The Blessed Virgin Mary in Catholic Faith and Life.  Virgin and child What can happen when members of different Christian communities determine honestly to “engage differences between our communities, recognizing that the only unity pleasing to God, and therefore the only unity we may seek, is the unity in the truth” ?  Since their first joint statement issued in 1994, a group calling themselves simply, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” have been meeting in a serious effort to listen, question, and speak to oneanother from their divided Christian traditions. They have been able to demonstrate remarkable agreement on the Christian faith and practice that love for oneanother the Head of the Church gave them to do as the New Commandment. As we approach the Advent season, I want to post about the amazing openness and directness these unofficial representatives of the two groups  have been able to achieve in dealing with even the most difficult of themes that divide the Christian communions. The most recent statement from the ECT group deals with one of those difficult themes: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Christian Faith and Life. I want to say upfront that Evangelicals have much to benefit from this frank discussion, especially as we prepare to celebrate once again the birth of the Christ child. We can and must do a better job of giving Mary her proper place in the Biblical narrative and thus in the life of the churches. Stated here, is only the Catholic part of the conversation(and that in part). I don’t need to say anything about the Protestant position, and the points of disagreements. I am thankful for such a clear and forthright confession of the Catholic dogma on these points.

” We believe that Catholic teaching with respect to the Blessed Virgin Mary safeguards the fullness of revelation and deepens our understanding of God’s plan of salvation.”

“We here address, all too briefly, four aspects of that doctrine: the perpetual virginity of Mary, her Immaculate conception, her bodily Assumption into heaven, and her role, along with all the saints, in the communion of the Church. We do so in fidelity to ‘ the relation between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God’ (Ut Unum Sint 79).

” The Bible is the foundation of all Catholic teaching. Catholics also believe, in accordance with Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to teach the Church all things (John 14:6), that, under the influence of the Spirit, the gospel of grace is more fully and completely understood. Thus the Catholic Church believes that in its listening to, praying with, and reflecting on the truth of Holy Scripture, the Spirit is active as a divine guide, leading to a rich and comprehensive consideration of God’s Word. The Spirit leads the Church to see the full implications of the gospel through the teaching of early Fathers, through ecumenical councils, through prayer and litergy, through the lives of saints, and through the study of theologians. All of these help the Church to see more clearly the profound meaning of Christ’s message and the extraordinary role of his mother, Mary, in the history of salvation.” ( from Do whatever he tells you, in First Things, Nov 2009, issue, p.51)

There is much, much more to this recent statement of Evangelicals and Catholics Together for your careful study, complete statement at FIRST THINGS.