Ven. Mary of Agreda and the Absolute Primacy of Christ
In the spiritual life we say ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary) because, as we know, Jesus is the sole Mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tm 2:5) and therefore Mary’s role in the spiritual life is to lead us to union with God in Christ Jesus. She facilitates this communion with Our Lord by her maternal mediation, just as Christ facilitates our union with the entire Trinity by His priestly mediation.
However, when it comes to understanding the role and position of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan the approach is vice versa: ad Mariam per Jesum (To Mary through Jesus). The study of Mary – a.k.a. Mariology – is a department of Christology. In other words, we cannot know who Mary is in God’s plan without first grasping who Christ is. The result is that we have to establish the position of Jesus in the divine economy if we are going to understand Mary’s position. It was precisely for this reason that the Apostles and early Christian writers, while never denying or downplaying Mary’s role, were primarily focused on proclaiming Christ to a non-Christian world (Gentiles and Jews alike). We can only understand who Mary is through first understanding who Jesus is.
This is precisely what Ven. Mary of Agreda was inspired to do in writing about Our Lady. Her eight books on the life of the Virgin Mary, entitled the Mystical City of God (usually printed in 4 volumes in English), began with divine revelations on the absolute primacy of Christ. Then, within this framework, she penetrated into the life and virtues of the Virgin Mary from her Immaculate Conception to her Coronation in Heaven.
It is a fact that when one denies the absolute primacy of Christ (namely, to deny that the Incarnation is willed apart from any consideration of sin), then theologians conclude that her role in salvation history is the direct result of Adam and Eve’s original sin – they say that she is indebted to Adam’s sin for being chosen to be the Theotokos, that she solely exists for sinners and owes all of her greatness to man’s fall, and they even arrive at saying that she owes her very existence to original sin [this is one of the weaknesses, in my opinion, of the Thomistic position (St. Thomas held no sin, no Incarnation)].
That said, establishing the absolute primacy of Christ is of great importance to understanding everything in creation. If creation was made with Christ in mind, then Christ (and specifically His Sacred Humanity, since His Divine Person is uncreated) was willed first by God and everything else was created in and for Him. A beautiful example of this is found in the work of Fr. Gabriel Amorth An Exorcist Tells His Story where, before speaking of the evil spirits and his personal encounters with them, he establishes their relation to Christ. Their rebellion, according to Fr. Amorth, was precisely against Jesus.
The posts that will follow, then, will be focused on the revelations given to Ven. Mary of Agreda found in Book 1, Chapters 3-13 about God’s immutable decree which willed the Incarnation of the Word absolutely and unconditionally. We will also see God’s explanation to her of why so many – even great Doctor’s of the Church – were wrong on this point (like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori, just to name two of the greats).