Sunday, May 31, 2020

Mariological Ecclesiology --Ratzinger

Virgen con el Niño: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)

"Mary is the Church in person..."

The Old Testament
The tradition identifying the Church with a woman reaches far back into the Old Testament, where Israel sees itself as the bride whom God wishes to take into his confidence, to make his own, and to unite to himself in eternal love. That was adopted in the Church, which in fact continues the life of the Old Testament.

Saint Paul
Paul talks about our mother, the Jerusalem on high. He is thus discovering, from within the Jewish tradition, the image of the Church as mother, this motherly city that has given birth to us all and that gives us life and freedom.

The Fathers of the Church
And so the Fathers took up this idea, which also appears in the Apocalypse--the woman arrayed in the sun--and used it to portray the whole holy being of the Church. Although often they had no thought of Mary in doing this, basically the whole of mariological thought is being expounded here along with ecclesiology.

In other words, what the Church is, is made concrete in Mary. And the theological significance of Mary appears in the Church. Both spill over into each other, so to speak: Mary is the Church in person and the Church as a whole embodies what Mary, as a person, anticipates.

Paul Claudel
...Claudel...intuitively rediscovered, in [his] conversion experience [in Notre Dame], the original mother figure and the indivisibility of Mariology and ecclesiology.

The Twentieth Century
In our own century, Hugo Rahner,...a great patristic scholar, has collected and marvelously presented all the patristic texts so as to show that wherever the Fathers are talking about the Church as a woman, then, as it were, Mary also appears--and that a narrowing of Mariology is thereby overcome. Other people have done further work on this. The Second Vatican Council picked this up by linking Mariology and ecclesiology.

I think that in fact this rediscovery of the interchangeability between Mary and the Church, the personification of the Church in Mary and the universal dimension acquired by Mary in the Church, is one of the most important theological rediscoveries of the twentieth century.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the Word: Believing and Living in Our Time: A Conversation with Peter Seewald (original German edition 2000). San Francisco: Ignatius, 2002, 352-353.
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