Today is the birth of Mary, and so it seems fitting to write a little bit about Mary. First of all, this quote from Newman came to mind, "And as containing all created perfection, she has all those attributes, which, as was noticed above, the Arians and other heretics applied to our Lord, and which the Church denied of Him as infinitely below His Supreme Majesty." By studying the Arian (or perhaps the Nestorian) doctrine of Christ, we see how much it is possible to say of a human being, yet still come short of describing a man who is truly God. So the theory Newman puts forth here (and which I've seen in at least one other book is that all the things they attempted to say about Christ could actually be said of Mary, without crossing the line that would falsely attribute to her divinity.
Two works I have read (Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit by H. M. Manteau-Bonamy; Ego Sapientia by DeKoninck) both make the effort of drawing out the universality that belongs to Mary on account of her giving birth to and being the Mother of God. The first title looks at what Our Lady says at Lourdes, I am the Immaculate Conception, and tries to make sense of this, since it takes an attribute of hers (having been immaculately conceived) and makes it into a statement about what/who she is (which sounds very much like God or an angel who is the same its essence). In the second work, DeKoninck looks at verses that the liturgy ascribes to Mary, and noticed the universal character of them. Again, the title of the work refers to a verse that identifies Mary with an attribute: "Ego Sapientia" or "I, Wisdom". I'm not sure what that line of thoughts has to do with the next one, but at least it should establish that Mary is very special.
I was thinking about co-redemption, because I thought about the suffering of Mary and the fact that suffering is never in vain, especially for the holy ones of God. Why is there suffering in the world? (After reading and puzzling over Job, I realize how difficult that question is, and I will probably get this wrong...) One reason is that it is just for the wicked to be punished. This does not apply to Mary, for she was not sinful in the least. (Another reason for the suffering of the wicked, is so that the just can wash their feet in the blood of the wicked, as the Psalmist says...but again, Mary did not suffer on account of wickedness.)
So why does Mary suffer? The only other example of a sinless one suffering is the Christ, and his suffering is wholly for the sake of others. Therefore, by induction it seems we can safely say that Mary suffers for the sake of others. The question remains: In what way does her suffering benefit others? With Christ, it is clear that he is the sacrifice which will take away the sins of the world. Time to look at Scripture:
And a sword will pierce through your own soul also,
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. (Lk. 2:35)
The sword pierces her soul, because she does not suffer any physical harm, but it is only suffering on account of her Son and on account of all her children who harm him with their sins. But why? So that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed? Sometimes, the first part of the verse is in parentheses, so that the latter part is associated with the previous verses, which would then read: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (parentheses), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." And it is certainly true that Christ himself will bring out the thoughts of many hearts (the whole Gospel bears witness). And so the parentheses indicate that Mary's suffering fits within this context somehow.
I must head off quickly now, but I will think about it more later...