For your non-Catholic readers, perhaps it would be helpful to write up a piece (or direct us to a resource) clarifying how devotion to Mary (or the other saints) does not compete with devotion to Jesus, but flows from it.Well, I certainly have plenty of resources! For answers to common objections to Marian devotion, go here. For general articles on Marian devotion, go here. For articles explaining Mary's role in salvation history (in comparison to that of Jesus), go here. For general articles explaining Mary's role as mediatrix and coredemptrix, go here. All of these entries from the Directory explain the role of Mary in our lives and are thus helpful in one way or another.
Thomas Howard writes of Franciscan University that it is a place "where the word Catholic takes on all the vitality and ardor and articulateness for which I longed, and where Marian piety, far from detracting from the Christocentric nature of the Faith, is the very handmaiden of true Christocentrism" (Lead Kind Light, p57).
I wish he had filled this out! Could you explain what you think Howard means (or suggest some resource that speaks to this)?
As for my own explanation, we must note that Marian devotion not only flows from devotion to Christ, but it also leads to devotion to Christ. Mary is always saying, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). When we devote ourselves to Mary, we strive to follow her example, to love Jesus the way she loved Him, to unite our will to His the way her's was. When we pray the Rosary, we walk with the Mother of Sorrows along the Way of Jesus' Passion. At the center of the "Hail Mary" is the Name of Jesus, at which "every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Phil 2:10).
Now, many Protestants scoff at the idea that we should depend on something to lead us to Jesus. "Too many mediators," they say. But, how many of them can actually say that they approached Jesus Christ and grew in love of Him entirely on their own, without any help or encouragement from anyone or anything? It simply does not work that way. At one time or another something led them to Christ, be it their pastor's preaching, or the Bible, or the Christian witness of a friend. Until we see God face to face in heaven, our relationship with God will always be mediated in some way.
So, we should not be ashamed to admit that Mary leads us to her Son, and that we love His mother with all our heart. How could one not love a woman who gave Jesus to the world and led us to Him with a most tender act of love? I say: love as Jesus loved. Love His mother.