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Mariology on the Move

Mariology on the Move

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

At an academic convocation in Rome in late 2001, noted Spanish theologian, Father Jose Cristo Rey Paredes, C.M.F., offered a prologue for Marian studies at the outset of the third millennium. The professor at the famed Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain, addressed the topic, Mariology on the Move: Mariological Prospects at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century. The presentation covered three areas for our consideration in his map for Marian studies: Mariology on the move, prospects at the beginning of this century, and prospects for Mariology.

Discussing progress in the field of Mariology, Claretian Father Paredes underscored the importance of constant reference to the intrinsic dynamism, personality, and experience of the Virgin Mary, along with a commitment to a Mariology on the move as opposed to a "fatherland Mariology." He believes that recent Mariology "is in general correct, orthodox, hardly innovative, fairly apodictic, excessively cautious." This situation is more clearly understood when confronting the current culture, a culture in which "one cannot understand reality if one halts its constant flux or tries to form an objective concept of what is happening. Reality is a torrent; there is no intelligence that can seize or confine it to a concept." Evident developments in religion, the interpretation of salvation history, and education demonstrate that this is the nature of contemporary culture. Mariology needs to be aware of this situation, and move accordingly.

Father Paredes sees these future possibilities for Mariology. The person of Mary must be considered in the context of our times. Our Lady is part of a network of relationships. Mariology is also part of a network; it does not stand in isolation. Mariology needs to involve aesthetic and emotional reasoning, to demonstrate its ability to see truth in all its forms and contradictions. "Complex, ecological thinking will bring forth a Mariology of risk."

In the context of post-modern historical research, Mariology needs to engage in the search for the historical Jesus from a Marian perspective. This requires a new attitude toward tradition that reflects a critique of reasoning based on absolute assumptions, and a commitment to progress in communications. "There is a need for new methods, new expressions, new language, new zeal." More than ever before, Father Paredes recognizes the necessity to pursue a continuing re-creation of theological language, which cannot and ought not be separated from the language of life, from the language of faith, or from pastoral concern.

His conclusion: "Marian doctrine must be deciphered to be understood. Different languages must be used. The language of critical reasoning, the simple transmission of ideas, is not sufficient. One must employ aesthetic reasoning, communicative reasoning, and emotional reasoning as well. If contemporary human communication has made enormous progress, this must be reflected in the teaching of Mariology."

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