Virtually all Christian doctrine—the precise, conceptual formulation of the Church's faith and experience—developed as response and reaction to various mutilations and distortions of that faith, to heresies in the literal meaning of the Greek word "airesis"—choice, i.e. reduction; therefore, deformation. Hence, one of the best ways to recover the essential meaning of this or that particular doctrine is to see it precisely in relation to the "heresy" it denounced, the question it answered.

We live today in a world full of "heresies": arbitrary choices and arbitrary reductions. Not only is it truly a broken world, with a broken vision and a broken knowledge, but its deep tragedy lies in this: that each "fragment" resulting from that brokenness is affirmed and experienced as the whole truth, each "reduction" is announced as "wholeness." Of this tragical reductionism Christians are more guilty than anyone else; for instead of healing it by the light and the power of the catholic, i.e., precisely whole, all-embracing and total vision, they themselves—for the sake of a superficial "relevance"—so often surrender to partial and broken "reductions" of "this world."

The best example here is precisely Mariology. While some Christians make of it the very symbol of their staunch "conservatism" and live in the nostalgia of its medieval splendor, many others, indeed the majority, quietly abandon it as something precisely "medieval," "archaic," and therefore non-essential for what they want to be a new encounter of Christianity with the "modern" world. And they do it because they do not ask: to what eternal question is the Mariological experience of the Church the answer; of what basic—explicit or implicit—heresy is it the overcoming and the refutation?



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