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The Marian Dimension of the Church

Craig Larkin SM - UCAnews - Sat, Apr 5th 2014

The ‘Marian’ dimension of the Church precedes the ‘Petrine’.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #773

Pope Francis

How will the role of the woman in the Church be promoted?

We must rather think that the Church has a feminine article: ‘La’. She is feminine in her origin. The great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar worked a lot on this theme: the Marian principle guides the Church aside the Petrine. The Virgin Mary is more important than any bishop and any apostle….

 

What Books are you reading these days?

 

Peter and Magdalene by Damiano Marzotto, on the feminine dimension of the Church. It is a beautiful book.

 

Interview, Corriere della Sera (2014)

 

 Some writers suggest that many aspects of the Church today simply reflect the characteristics of modern society: a preoccupation with systems and organisations, with competition, achievement, power, control, success, words, and logic.

 

In this sort of society and Church, it is hard to find a place for compassion, silence, contemplation and relationship. So it is easy to see what a significant change could be made in this society and Church by a group of people – including men – who live by the spirit of the woman Mary, and who in a very real sense honour the feminine within themselves, in the Church and in society.

 

In this sense, it becomes very enriching to speak of “a Marian Church” or “a Church with a Marian face”.

 

If we think of Church simply as “the place where we can be saved”, then it is difficult to see where Mary fits in, because there is only one Saviour and Mediator – Jesus Christ.

 

But if we think of Church as “the place where people grow in life”, then it is easy to look on Mary – woman, mother, disciple – as one who teaches us how to be disciples of Jesus, and how to keep the Gospel values always in focus.

 

A Marian Church is a Church which makes a choice for compassion over competition; an option for relationship over dogmatism; for humility over power; for service over dominance.

 

It is a Church which pushes its boundaries to include all, rather than one which defines its boundaries to contain the chosen. And it is a Church which includes the feminine in its attitudes, which can too easily become over-masculine.

 

The Church with a Marian face does not feel the need to create bigger and bigger things to ensure that God is properly honoured. It is a Church which understands that small things can be, and often are, the most significant things.


Craig Larkin, “A Marian Church”, in A Certain Way (1995)

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