Friday, June 3, 2011

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Mary's ecclesial womb

Fresco of Mary, Mother of the Church in Sacro Speco, Subiaco

At the risk of sounding polemical - which is not the purpose of this blog! - I give you a paragraph from von Balthasar which occurs in one of his discussions on the ordination of women. (In my opinion, re-reading von Balthasar on things like the iconographic, symbolic and sacramental significance of sexual balance reminds us that we who believe that the ancient Church got ordination right are, in fact, on the theological, spiritual and psycho-sexual high ground.) Anyway, here is von Balthasar's reflection on Mary's motherhood:

Over against the old world, whose balance is so endangered, the Church is the beginning of the new cosmos founded in Jesus Christ. In that new cosmos, from its very foundation, the right balance, including a sexual balance, is assured. It is only a matter of recognizing it and living in it. The Church begins with the Yes of the Virgin of Nazareth, which summarizes Israel's faith and brings it to abundant fulfillment: unreserved readiness to conceive, in full freedom, making woman's entire psychophysical fruitfulness available. It is an active fruitfulness, incredibly surpassing all the natural fruitfulness of the woman, which is already superior to that of the man; and it carries, brings forth, nurtures, and educates not just any child, but God's Son. Just as he owes what he is to his eternal Father, so too he owes it to this motherly, ecclesial womb; and he will gradually educate Mary - pierced by the sword - unto the Cross, where he will consecrate her as the mother of his disciple, of the apostles and of the visible ecclesial assembly.

Taken from Women priests? A Marian Church in a fatherless and motherless culture, in New Elucidations, trans. Sr. Mary Theresilde Skerry (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), page 191. (The whole chapter can be downloaded HERE.)


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