Book Critique of MARY, The Church at the Source by Ratzinger and Balthasar

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The Positive Function of Marilogy in Theology

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 Positive Function of Mariology in Theology

Page 25: A rethinking was set in motion above all by Paul VI’s apostolic letter Marialis Cultus (February 2, 1974) on the right form of Marian veneration. As we saw, the decision of 1963 had led de facto to the absorption of Mariology by ecclesiology. A reconsideration of the text has to begin with the recognition that its actual historical effect contradicts its own original meaning. For the chapter on Mary (chap. 8) was written so as to correspond intrinsically to chapters 1-4, which describe the structure of the Church. The balance of the two was meant to secure the correct equilibrium that would fruitfully correlate the respective energies of the biblical-ecumenical-liturgical movement and the Marian movements. Let us put it positively: Mariology, rightly understood, clarifies and deepens the concept of Church in two ways.
Note: A church is gathering of Christians locally. Thus, there are numerous churches around the world.
I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Romans 16:1-5

Pages 25-26: In contrast to the masculine, activistic-sociological populous Dei (people of God) approach, Church – ecclesia – is feminine. This fact opens a dimension of the mystery that points beyond sociology, a dimension wherein the real ground and unifying power of the reality Church first appears. Church is more than “people”, more than structure and action: the Church contains the living mystery of maternity and of the bridal love that makes maternity possible. There can be ecclesial piety, love for the Church, only if this mystery exists. When the Church is no longer seen in any but a masculine, structural, purely theoretical way, what is most authentically ecclesial about ecclesia has been ignored – the center upon which the whole of biblical and patristic talk about the Church actually hinges.
Note: The Church hinges upon Christians who call upon the Lord Jesus Christ and are sanctified in Him.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3.

Pages 26-27: Paul captures the differentia specifica (specific difference) of the New Testament Church with respect to the Old Testament “pilgrim people of God” in the term “Body of Christ”. Church is, not an organization, but an organism of Christ. If Church becomes a “people” at all, it is only through the mediation of Christology. This mediation, in turn, happens in the sacraments, in the Eucharist, which for its part presupposes the Cross and Resurrection as the condition of its possibility. Consequently, one is not talking about the Church if one says “people of God” without at the same time saying, or at least thinking, “Body of Christ”. But even the concept of the Body of Christ needs clarification in order not to be misunderstood in today’s context: it could easily be interpreted in the sense of a Christomonism, of an absorption of the Church, and thus of the believing creature, into the uniqueness of Christology. In Pauline terms, however, the claim that we are the “Body of Christ” makes sense only against the backdrop of the formula of Genesis 2:24: “The two shall become one flesh” (cf. 1 Cor 6:17). The Church is the body, the flesh of Christ in the spiritual tension of love wherein the spousal mystery of Adam and Eve is consummated, hence, in the dynamism of a unity that does not abolish dialogical reciprocity (Gegenubersein). By the same token, precisely the eucharistic-christological mystery of the Church indicated in the term “Body of Christ” remains within the proper measure only when it includes the mystery of Mary: the mystery of the listening handmaid who – liberated in grace – speaks her Fiat and, in so doing, becomes bride and thus body.
Note: Jesus Christ never included Mary as a building block of His Church.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood (or Mary) has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock (confession-verse 16) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:16-18.

Page 27: If this is the case, then Mariology can never simply be dissolved into an impersonal ecclesiology. It is a thorough misunderstanding of patristic typology to reduce Mary to a mere, hence, interchangeable, exemplification of theological structures. Rather, the type remains true to its meaning only when the noninterchangeable personal figure of Mary becomes transparent to the personal form of the Church herself. In theology, it is not the person that is reducible to the thing, but the thing to the person. A purely structural ecclesiology is bound to degrade Church to the level of a program of action. Only the Marian dimension secures the place of affectivity in faith and thus ensures a fully human correspondence to the reality of the incarnate Logos. Here I see the truth of the saying that Mary is the “vanquisher of all heresies”. This affective rooting guarantees the bond ex toto corde – from the depth of the heart – to the personal God and his Christ and rules out any recasting of Christology into a Jesus program, which can be atheistic and purely neutral: the experience of the last few years verifies today in an astonishing way the accuracy of such ancient phrases.
Note: A relationship with the Father is through the Son by the Holy Spirit and not by Mary.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:23-27.