Father Karl Stehlin, F. S. S. P. X.
Father Stehlin quotes extensively from Saint John Eudes, Cornelius a'Lapidé, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and Lucia of Fatima. This treatise is one of the most succinct and clear explanations of the complete economy of salvation ever penned. The full role of the Immaculata is explored and refined, and its relevance to the world in our time is detailed in an easy to read and understand format. This is militant Catholic theology made simple for this Marian age.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Part One: The Fundamental Law of Action and Reaction
Part Two: God’s Work in the World Through the Immaculata
Chapter One - God’s Work of Creation Through the Immaculata
Chapter Two - The Sending of the Son into the World Through the Immaculata
Chapter Three - Christ’s Work of Redemption with the Immaculata
Chapter Four - The Sending of the Holy Ghost into the World Through the Immaculata
Chapter Five - God Working in the Church Through the Immaculata
Chapter Six - God’s Work at the End of the World Through the Immaculata
Part Three: Creation’s Return to God Through the Immaculata
Introduction to Part Three
Chapter One - The Beginning of the Return: Total Consecration
Chapter Two - The New Law of Life: My Life in the Immaculata
Chapter Three - The Reformation of All Departments of Our Life Through the Glories of Mary
Chapter Four - Mediatrix to the One Mediator, Jesus Christ
Chapter Five - Christian Life in the Immaculata
Chapter Six - The Return of Creation at the End of Time Through the Immaculata
Chapter Seven - World Without End
Part Four: The Immaculata in the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity
Introduction to Part Four
Chapter One - The Mystery of the Trinity
Chapter Two - Who are you, O Immaculata?
“O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, I know that I am unworthy to draw near to you, to fall down at your feet, with my head bowed to the ground. But because I love you very much, I dare to ask you that you would be so kind as to tell me who you are! For I would like to get to know you better and better, boundlessly, and to love you more and more ardently, without any limits whatsoever. And I long to tell other souls, too, who you are, so that more and more souls might come to know you ever more perfectly and to love you ever more ardently. Indeed, I yearn for you to become the Queen of all the hearts that are beating on earth and ever will beat—and for this to happen as quickly as possible.”1
“The angels often ask one another: Quae est ista? Who can she possibly be? [cf. Cant. 3:6; 8:5]. For the Most-High kept her concealed from them. Or if he did reveal anything to them, it was nothing compared to what he withheld.”2
Again and again we hear from the mouths of the saints the astonished cry: “Who are you, O Immaculata?” Mortal man is speechless before the countless miracles and mysteries that have their origin in her. She stands there alone in her perfection and power as God’s masterpiece. The Church praises her prerogatives and wants us to honor her more than all the angels and saints (hyperdulia). Her role in Christ’s work of redemption is unique: she takes part in it as the new Eve and co-Redemptrix; she applies the fruits of redemption to all her children as Mediatrix of All Graces. Thus she is given to us by God as the power through which man is first of all converted, and then as the way by which he comes to Christ. She is the mold of God into which we are poured as “material”, so that God may be formed in us by her. We owe to her all the graces that we have received personally. She is also the great sign in the heavens, which leads the Christian army in the combat against Satan. She is victorious in all God’s battles. Particularly during the latter times, though, she is there as the last means of salvation that God gives the world. She reveals herself, immediately through her apparitions, indirectly through instruments specially chosen by her to prove her unimaginable power at the moment of the most dreadful attacks of the enemy of souls. Her heart becomes the final refuge of the persecuted and oppressed children of God, who try to stand their ground faithfully beneath the cross of Christ.
Her children, her knights, enlist under her banner; they are her “possession and property” and make up the little army that endures the supreme test and at last is victorious over the superior force arrayed against it, for “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”
From this perspective it is staggering to contemplate how great, indeed, how limitless a power God willed to give to a mere creature. And the question arises ever more clearly: Quae est ista? “Who are you, that you, of all people, will win the victory at the end of the ages? Who are you, that you bear us as our mother, nourish, raise, and guide us and finally promise us victory? You can communicate your immaculate nature to us sinners, but does not this power exceed all creaturely capabilities? Indeed, one might almost say anxiously: Are we not transgressing the limits between God and creature and making you a sort of god, as Protestantism accuses us of doing?”
The teaching of the Church gives us a clear answer to this question: Mary is so great because she was selected to become the mother of God. And this reality exalts her infinitely above all other creatures. From this mission of hers comes all the other privileges: her perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, her assumption into heaven. Mary has such a great role to play in the life of the Church and of every individual because, as divine revelation teaches us, God willed it so and not otherwise, although he would have had a thousand other ways of redeeming us. Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, too, explains why Mary manifests all her might and glory at the end of the ages: because the salvation of the world began through Mary, and through her it will also be brought to completion.
All these sublime truths help us not only to know and love her better and better, but also to see ever more clearly our own mission in life, which she herself essentially formulated at Fatima in those simple words: “Pray and make sacrifices, for so many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray for them and to make sacrifices for them.”3
We can say, therefore, that the more deeply someone penetrates into the mystery of Mary, the more he becomes inflamed with love for her, and the more he sees God’s mighty deeds in her, the better he comes to know God’s nature. Above all, however, he also lives then more in accordance with God’s will and receives from this contemplative love the strength to live out his calling.
For this reason the saints could never praise Mary enough, meditate sufficiently on her glories, or fully investigate the meaning of her nature and her mission theologically. Saint Maximilian Kolbe wanted the Cities of the Immaculata to become universities and Marian academies that continually elaborate the Church’s teaching on Mary’s greatness, for the greater glory of God and for the greatest possible benefit for souls.
This book is an attempt to provide an overview of the doctrines of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort and Saint Maximilian Kolbe and of the apparitions of Mary, especially at Fatima, and to examine them in the light of the teaching of the popes and of the fathers of the Church. By means of these instruments which she has chosen, the Immaculata wants to let us have a glimpse into the ardent depths of her heart, into that furnace of love, into her inmost mystery. Only in this light will we then understand why she has such a momentous place in the work of redemption and what “great things” have been done in her by the Lord “who is mighty… and holy is his name!”
All the Marian saints assure us that anchoring oneself in this way in the depths of the mystery of Mary brings forth the most splendid spiritual fruits, as Saint Bernard puts it:
O whoever you are, since you see that you are drifting along the stream of time amidst storms and tempests rather than walking upon solid ground, so to speak, do not turn your glance from this shining star, if you do not want to perish in the storms. When the storm winds of temptations arise, when you are heading for the cliffs of anxieties, look up to the star and call on Mary. When you are being swept along by the waves of arrogance or ambition, or of slander or jealousy, look up to the star and call on Mary. When anger, greed or the pleasures of the flesh threaten to capsize the little ship of your soul, look up to Mary. When you are confused by the terrible extent of your guilt, ashamed of the stains on your conscience, horrified by the fear of judgment and are in danger of sinking into the pit of sadness, into the abyss of despair, then think of Mary. In dangers and anxieties, in doubt and need, think of Mary, call on Mary. Let her never leave your lips, let her never depart from your heart. And in order to obtain an answer to your prayers, do not cease to imitate her life. Following her, you shall not stray; invoking her, you shall not despair; thinking of her, you shall not wander. Upheld by her, you shall not fall; shielded by her, you have nothing more to fear; guided by her, you grow not weary; favored by her, you reach the goal.4
But all this should not be just a sublime meditation on the most beautiful of all the flowers in God’s garden; rather, our path to God consists precisely in this process of entering into her. She is in fact our deliverance, our rise from the Fall, our perseverance in battle, strength in our weakness, and finally our victory. Haven’t we already experienced it so often, that when we have been faithful to Mary, our spiritual life is permeated with a comforting harmony and we receive spiritual strength that was previously unknown to us? Every one of us has to say with tears of gratitude: “I owe you my conversion, my baptism, my vocation, and everything great and genuine in my life. You have obtained these graces for me!” Now Saint Maximilian Kolbe calls to us to be consistent in following this path with her. The marvels that Mary works in the world and in souls, in my soul, too, are there ultimately so as to show me more clearly the way on which I must walk in these perilous times, when the enemy is almost overwhelming us. Entering ever more deeply into the mystery of Mary is the solution that God gives to the few who remain faithful in the end times. Thus it was clearly stated in Fatima: The mother of God gave me to understand that God is giving the world the final means of salvation, the rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart. But if these are the final ones, then are no more besides them.5 Saint Louis Marie de Montfort and Saint Maximilian Kolbe explain to us the most profound elements of this devotion to the heart of the Immaculata and guide us in living it out more and more. But when Mary declares that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph, then anyone who lives in that heart will win the victory as well, but especially the person who lives most profoundly in that heart. These lines have been written so that this might happen.
Chapter One - God’s Work of Creation Through the Immaculata
In the beginning God created heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible. How did he create the world? This will always remain his secret, hidden within the depths of the Trinity for all eternity. Creation out of nothing is something proper to God alone, and no creature can comprehend it. The creature can only determine the beginning and the endpoint of the act of creation, the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem. At the starting point (terminus a quo) God alone is there, an infinite ocean of being and besides him nothing. At the endpoint, the terminus ad quem, creation is there in its paradisiacal beauty. The creation of the world allows our understanding to have a glimpse into God himself, according to the analogy with an earthly “maker”, “artist”, or “architect”. From his work the master builder is known. This manifests the infinite wisdom and intelligence of God, which devises all natures, as well as his all-surpassing power of bestowing existence upon this enormous variety. From the design of the work, its order and harmony, and also from the behavior of the creatures, one can draw conclusions evocative as to the way in which God created the world. One can say that God had an order and a hierarchy of beings in mind, that all things are guided by the law that God gave them. One can also determine that God acts according to his own nature and that therefore every created thing is a trace, an image and likeness of God. These findings, however, as important as they are, give us only a pale insight into how great and unfathomable a mystery the act of creation really is. Only God himself can reveal to us what his work is at its deepest foundation and how he accomplished this work.
People often pose the question as to the temporal unfolding of the work of creation. There is the theory of the evolution of things starting from the “Big Bang” and continuing through the higher development of the species, leading up to man. About this theory we should note first that every advance from a lower to a higher species must be accompanied by God and his creative power, for the lower form does not have the capability of bringing about something higher by itself, according to the fundamental law: agere sequitur esse—action follows being and corresponds to it. One cannot give what one does not possess. Furthermore it should be noted that this theory regards the act of creation from the viewpoint of man, who is bound by the dimensions of space and time. God, however, stands unlimited beyond space and time, and these dimensions first came into being when he created the world. Therefore the act of creation itself lies outside of them and beyond them. Thus Sacred Scripture can say that God created “all things at once,” omnia simul (Eccl. 18:1), and presents the work of creation as a sequence of six days (Gen. 1). The mystery remains.
Eternal Wisdom – Created Wisdom
Yet we can say something more about this work: God, who is eternal, has all of creation with its marvelous order eternally in mind, even though it has a beginning in time. And so for all eternity God sees the whole world before him, as he has designed it, in brilliant purity and perfection. The divine architect has, as it were, a blueprint before him, which he designed in eternity. The Book of Proverbs speaks of this original plan:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: The mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass he enclosed the depths: When he established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters, when he compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits, when he balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with him forming [ordering] all things (Prov. 8:22-30).
The Church in her liturgy applies this passage to the Immaculata. Why? Because the creation of the world has as its goal the Incarnation of the Son of God and thereby the union of creation with God. In God, the cause and purpose of creation are one and the same. This first principle and the final goal, however, is Christ, the Redeemer. And because God ordained from all eternity that Christ should desire to come to earth through his mother, Mary becomes the maternal cause of all things.
She is the mother of all things and God the Father is the origin of all things: everything that is, per se, the source and cause of a cause is also, per se, the source and cause of everything caused. But she herself is the mother of him who is the cause and source of all. Therefore she is, per se, the mother of all things.12
The Second person of the most Blessed Trinity, the eternal Word, is the exemplary cause (causa exemplaris) of all created being and as such the eternal, uncreated Wisdom: “All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made” (Jn. 1:3). “[He] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for in him were all things created in heaven and on earth…. All things were created by him and in him” (Col. 1:14-16). In God’s eternal plan, Christ, as the son of Mary, is the firstborn of all creation and, again in his capacity as Mary’s son, is the head and crowning glory of the universe.
“It follows that Mary, too, was predestined with Christ, and if Christ assumes the first place in this predestination, then Mary receives the second. Christ is the sun, and Mary—the moon, which shines more brightly than all the other stars together. What is Woman, that Thou art mindful of her, that Thou visitest her?! Thou hast crowned her with glory and honor and hast set her over the work of Thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under her feet [paraphrase of Ps. 8:5-8]; Thou hast not made her a little less than the angels [cf. Ps 8:6] but hast exalted her above all the choirs of angels. Thou hast clothed her with the sun and given her the brightest stars as a crown. […] This divine predestination is, so to speak, the prefigurement and prototype of the universal Church of God’s elect. When God presented to Moses the likeness of the divine dwelling place, he spoke first about the Ark of the Covenant; similarly, in his original plan for his creation, God thought first of the Blessed Virgin as the living ark of his Godhead.13
The perfect copy, the most complete, pure, and immaculate “imitation” of the eternal Word is the Immaculata. The Son, the eternal Wisdom, is God. The Immaculata, the perfect copy of the eternal Wisdom is the first and perfect creature, which includes all the properties of the eternal Wisdom. That is why the Church calls her “the created wisdom” and applies to her the properties of the eternal Wisdom.
“I was with Him forming all things” (Prov. 8:30)
Forming and ordering is a property of wisdom. God wills his creation to be orderly, and this order is the cause of harmony and beauty. Its order is supposed to reproduce the interior order of God. The order is, so to speak, a plan which harmoniously assembles the various elements into a marvelous structure. Building a cathedral requires an extraordinary intelligence, which thinks through the plan of this highly complex construction project and assembles the component parts according to the laws of physics and architecture. Often such ingenious plans are never carried out completely. If one compares them with what has actually been built, these plans are often much more beautiful and magnificent. By analogy one can say that God still has a plan for all of creation, an original plan, an original concept (conceptio), in which all things have their intended purpose and are designed to be in perfect harmony. This all-encompassing, ordering plan is entirely without stain: “For she is a vapor of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty God, and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her” (Wis. 7:25): Immaculata conceptio
Thus Mary stands at the origin of the entire universe: “Ego sum radix”—I am the root.14 This original plan “reacheth therefore from end to end mightily and ordereth all things sweetly” (Wis. 8:1). All creatures taken together do not attain to the surpassing beauty of this original creature, this divine masterpiece: “For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars; being compared with the light, she is found before it. For after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome wisdom” (Wis. 7:29-30). After her pattern and example God grants being to every creature, and the perfection of each one of them consists of its participation in the immaculate, universal prototype, and only in union with her does a creature arrive at its exalted destination: “And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets. For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom” (Wis. 7:27-28). This is what the doctors of the Church mean when they see in the Immaculata the exemplary cause of all creation. Herein is the theological reason why the Church Fathers so lavishly attribute to Mary the characteristics of all the most beautiful creatures in order to illustrate her greatness and beauty. Thus not only is the rose a reflection of her beauty, the lily a symbol of her purity, the mountain a symbol of her power, the stars a symbol of her radiance, etc., but she herself is the prototype according to which all the beauties of creation have been formed. Every flower has its beauty from her and reproduces the flower of Mary’s soul. The fragrance of the lily is a further emanation of the lovely fragrance of Mary’s soul; the majesty of the lofty mountain is an imitation of the majesty of her being; the human soul is a more or less faint copy of her soul. The German poet Novalis is speaking along these lines when he meditates on the mystery of woman: “O Mary, I see thee expressed in a thousand images.” And Saint Bernardine of Siena professes:
From the final perfection that has been granted to her alone, the Blessed Virgin imparts to all the natures and perfections of the world their ultimate essential value, richness, and exalted status. All being was directed toward one foremost being: the living being toward the most noble life, the sentient being toward the most exquisite sensibility; all womanly conception toward one most precious fruit of the womb; all births toward the best nature that can be born; all things endowed with reason toward a unique rational being; all things endowed with spirit toward a most excellent spiritual being; in short, all creatures seek to become united with a being that is best in its pure created nature. That being the case, provisions were made for the world by means of a woman who is blessed above all: only once did she become a mother, and through this unique motherhood she brought all sorts of created things to their highest and ultimate perfection.15
For You God Created the World….
But there is yet another sense in which Mary participates in the first divine act, God’s act of creation. Everyone who does something, does it for some purpose (omnis agens agit propter finem). If God, so to speak, comes out of his interior trinitarian life in order to create, then he always has in mind the goal for which he does all this, namely, “the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:6). He, Christ, is the rightful heir of the ages, the Omega, the destination toward which everything is ordered from all eternity.
For Christ’s honor and glory God called the universe into existence … the world, heaven and earth, and all that is concealed in the heavens. Whatever is in a kingdom is there for the king and must serve him. Christ, however, says, ‘All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth’ (Mt. 28:18). […] As he began to devise plans for his royal castle in this world, God foreordained Christ as the sure, strong, and firm foundation, which forever guarantees the restoration of the building, should it be damaged in the storms of time. And because the Architect of the world founded the construction of the world, with its being, its grace and glory, upon Christ in this way, he can love everything only for Christ’s sake. All of creation, the Church and Paradise, nature and the supernatural, is the royal banquet which God the King hosts out of love and respect for his royal Son.16
Therefore, if Christ as man, as Mary’s son, is the objective for which the world was created, then Mary, too, is the objective, in him and dependent upon him. The great scriptural exegete Cornelius à Lapide comments as follows on two verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes: “I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth” (Eccl. 24:6); “I, Wisdom, have poured out rivers” (Eccl. 24:40).
In the literal sense we should read: I was the reason why God created the light, the heavens, the sea, the rivers and the entire universe. For God’s creation was ordered to the purpose of justifying and glorifying the saints, a work that Christ accomplished by means of the Blessed Virgin. For the order of nature was created and established for the sake of the order of grace. Now because the Blessed Virgin is the mother of Christ and consequently has become the mediatrix of the entire order of grace established by Christ, for that same reason she became the final cause of the creation of the universe. For the purpose of the universe is Christ, his mother, and the saints. That means that this universe was created so that the saints might enjoy grace and eternal glory through the mediation of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. Although Christ and Mary are parts of the universe and consequently later than the universe with regard to their material cause (causa materialis), nevertheless they are prior to the universe according to their final cause. Therefore there is a certain mutual dependence between the creation of the universe and the coming of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. God willed the birth of Christ and of Mary in no other manner than in this world. And furthermore he did not will the existence of this world without Christ and Mary; indeed, he had created it on their account. He willed that the entire universe and also the order of grace be related and ordered to Christ and the Blessed Virgin as their fulfillment and purpose. Accordingly, Christ and the Blessed Virgin are the final cause of the creation of the universe, and at the same time they are its formal cause, i.e., its prototype, its original plan. For the order of grace, in which Christ and Mary assume first place, is the idea and the prototype according to which God created and arranged the order of nature and the entire universe.17
And so with astonishment we realize that even at the beginning of his work ad extra, God had the Immaculata with him. She is the first creature, chosen before the foundation of the world, so as to be, in and with Christ, the prototype, the original plan, the exemplar and final cause of all that exists. Overwhelmed by this mystery, Saint Maximilian Kolbe exclaims:
Allow me to praise you, O most holy Virgin…. In you alone is God worshiped incomparably more than in all his saints. For you God created the world. For you God also called me into existence. Why is such good fortune granted me? O let me praise you, most Blessed Virgin!18
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