At four years old, I taught my mother to say the Hail Mary. She was a convert from the Christian Church, the only member of her family to become a Catholic. She did not come to the church easily. Her biggest struggle was Mary.
Because of my mother’s conversion and my father’s pre-Vatican II upbringing, I am a cradle Catholic. I never had to grapple with the Church’s teaching on Mary as many converts have. While it may have taken my mother time to accept Mary’s role in the Catholic faith, she did not allow that hesitance to impact her ultimate devotion. My mother saw Mary as a companion in motherhood, a confidante and support system in the challenges of raising a child.
Mary as the model of femininity and motherhood
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You could never love her more than Jesus did.
-St. Josemaria Escriva
I’ve never understood the criticism that the Catholic Church has a problem with women. How is that possible, when Christ himself came to the world through a woman? A woman conceived without sin, who embraced her vocation without question and whom God himself loves as his mother. And yet, secular society will tell you the Catholic Church hates women.
Why? The Church upholds the dignity of women through its teachings on human sexuality and marriage. Because Catholic doctrine forbids the use of artificial contraception, holds abortion in all cases as murder, and views marriage as the union of one man and one woman (with the marital act preserved for that union alone), secular society sees the Church as contrary to a woman’s reproductive health and her freedom to choose.
Mary had the ultimate freedom to choose. She chose to be the mother of God without hesitation, knowing full well the sword that would pierce her heart. And yet, she consented to the most challenging, most sacred job in all of human history:
She gave birth to, raised, loved, and lost the Savior of the world.
Mary as Intercessor and her role in the Church
It’s not just secular society that misunderstands Mary. Our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ also view the Church’s teaching on Mary as suspect, insisting that Catholics worship her above Jesus.
This is not true. At all.
Mary is the most powerful intercessor between us and the Father. Think about it this way. We ask our friends and family to pray for us. Shouldn’t we ask our spiritual mother, Mary, to do the same? What son doesn’t listen to his mother, especially when that son is God?
It is true that John 14:6 states, “No one can come to the Father except through me.” But what better way to come to him than through his mother? She leads everyone to Christ; just as she brought him into the world, she leads us to the foot of his cross.
We do have statues of Mary, and we do celebrate her feast days (as well as those of other saints). These are not opportunities for worship. They are opportunities to turn our eyes toward the Almighty Father who created her, created us, and sent his only son to save us from our sins. All of the Church’s teachings on Mary lead directly to God and God alone. He is the center of our faith; Mary is the compass that directs us there.
Following Mary: 31 Days of Devotion to Our Blessed Mother
I’ve joined the Write 31 Days Challenge, so for the month of October I’ll be offering a daily post to encourage your devotion to the Blessed Mother as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. I will add the posts here as I write them, and you’ll be able to navigate through the whole series with internal links.
Please join me – I will pray for you in this journey and hope that you will pray for me. May our Blessed Mother lead us ever closer to her son.
October 26: Mary, Mystical Rose
October 27: Mary, Refuge of Sinners
October 28: Mary, Seat of Wisdom
October 29: Virgin Most Powerful
October 30: Virgin Most Merciful
October 31: Virgin Most Faithful