On Giants' Shoulders

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Weekly Musings

I've been thinking a lot about Mary, women, and the Church this week. DD's bf brought Kevin Orlin Johnson's book on the Rosary down this past weekend and loaned it to me. Something that I noticed in the book spurred a bit of a discussion about the way that the pagans saw the Church as demonstrating values that they had previously seen in their mothers. I noted that in our current culture women have been doing just the opposite, embracing those things that they saw as primarily masculine values (competition, hardness, drive for success) and rejecting feminine traits (like softness, receptivity, compassion).

This morning I happened to pick up The Ratzinger Report and was just sort of flipping through it. I came upon these comments that Pope Benedict made when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger: "The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensible 'reason' with the equally indispensible 'reasons of the heart', as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth; devotion to Mary (which 'avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other', as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension."

Then he goes on to say: "To use the very formulations of Vatican II, Mary is 'figure', "image' and 'model' of the Church. Beholding her the Church is shielded against the aforemention masculinized model that views her as an instrument for a program of social-political action. In Mary as figure and archetype, the Church again finds her own visage as Mother and cannot degenerate into the complexity of a party, an organization or pressure grou in the service of human interests, even the noblest. If Mary no longer finds a place in many theologies and ecclesiologies, the reason is obvious: they have reduced faith to an abstraction. And an abstraction does not need a mother.

With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and of Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that, which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which - as we know- the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of women receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away. Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. Bu she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, 'keeps and ponders in her heart' that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is still an example to which every Christian -man and woman- can and should look."

He said it so much better than I was even trying to! Thanks, Jim, for loaning me the Johnson book and sending me down this particular thought path.

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