Book Critique of MARY, The Church at the Source by Ratzinger and Balthasar
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
MARY, The Church at the Source
Thoughts on the place of Marian Doctrine and piety in faith and theology as a whole
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
THE SIGN OF THE WOMAN – Methodological Aspects
Pages 46-47: The Pope’s very first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis
(1979), already resonated with a theme that resounded again more fully
in Dominum et Vivificantem (1986) and now occupies a central place in
Redemptoris Mater: anticipation of the year 2000, of the great
remembrance of Christ’s birth “in the fullness of time” (Gal 4:4),
which is to be preceded by an advent of history and of humanity. One
could go so far as to say that the goal of the last two encyclicals has
been to usher in this advent. In the Church’s liturgy, Advent is a
Marian season. It is the season in which Mary made room in her womb for
the world’s Redeemer and bore the expectation and hope of humanity. To
celebrate Advent means: to become Marian, to enter into that communion
(Mitsein) with Mary’s Yes which, ever anew, is room for God’s birth,
for the “fullness of time.”
Note: The “fullness of time” refers to the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ not His birth.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the
law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are
sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying
out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and
if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:4-7.
Note: Did you notice that Saint Paul did not bother to mention the Catholic “Mother of God” by name?
Page 47: The Pope’s vigorous emphasis on the year 2000 and his
interpretation of the present hour of history in light of it
understandably provoke criticism. Is it not a form of neomillenarism, a
number mysticism, that falls short of the true level of the event of
Christ, which, historically speaking, happened once only and cannot be
repeated, even as its saving power is contemporaneous with all times
and opens them into the “always” of eternity? We have already touched
on the answer to these objections. Yes, indeed, Christ, having risen
from the dead, is contemporaneous with all time, and so every time is
on an equal footing before him. But there is a privileged occasion of
remembrance: the feast. Thus, just as, in spite of God’s omnipresence
and in spite of the sacramental presence of Christ in every tabernacle
in the world, there is a “geography of faith”, as the Pope suggests in
a brief excursus on the major pilgrimage sites, so, too there are also
junctures of time that invite us in a special way to reflect, to
accompany God’s human time, and so to experience his contemporaneity
Note: Pilgrimages to “geography of faith” locations and sacraments are meaningless to God.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will
neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You
worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is
of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father
is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship
Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24.
Note: How are you worshipping God?
Pages 47-48: In this connection, Raniero Catalamessa refers to a
helpful idea that Augustine develops in his theology of the feast.
Augustine says in one of his epistles that there are two ways of
celebrating a feast. Some feasts, he explains, are no more than an
annual recollection, the recurrence of a particular date. Others,
however, are celebrated in the mode of mystery. In feasts of the first
sort, what stands in the foreground is a particular date that awakens
remembrance. In feasts of the second sort, what counts is, not the
precise date, but entrance into, and union with, the interior reality
of an exterior event.
Note: Any Christian feast or festival is to be in remembrance of Jesus Christ.
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or
a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the
substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking
delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those
things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and
not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and
knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is
from God. Colossians 2:16-19.
Note: Don’t let the Roman Catholic Church judge you in food or in drink during their Lenten season.
Page 48: Drawing on this distinction, we can say a propos of the
Jubilee of the year 2000 that it is not the particular date that
occupies center stage, especially not in the sense that the Pope
expects that date to produce certain effects automatically, like a
wound-up clock. No, the decisive thing is the inner pointing that is
implied in our chronology as a whole and of which the Pope invites us
to become conscious once more on the occasion of the Jubilee – the
inner pointing, that is, to the One who holds time in his hands. He is
the “mystery” that at once touches and transcends time. By the same
token, he is the one who enables us to find solid ground in the
disintegration and dissolution of time, to hold fast to what endures in
the midst of the transitory.
Note: Are you centered upon Jesus Christ for eternal life after the dissolution of your time?
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of
my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished
the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give
to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved
His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
Note: Saint Paul never had anything to say directly about Mary.
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