June 3, 1997
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Mary's Co-redemption: Will there be a new dogma soon?
A Gift from Faïance de Quimper
Marian Library Newsletter
We have recently been asked:
Will there be a new Marian dogma, and how soon? Is it true that the Pope will soon announce that next year he will solemnly and infallibly declare Mary's role as Co-redemptrix? Recently published articles seem to point in that direction, and some of our correspondents refer to Mother Theresa as authoritative source for this information.
We were not able to corroborate these speculations. Our own Roman sources qualify the proximate announcement of a new Marian dogma as theological sensationalism. Under the circumstances we would like to draw the attention of our readers and correspondents to the declaration of the XII International Mariological Congress held in Czestochowa, Poland in August of 1996. This text, although not a binding statement, reflects the knowledge and wisdom of people who for decades have been involved in Marian studies and closely observed and pondered the magisterial pronouncements concerning Mary, the Mother of God, since Vatican II.
Theologians at the Mariological Congress Discussed the Advisability of Dogmatic Definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate.
During the International Mariological Congress at Czestochowa, Poland, August 18-23, 1997, a meeting composed of representatives from the Marian theological faculties and the Mariological societies was held to consider the advisability of petitioning the Holy See for the dogmatic definition of the Virgin Mary as coredemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate. This meeting at the International Mariological Congress was held at the request of the Holy See. Among the twenty-two members present at the meeting were Rene Laurentin, Stefano de Fiores, S.M.M., Jesus Castellano Cervera, O.C.D., Ignatio M. Calabuig, O.S.M., Johann Roten, S.M. The moderator of the meeting was Candido Pozo, S.J., president of the Spanish Mariological Society. Representatives from the Orthodox, Reformed, and Anglican churches were also present.
There was unanimous agreement at the meeting that the Holy See not make such a declaration at this time. There were two reasons for this decision: the first dealt with the theological clarifications which must first be made, and the second dealt with the ecumenical dialogue.
In accord with the precedent set at Vatican II, the participants agreed that a doctrinal declaration should not "settle questions which have not yet been fully clarified by the work of theologians" (Lumen Gentium 54). They noted that Vatican II had already stated that the "Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix" (LG 62). Although these titles are in common use, they are subject to ambiguous and different interpretations. The word "coredemptrix" did not appear in the magisterium until the pontificate of Pius XII. Earlier in the twentieth century, Pius XI had formed national commissions to study the possibility of a dogmatic definition of Mary as mediatrix. The pneumatological consequences of calling Mary "advocate" must also be carefully studied.
The second reason the theologians gave for recommending that the Holy See not define these Marian prerogatives dealt with the ecumenical dialogue. In the encyclical Ut unum sint, Pope John Paul II outlined a path for ecumenical dialogue among all the followers of Christ. He suggests that all Christians consider the Virgin Mary as "Mother of God, icon of the Church, spiritual mother who intercedes for all the disciples of Christ and for the whole of humanity" (n. 79). The theologians wished to follow the line of dialogue as outlined in the encyclical as the way to promote unity among all the churches.
Mother and Child
Faïance de Quimper
The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute recently received a gift from the American distributors of Faïance de Quimper. HB-Henriot Quimper Faïance is the only French pottery continuously made since the 17th century. Thousands of molds and hundreds of patterns have been created and remain in their archives. Today's artisans, working as their ancestors, are inspired by the rich and varied culture of Brittany and apply these images to their art. The pottery is painted entirely by hand.
Faïance de Quimper can be reached by telephone:
860 535-1712 in Connecticut and 703 519-8339 in Virginia
Marian Library Newsletter
An Indirect Presence: The Virgin Mary and the Third Millennium
The Coming Third Millennium, Pope John Paul II's 1995 letter, outlines an ambitious program of preparation to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the Incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ. Far from triumphalism or apocalyptic expectations, this anniversary of the event to which Christianity owes its existence is a "challenge involving a special grace of the Lord for the Church and the whole of humanity."
A first challenge to the Church is one of asking forgiveness for past intolerance, and for the use of violence to advance orthodoxy. New efforts, the letter insists, must be made to heal the divisions which occurred during Christianity's second millennium. With every greater insistence, the Church prays to the Holy Spirit for the grace of Christian unity (CTM 34).
The entire millennium observance is a great "prayer of praise and thanksgiving, for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption." In the three-year preparatory period, 1997-99, each year is dedicated to one of the persons of the Blessed Trinity, Christ (97), the Holy Spirit (98), the Father (99); to the virtues of faith (97), hope (98), and charity (99); and to the sacraments--Baptism (97), Confirmation (98), Penance (99), and the Eucharist (2000).
References to the Virgin Mary are found throughout letter (1, 2, 4, 7, 26, 27, 28, 43, 48, 54, 55, 59). The Virgin Mary illustrates the bonds which unite the Church and humanity to the Trinity, and she is the model or exemplar of faith, hope, and charity. The letter speaks of the Virgin Mary as indirectly or obliquely present to the Church throughout the celebration; her presence is always totally directed and related to the Trinity and to Christ, the main focus of the millennium.
1997 is the year of Christ, dedicated to a renewed appreciation of the Scriptures, the sacrament of Baptism, and the virtue of faith. Through the Divine Motherhood, Mary is related as none other to the mystery of Christ's Incarnation, and she is "model of faith in practice."
1998 is the year of the Holy Spirit, devoted to a renewed appreciation of the Spirit's gifts, the sacrament of Confirmation, and the virtue of hope. Christ's birth was made possible through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. She is woman open to the voice of the Spirit, the woman of hope who, like Abraham, accepted God's will "hoping against hope" (cf. Rom. 4:18).
1999 is the year of the Father who is the source of all creation and of the Church. Here there is an acknoledgement that both God's plan of creation and the witness of the Church has been clouded by sin (sacrament of Penance). The Virgin Mary was chosen by the Father for the "unique mission" of being the Mother of the long-awaited Savior. Her motherhood is felt as a loving and urgent invitation to have reverence for creation and to bring all peoples into God's family.
200O is the Great Jubilee. In the Hebrew Scriptures, every fiftieth year was a "jubilee," a time when slaves were freed, debts remitted, equality restored. This was the "year of God's favor" announced by the prophet Isaiah and fulfilled by the coming of Jesus. Since the year 1300, the Church has continued the tradition of jubilee years by declaring Holy Years to mark the beginning of a new century, and later, the divisions within the century.
In preparation for the Great Jubilee, there will be special synods of bishops, ecumenical meetings, and papal journeys. But the main celebrations of the Great Jubilee will all be within the context of the liturgical year. The Holy Year will begin on November 29, 1999, the First Sunday of Advent and will conclude on November 26, 2000, the Solemnity of Christ the King. With the opening of the Holy Door of the Jubilee of the Year 2000 at the Christmas Mass of 1999, the Church crosses the threshold into the new millennium (CTM 33). Friday, December 31, 1999, will be day of prayer of praise and thanksgiving for Incarnation, and Saturday, January 1, 2000, will be the commemoration of Mary's Divine Motherhood and the World Day of Prayer for Peace.
The themes of the preparatory period and the Jubilee itself are illustrated within the liturgy. Every Eucharist begins and ends with the Trinity: "The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." The Eucharistic Prayer proclaims that all comes from the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
The Virgin Mary's relation to the Trinity is illustrated in various Marian feasts, liturgical seasons, and commemorations. The Advent and Christmas season and the Solemnity of the Mother of God on January 1 are a "prolonged celebration of the divine, virginal and salvific motherhood." In the liturgy, the Church sees Mary as the "exemplar" and model of faith, hope, and charity.
The Incarnation of the Son of God, rather than the birth of Christ, is the focus of the Jubilee. March 25 was once known as the Incarnation of Christ; it is now the Annunciation of the Lord, but a "joint feast of Christ and the Blessed Virgin" (MC 6). The Annunciation liturgy celebrates the "the Blessed Virgin's free consent and cooperation in the plan of redemption" (MC 6). Mary's reply to the Angel made possible the Incarnation. "Never in human history did so much depend, as it did then, upon the consent of one human creature." (CTM 1)
The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary illustrates the bonds relating the Virgin Mary to the Trinity. Mary gave birth to the "son of the eternal Father," (2). Through her relation to Christ, she is "mother of God" (Dei Genetrix, Deipara, 2,4,30), "mother of the savior" (1), "mother of the Lord," "mother and associate of the redeemer" (20, 33), and "the most splendid fruit of redemption" (37).
At the Annunciation, Mary received "the angel's message in faith and conceived by the power of the Spirit" (2), and she was formed by the Holy Spirit "to be a new creation" (3). Attentive to the voice of the Spirit (20), her heart was the "home of the Eternal Word, the sanctuary of the Spirit" (28).
Evangelization is integral to the Great Jubilee. It is Mary who is the first evangelizer. "The first disciple of her Son, she receives the message of the Gospel, treasures it in her heart, and reflects on it in her mind" (17). Her example encourages "new preachers of the Gospel, cherishes them with a mother's love, and sustains them by her unceasing prayer, so that they may bring the good News of Christ the Savior to all the world." (18). At Mary's Visitation, we pray that we "may bring Christ to others and proclaim God's greatness by the praise of our lips and the holiness of our lives" (3).
After affirming Mary's presence to the Church throughout the Great Jubilee and its preparatory period, the pope entrusted "to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer" the entire Jubilee and its preparatory period. "She, the Mother of Fairest Love, will be for Christians on the way to the Great Jubilee of the third Millennium the Star which safely guides their steps to the Lord. May the unassuming Young Woman of Nazareth, who two thousand years ago offered to the world the Incarnate Word, lead the men and women of the new millennium towards the One who is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn. 1:9)(CTM 59).
I. M. Calabuig. "Il Calendario delle Celebrazioni alla luce della
Tertio Millennio Adveniente," Rivista Liturgica, 1996, no. 2 (marzo-aprile),
A. Rum. "Maria nella Lettera Apostolica Tertio millennio adveniente. Reflessione teologica e spunti operativi." Theotokos, IV, 1996/2, 599-614.
Marian Library Newsletter, No. 34 (New Series), Spring, 1997
Many visions and miracles are recorded in the Scriptures. After the Resurrection, Christ appeared to "Peter and then to the Twelve" (I Cor. 15, 5). Paul spoke of "visions and revelations" from the Lord (II Cor. 12, 1-6), and the deacon Stephen saw the heavens open and Christ at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 7, 55-56).
Christ worked many miracles of healing, but, at the same time, he did not appear to encourage the search for miracles. "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given them except the sign of Jonah" (Matt. 16,4) In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Christ announces that no messenger from the next world will be sent to the brothers of the rich man to have them repent. "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 17, 31). Finally, we have Christ's words to Thomas after the apostle placed his hand on the side of the risen Lord. "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20, 29).
Throughout the Christian history, there is a similar acceptance of apparitions and miracles when they occur, together with the reservation that such phenomenona are not a substitute for absolute faith in God. The Church preserves the centrality and final revelation given in the person, acts, and words of Jesus Christ, while at the same time honoring the special insights of the saints many of whom received messages through apparitions. The Church takes the middle course between an empiricism which would a priori reject the miraculous and a credulity which accepts anything extraordinary as being miraculous.
The revelations accorded to St. Bridget of Sweden were considered at at the Council of Constance (1414-18) and Basle (1431-49). The Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) reserved the approval of new prophecies and revelations to the Holy See; however, the Council of Trent (1545-63) authorized bishops to investigate and approve such phenomenon before public worship could take place. Prospero Lambertini (1675-1758), the future Benedict XIV, provided several rules for discernment of private revelations and the miracles needed with the canonization of saints. Such events must present themselves to human reason as being truly extraordinary and beyond the scope of natural causes. The Code of Canon Law of 1917 (1399, #5) forbade the publication of anything about "new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles" withoout the local bishop's approbation. In 1969, Paul VI, implementing the Vatican II's statement on the right of the mass media to information, lifted the requirement that all writings about apparitions needed ecclesiastical approval before publication.
Since 1969, and especially after 1981 (the beginning of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje) reports of apparitions are frequent, "numerous and even disturbing," in the words of Fr. René Laurentin at a recent conference at Czestochowa. "Eye-witness" television cameras quickly transmit reports of alleged apparitions across the world.
"Visions multiply by imitation" (Tavard), that is, a well-known apparition seems to encourage reports of similar ones. There were 210 claims of Marian apparitions between 1928 and 1971 (Carroll, Theotokos), and in the last few years there are claims of over 200 Marian apparitions. New Age and Christian bookstores now have almost as many books on apparitions and miracles as they have on angels.
The discernment of apparitions and miracles is the responsibility of the local bishop, and ordinarily the Vatican does not become involved in the process. However, two items show the Vatican's concern about the issue. The Activities of the Holy See (1996) noted that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was studying "a phenomenon of very vast significance, that of alleged apparitions [which are] frequently joined with claims of supernatural messages and with weeping statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or of saints." It is the right and responsibility of local bishops to investigate and make judgments about alleged apparitions; at the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has an obligation of "guidance and vigilance."
Apparitions were also noted in the study document for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops (Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity). The document acknowledges that in some places, apparitions are a cause of division within the local church. "Within the church community, the multiplication of supposed 'apparitions' or 'visions' is sowing confusion and reveals a certain lack of a solid basis to the faith and Christian life among her members. On the other hand, these negative aspects in their own way reveal a certain thirst for spiritual things which, if properly channeled, can be the point of departure for a conversion to faith in Christ" (33).
In a recent interview at Fatima, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke about visions and apparitions. "To all the curious, I would say I am certain that the Virgin does not engage in sensationalism; she does not create fear. She does not present apocalyptic visions, but guides people to her Son. And this is what is essential."
Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the few who has read the much-discussed third secret of Fatima. It is not, he said, "sensational or apocalyptic." He continued, "Preoccupation with the message and its presumed predictions of catastrophe are not part of a healthy Marian devotion. The Madonna did not appear to children, to the small, to the simple, to those unknown in the world in order to create a sensation." Mary's purpose "is, through these simple ones, to call the world back to simplicity, that is, to the essentials: conversion, prayer, and the sacraments."
Extracted from the Marian Library Newsletter, No. 34, Spring 1997:
A Word from Pope John Paul II Concerning Mary
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