Lord of the Rings
Benedict XVI primarily spoke to the Annunciation and, returning in many ways to his 8 December homily marking the 40th anniversary of the close of Vatican II, he employed the dichotomy of a "Marian" principle and a "Petrine" principle in the life of the church -- noting that the Marian one was "even more fundamental" than the Petrine.
And, two months after the release of the pontificate's first Encyclical, the Pope did make clear that Deus Est Still Caritas.
Here's the link, and some snips for the lazy:
In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there. Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished. And yet - today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery - the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary. Saint Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of aquaeductus (Cf. Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae: PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour his Mother. The angel’s proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: "Here I am . . . let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.Yet again with the singing of the Alma Redemptoris Mater, the Ring Mass ends.... And more Bach in the postlude.
From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. Saint Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?" The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. Sermo 291:6). In fact, the Angel, "appearing to her", does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace - gratia plena", which in the original Greek is 6,P"D4JTµXv0, "beloved" (cf. Lk 1:28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6:7). It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: in being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God’s love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom through obedience to the Father. In the second reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ’s Incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: . . . ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God’" (Heb 10:5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements from Christ and from the Virgin, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God’s loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration....
The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in harmony with his motto Totus tuus. In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981 in Saint Peter’s Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace, looking down over Saint Peter’s Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal....The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you. The ring is always a nuptial sign. Almost all of you have already received one, on the day of your episcopal ordination, as an expression of your fidelity and your commitment to watch over the holy Church, the bride of Christ (cf. Rite of Ordination of Bishops). The ring which I confer upon you today, proper to the cardinalatial dignity, is intended to confirm and strengthen that commitment, arising once more from a nuptial gift, a reminder to you that first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church. May your acceptance of the ring be for you a renewal of your "yes", your "here I am", addressed both to the Lord Jesus who chose you and constituted you, and to his holy Church, which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse. So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfilment of each. As Saint Paul says, charity is the "greatest" charism, the "most excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31; 13:13).
PHOTO: Reuters/Tony Gentile