A Franciscan Exposition of the Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
based on a number of writings by Franciscan Saints and Blesseds
The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the story of the most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ.
She exemplifies in perfection what St. Paul writes of in the eighth chapter of his Letter to the Romans:
"Now we know that for those who love God all things work together unto good, for those who, according to His purpose, are saints through His call. For those whom He has foreknown He has also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the firstborn of many brethren. And those whom He has predestined, them He has also called; and those whom He has called, them He has also justified, and those whom He has justified, them he has also glorified." (8:28-30)
1.1 The Predestination of the Blessed Virgin Mary
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and immaculate in His sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as His sons, according to the purpose of His will, unto the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He has favored us in His beloved Son." (St. Paul: Ephesians 1:4-5)
With these words the Apostle of the Gentiles sets forth the mystery of the election and predestination of mankind in Christ; he delineates its limits; he indicates its goal. It is an election from eternity to be "holy and immaculate in His sight in love." It is a predestination to adoptive sonship in Christ Jesus, for "praise of the glory of His grace."
And thus in any consideration of the election and predestination of men, the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a special place, not only because She is so frequently mentioned in the Sacred Text, but because of Her central role in the mystery of salvation, which is at the heart of the mystery of the election and predestination of mankind in Christ, for which role She was elected and predestined in an utter unique manner to be "holy and immaculate in His sight in love," for the "praise of the glory of His grace" in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Yet any consideration of the mystery of mankind's election and predestination in Christ often leads to misunderstanding. "Why," it is asked, "are some chosen to be of the number of the elect? And if so, what has merit anything to do with one's election and predestination? Should we not therefore 'Rejoice and be merry, for tommorow we will die'? For what has human freedom to do with the matter of our destiny, if God from the beginning had decided the final outcome?"
An examination of the presuppositions behind this common misunderstanding of the nature of election and predestination, as well as the relation of human freedom to these two, shows that these result from a misunderstanding of the nature of freedom itself, and therefore even of God's freedom.
Freedom or libertas in Latin is not an ability to act without respect to any prior cause or judgement, for such "freedom" is nothing but a random chaotic activity devoid of what is essential to response or reaction. Rather freedom is the ability to act in respect to true knowledge and right judgement; in this sense freedom is defined vis a vis the will. Thus freedom attains its perfection in not only freedom from a state in which there is no liberty of action, but primarily in freedom to act in accord with true knowledge and right judgement. In this respect the scholastic theologians were once again right on the mark, so to say, when they taught that "knowledge of the truth is the condition for freedom," which is an echo of what Christ taught, "You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free." (Jesus Christ: John 8:32) Therefore God's predisposing will in no way removes freedom of action in man, but rather is the fundamental condition for the existence and perdurance of that freedom. It cannot be otherwise for God is Truth and all that He does, being founded upon infinite Truth and right judgement, is essentially, infinitely free and liberating.
Therefore God, who although He is infinitely perfect, dwelling in inaccessible light, is also infinitely free. Thus when He chose to create this world in time, He was not constrained to create, nor to do so for any particular reason, but rather He freely chose to do so. He did this so as to ordain creation to His own greatest honor and glory, even as it is written, "For from Him and through Him and for Him all things are. To Him be glory forever. Amen." (St. Paul: Romans 11:36) In this God acted in perfect freedom, highest liberty, and unfathomable liberality.
By doing so God, as Creator, conferred on all that He called into existence from nothing the greatest honor and dignity: namely to be for God's sake. And since God is infinite Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, this divine ordination of creation to Himself is the greatest possible destiny and beatitude for all creation.
And therefore to accomplish this ordination, God, who is inscrutible in His judgements and unsearchable in His ways (cf. St. Paul: Romans 11:33), chose that the Word, who is the eternal, natural, and only begotten Son of the unbegotten, and eternal Father, should descend from heaven, taking up into the embrace of His divine Person the nature of a rational creature made in His own image and likeness. This creature is man. Thus by means of the incarnation of God the Son, becoming thus King of Creation, God would, both within and without creation, be "All in all," (Ephesians 1:23) its highest glory, its ultimate purpose.
Since God so decreed the Incarnation of the Word, it was essential that in the same decree He would include the mother from whom He would receive this humanity. This humanity, destined to recieve the sublime dignity of the Son of God, would be born of human generation by the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus truly human. God ordained the Incarnation in this manner so that His Son would be "like us in all things but sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Indeed He did not need to do so, but since this would be "for the praise of the glory of His grace" it was truly free.
Hence, in the same decree, wherein God ordained the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, the Blessed Virgin Mary was predestined to be His Mother, She from whom the Son of God would take His human nature. And She would not be just the mother of this assumed human nature, but truly be the Mother of God, for the relationship established by conceiving a human child is not a relationship of "nature to nature" but of "person to person." Thus like every mother, She would not conceive and give birth to merely a body, but to a person, of individual and irreplaceable dignity.
But can it be said that in being predestined to be the Mother of God the Son, the Blessed Virgin Mary was predestined to receive a dignity greater than that of all creatures? In a certain respect yes, and very much so; in another respect no. The human nature of Christ, being assumed by the Word, is predestined and has received a dignity that is essentially infinite, for it belongs to the Person of the Eternal Son who is by His Divine Nature of infinite dignity. Yet, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in being predestined to be His Mother is ordained to a dignity that is quasi-infinite. For to be a mother is to be in a certain true sense more than an equal to the child. In this respect it can be said that the dignity of the Mother of God is above that of Her Son, according to His humanity. But there is a significant differences. The dignity of the Son of Mary, according to his human nature is the same dignity of the Son according to His Divine Nature, whereas the dignity of the Mother is only a dignity in relation to that same Son; it is not a dignity founded upon nature, simply speaking, but only in so far as She is truly the Mother of God the Son. A dignity which She has by grace. Nevertheless, the dignity of the Mother is a true and glorious one. By this predestination She has been forever raised above all creatures, and like Her Son exalted "above every Principality and Power" and given a name "which is above every other name (God alone excepted) which can be named" (cf. Ephesians 1:21) in this world or in the world to come: Mother of God.
To make the Blessed Virgin Mary capable and worthy of this quasi-infinite dignity, God foreordained in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Her only begotten Son, that She would be holy and immaculate in His sight in the highest and most sublime degree. This the Church has always believed both in the East and West.. Thus, "From the first moment of your creation you are Immaculate!" (Photius of Constantinople quoting the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council in their praise of the Virgin Mary). Indeed it is evident from the terms of dignity applied to Her from the beginnings of Christianity, "Full of Grace," "The Lord is with Thee," "All Holy Mother of God," "Most Pure One," and from the iconic depictions of Her in the first centuries, standing alone without the Christ Child.
Thus by that one and same decree, wherein the Son of God was foreordained to become Incarnate, Mary, as Mother of God, was predestined to be Queen of Creation, free from all guilt, full of grace, and Mediatrix of every grace that He would, in His mercy and love, bestow upon creatures in Christ. It is for this reason that She rightfully deserves to be respected and honored "above all women," (Judith 13:18) for thus God has honored Her. Hence it is not only appropriate but very fitting and just to accord Her that special honor in the English language reserved for royalty, the honorific capitalization of pronouns refering to Her person (e.g. His Majesty, Her Majesty, etc.), for just as Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ is "King of Kings" (Revelations 19:16) according to that sacred Humanity which He received from Her, so She is "Queen of all Angels and Men," on account of Her Divine Motherhood; indeed the very powers of Hell tremble at the mere mention of Her name.
1.2 The Test of the Angels and the Fall of Lucifer
At the foundation of the world God created, at the same moment, both the invisible and visible creation.(cf. the decrees of the Third Lateran Council, 1215 A. D.) The invisible creatures would be pure spirits, invested with tremendous powers of intellect and will. As spirits they would exist forever and be essentially incapable of death. But since no creature is worthy to see or serve God, He put the angels to a test. Since God had foreordained creation to His greatest honor and glory, He intended to accomplish this by raising to the supernatural order creatures worthy of Himself. This is the effect of grace, which is a created participation in the uncreated life of God.(cf. 2 Peter 1:4)
The test God imposed upon the angels is referred to in the last book of the Bible. In the Apocalypse St. John describes the revelation of the divine decree in which the Son of God was to be incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Apocalype 11:19-12:9) If the angels chose to give the honor and glory that was due to the Incarnate Word and His Immaculate Mother, they would be raised to the perfect and eternal vision of Himself, which is known as the Beatific Vision.
This test was intended by God to manifest the secret intentions of hearts. For although God created each of the angels different from the others, some more perfect and powerful than the others, by the gift of grace, He would confer on lesser creatures than they, dignity and authority surpassing their own natural powers. Thus those angels who truly in their hearts adored, honored, and thanked God for what He had done for them gratuitously in creating them, would manifest this by readily adoring God Incarnate and duely honoring His Immaculate Mother.
Christ spoke of what was next to happen: "I saw Lucifer fall like lightning from heaven." (Jesus Christ: Luke 10:18)
Lucifer, one of the most powerful of all the angels, chose not to give the honor and glory that was due to God Incarnate and His Immaculate Mother. His sin was a sin of pride, for he rejected the authority and wisdom of the divine counsels in creating the world, saying, "Non serviam! I will not serve!" (cf. Jeremiah 2:20). By this act of rebellion he set himself up as the eternal enemy of Jesus Christ and Mary. It is said, by the Fathers of the Church, that he did this because he aspired himself to divinity, or that he resented any creature's superiority to his own, or again, that he resented handing over the dominion of this world, which God has entrusted to him before his fall, to Christ and His Immaculate Mother.
Thus having lost the dignity conferred on him by the name Lucifer (latin for "light-bearer") God gave him the name Satan, which means seducer (Apocalype 12:9). God did not prevent Satan from seducing a great number of angels who likewise denied Him the glory due His Incarnate Son. Nevertheless in His infinite justice God punished these wicked angels in "Hell, which was created for the devil and his angels." (Jesus Christ: Matthew 25:41)
To accomplish this, God empowered St. Michael and the loyal angels with such gifts of grace that they drove the devil and his minions from heaven: "And a battle broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back, and they did not prevail, niether was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, who leads astray the whole world; and he was cast down to the earth together with his angels." (Rev. 12:7-9)
St. Michael and the angels who fought with him, for their loyalty, were admitted to the Beatific Vision and the eternal service of Jesus Christ and Mary Immacluate.
Having been cast down to earth Satan and his angels began their long campaign against Jesus and Mary. The seducer knew from the revelation which God had made to all the angels, that the Mother of the Son of God would be a virgin. And so he begain his long quest: "And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had brought forth the male child." (Rev. 12:13) Thus began the cosmic war between Satan and the Blessed Virgin Mary, a war that will be consumated on the Day of Judgement, when Christ "having triumphed over every principality and power, will hand over the Kingdom to the Father." (1 Corinthians 15:24)
On the sixth day of creation, as recorded in the Book of Genesis (Chapters 2-3), God created man from the slime of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. God called this first man Adam (which means "from the earth") and He gave him authority over all the earth and its wildlife. For his helpmate God took a rib from Adam while he slept and He formed this into the first woman. God created both Adam and Eve in the state of grace and gave them special gifts of grace above the order of nature (cf. Ecclesiaticus 17:6-11). These gifts which they would pass on to their children, if they remained faithful to God, were the gifts of infused knowledge of the nature of all creatures, immortality (the ability not to die), integrity (the perfect self-dominion over their powers of body and soul), and impassibility (the ability not to suffer). Furthermore, God gave Adam and Eve the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. By this command God forever blessed marriage, ordained that it would be for life, and thus prepared the world to be the kingdom over which Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, and His Immaculate Mother, Mary, would some day reign.
Lest the woman placed in the garden with Adam would conceive and bear the Incarnate Word, Satan by his diabolic art chose now to use the form of a serpent to seduce Eve. Yet God did not prevent even this, for His greater glory.
To test Adam and Eve's fidelity, God laid upon them only one command which of itself seemed to be of little import. "Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in that day thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death."(Genesis 2:16-17)
And so Satan, who is the "Father of lies" and "a murderer from the beginning," (cf. John 8:44) added sin upon his sins of seducing the fallen angels, by seducing Eve with lies. He convinced her that God was witholding the secret to divinity and so she took the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband and he ate it.
For this sin of Adam (which was a mortal sin, cf. 1 John 5:16), God punished Adam and all his posterity with expulsion from the terrestrial paradise, and the loss of sanctifying grace and the preternatural gifts. This punishment was indeed just, for by submitting his intellect and will to the lies and malice of the devil ,Adam, on whom God had conferred authority over all creation and all mankind, made himself a subject in the kingdom of the devil and merited for himself and all his descendants eternal damnation in Hell. Thus Adam and Eve became "children of wrath," (Ephesians 2:3) and were cursed with difficulty in work, pains in childbearing, sickness, infirmity, old age and mortality.
This sin of Adam, however, was not only mortal. In catholic theology it is called the captial sin, i.e. the sin of the Head of our race, for by it Adam lost the preternatural gifts and the gift of sanctifying grace that he had received as the inheritance for all his posterity. Thus we, sons of Adam, on account of his sin, are born in original sin and doomed to death.
At this most tragic moment in human history God gave the most wonderful and merciful promise: a Savior. Speaking to the serpent who seduced Eve, God said:"I will place enmities between thee and the woman, between thy offspring and hers. She shall crush thyr head and thou shalt lie in wait for Her heel." (Genesis 3:15)
The Eternal Word, foreordained to be the glorious and immortal King of Creation, would now come in the form of a humble, crucified Messiah, to redeem mankind from the power of the devil, and thus reestablish"all things in Himself, both those in the heavens and those on the earth." (Ephesians 2:10 & Colossians 1:20) God made known the perfect revelation of this promissed Savior to a chosen people in sucessive stages. This would "prepare a people to be His own" (1 Samuel 12:22) when "in the fulness of time" (Ephesians 1:10) He would be "born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit." (cf. Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed)
This proto-evangelium (proto-gospel) refers explicity to the Mother of the promised Messiah. "I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. She will crush your head." That God was not speaking of Eve is obvious, for how can one who has already been defeated and stripped of power rise up to crush her foe? And if the woman who was to bear the promised Messiah would give birth to one who in his human nature would crush the prince of this world, then how could she herself be in subjugation to this same prince?
In the book of Isaiah God revealed further that this woman would be a virgin: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel (God-with-us)" (v. 7:14)
That Mary the Mother of God would live in Galilee and belong to the house of David, Isaiah also prophesized, for speaking of the land of Gallile he wrote: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death light is risen" (v.9:2) and further on: "For a child is born to us, and son is given to us, and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Consellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace." (v. 9:6) Likewise, "He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgement and with justice, from henceforth and forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."(v. 9:7)
Also, Isaiah indicated that She would be of the lineage of Jesse and that Her Son would be King over all the nations: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root;" (v. 11:1) "In that day the root of Jesse, who stands as a sign to the nation, Him the Gentiles shall seek out." (v. 11:10)
In the book of Micah God revealed moreover that this woman would give birth in Bethlehem of Judea: "And Thou Bethlehem-Ephratha are not the least among the princes of Juda, for from thee shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel: and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2)
Likewise, Micah prophesied that Israel would be given over to the power of her enemies even until the time the Virgin Mary would give birth: "Therefore will He give them up even till the time wherein She that travaileth shall bring forth." (Micah 5:3)
To King David, God promissed that this Savior, and hence, the Mother of the Savior, would be of his house and lineage. One of his sons would be King of Israel and His throne would endure forever. (First Book of Samuel, 7:12-14a)
In addition to many other prophecies, there are in the Old Testament many types and figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The virgin earth from which God made Adam foreshadows the virgin from whom by the breath of the Holy Spirit God would fashion the new Adam, Jesus Christ. The terrestrial paradise, the Garden of Eden, foreshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary, for in Her God the New Adam preferred to descend from the celestial paradise to dwell among men. Similarily, like the ark which Noe fashioned to save mankind from the flood, Mary was prepared beforehand by the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, to be the new ark of salvation bearing in Herself the Captain and Sheperd of souls. And there are many more, for example, Abraham who was called by God to sacrifice his only begotten and firstborn son is a type of Mary at the foot of the Cross.
"Who is this who comest forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army in battle-array?" (Canticle of Canticles 6:9)
The conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the dawn of our salvation. In Her alone is the Divine Majesty perfectly adored, worshiped, honored, and glorified, since She alone was without any stain of the original sin.
To understand the Immaculate Conception one must grasp what the iniquity of sin is in the sight of the All-Holy and Omnipotent God. Reading the Bible from Genesis to Malachy, one is unavoidably struck by the every increasing monstrosity of sin. The Fall of Adam, the murder of Abel, the Tower of Babel, the Flood, the idolatry and immorality of Babylon, Egypt, the Gentiles, Assyria, and the infidelity of so many of the sons & daughters of Israel. All this despite the ever increasing revelation of God's Mercy: the promised Messiah, the ban on behalf of Cain, the call of Abraham and the promises God made to him concerning the Messiah, the call of Moses to save His people from the bondage of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the desert, the parting of the Jordan, the conquest of the Promised Land, the judges, the promises made to King David that the Messiah would be his son, the revelations and instructions made through the prophets, the return from exile in Babylon, the holy priests and governors of Juda, the devotion and zeal of the Maccabees.
God had made Adam and his posterity to know, love, and serve Him in this life, and be blessed with Him forever in the life to come. By his sin, Adam merited the loss of God's grace for himself and for all his children. Thus, when comming into the world, a child is conceived in sin. That is, every child is conceived without the blessing of sanctifying grace.
This absence of the sanctifying grace in the soul at the moment of conception is what is known as original sin. Because of this, the intellect is darkened, the will is weakened, and the passions are disordered.
This distinction (between personal sin & original sin) is what confuses many people. No child is conceived guilty of a personal sin, in the sense that he commits sin in the womb of his mother, but every child is conceived without the gift of sanctifying grace because of Adam's personal sin. Adam's sin has this effect on all his children because the gift of sanctfying grace was given to him in a manner unlike all others. Men receive sanctifying grace for themselves alone in baptism, by Christ's mercy and disposition, but Adam received it as a gift for all his children in view of the comming Redeemer and on the condition that he would remain faithful. And since, without grace man can do nothing and is prey to the Principalities and Powers which fell from heaven, the Fall of Adam is the greatest tragedy in the history of our race; by it mankind came under the dominion of the devil, by whose envy death entered into the world.
But "Thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance." (Wisdom 11:24)
The Mystery of the Immaculate Conception is thus intimately hidden in the Mystery of the Divine Mercy, even at it is written: "The grace of God and His Mercy is with His saints, and He hath respect for His chosen ones." (Wisdom 4:15) Of this mystery it is writtten: "None of the rulers of this age have known this mystery, if they knew it they never would have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8) For when God predestined the son of Mary "to be Son of God in power" (Romans 1:4) He bound himself, as it were, in view of the merits of that same Son, to pour forth the bowels of His Mercy upon mankind: "Through the bowels of God's Mercy, wherewith the Orient from on high has visited us." (Luke 1:78)
The explanation of God's unique predilection for the Virgin Mary lies in Her predestination to be the Mother of God. For God created all things for His honor and glory--man himself to be His own image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26)--so that, when He Himself would come "unto His own," (John 1:11) they might be prepared for Him from the beginning, and worthy of Himself. Thus He preordained that His Mother would be, from the first moment of Her existence, perfectly pleasing to Himself, rendered immaculate by the omnipotence of His grace in the moment of Her conception. This is in accord with that scripture which says,"from His fulness we have all received, grace for grace." (John 1:16) Like the river of life flowing from the throne of God in the Book of the Apocalypse, overflowing both its banks, the merits of Jesus Christ --the Lord of all times and seasons--have been bestowed in mercy upon both the chosen people of the Old and New Testaments, past and future.
"One is my dove, my perfect one is but one, She is the only one of Her mother, the chosen of her that bore Her." (Canticle of Canticles 6:8)
That the Mother of the Incarnate God and Messiah would be "holy and immaculate" in the sight of God is prophesied mysteriously in the Old Testament. Understanding that She would be the way by which He would come into the world, King David prayed, "God, His way is immaculate!" (2 Samuel 22:31) And in the Canticles there is that wondrous question: "Who is She who cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army in battle-array?." (Canticle of Canticles 6:9) That is, in predestined silence, power, gentleness and beauty, invincible by grace to those spirits who in the eternal death of rebellion.
That She was conceived without any stain of original sin, follows then from a consideration of many such texts. Such has been the faith of the Fathers, who in writing of the Virgin Mary, after the death of the Apostles, called Her the New Eve, the Virgin Earth, the All-Holy Mother of the All-Holy God, Immaculate in the first moment of Her existence. This is the faith of the Roman Catholic Church from the time of Jesus Christ to the present day.
The Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin in foresight of the future merits of Jesus Christ, Her only-begotten Son. This means that She has a unique dignity among all creatures, even as She revealed at Lourdes, France, in 1858, when She identified Herself: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
The sublime dignity of the Mother of God is manifested in that name "the Immaculate Conception." As. St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe observes, She alone among all creatures is worthy to bear it. A conception is the fruit of the love of two persons. As such neither Angels nor animals can bear this name. Angels are created from nothing by the omnipotence of God. Animals are not persons. And even Adam and Eve cannot bear this name because they were created directly by God. Moreover to be immaculate, that is, entirely without sin and its consequences, is a perogative of God, Christ, Mary, and Adam and Eve before the Fall. The sons of Adam cannot bear this name since they are conceived "children of wrath." The Divine Persons cannot strictly bear this name since conception implies a coming into being. Yet, in as much as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son in eternal charity, the Holy Spirit can be called the Uncreated Immaculate Conception.
Why then can the Blessed Virgin Mary be called the Immaculate Conception? Because, by Her conception in the state of grace, which made Her the most faithful friend of God, She was rendered the "spouse of the Holy Spirit." (St. Francis of Assisi: Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary) United then with Him in an unbroken bond of sublime grace, She takes, as His bride, His own Name, and is thus becomes by the ineffable Mercy of God, "the Immaculate Conception."
When the Immaculate Virgin was conceived She was filled with grace. That this took place at Her Conception is alluded to directly by the Archangel Gabriel, "Hail, Full of Grace!" (Luke 1:28) For he uses this salutation as a proper name in place of "Mary" Note he does not say, "Hail, one who is now filled with grace." But that this is certain is clear from a consideration of what it means to be immaculate. For "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) And likewise, "If I have not charity, I am nothing." (St. Paul 1 Corintians 13:2) Indeed, without grace man can do nothing, nor can he remain the friend of God. To, thus, be perfectly and indefectibly united with Him in this life requires a very great fulness of His gracious Mercy. It is with such love, that God loves the Virgin Mary.
By Her Immaculate Conception, which rendered Her the "spouse of the Holy Spirit," (cf. St. Franics' Salutation) the Blessed Virgin was made Mediatrix of Grace. Indeed it is with Her conception that the Mission of the Holy Spirit in the preparation of the People of God reaches its climax, for from Her "would come the One who is to be Ruler in Israel" (cf. Micah) and Redeemer of Mankind. As He moved over the primordial waters (cf. Genesis 1), He now rushes upon Her without measure (cf. John 3:34), preparing Her day by day for that overshadowing whereby He will enable Her to conceive Him whom all creation cannot contain (cf. Luke 1:35). To be thus Mediatrix of Grace between God and men, does not detract from the dignity of Her Son, the one Mediator between God and men. Her dignity is not separate from His, but rather depends upon it. Just as She was conceived without sin in foresight of the merits of Her Son, so in view of His one Mediatorship and on account of Her own perfect union with Him--by the unique grace of the Holy Spirit--in the work of our salvation, is She worthy of the name Mediatrix. Through Her alone God has condescended to enter into our world to redeem us from the power of Satan. For Her sake He has showed mercy upon the chosen people, generation after generation, sparing Her ancestors lest He blot out from the face of the earth those who would bring Her to birth. On Her account Christ first revealed His glory, first worked His miracles; by Her the Apostles themselves first came to believe in Him (cf. John 2:3-2:11) In the order of grace She is our Mother, and we are bound to honor Her and invoke Her aid even as Christ commanded us upon Calvary as his last will and word: "Behold your Mother!" (John 19:27)
Source: Franciscan Archive (copied many years ago)