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
3) Marian Mediation
Pages 53-54: The next point I would like to mention is the teaching on
Mary’s mediation, which the Pope develops in detail in Redemptoris
Mater. This is surely on which theological and ecumenical discussion
will mostly focus. To be sure, the Second Vatican Council already uses
the title “Mediatrix” and addresses the substance of Mary’s mediation.
Nevertheless, no magisterial document has expounded the theme so amply.
The encyclical goes beyond the Council in terms of content, even while
incorporating the Council’s terminology. At the same time, it deepens
the Council’s own approach in a way that gives it new weight for
theology and piety.
Note: Should not the Roman Catholic church be magnifying God instead of Mary?
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,” Luke 1:46.
Page 54: I would like to begin by briefly clarifying the terms in which
the Pope defines the concept of mediation theologically and safeguards
it from misunderstanding. Only in light of this clarification can we
then understand the Pope’s positive intention. The Holy Father
forcefully underscores the mediation of Jesus Christ, but he sees its
uniqueness, not as exclusive, but as inclusive. It enables various
forms of participation in itself. In other words, the uniqueness of
Jesus Christ does not extinguish the intercessory communion of human
beings before God. All men can, in manifold ways, be mediators with God
for one another in communion with Jesus Christ. This is a simple fact
of our everyday experience, for no one believes alone; everyone’s faith
depends also on human mediations. No human being by himself could
suffice to bridge the distance to God, because no human being can
guarantee the existence and closeness of God by his own resources. But
in communion with the One who is himself this closeness in person, men
can be, and in fact are, mediators for one another.
Note: In terms of salvation, only Jesus Christ can mediate ones sins through their sincere belief in Him.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of
transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;
and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a
mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Galatians
Pages 54-55: So far, we have described very generally the possibility
and limits of mediation in dependence upon Christ. Basing himself on
this description, the Pope goes on to develop his terminology. Mary’s
mediation rests upon participation in Christ’s mediatorial office, in
comparison to which it is in a position of subordination and service
(no. 38). The Pope borrows these terms from the Council. Also borrowed
from the Council is the Pope’s claim that Mary’s task of mediation
flows “from the superabundant merits of Christ, relies on his
mediatorship, depends completely upon it, and draws from it its entire
efficacy” (no. 22; Lumen Gentium, no. 60). Consequently, Mary performs
her mediation in the mode of intercession (no. 21).
Note: Mary has nothing to do with the prayers of the saints.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the
twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and
golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Page 55: The foregoing is true not only of Mary, but of any human
cooperation in Christ’s mediatorship. It thus does not yet tell us how
her mediation might differ from that of other human beings. But the
Pope does not stop here. Even though Mary’s role of mediation is
continuous with the nature of creaturely cooperation in the work of the
Redeemer, it nonetheless has an “extraordinary” character. It uniquely
transcends the mode of mediation that is in principle possible for
every man. The encyclical also develops this train of thought under the
tight control of the biblical text.
Note: Only people in this lifetime can pray and Saint Paul never thought of calling on Mary.
Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the
love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God
for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe,
and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, that
I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed
together with you. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans
Pages 55-56: The Pope opens up an initial view of Mary’s specific form
of mediation in an in-depth meditation on the miracle of Cana, in which
Mary’s intercession moves Christ to perform a sign that already
anticipates his coming hour – as continues to happen, again and again,
in the Church’s signs, that is, in her sacraments. The actual
conceptual elaboration of the specificity of Marian mediation occurs
mainly in the third part of the encyclical. Once again, the Pope offers
there a sublime tapestry of different scriptural passages, which,
seemingly disparate, nonetheless deploy a surprising illuminative power
precisely when read together – the unity of the Bible! The Pope’s
fundamental claim is that the originality of Mary’s role of mediation
consists in its material character, which aligns it with Christ’s being
born ever anew in the world. It maintains the presence of the feminine
center it is. By contrast, where the Church is understood only
institutionally, only in the form of majority decisions and actions,
there is no room for the feminine dimension. Standing against this
superficial sociologization of the notion of Church, the Pope recalls a
Pauline phrase that has been the object of much too little meditation:
“My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be
formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Life originates, not by being made, but by
being born, and it therefore requires birth pangs. The “maternal
consciousness of the primitive Church” to which the Pope refers here is
relevant for us precisely in today’s context (no. 43).
Note: The Roman Catholic church has missed the importance of being born again by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless
one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to
Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time
into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I
say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter
the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to
you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you
hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it
goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8.
Page 56: Now, at this point one may well ask, “Why must we fix this
feminine and maternal dimension of the Church once and for all in
Mary?” The encyclical answers this question in the context of a
scriptural passage that, at first sight, seems decisively antithetical
to any veneration of Mary whatsoever. The woman who, enthused by Jesus’
preaching, shouts her praise of the body that bore this man receives
the following retort from Jesus: “Blessed are those who hear the word
of God and keep it” (Lk 11:28). The Holy Father connects this saying of
the Lord with another that goes in the same direction: “My mother and
my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:21).
Note: Avoid people who twist the Word of God to arrive at a false conclusion.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be
found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that
the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother
Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also
in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are
some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people
twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the
Scriptures. 2 Peter 3:14-16.
Note: Saint Peter the first “Pope” never promoted Mary.
Pages 56-57: These statements are only apparently anti-Marian. In
reality, the texts proffer two extremely important insights. First,
over and above Christ’s once-only physical birth, there is another
dimension of motherhood, which brings Christ to birth again and again,
rests upon the hearing, keeping, and doing of Jesus’ word. Now, it is
the same Luke from whose Gospel the two above-mentioned sayings are
cited who portrays Mary as the archetypal hearer of the Word, who bears
the Word, keeps it, and brings it to maturity. This means that, in
handing on these sayings of the Lord, Luke is not denying veneration of
Mary; he is, rather, attempting to set it on its true foundation. He
shows that Mary’s maternity is not simply a uniquely occurring
biological event; he shows, rather, that she was and, therefore, also
remains a mother with her whole person. This becomes concrete on the
day of Pentecost, at the moment of the Church’s birth from the Holy
Spirit: Mary is in the midst of the praying community that becomes the
Church thanks to the coming of the Spirit. The correspondence between
Jesus’ Incarnation by the power of the Spirit in Nazareth and the birth
of the Church at Pentecost is unmistakable. “The person who unites the
two moments is Mary” (no. 24). The Pope sees the icon of our times, in
this scene of Pentecost (no 33).
Note: Mary was not a hearer or a believer of the Word during the ministry of Jesus Christ.
When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this
wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not
His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and
Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this
Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said
to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and
in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of
their unbelief. Matthew 13:54-58.
Note: Did you know that the motherhood of Mary included half brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ?
Page 57: What Luke displays in a web of allusions, the Holy Father
finds fully explicit in John’s Gospel – in the words of the crucified
Christ to his Mother and his beloved disciple John. The words “behold,
your mother!” and “woman, behold, your son” have always fruitfully
enriched the pondering by interpreters of Mary’s special task in and
for the Church. They are rightly at the center of any mariological
reflection. The Holy Father understands them as a testament of Christ
from the Cross. In the inner core of the mystery of Easter, Mary is
given to man as Mother. A new maternity of Mary comes into play, which
is the fruit of the new love that has come to fruition at the foot of
the Cross (no. 23). The “Marian dimension in the life of Christ’s
disciples …, not just of John, … but of every disciple, every
Christian”, is thus brought into view. “The maternity of Mary, which
becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift that Christ makes to each man
personally” (no. 45).
Note: Jesus Christ was fulfilling the Old Testament Law by caring for His mother.
“When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in
the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the
stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within
your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the Lord your God:
‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them
to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according
to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not
transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.” Deuteronomy
Note: Why didn’t Saint Paul mention Mary and he wrote half of the New Testament?
Pages 57-58: The Holy Father offers in this context a very subtle
exegesis of the words with which the Gospel concludes this scene: “From
that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27) – that is
the usual translation. But the depth of the event, the Pope stresses,
comes to light only when we translate the passage literally. In that
case, we would actually have to say: “He took her into his own.” For
the Holy Father, this implies a quite personal relation between the
disciple – every disciple – and Mary; a letting of Mary into the inmost
core of one’s own mental and spiritual life; a handing oneself over
into her feminine and maternal existence; a reciprocal self-commitment
that becomes the ever-new way to Christ’s birth and brings about
Christ’s taking form in man. In this way, however, Mary’s task sheds
light on the figure of woman in general, on the feminine dimension and
the specific mission of women in the Church (no. 46).
Note: The disciples of Jesus Christ never referred to Mary at all during the first council.
Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And
when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men
and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that
by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and
believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them
the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between
us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you
test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither
our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as
they.” Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and
Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through
them among the Gentiles. Acts 15:6-12.
Note: Sadly, the modern Roman Catholic church must defend unbiblical dark age doctrines.
Page 58: At this point, all the scriptural texts that the encyclical
weaves into a single tapestry come together. For both in the Cana
narrative and in the account of the Crucifixion, John mentions Mary,
not by name, or even as Mother, but under the title “woman”. The text
itself thus sets up the connection with Genesis 3 and Revelation 12,
with the sign of the “women”, and there is no doubt that John uses this
name with the unspoken intention of raising Mary as “the name with the
unspoken intention of raising Mary as “the woman” in general to the
level of a universal sign. The Crucifixion narrative is thus
simultaneously an interpretation of history, a reference to the sign of
the woman who participates maternally in the battle against the forces
of negation and who is thus a sign of hope (no. 24 and no. 47). The
Credo of Paul VI sums up all that follows from these texts: “We believe
that the most holy Mother of God, the New Eve, the Mother of the
Church, continues in heaven her motherly task for Christ’s members
through her cooperation in the birth and formation of divine life in
the souls of the redeemed” (no. 47).
Note: The Holy Spirit gives and forms the divine life in the souls of the redeemed.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse
for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ
Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Note: Pope Paul VI should have taken the name of Mary instead of Paul.
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