Thursday, March 15, 2007

Honor Your Mother

David left the following comment on my post on the scapular:
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.

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)?
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.

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.

Pax Christi,


  1. Whoa, deja vu. I was just thinking about writing something about Mary


  2. There is something about Mary.


  3. Your explanation sums up "True Devotion to Mary" simply and eloquently in a few short paragraghs. You have a gift.
    Do you have any words of wisdom on "spiritual dryness"? The books I have read on the subject seem to be for the more spiritually advanced and are too difficult to read for my simple mind. Any suggestions?

  4. Just wanted to share a wonderful Marian resource. My family and I are participating in a 40-day family retreat from the Apostolate for Family Consecration. This programs melds the Consecration to Mary devotion of St. Louis de Montfort with the writings of John Paul II to develop a family consecration program. It is truly amazing.

  5. Excellent post !
    Who could argue with the logic?

  6. Thanks for your response to my question. I've found a couple ideas helpful to hang onto.

    1. Ratzinger, in _Intro to Theology_ writes (as I recall) that Marian thought should be considered not as a competitive doctrine to Christology (that is, as a mini-Christology), but rather is more closely related to ecclesiology. That is, Mary is not in competition to Jesus, but is the personal embodiment of what the church is to be.

    2. This analogy: an artist and his masterpiece. If someone is so fixated on praising the wonders of the painting that he never is lead to acknowledge and glorify the skill of the artist, then that is imbalanced. This corresponds to Protestant fears of perceived excesses. BUT, on the other hand, it is right and proper in praising the artist's ability to admire the painting itself. It's would be a distorted sort of praise that never turned its eyes from the artist to the painting for fear of detracting from the honor due the artist.

    The analogy, although limited, is kinda helpful for me.
    Thanks again.


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