Skip to main content

Caritas in Veritate and Mary

Caritas in Veritate and Mary

A Rediscovery of Mary, a Women of Gratuitousness in the Prespective of Integral Human Development According to the Caritas in Veritate

– Sister Celia Chua, M.I.C, October 2011


The so called Anthropological turn after the Second Vatican Council brought a spotlight to Mary, the woman of Nazareth. Enabling studies and research works to discover Our Lady in her full humanity, focusing on Mary’s human side. (cf. Zenith 1060305-2011-06-03) This is an attempt to offer some reflection on the latest encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (June 2009) and suggest some guidelines for human development, a proposal for a Marian spirituality in our present days. There are three parts in this conference, first of all, a brief summary on the Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate (2009) followed by examining one theme in many dimension of humanism, and perhaps is a spirituality, gratuitousness. It is the new principle of solidarity-communion in gratuitousness. Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes if it is to be authentically human, the need to make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an internal form of solidarity is essential. (cf. Caritas in Veritate, # 34). The final part is a recapitulation of Mary, her attitude of gratuitousness in the perspective of an integral human development.

Part One: A Brief Summary of Caritas in Veritate

1. Caritas in Veritate is the name of the most recent encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI. The first two words mean Love or Charity in Truth. It is about all contemporary forms of human development in charity and truth as well as truth in charity. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of this lengthy encyclical (six chapters) which covers social justice issues, ethical ones and technology in relationship to the universal needs of all peoples. It is not a spiritual book to read but one that touches upon international concerns which are daily given to us in forms of communication usually in a fast and superficial through the media. This encyclical requires a focused, attentive and meditated effort in order to realize the breath and depth of the document.

2. We are not in Middle Ages when we read this encyclical but rightly we are face to face with what all people are facing today, especially church people. The encyclical letter talks about issues of social justice, morality and peace. The Holy Father in writing this with his first two encyclical letters, Deus Caritas est, God is Love (2005) and Spes Salvi, Hope Saves (2007) in mind as it carefully focuses in what was given to the world through Paul VI’S encyclical the Populorum Progression, Progression of People,( 1967). In another word, there is a continuation in the holistic understanding of the social doctrine of the church which Pope Benedict points out as humanistic synthesis (#21).

3. While, Deus Caritas est is a theology of Charity which contained indications on social doctrine in the Mission of the Church (#26-29). Caritas in Veritate can be understood in three movements: first, the social doctrine in the mission of the church, second, the centrality of the Person, anthropology approach and thirdly a Marian spirituality in the new evangelization.

Part Two: The Principle of Gratuitousness in Caritas in Veritate (#34)

For the purpose of this conference, I will now focus on the principle of gratuitousness as an internal form of solidarity-communion in the new evangelization. Pope Benedict XVI says, social and political development, if it is to be authentically human needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness, an internal form of solidarity, which is essential. (Caritas in Veritate,#34). What are the elements that compose gratuitousness in solidarity?

1. The recognition that human race is a single family. (Caritas in Veritate #53-54)

Re-discovery of the meaning of relation in a life of a human person and crucial evaluation of human persons in the category of relationship are significant to built in solidarity on the basis of justice and peace. (#53-54). Human development can be identified with the inclusion – in-relation of all individuals and peoples within the one community of human family. (#53-54)

2. Gratuitousness and justice (#34)

In our post modern human family, the relation of giving is practiced either as a duty or giving in order to have. In another word, if relation is based on exchange only, which is underlining in political and economic relations, our society does not have a bright future. Instead, human development should evaluate seriously on the meaning of gratuitousness- giftedness. The Pope speaks of the astonishing experience of gift. (#34). Here lies the difference between justice and giftedness (gratuitousness). Justice practices equity, an ethical virtue, though important touches the dimension of obligation, the logic of justice is the logic of equivalence. But giftedness is not an ethical virtue nor is it a duty. It is has a supra-ethical virtue which logic is in solidarity-communion. It is a symbol of the human condition and thus to see the practice of giving motivated by solidarity -communion is the pre-requisite of human development in love and truth.

3. Efficiency and effectiveness (#29, #44)

Another interesting point in our human doing is to seek for efficiency in order to be effective and successful, The Pope remains us that the category of efficiency belongsto the means and not the ends. We cannot argue that efficiency is indispensable in order to achieve as well as possible the purpose one has freely chosen to give one’s action. But not all human action is doing business, marketing and competition.

Human dignity and human rights run their risk if we human action is based on economic and political efficiency and effectiveness only. In this encyclical, the Pope point out one thing is the affirmation of human dignity and rights as not created by legislator but given in advance by the Creator. These are values that can not be manipulated because they are the true and guarantee of human freedom and greatness. The Christian faith sees in this the mystery of the Creator and the condition of the image of God who has conferred them to all human beings. Furthermore, Pope Benedict repeats, that human rights risk being ignored when they are robbed of their transcendent foundation. That is, when people forget that God is the guarantor of human’s true development, in as much as, having created man and woman in God’s image, God also established the transcendent dignity of men and women. (cf. #29 and 44).

4. Integral human development and re-discovery the meaning of love and truth (#52).

Readers read through the Encyclical, there is a affirmation that “love and truth” as being destiny of human being-where love and truth are understood.First, ‘theologically,’ and then secondarily and rightly human. It is an inherent truth, because they are not of man but of God. Yet, it is in the nature of God’s action in the world that human being is to discover truth and to enact in love. This is the human enterprise: to live in love and in truth.

Integral human development as part of new evangelization is compare to “environmental ecology: it is coined as human ecology. An analogy that appeals to the principle of ordering. But the principle of ordering is not made, it is given and thus, it has to be discovered. It is this discover-that rediscover provides the key to integral human development (#21, 29, 51) The truly human development involves discovering a meaning that is not of our making (#70) but is given, a gift. Love and truth cannot be produced, can only be received as a gift. The ultimate source is not, and cannot be humankind, but God, who is Truth and Love. (#52)

Part Three: Rediscovery of Mary’s Attitude of Gratuitousness and Integral Human Development

1. Mary is a woman of gratuitousness in every action and decision taken, by Mary, she embodied with gratuitousness. Her first encounter with God’s request for her to be the Mother of Jesus, her entry into the life of the Trinity, as Annunciation texts, Mary enters into the relation with God in all freedom, humility and joy, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. (Annunciation)

2. Mary had more than one visitation, in her life, the one to her cousin Elizabeth, who is in need of assistance, comfort and presence, was the typo type of a Visit, Mary went in haste. This encounter expresses in a hymn of joy, wonder and remembrance for marvelous work of God to Israel and to ages to come. God has done wonderful things … Holy God’s name Justice and love have meet, like the psalmist sings… love and truth bring forth another dimension of visitation, gratuitousness. Transcending equity, justice gives way to love freely. Her cousin recognizes the deep meaning of this visit, she cried out “How can the mother of my Lord visit me? “ An honor, a mutuality in giving and receiving.

3. Mary’s participation in the Wedding of Cana. The free gesture of concern that there Is there is no more wine and the spoken truth, do whatever He tells you…an inner freedom and a certitude in faith, hope and love that that the order of things came from God. An offering of services in time of needs, her loving intercession is constant and consistence.

4. Most cruel moment in Mary’s life is at the Foot of the Cross. Loving presence In pain and suffering, she gave her a total offering and accepted to be the Mother of the Apostle, later on Mother of apostles and at the Pentecost Mother of the Church and humanity. The expansion of her gratuitousness in love and true is in her faith geography.

By a rereading Mary’s life in the scripture, we rediscover the Marian titles given to her in the Church. Such as Mother of God, chosen to give, nourish and educate the human nature of Jesus, truly man and truly God. Her virginity, a woman totally live and love for God alone. Her Immaculate Conception, a woman who accepts to collaborate in restoring humanity in its original grace. Her assumption to Heaven, a unity of human and divine by returning where all humanity belongs an eternal bliss.

In the footsteps of Mary, we have to climb hills and mountains and cross rivers in order to find our neighbors, the other in order to bring the GOOD NEWS of Jesus. Mary’s attitudes in the integral human development are the followings. These are points for reflection, discernment and action:

1. Mary is a woman for all peoples, having a Catholic (universal) mind and heart.

– Openness to life is at the center of true human development. (#26)

– Gratuitousness that is not deprived from Hope. Hope saves. (#34)

– Having a right relationship with God, others, self and nature.(#48)

– Living out the principle of solidarity and communion. (#58)

– The development of peoples depends, above all, a recognition that human race is a single family, working together in true communion and not only side by side. (#53) As Jesus, Mary shares our human race.

2. She is a woman of humanistic synthesis: not dichotomy-dualistic but agent of unity.

– Inseparability of love from the truth and vice and versa.

– Two typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one that is Post-conciliar, different from one another but having a single teaching consistant and the same time ever-new (#12).

– A link between life ethics and social ethics (#15)

– Deeds without knowledge are blind and knowledge without love is sterile. (#30)

– Love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is rich in love. (#30)

3. She is a woman in the mystery of God’s love.

– Love is first and foremost a mystery. Love is not a sentiment but a person. God is Love. Jesus is love. (I Jn. I)

– Love is a force that has its origin in God, eternal love and absolute truth. (#1)

– In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of Christ’s person, a vocation for us and to us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of God’s plan. God himself is the Truth. (#1 ) cf Jn.14:16

– The Gospel is fundamental for development, in the Gospel Christ, in the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals humanity to itself. (#18)


Caritas in Veritate is a disturbing encyclical. It raises many questions and poses many challenges to modern men and women. It pricks consciences that have become cold, lukewarm and indifferent uncaring. It calls for a conversion. In time of crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which we shape a new vision for the future. (#21) We are tempted to advocate a humanism which excludes God. This kind of humanism is an inhuman one. (#78) The world of economy needs ethics in order to function correctly-not just ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered. (#45). Thus, the essence of Caritas in Veritate is a synthesis of social teaching, a mystery to be believed and a gospel that disturbs. Does it not remind us of the Song of Mary, the Magnificat? A song that testifies God’s love in Truth , Truth in love for Israel, Mary and for all generation to come.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


Marian Library

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1390

Study Mary

Study the theology and history of Mary at the University of Dayton.

Learn More

Keyword Search

Would you like to begin a new keyword search?

Get Started