Two great theologians endeavor to recover the centrality of Marian doctrine and devotion for the contemporary Church, offering a spiritually rich approach to Mariology that brings into new relief the Marian contours of ecclesial faith. Ratzinger and von Balthasar show that Mary is both the embodiment of the Church, and the mother who cooperates in giving birth to the Church in the souls of believers.
At once profound and yet readily accessible, Mary: The Church at the Source offers a theologically balanced and biblically grounded presentation of traditional and contemporary thought on Marian doctrine and spirituality.
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“The Church is not a manufactured item; she is, rather, the living seed of God that must be allowed to grow and ripen. This is why the Church needs the Marian mystery; this is why the Church herself is a Marian mystery. There can be fruitfulness in the Church only when she has this character, when she becomes holy soil for the Word. We must retrieve the symbol of the fruitful soil; we must once more become waiting, inwardly recollected people who in the depth of prayer, longing, and faith give the Word room to grow.” (Pages 16–17)
“To be soil for the Word means that the soil must allow itself to be absorbed by the seed, to be assimilated by the seed, to surrender itself for the sake of transforming the seed into life. Mary’s maternity means that she willingly places her own substance, body and soul, into the seed so that new life can grow.” (Page 15)
“It speaks, in other words, not of what God does, but of what we men do in relation to him. The truth of the matter is that there is an intimate connection between the two readings. One could even say that the Gospel explains how men can become fruitful soil for God’s Word. They can become this soil by providing, as it were, the organic elements in which life can grow and mature; by drawing life themselves from this organic matter; by becoming themselves a word formed by the penetration of the Word; by sinking the roots of their life into prayer and thus into God.” (Pages 14–15)
“Now, we can say that two major spiritual movements defined the period stretching from the end of the First World War to the Second Vatican Council, two movements that had—albeit in very different ways—certain ‘charismatic features’. On the one side, there was a Marian movement that could claim charismatic roots in La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima.” (Page 19)
Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988) was a Swiss theologian, widely considered to be one of the most important Catholic intellectuals and theological writers of the twentieth century. Incredibly prolific and diverse, he wrote over one hundred books and hundreds of articles. He was nominated to be a cardinal of the Catholic Church, but died two days before his ceremony.
Joseph Ratzinger is one of the most revered Catholic prelates, scholars, theologians, teachers, and authors of our time. He has spoken on many crucial subjects, including sexual consumerism, roles of men and women today, marriage, the priesthood, and the future of the world. On June 29, 1951, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Freising on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. He also received his doctorate in theology in 1953 from the University of Munich. Starting in 1959, Ratzinger taught theology at the University of Bonn.
After many years of teaching at several German universities, Ratzinger was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March 1977, and was elevated to cardinal in June 1977. In November 1981, Ratzinger was summoned by Pope John Paul II to Rome, where he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission.
On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be the 265th pope. He took the name Benedict XVI, after St. Benedict of Nursia. As pope, he received worldwide respect and was a spiritual influence to Christians and non-Christians alike. In 2013, he resigned the papacy, becoming the first pope to do so in since the fifteenth century. He retired to a monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where he continues to study and write.