Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let me introduce you...

"We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son."
-Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

Let me introduce you to someone I love more than anything. Maybe it's because I am a catholic, and we are not afraid to recognize the family and friends and followers of Jesus, or maybe it's because she is one of the most remarkable people who ever lived - hand picked by God.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, there once lived a woman named Mary, and she gave birth to a baby boy, and his name was Jesus.

In the next few posts (while I am busy reading the "Happiness Project".. and hope to share my insights later. YES - I went back and bought the book for myself! I can't put it down.) I wanted to answer that age-old question, "If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?" Of course, I can't imagine having dinner with just one person - I want a BIG table. Well.. one of the first people that came to mind was Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Let me tell you a little more about her. As a Catholic, I am lucky to be able to actually hear more about her. As you may or may not know, when the Protestant Reformation took places, and other Christian denominations were created - the newer break-off churches stripped the religion down to the bare bones- only concentrating on Jesus and the Bible word for word. Nothing wrong with that, BUT - there is so much you may not be privy to.

Now the wikipedia definition (by the Roman Catholics) defines her role as:

Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honor as Mother of God. From the Council of Ephesus in 431, which dogmatized this belief, to Vatican II and Pope John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater encyclical the Virgin Mary has come to be seen, not only as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of the Church.

To explain this - If you believe in the Holy Trinity (3 persons in one - Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) then the Son contains God and the Son was born of Mary. Get it? Yeah.. it's a mystery of faith.

As the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary has a central role in the life of the Roman Catholic Church. Our veneration of her as the Blessed Virgin Mary has grown over time, not only in prayer but in art, poetry and music.  

For my theologians, you may wonder where is the basis for all of this? The Catholic veneration of Mary is based on two aspects: the workings of God who made a virgin the Mother of God, and the biblical view of Mary as the selected maiden of the Lord who is greeted by the angel Gabriel and Elisabeth and praised.

God's work is further illuminated in the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the factual basis of both taking place in apostolic time and are, in the Roman Catholic view, part of the apostolic tradition and divine revelation.

More official findings:

In Roman Catholic teachings, the veneration of Mary is a logical and necessary consequence of Christology: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed. This sentiment echoed loudly through Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome on March 25, 1987 as Pope John Paul II delivered his encyclical Redemptoris Mater and said:
At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: "To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator"!

In the Roman Catholic tradition Mariology is Christology developed to its full potential. Mary and her son Jesus are very close but not identical in Catholic theology. Mary contributes to a fuller understanding of her son, who Christ is and what he did. A Christology without Mary is erroneous in the Roman Catholic view, because it is not based on the total revelation of the Bible. Traces of this parallel interpretation go back to the early days of Christianity and numerous saints have since focused on it.

The development of this approach continued into the 20th century,  in his 1946 publication Compendium Mariologiae, the respected Mariologist Gabriel Roschini explained that Mary not only participated in the birth of the physical Jesus, but, with conception, she entered with him into a spiritual union. The divine salvation plan, being not only material, includes a permanent spiritual unity with Christ.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:
It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that "truth about Jesus Christ," "truth about the Church" and "truth about man".
....when he suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the "whole truth about Mary".

We view the Virgin Mary as a protector and intercessor. Catholics have also continued to seek the protection of Mary as the Mother of Sorrows (who understands and shows compassion) and relied on her intercession as the Queen of Heaven since the Middle Ages.Building on that sentiment, popes have entrusted specific causes to the protection of the Virgin Mary. For instance, Pope Benedict XV entrusted the protection of the world through the intercession of Mary Queen of Peace during the first world war .

It is important to remind you - WE DO NOT WORSHIP MARY. Individuals declaring their "entrustment" to Mary make a personal act to show their devotion and dedication to Mary as the Mother of God, who, though holy, is not herself a divine being. Such individuals seek her intercession before God through her son Jesus Christ, for she has no divine power.  Devotions to Mary are also commonly directed to Mary herself, to the Immaculate Heart, and/or to the Immaculata; true consecration is only to God.

I think I need to explain the whole "prayer" piece. Do you know when you ask your friends of church to pray for you? Well.. as Catholics, we do the same thing - except, we also ask for those who have passed on and are with God to also pray for us, to God. THAT is what we do. :-)

At the end of the day - I find her fascinating. What a powerful experience, to be visited by an angel (or vision) and to give birth - when you are a virgin, and to bare the amazing and traumatic events that would soon follow in the 30+ years of Jesus's life.

I would love to sit and talk with her. Ask her so many questions. Again, regardless of what you believe, she was a figure in history, that went through a lot.

For me, as a believer, I find her most comforting, most beautiful (spiritually), and the maternal love that we all crave.

So for me - The Blessed Mother Mary is one of the people I would invite to dinner! :-)


Anonymous said...

Great job Nicole! You answered a few questions that I have always had about why people pray to Mother Mary. I was raised Catholic, but as an adult, switched gears.

Great job at explaining things!

Leanne said...

You are so cool, Nicole. Just SO cool. And this post is just one of the many reasons why. One of the things I love so much about you and your writing are posts when you teach - I can't tell you how much I enjoy them. And this one, even being born and raised Catholic, has once again taught me so much. Mitzi is right - GREAT JOB!!!

Rebecca Mecomber said...

Mary was a pretty cool lady. I'd like to have her over for dinner, too! LOL But I never saw in the scriptures that she was divine and on equal terms (or authority) with Jesus. Nor is there anything about asking people who have died to intercede for us. Only Jesus can do that. Many of these doctrines came much later in church history and honestly, they strongly resemble the pagan worship of the fertility goddess in cultures thriving at that time. The words of popes don't offer reliable authority on the matter, either. The adoration of Mary seems to be more of an emotional attachment.

Did you know that the women of Israel were condemned by God in the book of Jeremiah (44:19) for exalting the Queen of Heaven?

I'm not saying Mary is not worthy of great honor. She was such a willing servant of God. I admire her very much. :) But heck, there are a LOT of willing servants of God!

Janet said...

Bless you for writing so well about Mary. I especially loved how you explained that asking her to pray for us is like asking a friend who is with us on earth to pray. (The word "intercession" scares people - so I prefer the way you described it - "praying for" us.

I love Mary very much, too. You made her proud.


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