The following is an excellent exposition of the absolute primacy of Christ by perhaps one of the greatest Scotists of the 20th century who penetrated and proclaimed the exceedingly beautiful Christology and Mariology of Bl. John Duns Scotus. This is my translation of the first chapter of his book “Mariologia del B. Duns Scoto” [a full English translation by Fr. Peter M. Fehlner, F.I. is available in English from the Academy of the Immaculate under the title of "Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus"] which lucidly unveils how the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ is key to understanding the position of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s decree of the Incarnation and grasping the significance of all of her privileges (a point which is emphasized in a particularly way in Ven. Mary of Agreda’s “Mystical City of God” chapters 1-13).
Brief biography of Fr. Ruggero Rosini, OFM (1913-1998)
The author of this treatise, perhaps the only truly comprehensive presentation of Scotus’ Mariology in modern times, Fr. Ruggero Rosini, was born in 1913, in the small town of Zanigrado di Lonche (Villa Decani) near Pola (Pula), then in the Austro-Hungarian empire, annexed to Italy at the end of the first world war, then at the end of the second world war made part of Yugoslavia, now belonging to the Croatian Republic. As a teenager Fr. Ruggero entered the Franciscan Province of Venice, was professed in 1930 and ordained in 1938. He studied under the famed Croatian scotist, Fr. Charles Balic, and after being awarded the doctorate in theology was associated with Fr. Balic in the work of editing the works of Scotus and promoting the cause of Scotus and Mary. He died at the end of 1998 in the hospital of Motta di Livenza. [from Fr. Peter M. Fehlner's Presentation of the book]
Mary in relation to Christ
When one speaks of John Duns Scotus in relation to Our Lady our thought usually goes immediately to the Immaculate Conception to which his name is commonly linked, so much so that he is called “Doctor of the Immaculate”.
However, this privilege—as Scotus himself will make us understand—does not stand on its own: this too, like all the other marian privileges, presupposes a source or principle that gives them life. And what is this Principle to which Mary is indebted for all her gifts?
It is easy to specify: it is Christ.
Through this there is formed a most perfect bond between her and Him, between Christ and Mary; this is so true that only in the light of this association can all of the marian privileges be explained.
Our task, then, will be to specify above all the nature and origin of that bond existing between Christ and Mary, following the thought of the Subtle Doctor. And we will see that this bond has for its foundation the motherhood and grace of Mary. Both of these privileges, in fact, immediately bind Mary to Christ: the first (motherhood) with natural bonds; the second (grace) with moral bonds.
Yet these two bonds, dependent on Christ, presuppose another bond, one more remote and which depends upon God; hence there is the need to point out that decree of predestination with which Christ and Mary were foreseen together and above all in the divine plan.
Behold, therefore, our outline in this first section: first the predestination, and then follows Mary’s motherhood and her grace.
The predestination of Mary
Duns Scotus does not speak expressly of the predestination of Mary anywhere in his numerous works. However, his immediate disciples and afterwards his many commentators, in treating of this material, applied to Mary the various principles which Scotus had posed for Christ, placing her, however, immediately after Christ.
They see the two predestinations of Christ and Mary as being intimately connected and correlated: they are interconnected in one and the same decree. This shall later be seen in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus according to which Christ and Mary were precisely foreseen “uno eodemque decreto” [in one and the same decree].
It should be sufficient, therefore, to find Christ’s position according to the divine plan in order to assign Mary her position.
We must be aware, however, that this doctrine shall be better understood if it is examined not only in relation to Christ’s place, but also in the order of the very nature of predestination itself, as it is understood by our Subtle Doctor.
If predestination is above all, as we shall see, ordered to the end which is glory—according to Scotus—which is the same for all the elect, Christ and Mary included (the only distinctive difference consisting in the ranking of the elect from the highest position to the lowest), then this means that the only distinction admitted from predestination itself is that of anteriority and posteriority: before or after predestined.
Let us examine the nature of predestination according to the thought of Duns Scotus, and then we shall determine the respective places of Christ and Mary.
The nature of predestination
Predestination constitutes the key point of the entire philosophical and theological system of Scotus; that is to say that the Subtle Doctor manifests to us the mode of how he conceives the origins of all things outside of God.
First of all, predestination is characterized by two activities: one eternal regarding the divine intention, the other temporal regarding the realization of the things foreseen.
Obviously among the two activities—that of intention and of execution—the first always precedes and the second follows: the sculptor must first conceive the statue which he intends to produce and then he shall execute the project conceived. It is logical that the sculptor, in his work, proceeds in a diverse mode than that of intention: from the lesser perfect (the block of marble), he heads towards the more perfect (the statue). And so it is that that which was first in the intention (the statue), becomes the last in execution.
Hence this process, from the imperfect to the perfect, as it slowly develops, becomes a disposition towards the actualization of the intention and this, in its turn, is moved solely by the end which, in our case, is realized in the glory of the creature.
Every artist who wants to work wisely must first pre-establish the end of the work which he is about to begin. Certainly God conforms to this rule as well. In willing to initiate the things outside of Himself (ad extra), He first fixes the end with an act which is called predestination.
Duns Scotus defines predestination as “an act of the divine will, which chooses the intellectual creature for grace and for glory”. Thus understood, predestination encloses within itself several characteristic marks.
Above all predestination is free because it is “an act of the will”. The will, and not the intellect, is formally the cause of all contingent things, whether in the natural order or the supernatural order. This is the point of scotistic doctrine which, besides distinguishing the Subtle Doctor’s entire philosophy and theology from others, marks the primacy of charity in the divine plan of things, now brought into the light by Vatican Council II, especially in its Decrees and its Constitutions.
Moreover, predestination is absolute. His own goodness is the singular motive for which the divine will moves externally (ad extra), desiring to communicate Himself to other beings. In fact, it is unthinkable that any creature could have influence over the divine will in the act of predestination of creation itself because at the moment of predestination, not only was there no merit or demerit by any creature, but no creature existed.
Finally, predestination is simultaneous. One can rightly say that God, with one single act of the will, simultaneously conceived all of the elect to glory. Consequently, right from the first instant, the number of the elect is complete; therefore, it cannot be either augmentable or diminishable without compromising the very immutability of God.
As a conclusion to this doctrinal point about predestination, we add the following affirmations of the Subtle Doctor.
First, he affirms that since the divine will is the cause of the intrinsic goodness of things, these naturally measure their objective quidditas (thisness) in relation to the “motive” from which they proceed. Therefore, these will be more or less perfect, more or less good, disposed in various degrees, according to their derivation from a greater or lesser spontaneity of the very will of God.
He also maintains that the predestination of no one was occasioned by any fall: neither that of man by the fall of the angels; nor that of Christ by the fall of man; and this is so ture that no one may rejoice in the fall of another.
Furthermore, he maintains that all of the elect—angels and men—form but one “family”, namely “the heavenly court”, disposed “in certain and fixed ranking”.
Keeping these characteristic notes on predestination in mind, it shall be easier to specify the position of Christ in the first place, and then the position of Mary.
The position of Christ
As we have seen, the entire theology of Scotus is drawn from the nature of predestination which is marked by this thesis, of capital importance, namely that the first free act which is encountered in all of being is an act of love: precisely of that love which from eternity unfolds in the bosom of the Trinity. Our present subject is this: how is this manifested externally?
And here our Doctor responds: “I say, therefore, God loves Himself in the first place; in the second place He loves Himself in others and this love is holy; in the third place—speaking of love of an extrinsic being—He wills to be loved by Him who can love in the highest degree; and finally, in the fourth place, He foresees the union (to the Word) of that nature which shall love Him in the highest degree, even if no one had fallen”, or even more emphatically, “even if no one but Christ had been created”.
It is clear, therefore, that the Incarnation, the “greatest work of God”, could not possibly be occasioned, nor could it occupy a secondary place in the divine plan.
In fact, if every soul’s predestination to glory precedes the foreknowledge of sin, then it is even more true of that soul which is predestined to the maximum glory.
If all of the elect were foreseen and willed to be “co-loving” (condiligentes), how much more the scope of such foreknowledge for Christ. He can glorify, and in fact glorifies, the Trinity in a measure greater than all of the other beings put together. Rather, their praises can rise to God only by means of Christ and with Christ: “co-loving” (loving with Him and not without Him).
Therefore, Christ too has been foreseen like all of the rest of the elect, according to St. Jerome’s expression, “ante fabricam mundi” [before the foundation of the world]. He also proceeds from the divine Goodness which in a singular way desires to communicate Itself externally and therefore makes up part of the absolute predestination: together with all of the elect Christ also is included in the “complete” number of predestination. What distinguishes Him from the rest of the elect is that of being willed first, being closest to the end.
It must be noted that neither the divine plan—as understood by our Doctor—nor the personage which dominates that plan are simple hypotheses, as some would have us believe. It is revealed truth that the world was conceived and willed as good (cfr. Gen 1:1-31), and likewise that this was realized in Christ and through Christ (Jn 1:1-3, Eph 1:3-6, Col 1:15-20, Rm 8:29-30).
Before closing this section it is fitting to point out some points regarding the particular mode of Christ’s predestination, which will have repercussions on various Mariological problems.
In order to be better understood we will present these points in the form of questions.
1) In all creation Christ has the supreme glory; what is the cause of this? Scotus responds that Christ owes the gift of supreme glory to the fact of the hypostatic union which, in the order of execution, precedes that glory and therefore becomes a disposition to that glory. He writes that Christ “would not have had such glory, nor would He have been so full of grace and truth, unless His nature had subsisted in the subject [Person] of the Word”.
2) Was Christ predestined first to glory or to the hypostatic union? It is a question which arises from Scotus himself: “Utrum prius praevidebatur isti naturae unio vel gloria?” And he responds to that question in this way: “Videtur quod gloria prius…”. Sticking to his principle that predestination first regards the end (which is glory) and then regards the means (the hypostatic union being among these), Christ too, according to the Subtle Doctor, was first predestined to glory and then to union.
3) Did Christ merit for Himself union and grace? He merited neither the one nor the other for Himself, and this absolutely. Both of these—union and grace—were conferred without any merit, neither from Himself nor from another. This is the fundamental privilege which belongs solely to Christ. On this subject our Doctor is categorical; he maintains: “in the universality of God’s works there was no work of pure grace, if not the Incarnation of the Son of God alone”. And this is so because such a conferral “had to manifest the supreme mercy of God by giving the supreme good of grace without any merit”.
However, what Christ did not merit for Himself He merited for everyone else, without exception (neither angels nor men), He being the single depository and unique source of grace since God established that “there would be but one Head in the Church, from whom grace would flow into the members”.
Hence “every other glory, of everyone capable of blessedness (angel or man), falls under and is foreseen through merit (not of one’s own, but those of Christ), by which these merits too (of Christ in relation to the blessed), fall under predestination”.
The position of Mary
Having examined the nature of predestination and determined the place which Christ occupies in the divine decrees, we can readily pass to specifying the place which Mary occupies in relation to the same decrees.
We must recall that as the characteristics of predestination according to Scotus concern all of the blessed equally, Christ included, they concern Mary as well. Hence she too was foreseen with Christ and with all of the other blessed “before the foundation world was made”, independently of any personal merit or demerit whatsoever; she too, like Christ and the blessed, was uniquely willed in order “to love”, namely to be “co-loving”; she too, like Christ and all of the blessed, makes up part of that “heavenly court”, divided into various degrees where Christ is the “Head”; in summary, she too belongs to that absolute and simultaneous predestination in so far as it is formally an “act of the divine will”.
Once predestination is seen from this angle the formula of Ineffabilis Deus , “uno eodemque decreto”, not only holds for Christ and Mary, but for all of the blessed as well who are predestined with them for glory. In other words the Bull expresses that Mary was not foreseen first (before sin) and Christ after (after sin). In that case we would have two separate decrees. Rather all were predestined with one and the same decree which—according to the scotistic understanding—cannot be other than absolute and simultaneous, Christ, Mary, and all the other blessed included: one and the same decree for all, foreseen before sin.
With regards to the end, namely glory, we have perfect unity. Glory by its nature is one and the same for all since it is a gift which excludes any personal merit whatsoever by the blessed; this is so true that not even Christ—as we have said—merits glory for Himself. Therefore, the distinction of that same glory into various degrees is to be sought in relation to the proximity to that same end.
Indeed our Doctor writes thus: “In general, he who wills with order, first wills that which is closest to the end”.
It is from this principle that all the degrees of predestination are revealed: from the highest to the lowest. Naturally, the highest is assigned to Christ; Scotus holds, “God first wills the glory of Christ’s soul, and not the glory of another soul”; this is so because Christ’s soul is closer to the end by virtue of His union to the Person of the Word.
From this highest rank there descend all the other rankings in conformity with their proximity to the end. And who shall be, after Christ, closest to the end? The answer can be none other than this: Mary.
We are not dealing here with a simple deduction, but rather a logical consequence. No creature—angelic or human—can have or even claim to have a more intimate proximity to Christ than that which existed between Him and her by virtue of her maternity. Therefore, if the Master’s principle, “In general, he who wills with order, first wills that which is closest to the end”, helps us to locate the transcendence of Christ in predestination, above all other creatures, likewise it can help us, rather it must help us, to locate Mary immediately after Christ. She, after Him, is the one creature closest to the end intended by God in predestination.
It follows that while Christ owes—as we have said—everything (glory, grace and hypostatic union) to the pure and simple liberality of God, Mary, for her part, owes—as we shall see—everything (glory, grace and maternity) to the pure and simple liberality of the Son. Thus in the divine plan as understood by Scotus, Christ is “the greatest good of God” and Mary is “the greatest good of the Mediator”.
 Cf., e.g., John Basseolis, III Sent., d. 1, q. 5 (Paris 1516) fol. 20 R, who places the Virgin “in second place after Christ”.
 Cf. W. Sebastian, De beata Virgine Maria universali gratiarum Mediatrice, Romae 1952, pp. 39-55, where the author reviews various scotistic commentators on the predestination of Mary; A. M. Blasucci, La dottrina scotista della predestinazione assoluta di Maria, in Virgo Immaculata, IX (Romae 1957) pp. 124-163, who also cites many scotists. [In English cf. Maximilian M. Dean, A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ: Bl. John Duns Scotus and the Franciscan Thesis, (Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, 2006), pp.105-109]
 Cf. A. Tondini, Le Encicliche Mariane, Roma 1952, II, p. 32.
 On the phrase “before and after” see Scotus, Lectura II, d. 20, q. 1, n. 22 (Vat. XIX, 195): “God wills in a supremely ordered way and the end first willed by Him, is Himself. But what He immediately wills thereafter, is created blessedness for a created nature capable of beatitude (in so far as we may speak there [in God] in terms of before and after)”.
 Lectura, II, d. 20, q. 1, n. 22 (Vat. XIX, 195): “(Predestination means) to will for someone (the predestined) blessedness (whence predestination is the first action “without”) and after willing predestination (God) wills that person grace and nature, and finally wills him to be born for this and that task”. Hence, predestination primarily involves intellectual beings and only secondarily the irrational, [and intellectual beings] first in the supernatural and then in the natural order; cf. Reportata, III, d. 32, n. 11 (Vivès 23, 508): “Next comes the conferral of grace and other supernatural gifts… and thereafter this sensible world and other visible creatures, which exist to serve men.” [On the scotistic notion of predestination in general and that of Christ and Mary in particular cf. Maximilian M. Dean, A Primer…, cit., in corpore, but especially pp.27-124]
 When a creature falls into two categories, as disparate as eternal and temporal, should that creature be considered necessary or contingent? Here is the answer of pseudo-Scotus, given in the form of a “rule”. He writes: “The rule is that any statement involving contingent and necessary is contingent, and any statement involving eternal and temporal is temporal. Creation, then, although it implies an eternal action on the part of God… is simply temporal.” (De rerum principio, q. 4, n. 36, 4, 317 b). Although this work is not an authentic work of Scotus, nonetheless it reflects the views of Scotus.
 Cf. note 3 of the Introduction concerning Aristotle’s principle: “first in intention, last in execution”, a principle dominating the entire teaching of Scotus on predestination. In regard to the two elements making up the content of predestination: end and means to the end, one should take special note of how the end is nobler than the means.
 Ordinatio, I, d. 40, q. un., n. 4 (Vat. VI, 310).
 Ibid.: “Predestination properly speaking expresses an act of the divine will”, a definition differing from that of St. Thomas who makes predestination consist in the divine “foreknowledge” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 23, a. 2, in corpore).
 Cf. Theologiae Marianae Elementa, 181: “Predestination according to the order of intention first regards the supernatural end and then the natural.”
 Elementa, 14: “First God loves Himself, and second loves Himself for others.” Other texts can be found in my study, Il Cristocentrismo di Giovanni Duns Scoto e la dottrina del Vaticano secondo, Roma 1967, p. 26, note 32.
 Ordinatio, I, d. 41, a. un., n. 40 (Vat. VI, 32): “For predestination itself, even from the perspective of the predestined, there is no reason or ultimate purpose”. For other scholastics, instead, the reason for the existence of Christ, and therefore of His predestination, is found in the fact of sin, St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 1, a. 3, in corpore, says: “Were it not for sin, the Incarnation would not have been”, and hence “God… predestined the work of the Incarnation as a remedy for human sin” (ibid., ad 4). St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d. 1, a. 2, q. 2 (III, 24 a) writes: “The principle reason for the Incarnation was the reparation of the human race… unless the human race had fallen, the Word of God would not have become Incarnate”.
 Lectura, I, d. 39, q. 1-5, n. 53 (Vat. XCII, 496): “The divine will cannot have but a single volition”; hence “the number of the elect is complete before anyone is reprobated” (Ordinatio, I, d. 41, “App.”: Vat. VI, 445); Ordinatio I, d. 45, q. un., n. 3 (Vat. VI, 373): “Had not God willed from all eternity, then He would not have willed at all, because in that case He would have been changeable.”
 “The created will”, Scotus says, “finds its reason for loving rightly in the good as intrinsically loveable for its own sake”. Instead, “this is not the case for the uncreated will in regard to any good other than its own essence”. In fact, “no other good, therefore, precisely as good, is loved by the divine will, but vice versa [because God loves it, it is good]” (Ordinatio I, d. 41, q. un., n. 54: Vat. VI, 338).
 Ordinatio, IV, d. 42, q. 2, n. 10 (Vivès 17, 568): “What is simply more fitting for perfection, is simply more perfect”; whence “the complete notion [of goodness] under every aspect consists in the will of God accepting this and not that in such and such a degree, so that such things are good on those terms and not vice-versa” (Ordinatio, III, d. 32, n. 6 [Vivés 15, 432]).
 Ordinatio, I, d. 41, q. un., n. 9, “App. A” (Vat. VI, 445): “No one blessed can or should rejoice over the damnation of anyone as though he had been chosen to take the place of the damned, because all the blessed were predestined before anyone was damned… No one is predestined because of the fall of another, nor is anyone’s salvation occasioned by something else; nor was Christ’s Incarnation occasioned by sin”; Rep. Barcinon., III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 182): “Men’s predestination was not on account of the fall of the angels, nor Christ’s on account of the fall of men”. His teaching here is directly contrary to St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 23, a. 6, ad 1: “Men were substituted for the fallen angels, and Gentiles for the Jews”; ibid., in corpore: “As many men are saved as angels fell”.
 Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n. 4 (Vivès 14, 355): “God chose beforehand those angels and men He wished in the heavenly court, according to a certain and fixed ranking”; Rep. Barcinon., ibid. (Elementa, 183): “He willed, therefore those whom He had chosen to be as it were His family…”
 Rep., III, d. 7, q. 4, n. 5 (Vivès, 303 b): Ordinatio, ibid., 23, n. 3 (Vivés 14, 354 b; d. 32, q. un., n. 6 (Vivès 15, 433 a). “I say, therefore, that the fall was not the cause of the predestination of Christ; indeed, even had neither angel nor man fallen, Christ would still have been predestined in the same way, indeed, even if no one but Christ had been created” (Rep., ibid., n. 4).
 Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n. 3 (Vivès 14, 354): “Since anyone’s predestination to glory precedes… foreknowledge of sin…, so much the more is this true of the soul (of Christ) predestined to the highest glory”.
 Ibid.: “In general, anyone willing in an orderly manner first wills what is closest to the end”.
 Rep.Barcinon., III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 183): “it does not seem that the predestination of Christ, who was predestined to be Head of the heavenly court, was occasioned by the fall or demerit of the damned. God, then, first loves Himself and then what is nearest to this love, to wit, He loves that the soul of Christ should have the highest glory in the Word. This, then, was the first object willed among all the creatures willed by God”.
 Ordinatio, III, d. 32, q. un., n. 6 (Vivès 15, 433; cod. Ass. fol. 174 rb): “God loves Himself first…, second He wills to have co-lovers, which is to will others to have His love in them”; on this cf. R. Rosini, Le virtù cristiane nel pensiero di Duns Scoto, tra i documenti (doc. IV) nella Positio super cultu… atque virtutibus Ioannis Duns Scoti, Romae 1988, p. 510.
 St. Jerome, In Epistulam ad Ephesios, 1. 1, c. 1, n. 552.
 Cf. supra, notes 19-21.
 Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., Mariologia, Parisiis 1939, p. 95: “theologians ask… whether Christ, had Adam not sinned, still have come with the Mother of God”. He then goes on to explain, suddenly shifting terminology: “Would God, on the hypothesis that He wished to create a world different from the present one and in accord with the providence governing such a hypothesis, have decreed an Incarnation? This is a ridiculous question, nor do theologians deal with it, since it is a mere hypothesis, and therefore unsolvable”. Clearly the author either never read or never understood what Scotus actually said, and hence it is rather this theologian’s argumentation that is “ridiculous”. The Subtle Doctor is discussing the “real” world, not a “hypothetical” one. He is talking about a world which as it was “conceived”, such was it “created”, so did it “exist”. That afterwards sin should have affected its existence, was neither the will of God nor something brought to pass by God. Hence, the divine plan, according to the Subtle Doctor, regards before all else the predestination to glory of all the elect (cf. note 19) and first among these is Christ (ibid.), even before the world came to be (cf. note 23) and therefore, all the more before sin entered in. I do not question Fr. Merkelbach’s contribution to Mariology, nor his sincerity in pursuit of the truth. But like so many neo-thomist theologians he pays little attention to what Scotus actually thought and wrote, and bases his very negative assessment on seriously inaccurate and sometimes uncharitable secondary literature.
 Scotus, Lectura completa, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa 188): “Christ would not have had such glory, nor would He have been so full of grace and truth, unless His nature had subsisted in the subject [person] of the Word”; Rep. Barcinon., III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180): “And thus there existed something appropriately disposing [Christ] to such great glory, and this [hypostatic] union was that something so disposing”.
 Ibid., Lectura; Rep. Barcinon., ibid.: “because in all action there exists an inverse order governing intention and execution”.
 Lectura completa, ibid. (Elementa, 189): “whether the union of this nature to the Word was first ordained, or its destination to glory”.
 Reportata Valentiniensia, III, d. 6, q. 5 (Elementa, 176): “Christ’s predestination to glory was prior to that union, because intending an end is prior to intending those things which are a means to that end”. On this question, much discussed among scotists, cf. R. Rosini, Il Cristocentrismo…, p. 45, note 19.
 Lectura, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 189): “As any agent acting rationally first intends the end and then the means to that end, so God when predestining someone, first wills that person’s end and thereafter those things which are means to that end. The end of someone predestined, however, is blessedness and glory, and therefore this is what God first ordained in predestining, and only in a second moment ordained so to unite that nature [hypostatically] as make it fit for such glory”; Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3, n. 5 (Vivès 14, 358 a-b).
 Ordinatio, IV, d. 2, q. 1, n. 11 (Vivès 248 b); Rep. Barcinon., III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180): “The glory of Christ was such that it could not be within the capacity of a created nature to merit”. To the objection: “it is more glorious to have a reward via merit, than without it” (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 19, a. 4, in corpore), Scotus replies: “I maintain that this is true of a reward, which can be had via merits: but this union of the soul of Christ with God in the act of enjoyment was so great and so excellent, that merit could not precede it, and in this case it is nobler to enjoy an activity, which is beyond the range of prior merit, in virtue of the liberality of the donor, than to enjoy a lesser activity as the fruit of much prior merit”; (Ordinatio,III, d. 18, q. un., n. 13; Vivès 14, 683 b).
 Ordinatio, III, d. 13, q. 4, n. 9 (Vivès 14, 463 b). Two points should be made more precise. 1) “Mercy”, according to Scotus, must be understood, not in relation to “pardon” (or to the demerit of a creature), but in relation to the “gift”, apart from any consideration of a creature’s merit or demerit. Thus, the greatness of mercy is measured by the “gratuity” of the gift: “Mercy cannot be fully explained, unless the highest gift is given without any merit” (Rep., III, d. 13, q. 3, n. 14, Vivès 23, 337 b). 2) Basing himself on St. Augustine, De Trinitate, 13, c. 9, n. 24 (PL 42, 1033), Scotus defines in what the highest grace consists: “The highest grace is that man be joined to God in the unity of person, and although (Augustine) speaks of grace of union, i.e., the gracious will of God effecting this union, nonetheless concomitantly with this union follows the grace of fruition de facto; therefore”, Scotus concludes, “there existed the highest grace without prior merits” (Ordinatio III, d. 18, q. un., n. 12, 14, Vivès 683 b).
 Ordinatio, III, d. 13, q. 4, n. 8 (Vivès 14, 461 b): “No other nature could be head of those possessing grace, because there could not be two heads, as neither could there be two sovereigns in the same order… (therefore) in accord with the laws laid down by divine wisdom, there would be but one Head in the Church, from whom grace would flow into the members”.
 Rep. Barcinon., III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 180). The reasoning behind such a doctrine is to be sought precisely in the “means” which dispose to glory. In the blessed, grace constitutes the means, which is subject to merit and in fact is subject to the extrinsic merit (of Christ). In Christ, instead, the hypostatic union constitutes the means. That union being the principle of merit, it cannot be the subject of merit in any way.
 Cf. supra, note 23. In addition, St. Augustine, In Ioannis Evangelium, tr. 105, n. 6 (PL 35, 1910): “In virtue of this predestination (Christ) was already glorified before the world came into existence”. [On the joint predestination of Mary with Christ and her place in God’s eternal decrees cf. Maximilian M. Dean, A Primer…, cit., pp.105-109]
 Cf. supra, note 22.
 Cf. supra, notes 17 and 21.
 Cf. supra, notes 9 and 13.
 Cf. supra, note 4: Pseudo-Augustine, De Praedestinatione et gratia, c. 5 (PL 45, 1668): “We were made within the world, and chosen before the world: and at one and the same time, neither passing nor coming to be, but a continuous duration.”
 Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3(Vivès 14, 354 b). As to the “means” to the end, ours differing from that of Christ, see above, note 34.
 Ordinatio, ibid., 355. We note that: 1) various steps precede the prevision of sin (note 17); 2) these are intimately linked by an intrinsic goodness communicated them by the will of God (note 15); 3) they are ranked from greatest to least, where the first in rank is absolutely independent of the other grades, the lesser depending on the higher and not vice-versa, such that the greatest may exist without the other grades (note 18), and “even had no man or angel fallen, nor had many men been created other than Christ, Christ would still have been predestined” (Elementa, 6).
 Later we will see how Scotus considers Mary linked to Christ via the “natural” bond of motherhood.
 Ordinatio, III, d. 7, q. 3 (Elementa, 6).
 Ordinatio, III, d. 3, q. 1 (Elementa, 26). Cf. Merkelbach, Mariologia, p. 97, where is found a conclusion far distant from ours. He writes: “Hence, there is no reason why Christ and the Blessed Virgin cannot be the final, formal and efficient cause of our salvation in general, and yet also depend on us and on our sin as condition, and the material and dispositive cause. Nor is it irrational to refer the perfect to the imperfect…” (sic! Self-explanatory.).