The Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, plays a key role in the plan and the mystery of salvation. Pope Saint John Paul II described her role in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, published March 25, 1987.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:4-6).
These words proclaim at once the love of the Father, the mission of the Son, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the woman who gave birth to the Redeemer, and our own divine sonship, all in the mystery of the “fullness of time”.
This fullness of time determined the moment, fixed from all eternity, when the Father sent His Son, “so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
Salvation enters time at the happy moment when “the Word who was with God … was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:1, 14), becoming our brother.
This is the moment when the Holy Spirit, who had already poured out in Mary of Nazareth the fullness of grace, formed in her virginal womb Christ’s human nature.
It is the moment when, by the entrance of eternity into time, temporal existence is given meaning and redeemed. Penetrated by the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation, time becomes definitively “the time of salvation”.
Finally, this moment marks the hidden beginning of the progress of the Church.
In the liturgy, the Church effectively acclaims Mary of Nazareth as her beginning. This is because the Church applied by anticipation the salvific grace of Easter to her most noble member, Mary, to bring about Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Further, in the event of the Incarnation, the Church finds Jesus and Mary inseparably linked: Jesus, who is the Church’s Savior and Head, and Mary, who, in pronouncing the first “fiat” of the new covenant, assumed her new role of spouse and mother.
About the encyclical "Redemptoris Mater"
The articles of this section develop the theology of the role of Mary in the economy of salvation. After retracing salvation history all the way from original sin and the part which God reserved for Mary in His plan, the articles go on to describe how Mary, by her “fiat”, opened the door for the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The addition of various texts from saints, from theologians, and from the revelations of mystics enriches this discussion. These texts are presented to offer different points of view on this topic as well as to show the development of this aspect of Marian theology throughout the centuries, both before and after the Second Vatican Council.