Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tenth Anniversary reflection by Lisa Schiltz: The Church as Marian mystery

Here is another Tenth Anniversary reflection, this one from Prof. Lisa Schiltz:

Many of my posts on MOJ have reflected my interest in feminist jurisprudence, in particular the concept of complementarity, and how that concept plays out in both Catholic teachings and legal theory.  In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis has now repeated Blessed John Paul II’s challenge to the Church to seriously consider the role of women in the Church, cautioning that issue presents “profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.” (¶ 104). 

In thinking about the role of MOJ in helping the Church meet this challenge, I find myself persistently puzzled by two particular questions.  First, what is it about the format or process of blogging (or at least blogging at MOJ) that seems to come so much more naturally to men than women?  This has been frequently discussed by some of us “MOJ chicks”, without any resolution. 

Second, more generally, what is it (if anything) that blogging (or at least blogging at MOJ) can do for the Church, as a means of helping the Church address challenging questions such as the role of women, or any other of the topics that we regularly address?  I presume the reason most of us blog here is that we think we are somehow helping the Church do some of its thinking with our blog posts.  How effectively are we, in fact, doing this?

In thinking about both of these questions, I regularly find myself reflecting on the following passage from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay “My Word Shall Not Return to Me Empty!”, in the collection of essays by Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mary:  The Church at the Source (Adrian Walker trans., Ignatius Press 2005) (1980) (at p. 16-17):

In my opinion, the connection between the mystery of Christ and the mystery of Mary . . .  is very important in our age of activism, in which the Western mentality has evolved to the extreme.  For in today’s intellectual climate, only the masculine principle counts.  And that means doing, achieving results, actively planning and producing the world oneself, refusing to wait for anything upon which one would thereby become dependent, relying rather, solely on one’s own abilities.  It is, I believe, no coincidence, given our Western, masculine mentality, that we have increasingly separated Christ from his Mother, without grasping that Mary’s motherhood might have some significance for theology and faith. . . . We treat the Church almost like some technological device that we plan and make with enormous cleverness and expenditure of energy. . . .

What we need, then, is to abandon this one-sided, Western activist outlook, lest we degrade the Church to a product of our creation and design.  The Church is not a manufactured item; she is, rather, the living seed of God that must be allowed to grown and ripen.  This is why the Church needs the Marian mystery; this is why the Church herself is a Marian mystery.


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