As I was thinking about what do for this week’s “Mondays with Mary”, I came upon in my class notes from my course in graduate school on Mary – Six Reasons Why We Should Not Forget About Mary In A Time of Crisis by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Initially this was an interview Cardinal Ratzinger gave back in 1984, but I think it proves to be as essential today, if not more, then when it was first published. Cardinal Ratzinger said that Mary is the fundamental, the most important remedy when the Church is dealing with those who either don’t understand her [that is the Church] or have a false pretense of what she proposes; when there is a great crisis of morality – such as today with the evils of abortion and attacks on marriage, especially recently with the push for same-sex marriage; and finally when women seem to be in crisis. The “state-run” media has hijacked this last point along with the current U.S. Administration in the sense that they are using women as a means to push their agenda against the Church and against Religious Freedom with the announcement of the HHS Mandate. This mandate is a crushing blow to all people, especially women. If there was ever a time in U.S. History that Mary is needed, it certainly is now!
First, the Four Existing Dogma’s (Theotokos, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, and Assumption into Heaven) protect the original faith of Jesus Christ in his Hypostatic Union (true God and true Man). It has been my experience that Christology has its foundation in Mary. When you say something wrong about Mary, you are usually saying something wrong about Christ. We see this when Nestorius attacked Mary and called her Christotokos (Mother of Christ) instead of Theotokos (Mother of God). She was declared Theotokos in 431 A.D at the Council of Ephesus. I will explain the false claims and this Dogma in a future “Mondays with Mary.”
Second, the Four Dogma’s are founded in Scripture “like a seed that grows and bears fruit in the life of Tradition.” Although the Four Dogma’s are found in Scripture, it is through Sacred Tradition (Church Fathers & Saints of the Church) and the Magisterium that assist in the definition and explanation of these Dogma’s. They grow organically just as the Church has grown organically through the centuries.
Third, in her very person, Mary unites the faiths of Judaism and Christianity in her Fiat (YES!) in the Gospel of Luke and fulfills the Old and New Testaments. She is the New Ark of the Covenant. “In her we live the unity of Scripture in its entirety.” This means that she unites the people of the Old Testament and New Testament as one. She understands both the synagogue and the Church.
Fourth, man is not merely reason nor merely feeling, but both. As Cardinal Ratzinger said, “The head must reflect with lucidity and heart must feel warmth.” Devotion to Mary protects a proper integration of head and heart. The Rosary is the perfect integration of head and heart. As I tell my students all the time, theology is both heart and mind or philosophically, faith and reason. Mary had a great faith in God, but she never checked her reason at the door and she was never pure emotion. We see this clearly at the Wedding Feast at Cana and during the Crucifixion of Jesus. She is always in control of her thoughts and pondered all events in her heart.
Fifth, Mary is a figure “image” and “model” of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger said, “Beholding her the Church is shielded against the aforementioned masculinized model that views her as an instrument for a program of social-political action.” This is something that dissident “Catholics” often accuse the Church of these days. They claim that the Church is not the Church that Christ established, that Jesus is the religion and not the Church and that the Church is a masculine group of old men. They obviously don’t have a clear understanding that Jesus left the Church in his stead (you know that guy Simon Peter? He was given Authority by Jesus a few different times in the Scriptures…look it up!). The Church isn’t to be a checklist organization, but is called to be radical lovers, almost foolish lovers. It is Mary our Mother who keeps the Church as radical lovers. Man can be so project orientated (I know I am). The Catholic Church is first Marian before she is Petrine. “If Mary no longer finds a place in many theologies and ecclesialogies the reason is obvious. They have reduced faith to an abstraction and abstraction does not need a Mother.” Not only does she point us to her Son, but she protects our relationship with Him as well, as a good Mother should.
Sixth, in a time when womanhood and femininity are being threatened like never before, it’s Mary as both Virgin and Mother who projects the ideal light meant for women of all times and cultures. Mary, as Icon, is the perfect idea of radical feminism. She should be viewed as the arch-type of femininity. It’s through her quiet presence in the Scriptures that allow her to be a woman of obedience and courage. We often think of Mary floating on a cloud three feet off the ground, but she is one tough Jewish woman. She travels up to the hill country to visit Elizabeth alone, she rides a donkey nine months pregnant to Bethlehem as Joseph leads her and she stands at the foot of the Cross and watches Jesus be crucified. If that is not radical feminism, then I don’t know what is. When I think of femininity, I think of the woman from Proverbs 31. Mary is the fulfillment of Proverbs 31 and the perfect model for women…and men.