By Irene Lagan
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, SEPT. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- After the Second Vatican Council there was a gap in interest in Mariology, one that Mariologist Mark Miravalle has sought to fill with a comprehensive compilation of the Church's teaching on Mary.
Mark Miravalle, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, is the editor of "Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons" (Queenship Publishing).
He will also be a speaker at the 22nd International Mariological Marian Congress, to begin Thursday in Lourdes.
The congresses, held every four years, are sponsored by the Pontifical International Marian Academy. This year's theme is "The Apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin Mary: Between History, Faith and Theology."
In part two of this interview with ZENIT, Miravalle comments on how the gap in Mariology came about, and how Pope John Paul II was key to filling it.
Part 1 of this interview appeared Wednesday.
Q: What is the purpose of the book?
Miravalle: The intention of this work is to compile a postconciliar, single volume on Mariology that would be helpful for priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, and consecrated persons (as well as for educated laity).
Before the Second Vatican Council, the U.S. Mariologist, Father Juniper Carol, produced a three-volume work on Mariology in which he essentially assigned a chapter to a respected theologian in the systematic study of the theology of Mary. Unfortunately there has not been a similar work done in English since the Council.
Over the years, many priests and religious have mentioned that they felt a certain "gap" in their previous formation with regard to the theology of Marian dogma and devotion, either during their seminary instruction or their religious formation. Our first intention with this work was therefore to serve clergy and religious as well as consecrated persons in filling that gap with a rich and a contemporary Mariology within the obvious limits of a single volume work.
I therefore contacted Mariologists from a diversity of countries, including Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, and the United States, and as well from different universities and Mariological societies, and asked each to contribute one chapter concerning a dogmatic, doctrinal, liturgical or devotional truth about the Mother of the Lord, which would be in complete conformity with the directions of the Second Vatican Council, as well as conveying the Church's sublime tradition on the Mother of Jesus.
The work reflects what Pope Benedict would call a "hermeneutics of continuity" with the rich Mariology before the Council, coupled with the inspired Mariological insights of the Council and postconciliar magisterium, especially the extraordinary contributions of John Paul II. Hence, the work seeks to present the best of Classical Mariology, but also provide a contemporary theology of Mary as a result of the Second Vatican Council.
Q. How do you account for the lack of Mariological studies since the Council?
Miravalle: It is interesting that theologians like Cardinal Ratzinger have made reference to the years following the Council as a "decade without Mary." This is certainly not due to the Council's authentic Mariological teachings, but to various erroneous interpretations of the council that the council fathers as a whole sought to de-emphasize the role of Mary in the Church. The generous and genial Mariology of the "Totus Tuus" Pontiff, Servant of God John Paul II, was the greatest single corrective in returning Mariological trends back to the best of both classical Mariology and conciliar Mariology.
Q. What gave you the inspiration for this book?
Miravalle: Apart from the aforesaid need to fill in gaps of authentic Mariological study for some members of today's clergy, religious, and consecrated persons, was the papacy and person of John Paul II. Once again, I believe John Paul II single handedly directed a course of both Christo-typical (or Christ-centered) Mariology and ecclesio-typical (or Church-centered) Mariology at a time when it appeared theologians felt compelled to choose either one or the other.
John Paul's Mariology manifested the perfect harmony of appreciating how Our Lady uniquely participates as co-redemptrix in the redemption brought by Jesus Christ, and her subsequent role of maternal mediation and advocacy in service to humanity; and at the same time, how the Immaculate Mother of God is the perfect model for the people of God as co-redeemers and intercessors for each other and for all humanity. Hence, John Paul II's "both and" approach to understanding Mary's unique role with Jesus and being the perfect model in the life of the Church really points to the correct hermeneutic for understanding Mariology today.
Recently in August, Pope Benedict offered profound comments regarding the sufferings of John Paul II in his later life, sufferings which our present Holy Father said released a "redeeming force" of love through the "passion" of his Totus Tuus predecessor. That's precisely being a co-redeemer in Christ after the model of Mary Co-redemptrix.
The co-redemptive sufferings of Mary with Jesus become a perfect model of Christian co-redemption for every member of the Church.
Looking first at Mary's uniqueness in relation to Jesus will never take away from her relevance to the Church. As we see that we, as the People of God, did not give birth to Jesus; are not immaculately conceived; that we will not be immediately assumed into heaven at the end of our earthly life, and that we do not mediate grace for humanity as she does, should make clear to us the primacy of Mary as not simply the eldest daughter of the Church but as "Mother of the Church" and she holds perfections and subsequent roles beyond all others in the body of Christ.
At the same time, we are called to follow her example in the way we are called to suffer our daily crosses as members of the Church and unite them to the sufferings of Jesus and Mary for the redemption of others -- as did our co-redemptrix -- to be instruments of intercessory prayer for each other. As we battle on this earthly pilgrim journey for our own heavenly crowns, we can still revere her as the unique and unparalleled Queen of heaven and earth.
Q. Is there a particular emphasis in the book?
Miravalle: The challenge of the council fathers to theologians given in "Lumen Gentium" paragraph 54 was to continue the work regarding Mariological questions that still called for further study.
Foremost in this category would be how Mary shared in the saving mission of Jesus Christ, or the Mariological genus of what John Paul commonly termed, "maternal mediation." This is why there is a particular emphasis in these essays on Marian co-redemption and mediation.
Actually, several times already this year, Pope Benedict XVI has offered the same emphasis on Mary's role with Jesus in the historic redemption of humanity. For example, in his Feb. 11, 2008, letter on the World Day of the Sick -- so closely associated with Lourdes -- the Holy Father teaches Mary's unique sharing with Jesus in the redemptive passion at Calvary, and as well makes reference to Our Lady's sharing in the sufferings of her earthly children in the midst of their trials and crosses of today.
In his prayer composed for the people of China, the Pope addresses our Lady of Sheshan by recalling Mary's saving "Yes" at the annunciation in connection to her unique suffering of Calvary. The words of the prayer make explicit the connection between Mary's fiat and her cooperation in the work of redemption, ultimately allowing the sword of pain to pierce her own soul at Calvary.
So it appears that Pope Benedict is likewise contributing to "complete" the study and recognition of Our Lady's co-redemption and mediation for humanity.
Q: Does this volume seek to support the Church's efforts for a new evangelization?
Miravalle: As I mentioned previously, the book is intended to be a service to clergy, religious, and consecrated lay persons and all those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of what John Paul II used to call "the whole truth about Mary." But it's also a work for lay evangelists who find that preaching the truth about Mary is the best preparation for a full acceptance of Christ in the fullness of his Church.
The first great evangelization started with a "yes" from the Virgin of Nazareth. The second great evangelization at Guadalupe, which lead to the largest Catholic continent in the world, began by sending the Mother to prepare the way for the Son.
For the present third great evangelization, we should follow the same format as God the Father used for the first two: Prepare the way through the Virgin Mother of God.
The whole truth about Mary is the best means to teach the whole truth about Jesus and the truth about his saving incarnation, redemption and his Church. Teaching about Mary leads to belief in the real Jesus, both God and man. The uncompromised teaching of the full truth about Mary will always safeguard the full truth about Jesus, and hence serve to be the most efficacious and effective guiding star and mediating force for the present new evangelization.
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On the Net:
Miravalle's "Mariology": www.queenship.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=6568