Theological Correctness

The opening supplication is followed by a brief explanatory note
 to his readers of the theological correctness of some of his terms;
for example, Mary's mediation of grace and her cooperation
in the work of redemption (25-27).


Theological Correctness

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In order that my present work may not be condemned by the over-critical, I think it well to explain certain propositions that will be found in it, and which may seem hazardous, or perhaps obscure.  I have noticed some, and should others attract your attention, charitable reader, I beg that you will understand them according to the rules of sound theology and the doctrine of the holy Roman Catholic Church, of which I declare myself a most obedient son.

In the Introduction, referring to the fifth chapter of this work, I say that it is the will of God that all graces should come to us by the hands of Mary.  Now, this is indeed a most consoling truth for souls tenderly devoted to our most Blessed Lady, and for poor sinners who wish to repent.

Nor should this opinion be looked upon as contrary to sound doctrine, since the Father of theology, Saint Augustine, in common with most writers, says, that Mary co-operated by her charity in the spiritual birth of all members of the Church ("Mater quidem spiritu, non capitis nostril, quod est ipse Salvator, ex quo magis illa spiritaliter nata est; quia omnes, qui in eum crediderint, in quibus et ipsa est, recte filii Sponsi appellantur; sed plane mater membrorum ejus, quod nos sumus, quia cooperata est charitate, ut fideles in ecclesia nascerentur, quae illius capitis membra sunt." —Lib. De Santa Virginitate, cap. vi.)  A celebrated writer, and one who cannot be accused of exaggeration or of misguided devotion, says, "that it was, properly speaking, on Mount Calvary that Jesus formed His Church" (Nicole, Instr. Sur la Sal. Ang. ch. 2); and then it is evident that the Blessed Virgin co-operated in a most excellent and especial manner in the accomplishment of this work.  And in the same way it can be said, that though she brought forth the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, without pain, she did not bring forth the body of this Head without very great suffering; and so it was on Mount Calvary that Mary began, in an especial manner, to be the Mother of the whole Church.  And now, to say all in a few words: "God, to glorify the Mother of the Redeemer, has so determined and disposed that of her great charity she should intercede in behalf of all those for whom His divine Son paid and offered the superabundant price of His precious blood in which alone is our salvation, life, and resurrection" ("In quo est salus, vita et resurrection nostra." —Off. De Exalt. SS. Cruc.).

On this doctrine, and on all that is in accordance with it, I ground my proposition (In chapters vi., #2; vii.; viii., #2; ix.)—propositions which the saints have not feared to assert in their tender colloquies with Mary and fervent discourses in her honor.  Hence Saint Sophronius says, as quoted by the celebrated Vincent Contenson, that "the plenitude of all grace which is in Christ came into Mary, though in a different way" (In Christo fuit plenitude gratiae, sicut in capite influente; in Maria vero, sicut in collo transfundente"—Theol. Ment. Et cord. 1. 10, & 6. c. I. SD. 2); meaning that the plenitude of grace was in Christ, as the Head from which it flows, as from its source; and in Mary, as in the neck through which it flows.  This opinion is clearly confirmed and taught by the angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas, who says: "Of the three ways in which the Blessed Virgin is full of grace, the third is that she is so for its transfusion into all men"; and then he adds: "This plenitude is great in any saint when there is as much grace as would suffice for the salvation of many, but it is in its highest degree when there is as much as would suffice for the salvation of the world; and it was in this degree in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin: for in all dangers thou canst obtain salvation of this glorious Virgin; and therefore it is said in the sacred Canticles that a thousand bucklers, that is to say, means of protection against dangers, hang upon it.  Also, in every work of virtue thou canst have her for thy helper, for she says in the words of Ecclesiasticus, In me is all hope of life and virtue" ("Dicitur autem beata Virgo plena gratiae, quantum ad tria . . . Tertio, quantum ad refusionem in omnes hominess.  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.  Nam in omni periculo potes salutem obtinere ab ipsa Virgine gloriosa.  Unde Canticorum iv. 4, 'mille clypei,' id est, remedia contra pericula, 'pendent ex ea.'  Item, in omni opera virtutis potes eam habere in adjutorium, et ideo dicit ipsa Ecclesiastici xxiv. 25: 'In me omnis spes vitae et virtutis.'"—Expos. In Salul. Ang.).