by Father André Richard
Abbé Richard, who has been well known in France for many years now, is the founder of the French paper L’Homme Nouveau, published in Paris. He is presently the editor of the French magazine Pour L’Unité. He is the former vice-president, and still a member of the International Executive Committee for the Blue Army. This article was written by him on the occasion of the Bishop’s Synod on Catechetics held in Rome in 1977. In it he explains concisely why we must also teach about the Blessed Virgin Mary in a truly Catholic education so that we may properly understand Jesus. We publish here in its entirety, with titles and subtitles, his article as it appeared in the International Review Christ to the World, published with the Ecclesiastical Approval of the Vicariate of Rome. (Cum Approbatione Ecclesiastica Vicariatus)
|“…Blessed is the Fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…”|
Gaps in Catechetical Teaching
A delegation of bishops of the whole world is working in Rome, where it has been convoked by the Pope to prepare a better proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in particular to children, and to propose the conclusions of their work to the Holy Father. Of course, the main lines and orientations of this work have been defined and, so to speak, marked out by the Pope himself, the guardian of authentic Tradition.
It is only too true, in fact, that serious gaps have been noted in the teaching of the catechism in recent times. But less attention has been given to the fact that these gaps have their cause in the deficiencies, nay more, the deviations of certain present-day theological movements which have not ceased to go beyond, if not cancel and contradict, the teaching of Vatican Council II.
Place Given to Mary by the Council
The most striking example is the following. For the first time, a Council gave a broad exposition of the Marian doctrine of the Church. It placed Mary not beside the theology of the Church, but at the very heart of this theology. And Paul VI was able to declare that he was merely drawing the conclusion of conciliar teaching, when he solemnly presented Mary as the Mother of the Church. Almost immediately, however, certain groups of catechists and theologians dropped an immense opaque curtain over this doctrine of the Council, which led in wide sectors of the Church to a real disappearance of Mary.
Under the Pretext of a Christianity
Stripped to Essentials
This went so far that, in many catechisms, Mary was left completely in the background. Many children, even in schools run by religious men and women, do not even know the “Hail Mary”. The Council it is claimed, took up a stand against the alleged excess and deviations of the great Marian movement last century. And in any case, these new theologians declare, Mary is not essential. According to them, there should therefore emerge a Christianity stripped to essentials, focused on Jesus alone!
Focused on Jesus alone: very well. But on condition that it is on the true Jesus, the whole Jesus, not isolated from Mary and the Church, a Jesus who is not decapitated.
Place Given to Mary by the Evangelists
They wish to proclaim Jesus, and they set Mary aside. But it was just the opposite that the evangelists did.
St. Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy of Jesus. Now the latter leads to Mary, and to the Virgin Mary, Whose Son is begotten by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Take Mary away from the prologue of St. Matthew, it is not only Jesus the Man Who disappears, it is Jesus the Son of God, it is Emmanuel, it is God with us Who vanishes.
Take St. Luke, the precise historian who testifies that he questioned the witnesses from the beginning. What does he begin with himself? With the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Magnificat, the birth in Bethlehem, the prediction of the sword in the Mother’s heart, Mary’s long meditation during the thirty years of Nazareth.
Take St. John. He does not repeat the first facts already known, reported by Matthew and Luke. But the climax of his own prologue is the following: “The Word was made flesh”. This presupposes the essential features of the account of Matthew and Luke. And immediately, going on to the public life, John shows us Mary at the Cana wedding, and he announces already this “hour” among all hours in which Mary will share Christ’s Passion and will be given as Mother to mankind. Moreover in the Apocalypse, it is Mary that he shows present at the great battle which will take place until the final triumph, until the Holy City, the Bride of God, descends again from Heaven.
Mary’s Cooperation in the Plan
Actually, the insertion of God in creation is carried out by Mary under the motion of the Holy Spirit. In God’s plan, this insertion involved not only the physical reality of Mary’s motherhood, but free acceptance on Her part on behalf of the whole of mankind. This is essentially part of God’s Plan, requiring the cooperation of the creature in his own salvation. God willed in this way that the Mediator between Him and men should be accepted on both sides. The cooperation of Mary belongs to the structure of historical Redemption, as it belongs to the structure of the Church.
Furthermore, God’s Plan is so marked by the sign of unity that God Himself cannot be correctly conceived by us if isolated from the humanity assumed by the Word of God. In a certain sense, it is not even possible to say God alone, for God cannot be conceived in all His truth if isolated from the Word Incarnate, if isolated from Jesus.
Likewise, Jesus cannot be correctly conceived if isolated from His Mystical Body, His members, in the front ranks of which there is Mary. To tear Mary and the Church from Jesus is to destroy Jesus. It is to tear from the Head the members with which the Head forms one body. It is to decapitate Jesus.
To Forget the Mother Is to Run the Risk
of Forgetting the Father
Have we not seen, moreover, the lamentable result of this absurd behavior! Jesus’s last words on the cross were to give officially a Mother to the Church, His own Mother, Mary. Too many scribes today are set on withdrawing the Mother from the family of God. It is not surprising that the children no longer know even the name of their Father. For it is an irreplaceable role of the mother to teach the children to say: Abba, Father. It is not surprising that the children think of nothing but fighting and that the human family is tearing itself to pieces before our eyes.
Bishops, our bishops, our Fathers in the Faith, gathered in Rome to restore the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the proclamation of the Gospel of unity, peace and tenderness, give back our Mother to us without more delay, give back Mary to us.