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 – Four Focal Points of the Text

1) Mary – The Believer

Pages 48-49: The central attitude in terms of which Redemtoris Mater unlocks the figure of Mary is – faith. Jesus is the incarnate Word who speaks out of the depths of his oneness with the Father. In the same way, Mary’s being and the trajectory of her life are decisively shaped by the fact of her faith. “Blessed is she who believed” – this exclamation of Elizabeth to Mary (Lk 1:45) becomes the key word of Mariology.
Note: Blessed is everyone who sincerely believes that Jesus Christ is their personal Savior.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Page 49: Mary thereby takes her place among those whom the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews praises as the great believers of history, thereby giving remembrance of faith’s witnesses its theological citizenship. The encyclical never quits this fundamental biblical focus, and we cannot understand the document properly unless we, too, keep it constantly in view. For this reason, we can call Redemptoris Mater a catechesis on faith, on man’s basic relationship to God. The Pope connects Mary’s attitude with that of Abraham. Just as Abraham’s faith was the beginning of the Old Covenant, Mary’s faith, enacted in the scene of the Annunciation, is the inauguration of the New. For Mary, as for Abraham, faith is trust in, and obedience to, God, even when he leads her through darkness. It is a letting go, a releasing, a handing over of oneself to the truth, to God. Faith, in the luminous darkness of God’s inscrutable ways, is thus a conformation to him.
Note: The inauguration of the New Covenant had nothing to do with Mary’s faith.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5.
Note: The New Covenant was inaugurated on Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Pages 49-50: The Pope sees Mary’s Yes, her act of faith, implied in the psalm text that the Letter to the Hebrews interprets as expressing the Son’s Yes to his Incarnation and Cross: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me … ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God’” (Heb 10:5-7; cf. Ps 40:6-8; Redemptoris Mater, no. 13). Mary, saying Yes to the birth of the Son of God from her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, places her body, her entire self, at God’s disposal as a place for his presence. In her Yes, then, Mary’s will coincides with her Son’s. The unison of these Yesses – “a body you have prepared for me” – makes the Incarnation possible, for, as Augustine says, Mary conceived in Spirit before she conceived in her body.
Note: Mary could have said No and God’s will would still have been achieved.
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3.
Note: God is never dependent upon somebody’s Yes and Jonah still ended up in Nineveh.

Page 50: The cruciformity of faith, which Abraham had to experience in such a radical way, becomes evident for Mary, first in her meeting with the aged Simeon, then, in a new way, in her losing, and finding again, the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. The Pope vigorously underlines the Evangelist’s affirmation that “they did not understand” what he meant (Lk 2:48-50; Redemptoris Mater, no. 17). Even in the midst of the closest intimacy, the mystery remains a mystery, and even Mary touches it only in faith. But precisely thus she remains truly in contact with this new self-revelation of God, that is, with the Incarnation. Precisely because she belongs to “the little ones” who accept the measure of faith, she is included in the promise: “Father, … you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants … No one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:25, 27; Redemptoris Mater, no. 17).
Note: Mary said NO to the will of God and tried take Jesus Christ home.
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50.
Note: Jesus Christ still died for the sins of the world despite Mary being out of the will of God

Pages 50-51: The Pope’s meditation on Mary’s faith reaches its apex and its summation in his interpretation of Mary’s standing under the Cross. As she who believes, Mary faithfully keeps in her heart all the words she has received (Lk 1:29; 2:19, 51). But under the Cross, the word of promise that has been given to her – “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, … and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-35) – seems to be definitively proved wrong. Faith enters into its utmost kenosis. It is in total darkness. But precisely in this way faith is perfect participation in Jesus’ expropriation (Phil 2:5-8). The circle is complete: “A body you have prepared for me; behold, I have come” – this initial Mary’s darkness is the fulfillment of the communion of wills that was our starting point. Faith – Abraham already makes this plain – is community at the Cross. It is at the Cross that faith achieves its integrity. Thus, and not otherwise, is faith room for the “blessing” that comes from God: “You have revealed them to infants.”
Note: Why does the Roman Catholic Church proclaim Mary the mother of Jesus when Saint Matthew didn’t?
And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. Matthew 27:55-61.
Note: Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sins?