This is an article (which I believe was written by a Catholic Bishop in Utah) that I have had saved in a word document for a while now - I just thought it was a relevant read for the day:
For a final illustration of Catholic fidelity in preserving the Gospel of Christ I choose, from among many other subjects available, the devotion to the Mother of our Lord. That the devotion to Mary is important cannot be doubted. It is important not only because it is so highly appreciated by Catholics but also because it is so much depreciated by non-Catholics. With us Catholics it plays a constant part in our religious experiences; with many non-Catholics it seems to suggest idolatry.
Here let me observe in fairness to my neighbors in other churches, especially to those of the Protestant group with which I was formerly associated, that their indifference to the rightful claims of Mary is largely a matter of misunderstanding. I am well aware that they are as eager to conform to the spirit and letter of the Gospel as are we Catholics, and are as honest in their professions of faith. I am sure that they would join us in honoring Mary if they understood that it was correct for them to do so. It is my hope that at least a few of them will ponder seriously what I write.
The Catholic devotion to Mary flows logically from the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, wherein it is stated that she is the Virgin Mother of our Lord, who is the Son of God and the savior of the world. To be thus chosen and set apart from all other women was most extraordinary distinction, a mark of God’s special favor to her. The facts are to be found in both the Old and New Testament. For the former, I quote: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
From the New Testament there is the narrative of the Angel’s visit to Mary. “Hail, thou that art highly favoured,” the angel said, “the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women…And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God’” (Luke 1:28- 30).
Then came Mary’s reply. It is the Magnificat, part of which I quote: “…for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:48-49).
It is tempting, by way of supplementary evidence, to call in facts of history in order to point out the high esteem in which Mary and the devotion to her have been held by the Church and Catholic people during the past centuries.
The facts are so voluminous, however, that selecting from among them for a brief comment is most difficult. Furthermore, if I can judge correctly, the non-Catholic reader is less likely to be interested in the testimony from history than in that from the Scriptures. This latter, I have already indicated, in part at least. I trust that it is sufficient.
When rightly understood, the devotion to Mary is seen to be most correct and attractive, reasonable and inevitable. It is natural for us as American citizens to show honor and reverence to the leaders and heroes of our country; to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and others. In much the same way we Catholics honor the Christian heroes. They are the saints, men and women, who during their lives were close friends of God. Just as the people who praise a painting for its beauty are in reality giving honor to the artist, any honor given to Mary is given ultimately to God, her Creator. In honoring the saints we honor God himself. By keeping their names alive we help preserve the principles for which they lived and died; we stimulate ourselves to imitate their example. We believe that all this is good for us and for the Church and for the world.
Among the saints Mary comes first. Whatever may be said about the devotion to the saints in general must be said about the devotion to Mary in a superlative degree. To honor we have set aside certain days of the year, among them two holydays. In her honor we have special devotions during the entire month of May. To her we dedicate shrines, churches, basilicas, schools, colleges, and cathedrals. Artists honor her in pictures, in statuary, architecture, and music; no one else has been such an inspiration to art. Writers dedicate literature to her. We name children for her; certainly no name is more common among Christian peoples than that of Mary. And in every place of worship there is an altar or at least a statue in her honor, beautiful with flowers and burning lights.