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)


1. The Grammar and Content of the Sentence “Et Incarnatus Est” in the Creed

Pages 82-83: If we begin by listening to the sentence simply for its grammatical structure, it turns out that it includes four subjects. Two are expressly mentioned: the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. But then there is also the “he” of the “he became flesh.” This “he” is assigned various names in the preceding part of the Creed: Christ, the only begotten Son of God … true God from true God … consubstantial with the Father. It follows that this “he” includes – inseparably – an additional “I”: the Father, with whom he is one in essence and so can be called “God from God”. This means that the primary and proper subject of this sentence is – we could hardly expect otherwise after our previous considerations – God. But it is God in the Trinity of subjects who yet are only one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now, the drama of this sentence lies in the fact that it makes a statement, not about God’s eternal being, but about action, which on closer examination actually proves to be a statement about suffering, in the passive voice. The “ex Maria Virgine” belongs to the statement about action, in which the three Divine Persons are involved, each in his own way. Indeed, the whole drama hangs on just this thread. For without Mary, God’s entrance into history would not achieve its intended purpose.
Note: God the Father was not dependent upon Mary to have the Son birthed into this world.
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14.
Note: God will never be dependent upon a specific human being for His will to be done.

Page 83: That is, the very thing that matters most in the Creed would be left unrealized – God’s being a God with us, and not only a God in and for himself. Thus, the woman who called herself lowly, that is, nameless (Lk 1:48), stands at the core of the profession of faith in the living God, and it is impossible to imagine it without her. She is an indispensable, central component of our faith in the living, acting God. The Word becomes flesh – the eternal Meaning grounding the universe (Sinngrund der Welt) enters into her. He does not merely regard her from the outside; he becomes himself an actor in her. It needed the Virgin for this to be possible, the Virgin who made available her whole person, that is, her embodied existence (Leib), her very self, as the place of God’s dwelling in the world.
Note: God the Father was not dependent upon Mary to have the Son birthed into this world.
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” Exodus 32:9-10.
Note: God will never be dependent upon a specific human being for His will to be done.

Pages 83-84: The Incarnation required consenting acceptance. Only in this way do Logos and flesh really become one. In this connection Augustine remarks, “He who created you without you did not wish to redeem you without you.” The “world” into which the Son comes, the “flesh” he assumes, is not just any place or thing. Rather, this world, this flesh, is a human being, an open heart. The Letter to the Hebrews, drawing on the Psalms, interprets the event of the Incarnation as a real intradivine dialogue, in which the Son says to the Father “a body have you prepared for me.” But this preparation of a body happens through Mary, because she, too, says “sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me … ‘Behold, I have come to do your will’” (Heb 10:5-7; Ps 40:6-8). A body is prepared for the Son through Mary, in that she gives herself over wholly to the Father’s will and thus places her body (Leib) at his disposal as the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.
Note: This portion of Scripture is strictly about Jesus Christ not Mary.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — in the volume of the book it is written of Me — to do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7.
Note: The volume of Scripture is symbolically and literally about Jesus Christ not Mary.