on 9 March 2008
Written 30 years ago, this is Ratzinger at his best. What is great about Ratzinger is that he has lived throught the turmoil over the last 40 years in Catholicism, has (apprarently) been attracted to some less than orthodox ideas, but has found his way to explaining the essence of the Catholic faith in an intellectually satisfying and spiritually refereshing manner.
In this little book, Ratzinger examines the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church and explains their christological foundations. It is undoubtedly the case that over the last 100 years, a kind of disincarnationalist dualism has entered into christian thinking accross the board (protestant and Catholic). He masterfully sweeps aside such notions and showns their dangers. He is excellent at showing that the Marian doctines are a kind of supernatural consequence of God's promise in the old Testament, and fulfilled in Mary, in the New Testament.
Benedict VXI's second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth" is supposedly out this summer; this little book, I suspect, will foreshadow some of the thinking in that book: thus, if you want a "trailer", this is for you!
At page 28, he notes that the rejection of Marian doctrines:
"leads to a picture of God's omipotence that reduces the creature to a mere masquarade and that also completely fails to understand the God of the Bible, who is characterised as being the creator and the God of the covenant...Not without reason did the Church Fathers interpret the passion and cross as marriage, as that suffering in which God takes upon himself the pain of the faithless wife in order to draw her to himself irrevocably in eternal love"
"Wherever the unity of Old and New Testaments disintegrates, the place of a healthy Mariology is lost. Likewise ths unity of the Testaments guarantees the integrity of the doctrines of creation and grace" (page 32)
"...behind the formula "Mother of God" stands the conviction that the unity of Christ is so profound that the merely corporeal Christ can nowhere be distilled out of it, because in man the corporeal is also the human-corporeal, as modern biology confirms...The divine united itself so really and truly to man than no threshold of the human hinders it, but it penetrates this very human being in its entirety; consequently it penetrates his body too. Then birth is not to be reduced to a merely somatic act" (page 34).
"Thus in Mariology Christology was defended. Far from belittling Christology, it signfies the comprehensive triumph of a confession of faith in Christ which has achieved authenticity". (P36)
"The doctrine of the Immaculata reflects ultimately faith's certitude that there really is a holy Church - as a person and in a person. In this sense, it expresses the Church's certitide of salvation. Included therein is the knowledge that God's covenant in Israel did not fail but produced a shoot out of which emerged the blossom, the Saviour. The doctrine of the Immaculata testifies accordingly that God's grace was powerful enough to awaken a response.."