Vignettes and Cameos
Vignette 8

Blessed Father Chaminade's spirituality and Marian doctrine were sown in Scriptural soil. He was steeped in both Testaments of the Bible.

The 1988 Marian Year letter of instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education, "The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation," explained that the foundation of Mariology is Sacred Scripture. Mary is presented as a "given" (datum) of revelation because of her unique role in salvation history. More than a century earlier, Father Chaminade was aware of these principles for a sound Marian doctrine.

In the carefully researched two volumes of Marian Writings compiled by Father Jean-Baptiste Armbruster, S.M., we find 733 citations of Sacred Scripture in the preserved writings of our Founder about Mary. Chaminade refers to the Old Testament more often than the New Testament: OT, 276 times and NT, 245 times. These occasions are found mostly in his notes, spiritual conferences, and letters. This frequent and familiar use of Scripture is translucent evidence that, unlike many founders of the seventh and eighteenth centuries, he was not tainted with the Jansenistic aversion to use Holy Writ.

In addition to the strong reliance on the Johannine and Pauline Scriptures characteristic of the French School of Spirituality, our Founder leaned heavily on certain books of the Old Testament: Genesis, thirty-seven citations; Psalms, thirty-five; Proverbs and Song of Songs, thirty-five each; Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom), forty-seven; Isaiah, sixteen. These books often compare Mary to wisdom and offer a description of the Mother of God or of her maternal action in our favor. Proverbs, chapter 8, quoted twenty-five times, and Ecclesiasticus, chapter 24, quoted thirty-six times, seem favorites of our Founder. These are also the two most frequently used chapters in the Marian liturgies of the Church.

This brief overview, Father Armbruster says, gives us a glimpse of a certain doctrinal identity of Chaminade and Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, chapter 8), which deals with the Mother of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Father Chaminade used the whole of the Bible to teach us about Mary in a pastoral and wisdom-like manner.

Cameo 8

The famous text of Blessed Father Chaminade's apocalyptic thought, based on Genesis 3:15 and several parallels in Revelation, is found in his Letter to the Retreat Preachers, Auqust 24, 1839.

Several lines are excerpted here:

Every period in the history of the Church has its record of the combats and the glorious victories of the august Mother of God. Ever since the Lord made her and the serpent enemies of each other, she has constantly vanquished the world and the powers of hell. All the heresies, the Church tells us, have bowed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and little by little she has reduced them to oblivion.
. . . To her, therefore, is reserved a great victory in our day, for to her belongs the glory of saving the faith from the destruction with which it is threatened.

We have come to understand this design of Providence, and we have hastened to offer our feeble services to Mary in order to labor under her direction and to carry on the conflict at her side.

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