I am a Protestant interested in Catholicism, with an eye to convert. I am attracted to the idea of Scripture + Tradition, the Catholic view of salvation, sacrament of penance, etc, but I am stuck on the Marion devotion. I can accept the title Theotokos, and some of the other other Marion doctrines, but I am struggling with the idea that she cares about us and is the mother of all. I don’t really understand where the idea originates. I read Pope Francis consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What does it mean? And I read something about Fatima and how salvation comes through Mary. True or not true? What is this all about? I read Tim Staples book on Mary, Behold, Your Mother, but I don’t think he talked about some of these things regarding Mary caring for us or Marion devotion and the meaning of her Immaculate Heart. Is there any Biblical basis for these ideas in particular? The answer that because she is the Mother of God and thus it follows that she would care about us doesn’t feel sufficient to me. And I am admittedly wary of apparitions.
God bless you on your journey of faith, Jennifer. You bring up several points, so I’ll try to address them individually, if I may.
The first thing to know about devotion is that it isn’t worship—rather it’s expressing love, agape love, for and with those saints who are in heaven. The Church teaches the Communion of Saints, supported by Jesus himself who stated quite clearly that those in heaven are alive not dead. We ask their prayers for us, and give them the love that is due to fellow believers, but in their case, also gratitude for their prayers.
Mary is the mother of us all because she is the mother of the Second Adam, as St. Paul phrased it. This means that she is the new Eve–the mother of the new creation in Christ., all who have been redeemed in him, which is all of us. As Christians we are admonished to love one another as Christ loved us. She is fulfilling God’s will for all of us in doing that. She loves us with Christ’s love, as we all ought to be doing. Her case is special because she is the Second Eve, who by giving birth to Christ gave birth, in a spiritual way, to all who are redeemed by her Son. It’s only logical that we receive a new Eve to replace the Eve who failed to do God’s will. Mary, by her fiat, her “yes” to God undid Eve’s disobedience and so ushered in the Age of Grace her Son was to bring to the world.
I don’t really understand where the idea originates. I read Pope Francis consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What does it mean? And I read something about Fatima and how salvation comes through Mary. True or not true? What is this all about? I read Tim Staples book on Mary, Behold, Your Mother, but I don’t think he talked about some of these things regarding Mary caring for us or Marion devotion and the meaning of her Immaculate Heart. Is there any Biblical basis for these ideas in particular? The answer that because she is the Mother of God and thus it follows that she would care about us doesn’t feel sufficient to me. And I am admittedly wary of apparitions.
Mary’s title of Immaculate comes from her Immaculate Conception, and her heart, being immaculately conceived, is honored, as is Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to ask her heavenly protection and prayers. Again, this refers back to the Communion of Saints. We aren’t left alone in our struggles against sin and evil, we have helpers on earth and in heaven. Who better to pray for us than she who is our mother by adoption into Christ? Remember that on the cross Jesus gave Mary to St. John, who represented all of us since he was the only Apostle there. Everything Jesus said and did had more that earthly significance and purpose. He meant that Mary should be in our hearts and in our lives. She is that because it is God’s will for her. Every prayer we send her way she presents to her Son, cleansed of all our self-interest and in accord with God’s will. We are blessed to have her praying for us and loving us as she does.
As for apparitions, no apparition adds anything to the deposit of faith handed down from Christ through his Apostles. Rather, they are calls to prayer, penance, and reordering of our lives with God’s will. God sometimes sends Mary as his ambassador to remind us of these things in her role as the Mother of the Faithful. Apparitions are scrutinized quite thoroughly for anything that might be contrary to faith and morals. If they are accepted as authentic, they are merely “worthy of belief” not mandatory. The apparitions at Lourdes and the witness of St. Marie Bernard (Bernadette) aided me in my understanding of the holiness and delights the Church had to offer me. I’m one of it’s converts to the faith. So for me it was a great blessing for which I will be forever grateful to God.
When we say we consecrate ourselves to Mary we mean that we have consecrated ourselves to Jesus THROUGH Mary. She is a wonderful example for us in living the Christian way, second only to Jesus, himself. Many people find her more approachable because she was only human, like us, though born without the stain of Original Sin, and therefore a perfect role model. Jesus was fully God and fully human and, though he is THE perfect role model (be perfect as your God is perfect, and all that) sometimes it’s hard to try to live up to that perfect a model.
Mary always points us towards Jesus, towards God. She does not ask for accolades for herself. We venerate her but we do not offer her the worship due only to God.
As for Mary caring about us, on the Cross Jesus gave his mother to the beloved disciple, John and John to His mother. In doing so, He gave Mary to all of us as a mother, and a mother cares for, is concerned about and prays for, her children. She cares for us more than our own, sinful, mothers care for us. She is no longer bound by time and space and therefore she can care for each and every one of us. What a great gift we have in Mary.
I’m wary of apparitions, too, any private revelation, approved or not. We are free in the Church to take them or leave them… As a previous poster pointed out, they are really are for the encouragement of the faithful to convert their lives more fully to God, to pray and perform other spiritual acts which will help us all to grow in our faith. Nothing in an approved apparition will be found contrary to the teachings of the Church, including the Bible.
If God and Jesus love us, why not the people in heaven especially Mary who cared so much for Jesus and cared so much for the apostles after Jesus died? Another great book is True Devotion to Mary by St.Louis De Montfort. In our Franciscan tradition, St.Francis put Mary as the protectress of the Franciscan Order. The imitation of Mary is very big in the Franciscan Tradition. The more we imitate Mary, the more she can bring us to her Son. That imitation can also be found in St.Louis De Montforts book.
Servant of God Fr.John Hardon S.J.gives a great talk about how Mary should be the catechist in our families in this link: youtube.com/watch?v=zFbBQZRzwCU&list=LLWQdKrBtR1_5kEFCfQyN2NA&index=28
Why does she love us?
Because she understands who her son is, and knows his concerns more intimately than anyone else.
His concern is his flock. He loves his flock.
IF we are going to assume she loves her son, we must assume her will is united with his. As she is one with him, she shares his care for us.
Her faith is God is so awesomely deep that she became fertile with it.
Think about it. We are talking about a woman who is offered a very big proposal: to conceive without benefit of a man, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Her assent of faith is her “response to God’s grace”. She responds in union with her son, and that is how we know she cares for us.
I’m struggling with the idea that she *wouldn’t *care. All the Saints do.
John 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother* and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Edited to add:
Here’s another take, looking at a natural reflection of a supernatural reality (which is a widely applicable paradigm):
You marry a man because you love him. Would you be interested in his family? Would they be interested in you? Of course.
If you become a son or daughter of Christ, then… connect the dots.
Everything Catholics believe about Mary are seen in the light of Christ. We believe she is who she is because HE is who He is. She loves us for the same reason that we love each other-- God loved us first. But Mary has a keener understanding of the relationship we now have with Her Son than probably most of us. But we do know this, by the merits of Jesus, we are reconciled to God and made the children of God. We are all all one in Christ Jesus (Cf Gal 3:28). So, because we are children of God, brothers and sister to Jesus, Mary loves us. Also, because of their unity with God, all saints in heaven want what God wants and love what God loves.
I believe that some Catholics use “over the top” language with regard to the Blessed Mother. Salvation only comes through Mary in the sense that Jesus came through Mary. Jesus alone is our redeemer and Savior. This is an exact quote from the council of Trent, lest anyone be confused. Still, many insist on recognizing Mary as a co-redemptrix because of her yes to God and that she brought Jesus into the world. The Church recognizes her yes as a pivotal moment in salvation history, but Mary did not shed her blood on the cross for us, Jesus did. So it is Jesus alone who is our Redeemer and Savior (again this is confirmed in Trent, Session 25)
Thank you for the link. You must realize the veneration of the Saints and Mary is not part of the Protestant faith. I grew up in this faith from infancy and was never taught a thing about Mary other than that she was the Mother of Jesus and was a virgin when He was born. That’s it. We are not even taught that she gave her consent when the angel came to her. We just assume that she was agreeing with the angel, not actively making a decision to allow it to happen. Looking at it from my perspective, surely you can see how it would be quite a paradigm shift to think of her as caring about all of humanity.
I also grew up Protestant.
Actually, no. Although I came from a Protestant upbringing it is not at all difficult for me nor a paradigm shift to believe the saints in heaven care for us.
We care for each other and pray for each other with only the slightest of asking-- one “please pray for me” on Facebook will garner dozens of comments. It just seems logical that those holy people, perfected in Christ and no longer marred by sin or earthly concerns, are even more ready, willing, and able to pray for me than those on earth. Credal faiths say they believe in the “communion of saints”-- I guess I believed in it more than my fellow Protestants… Or with a more Catholic understanding,
Mary is the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, and Mother to us all. Here is a great video explaining that: The Truth About Mary and Scripture
Mary is our Mother in the order of Grace. Mothers love their children.
Here’s one scriptural passage:
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
- Rev 12:17 (NKJV)
The Woman of Revelation 12 “bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron and her Child was caught up to God and His throne”, and her offspring are those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The “male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” is of course Christ, so the Woman is Mary, since she is His mother. So, according to Scripture, those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” are the children of Mary. Therefore, if you claim to “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” and say “Mary is not my mother” (how much that would grieve her and her Son!) you are being unscriptural.
If we call God “Our Father” (in a spiritual, analogical sense - only Jesus is the Son of God in a non-analogical sense) then Jesus must be our brother (in a spiritual, analogical sense), since two persons who have the same father are siblings. If Jesus is our brother then Mary must be our mother also (in a spiritual, analogical sense), since siblings share parents.
If we are the “Family of God” and can now, in Christ and through Christ, call God “Our Father” and Jesus “Our Brother”, then who is our mother? What kind of family does not have a mother? No family, certainly not God’s Family.
Having Mary as our mother is a great gift from Jesus, her Son. He who created His own mother for Himself joyfully and generously shares her with all His brothers and sisters. Would we expect anything different?
Does St. Paul not say we are the Body of Christ? Certainly he does. Who is the mother of the Body of Christ? Mary. Not only is she the literal mother of the literal “body” of Christ, she is also the Mother of the figurative Body of Christ, who we are.
If we only knew how much she loves us!
God is good
Yes, and that’s a shame. It’s one of the “fruits” of Luther’s “reformation”. Actually, Luther had a great veneration for the Mother of God. The jettisoning of any real concept of the Communion of Saints came a bit later. It lasts even till today. For instance, you say you can’t understand why the saints would care about those on earth. What kind of Communion between the Saints in heaven and the saints on earth would that be?
Why would anyone believe that?
“Be it done unto me according to thy word.” Where do you (all) get that this is not Mary giving her consent? Where the scriptural proof of that? If you ask me, “where’s the scriptural proof of Mary giving her consent?” I’d say when she said, “be it done unto me according to thy word.” Scripture does not lie or deceive. It means what it says.
Or you could put it: “Let it be done to me as you have said.”
That is consent.
What would Mary not giving her consent look like?
Like this: “Let it not be done to me according to thy word” or “Let it not be done to me as you have said.”
That’s withholding consent.
You must put Scripture over “we don’t want to believe that because that’s what those Catholics believe.”
Let me ask you a question. Assuming you have a child, if and when you get to heaven, will you stop caring about that child?
Does Jesus still care about us now that He has ascended to the Father? Of course. Why would it be different with his beloved, redeemed ones who follow Him to the Father’s house?
Heaven is a great “Love Fest”! It’s communion with the Living God, Who is Love itself! Love is not extinguished there - on the contrary! - it grows and is magnified.
We do not cease to be human when we get to heaven. We go there with our loves, our memories, our joys, etc., albeit purified. All our hurts, pains, sinful tendencies, grudges, unforgivnesses, and so on have no place in heaven. It’s not possible to experience these things there. Either we, by God’s grace, rid ourselves completely of them here on earth, or we will we freed from them, by God’s grace, immediately before entering heaven. All things that we have that are “good” we take with us. Nothing that we possess that is “bad” can come. The only “good” that we do not take with us (not right away, anyway) is our bodies, but we will be reunited with them for all eternity on the Last Day, which seems to me to be not too far off.
Heaven is the place of complete human fulfillment. Part of being human is loving others. At least it better be, since if we do not love, God is not in us, and we will not be in heaven, which is a place of unimaginable love. Going back to the hypothetical child question, assuming that when this child dies he too goes to heaven, and you are both in the presence of God, will you two not love each other? Of course you will, even more than you did or could ever possibly do on earth.
Well, for some Protestants it is. Many High Anglicans/Episcopalians venerate Mary. But I know what you mean. I too was brought up Protestant. My story is rather long and complicated, but suffice it to say I never heard Mary mentioned except at Advent and Christmas. We never so much as put a crèche in our house or on our front lawn. Mary was a complete stranger to me, as distance from me as Julius Caesar and about as important to my life–or so I thought at the time.
I grew up in this faith from infancy and was never taught a thing about Mary other than that she was the Mother of Jesus and was a virgin when He was born. That’s it. We are not even taught that she gave her consent when the angel came to her. We just assume that she was agreeing with the angel, not actively making a decision to allow it to happen. Looking at it from my perspective, surely you can see how it would be quite a paradigm shift to think of her as caring about all of humanity.
It may perhaps be that her consent was merely assumed by your Protestant church, rather than the idea taught that she didn’t give it? That’s the sense I got as a child in my middle of the road Episcopal upbringing. Then when my dad died my mom got excited about the Assemblies of God–talk about a paradigm shift! There Mary was all but the enemy. I heard sermons in which pastors railed against Catholics “worshiping” Mary. I came to almost hate her. Isn’t that sad?
In my case my acceptance of Mary came through reading The Song of Bernadette. Now, I didn’t come to understand Mary’s role in salvation through that book. Actually, it scared me, to tell the truth. I tossed my paperback version away in a public waste receptacle so I couldn’t get it back–that’s how much I rejected the whole thing. Then Mary spoke to me. Now, I’m not the kind of nut who thinks angels and saints are communing with me and me alone. I’ve never sought out such experiences and I’d never had one like it before, but right out of the blue, Mary spoke to me. Her voice was full of love and humor–she thought me funny, actually. I couldn’t blame her, I was so adamant in what I thought true that I actually told her to go away–nicely, but I did it because I just didn’t want to believe she could have any part of my life. She laughed and told me we’d talk again sometime. I only relate this anecdote because I felt her love–that of a mother who knows her child, is concerned for her, and wishes to help her. That’s the feeling I she gave me. I had been walking along a road when she spoke to me. I didn’t even break my stride it happened so quickly, but I’ve never forgotten my encounter with Mary. I grew to understand that she is indeed our mother, our model, and our helper.
It is also important to have a firm foundation in the “Communion of Saints” to understand Mary’s role in the Church.
I believe an overly personal sense of Church hinders many people in seeing Mary’s role. The Church is not merely a place, or a set of doctrines.
It is those things also, but above all it is a communion in Christ. Once you ponder and absorb that, our appreciation of Mary as a wholly unique member of that community makes perfectly good sense. ( we are all unique members of that community)
If we hold on to individualism (not saying you are) it becomes difficult to appreciate what the Church is.
947 "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others. . . . We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head. . . . Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments."480 "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund."481
948 The term “communion of saints” therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)" and “among holy persons (sancti).”
Sancta sanctis! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.
Mary’s role in the Church is through, with, and in, Christ.
I. MARY’S MOTHERHOOD WITH REGARD TO THE CHURCH
Wholly united with her Son . . .
964 Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”
clem456 is right on. Our relationship with one another in Christ’s body, the Church is that of brotherly love–love that goes beyond human relationships to that of sacrificial love–love to the point of giving one’s life for one’s brother. This is what Jesus meant when he said that whoever does the will of God is his mother, his brother, his sister. Mary gave her life to God and to us in love when she accepted the Archangel Gabriel’s invitation to become the Mother of God. Her whole life was dedicated to her Son and his mission of love. She loves us as a mother because she is our mother.
Human mothers love their children, but as Christians we need to love them with more than human love, we need to love them with Christ’s love–to see Christ in them just as much as in any other Christian/person. Mary’s heart is completely her Son’s and all that her Son loves, she loves, thus she loves us with a deeper love than mere human love, but that of Christ’s love.
At our local basilica is a devotional statue to the Sorrowful Mother holding the body of her son, with this inscription above it:
“All ye that pass by the way attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow”
I heard a homily on this once.
Her sorrow is not only for the suffering and death of her son Jesus Christ, but also for the rejection and apathy with which we treat it.
He is risen. We on the other hand continue to reject him. Her sorrow is a unique and overwhelming sorrow because of who he is, and because of us.
She knows what an awesome gift Jesus offers us with his life and passion. Like any other mother, she wants to see her child make a difference in the world for the good. She shares his desire that we accept him and be changed. It must cause intense sorrow to see the vanity with which he is treated by us.