I have all four volumes, but I haven’t made it all the way through all of them. I think I got as far as the Nativity, and jumped ahead to the Passion and the Resurrection, but I need to go back and read the middle and end parts properly.
Sometimes, you roll your eyes and get on with it. (How many times can she call herself “wormlet”?)
Other times you slog through it tediously. (“These are the twelve jewels of the High Priest’s breastplate, and the virtues they represent, and now I’m gonna go through them one by one and tell you how each jewel’s virtue is reflected in Mary…”)
Other times, you eat it up, ten, fifteen, twenty chapters in a sitting.
I had a distinct dislike for the bit about ensoulment when it was addressing Mary’s conception. That was a throw-the-book-against-the-wall kind of moment, and was very jarring, having her medieval philosophy shine through. But in one conversation, which I believe has since been deleted, where I brought up my issue— someone got super-super excited about the passage.
So, basically it sez—
For the formation and growth of other human bodies, according to the natural order, many days are necessary in order to organize and fit them for the reception of the rational soul. * (Insert endnote by Joseph Ratzinger here) Thus for a man-child are required forty and for females eighty days, more or less, according to the natural heat and disposition of the mothers. In the formation of the virginal body of Mary the Almighty accelerated the natural time and that, which according to the natural rule required eighty days, was accomplished in Her within seven days… On the Saturday next following this first Conception, the Almighty wrought the second Conception by creating the soul of his Mother and infusing it into the body; and thus entered into the world that pure Creature, more holy, perfect, and agreeable to His eyes than all those He had created, or will create to the end of the world, or through the eternities…
And so the point the other person made was, was that if Mary’s first Conception happened on Sunday, and her second Conception happened on Saturday— that fits in with the timeline for fertilization as the first Conception, and implantation as the second Conception. And all the stuff about 40 and 80 days is her own “this is what is taught in my day and age, except I see that Mary’s different, so Mary must be breaking the rules–” rather than “so maybe what is taught in my day and age isn’t the case”. (Hint: the human ovum wasn’t discovered until 1928. The mammalian ovum wasn’t discovered until 1827.)
So, I still think it’s a slippery slope to say “ensoulment happens at THIS TIME”, and it’s more prudent to say, “We have no clue when ensoulment happens, so let’s just protect our babies from conception to natural death, and let God take care of the details.”
But if you can write almost 7,000 pages of advanced theology, and that’s the biggest bump you run into— you’re doing pretty well.