Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Reflections

On this the first day of the new year I’m reading Mary, The Church at the Source contemplating the Mother of God, praying for a dear friend driving north to be at the bedside of her dying mother-in-law and looking on this sweet scene of True Love, my own dear in-laws, married fifty three years now. Thank you God for the gift of their health, the witness of their faithful marriage and the incredible visit we’ve just had. How is it possible my relationship with them gets better and better with each passing year? What can I do or say to help my friend in her time of suffering? I give her to You, dear Mary, on this your feast as the Mother of God. Comfort her. Watch over her with a mother’s tender loving care. Please help me treasure each moment I have left with my family.

As for Mary, The Church at the Source it is not so much a book on Mary or Mariology per se as a book on the Church's understanding of itself through its understanding of Mary in relationship with Jesus, hence the title, Mary: The Church at the Source. Although Mariology is an impossibly broad topic to begin with it is still generally limited -- according to the Catholic Encyclopedia -- to, 'the doctrine of the Mother of God, (which) cannot be separated either from the person or from the work of the Redeemer and therefore has the deepest connection with both Christology and Soteriology,' and doesn't explore questions of Church identity in quite the way this book does.

However, for that reason, this isn't really a good book for someone looking to begin their studies on the Mother of God. It has limited and narrowly-defined objectives which it clearly sets out and beautifully meets.

It was interesting (and recommended) to read this book during the Liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas as well as in conjunction with Bud McFarlane's Pierced By a Sword another book with deep Marian significance.

The first half of the book is a collection of essays written by Pope Benedict XVI and the second half are written by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Each essay is a stand alone entity and as such they can be read in any order, although I did see some benefit in reading them in chronological order.

Highly recommended especially during Advent, Christmas or any other Marian feast, month or season!

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