"Because They Love Mary"

I started this blog with no intention of writing about the second of my mothers. At least, not for a while. But, I realized that the only reason I did not want to was because of what some people who read this may think. And that, I now acknowledge, is foolish, cowardly, and not the way I want to live or write this blog.

Mary is the topic that most people will disagree most vehemently with me on. Many people see her as a stumbling block to Salvation for Catholics. Many see the Rosary as an abomination from the pits of Hell. And yet, I ask you, where would our Salvation History be without the Mother of God?

When I was a child, my parents were some of the most anti-catholic people, but my dad began to look deeper into his faith, and he found it lacking. So, we went to just about every denomination there was, including a Catholic church. We had some catholic friends, and they would give me little books on the saints. My parents had no problem with that because the Saints are just people who lived lives that brought glory to God, even if that meant dying for him.

My mom tells me that about this time, when I was about 7-8 years old, we were driving home one day, and I looked up at my parents and said I wanted to be a Catholic. My dumbfounded - and appalled - mother looked at me and asked why. My answer was simple: "Because they love Mary."

At 7 or 8 years old, I had recognized something that many people do not want to say: Mary is our Mother. She deserves our respect, but more importantly, she deserves our love.

She herself says that "from this time on all generations will count me blessed." This was in response to Elizabeth's exclamation: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." There are two things to note in this latter passage. The first is that both Mary and Jesus (the fruit of her womb) are called Blessed. Not just Jesus, but Mary as well. Secondly, Elizabeth exclaims that the mother of her Lord came to her, and it was "when the sound of your [Mary's] greeting reached my ears" that John leaped for joy. John reacted to the voice of Mary. The infant John recognized his infant cousin by the sound of Mary's voice. Elizabeth recognized the merit of Mary as having been chosen especially for this and gave her the honor due there despite the fact that Elizabeth was the elder.

When the Nestorian Heresy sprouted, many began to call Mary the Christotokos (Christ-bearer) and said that she only bore the human nature of Christ, not the divine nature. The Council of Ephesus (431) refuted that and said it was heresy. To clear up the issue, they did not make a huge statement about the nature of the Incanation, they simply resolved it by stating that Mary was the Theotokos (God-bearer). Mary was, and is, the Mother of God.

Those of you who know how a child is crafted in the womb will possibly understand the statement there. But for those of you that don't, this is the significance of being mother. A cell of the mother blends with the cell of the father, divides, and is then nourished, fed, and sustained by the mother. Anything the mother eats, drinks, or consumes in any other way is passed directly to the child. The first voice most children hear is their mother's. When a child is born, the child (then, not so much now) is breastfed for the first couple years. The child is sustained for the first couple months solely by the breast that it suckles on. The mother is the one who would have taught the child to talk, to walk, and ultimately, to reason. While the father was working, the mother would be teaching him the law, passing on her values. When he became old enough, he would go work with the father, but the first part of the life - the life where most development takes place - would have been the mother's duty. The role of nurturing a child was the Mother's.

Now, look at Christ. He was fully human. That means his body was given life because of his mother. His mother - Mary - said "Yes," but that was not the end. She gave her body to be used to nourish the Child that was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She spent nine months letting him grow and develop inside of her. She even took a long trip while pregnant with him. Yet we never hear of her complaining (and the women in the Bible who complain are often listed as having done so). She gave birth to a healthy baby Boy, then she nursed him, further nourishing him. She changed his diapers, cleaned his spit up, held him if he ever got sick, had bad dreams, or scraped his knee. And yet, she does not try to keep him - this most precious treasure of the world - to herself. She allowed the shepherds and wise men - total strangers - to come in and see her young son. She treasured the words they had concerning her son and herself, and she pondered them in her heart. When she did not understand something, she pondered it, trying to come to terms with it.

Mary is one of the few people that we know were faithful to the end. She stayed next to the son who was thought by most to be a blasphemer, a criminal, a reject of the worst kind. Only one of his Apostles stood by, yet she stood by him. She stood at the foot of the cross that would redeem the world and said not a word of complaint. She knew that her heart would be pierced by a sword, but that it was for a reason - for the redemption of all. She offered her Son - the Son she felt kick in her womb, the Son suckled at her breast, the Son would likely bring her spiders, frogs, flowers, or whatever else little boys bring their mothers, the Son who she had seen raise the dead, cure the blind man, and illuminate the law - for us. So that we might find Salvation, she gave her Baby Boy to a gruesome death on a cross.

While He hung on the cross, Jesus looked down and bequeathed her to the one apostle who stayed with him. He gave her to him, and He gave him to her. They were given to each other as mother and son. Even on the Cross, Jesus is concerned for his Mother. But, I think it was more than that. This is where Christ gives her not only to the single apostle, but also to the church. To us. We are called to be that beloved apostle, standing at the foot of the cross, not afraid to be seen with Christ. And we are given Mary as our mother, and she has been given us as her children.

If you don't like that logic, then think about it this way: If God is our Father, and Jesus his Son who taught us to pray "Our Father..." then who would Mary be? She is the Mother of Jesus, therefore is also the Bride of God. He Fathered his Son with her through the Holy Spirit. She allowed herself to be the second part of that union so that she could receive Emmanuel.... and give him to us.

And that is what Mary does. She brings us to her Son. She gives him to us. Just as she allowed the magi and shepherds close, so too does she let us close. Just as she gave her Son to us on the cross, she too gives him to us now. Loving Mary does not take us away from loving Christ, for loving Mary will only bring us closer to Christ. Every time we speak to her, ask her for her intercession, she brings us closer to her Son. The prayers said to her do not ever stop at her, they are laid at the feet of Christ. When we honor Mary, we are also Honoring Christ. Because, as Mary said, Her soul "magnifies the Lord." It does not magnify or exult herself, it magnifies and exults the Lord!

A true devotion to and following of Mary will ultimately bring us all closer to Jesus. If it does not bring us closer to Christ, then it is not true devotion to Mary, for Mary always says, "Whatever He says to you, do it." (Jn 2:5)

If Christ honored his mother enough to heed her unspoken request at the Wedding of Cana (Jn 2), if Elizabeth called her Blessed, if Mary herself said that she would be called Blessed, why don't we honor her and call her blessed? Why are we ashamed to be seen with her? Why is mentioning Mary seen as evil and as a stumbling block to Christianity? Mary is - and always will be - a shining beacon, leading us straight to the arms of her Son.

Comments

  1. It seems as if the main question is not whether or not Mary should be honored--after all, Jesus honored His mother--but how she should be honored. To my knowledge, Scripture does not specify that Christians should be devoted to following Mary and pray to her. Should Mary have equal divine status as God the Father?

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  2. Mary doesn't have equal Divine status as God!! There is one simple reason why - she's not God! There is a huge jump from being the Mother of God to actually *being* God. If we tried to give Mary the same worship and adoration that is due to God alone, she'd want to just sink into a hole in the ground! She knows better than we do that worship and adoration is due to God alone!!
    I will say though, if you knew the most thorough way to get to know someone was through their mother, why *wouldn't* you follow her around and get to know her?
    And yes, we do 'pray to Mary.' The word 'pray' simply means 'ask.' I can just as easily pray to you. And if I ask my mother on earth to pray to God the Father, Jesus Christ God the Son, and the Holy Spirit, on my behalf, why on earth wouldn't I also pray to HIS mother??
    It's no different that just asking your mom to go to your dad for you. :)

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  3. As another person who has jumped through different Religions I am going to have a response.

    First of all I want to say that this is not a burning letter, I respect all religions and see people as equals.

    I respect and I love Mary the Mother of God. As a person. While she was indeed blessed by God, Mary was still just a woman. She was married to a man named Joseph, who wanted to put her away (divorce her) when he found out that she was pregnant. And she also had children with this man as seen in Matthew 13:55-56 (55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph,[a] Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?”)

    Yes, I do believe that she was blessed by God. But I do see her as being just a woman. And I see the same of Jesus. God let HIS son come down to earth to be a human among us and show us the miracles of heaven. He was a man, he walked among us as a man, but he was not man. He was the Son of God. Therefore, yes Mary was blessed, yes she bore the Son of God, but she was a woman, she led her life as a woman, and she died as a woman.

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  4. @Writer4Him

    Yes, Mary was a woman, but it is in this simplicity that she is blessed. Mary is humble, and in her humility, she is just a woman.
    But this is the beauty of her womanhood, because of it, she was able to bear the Son of God. Chris was fully human and fully divine, and so therefore, He must have received His humanity through Mary.
    Mary was immaculately conceived, meaning she was born without the stain of original sin. She led her life full of grace up until the time of the annunciation where she conceived Christ in her womb. This meant that even though she was fully human, it made it easier for her to choose God's will for her in the daily decisions that we all face. She served God with all that she was, as a woman. In Luke Chapter 1 we see her call herself the handmaid of the Lord, having His will be done unto her, according to His word. Just a woman.
    Yet, Christ listened to His mother, as we see at the Wedding at Cana. When Mary told the servants to do whatever He tells you. Christ performs His first miracle because his mother asked him to do so. Just a woman.
    So if Christ, the Son of God, listens to His mother, shouldn't we *ask* (pray) for her guidance in our lives. To be able to follow God's will. Who better to ask than the Mother of God? Mary is and always will be just a woman, but that is her true beauty.

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  5. @Sincerus

    MarysGhillie already said this, but I'll reiterate it. Mary does not have equal status with God, and anyone who believes that has a very mistaken view of her. She is not the Creator, she is the Creation. She is not God, but she was chosen by God. Just as the Apostles were chosen for a specific mission, so too was she chosen for one. Hers, however, called for more than just sacrifice of her life. It also called for sacrifice of her Son.

    Scripture also does not say anything at all about following the Scriptures. Paul says they are useful, but he never says "You must do this or you will not be living properly." And the scriptures he references are actually only the old testament. The New Testament did not exist until the 300s when St. Jerome put together the official cannon (Which Luther then modified in the 1500s).

    But if you read the early church fathers, they saw Mary as someone more than just a typical human, even more than the angels, though *always* less than her precious Son.

    "Thy glory is great; for thou art exalted above all women of renown, and thou art shown to be more queenly than all queens." ~Julius Africanus, c. 160 — c. 240

    "Eve was called the mother of the living ...after the fall this title was given to her. True it is...the whole race of man upon earth was born from Eve; but in reality it is from Mary the Life was truly born to the world. So that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary became the mother of all living" ~St. Epiphanius, Against Eighty Heresies c. 375

    Luther himself had some interesting quotes on Mary if you do not think the church fathers are good.

    "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." (Sermon, September 1, 1522).

    "[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures." (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).

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  6. @ Writer4Him

    From the early times, people - who had known Mary or people who knew her - held that Mary had no other children and that the translation of "brother and sisters" was the same way that in some translations, Abraham and Lot are called "brothers." There was no more specific word for familial relations. (That's another conversation for another time though.)

    Mary was born a woman, lived her life to it's earthly end as a woman, yes. But emphasizing her humanity does not make her less admirable.

    Mary did something not even the angels can boast of: She bore, raised, and walked with God - literally! Salvation History would not be possibly in the way we know it without Mary (She was the one God chose). Yes, God could have said "Okay, I'm going to accept one final sacrifice and have that cover all the sins of all the world." But instead of doing something like that, He came down, joined with a woman (not in the creepy God coming and sleeping with the woman thing. The Holy Spirit 'overshadowed' her - a term only otherwise used in regards to the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle), became flesh, and walked on our earth.

    She is both the Creation and Mother of the Creator. She, like us, is a daughter of God. She is also the Bride of the Holy Spirit. She was the chosen Tabernacle for God to come down to, to live within, and through which he came to bless and redeem the earth. This is only due to the design of God. Therefore, honoring and blessing her only honors and blesses the Son she bore.

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