- There Is No Rose: The Mariology of the Catholic Church by Aidan Nichols
Adapted from a medieval English carol, “There is no rose of such virtue / As is the Rose that bare Jesus,” There Is No Rose contributes to the development of a “more full-blooded body of Marian teachings” (x). Drawing from the Bible, church fathers, liturgy, mariologists, popular devotion, and magisterial teachings, Aidan Nichols proffers a concise, thematic approach to the role of Mary in the life of the Catholic Church. One of the many important contributions of this book is its stress that divine motherhood of Mary is the fundamental principle of Mariology. This idea is not new, as Nichols traces it to the Baroque Scholastics. Nichols’s original contribution is his ability to synthesize both the scholastic Mariology with resourcement (ecclesio-typical) Mariology. The result is Nichols’s conclusion that Mariology must be situated within the “hypostatic order” or that “the personal end of this woman is the plenary and sovereign exercise of her role as the Mother of the Word incarnate” (43). In effect, Nichols advances a high Mariology but a Mariology that respects the scriptural narrative and history of Mary without resorting to de Maria nihil satis. His Mariology exercises restraint, inasmuch as he stresses that Mary is the “mediatrix of graces” as opposed to the “mediatrix of all graces.” Mary is situated with Christ between humankind and the Trinity as opposed to between humanity and Christ that is suggested in the latter title (129–130).
Nichols’s explanation of Mariology is exceptional. Chapter 4 is notable. Here he argues that Mary is the co-redemptrix. Harkening back to his thesis that Mary’s motherhood is the central principle and dogma of Mariology, he argues that magisterial Mariology is incomplete: the Catholic Church has defined the basis of Mary’s motherhood (the Immaculate Conception) and the final cause of her motherhood (the Assumption) but not how these dogmas relate to one another. Mary’s co-redeeming activity orients Immaculate Conception to the Assumption; thus the Marian dogmas are incomplete without a definition of Mary as co-redemptrix. After providing an erudite overview of the patristic, medieval, and magisterial interpretations previous to the Second Vatican Council, as well as the silence of the authors of Lumen Gentium on this topic and, finally, [End Page 171] a collection of Marian texts used during the mass (Collectio Missarum de Beata Virgine Maria), Nichols concludes that Mary’s co-redemption entails two topics: the “congruence of Mary’s contribution to the redemption” and “its possibility given that her Son is the only mediator of salvation” (85). With respect to her congruence, Nichols argues that Mary is the co-redemptrix inasmuch as she is the New Eve: it is fitting that the New Adam should have a helpmate who was not only a human person but a woman to help lead humankind back to “his friendship [with God] by a path corresponding to that by which man had forsaken” (86). Mary’s co-redemptrix role only enhances the “symmetry of redemption as the inversion of the fall” (86). Therefore, Mary’s co-redemptive role does not detract from Jesus’s unique mediation. Drawing out the implications of the Immaculate Conception, Nichols continues that her divine motherhood was established not for any incarnation but the redemptive incarnation. Scripture demonstrates this to be the case, as Mary was present during the crucial moments of Jesus’s life that made humankind’s redemption possible. However, Mary adds no “intrinsic value” to Christ’s sacrifice; rather, having Mary act for the sake of Christ’s mission only demonstrates the “redemptive power more fully” (87). Thus Nichols establishes what he deems as a way forward for understanding Mary’s role in salvation history.
Nichols’s thematic structure of the text is effective overall inasmuch as it allows him to provide a brief overview of each topic and then delve into the theological discussion, but also demonstrates the continuity between each of...