Pope Benedict while Cardinal Ratzinger expressed himself on the title of this essay in a book called The Ratzinger Report. He said: It (the saying about Mary you can never say enough) seemed exaggerated to me. So it was difficult for me to understand the true meaning of another famous expression…the declaration that designated the Virgin Mary as the “conqueror of all heresies.” Now in this confused period where truly every type of heretical aberration seems to be pressing upon the doors of the authentic faith-now I understand that it was not a matter of pious exaggerations, but of truths that today are more valid than ever.
Heresy is a sin against faith and the First Commandment. It is the obstinate denial of some truth after baptism which must be believed by divine and catholic faith or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.
If the authority upon which we base our assent is human and therefore fallible, we have human and fallible faith; if the authority is Divine, we have Divine and infallible faith. If to this be added the medium by which the Divine authority for certain statements is put before us, namely, the Catholic Church, we have Divine-Catholic Faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2089).
The heretic who is aware that his belief is at odds with Catholic teaching and yet continues to cling to his belief pertinaciously is a formal heretic. A material heretic on the other hand, means that the individual is unaware that his opinion/personal belief is heresy and denies some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith. The opinion of the material heretic is still heresy, in that it is false teaching, and produces the same objective results as formal heresy, but because of his ignorance he commits no personal sin by holding it.
All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith, which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed. (First Vatican Council, 1870).
The then Cardinal Ratzinger listed six things which point to the importance of Mary with regard to the fullness of the Catholic Faith.
Bishop Sheen pointed out that those who lose devotion to Mary lose belief in the Divinity of Christ and those who intensify devotion to her are lead to that belief in Christ’s divinity. Mary always points to her Son!
Below follows another reflection on the Mother of God by the great Pope, St. Pius X: Can anyone fail to see that there is no surer or more direct road than by Mary for uniting all mankind in Christ and obtaining through Him the perfect adoption of sons, that we may be holy and immaculate in the sight of God? For if to Mary it was truly said: "Blessed art thou who hast believed because in thee shall be fulfilled the things that have been told thee by the Lord" (Luke i., 45); or in other words, that she would conceive and bring forth the Son of God and if she did receive in her breast Him who is by nature Truth itself in order that "He, generated in a new order and with a new nativity, though invisible in Himself, might become visible in our flesh" (St. Leo the Great, Ser. 2, De Nativ. Dom.): the Son of God made man, being the "author and consummator of our faith"; it surely follows that His Mother most holy should be recognized as participating in the divine mysteries and as being in a manner the guardian of them, and that upon her as upon a foundation, the noblest after Christ, rises the edifice of the faith of all centuries. How think otherwise? Could not God have given us, in another way than through the Virgin the Redeemer of the human race and the Founder of the Faith? But, since Divine Providence has been pleased that we should have the Man-God through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Ghost and bore Him in her breast, it only remains for us to receive Christ from the hands of Mary. Hence whenever the Scriptures speak prophetically of the grace which was to appear among us, the Redeemer of mankind is almost invariably presented to us as united with His mother. The Lamb that is to rule the world will be sent - but He will be sent from the rock of the desert; the flower will blossom, but it will blossom from the root of Jesse. Adam, the father of mankind, looked to Mary crushing the serpent's head, and he dried the tears that the malediction had brought into his eyes. Noë thought of her when shut up in the ark of safety, and Abraham when prevented from the slaying of his son; Jacob at the sight of the ladder on which angels ascended and descended; Moses amazed at the sight of the bush which burned but was not consumed; David escorting the arc of God with dancing and psalmody; Elias as he looked at the little cloud that rose out of the sea. In fine, after Christ, we find in Mary the end of the law and the fulfillment of the figures and oracles.
And that through the Virgin, and through her more than through any other means, we have offered us a way of reaching the knowledge of Jesus Christ, cannot be doubted when it is remembered that with her alone of all others Jesus was for thirty years united, as a son is usually united with a mother, in the closest ties of intimacy and domestic life. Who could better than His Mother have an open knowledge of the admirable mysteries of the birth and childhood of Christ, and above all of the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the beginning and the foundation of faith? Mary not only preserved and meditated on the events of Bethlehem and the facts which took place in Jerusalem in the Temple of the Lord, but sharing as she did the thoughts and the secret wishes of Christ she may be said to have lived the very life of her Son. Hence nobody ever knew Christ so profoundly as she did, and nobody can ever be more competent as a guide and teacher of the knowledge of Christ. Saint Pius X Ad diem illum laetissimumBACK TO LIST