Thursday, May 13, 2010


Reflections from Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s "Marie Première Église"

(From L'Osservatore Romano dated May 30, 2001)

The place of Mary in ecclesial doctrine and devotion in the last twenty years has been a source of tensions within the Church. On one hand, a group of devout persons promote the maxim, "there is never enough said of Mary", while on the other hand, those on the frontier of the Church sense dangers for converts and for ecumenical relations.

These have been emphasizing the hierarchy of truths centred on the Trinity and Christ, from whom comes all grace, while noting that Mary is a creature, even though she is the highest and the greatest, who has received the greatest grace possible. Ecumenists have to deal with groups in the communities born of the Reformation for whom Marian devotion seems to be a dangerous growth of something secondary. Many seeking full communion find that the last barrier to their becoming Catholics is Catholic Marian devotion. There may be a way of reconciling the two tendencies.

It is true that there is never enough said about Mary when one leaves aside a quantitative approach which seems to want more devotions, more apparitions, more dogmatic definitions and moves to a qualitative approach. The qualitative approach does mean that we seek a greater understanding of Mary's mission in God's plan of salvation and appreciate Mary's corresponding grace. Those who show some hesitation due to their reliance on the historical critical approach to the Gospels must consider that in Scripture no woman is spoken of in such detail and in so many places as Mary.

Wherever she appears in the Gospels the event or the word is in strict relation with the Incarnation of Christ, his infancy, his public activity, his passion, his continued life in the Church. Even though the occasions in which Mary appears are scattered throughout the Gospels, they form, when one thinks more deeply about them a set of relationships where the persons involved react with one another like Mother and Son, Mother, Servant of the Word and Word, in a history of salvation in which the persons enjoy eternal life and glory.

The richness of personal aspects may make it difficult to speak of Mary with restrictive definitions, that is why we use the Litany of Our Lady. There is a kind of parallel with her Son. No one title fully captures all the riches of his Person and of his work. In our wonder we can explore infinitely the love that led One of the Trinity to suffer for us.

Veneration of Mary glorifies God's gifts as Scripture suggests

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