Infinity Dwindled to Infancy

On the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, some lines from Hopkins' lovely poem, The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe:

This air, which, by life's law/ My lung must draw and draw// Now but to breathe its praise/ Minds me in many waysOf her who not only gave God's infinity/ Dwindled to infancy// Welcome in womb and breast/ Birth, milk, and all the restBut mothers each new grace/ That does now reach our race.

Edward Oakes, S.J., a sometime Commonweal contributor, has published an important new book whose title he draws from Hopkins: Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology. Those, familiar with Oakes' writings, know that the book sets a table of intellectual and spiritual riches. The presentation proceeds historically, but the systematic issues at stake are always to the fore. Oakes has the keenness to penetrate to the heart of an issue and to lay out the consequences of positions taken or refused.In chapter ten, "Christology and Pluralism: Catholic Theologians," Oakes treats Rahner and Sobrino, von Balthasar and Ratzinger. He clearly favors the positions of the latter two, but treats the former with due respect, However, in the course of his discussion, Oakes spices his argument by giving, in a footnote, a long appreciative quote from ... Peter Steinfels.Happy New Year, indeed!

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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