under the guidance of reason, as was the case with Christ, in whom it is certain that no such tendency existed; and in Adam before he fell, because of his original justice." 1 But we have already seen that our Lady also was created in the state of original justice as Adam was; and we have also seen that she was endowed with the use of reason in the same moment that she was created Immaculate. Hence the Grace which preserved her from all stain of Original Sin also destroyed the tendency to evil which is an effect of this sin. The dignity of the Son is not affected in any way by attributing this privilege to His Mother. It was a privilege; a favour conferred upon her by God because of His love for her. With Jesus Christ there was no question of privilege: such immunity was His by right. Keeping this distinction before us, we may apply to our Blessed Lady the reasoning of St. Thomas regarding the total absence of any tendency to evil in our Divine Lord. " Moral virtue, which has its seat in the Irrational part of the soul, makes it subservient to reason, and the stronger the virtue is, the greater will be this subserviency. ... It Is the nature of this tendency to cause a sensual desire for what Is contrary to reason. Wherefore, the more perfect the virtue, the less strong will be the force of this desire. Virtue the most perfect was possessed by Christ, consequently there was no tendency to evil." 2 "The more perfect the virtue, the less strong will be the force of this desire." But the initial Grace received by the Immaculate was so unique, so extraordinary, that the moral virtues infused with it were equally unique, equally extraordinary, and of the highest degree of perfection. Consequently the tendency to evil which was totally absent in our Divine Lord, because of the virtues that were His by right owing to the union of His human nature with the Divine Person, was also absent in His Mother because of the extraordinary intensity of the moral virtues she received when she was preserved from all taint of Original Sin.

Need we say that this privilege was conferred upon our Blessed Lady in view of the merits of her Divine Son ? All the beauty and supernatural splendour of her being was the effect of God's love and Grace, and as the Decree of Pope Pius IX. tells us, this Grace was bestowed upon her in view of the merits of Jesus Christ. Unless she had been preserved Mary would have been infected with the original stain like every other child of Adam; and, being infected with the stain, the tendency or inclination to evil would have been experienced by her as it is experienced by all others.

Nor does the absence of this inclination imply that our Lady was of a nerveless, anaemic type of holiness, utterly passionless. The human passions are not evil in themselves. They become so when they are centred upon or directed to an end that is contrary to reason, therefore contrary to God's law. As St. Augustine says: "The question is not whether a saintly soul is angry, but why it is angry ? not whether it is sad, but why it is sad ? not whether it is afraid, but what is the reason for its fear ?" 3

From what has been said we can see that our Blessed Lady was endowed with the privilege of Integrity. It was the privilege conferred upon our first parents, and it affected both soul and body: the body, by preserving it from death; the soul, by preserving it from error and malice. This privilege was lost by Original Sin. But the penalty due to that loss, the penalty of physical suffering and death for the body, and of error, malice, and concupiscence for the soul, was not a debt contracted by the Immaculate just because she was Immaculate, Suffering and death were accepted by her as they were accepted by her Divine Son. She was ennobled by them, and made conformable to Him " by whose bruises we are healed." 4 Through them she merited still further increase of Graces, still greater glory; for while we pray to her as the Queen of Martyrs, we also pray to her as the woman whom " the King loved . , . more than all other women," who " had favour and kindness before Him above all women," favour so great that " He set the royal crown on her head," 5 and proclaimed her Queen of Heaven and of earth, of Angels and of men.

Before we consider our Blessed Lady's glory in Heaven, let us examine her claim to those other Graces which are termed Gratia gratis data, Graces which make for the well-being of others rather than for the sanctification of the individual upon whom they are conferred.

According to the Apostle, these gratuitous favours are nine: " the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, 6 the grace of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, diversity of tongues, and the interpretation of speech." 7 Were these Graces also conferred upon the Immaculate ? Mindful of the principle already laid down, that every favour conferred upon any servant of God was also conferred upon His Mother, and in a pre-eminent degree, though conditioned by her position as a woman, we must acknowledge that this ninefold division of gratuitous Grace was most certainly conferred upon her. Did she not possess the " word of wisdom," and the " word of knowledge" which enabled her to penetrate into the secrets of the Most High as no other could, and to teach the Evangelists those intimate lessons on the Incarnation which they could never have received from any human lips save hers ? Was it not her " faith " which brought about the miracle at Cana of Galilee ? We have no record, it is true, that our Blessed Lady wrought any miracles during her mortal life. St. Thomas gives as his reason for saying " the working of miracles did not appertain to her during her lifetime," that, " as the doctrine of Christ was to be confirmed at the time by miracles, it pertained to Christ alone, and to His disciples who were to carry His teaching abroad, to work miracles." 8 Our Blessed Lady was not an apostle in the official, formal meaning of the term. Her sex forbade the exercise of any apostolic teaching; therefore, it was not within her province to confirm the doctrine of her Son by public miracles. But shall we say that she wrought none? History records numberless miracles wrought by her since her Assumption. Lourdes has been a continual miracle for the past fifty years, 9 and now, as of old, it is His Mother who leads men to Jesus Christ. 10 In the light of the records of miracles wrought by the Immaculate during the centuries that have passed, can we say that she has exercised this power only since her Assumption ? May we not say rather that she simply continues to do what she did during her life on earth, with this difference, that whereas the wonders wrought by her then were as hidden as her life, now they are public, apparent, striking ? 11

The Magnificat is a proof that our Blessed Lady possessed the gift of prophecy, and the history of the Church is a realisation of her words to St. Elizabeth: Behold henceforth and for ever all generations shall call me blessed. Neither heresy nor unbelief can destroy, or even weaken the force of this prophecy; the testimony of nineteen centuries witnesses to its fulfilment.

The discerning of spirits, the gift which enables those who have received it to read the secrets of hearts, and to recognise whether particular inspirations come from God or from the angels of darkness, was certainly possessed by the Mother of God. Her attitude towards the Archangel is evidence of this; for while our Lady showed deepest humility, she also showed extraordinary prudence. Furthermore, the Holy Ghost enlightened and assisted His Spouse in a special manner, and would never permit her to be the victim of Satan's wiles or illusions. And when we know that this Grace was conferred upon many of God's Saints for the welfare of souls; that they were able to read the secrets of hearts and thus gain power to guide the wayfarer along the narrow path to God, we cannot hesitate to attribute the same Grace to the Immaculate, but in a manner deeper and more intense.

Our Blessed Lady was the Mother of the Mystical Body as she was also the Mother of Christ. On Pentecost, the preaching of the Apostles amazed the multitude, " because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue." There were " Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers from Rome." 12 When they heard the message that Peter delivered to them, must they not have been anxious to see the Mother, and have sought her, and have prayed her: " Let thy voice sound in my ears; for thy voice is sweet" ? 13 Had the Mother of Jesus no word for these her other children, the first-born of Calvary f We cannot doubt that she had a message for them, and that they heard her speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. 14 This leads us to believe that she understood them; not merely that she read their hearts; but that she actually understood what they said, consequently, that our Blessed Lady was endowed with the gift of Interpretation of Speeches, which is the complement of the gift of Diversity of Tongues. She was the Mother of mankind—given that charge by her Divine Son—and we may be assured that God endowed her with the power of understanding every child of hers who had recourse to her intercession in those early days, as she now hearkens to every request and will hearken as long as time shall be.

From - Mother Of Divine Grace: A Chapter in the Theology of the Immaculate. By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P. 

1 Sum. Theol., III. Pars, Q. XXVII, A. 3.

2 Sum. Theol., III. Pars, Q. XV., A. 2.

3 De Civitate Dei, lib. ix., ch. v.

4 Isa. liii. 5. During his period of trial Adam was possessed of potential immortality (posse non mori). This potential immortality would be lost if he transgressed the divine command; and, on the other hand, if he proved staunch in his time of trial, the potential immortality would become effective immortality; the posse non mori would become non mori posse, Cf. La Revelation Primitive et les Donnees actuelles de la Science, par R. P. G. Schmidt. French version by Pere Lemmonyer, O.P., pp. 35 sqq. Paris, Gabalda, 1914.

5 Esth. ii. 17.

6 This is not the Theological Virtue but such utter confidence in God as does not hesitate to demand a miracle, and which is certain that the miracle will be wrought if it is necessary to establish God's honour or to promote His glory. It is akin to the fourth and fifth charisma.

7 1 Cor. xii. 8-10.

8 Sum. Theol., III. Pars, Q. XXVII, A. 5, ad 3.

9 Cf. Bertrin, Histoire Critique des Evenements de Lourdes, pp. 119-406, 445-579. Paris, 1908.

10 Cf. the remarkable discourse of Father Paul Aucler, S.J., Lourdes and the Holy Eucharist, English translation by E. Duncan Boothman, M.A. Father Aucler was killed in action in 1914.

11 Cf. Hugon, op. cit., pp, 198-199; Terrien, op. cit., vol. ii., pp . 291-295.

12 Acts ii. 7-10.

13 Cant, of Canticles, ii. 14.

14 Cf. Cornelius a Lapide, Comm. in Act. Apost. ii. 4.