Monday, December 24, 2012

Studying the Summa: Gratitude

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, covers a wide variety of topics, which we will periodically be studying on our blog. Since it is especially appropriate for the Christmas season, our first topic will be gratitude. In receiving our gifts this Christmas, we must remember to have a proper sense of gratitude. Aquinas teaches us exactly what that means. He writes that gratitude is due to a gift-giver because he gives a gift expecting nothing in return, which is commendable. Thus, the recipient “is under moral obligation” to give something in return.

Is thankfulness, or gratitude, a special virtue?
Aquinas writes that we are indebted to others and justice requires that we repay them appropriately. He provides a four-tiered ranking of those whom we owe: God, parents, persons in positions of dignity, and benefactors. We owe most to God, from whom all good things flow. To each descending category we appropriately owe less. This reminds us that we should be not only thankful to our gift-givers this season, but also to God and others whom we always owe thanks. Once we understand how to give thanks to those other categories, we can finally understand the gratitude which we owe our benefactors, or gift-givers.

Christmas can be a reminder that we should be giving thanks every day of our lives. We can appropriately thank God for his infinite gifts through religious worship and prayer. Secondly, we can thank our parents for our existence and upbringing through practicing piety, says Aquinas. Thirdly, persons in positions of dignity (such as governors or professors) also deserve to be given thanks for their service in our character development.  Aquinas only deals with giving proper thanks to gift-givers after God, parents, and persons of dignity. To answer the original question, Aquinas says that thankfulness or gratitude is a special virtue because it is a response specifically suited for our gift-givers.

Should we give thanks to everyone that gives us gifts?
“In all things give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Yes. Aquinas reasons that the gift-giver is the cause of the gift-receiver. In a similar relationship, God is the cause of all things that exist in the world and all of His creation points to him. In the same way, the gifts from the giver point to that giver. This leads Aquinas to say that “he who has received a favor should, by repaying the favor, turn to his benefactor according to the mode of each.” On Christmas, we owe our gift-givers thanksgiving and gratitude. Aquinas even notes that if someone gives a gift reluctantly or without joy, we still owe him thanks for his gift. Man is bound by justice to give thanks to every benefactor, and to do so with genuine gratitude.

Are we bound to repay for our gifts immediately?
Aquinas quotes the philosopher Seneca to begin his answer:
He that hastens to repay, is animated with a sense, not of gratitude but of indebtedness.
Aquinas says that repaying immediately would seem more like paying a legal debt than giving true thanks. The best time to give thanks for our gifts is at a time that is convenient for the gift-giver. Imagine if we had thank-you cards pre-filled out on Christmas and immediately handed the card to the gift-giver as we opened our gift. This would look more like a chore than a true act of thankfulness. There is no hard and fast rule for when it is best to give thanks, and I’m sure it will be different for every gift recipient. The important thing is that Aquinas teaches us that we are to pay thanks back to our gift-givers when it is convenient for them, not when it is most convenient for us.

Should we be thankful for the gift alone?
Aquinas responds that our thanks should not just be for the gift itself, but also for the intention of the gift-giver. The thoughtfulness, joy, and love that go into giving gifts are more important than the gift itself. It really is the thought that counts. Our repayment for such gifts, then, should focus mostly on the thought and love behind the action of giving than exactly what the gift is. In Luke 21:1-4, it can be seen that Jesus taught the same. When the poor widow put two coins (a measly sum in comparison to other patrons) into the offering at the treasury, Jesus said that the widow “put in more than all of them” (Luke 21:3) because she gave all she had while the others gave out of their surplus wealth. The point is that the thought counts much more than the item, or the quantity, given. Hence, our thanks should extend beyond what we unwrap this Christmas and into the thought and generosity of the gift-giver.

Should our repayment of the gift be greater than the gift we received?
Again the answer is yes. This is both challenging and confusing. Aquinas concludes his section on gratitude by stating that “gratitude always inclines, as far as possible, to pay back something more.” This requires getting away from our attitude of selfishness, which is very difficult to do. It is not enough just to repay, we must repay even more than what we have been given.

This also begs the question of when repayment ends. After all, if I repay my gift-giver more than he has given me, he would be required to do the same, and so on for infinity! Luckily, Aquinas addresses this very question. He says that “the debt of gratitude flows from charity, where the more it is paid, the more it is due” and that “it is not unreasonable if the obligation of gratitude has no limit.” Imagine that! The idea of creating debt by giving thanks seems undesirable. However, this debt is different from legal or monetary debt and Aquinas insists that it is related to charity and might in fact have no limit. Remember, Aquinas isn't saying a $100 gift should be repaid with a $200 gift. Rather, the meaning and generosity behind the repayment should attempt to exceed that of the original gift.
             
Conclusion   
Many things can be learned from Aquinas’ discussion of gratitude. Firstly, we constantly owe thanks to God and others, not just those who give us private gifts on Christmas. Secondly, we owe gratitude and thanks to each of our gift-givers, no matter how joyfully the gift is given. Thirdly, our repayment to our gift-givers should come at a time convenient to the gift-givers, not at a time that is convenient for us or immediately upon the reception of our gift. Fourthly, our thanks should be not only for the actual gift but primarily for the love and graciousness of the gift-giver. Lastly, our repayment of the gift should flow from our genuine gratitude and be even greater than the gift we have received.

I pray that Aquinas’ teaching on gratitude can help us be truly gracious this Christmas season as we receive the gifts that are given to us. Merry Christmas!

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All uncited quotes have been taken from the article on gratitude in the Summa Theologica.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

When is the Magisterium Infallible?

Vatican II (from stjohncc.net)
What is the Magisterium?

"The Magisterium of the Church: The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome... Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: 'He who hears you, hears me,' the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms" (CCC 85-87).

"The Church's teaching authority, vested in the bishops, as successors of the Apostles, under the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter. Also vested in the Pope, as Vicar of Christ and visible head of the Catholic Church." ~Father John Hardon; Modern Catholic Dictionary

What is Infallibility?

"In general, exemption or immunity from liability to error or failure... Infallibility means more than exemption from actual error; it means exemption from the possibility of error." ~Patrick Toner; Catholic Enyclopedia

Is the Magisterium Infallible?
  • Matthew 28:18-20: "And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." (DR)
  • Matthew 16:18: "And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (DR)
  • John 14:16-17: "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive ... you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you." (RSVCE)
  • John 16:13-15: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (RSVCE)
  • 1 Timothy 3:14-15: "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (RSVCE)
What are the Forms of the Magisterium?
  • Extraordinary Magisterium: "The Church's teaching office exercised in a solemn way, as in formal declarations of the Pope or of ecumenical councils of bishops approved by the Pope." ~Fr. John Hardon; Modern Catholic Dictionary
  • Ordinary Magisterium: "The teaching office of the hierarchy under the Pope, exercised normally, that is, through the regular means of instructing the faithful. These means are all the usual channels of communication, whether written, spoken, or practical." ~Fr. John Hardon; Modern Catholic Dictionary
When is the Magisterium Infallible?

There are several levels of authority that correspond to infallibility within the Church's teaching:
  1. Solemn Definition by Popes (Extraordinary): Solemn definitions are those delivered by the Pope and carry the weight of infallibility. Solemn definitions are spoken ex cathedra ("from the chair") by the Pope and are an exercise in his teaching primacy as the successor of Saint Peter. These include Pope Pius IX's solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception, Ineffibilis Deus, and Pope Pius XII's definition of the Virgin Mary's Assumption into Heaven, Munificentissimus Deus. Papal definitions do NOT have to be in communion with the rest of the bishops to carry the weight of infallibility.

    "The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra—that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and therefore such definitions are irreformable of themselves, and not in virtue of consent of the Church." ~Vatican I
  2. Ecumenical Councils (Extraordinary): All 21 of the Church's Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea in 325 to Vatican II in 1965, carry the weight of infallibility because they are the living voice of Christ as it speaks through the whole body of bishops, always in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

    "The supreme power in the universal Church ... is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. A council is never ecumenical unless it is confirmed or at least accepted as such by the successor of Peter; and it is prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke these councils, to preside over them and to confirm them." ~Vatican II; Lumen Gentium
  3. Daily Teaching of the Church (Ordinary): The everyday teaching of bishops throughout the world, when they are in collaboration with each other and are in communion with the Pope, is infallible when it is proposed definitively, as something that needs to be held by the faithful.

    "Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held." ~Vatican II; Lumen Gentium
  4. Certain Occasions within Papal Encyclicals (Ordinary): Pius XII, in his encyclical Humani Generis, says "nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians."
    • We note, however, with Fr. William Most that "not everything in Encyclicals, and similar documents, is on this level--this is true only when the Popes expressly pass judgment on a previously debated matter" and that "since the Church scattered throughout the world can make a teaching infallible without defining (see item 3 above), then of course the Pope alone, who can speak for and reflect the faith of the whole Church, can do the same even in an Encyclical, under the conditions enumerated by Pius XII." [1]
When Is the Magisterium NOT Infallible?
  1. Certain Papal Statements: Notice the qualifiers within the First Vatican Council's decree on Papal Infallibility quoted in part 1 above. The Pope is NOT infallible if:
    • The Pope is not teaching "ex cathedra--that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians"--OR the Pope is not teaching definitively through the Ordinary Magisterium by way of his encyclicals (see Pius XII's statement above).
    • The Pope is not teaching about faith and morals

      Keep in mind, if the Pope is teaching ex cathedra, he must be speaking about faith and morals. If he is teaching about faith and morals, however, he does not necessarily have to be teaching ex cathedra.

      In addition, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that "not everything in a conciliar or papal pronouncement, in which some doctrine is defined [infallibly], is to be treated as definitive and infallible. For example, in the lengthy Bull of Pius IX defining the Immaculate Conception the strictly definitive and infallible portion is comprised in a sentence or two; and the same is true in many cases in regard to conciliar decisions. The merely argumentative and justificatory statements embodied in definitive judgments, however true and authoritative they may be, are not covered by the guarantee of infallibility which attaches to the strictly definitive sentences — unless, indeed, their infallibility has been previously or subsequently established by an independent decision." [2]
  2. Councils that are not ecumenical or recognized by the Pope: Certain gatherings of bishops, for example the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, when they come to decisions or publish documents, do not carry the weight of infallibility. Popes are, however, able to recognize regional councils like the Second Council of Orange (531) and thereby make them infallible.
  3. Certain occasions within the Ordinary Magisterium of bishops: Notice the qualifiers within Lumen Gentium 25 that were quoted above. The Ordinary Magisterium is NOT infallible if:
    • Bishops speak individually
    • Bishops speak outside of communion with the Pope
    • Bishops teach about something other than faith and morals
    • Bishops are in disagreement about a position
    • Bishops do not intend their teaching to be definitively held
  4. Papal congregations: The congregations within the Holy See, for example the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith or the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, are NOT infallible. Even if popes approve a congregation's decision, it does not prove it infallible unless the decision regards faith and morals AND that Pope intends to teach the decision ex cathedra. For example, in the case of Galileo Galilei, "the Congregation of the Index in 1616 decreed that Galileo was not to teach or defend in the future the Copernican theory as an established fact. Although approved by the pope, the decree was purely disciplinary" and therefore NOT infallible. [3]
Religious Submission of Mind and Will When the Church Speaks Fallibly:

Paragraph 25 of Lumen Gentium, Vatican II's document on the Church, states that "Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

Again Father William Most explains: "If they (Pope or bishops) do not mean to make it definitive, then it does not come under the virtue of faith, or the promise of Christ, 'He who hears you hears me.' Rather, it is a matter of what ... Canon [752 of the New Code of Canon Law] and LG 25 call "religious submission of mind and of will." What does this require? Definitely, it forbids public contradiction of the teaching. But it also requires something in the mind, as the wording indicates. This cannot be the absolute assent which faith calls for - for since this teaching is, by definition, not definitive, we gather that it is not absolutely finally certain."[1] We see then that, though we owe the submission of our minds and wills to the Magisterium of both Pope and bishops (only when they teach about faith and morals), these statements do not carry the weight of infallibility.

Summary:

To summarize these somewhat confusing sets of circumstances, we can remember these three necessities: 
  • Teaching regards faith and morals
  • Teaching is in communion with the Pope
  • Teaching is meant to be definitively held by the faithful
If all three of these requirements are met, the teaching is infallible.

When does the Church intend her teaching to be definitively held? We can again let Father Most answer this question: 
  • For the Extraordinary Magisterium: "No special formula of words is required in order to define. Wording should be something solemn, and should make clear that the teaching is definitive. Councils in the past often used the form: 'Si quis dixerit. . . anathema sit." That is: "If someone shall say. . . . let him be anathema." But sometimes they used the formula for disciplinary matters, so that form alone does not prove. Further, they also could define in the capitula, the chapters. Thus Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 538) spoke of such a passage of Vatican I (DS 3006 -- saying God is the author of Scripture) as a solemn definition." [1]
  • For the Ordinary Magisterium: "To know whether the Church intends to teach infallibly on this second level, we notice both the language - no set form required - and the intention, which may be seen at times from the nature of the case, at times from the repetition of the doctrine on this second level."[1]
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[1] Fr. William Most; Hierarchy of Truths and Four Levels of Teaching
[2] Patrick Toner; Catholic Encyclopedia; Infallibility
[3] Fr. John Hardon; Christ to Catholicism

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Mariology of John 1:13


"The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were (was) born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father." (John 1:9-14 RSV)

John 1:13: This passage's translation is the subject of considerable controversy. Some scholars, both ancient and modern, prefer a singular reading, one found in old Latin and Syriac translations, ("who was born, not of blood...") that points to the birth of Jesus through Mary. The Greek manuscripts, however, contain a plural reading ("who were born, not of blood..."), that refers to the rebirth of Christians into the life of God. It must be said that all modern translations use the plural form--so does Saint Jerome's Vulgate--and is the primary interpretation. This does not mean, however, that there is nothing to glean from the secondary, singular reading of the text.

The Greek Manuscripts: Settimio Manelli notes that "it is true that no Greek manuscript of the gospel gives the reading for verse 13 in the singular. But one should keep in mind that the earliest manuscripts we posses of the fourth gospel all date from the fourth century, with the exception of a papyrus fragment of the second century, one without [this verse], however." [1] Many writings that predate our earliest manuscripts of John's gospel, however, reveal something interesting about how John 1:13 was read in the early Church. Ignatius de la Potterie, in his book Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, reveals that "all the 'witnesses' of the second century support a reading in the singular" [2] and that "these witnesses are not all confined to one locality, but are found throughout the Mediterranean basin." This means that the reading was not a local interpretation that rose out of some single community, but was accepted over a widespread area.

How the Ancients Read It: Let's look at some of the "witnesses" from which we might read John 1:13 in the singular:
  • Saint Irenaeus (b. 115?) (Against Heresies: Book 3, Chapter 16): In arguing that John knew Jesus was the Son of God and Son of Mary, he says that "He is Emmanuel, lest perchance we might consider Him as a mere man: 'for not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God was the Word made flesh;' and that we should not imagine that Jesus was one, and Christ another, but should know them to be one and the same."
  • Saint Irenaeus (Against Heresies: Book 3, Chapter 19): "He who 'was not born either by the will of the flesh, or by the will of man' is the Son of man, this is Christ, the Son of the living God."
  • Tertullian (d. 225?) (On the Flesh of Christ: Chapter 15): "For, as I have read in some writer of Valentinus' wretched faction, they refuse at the outset to believe that a human and earthly substance was created for Christ, lest the Lord should be regarded as inferior to the angels, who are not formed of earthly flesh; whence, too, it would be necessary that, if His flesh were like ours, it should be similarly born, 'not of the Spirit, nor of God, but of the will of man.'"
  • Tertullian (On the Flesh of Christ: Chapter 19): "What, then, is the meaning of this passage, 'Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God?' [Many] maintain that it was written thus (in the plural) 'who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,' as if designating those who were before mentioned as 'believing in His name,' in order to point out the existence of that mysterious seed of the elect and spiritual which they appropriate to themselves. But how can this be, when all who believe in the name of the Lord are, by reason of the common principle of the human race, born of blood, and of the will of the flesh, and of man...? The expression is in the singular number, as referring to the Lord, He was born of God. And very properly, because Christ is the Word of God, and with the Word the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit the Power of God, and whatsoever else appertains to God. As flesh, however, He is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, because it was by the will of God that the Word was made flesh."
  • Tertullian and Saint Irenaeus, then, definitively use John 1:13 in the singular; Tertullian even defends against a plural interpretation.
  • Saint Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) (The Stromata: Book 2, Chapter 13): Saint Clement of Alexandria, however, is a contemporary of Tertullian who uses the verse in the plural: "He, then, who from among the Gentiles and from that old life has betaken himself to faith, has obtained forgiveness of sins once. But he who has sinned after this, on his repentance, though he obtain pardon, ought to fear, as one no longer washed to the forgiveness of sins. For not only must the idols which he formerly held as gods, but the works also of his former life, be abandoned by him who has been born again, 'not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,' but in the Spirit; which consists in repenting by not giving way to the same fault."
In Light of Other Johannine Literature: Settimio Manelli, building off of the work of de la Potterie, draws further conclusions regarding the singular reading of the text in light of Saint John's other writings. He says that "this verse cannot be read in the plural, because it would then refer to the spiritual rebirth of Christians. But when John speaks of this theme, he always makes use of the present perfect tense (cf. 1 Jn 5:18), never the aorist found in Jn 1:13... But the aorist tense found [in Jn 1:13] is appropriate for a reference to the Incarnation of Christ, a historical fact of the past, while the rebirth of Christians is a continuing fact, one therefore best expressed by a verbal form in the present perfect tense. Textual comparison, therefore, favors a reading of verse 13 of the prologue in the singular." [1]

Further still, the text surrounding verse 13 supports a singular reading. Everything preceding is entirely about Jesus and verse 13 appears to be a continuation of this thought, showing by what manner those who believe in his name are to become children of God. In addition, the following verse about the Word becoming flesh fits perfectly with a singular reading, one where Christ's Incarnation is logically drawn from the statements of verse 13; Saint Irenaeus actually attaches the verse to the end of 13! In fact, verse 14 seems a little out of place and awkward if verse 13 is not referring to Christ.

The Mother of Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI, in his newly released third volume of the Jesus of Nazareth series, comments on the singular reading of this text and what it means for the Virgin Mary: "One version of the manuscript tradition preserves a reading of this sentence not in the plural but in the singular... This makes the sentence into a clear reference to the virginal conception and birth of Jesus." [3]

Manelli, following de la Potterie (who was following another fellow named Hofrichter), reveals a profound connection between the phrase "born, not of blood" and an Old Testament understanding of that phrase. "De la Potterie holds ... that the plural [form] of 'blood,' is used in the text of Leviticus 12 in reference to the laws of purification of the mother, rendered impure by bloods lost at the moment of parturition (the process and action of labor and childbirth)." [1]

If John 1:13 is in fact referring to Jesus, then, in light of this, we can conclude that John is alluding to the Virgin Birth during which no blood of Mary's was shed. (This article of faith, that Mary's virginity was preserved "even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man," (CCC 499) and that, in fact, Jesus was born without causing any physical damage to Mary, has been a constant teaching of the Church. [4]) As Manelli concludes by quoting de la Potterie, "at the moment of Jesus' birth there was no need 'of ritual purification by the Mother of Jesus, because in her there had been absolutely no loss of blood.'"

In regard to this, Hans Urs von Balthasar beautifully explains that the Virgin Birth "took place as a miracle, as the sudden beginning of what is final and definitive. At the birth, every pain was dissolved in pure light. How her womb opened and closed again we do not know, and it is superfluous to speculate about an event which for God was a child's game, something much less important than the original overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. Someone who accepts this first miracle as valid--and as a believer one has to, otherwise Jesus would have had two fathers--should not toss and turn over accepting the second miracle, the Virgin Birth." [5]

Conclusions: By way of these considerations, we can conclude that a singular reading of John's prologue gives it a profoundly Marian element. First, we can see a beautiful affirmation of Christ's Virgin Birth "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Second, and quite profoundly, we can see a remarkable insight into Mary's role as Mother of All Christians. As de la Potterie concludes: "According to John 1:12-13 we may 'become' progressively children of God, in the measure in which we believe in him who is our model, the Son of God. We are 'sons in the Son.' ... It is necessary, therefore, to say that if Mary is the Mother of the Son of God made man--our model--she will play a role in the repetition of this "incarnation" in the souls of believers. The maternity of Mary which initiated the Incarnation of Jesus, is prolonged in the life of Christians." [2]

Again, this singular reading of John 1:13 is not frequently referred to; Pope Benedict XVI calls it "secondary" and refers to the plural reading as "the authentic text of the Gospel." At the same time, the singular texts can provide beautiful insights into the life of Jesus Christ and the role of his Blessed Mother in the Incarnation. 

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[1] Settimio Manelli; The Virgin Mary in the New Testament; from Mariology ed. by Mark Miravalle
[2] Ignatius de la Potterie; Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant; found in Mariology
[3] Pope Benedict XVI; Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives
[4] Ryan Erlenbush; Blog Post at The New Theological Movement; The Virgin Birth of Christ
[5] Hans Urs von Balthasar; Mary for Today