The Father of mercies willed that the consent of the Predestined Mother should precede the Incarnation so that, just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life. This contrast was verified in outstanding fashion by the Mother of Jesus. She gave to the world that very Life which renews all things, and She was enriched by God with gifts befitting such a role.
It is no wonder, then, that the usage prevailed among the holy Fathers whereby they called the Mother of God entirely holy and free from all stain of sin, fashioned by the Holy Spirit into a kind of new substance and new creature. Adorned from the first instant of Her conception with the splendors of an entirely unique holiness, the Virgin of Nazareth is, on God’s command, greeted by an angel messenger as “full of grace” (cf. Lk. 1:28). To the heavenly messenger She replies: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38).
By thus consenting to the divine utterance, Mary, a daughter of Adam, became the Mother of Jesus. Embracing God’s saving will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, She devoted Herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of Her Son. In subordination to Him and along with Him, by the grace of almighty God She served the mystery of redemption. Rightly, therefore, the holy Fathers see Her as used by God not merely in a passive way but as cooperating in the work of human salvation through free faith and obedience.
This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation was manifested from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to His death. It is shown first of all when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, was greeted by her as blessed because of Her belief in the promise of salvation, while the precursor leaped for joy in the womb of his mother (cf. Lk. 1:41-45). This association was shown also at the birth of our Lord, who did not diminish His Mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it, when the Mother of God joyfully showed Her first-born Son to the shepherds and the Magi.
When She presented him to the Lord in the Temple, making the offering of the poor, She heard Simeon foretelling at the same time that Her Son would be a sign of contradiction and that a sword would pierce the Mother’s soul, that out of many hearts thoughts might be revealed (cf. Lk. 2:34-35). When the Child Jesus was lost and they had sought Him sorrowing, His parents found him in the temple, taken up with things which were His Father’s business. They did not understand the reply of the Son. But His Mother, to be sure, kept all these things to be pondered over in Her heart (cf. Lk. 2:41-51).
In the public life of Jesus, Mary made significant appearances. This was so even at the very beginning, when She was moved with pity at the marriage feast of Cana, and Her intercession brought about the beginning of the miracles by Jesus the Messiah (Cf. Jn. 2:1-11). In the course of Her Son’s preaching, She received His praise when, in extolling a kingdom beyond the calculations and bonds of flesh and blood, He declared blessed (cf. Mk. 3:35 par.; Lk. 11:27-28) those who heard and kept the word of the Lord as She was faithfully doing (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51).
Thus, the Blessed Virgin advanced in Her pilgrimage of faith and loyally persevered in Her union with Her Son unto the cross. There She stood, in keeping with the divine plan (cf. Jn. 19:25), suffering grievously with Her only-begotten Son. There She united Herself with a maternal heart to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim whom She Herself had brought forth. Finally, the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross gave Her as a mother to his disciple. This He did when He said: “Woman, behold Your son” (Jn. 19:26-27).
But since it pleased God not to manifest solemnly the mystery of the salvation of the human race until He poured forth the Spirit promised by Christ, we see the apostles before the day of Pentecost “continuing with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:14). We see Mary prayerfully imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed Her in the Annunciation.
Finally, preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn. She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of all, in order that She might be the more thoroughly conformed to Her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16) and the conqueror of sin and death.