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Msgr. Maurice Dionne, 1954
Saint Thomas teaches that God has inscribed his judgments in his works; that his
works are as the words which a teacher uses in order to conduct the understanding of his
disciple to the knowledge of wisdom.
In other words, the works of God are the signs of
But the divine works are divided into two genera: the natural works and the
supernatural works. The former are signs proportioned to human reason. By his natural
power, man is able to know them, and therefore to name them. And these works play the
role of principles which permit us to discover certain divine names. It is necessary, all
the while, to remark that these names are all common because the creature is at the
beginning of their imposition.
As regards the supernatural works, God alone is able to know them naturally, and
it belongs to the Holy Spirit to reveal the names of them to us through the infallible voice
of the Church. There are in this case proper names, signs of the very life of God, which
signify the objects of faith sometimes in a manner less distinct, such as “the fullness of
grace,” and sometimes in a manner more distinct, such as “the Immaculate Conception.”
The passage from implicit revelation to explicit revelation does not consist in the passage
from one truth to another truth, but it is defined precisely by the communication of more
distinct names, instruments of a more manifest knowledge.
But the Incarnation is the most admirable and also the most hidden of all the
works of God. The Holy Spirit has named it “a sacrament hidden from the ages in God,”
and the principle of this work is very distinctly named Ineffabilis Deus. Although the
bull of Pius IX had for its object the Immaculate Conception, it was not any less ordained
to manifesting more the ineffable mystery of the redemptive Incarnation. It is therefore
in disclosing the incomparable privilege of the Immaculate Conception, the beauty sans
pareille of this “great sign appearing in the heaven,” that the Holy Spirit proposes this
great sign of the redemptive work, appearing in the Church, the holy Mother of God.
There is no doubt that the Church, in proclaiming the divine maternity and the
Immaculate Conception, invites theology to determine the proper principle which
commands all Marian doctrine. It is that the faith in these two dogmas permits us to
define the grace of Mary as a grace of the hypostatic order. We say “hypostatic order”
because it is necessary to distinguish the hypostatic union and the hypostatic order. This
“Divina enim sapientia faciens mundum, sua iudicia in rebus mundi instruit, secundum illud Eccli. I, 10:
effudit illam super omnia opera sua; ita quod ipsae creaturae, per sapientiam dei factae, se habent ad dei
sapientiam, cuius iudicia gerunt, sicut verba hominis ad sapientiam eius quam significant.
Et sicut discipulus pervenit ad cognoscendum magistri sapientiam per verba quae ab ipso audit, ita homo
poterat ad cognoscendum dei sapientiam per creaturas ab ipso factas inspiciendo pervenire, secundum illud
Rom. I, 20: invisibilia dei per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur. Sed homo propter sui cordis
vanitatem a rectitudine divinae cognitionis deviavit. Unde dicitur Io. I, 10: in mundo erat, et mundus per
ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. Et ideo deus per quaedam alia ad sui cognitionem
salutiferam fideles adduxit, quae in ipsis rationibus creaturarum non inveniuntur, propter quod a mundanis
hominibus, qui solas humanarum rerum considerant rationes, reputantur stulta. Et huiusmodi sunt fidei
documenta. Et est simile, sicut si aliquis magister considerans sensum suum ab auditoribus non accipi, per
verba quae protulit, studet aliis verbis uti, per quae possit manifestare quae habet in corde” (In I ad Cor.
1:21, lect. 3).
Ad Ephes., III, 9.
distinction is imposed already concerning Christ: there is not only the grace of union
which is of the hypostatic order; the habitual grace of Christ, which is a capital grace, is
proper to this order.
The habitual grace of Christ is distinguished from all others not by
a simple degree of intensity, but by an eminent mode which is rooted in the hypostatic
union. Likewise, all proportion being guarded, the grace of Mary is distinguished from
ours. Our grace is a common grace, an effect of the reparative redemption, and which
obeys the common law. On the other hand, the grace of Mary is wholly singular, a
privilege which removes the Mother of God from the common law. Non pro te, sed pro
omnibus haec lex constituta est (Esther 15:13). And not only does the grace of the divine
maternity belong to this order, but even the gratia gratum faciens of Mary. In other
words, the grace of Mary is distinguished again from ours by an eminent mode proper to
the hypostatic order.
This doctrine rests on a healthy understanding of the work of Redemption. We
recall the first lines of the bull of the Immaculate Conception: “The ineffable God, whose
ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotent, whose wisdom reaches from one
extremity to the other with sovereign force and disposes all things with marvellous
sweetness, had foreseen from all eternity the deplorable ruin into which the transgression
of Adam was to bring all humankind; and in the profound secrets of a design hidden from
all ages, he had resolved to perfect, in a mystery still more hidden [sacramento occultiore
complere], by the Incarnation of the Word, the first work of his goodness…”
The grace of Christ: that is what distinguishes our state from Adam’s. The new
supernatural order, different from the order of original justice, rests upon the redemptive
Incarnation. This is what signifies that God, in his merciful and infinite love, has willed
to found the hypostatic order at the beginning of this new order. But in what does the
hypostatic order consist? The term “hypostatic” in the theology of the Incarnation refers
us to the Person of the Word. The union of the divine Word defines the hypostatic order.
But it is a union wholly singular since the Word is made man substantially: the
man-God, natural Son of the Father, although Mary becomes the natural mother of the
A God is of her race, de stirpe David. She is linked by and in her very nature to
a divine Person. Through his natural mother, the Son of God enters into the world, he
becomes a member of the human family, and Mary, by her real relation to the Son, finds
herself united to the genus Dei.
But each person receives from God the grace which
“… Gratia habitualis non intelligitur ut praecedens unionem, sed ut consequens eam, sicut quaedam
proprietas naturalis. Unde et Augustinus dicit, in Enchirid. [c.40], quod gratia est quodammodo Christo
homini naturalis” (ST III.7.13 ad 2).
“… [Maria] excellit Angelos in familiaritate divina. Et ideo hoc designans Angelus dixit: dominus tecum;
quasi dicat: ideo exhibeo tibi reverentiam, quia tu familiarior es deo quam ego, nam dominus est tecum.
Dominus, inquit, pater cum eodem filio; quod nullus Angelus, nec aliqua creatura habuit. Luc. I, XXXV:
quod enim nascetur ex te sanctum, vocabitur filius dei. Dominus filius in utero. Isai. XII, 6: exulta et lauda
habitatio sion, quia magnus in medio tui sanctus Israel. Aliter est ergo dominus cum beata virgine quam
cum Angelo; quia cum ea ut filius, cum Angelo ut dominus. Dominus spiritus sanctus, sicut in templo;
unde dicitur: templum domini, sacrarium spiritus sancti, quia concepit ex spiritu sancto: Luc. I, 35: spiritus
sanctus superveniet in te. Sic ergo familiarior cum deo est beata virgo quam Angelus: quia cum ipsa
dominus pater, dominus filius, dominus spiritus sanctus, scilicet tota trinitas. Et ideo cantatur de ea: totius
trinitatis nobile triclinium.
Hoc autem verbum, dominus tecum, est nobilius verbum quod sibi dici possit.
befits his role.
The Blessed Virgin was called full of grace, not by reason of the grace
itself, but because she received the grace which would suffice for the state for which God
had chosen her, sc. that of being the mother of his only Son.
In other words, the
maternity of Mary becomes the measure of her sanctifying grace. In effect, a superior
of sanctity belongs to such a dignity, ut nihil majus fieri queat.
In what does this superior form of sanctity consist? On the physical plane, Adam
is a principle of Mary: she is therefore made a part of humankind. Whereas morally, she
belongs to the genus Dei: she is completely removed from the caput morale which is
Adam. Through her initial grace, a God is her unique principle. This is why she can say:
I am of the race of God. These words assume, then, a sense which is appropriate to her.
Therefore the bull of the Immaculate Conception names Mary proprium Dei opus
primum, “Who was to conceive the firstborn of all creation.”
Thus she is Genita ut
principium. She, “the sole and unique daughter not of death, but of life.”
She is “the
Queen gone out from the mouth of the Most High.”
God the Father, principle of the visible mission of the Word which is worked in
Mary, predestined her to a superior effect of the invisible mission. The invisible mission
of the Word and of the Holy Spirit is of a superior order. In effect, the hypostatic order is
an order of grace and of absolutely perfect grace, because it proceeds from the most
perfect divine love.
Mary is above the common law. That is why her grace could not be a common
grace. Everything in her is a privilege. Her initial grace separates her from the mass
Merito ergo Angelus reveretur beatam virginem, quia mater domini, et ideo domina est” (Expositio super
salutatione angelica, a. 1).
ST III.27.5 ad 1.
“Beata Virgo dicitur gratia plena, non ex parte ipsius gratiae, quia non habuit gratiam in summa
excellentia qua potest haberi, nec ad omnes effectus gratiae, sed dicitur fuisse plena gratiae per
comparationem ad ipsam, quia scilicet habebat gratiam sufficientem ad statum illum ad quem erat electa a
deo, ut scilicet esset mater dei” (ST III.7.10 ad 1). -- “Unicuique a deo datur gratia secundum hoc ad quod
eligitur. Et quia christus, inquantum est homo, ad hoc fuit praedestinatus et electus ut esset praedestinatus
filius dei in virtute sanctificationis, hoc fuit proprium sibi, ut haberet talem plenitudinem gratiae quod
redundaret in omnes, secundum quod dicitur Ioan. I, de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus. Sed beata
virgo maria tantam gratiae obtinuit plenitudinem ut esset propinquissima auctori gratiae, ita quod eum qui
est plenus omni gratia, in se reciperet; et, eum pariendo, quodammodo gratiam ad omnes derivaret” (ST
III.27.5 ad 1).
John of St. Thomas, Cursus theologicus, t. IV, disp. 37, a. 2, n. 41, p. 363b: “Spiritus S. supervenit in
Virginem ut esset mater Dei, et attingeret sic ordinem hypostaticum, supponendo illam esse plenam gratia:
sic enim prius Angelus eam gratia plenam nominavit, qual diceret Spritum S. superventurum illam. Et sic
dignitas maternitatis congrue et connaturaliter exigit sanctitatem: quia pertient ad ipsum ordinem
hypostaticum, qui de se altiorem formam sanctitatis importat. Quod si de potentia absoluta esset
maternitas sine sanctitate, tunc non superneverit in eam Spiritus S. per modum missionis simpliciter, quia
non inhabitaret in ea: sed secundum mission secundum quid, quatenus efficeret tale donum maternitatis
simul cum aliis personis, ratione cujus exigebat ad eam disponi per gratiam et per ipsam missionem
personarum. Et sic in ipsa maternitate aliquid de personarum missione exigitur, saltem sicut ad alia dona
supernaturalia disponientia ad gratiam aut cum illa congruitatem habentia, ut de fide et spe aliisque divinis
Leo XIII, encyclical Quamguam pluries. [So that nothing greater is able to come to be.]
“[Maria] concipi siquidem primogenitum oportebat, ex qua concipiendus et omnis creaturae
primogenitus… [B. Virgo] proprium Dei opus primum extiterit” (Ineffabilis Deus).
“… Unam et solam non mortis sed vitae filiam …” (Ibid.).
“… Reginam illam, quae … ex ore Altissimi prodivit omnino perfecta …” (Ibid.).
corrupted by sin. Redeemed in a sublime manner, by way of a preservative redemption,
she becomes a co-principle of the reparative redemption.
She is assimilated to Christ in the most intimate way. “Beata … Virgo non est
assumpta in ministerium a Domino, sed in consortium et adjutorium, juxta illud:
Faciamus ei adjutorium simile sibi” (Gen. 2:18).
In virtue of her superior form of
sanctity, she is in regard to the other members of the Church as an “agens equivocum.”
More than every other created person, more than the hierarchies of all the angels together,
she is a universal cause in causando.
Both in the work of redemption and in the
distribution of graces, she is the universal Mediatrix.
Mariale sive quaestiones super Evangelium “Missus est”, attributed to St. Albert the Great, q. 42 (edt.
Borgnet), t. 37, p. 81a.
“Tertio [plena gratia fuit] quantum ad refusionem in omnes homines. Magnum enim est in quolibet
sancto, quando habet tantum de gratia quod sufficit ad salutem multorum; sed quando haberet tantum quod
sufficeret ad salutem omnium hominum de mundo, hoc esset maximum: et hoc est in christo, et in beata
virgine … Et ideo dicit ipsa, Eccli. XXIV, 25: in me omnis spes vitae et virtutis. Sic ergo plena est gratia,
et excedit Angelos in plenitudine gratiae; et propter hoc convenienter vocatur maria quae interpretatur
illuminata in se; unde Isai. LVIII, 11: implebit splendoribus animam tuam; et illuminatrix in alios, quantum
ad totum mundum; et ideo assimilatur soli et lunae” (Expositio super salutatione angelica, a. 1)
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