The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation

Letter from the Congregation for Catholic Education
March 25, 1988
Signed: William Cardinal Baum, Prefect
Antonio M. Javierre Ortas, Tit. Archbishop of Meta, Secretary

Brief History
Link to Complete Document

Brief History
The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation is a document with theological faculties, seminarians, and others engaged in ecclesiastical studies in mind. The document attempts to combine Marian doctrine and pastoral care. The letter could be considered a catechetical document, since it presents a synthesis of pre- and post-Vatican II magisterial teachings about Mary. The document assumes Sacred Scripture and refers to it, but seldom builds on it directly in. The text is based on the major divisions of Marialis Cultus and takes the pastoral aspects of Redemptoris Mater into account. The document also encourages personal devotion to Mary.

The introduction explains its purpose: First, Vatican II's four major Constitutions were to receive special attention, "having as its object a new, more extensive and deeper knowledge and reception of the Council."[1] Second, Pope John Paul II had proclaimed the Marian Year with the intention of promoting "a new and more careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church." (RM 49)

The concluding articles of the document speak about the importance of the teaching of Marian theology. The teaching should include study, devotion and life-style. Students should learn the difference between true and false devotion to Mary, and learn to distinguish authentic doctrine from aberrations. The students are asked to "nourish an authentic love ... and develop the capacity to communicate such love to the Christian people through speech, writing and example, so that their Marian piety may be promoted and cultivated." (ISF 27-31)

The following paragraph synthesizes the document:

Finally, in Mary everything is referable to the human race, in all times and all places. She has a universal and permanent value. She is "our true sister," (MC 56) and "because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all human beings in their need for salvation." (LG 53) Mary does not disappoint the expectations of contemporary man. Because she is the "perfect follower of Christ," (MC 35) and the woman most completely realized as a person, she is a perennial source of fruitful inspiration. (ISF 21)
1Ftn 3: Synodus Episcoporum, Ecclesia sub Verbo Dei mysteria Christ celebrans pro salute mundi. Relatio finalis (Civitas Vaticana 1985, I, 6).
I. The Virgin Mary: An Essential Datum of the Faith and the Life of the Church
The wealth of Marian doctrine 2-4
The Marian teaching of Vatican II 5
In relation to the Mystery of Christ 6-8
In relation to the mystery of the Church
Post-Conciliar Marian developments 10-16
The Encyclical "Redemptoris Mater" of John Paul II 17
The contribution of Mariology to theological research 18-22
II. The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation
Research in Mariology 23-26
The teaching of Mariology 27-31
Mariology and pastoral service 32-33
Conclusion 34-36
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Mary Page has published this document at: Intellectual and Spiritual Formation Note: To locate a specific quote once you have reached the document, use ctrl+f to search.
Published in Marian Studies 39 (1988):222-223

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