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Stratford Caldecott The Final Mystery Mariology is the name given to theological reflection on Mary the Mother of God in die Cadiolic tradition. It is not to be confused with "mariolatry" or worship of Mary as a kind of goddess, which is not unknown—although it is found more in radical feminist or NewAge circles, perhaps, than among traditionally-minded Catholics (even those whose spiritual life is centred around devotion to our Lady). However, it was a certain nervousness about the importance tiiat Mary had begun to assume in Cadiolic theology that seems to have led the Fatiiers of the Second Vatican Council to want to restore a balance in Catholic teaching by speaking ofher mainly witiiin Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Pope Paul VI gave her the formal title "Mother of the Church" to emphasize this intrinsic link between Mary and the Body of Christ. What seems to be emerging today, forty years after the Council, is the fruit of those wise decisions: a revival of Marian studies after a period of decline, but a revival tiiat seeks to integrate mariology more closely with developments in other branches of theology— with christology, ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, and the theology ofthe Trinity. In order for this development ofMarian studies LOGOS 3:3 SUMMER 2000 Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. The Mother of God. Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Scala/Art Resource, N.Y. THE FINAL MYSTERY to proceed, however, I believe tiiat theologians must overcome their fear or disdain of the intense and popular movements of Marian devotion that have persisted and even grown after the Council. That devotion has been stirred up by an increasing number of (alleged) apparitions ofour Lady in a multitude oflocations and under a multitude oftitles. The resulting popular literature has understandably been ignored by professional theologians. Or it has been taken as evidence for a lack ofreceptivity to die teachings ofdie Church embodied in the Council. In some cases this is not far from the truth. But these "charismatic"phenomena also may represent an authentic intuition ofthe Christian people (ifnot always literally a message from heaven), which needs to be taken into account—and which, I will argue, we are now in a position to take into account, thanks to other developments in theology during the century just finished. I am referring to the movement ofressourcement among Catholic theologians, which revitalized the thinking and spirituality of the Latin Church by renewed contact with the early Church Fathers, and particularly the Fathers of the East. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the teaching ofthe postconciliar popes have been deeply marked by this movement. In particular, it is the "rediscovered" doctrine of theosis or divinization by grace, when combined with other fundamental principles of Catholic theology, that indicates how we can safely attribute to our Lady many of the titles and honors that popular devotion wishes to bestow upon her, without driving a wedge between her and die Church, or between her and ourselves. I will try to locate this idea in the heart ofthe Catholic tradition by relating it to the final glorious mystery ofthe Rosary, the Coronation of the Mother of God as Queen of heaven and eartii. Nature and Grace A theological question that was ofgreat importance throughout the twentieth century was that of the relationship between nature and 89 9° LOGOS grace. It lies at the root ofa vast set ofproblems within the Catholic Church, including those associated with die modernist crisis at the beginning of the twentieth century, the disastrous results of the liturgical reform that took place after the SecondVatican Council in the middle years, and the steep decline in priestly and religious vocations toward the end ofdie century (at least in many parts ofdie developed world). The question ofnature and grace is also associated with a cultural crisis much wider than any specifically Catholic concern.1 During the 1 930s and 1 940s, Henri de Lubac succeeded in showing that Catholic theology of the modern period had become distorted by a false consciousness, whichhe characterized as a"dualism" of nature and grace. The dualists believed that human nature had been created with its own natural goal or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-791X
Print ISSN
1091-6687
Pages
pp. 87-108
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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