William Joseph Chaminade in Vignettes and Cameos

VIGNETTES:
CHAMINADE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT
CHAMINADE'S MARIOLOGY IN CONTEXT
CHARACTERISTICS OF CHAMINADE'S SPIRITUAL DOCTRINE
THE MARIANIST MISSION
THE MARIANIST WAY OF LIFE
CHAMINADE, HERALD OF THE AGE OF MARY
TWO MARIAN GIANTS: DE MONTFORT AND CHAMINADE
CHAMINADE AND HOLY SCRIPTURE
CHAMINADE'S WRITINGS
CHAMINADE'S DISTINCTIVE MARIAN DOCTRINE
THE PASTORAL AND APPLIED THEOLOGY OF CHAMINADE
CHAMINADE'S CHRISTOCENTRISM
CHAMINADE'S EMPHASIS ON THE SPIRITUAL MATERNITY
CHAMINADE'S FOCUS ON THE INCARNATION AND REDEMPTION
CHAMINADE, A PRECURSOR OF MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION
CHAMINADE ON OUR DEPENDENCE ON MARY
CHAMINADE ON DEVOTION TO MARY
THE MARIANIST MAGNA CARTA
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MARIANIST VOCATION
OUR PARTICIPATION WITH MARY IN THE REDEMPTION
THE CHALLENGE OF CHAMINADE AND OF THE CHURCH
MARY'S MOTHERHOOD IS REAL
CHAMINADE ON MARY'S MEDIATION
A SUMMARY VIEW OF MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION
TODAY'S CHURCH ECHOES CHAMINADE
THE THEOLOGICAL CERTAINTY OF MARY'S MISSION
KEYSTONE OF THE MARIANIST CHARISM

CAMEOS:
CHAMINADE'S APPROACH TO MARY
THE MARIAN MIND OF CHAMINADE
THE EPITOME OF CHAMINADE'S DOCTRINE
MARIANIST DEDICATION TO MARY'S MISSION
MARY CLOTHES US IN CHRIST
CHAMINADE ON THE AGE OF MARY
CHAMINADE'S CHALLENGE
AN APOCALYPTIC THEME OF CHAMINADE
SOME EARLY PUBLICATIONS OF CHAMINADE
THE MARIAN MIND OF CHAMINADE
CHAMINADE'S MYSTICAL BODY CONTEXT
CHAMINADE'S BASIS FOR MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION
MARY'S ROLE IN GOD'S PLAN
CHAMINADE'S COMMENTS ABOUT OUR DEPENDENCE ON MARY
CHAMINADE ON MARY'S CONTINUING MISSION
FORMED INTO CHRIST BY MARY
THE SARAGOSSA MESSAGE
MARY IS FOR ALL TIMES
THE DISTINGUISHING MARIANIST TRAIT
A TRIBUTE TO CHAMINADE'S MARIOLOGY
THE MARIANIST CHALLENGE
A MOTHER'S DUTY TO NOURISH
CHAMINADE ON MARY'S MEDIATION
THE APOSTOLIC MISSION OF THE NEW EVE
NEUBERT INTEGRATES CHAMINADE'S VIEW
DE MARIA NUMQUAM SATIS
CHAMINADE'S OWN SUMMARY OF HIS CHARISM


CHAMINADE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in post-revolutionary France was the only noteworthy Mariologist of the first half of the nineteenth century. Considering the tenor of the times, his contribution to Marian theology is remarkable. Commenting on those times Monsignor George Shea observes that:

Jansenist rigorism and the Monita Salutaria of Widenfeld were strenuously combated by the controversialists and the theologians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Their devotional works not only nourished Marian piety, but at the same time broadened and deepened its doctrinal bases, particuIarly in connection with the mediational role of our Blessed Mother, a crucial issue in the Jansenist controversy.

To these doctrinally significant spiritual writers, mostly of the Berullian school, one must add the last disciple of that school, William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, whose published and unpublished writings are now being increasingly explored and appreciated.

If we assign Cardinal Newman to the latter half of the ninteenth century, Chaminade is the sole Mariologist worthy of note in the preceding fifty years.

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CHAMINADE'S MARIOLOGY IN CONTEXT

Despite the defeat of Jansenism, Mariology was in low estate in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Jansenism and rationalism had left their marks on all theology, and on Marian theology in particular.

Considering the sad state of Mariology in that period, one marvels that Blessed Father Chaminade was able to develop his doctrine in such impoverished and adverse conditions. To appreciate the modernity and completeness of his doctrine, especially on Mary's Spiritual Maternity and its consequences, it is necessary to see his work in the context of his own times. Evidently, he had extensive knowledge of the writings of his predecessors as well as the genius to extend and enrich the traditional teachings by his study and meditation.

While in exile at Saragossa, Spain, 1787-1800, he was enlightened at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar with new insights. Here his new approaches and distinctive characteristics began to jell.

Some of the main influences that shaped his thinking were the Johannine and Pauline Scriptures and the French School of Spirituality.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF CHAMINADE'S SPIRITUAL DOCTRINE

From his apostolic Marian Sodalities established for young adults and married people, Father Chaminade founded the Marianists (the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary) to be the "undying moderator" completely dedicated to perpetuate cooperation with Mary in the Apostolic Mission of her Spiritual Motherhood.

It was the intimate conviction of Father Chaminade that our relation to Mary must be a participation in that which exists between Jesus and Mary. For him devotion means devotedness -- an enduring attitude and disposition; not a single action, but a commitment. Because of our oneness with Christ in His Mystical Body, we are really but one child of Mary with Jesus Christ. The core of this child-like devotedness to Mary, generally termed filial piety to Mary, was Father Chaminade's insistence on her Spiritual Maternity.

From spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, Father Chaminade intended the members of his religious families and their lay collaborators "to live and work by the spiritual help of Mary, that is, to have them brought up by her as Jesus was brought up by the care of this good Mother after having been formed in her womb." To become "another Christ" is the goal of every member of the Mystical Body. This is accomplished, taught Father Chaminade, not by becoming children of Mary, but by becoming "other children of Mary."

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THE MARIANIST MISSION

Father Chaminade's extensive development of the doctrine of Mary's Spiritual Maternity resulted in the foundation of two religious families to assist Mary in her Apostolic Mission in modern times, which means bringing divine life to all her children, a particular aspect of her Spiritual Maternity. It was the conviction of her Apostolic Mission that inspired these foundations.

Father Emil Neubert explains further:
Father Chaminade did not begin with thinking about a new apostolic society that he would place under the auspices of Mary. Rather, the very idea of Mary's Apostolic Mission gave birth in him to the idea of a new religious family totally dedicated to her as her ministers for the accomplishment of this mission. At the feet of Our Lady of the Pillar he meditated long hours on Mary's Mission. There he understood that her mission is a predominantly apostolic one. God had given him the conviction that this mission was to be especially manifest in modern times.

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 THE MARIANIST WAY OF LIFE

Father Chaminade's doctrine of apostolic filial piety is not an act or series of acts of devotion to Mary, but a dynamic way of life -- a participation in the state of Jesus, Son of Mary, to aid her in multiplying Christians. As Jesus was nursed and reared by Mary, so should Christians be formed in His likeness by her care. As Jesus associated Mary in all the mysteries of His life, so Christians should associate her in all their works, for their apostolate is but a participation in hers as Mother of all persons.

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CHAMINADE, HERALD OF THE AGE OF MARY

On at least five solemn occasions our Blessed Founder and nineteenth century apostle of Mary announced Mary's apostolic triumph in modern times and foretold the Age of Mary. Noted writers of our times have been impressed by his far-reaching vision and by the apostolic orientation of his doctrine.

We cite Capuchin Father James O'Mahony as an example.
[More than] a hundred years ago it was prophesied by a great client of Mary, Father William Chaminade, that a new era of devotion to the Mother of God was about to dawn on the world. In a letter to the supreme pontiff of the time, dated September 16, 1838, this holy man went further. He foretold that the new era, this age of Mary, would hearld a signal triumph for Christ and His Church.

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TWO MARIAN GIANTS: DE MONTFORT AND CHAMINAD

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade's deep conviction of the conquering role of the Virgin Mary in these latter times was expressed often and energetically, and in a manner which bears striking resemblance to St. Louis de Monfort's Treatise on True Devotion to Mary. The similarity of their teachings and of their foretelling Mary's role in our times, doubtlessly drawn from common sources, indicates, however, no dependence of Father Charninade on his predecessor. In fact, comparative study of the two doctrines reveals real differences. Father Chaminade could not have been influenced by the prophetic teaching of St. Louis de Monfort's presaging the Age of Mary because the Treatise on True Devotion to Marv was not discovered until 1842. The doctrine and declarations of Father Chaminade, then eighty-one years old, all antedate 1842. Furthermore, de Montfort's prediction of the Age of Mary speaks of unknown times; Father Chaminade's, or current times. Father Chaminade's inspiration regarding Mary's apostolic role in our time was from Our Lady of the Pillar at Saragossa, not from any predecessor or contemporary.

St. Louis de Montfort 1673-1716

Ven. William Joseph Chaminade 1761-1850

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 CHAMINADE AND HOLY SCRIPTURE

Blessed Father Chaminade's spirituality and Marian doctrine were sown in Scriptural soil. He was steeped in both Testaments of the Bible.

The 1988 Marian Year letter of instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education, "The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation," explained that the foundation of Mariology is Sacred Scripture. Mary is presented as a "given" (datum) of revelation because of her unique role in salvation history. More than a century earlier, Father Chaminade was aware of these principles for a sound Marian doctrine.

In the carefully researched two volumes of Marian Writings compiled by Father Jean-Baptiste Armbruster, S.M., we find 733 citations of Sacred Scripture in the preserved writings of our Founder about Mary. Chaminade refers to the Old Testament more often than the New Testament: OT, 276 times and NT, 245 times. These occasions are found mostly in his notes, spiritual conferences, and letters. This frequent and familiar use of Scripture is translucent evidence that, unlike many founders of the seventh and eighteenth centuries, he was not tainted with the Jansenistic aversion to use Holy Writ.

In addition to the strong reliance on the Johannine and Pauline Scriptures characteristic of the French School of Spirituality, our Founder leaned heavily on certain books of the Old Testament: Genesis, thirty-seven citations; Psalms, thirty-five; Proverbs and Song of Songs, thirty-five each; Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom), forty-seven; Isaiah, sixteen. These books often compare Mary to wisdom and offer a description of the Mother of God or of her maternal action in our favor. Proverbs, chapter 8, quoted twenty-five times, and Ecclesiasticus, chapter 24, quoted thirty-six times, seem favorites of our Founder. These are also the two most frequently used chapters in the Marian liturgies of the Church.

This brief overview, Father Armbruster says, gives us a glimpse of a certain doctrinal identity of Chaminade and Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, chapter 8), which deals with the Mother of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Father Chaminade used the whole of the Bible to teach us about Mary in a pastoral and wisdom-like manner.

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 CHAMINADE'S WRITINGS

The Archives of the General Administration, thanks to Brother Ambrogio Albano, has organized the Founder's writings for easy access and use.

An interesting classification and evaluation of Father Chaminade's writings as they were found in the General Archives in 1950 is given by Father Thomas Stanley in his doctoral dissertation, The Mystical Body of Christ according to the Writings of Father William Joseph Chaminade (1952). For a current overview one would need to visit the General Archives.

Father Chaminade was an eclectic, but with an original approach. In addition he enlisted the assistance of a large number of secretaries and collaborators. After proposing fundamental ideas and basic outlines, he delegated the writing to his disciples, then edited and approved their work. Our Founder was a man of action, discharging the manifold duties of a leader and of the apostolate. He was not a writer.

The genius of his organization is at the same time a source of his obscurity in the history of spirituality. He embodied his ideas in a living organization rather than in the printed page. For, while he wrote much, he published little. In fact, he never wrote directly for publication in general.

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 CHAMINADE'S DISTINCTIVE MARIAN DOCTRINE

The sources of Blessed Father Chaminade's spirituality and Mariology, and his identification with the French School, are examined in detail by Father Thomas Stanley and Father William Cole in their excellent studies done as doctoral dissertations: (Stanley, The Mystical Body of Christ according to the Writings of W. J. Chaminade; Cole, The Spiritual Maternity of Mary according to the Writings of W. J. Chaminade).

The influence of the French School of Spirituality, especially of Father J. J. Olier, is marked in the teaching of Father Chaminade, whose doctrine represents a resurgence and development of Berullian spirituality.

Chaminade studied thoroughly the whole of Marian theology. He had clear ideas on all the privileges and functions of Mary, not only on those openly professed by the Church for many centuries, but also on those not yet generally held in terms of a definite and explicit teaching. For example, he resolutely advocated the universal mediation of Mary.

Moreover, he was in advance of most Marian authors of his day even from a speculative point of view regarding two particular doctrines: the Spritual Maternity of Mary and the ApostoIic Mission of Mary in the world. Upon these doctrines he based the special way of life he taught his disciples. His full development of these two doctrines is clearly his distinctive contribution to Mariology in his era. His treatment of these two points manifests in him a stamp of undeniable originality. Even other Marian teachings held in common with his contemporaries are distinguished by his own particular stamp.

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 THE PASTORAL AND APPLIED THEOLOGY OF CHAMINADE

Quite clearly, Father Chaminade did not speculate in theology for the sake of speculation. Learning, as he understood it, is not a sterile knowledge, for learning converts itself plainly to love. Father Chaminade's objective was an applied Mariology, a lived doctrine. For him doctrine leads to cult, to apostolic action. Though he is directing most of his teachings to the Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary, he is not excluding the many lay apostles associated with him and his religious congregations.

The social and apostolic character of his Marian doctrine and cult is unmistakable, a trend not clearly evident in the spirituality of his predecessors. Solidly rooted in the Mystical Body of Christ, his teaching emphasizes participation and sharing in the mysteries of Jesus and Mary .

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 CHAMINADE'S CHRISTOCENTRISM

Blessed Father Chaminade's frame of reference is a Christocentric, or Christological, theocentrism woven into the context of salvation history. At all times his approach is intrinsically, primarily, and essentially; apostolic. For his the most salient point in following Christ is the mystery of the Son of God, become Son of Mary for the salvation of all. This is the mystery of Christ which includes all other mysteries, which presents the Christus totus.

Father William Cole identifies five related working principles of Mariology evident in the doctrine of Father Chaminade:

1) Mary's supreme dignity is the Divine Maternity;

2) an unsurpassed intimacy exists in the spiritual union between Jesus and Mary;

3) inseparably united with Christ, Mary is associated in all his mysteries;

4) Mary is to the Mystical Body what she is to Christ;

5) Mary must be known in order to be loved and served.

The fourth principle, Mary's relation to the Whole Christ, is of key importance in understanding Mary's Apostolic Mission and our Participation with her.

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CHAMINADE'S EMPHASIS ON THE SPIRITUAL MATERNITY

Father Emil Neubert observes that Father Chaminade attached great importance to the Spiritual Maternity because of the intrinsic consequence of this function. Prior to our Founder's time, many Mariological treatises gave only summary treatment of the Spiritual Maternity in the fashion of an appended corollary. Chaminade realized that Mary's Spiritual Maternity should not be placed at the end of the study of Mary's grandeurs but very close to the beginning; that is, immediately following the Divine Maternity, which it complements. Other prerogatives of the Virgin he recognized as requirements or consequences of her two fold Maternity.

The two overriding motives prompting his spirituality of dedication to Mary and determination to assist her in her apostolic role are her relations to the Incarnation and Redemption.

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 CHAMINADE'S FOCUS ON THE INCARNATION AND REDEMPTION

In the actual order of things, Father Chaminade realized that the Incarnation of Christ had for its end the Redemption, our supernatural birth. To Christ's Incarnation there corresponds in Mary the Divine Maternity. Hence, the Incarnation leads to the Redemption; the Divine Maternity, to the Spiritual Maternity. The intimate ties relating these two functions of Mary are clearer yet if considered in the light of our incorporation with Christ. We form with Christ but one body, the Mystical Bodv of Christ. He is Head: we are members.

Seen in the fullness which marks all the works of God, Mary, who was predestined to be the Mother of Christ, ought to be the Mother of both Head and members. The Divine Maternity necessitates the Spiritual Maternity. The Spiritual Maternity completes the Divine Maternity. Both constitute a single Maternity, the Maternity uniting the Whole Christ. For Father Chaminade, a disciple of Father Olier, our incorporation in Christ constitutes a central doctrine. When our Founder mentions Mary's Spiritual Maternity he seldom fails to repeat that she is our Mother because she is the Mother of Christ, and that we are one with Him -- but one Son of Mary, one Son of God.

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CHAMINADE, A PRECURSOR OF MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION

Blessed Father Chaminade's writings make it abundantly clear that he was a precursor in expounding the doctrine of Mary' s Apostolic Mission to complete the Whole Christ, which is axiomatic to her Spiritual Maternity. In this area he was even more a pioneer than in the field of the Spiritual Maternity, which had been affirmed before his time, though not with the same breadth of view and cogency. But prior to the Marian Congress in Rome in 1950, a Holy Year, no other theologian had treated Mary's Apostolic Mission.

Chaminade refers to Mary as truly "Co-redemptrix of the human race" and the "Cooperatrix in the great mystery of the Redemption."

…At the foot of the cross…Mary knew that she was beholding this consummation in unity, that her Son and all His disciples consummated in unity were but one Son of God.

He points to Christ's prayer for unity at the Last Supper (Jn 17-20-23) . Mary' s Motherhood of all Christians was to be a continuing mission.

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CHAMINADE ON OUR DEPENDENCE ON MARY

"On this point" [Mary's continuing role in salvation], explains Father Chaminade, "the doctrine of the Church leaves no room for doubt. We have the testimony of her accepted oracles – Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, selections in the Divine Liturgy, and in the public prayer and song of the faithful, the solemn pronouncement of general council presenting her to us as the New Eve and exclaiming with filial love, 'Rejoice, O Virgin Mother, for you alone have destroyed all heresies.' ''

The mission of making us live the life of Christ belongs to her who gave Christ to us. In becoming the Mother of Jesus she became our Mother. It is precisely her maternal mission, then, to continue our education by fashioning our mentality according to our Model, Christ. Evidently the Virgin Mother must exercise a primary influence in our spiritual transformation.

Father Chaminade affirms this when he says:

In the womb of Mary was Christ conceived by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was born of the virginal womb of Mary.

The life of Jesus Chrict in us originates through Baptism and faith. Thus we are conceived of the Holy Spirit. But, like the Savior, we must be born of the Virgin Mary.

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CHAMINADE ON DEVOTION TO MARY

In the designs of Blessed Father Chaminade devotion to Mary was not merely a matter of the heart, of a refuge in time of need. It was to be the offensive and defensive weapon of his followers in their combats. Their watchword would be Maria duce!

In confiding to the young Jean-Philippe Auguste Lalanne his plan of action for the Society of Mary, he exclaimed with clear determination, "Let us entrust all to…Mary to whom her Divine Son reserved the last victories over hell. Let us, in all humility,…be the heel of the Woman."

The apostolate was to be exercised entirely under the auspices of Mary, "the key of our success." And for the Marianist Family, participation in her Apostolic Mission is the very reason for its existence.

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THE MARIANIST MAGNA CARTA

A full comprehension of Blessed Father Chaminade's teaching about Mary's Apostolic Mission in modern times and our part in assisting her comes from a careful study of the famed letter he addressed on August 24, 1839, to the priests who would preach the annual retreats that year.

This forceful and eloquent message expounding the germinal idea of the Marianist vocation to assist Mary in her Apostolic Mission is regarded as the charter of the Society of Mary. Because half the letter deals with the distinctive Marianist traits, it has been called the Circular on the Vow of Stability.

The occasion of this letter was the Founder's receipt of the papal "Decree of Commendation" for his Constitutions of the Society of Mary. He chose the annual retreats as the opportunity to renew the primitive spirit and fervor, and to promulgate the Constitutions. To guide the three retreat preachers, Father Chaminade addressed to them this magnificent letter explaining the true Marianist spirit with the great and unifying ideas underlying the two religious congregations he had founded.

The "nineteenth-century apostle of Mary" was seventy-eight years old at the time of its composition, yet more powerful and dynamic than before. This letter, then, contains his official teaching epitomizing more clearly and fully the many remarks scattered throughout his voluminous notes and correspondence.

It was of this letter that Father Charles Klobb opined that it should be inscribed in letters of gold in Marianist houses of formation.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MARIANIST VOCATION

Father Chaminade insists in his hallmark letter of August 24, 1839, that the Marianist vocation, as well as that of every Christian, is to offer to our Spiritual Mother our services and to cooperate as her auxiliaries. This aspect of assistance and active benevolence is the most strongly emphasized effect of our filial love for her. The separate vow of Stability binds one to Mary as a child to a loving mother to stress and to give perpetuity to our devotedness in her service. He directs and urges all Marianists to hasten "to labor under her orders and to combat at her side...bound...by a special vow…to assist her with all our strength...in her noble struggle against the powers of hell."

Continuing in this vein, our Founder launches into a statement presaging the monumental instruction of Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, regarding the "deep" and "inexhaustible" mystery of God's dependence on human instruments to complete the Redemption of mankind in cooperation with our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Whole Christ. This is our distinguishing family trait.

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OUR PARTICIPATION WITH MARY IN THE REDEMPTION

Father Chaminade's teaching on the need of human intruments to cooperate with Mary in forming the Whole Christ presents nothing new and different. Except for his clarity and amplification, this was held by the Fathers of the Church from the second century at least.

His originality and development are manifested in the consequences he draws from the doctrine of Mary's Spiritual Maternity regarding her present role in the world. Our Founder clearly establishes Mary's Apostolic Mission as a corollary of her Spiritual Maternity.

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THE CHALLENGE OF CHAMINADE AND OF THE CHURCH

While the dynamic instruction of the letter of August 24, 1839, is addressed to the Marianists, who consecrate their lives to assisting in Mary's Apostolic Mission, the message certainly applies to the whole of Christianity. The social orientation of Father Chaminade's teaching – his Mystical Body framework and social consciousness – focuses on the Church at large and all society.

The Founder seems to inquire if the maternal function of the New Eve ended with her earthly life. Then he delights in replying with St. Paul that "The gifts of God are without repentance" (Rom 11: 29). Father Chaminade employed this text to enlighten us concerning the divine plan in God's conduct with the human race. If Mary has become Mother and Co-redemptrix, she will not cease to be so. If she has already crushed the head of the serpent, she will continue to crush it always. And we are called to assist her.

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MARY'S MOTHERHOOD IS REAL

Father Emil Neubert masterfully summarized the broad outlines of Blessed Father Chaminade's Marian doctrine in several of his works. One such summary is digested in the following paragraphs.

To be really and completely our Mother, it was not sufficient that Mary conceive us all in general at the Incarnation and give birth to us on Calvary at the time of Christ's death. It is also necessary that to each one of us she communicate the life of grace at baptism and renew and intensify this "newness of life" until the end of time.

In union with her Son, Mary redeems all on Calvary in principle. To be our true Co-redemptrix, she must yet apply to each of us in fact the fruits of the Redemption by wresting us from sin.

Without this course of continued action, God would have made Mary an imperfect Mother and Co-redemptrix. Such an incomplete view regarding the divine plan for Mary may be likened to a man who began to build a tower and could not complete it. Jesus, therefore, entrusted to her the mission of our salvation until the consummation of the world.

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CHAMINADE ON MARY'S MEDIATION

Our Blessed Mother's universal mediation was a doctrine especially dear to Father Chaminade. Certain terms were employed to specify that Mary exercises her Apostolic Mission by means of her function of Distributrix, that is, her Spiritual Maternity. If, in fact, all graces come to us through her, it will be through her that we receive all graces of conversion and sanctification. And isn't all apostolic action reduced to these two-traces?

Therefore, Mary's actual mission in the world is more than a consequence a priori, more than a logical right deduced from her function as Mother and Coredemptrix. It is a fact, a constant and universal fact for anyone who admits the doctrine of her universal mediation.

These concepts are detailed in Chaminade's Our Knowledge of Mary and in Neubert's La Doctrine Mariale de M. Chaminade.

The Virgin Mother of God pursues her apostolic role by inspiring our consciences. In the vision of our Founder the work of the apostolate reflects the temper of his times and appears as a battle, as conquering souls and snatching them from Satan to present them to Christ. A battle, a warfare – this is above all Mary's Apostolic Mission in the world. Recall the vivid lines of the letter to the 1839 retreatmasters.

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A SUMMARY VIEW OF MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION

In tracing the development of the notion of Mary's Apostolic Mission in the Mariology of W. Joseph Chaminade, and seeing its clarification in Church teaching, we may conclude that it is theologically certain. Sacred Scripture, the Tradition of the Church, reliable theologians, and the ordinary magisterium of the Church witness to the apostolic role of our Blessed Mother, to complete the Mystical Body of Christ by bringing the grace of Redemption to each person until the end of time.

Her Divine Maternity and Coredemption, her intimate role as Associate of Christ, are functions that lead to her Apostolic Mission. Her Spiritual Maternity and her role of Distributrix of all graces are functions that pertain to her Apostolic Mission. The Apostolic Mission of Mary is integrally related to her functions as Spiritual Mother, Co-redemptrix, and Distributrix of all graces – all of which are rooted in the Divine Maternity. Her Apostolic Mission is a particular, essential, and integral aspect of her social functions.

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TODAY'S CHURCH ECHOES CHAMINADE

Recent writings of theologians and popes have stressed the universal role of Mary in the life of the Church. An increasing awareness of the universality of Mary's relation to all persons, to all Christians, to the apostolate of the Church is plainly evident in the teaching of the ordinary magisterium, especially in the documents of recent popes.

Although Mary's Apostolic Mission has not been solemnly defined, it has certainly been stressed implicitly by recent papal pronouncements on Mary's Spiritual Motherhood, Co-redemption, Distribution of grace, and Queenship. For, it is contained and implied in these other doctrines.

Father Chaminade taught explicitly the apostolic role of Mary. Later Marianist writers, notably Father Emil Neubert, expanded this teaching. Theologians and popes have frequently alluded to it in modern times and taught it implicitly. Most of the non-Marianist writers who have treated the topic do not state clearly that Mary's maternal responsibility is a continuous mission and not a single act which ended on Calvary. But the apostolic responsibility of her Spiritual Maternity is part of her vocation. It is a participation and sharing in the apostolate of Christ our Redeemer.

The social and apostolic dimensions of Marian doctrine and cult are being developed only in modern times. The dynamic relations of Mary to us are both personal and communitarian; that is, she concerns herself with the welfare of individuals and also of social institutions. Mary's place in Christian spirituality and in the Christian apostolate regarding all members of the Mystical Body – clergy, religious, laity – is coming more plainly to the fore.

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THE THEOLOGICAL CERTAINTY OF MARY'S MISSION

Accepting the pronouncements of the ordinary magisterium, applying Father Emil Neubert's Mariological principle of analogy, and employing the regular criteria for orthodoxy found in Mary in Doctrine by Neubert, we may conclude that the Apostolic Mission of Mary is a doctrine which is theologically certain. We infer that Mary's Apostolic Mission to recapitulate all in Christ is identified with her other functions.

We affirm, then, as a doctrine based on Holy Scripture, contained in Tradition, and taught by the ordinary magisterium of the Church, that the Apostolic Mission of Mary, viewed in relation to her other functions and bound with them, is theologically certain.

In a general and implicit sense a teaching may be considered a part of the deposit of faith if it means the same as a particular doctrine of Catholic faith. Presently recognized as theologically certain, the Apostolic Mission of Mary may become a doctrine of faith if it is explicitly declared the equivalent of her Divine Maternity and her role of Associate in the Redemption.

Chaminade and Neubert were not engaged in devotional flights of fancy, but in sound theological exposition when presenting this teaching. They always viewed Mary's Apostolic Mission to complete the Redemption and to form the Mystical Body of Christ in the context of the redemptive Incarnation.

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KEYSTONE OF THE MARIANIST CHARISM

Blessed Father Chaminade's teaching on the concept of Mary's Apostolic Mission is clear and straightforward. He presents nothing radically new and different, except for his clarity and amplification, from what was held by the early Fathers of the Church. But his originality and development are manifested in the consequences he draws from the doctrine of Mary's Spiritual Maternity regarding her present role in the world. He clearly establishes Mary's Apostolic Mission as a corollary of her Spiritual Maternity.

In union with her Son, Mary collaborates in redeeming all on Calvary in principle. To be the true Associate of the Redeemer she must yet apply to each of us in fact the fruits of the Redemption.

After tracing the development of this notion in the Mariology of Blessed Father Chaminade and its clarification in Catholic teaching, we realize it is theologically certain. Provided the idea has has been revealed, the name need not be.

Mary's Apostolic Mission is a particular, essential, and integral aspect of her social functions as Spiritual Mother and Associate of the Redeemer.

This concept is the keystone of the Marianist charism. While Chaminade's instruction is addressed to those who follow the Marianist vocation to assist Mary in her Apostolic Mission, the message certainly applies to the whole of Christianity. The social orientation of his teaching – his Mystical Body framework and social consciousness – focuses on the Church at large and on all society. Truly he was a harbinger of today's Christian theology and apostolate.

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CHAMINADE'S APPROACH TO MARY

Blessed Father Chaminade based his concept of Mary's Apostolic Mission on the related doctrines of Mary's Spiritual Maternity, Coredemption, and Distribution of All Graces.

In his own words:

Christ has ordained all concerns of religion that Mary participated and cooperated in all of them.
We do not go to Mary as our God, but we go to God through Mary; as faith tells us, He came to us through her.

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THE MARIAN MIND OF CHAMINADE

In the mind of Blessed Father Chaminade, our first duty toward Mary is to learn the relation of Mary to God and to ourselves. To study and to know Mary are of prime importance.

As it is through our knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ that we have come to know the most Blessed Virgin, so also may we say that it is our knowledge of Mary that leads us to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

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THE EPITOME OF CHAMINADE'S DOCTRINE

This expression epitomizes the spiritual doctrine of our Founder and states the raison dietre of his religious families:

"... the most faithful imitation of Jesus Christ, Son of God., become Son of Mary for the salvation of mankind."
All Marianists,-- religious and lay -were to become one with the Son of Mary for the same reason that Christ became her Son: to work at the salvation of all her other children.

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MARIANIST DEDICATION TO MARY'S MISSION

Father Chaminade made the Marianist profession of vows a total consecration to Mary; that is, a total commitment to God according to her example to reinforce the grace of Baptism. The originality of his concept is that the consecration to Mary is not added to the religious profession, but the profession itself is a consecration to her. The two are identical.

For him, "The religious state is only a more perfect manner of fulfilling the scope of one's consecration to Mary."

To make this perfectly clear he joined to the three regular vows of religion a vow of stabilty, which has the special Marian sense of "perseverance in her service." "This vow is in reality a consecration to the Blessed Virgin."

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MARY CLOTHES US IN CHRIST

Blessed Father Chaminade reminds Marianist religious and laity that Mary's maternal role is essential in bringing us into conformity with Christ, in assisting us to participate in the state of Jesus, Son of Mary. In his own words:

"We belong to the Virgin as a child to its mother. Our dependence on her is universal. If we could be independent of her in any manner, her maternity would be contradicted on this point."
"What is proper to the Christian is to clothe oneself . . . with the inclinations, the habits, and the virtues of Jesus Christ."

"We all have the same purpose and the same interests, to labor with all our strength at the maintenance and propagation of our faith, each in the station in which one lives and works."

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CHAMINADE ON THE AGE OF MARY

In his inspiring letter of August 24, 1839, to the Marianist retreat preachers of that summer, Father Chaminade waxes eloquent on anticipating a new era of Mary.

This sad picture of our times [faithlessness of the period], so unfortunately exact, does not by any means discourage us. Mary's power has not been weakened. It is our firm belief that she will vanquish this heresy as she did all others, for today she is, as she always has been, the incomparable Woman, the Woman of promise who is to crush the head of the infernal serpent. Jesus himself by always addressing her in his public utterances with this great name, would teach us that she is the hope, the joy, the life of the Church, and the terror of hell. To her, therefore, is reserved the great victory in our day, for to her belongs the glory of saving the faith from the destruction with which it is threatened.

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CHAMINADE'S CHALLENGE

In his letter to the retreat preachers of 1839 Blessed Father Chaminade expressed the apostolic vision that must imbue the life and channel the energies of each Marianist in words now very familiar.

Our work is far-reaching; it is magnificent. If it is universal, the reason is that we are missionaries of Mary, who has said to us: "Do whatever he tells you!" Indeed, everyone of us is a missionary. To each of us the Blessed Virgin has given a mandate to work at salvation of all in the world.

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AN APOCALYPTIC THEME OF CHAMINADE

The famous text of Blessed Father Chaminade's apocalyptic thought, based on Genesis 3:15 and several parallels in Revelation, is found in his Letter to the Retreat Preachers, Auqust 24, 1839.

Several lines are excerpted here:
Every period in the history of the Church has its record of the combats and the glorious victories of the august Mother of God. Ever since the Lord made her and the serpent enemies of each other, she has constantly vanquished the world and the powers of hell. All the heresies, the Church tells us, have bowed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and little by little she has reduced them to oblivion.
. . . To her, therefore, is reserved a great victory in our day, for to her belongs the glory of saving the faith from the destruction with which it is threatened.

We have come to understand this design of Providence, and we have hastened to offer our feeble services to Mary in order to labor under her direction and to carry on the conflict at her side.

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 SOME EARLY PUBLICATIONS OF CHAMINADE

Because of his absorbing activities, Blessed Father Chaminade published few works for his two religious congregations: several circular letters, their respective constitutions, and several editions of the Manuel du Serviteur de Marie. Yet we have a plethora of autographic manuscripts produced under his direction, manuscripts copied by early Marianists, and manuscript notes taken by those who heard his instructions, discussions, and sermons.

With a few exceptions, the documents containing his Marian doctrine remained unpublished for many years. In the last half-century, a number of definitive editions, translations, syntheses, and analytical studies have appeared in published form. More writings await editing and publication.

The Petit Traite de la Connaissance de Marie saw publication in 1927 by Tequi of Paris. This is an extract from the sixth edition (1841-1844) of the Manuel du Serviteur de Marie. The Petit Traite was actually composed by Father Jean-Baptiste Fontaine, one of the Founder's most faithful disciples, in accord with Chaminade's ideas and often using expressions furnished by him. It contains the authentic Marian theology of Father Chaminade because he approved and published it. In reviewing this small work in 1934, Father A. de Becdelievre, S.J., stated:

It is a substantial work, full of ideas and doctrine, short, simple, and capable, I believe, of doing as much good as The Glories of Mary of St. Alphonsus Liguori or the True Devotion of Grignion de Montfort.

The Petit Traite appeared in English as Our Knowledge of Mary in 1938, published by Bruce of Milwaukee

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 THE MARIAN MIND OF CHAMINADE

In the mind of Father Chaminade, our first duty is to learn the relation of Mary to God and to ourselves.

As it is through our knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ that we have come to know the most Blessed Virgin Mary, so also may we say that it is our knowledge of Mary that leads us to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Marianists, then, to study and to know Mary are of prime importance.

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 CHAMINADE'S MYSTICAL BODY CONTEXT

Constantly Father Chaminade insisted on a sound doctrinal foundation for cult and service in a framework of Mystical Body consciousness. He explains:

No one can lay another foundation but that which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:11). It is upon Jesus Christ also that I undertake to lay the foundations of our devotedness to Mary. It is an immovable foundation which the enemies of our faith vainly seek to undermine. Jesus Christ today, yesterday, and forever. Our dedication to Mary will be eternal.

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 CHAMINADE'S BASIS FOR MARY'S APOSTOLIC MISSION

Father Chaminade bases his doctrine of Mary's Apostolic Mission on the related doctrines of Mary's Spiritual Maternity, Coredemption, and Distribution of All Graces. He elucidates in these words:

Christ has so ordained all concerns of religion that Mary participated and cooperated in all of them. If other proof were wanted, we need only mention that Mary is the Mother of Jesus and of all those born of Jesus…. The best and richest of fathers prepares the means of our salvation…and through the hands of the most tender Mother he applies, these means to us…. Having thus placed all the treasures of his grace in the hands of Mary, he thus evidences his intention of having us ever apply for them to her.

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 MARY'S ROLE IN GOD'S PLAN

Mary's role in the divine plan is clearly focused by Father Chaminade in a balanced manner devoid of extremism or sentimentality. Our Founder sanely and frequently indicated that not to recognize Mary in the whole economy of salvation is to betray ignorance of the mystery of Jesus Christ. He emphasized:

We do not go to Mary as our God, but we go to God through Mary, as faith tells us He came to us through her.

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 CHAMINADE'S COMMENTS ABOUT OUR DEPENDENCE ON MARY

In his Memoranda of Instructions on the Blessed Virgin our Founder writes:

The…concurrence of Mary in the mystery of the Incarnation is the ever compelling motive of our recourse to Mary for all kinds of graces. Through her charity, voluntary and direct consent of her fiat, Mary cooperated in giving the world a Liberator. This is the underlying principle. The consequence is that God having once determined to give us Jesus Christ by the Blessed Virgin, made an unalterable decree, for ''the gifts of God are without repentance" (Rom 11:29).
It is true. and will be forever, that having received through her the universal principle of grace, we also received through her mediation the divers applications throughout our various stages of Christian life. Her charity having so largely contributed to our salvation in the mystery of the Incarnation, the sole principle of grace, she will eternally contribute in all its operations which are merely consequences of the mystery.

We depend on Mary for the maintenance and increase of our spiritual life as Christ depended on her for the maintenance and increase of his corporal life.

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 CHAMINADE ON MARY'S CONTINUING MISSION

In the brief treatise on Our Knowledge of Mary, which Father Chaminade commissioned Father Fontaine to compose and which was intended primarily for lay apostles, our Founder emphatically taught this important and essential element of Marianist doctrine:

And yet Mary's exalted mission does not end on Calvary…. For is she not the New Eve, and, as such, necessary to her children?

Nor does the sublime mission of Mary end with her entrance into glory. Even in heaven she continues to cooperate in the work of regeneration, for all things are done through Mary, and every good gift comes to us through her.

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 FORMED INTO CHRIST BY MARY

Blessed Father Chaminade instructed the first Marianists that Mary conforms us to Christ. This is his testimony:

It was in the virginal womb of Mary that Jesus Christ willed to be formed to our likeness, and there too should we form ourselves to His likeness. There we should form our habits and inclinations upon His, conform our life to His.
Whatever Mary bears in her womb can only be Jesus Christ or live the life of Christ. With inconceivable love Mary always bears us as little children in her chaste womb, until having formed in us the first traits of her Son, she brings us forth as she did Him. She unceasingly repeats to us the beautiful saying of St. Paul: "My dear children, with whom I am in labor again, until Christ is formed in You" (Gal 4:19).

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 THE SARAGOSSA MESSAGE

With unmistakable evidence Father Chaminade was convinced that Mary Immaculate was the irreconcilable enemy of Satan to the end of time. This supernatural indication was always uppermost in his mind.

An unidentified disciple left this written observation about the Founder's conviction:

Not only once did the Woman crush the head of the serpent when she gave the world its Redeemer, but the enmity foretold from the beginning signifies combat to continue unceasingly to the end of time. . Mary appeared to Father Chaminade as the living symbol of the triumph of truth over error, of faith over incredulity. The conviction grew upon him that this privileged creature of sweet and maternal mien personified the idea of apostolic combats throughout the ages, but more particularly in that period dawning with the French Revolution.

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 MARY IS FOR ALL TIMES

In his letter of August 24, 1839, Father Chaminade speaks of Mary's apostolic role in all centuries. He declares to us:

All periods of the Church's history are marked with the struggles and the glorious triumphs of the august Mary. Ever since the Lord put enmity between her and the serpent, she has constantly overcome the world and hell. All the heresies, the Church tells us, have been vanquished by the Blessed Virgin, and little by little she has reduced them to the silence of death.

After indicating the prevailing dangers of his day, the Founder foresees Mary's victorious role in modern times.

This foregoing description of our times rampant religious indifference, unfortunately so exact, is however far from discouraging us. We firmly believe she will overcome this heresy as she has overcome all others….To her, therefore, is reserved a great victory in our day: hers will be the glory of saving the faith from the shipwreck with which it is threatened among us.

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 THE DISTINGUISHING MARIANIST TRAIT

Again we turn to the charter-like letter to the retreat masters of 1839, where, after explaining that this essentially apostolic spirit of assisting Mary to complete the Redemption is our distinctive character and family trait, Father Chaminade stirringly proclaims that:

We are in a special manner the auxiliaries and instruments of the Blessed Virgin in the great work of reforming morals, of preserving and propagating the faith, and by the fact of sanctifying our neighbor. She communicates to us the projects which are inspired by her almost infinite charity.

He goes on to express "the intimate conviction that we shall not bring souls back to Jesus except through His most holy Mother." For, "we have been called by Mary herself to help her…in the struggle against the great heresy of our times (philosophism, secularism, religious indifference)."

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 A TRIBUTE TO CHAMINADE'S MARIOLOGY

The noted Flemish theologian and Marian commentator, Father Godfried Geenen, O.P., has expressed this opinion:

We cannot select any more beautiful passages than those of Father Chaminade to summarize the origin and development of the Catholic doctrine which teaches that Mary is our Mother.

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 THE MARIANIST CHALLENGE

Father Chaminade persuasively concludes the letter to the 1839 retreat preachers with a challenge to convey to all Marianists:

Ours is a great work, a magnificent work. If it is universal, it is because we are Missionaries of Mary, who has said to us as to the servants at Cana "Do whatever He tells you."

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 A MOTHER'S DUTY TO NOURISH

In Our Knowledge of Mary, Father Chaminade explains that a mother's first duty is to nourish her child, as her first natural impulse is to love it. Speaking of Mary's maternal dedication, the Founder explains:

Mary did not wish to withdraw herself from this sacred obligation. As the Mother of life and of grace, she has given us life and daily supplies our souls with the graces that must nourish them, strengthen them, and bring them to the fullness of perfect maturity. For it is from her bounty that we receive all the help we need for our salvation.
Jesus alone merited these graces. He asks Mary to help distribute them.

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CHAMINADE ON MARY'S MEDIATION

Through Jesus Christ, the Father…has abundantly provided all that was necessary for the life of our soul, for its growth in strength, for the cure of all its ills, for the development of faith and of every virtue. But as He did not intend to exercise the rights that pertain to maternity, he has placed the treasury of graces…into the hands of Mary, who, as Mother of a great family, distributes them according to our needs, our circumstances, and our fidelity. Thus, nothing comes to us from heaven except through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin. She is the channel that receives and transmits to us the beneficent waters of divine grace.

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 THE APOSTOLIC MISSION OF THE NEW EVE

Our Knowledge of Mary records this thought of our Founder:

Yet, Mary's exalted mission does not end on Calvary…. Is she not the New Eve, and as such, necessary to her children? …Her maternal solicitude must extend over the…Church to edify and to instruct the faithful, and to guide them aright along the rugged roads of a pagan world.

Nor does the sublime mission of Mary end with her entrance into glory. Even in heaven she continues to cooperate in the work of regeneration, for all things are done through Mary, and every good gift comes to us through her. Jesus proves to us by this fact that his Mother is the New Eve, as truly as He is the New Adam.

On this point the doctrine of the Church leaves no room for doubt. We have her testimony in the words of her accepted oracles.

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 NEUBERT INTEGRATES CHAMINADE'S VIEW

In pulling together Father Chaminade's position and couching it in theological terms, Father Emil Neubert formulated this cogent conclusion, treating Mary's Apostolic Mission as an integral aspect of Mary's other functions.

These comparisons between Mary's Apostolic Mission and her role of Mother, Coredemptrix, and Distributrix of all graces permit us to affirm that this Mission is revealed. It does not follow as a simple logical consequence of these three functions of Mary which are revealed, but as a particular aspect, as an integral part of them, to the point of being identified with them. Under another name it is simply her role of Cordemptrix and above all of Mother and Distributrix of graces. It shares, consequently, in the certitude of these three functions, and we can say that it is revealed as truly as these three are, even if Tradition had never spoken explicitly of an Apostolic Mission of Mary. Provided the idea has been revealed, the name need not be.

While correct in its view, Father Neubert's conclusion is not the explicit teaching of the magisterium. The Apostolic Mission of Mary needs ecclesial identification to be a part of the deposit of faith strictly speaking.

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 DE MARIA NUMQUAM SATIS

Father Chaminade did not deal in aimless speculation and pious exaggeration. He insisted on a proper perspective in the study of Marian theology and a sound balance in the practice of Marian cult. Our Founder was solidly grounded in the mind and heart of the French School of Spirituality.

In his Notes d' Instruction, Father Chaminade explained clearly to his followers this proper perspective:

"We are accused of pompously eulogizing Mary and are blamed for the honor we render her. I do not refer to the impious, but to badly-instructed Christians who know not the gift of God in this miracle of His omnipotence. Can we really assert too much, do too much, provided we do not declare her equal to the Divinity, provided we make a distinction between her worship and that of the Divinity? What has God said of Mary? What has He done for her? He is our model."

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CHAMINADE'S OWN SUMMARY OF HIS CHARISM

These words of Blessed Father Chaminade taken from Our Knowledge of Mary summarize the charism he bequeathed to the Marianist Family and to the Church:

We have seen Mary making use of all the rights of a Mother in regard to her Son, Who is our God, and sharing, if we may be permitted to say so, with the Eternal Father parental claims over the Uncreated Word. We have seen her, the New Eve, fulfilling in behalf of the human race the functions of a Spiritual Maternity, engendering in it a new life for heaven lost through the sin of Adam. We have seen her sacrificing on Calvary the only Son of her fruitful virginity. We have seen her at the foot of the Cross, stronger than death, associated with her Divine Son, as she had been associated with Him in all the mysteries of His life. We have seen her from that very hour, watching over all Christians, her children, with the most tender solicitude, fulfilling in their behalf the sublime duties of a Mother.

Ad majorem Dei Gloriam Virginisque Deiparare, Matris nostrae!

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