Your well-written article on the Blessed Virgin Mary in November 2009 ("Do Whatever He Tells You," subtitled "A Statement of Evangelicals and Catholics Together") offers a very good start for further dialogue on the subject of our most holy Mother in Christ. Though many good points were made on both sides, for the purpose of stimulating a deeper engagement, I note here two serious weaknesses: one in the section titled "A Catholic Word to Evangelicals," on the meaning of Sacred Tradition; the other as an important omission in "An Evangelical Word to Catholics," on the concept of merit.
The weakness on the Catholic side stems from a failure to define the most basic element of Church teaching: Sacred Tradition. Given the erudition of your article, I presume your avoidance of this "stumbling block" for Evangelicals is intentional. But Sacred Tradition is like the proverbial elephant in the living room. One cannot avoid it and then talk profitably about Mary. On the other hand, when Sacred Tradition is understood and accepted, it opens the whole field of Catholic teaching and practice, including everything to do with Mary. Indeed, when the meaning of Sacred Tradition is grasped, one understands that the Church founded by Jesus Christ, which is both visible and invisible like Christ, is a living marvel consisting of an astonishing supernatural union of the living God and human beings. It is truly the Mystical Body of Christ, with Mary, the Mother of Christ, as our spiritual Mother.
A second essential point: The very doubt of the Catholic view of Sacred Tradition that is at the core of Protestantism, can be profitably brought to awareness. Saying this is not meant to be offensive; it is simply to hold this great doubt to the light. ("The truth shall set you free.") The obstacles I am referring to for Protestants undoubtedly center on those teachings within Sacred Tradition not found in the Bible, and on the infallibility of the Church's Magisterium--the pope and (only) those bishops united with the pope--in teaching the Christian Faith and Morals.
Br. Anthony Josemaria Pasquale
A few reflections on the Mother of God in her blessed virginal motherhood!
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is a necessary understanding of who Mary is in her motherhood of the child Jesus.
For a woman to become a mother, a father is absolutely necessary. In the time of the Old Testament, a woman had to be a virgin to be accepted into the house of the husband-to-be. Recall the story of Joseph.
Scripture tells us that Mary's deliverance of the child was in fact virginal, yet she gave birth to a son.
This is one aspect of her virginity. We understand by this that she "did not know man."
To be able to give birth, there first had to be a father. Holy Scripture tells us that she was "overshadowed" by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity.
Thus she is the bride of the Holy Spirit. She was so selected for all eternity.
She is regarded as the new Eve. For God to fulfill his promise, as Eve was immaculately created from the rib of Adam, so, for Mary to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit, she necessarily needed to be pure--a virgin--for him to accept her. She had to be a spiritual virgin as well as a physical virgin. For how could the Holy Spirit unite with sin?
Mary gave her nature--both physical and, in some degree, spiritual--to her son, for that nature was a sinless nature, "like men in all things, except sin." As God, Jesus was sinless, but he became man in every sense. All men inherit the sin of Adam in their conception and their...