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The Splendor of the Church in Mary
Henri de Lubac, Vatican II, and Marian Ressourcement
Foreword by Paul McPartlan
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Henri de Lubac, SJ, (1896-1991) is one of the most renowned theologians of the twentieth century. Numerous studies have been undertaken to examine his many contributions to theology, but little attention has been paid to the specific topic of the relationship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church in his writings. This was a topic that gave rise to contentious discussion at the Second Vatican Council, and although the Council fathers approved the integration of Marian doctrine into the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, this synthesis of Mariology and ecclesiology has been largely neglected in theology today.
The Splendor of the Church in Mary retrieves de Lubac’s Marian ecclesiology and revives an understanding and appreciation of its enduring influence at the Vatican Council and beyond. The first part examines de Lubac’s pre-conciliar works which evince a steady biblical and patristic ressourcement of Marian themes. It also explores his writings on Teilhard de Chardin’s Eternal Feminine, Christian mysticism, and Amida Buddhism and discovers in them the essential building blocks of his Marian thought. The second part turns to the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar developments. Rereading the debates and texts of Lumen Gentium through a Marian lens brings to light the extent of de Lubac’s influence: Méditation sur l’Eglise (1953), his principal work on Mary and the Church, anticipated the structure and content of Lumen Gentium a decade before the Council.
De Lubac’s writings provided a theological compass for the Council fathers, and they continue to provide direction and orientation for ecclesiological discourse today. The Splendor of the Church in Mary culminates in a constructive analysis of one of the most pressing pastoral and ecclesiological questions of our times: the question of the relationship of the universal and particular churches. Directly engaging the crucial debate between then-Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Kasper, it proposes that de Lubac’s Mariology effectively offers a new perspective and a refreshing path forward. Attentive to the mystical identification of Mary and the Church, de Lubac’s ressourcement has the potential to re-enchant and advance contemporary theology in new and significant ways.
Sister Theresa Marie Chau Nguyen, OP, is assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas (TX). Paul McPartlan is Carl J. Peter Professor of systematic theology and ecumenism at The Catholic University of America.
"A forensic and erudite account of de Lubac’s Marian ecclesiology, its emergence as part of his overall work of ressourcement and its place in the Second Vatican Council’s overarching ecclesiological vision as well as in what has developed since then in post-conciliar theologies of the church...will make a significant contribution to a particular type of ecclesiological study."~Gemma Simmonds, CJ, Director of the Religious Life Institute, Institute of Theology, Cambridge University
"In The Splendor of the Church in Mary, Sr. Theresa Marie Chau Nguyen, OP, provides a thorough and fascinating study of the Mariology of Henri de Lubac. SJ. In addition to Patristic and Medieval authors, de Lubac found Marian themes in thinkers as diverse as Teilhard de Chardin and Jules Monchanin. Sr. Theresa Marie shows how de Lubac’s insights into the mystery of Mary and the Church are reflected in chapter eight of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. For de Lubac, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the supreme icon of the Church, and a sound Mariology helps to illuminate Catholic ecclesiology, anthropology, and eschatology."~Robert L. Fastiggi, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI
"Sr. Nguyen here retrieves an extraordinarily influential--but today neglected--text by de Lubac: his chapter on the Blessed Virgin Mary in his Méditation sur l'Eglise, in which de Lubac musters patristic and medieval sources to demonstrate Mary's proper centrality for Catholic ecclesiology. The parallels between this work and the final chapter of Lumen Gentium are striking, as is Sr. Nguyen's astute proposal that the debate over whether the universal or the particular church has priority can be resolved by retrieving a Mariological framework. May this instructive book point the way toward a decisive Marian renewal in the Catholic Church and Catholic theology today!"~Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
" The Splendor of the Church in Mary is an impressive study. Sr. Theresa Marie Chau Nguyen, OP, sheds light on the Marian and ecclesiological writings of Henri de Lubac, a ressourcement theologian par excellence. She uncovers in them the riches of the Christian tradition on the Marian mystery in relationship to the Church. This in turn, enables the reader to appreciate more fully the Church’s defining attributes of virgin bride and mother, attributes shared with Our Lady. At a time when the identity of the Catholic Church undergoes a severe crisis, the author succeeds in showing that the Marian dimension of the Church can help address contemporary questions and advance post-conciliar ecclesiological discourse."~Danielle M. Peters, STD, Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame
"A work of both ressourcement and speculative extension, The Splendor of the Church in Mary shows how Henri de Lubac's retrieval of the Church's Marian dimension informed Vatican II and even now holds the key to its proper reception. Especially impressive is Sr. Chau's proposal to take Mary's ‘concrete universality’ as a point of departure for rethinking the relationship between particular and universal Church. Highly recommended."~Aaron Pidel, SJ, Marquette University
"Historically sensitive and systematically constructive, Sr. Chau's book is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and gracefully written. It makes a significant contribution to a fuller reception of the Second Vatican Council, as well as to a deeper understanding of the Church herself."~Christopher Ruddy, The Catholic University of America