Mariology, in a Historical Perspective
Interview With Father Paul Haffner, Professor and Author
ROME, DEC. 6, 2004 (Zenit) - The modern world's difficulty in accepting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is a fruit of the many false and incomplete philosophies it lives with, says a theologian.
Father Paul Haffner, a theology professor at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, made that point in an interview with us.
The London native, whose book "The Mystery of Mary" was recently published by Gracewing in Great Britain, and Hillenbrand Books in the United States, shared some insights with us.
Q: Why did you feel it was necessary to write a book on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception?
Father Haffner: The book is not only on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This book is published to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the definition, by Pope Blessed Pius IX, of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.
In this book I have tried to offer a clear, structured overview of theology and doctrine concerning Mary, within a historical perspective. It is the author's conviction that the foundation for fruitful devotion to the Mother of God starts from sound doctrine based in Scripture and Tradition, and is nurtured by good theology.
Q: Why did Pius IX decide to proclaim the dogma?
Father Haffner: In 1849, Pope Blessed Pius IX consulted the bishops regarding the faith of the Church concerning the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and also whether a dogmatic definition in this regard would be opportune.
The response was affirmative on both counts, and so, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pius IX solemnly defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Pope proclaimed a doctrine which had been believed by the Church in one form or other since the earliest times.
Q: How does your book develop the topic, and what are the salient aspects that you will like to emphasize to readers?
Father Haffner: The book goes in thematic order. In the first chapter, I outlined the basic scheme of what constitutes Mariology, not in isolation but in relation to other forms of theological enquiry.
The second chapter works through the contribution of sacred Scripture -- in the Old Testament forms of prefiguration and prophecy, and then the New Testament fulfillment and witness are proposed in Chapter 3.
The succeeding chapters examine each of the fundamental doctrines that the Church teaches about Our Lady.
Chapter 4 develops the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and other truths dealing with Our Lady as being full of grace.
The fifth chapter looks at Mary as Mother of God, the central dogma of Mariology. The various dimensions of the perpetual Virginity of Mary are elaborated in the sixth chapter.
Mary's discipleship, a relatively recent theological acquisition, is examined in the seventh chapter, and this forms the basis for a discussion of her special and active participation in the Redemption.
Chapter 8 illustrates the end of Mary's earthly life and her glorious assumption, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.
The ninth and final chapter elaborates Mary's continuing Motherhood in the Church, in which she is the Mediatrix of all graces. In this year of the Eucharist, there is also a special focus on Mary's relation to the Eucharistic Christ.
Q: It is difficult for the modern world to understand the meaning of the dogma, and it is even more complicated in regard to the Virgin Mary. How would you explain it to the young people of today?
Father Haffner: The difficulty lies with the modern world, and the fact that it is the heir to many false and incomplete philosophies.
In fact, the mystery of Mary illustrates and reveals not only the Mystery of Christ, but also the deepest yearnings and aspirations of human existence. The fact of her Immaculate Conception and sinless life, for example, shows us that God's salvation really has had an impact, since e preserved her from sin. She is thus a ray of light in a darkened world.
Also, the definition of Mary's assumption took place in 1950, and this was of great historical significance. It took place in the middle of a century when the sacredness of the human body was denied theoretically and practically at many levels.
In the first half of the 20th century it was denied politically in the totalitarian systems of Marxism and Nazism, which denied the sacredness of the body in theory, and in the slaughter of millions in the gulags and concentration camps.
In the second half of the 20th century, the assault on the sacredness of the human body was taken a step further through the massacre of untold millions through abortion and euthanasia, and also through sacrilegious experiments carried out on embryos -- to say nothing of genetic engineering and attempts to clone the human being.
All of this is counterbalanced by the Church's affirmation that Our Lady was assumed "body" and soul to the glory of heaven. The Church, which believes in the resurrection of the body, believes that this same body has been created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to a supernatural destiny in Christ.
Q: What is the relationship between Mary and ecumenical dialogue?
Father Haffner: I have often treated ecumenical questions concerning Our Lady in this work.
While there is considerable agreement between Catholics and Orthodox on Mariology, it is heartening that there is also growing appreciation of Mary in Reformed circles.
Indeed, one Reformed theologian, whom I have cited in Chapter 7, John Macquarrie, writes: "It is Mary who has come to symbolize that perfect harmony between the divine will and the human response, so that it is she who gives meaning to the expression Co-Redemptrix."1
Mary is also Mediatrix for the angels, as Eastern theology has often pointed out. Mary, being nearest to God, is the only one worthy of receiving all of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
St. Gregory Palamas pointed out the importance of the Theotokos after her departure from this world: "To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn close to him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience. I do not speak of men alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves."2
1 J. Macquarrie, "Mary for All Christians," (London: Collins, 1990), p. 113.
2 St. Gregory Palamas, "A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary," (Homily 37).
https://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Mary, Mother, Immaculate, Conception, Virgin
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Sin HD Video
- St. Enda: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, March 21, 2018
- 'Living Lent': Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent - Day 36
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, March 21, 2018
- The Truth about Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday
- NOT AGAIN - 'Multiple casualties' at Maryland school shooting HD Video
- Fasting, Refreshing the Routine and Living Lent
- Daily Reading for Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 HD
- International study shows stem cells can stop MS and relieve symptoms HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education