"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."
These words of the Letter to the Ephesians reveal the eternal design of God the Father, his plan of man's salvation in Christ.
It is a universal plan, which concerns all men and women created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Just as all are included in the creative work of God "in the beginning," so all are eternally included in the divine plan of salvation, which is to be completely revealed, in the "fullness of time," with the final coming of Christ.
In fact, the God who is the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"--these are the next words of the same Letter--
"chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace"
The divine plan of salvation--which was fully revealed to us with the coming of Christ--is eternal. And according to the teaching contained in the Letter just quoted and in other Pauline Letters (cf. Col 1:12-14; Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:18-29), it is also eternally linked to Christ.
It includes everyone, but it reserves a special place for the "woman" who is the Mother of him to whom the Father has entrusted the work of salvation. As the Second Vatican Council says, "she is already prophetically foreshadowed in that promise made to our first parents after their fall into sin"-- according to the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:15). "Likewise she is the Virgin who is to conceive and bear a son, whose name will be called Emmanuel"--according to the words of Isaiah (cf. 7:14). In this way the Old Testament prepares that "fullness of time" when God "sent forth his Son, born of woman...so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Ga 4,4)
Mary is introduced into the mystery of Christ
The coming into the world of the Son of God is an event recorded in the first chapters of the Gospels according to Luke and Matthew. (...) The divine messenger says to the Virgin: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). Mary "was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be" (Lk 1:29): what could those extraordinary words mean, and in particular the expression "full of grace" (kecharitomene). (...)
When we read that the messenger addresses Mary as "full of grace," the Gospel context, which mingles revelations and ancient promises, enables us to understand that among all the "spiritual blessings in Christ" this is a special "blessing."
In the mystery of Christ she is present even "before the creation of the world," as the one whom the Father "has chosen" as Mother of his Son in the Incarnation.
And, what is more, together with the Father, the Son has chosen her, entrusting her eternally to the Spirit of holiness. In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ, and similarly she is eternally loved in this "beloved Son," this Son who is of one being with the Father, in whom is concentrated all the "glory of grace."
At the same time, she is and remains perfectly open to this "gift from above" (cf. Jas 1:17).
As the Council teaches, Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently await and receive salvation from him."
Excerpt from the Encyclical Letter of John Paul II on the Blessed Virgin Mary
in the Life of the Pilgrim Church promulgated on 25 March 1987, #7 & 8.
His Holiness John Paul II