Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christ represents us naturally, but Mary, personally

"It is not by chance that it was precisely the male sex which was chosen for the highest elevation of nature, but the female sex for the elevation of the person.  For nature hypostatically united to God had to represent God in His ruling position and as Bridegroom of the creature, a representation that the male sex alone could achieve.  But the highest elevation of a created person into communion with God finds its expression in the relationship of the Bride to the Bridegroom, and for that reason it is naturally represented in the female sex."

     M. J. Scheeben, Handbuch der katholischen Dogmatik, vol. 2, p. 922, as translated on p. 204 of John Saward, Cradle of redeeming love:  the theology of the Christmas mystery (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2002):
Und auch hier ist es nicht zufällig, daß für die höchste Erhebung der Natur gerade das männliche Geschlecht, für die der Person das weibliche Geschlecht ausgewählt wurde; denn die hypostatisch mit Gott vereinigte Natur mußte Gott selbst in seiner herrschenden Stellung und als Bräutigam der Creatur repräsentiren, was nur das männliche Geschlecht vermag, während die höchste Erhebung einer geschaffenen Person zur Gemeinschaft Gottes ihren Ausdruck in dem Verhältnisse der Braut zum Bräutigam findet und daher naturgemäß gerade im weiblichen Geschlecht repräsentirt wird.
Thus, the English should read "but the female sex for that of the person" (making it very clear that Mary was chosen for a "highest" elevation, too).  Scheeben goes on to cite "Thomassin l. 2 c. 1-2; Thom. 3. p. q. 31 [(ST III.31)]; Bonav. in 3. d. 12. a. 2."
     Though Apollinarius was (given that what the Second Person of the Holy Trinity assumed was a fully rational and spiritual nature) a heretic, I can't help but think that Mary is given here (in at least one carefully restricted sense) the higher part.  (But I haven't examined this in context, and it may be that Scheeben addresses that question, too.)
     Apparently, E. L. Mascall thought so as well:
That human nature as such, and not merely male human nature, has been redeemed and renewed by the Incarnation of God the Word is undeniable, and it is presumably the basis for the priestly character which is enjoyed by the whole Church as the Body of Christ.  There is, however, the further fact to be taken into account that the Word (as is congruous with his personal name, as the Son [not the daughter] of the Father) became man as a male individual, and in that male humanity he performs for ever that priestly work of which the work of the ordained priest in the Church is a communication and a participation.  It would seem to be this fact, and not any 'inferiority' of women under the New Dispensation (an inferiority which is in any case a highly qualified one, in view of Ephesians 5. 25 f.), which is the basis of the masculinity of the historic priesthood.  The fact must be faced that, in the mystery of the Incarnation, the two sexes are involved in different ways.  It was male human nature that the Son of God united to his divine Person; it was a female human person who was chosen to be his Mother.  On the other hand, no male human person was chosen to be the Son of God (to suppose that was the error of the adoptionists); and no female human nature was united to a divine Person.  Thus from one point of view the Incarnation exalts the male sex above the female, in another sense it exalts the female above the male.  In no woman has human nature been raised to the dignity which it possesses in the male human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, but to no other human person than Mary has there been given a dignity comparable to that of being the Mother of God.  The fundamental fact about the two sexes is not that one is superior to the other, but that they are different.  That difference is reflected both in the different roles that they play in the work of redemption and in the different roles that they play in the economy of the Church.  It is, I believe, the almost complete neglect of Mariology in the Church of England that has led to the demand that the functions of the two sexes in the Church shall be simply identical
(E. L. Mascall, "The ministry of women," Theology 57, no. 413 (November 1954):  428 (428-429); I was put onto this by Consecrated women?  A contribution to the women bishops debate (2004) 4.1.5, in Fathers in God?  Resources for reflection on women in the episcopate, ed. Colin Podmore (Norwich, England:  Canterbury Press, 2015), 110, which, however, misquotes Mascall very sloppily; Mascall also recommends "the extremely powerful arguments of N. P. Williams which appear in one of the Appendices to his recent Life by Canon Kemp" (429)).

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