Hi, William —
Jesus is the effective means
of salvation. (Meaning Jesus packs
Mary is the instrumental means
She was 100% human and had the same
free will that you and I do. This
means without Mary's approval to
become the God-Bearer, Jesus could
never have been born by natural means,
as the Eternal Father had wished.
Could Jesus have become a man without
Mary's help? <Yes.>
Would it have been according to the
Father's will? <No.>
We are not saying that Mary is the
- the Trinity or
- God the Father, or
- the Holy Spirit.
Our Blessed Mother did not come before
God as a parent comes before [his/her]
We are, however, saying that Mary
is the God bearer of the Second Person
of the Trinity, i.e.,
Jesus Christ: True God and True
Man. Mothers don't give birth to
natures. No. Mothers give birth to
people, and Jesus was a Divine Person.
To say Jesus was a Human person would
be in error according to Catholic
One of the early Church Fathers,
St. Theophilus of Alexandria 385-412
A.D. is quoted as saying:
The prayers of His mother are
a pleasure to the Son, because
He desires to grant all that is
granted on her account, and thus
repay her for the favor she gave
in giving His body.
Mary's cooperating with God is similar
to our cooperating with God, in bringing
all souls into
His Church and encouraging them to
live a holier life.
When any member of a Christian denomination
helps or assists another person in
understanding the Gospel, they are
cooperating in the redemptive work
of Christ. Similarly, when they share
the Gospel with a stranger, they
are an instrumental means
Thus, we teach Jesus Christ was a Divine
Person with two natures,
divine and human,
that don't conflict with each
other. Trying to understand this
is a mystery, but nevertheless, a
Truth of the Catholic Faith.
Since Apostolic times, the Church
has always taught that Mary cooperates
in the redemption of mankind.
One last note: In
the Church, we make a distinction
between doctrine that is considered
common teaching of the Church and doctrine
that is common teaching of the Church, but
has also been solemnly defined. The
first is called doctrine, the latter
is called dogma.
All dogmas of the Church are doctrines,
but not all doctrines of the Church
Two of Our Blessed Mother's titles:
- Co-Redeemer, and
- Mediatrix of Graces
while common teaching of the Church
(doctrine) have not yet been defined
formally by the Church as dogmas.
Nevertheless, the CCC, paragraph
892 tell us "To this ordinary teaching
the faithful "are
to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though
distinct from the assent of faith,
is nonetheless an extension of it.
Here is a good summary for advanced theology students.
Hope this helps,