Posted by: Thomas Richard | May 28, 2019

The Church Needs Mary

This confused, misguided and misdirected world needs light. His Church is the very light that Jesus called, formed and sent to be the light of this world! The world needs the Church; the Church needs to be light, to be holy, to be righteous. The Church in Christ needs Mary, her mother and model.

Descent into Madness

Misunderstandings of the true nature and reality of the Church did not begin with Protestantism. But misunderstandings of “church” and “Christian Faith” were certainly magnified and multiplied in the protestant movement, which swept the Christian world and confused the definition of Christianity itself. Today, in 2019, there is an attack on reality and on truth in the secular culture and in the Church even more difficult to believe, even while seeing with our own eyes, as it advances toward us. A growing assault is now upon us, not merely in rejection of divine and supernatural foundations of life and of being, but an advancing attack on nature itself is upon us – on human nature, on natural moral law, on common sense and indeed the plain witness of nature as it is, including the human body as it is by design.

Here upon us is an age of madness. The “sciences” now bow and submit before the lusts of men, and pronounce as “normal” what they had a few years before judged as abnormal, as rational thought and behavior that which had been irrational, unbalanced, mentally disturbed, as a normal human lifestyle what used to be illegal, dysfunctional, aberrant and immoral. Now, the crime of killing of not-yet-born little babies is not only legal but is the “inalienable” “constitutional” human right of their mothers. Now the sexual relations of men with men, and women with women is no longer a “grave depravity”, “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” (as our Catechism still teaches), but now same-sex marriages are established by law, and such “couples” are legally adopting innocent children into their alternative “family.”

The now-blurred meanings of “husband” and “wife” are being smeared and confused even more, with men – and even boys! – deciding they are not male after all, but female, and they’d be more comfortable in the bathroom and in the shower with girls – and yes, some officials and keepers of public order are agreeing with this new “right”: we are free to tell our lying bodies to get on board or get surgery and get renovated to fit the new “reality” suitable to the new identity decided by the new Boss: The almighty Self – the reality-determiner-in-chief, ME. And of course, women/girls too: equal opportunity insanity is equally “normal.” All this is probably guaranteed somewhere in the Constitution – some judge can and will find it, we can be sure.

Key to Return to Sanity: A Church Holy with the Holiness of Mary

There is a solution to the craziness that godless, morally barren “political correctness” has brought to the post-Christian world. In 1985 (at that time Card. Ratzinger, later to become Pope and now Pope Emeritus) Benedict XVI gave an interview which resulted in the book The Ratzinger Report. The author and reporter of the interview, commenting on the Cardinal’s concerns for the need for the Church to return to Mary, wrote (1):

To the crisis in the understanding of the Church, to the crisis of morality, to the crisis of woman, the Prefect has a remedy, among others, to propose: “that has concretely shown its effectiveness throughout the centuries.” “A remedy whose reputation seems to be clouded today with some Catholics, but one that is more than ever relevant.” It is the remedy that he designates with a short name: Mary.

The Cardinal insightfully listed six points in the interview which, although concise and brief, identify six facets of the singular role and place Mary fulfills in the Church, facets now lacking and unfulfilled, uncompleted in her absence. The incompleteness, the imbalance left in the Church even then, in 1985, remain and have only increased in the Church of today, 2019. The Church has moved even farther away from Mary, in the intervening 30 plus years. In place of an authentic Marian presence, bringing her gifts and graces so needed in the Church, we have been burdened with the deadening excesses of clericalism.

A clericalist, imprudently given the authority of pastor over the people of God, “rules for the love of ruling” (2) – not for the love of God nor love for the people of God. The Petrine dimension in the Church – represented by the clergy, the hierarchy from pope to the deacons – has been left without the balance, the equilibrium, of the needed Marian dimension, and so the Church suffers. The clergy suffer; the laity suffer; the world suffers in darkness lacking the holy and pure light entrusted to the Church in her fullness. Benedict’s insights then, 1985, have become more relevant and even urgent now, 2019, and ought to be heard and responded to now, more than ever. The Church needs Mary! His six points (3) begin with, first, the values in Christ (and thus, for His Church) of the Marian dogmas:

When one recognizes the place assigned to Mary by dogma and tradition, one is solidly rooted in authentic Christology. (According to Vatican II: ‘Devoutly meditating on her and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church reverently penetrates more deeply into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her spouse’ [Lumen Gentium, no. 65].) It is, moreover in direct service to faith in Christ—not, therefore, primarily out of devotion to the Mother—that the Church has proclaimed her Marian dogmas: first that of her perpetual virginity and divine motherhood and then, after a long period of maturation and reflection, those of her Immaculate Conception and bodily Assumption into heavenly glory.

These dogmas protect the original faith in Christ as true God and true man: two natures in a single Person. They also secure the indispensable eschatological tension by pointing to Mary’s Assumption as the immortal destiny that awaits us all. And they also protect the faith—threatened today—in God the Creator, who (and this, among other things, is the meaning of the truth of the perpetual virginity of Mary, more than ever not understood today) can freely intervene also in matter. Finally, Mary, as the Council recalls: ‘having entered deeply into the history of salvation, . . . in a way unites in her person and reechoes the most important mysteries of the Faith’ (Lumen Gentium, no. 65).

His second point concerns the value to the Catholic Faith of the union of Scripture and Sacred Tradition together in the one divine revelation of the saving Truth of God:

The Mariology of the Church comprises the right relationship, the necessary integration between Scripture and Tradition. The four Marian dogmas have their clear foundation in sacred Scripture. But it is there like a seed that grows and bears fruit in the life of Tradition just as it finds expression in the liturgy, in the perception of the believing people and in the reflection of theology guided by the Magisterium.

Thirdly he points out Mary as the necessary bridge holding together the Old Testament and Covenant with the New in Christ. Mary is the link, in her self the connecting bridge in whom God’s promises moved from expectant hope to living reality:

In her very person as a Jewish girl become the mother of the Messiah, Mary binds together, in a living and indissoluble way, the old and the new People of God, Israel and Christianity, synagogue and church. She is, as it were, the connecting link without which the Faith (as is happening today) runs the risk of losing its balance by either forsaking the New Testament for the Old or dispensing with the Old. In her, instead, we can live the unity of sacred Scripture in its entirety.

The fourth, fifth and sixth factors the Cardinal places before us, can all stand under a theme developed by other theologians as well, including Pope St. John Paul II, the theme of the necessary “Marian dimension” of the Church, seen as necessarily standing together with its “Petrine dimension.” (4) With this dimensionality in the Church, we can see a completeness parallel to that “very goodness” in God’s creation of humanity recorded in Genesis (1:27): “male and female He created them.” Ratzinger’s fourth point:

The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable ‘reason’ with the equally indispensable ‘reasons of the heart’, as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which ‘avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other’, as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.

Continuing his reflection on the necessity that Mary’s “Marian dimension” be present alongside the Petrine in the Church, Card. Ratzinger lists as a fifth point:

To use the very formulations of Vatican II, Mary is ‘figure’, ‘image’ and ‘model’ of the Church. Beholding her the Church is shielded against the aforementioned masculinized model that views her as an instrument for a program of social-political action. In Mary, as figure and archetype, the Church again finds her own visage as Mother and cannot degenerate into the complexity of a party, an organization or a pressure group in the service of human interests, even the noblest. If Mary no longer finds a place in many theologies and ecclesiologies, the reason is obvious: they have reduced faith to an abstraction. And an abstraction does not need a Mother.

No, an abstraction – an ideology – does not need a mother, but ideologies can quickly spawn tyrants to lead them, and thus we see clericalism processing on stage. Clericalism is a distortion of the Petrine dimension, an aberration, an imbalance in the intention of Christ. Card. Ratzinger said in his interview, “If the place occupied by Mary has been essential to the equilibrium of the Faith, today it is urgent, as in few other epochs of Church history, to rediscover that place.” (5)

The sixth and last point of Card. Ratzinger is another immediately and specifically flowing from her feminine nature and person. It is a quality obvious and consequential in its absence, in our secular culture so disdainful of the feminine genius. The qualities of goodness in human nature so specifically feminine, of woman, such as the deep self-giving in motherhood, womanly courage and strength, gentleness, patience, instinctive awareness of the person, the value and the needs of the other, and so on, are needed in the Church! He explains:

With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and of Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or, better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which—as we know—the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of woman receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away. Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, ‘keeps and ponders in her heart’ that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is still an example to which every Christian—man and woman—can and should look.

With all the fullness entrusted to His Church, she remains poor and incomplete without, in her rightful place, Mary: Virgin Mother and Model of Perfection in Christ. How can our doors again be opened for her? How can our Mother find room again, for the birth of her sons and daughters, in the Church of her Son? How can she again be welcomed into our impoverished ornate cathedrals, our well-furnished and well-vested houses of worship, so many having no room within, for the Mother of God?

Endnotes:

1. The Ratzinger Report, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori, 1985, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 104.
2. The City of God, Augustine, Bk XIV, Ch 28: “Of the Nature of the Two Cities, the Earthly and the Heavenly”.
3. The Ratzinger Report, p. 106-109.
4. THE MARIAN AND PETRINE PRINCIPLES, Annual Address to Roman Curia, H. H. John Paul II, Dec. 22, 1987. https://www.piercedhearts.org/jpii/addresses_speeches/1997/marian_petrine_principles.htm
For more on the background of this language of dimensions, or profiles, explored by theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar and others, see for example https://www.faith.org.uk/article/may-june-2013-balthasar-and-the-rediscovery-of-the-marian-profile-of-the-church
5. The Ratzinger Report, p. 105


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for writing this beautiful cry from the heart of the Church: WE NEED MARY!

    As then Cardinal Ratzinger said, in the interview you quoted:

    “…Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, ‘keeps and ponders in her heart’ that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is still an example to which every Christian—man and woman—can and should look.”

    For me, the Cardinal, now Pope Emeritus Benedict was echoing the words of Jesus from His Cross to the Beloved Disciple John and to all of us:

    “Behold Your Mother”

  2. Once again, Thank you very much Thomas for enlightening many of us, who are occasionally blinded by the truth. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, Have Mercy on Us and the Whole World!

  3. Your thoughts are so sad yet so true. I’m praying all Catholics fall on their knees and pray forgiveness for ignoring the Mother of God, and our Mother. God bless you, Thomas, for your sobering words.


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