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Page 1




Toward a Common
Christian Understanding




Translated by Matthew J. O'Connell

Foreword by Joseph A. Fitzmyer, SJ.

New York/Mahwah, N.J.

Page 2

Cover design by Valerie Petro

Cover image is from a mosaic at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows,
Belleville, Ill.

Book design by Theresa M. Sparacio

Copyright © 1999 by Bayard Editions. English translation copyright © 2002 by
Paulist Press, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording
or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing
from the Publisher.

Library of Congress·Publication Data

Blancy, Alain.
[Marie dans Ie dessein de Dieu et la communion des saints. English]
Mary in the plan of God and in the communion of saints : toward a common

Christian understanding / by Alain Blancy and Maurice Jourjon and the Dombes
Group j foreword by Joseph A. Htzmyer j translated by Matthew J. O·Connell.

p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0·8091-4069·1 (alk. paper)
1. Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint-Theology. 2. Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint, and

Christian union. 3. Catholic Church-Relations-Protestant churches. 4. Protestant
churches-Relations-Catholic Church. 1. Title.

BT613 .BS613 2002

Published by Paulist Press
997 Macarthur Boulevard
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430

Printed and bound in the
United States of America


Page 83

Preface for Part II 77

implies and that do not contradict it. Here vigilance and felt need must
always go together.


The term "cooperation" automatically brings confusion to the
minds of many Protestants: this word with its "co-" suggests-wrongly,
indeed-that Christ, the sole mediator, and his mother are associated
as equals. Yet we cannot do without the word for lack of anything bet-
ter. Moreover, it is a given by reason of its perennial use in Catholic
documents. The Orthodox for their part speak of a synergy.

"Cooperation" (the quotation marks will always be used in our
text) means that grace, which is always first and absolute, not only does
not exclude a human response but on the contrary elicits and makes it
possible and even obligatory. The active response of Mary in her fiat
was part of her passive reception of the favor bestowed on her, the
woman "filled with grace," that she should become the mother of the
Lord, the theotokos, the Mother of God. The term "cooperation" in no
way derogates from the conviction that the decisive, saving response is
given solely and in its entirety by the only Son who takes flesh, gives
himself up, and thereby effects salvation by himself, once for all, and
for all human beings. But this salvation must be accepted. This recep-
tivity is nothing else than renunciation of the self in order to let God
act. A gift is certainly always the act of a giver, but the act is completed
only once the gift is received by the one to whom and for whom it is
given. The gift unites giver and recipient in an irreversible covenant.
Grace that calls becomes grace that makes a response possible.

"Mary intervenes on behalf of the saved." No confusion can be
allowed here. She is the first of believers; she gives the example of
faith, which is not a doing but a receiving. For it pleased God to give
himself in Christ in such a way that it becomes possible for human
beings to respond to his love. This gift, in which the Son "strips and
humbles himself," makes it possible for every human being to enter
into this self-humbling and to imitate it by leaving it to God, the only
sovereign, to effect this salvation and give "the will and the act" that
belong to it. Creatures, delivered from sin, are able to praise God as
Mary, who did not seek to be the mother of the Savior, does in her

Page 84

78 Mary in the Plan of God

Magnificat. It was to the divine election that Mary consented. The
thanksgiving of the saved is a response to the sovereign grace of God.
Protestants, who are unyielding on the principle of justification by
grace alone, see the human response as part of the work of sanctifica-
tion which glorifies God by a consecrated life.

The response also involves responsibility, an idea expressed by
"cooperation" as understood in these pages. We must be watchful to
bring it back to this understanding when it drifts away.

The fundamental agreement that we have been able to find
among us is all the more important in that the point is an essential
one, namely, the relationship between the sovereign grace of God and
human freedom, between God's plan of salvation and the necessary
response of its beneficiary. The solution proposed here leaves no
doubt about the absolute character of God's elective grace; but it
insists no less on the human response, which is an integral part of it as
is attested by the mystery of the incarnation.

The Two Marian Dogmas

The two Marian dogmas likewise seem to go beyond what the
biblical witness expressly justifies; above all, however, they risk sepa-
rating Mary from the rest of mortals, of whom she is one. How are we
to suppose that she lives body and soul in heaven? Even more, how
are we to understand that she was "preserved from original sin"? The
Protestant suspicion is that at this point and in a tangible way she has
been made to move away from her status as creature and has been
given a status parallel to that of her Son, who was born without sin
and has ascended to heaven.

Moreover, the very fact of turning this twofold exception into
dogma, and at such a late stage, inevitably makes Protestants very crit-
ical of them. Did a dogma have to be proclaimed in order for us to
think that Mary, being completely saved by Christ, never experienced
sin otherwise than as a music lover, listening to beautiful music, is
suddenly distracted by a chandelier tinkling in the room? The music is
perfect and the chandelier is outside it, and yet the listening is dis-
turbed within by no fault of the one listening.

Page 165

Index of Biblical Citations 161

Psalms Jeremiah
40:7-9 LXX 222 1:5 23
123(122): 156

Isaiah 8:16 149
7:14 144, note 7
47:1 127 Micah
54:1 127 6:4 126


Matthew Luke
1:16 142 1:28 48; 268; 274, note 54;
1:18 129; 130 Appendix 1, 1 (bis)

1:18-25 133 1:30 152

1:23 144 1:42 Appendix 1, 1

1:24 130; 142 1:44 23

1:25 146 1:46-55 117; 129

2 133 1:48 135;215;279

2:6 144 1:51-53 306

2:11 142 2:5 130

2:13 142 2:7 133

2:14 130
2:15-19 282, note 58

2:15 144
2:16 130

2:20 142
2:19 175, note 11

2:21 142
2:21-24 129
2:22 129; 130; 171

9:22 221
2:34-35 173

12:46-50 231
2:35 133; 186

23:37 220 2:40 132
28:20 144 2:41 175

2:44 130
Mark 2:48 133
3:20-21 133 2:50 271
3:22 133 2:51 65, note 69; 175,
3:31-35 231 note 11
5:34 221 6:23 159
6:1-6 133 7:50 221
6:3 230 8:19-21 231; 185; 186
10:52 221 8:21 202

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162 Mary in the Plan of God

8:48 221 Ephesians
11:27 131;185 1:4 268;270
11:28 131;202 1:6 274
17:19 221 4:R .,22
18:16 333 5:25-27 216, note 13

2:1-5 178 Philippians

2:12 232, note 31 2:7 156

5:24 191 2:7-8 215

7:5 186 2:12-13 219

16:21 131 3:10-11 192
19:25 218
19:25-27 178


1:24 224

1:14 117; 187
2:15 322

1:14-15 190
2:14-36 9 1 Timothy
8:36 333 2:5 108; 211; 305

8:19 265 Hebrews
8:23 265 10:5-7 222
8:26 278 12:1 264
8:29 192 12:1-2 194, note 15
8:38-39 191 12:23 264
9:4-5 129
16:27 338

1 Peter

1 Corinthians 2:9 224

3:8 225
9:26 194 1 John

3:14 191
2 Corinthians
3:18 223

Galatians 4-5 192, note 13
4:4 129 7:9 194
5:6 221 19:16 Appendix 1, 2

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