The proper Marian devotion assures our faith of the simultaneous presence of indispensable reason and equally indispensable “reasons of the heart”, as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither reason alone nor feeling alone; he is the unity of both these dimensions. The head’s task is to think clearly, while the heart must be capable of warm feelings: Marian devotion thus assures our faith its full human dimension. To use the formulations of the Second Vatican Council in this regard: Mary is “figure”, “image”, and “model” for the Church. By gazing on her, the Church is prevented from conveying a one-sided male image that reduces her to an instrument of socio-political action programs.
In Mary, in her person and her example, the Church finds her own countenance as mother. The reason is evident why certain theologies and ecclesiologies have no room for Mary anymore: they have reduced the Faith to something abstract. Such an abstractum has no use for a mother. Through her twofold vocation of being at the same time Virgin and Mother, Mary sheds a perpetual light on the Creator’s timeless intention as regards woman, our own time included, or rather, perhaps expecially in our own time, in which the nature of femininity is clearly threatened.
Through virginity and maternity the mystery that is woman obtains the highest destiny, and she cannot be forced out of it. Mary without hesitation proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who brings stillness and hiddenness to fruition; she is the one who does not hesitate to stand under the Cross; she was present when the Church came into being. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes, “kept and pondered in her heart” all the things she hears and experiences. As a person formed by courage and obedience, she was and ever is an example which every Christian – man no less than woman – may and should look up to.
From: Zur Lage des Glaubens, pp. 109 ff.