This is why Guardini’s other famous expression is true and eloquent: ‘The Church is awakening within souls.’ The Church lives, grows, and awakens in souls that—like the Virgin Mary—embrace the Word of God and conceive of it as the work of the Holy Spirit. The[y] offer God their very flesh and, precisely in their poverty and humility, become capable of generating Christ today in the world. Through the Church, the Mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all ages and places.”
–Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals, February 28, 2013
In Pope Benedict XVI’s departing words of his papacy analogized the Church to the Virgin Mary who embraced the Word of God and conceived the Word by the Holy Spirit. In Mariology, there is an adage, “What can be said of Mary, can be said of the Church, and what can be said of the Church can be said of Mary.” If we call Mary the Virgin Mother, so is the Church. Mary brought forth Christ, so does the Church. The best exemplification of this is Hugo Rahner’s work, Our Lady and the Church. Rahner cites the Church Fathers and their predication of Mary and the Church. To use Guardini’s expression, that the Church is awakening within souls, the same can be predicated of Mary. Mary’s apostolic mission, I suggest, continues through her numerous apparitions spanning the centuries. She uses chosen visionaries to awaken in souls a greater desire for the Lord, by utilizing the sacraments and cultivating a deeper prayer life. Mary awakens souls and in doing so, brings them to the Church’s found of grace. In a work to which Cardinal Ratzinger contributed, Mary is the Church at the source.
With this reference, so ends the Marian references in the final days of Benedict XVI’s papacy. And now we await with eager anticipation the election of our new Holy Father and his Mariological views.