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“Whoever obeys me will not be put to shame” – Mary

February 13, 2011 4 comments

I am not sure how we got there, but at one point this morning at Church the priest made a passing comment that every reference to Wisdom in the Wisdom Lit can be understood as a reference to Mary. Much of this literature was obviously key in christological controversies and is drawn upon in Wisdom-Christologies today. The figure of Wisdom is sometimes linked by Christians with the Holy Spirit as well. Mary typology is common with the opening of Genesis, Revelation, and probably others where she could be seen as the fulfillment of the faith of Israel – but is it common with the Wisdom Lit as a whole? Perhaps it is just another sign of my impoverished Catholic education. But then again, I am also writing a dissertation on Balthasar and do not recall seeing this.

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Balthasar on the Assumption of Mary

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

A nice piece alongside Rahner’s:

How strange it all seems to us! We know nothing of the way the cosmos, of which our earth is a part, is related to a heaven that occupies no localized position. Is not God everywhere?…we wonder why it is important to attribute such an improbable privilege to the Mother of Jesus, to assert that her body does not belong to the dust from which it was made, like everyone else’s, but – as the old legends depict it – is supposed to have disappeared from its grave, to the amazement of the assembled disciples, leaving roses blooming on the sarcophagus. Let us press the point: we may be believing Christians, but we hardly know anything about the relationship between death and resurrection. It is a brutal fact that we have before us a dead body, and it must go into the earth or into the fire. Another fact, an uplifting one, is that the Christian lives in the hope of being kept safe in God’s hands after his death; but how, in concrete terms, can we envisage this?…

What, therefore, is the Church celebrating today? That a simple human body, inseparably united to its soul, is capable of being the perfect response to God’s challenge and of uttering the unreserved ‘Yes’ to his request. It is a single body – for everything in Christianity is always personal, concrete, particular – but at the same time it is a body that recapitulates all the faith and hope of Israel and of all men on earth. Consequently, when it is taken up into ultimate salvation, it contains the firm promise of salvation for all flesh that yearns for redemption. For all our bodies long to participate in our ultimate salvation by God: we do not want to appear before God as naked souls, ‘not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life’ (2 Cor 5:4); and God, who caused bodies to die, ‘subjecting creation to futility’, has subjected it ‘in hope’ that it ‘will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom 8:20f). So we are celebrating a feast of hope; but, like all the New Testament feasts, it is celebrated on the basis of a fulfillment that has already taken place.; that is, not only has the Son of God been resurrected bodily – which in view of his life and death, is quite natural – but also has the body that made him man, the earthly realm that proved ready to receive God and that remains inseparable from Christ’s body. Today we see that this earth was capable of carrying and bringing to birth the infinite fruit that had been implanted in her. Today we celebrate the ultimate affirmation and confirmation of the earth.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, You Crown the Year with Your Goodness: Sermons through the Liturgical Year, 186, 190-191.

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Rahner on the Assumption of Mary

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

We cannot confess anything in regard to her assumption more glorious than what we confess as our hope for ourselves: eternal life, which God himself wants to be for us. For the hope we have for our whole person in the unity of our existence – that single existence which we explain to ourselves as a unity of body and soul – is the resurrection of the body and eternal life. In our liturgical praise of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin we seek only of the one act of God in regard to that one person, but it is something that we likewise expect for ourselves. Ultimately, nothing more is said of her than what God one day, we hope, will say to us…We profess our faith in the permanent validity of history as flesh and blood; we profess our hope and love for the earth, which is not merely the parade ground or theater for our spiritual life, to be abandoned as soon as finality supervenes, and which perhaps itself, even though radically transformed, enters equally with the person’s spirit into the glory of the eternal God.

We acknowledge the dignity of the body, which is not merely a tool to be used and thrown away, but the historical, concrete reality and revelation of the free person who is realized in it and works within it for the finality of its freedom…this feast tells us that those whom God loves are redeemed, are saved, are finally themselves; they are so with their concrete history, with their whole bodily nature in which alone a person is truly himself. He is not a ‘ghost,’ not a ‘soul,’ but a human being completely saved. Everything remains. We can’t imagine it. Of course not. All talk about the soul in bliss, the glorified body, the glory of heaven amounts to the unvarnished, blind statement of faith: this person is not lost. He is what he has become, raised up in the implacable obviousness and absoluteness of the living God, raised up in the transcendent, ineffable mystery we call God.

We can’t say more than this. We don’t try to paint a picture, we don’t imagine anything. Everything has gone through the harsh transformation we call death. What else could we say except that death is not the last word – or rather that it is our last word, but not God’s.

 Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year: The Best of Karl Rahner’s Homilies, Sermons, and Meditations, 348-351

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