OP here. Thank you to those who have responded so graciously. You’ve given me much to think on.
You’re welcome. :tiphat: We’ve tossed a lot of concepts at you. Many that no doubt are new to you. As someone who was where you are now, I know something of what you are trying to absorb.
If you’d like, you may want to ask Mary herself to pray for you and with you to help you understand who she is and what she does for us. She’s already praying for you, of course, but it’s nice to tell her that you appreciate her prayers and that you’d like to get to know her. Of course, it’s up to you what you decide to do. Devotion to Mary isn’t mandatory, but having a proper understanding of who she is and her place in our salvation is crucial to fully understanding what it means to be a member of Christ’s “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”
I will only address the question, “Why does she care about us?” I can only speak about my own feelings for the friends my children brought home. I cared very deeply for the friends of my children. I follow some of them on Facebook. I am happy for them when they are happy. I grieve for them when they grieve. I love those whom my children married. I am just an ordinary mother and I am capable of loving those who love my children.
I think of the mothers of some of my own friends. Mrs. Harris - what a wonderful lady who feed us tortillas and beans. Mrs. Fortune - who caught us swimming in the river and made us walk home in front of the car because we were muddy and wet. And other mothers and my mother who loved my friends.
When my grand daughter was killed, the mothers of my daughter’s friends offered support and love to my daughter and myself.
Mary is the Mother of God. She gave her whole self to Her Son. Why would she reject us? Why wouldn’t She love those whom Her Son loved?
Some more to think on:
*C&P’d from another post in another thread:
The Bible is true, and the Word of God, certainly–but it does not, nor does it even pretend to, encompass of the entirety of the Faith. No where in the Bible itself, will you find any such pretense. That premise itself, is a Protestant fabrication–i.e.–a man made Tradition (the very same charge which Protestants so often levy against Catholicism–ironically, enough).
While the Sacred Tradition of Marian devotion does not appear patently in the Bible–certainly not in terms of volume or percentage of mentions of Mary–it was developed through prayer–in sincerity, humility, and charity.
I could elaborate at length on this point, but I will summarize it succinctly here, simply by saying that Devotion to Mary has, does, and always will, draw one closer to Christ (hence the age old adage "To Christ (or Jesus), through Mary).
But don’t take my word for it; I’m just an anonymous poster on a message board. Instead, see for yourself, “the proof in the pudding” (i.e. ‘the fruits’)–the multitude of great Saints who were renowned for their sincere Marian devotion. Here is short list of some of the more famous/familiar Saints, known for their Marian Devotion (most familiar names, bolded):
–St. Joseph (her earthly spouse)
--St. John the beloved Apostle (aka the Evangelist), to whom she was entrusted)
–St. Polycarp, (protege of St. John the Apostle)
–St. Cyril of Jerusalem
–St. Jerome (transcribed the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate) b/t 382-405 AD)
–St. Augustine of Hippo (father of Western Christianity)
–St. Thomas Aquinas (“the Angelic Doctor”, Doctor of the Church)
–St. Dominic (credited with the modern Rosary)
–St. Francis of Assisi
–St. Teresa of Avila (i.e. “Big Teresa” (vs. “lil’ Therese”), Doctor of the Church)
–St. John of the Cross (Doctor of the Church (author of “The Dark Night”))
–St. Thomas Moore
–St. Therese of Lisseux (“the Little Flower”/(“Little Therese”) Doctor of the Church)
–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (Doctor of the Church)
–[St.] Sister Faustina (Divine Mercy)
–Saint Maximilian Kolbe
–St. Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei)
–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (Doctor of the Church)
–St. John Vianney
–St. Francis de Sales
–St. Ildephonsus, Bishop
–St. John Damascene
–St. Germanus of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople
–Pope Saint Gregory VII
–St. Anselm, Archbishop and Doctor of the Church
–St. Bonaventure, Cardinal-Bishop and Doctor of the Church
–St. Cajetan, Founder of the Theatines
–St. Francis Borgia
–St. Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal-Bishop and Doctor of the Church
–St. John Eudes
–Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
–Pope Pius XII, 1876-1958 AD
–Saint Hilary of Poitiers - Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church
–Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church
–Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Father and Doctor of the Church
–Saint John Damascene, Father and Doctor of the Church
–Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman
–St. Clare ('Poor Clares)
–St. Rose of Lima
–St. Joan of Arc
–St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
–St. Bernadette of Lourdes (as in visionary/“Our Lady of Lourdes”)
–[St.] Padre Pio
–Pope Saint Pius X
–Pope Paul VI
–Blessed** Mother Theresa of Calcutta** (the 3rd of the Carmelite Theresan Triumvirate).
–Pope John Paul II, the Great (i.e.–Saint…)
–Pope Benedict XVI
If you go through that list, I would venture that you would be hard pressed to make the case that Marian Devotion had any kind of adversarial effect at all, on their Christianity, their Faith, and their love for, and devotion to, Christ–while the opposite case, would be easy to make–if it even had to be made, as the list itself, appears to be self-evident.*
*Mary is our Powerful Intercessor
“For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so it was saved by a virgin.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:19,1 (A.D. 180).
“Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger,[O you]** alone pure and alone blessed.” Sub Tuum Praesidium, From Rylands Papyrus, Egypt (3rd century).**
“Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground.” Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379).
“Mary, the holy Virgin, is truly great before God and men. For how shall we not proclaim her great, who held within her the uncontainable One, whom neither heaven nor earth can contain?” Epiphanius, Panarion, 30:31 (ante A.D. 403).
“Give milk, Mother to him who is our food, give milk to the bread coming down from heaven …give milk to him who made you such that he could be made fruitfulness in conception and in birth, did not take from you the ornament of virginity.” Augustine, Sermon 369:1 (A.D. 430).
"Hail to thee Mary, Mother of God, to whom in towns and villages and in island were founded churches of true believers." Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 11 (ante A.D. 444).
“The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries.” Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140 (ante A.D. 450).
"O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity. " Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452 (ante A.D. 459).
“Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God.” Theoteknos of Livias, Assumption 291(ante A.D. 560).
“Mary the Ever-Virgin – radiant with divine light and full of grace, mediatrix first through her supernatural birth and now because of the intercession of her maternal assistance – be crowned with never ending blessings …seeking balance and fittingness in all things, we should make our way honestly, as sons of light.” Germanus of Constantinople, Homily on the Liberation of Constantinople, 23 (ante A.D. 733).
"O, how marvelous it is! She acts as a mediatrix between the loftiness of God and the lowliness of the flesh, and becomes Mother of the Creator." Andrew of Crete, Homily 1 on Mary’s Nativity (ante A.D. 740).
"She is all beautiful, all near to God. For she, surpassing the cherubim. Exalted beyond the seraphim, is placed near to God." John of Damascene, Homily on the Nativity, 9 (ante A.D. 749).
"We today also remain near you, O Lady. Yes, I repeat, O Lady, Mother of God and Virgin. We bind our souls to your hope, as to a most firm and totally unbreakable anchor, consecrating to you mind, soul, body, and all our being and honoring you, as much as we can, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles." John of Damascene, Homily 1 on the Dormition, 14 (ante A.D. 749).
“Let us entrust ourselves with all our soul’s affection to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin: let us all, with all our strength, beg her patronage, that, at the moment when on earth we surround her with our suppliant homage, she herself may deign in heaven to commend us with fervent prayer. For without any doubt she who merited to bring ransom for those who needed deliverance, can more than all the saints benefit by her favor those who have received deliverance.” Ambrose Autpert, Assumption of the Virgin, (ante A.D. 778).
"For she who brought forth the source of mercy, Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, receiving from him all things, will and through him, grant the wishes of all." Paul the Deacon, (ante A.D. 799).
“May we deserve to have the help of your intercession in heaven, because as the Son of God has deigned to descend to us through you, so we also must come to him with you.” Peter Damian, (ante A.D. 1072).
“The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us.”** Anselm, Oration 7(ante A.D. 1109)**.
“O whoever you may be who feel yourself on the tide of this world drifting in storms and tempests rather than treading firm ground, turn not your eyes from the effulgence of this star, unless you wish to be submerged …** if she holds you, you do not fall, if she protects you, you have no fear; with her to lead you, you tire not; with her favour, you will reach your goal,** conscious thus within yourself how rightly the word was spoken: ‘And the Virgin’s name was Mary.’” Bernard, Homily 2:17, Respice stellam (ante A.D. 1153). *
Regarding Mary’s assent, I feel like the common translation of Luke 1:37 is insufficient.
RSV: 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The Greek is: 37 ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα.
Which, I believe, is more literally: For not impossible is every word from God, or restated without the double negative in English, “For possible is every word from God.”
So when Mary states, “Let it be to me according to your word,” you are supposed to hear word play, the repetition of ῥῆμα in the Greek between the angel and Mary (which doesn’t come across in the common English translation) and which sounds much closer to assent.
Angel: Every word of God is possible.
Mary: I am the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be done to me according to his word.
(Yes, I paraphrased that last exchange).
Anyway, Mary cares. She assented to bear the savior, to be the ark of the new covenant, if you will.
Also, John refers to himself as only “the one whom Jesus loved” in his own Gospel. Why? Perhaps to direct attention from herself . . . But it can also be understood as drawing he reader into the story. The character remains nameless, and any member of the faithful can empathize more with the character and step into that role.
John 19: 26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
In this we know that Jesus put his mother into John’s care, and John into her care. But we can also see Jesus giving his mother to this nameless character who the faithful Christian has stepped into the shoes of. Jesus gave his mother to all believers, to be an advocate for them.
I think we can also see Mary as an advocate for the Church in her role as “Queen Mother,” a position held in high regard in the old Kingdom of Judah, by Solomon and those after them. An advisor to the king and advocate of the people (though not the sovereign herself).
Mary is also a type of the Church. In a26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
Yes, Jesus gave his mother into John’s care, and John into her care. But the reader who steps into the shoes of this nameless character can see something more, Jesus giving his mother to the faithful, to his Church.
As a former Baptist, welcome! As you have probably already seen, the Catholic faith is like trying to swim the depths of the ocean, after only knowing about puddles. Take your time and study. It is a LOT to comprehend.
I recommend some of Scott Hahn’s talks on Mary, available on Youtube or his books. What really “clicked” for me was understanding Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. When you read about the Ark of the Old Covenant, and then see it as a typology for Mary, it helps to understand her importance.
God bless you in your search for Him!
Re: the term “immaculate” –
Actually, the reason we use that term is biblical!
You will notice in many places in the Bible that the Jews are directed to offer not crummy sacrificial animals that they are trying to get rid of, but animals that have no injury or blemish.
The Latin word for “blemish” or “spot” is “macula”.
(You may have seen this root in “macular degeneration”, an eye disease that affects the “spot” or “macula” at the center of the retina of the eye.
The Latin word for “without blemish” is “immaculatus” or “immaculata” (depending on the sex of the animal).
Now, moving along from the animal sacrifice, you also see in the Bible that the Jews used the idea of being “without blemish” or “without a spot” as a term for being righteous in God’s eyes. So you get lines like this:
Job 15:14 - “What is man that he should be without spot, and he that is born of a woman that he should appear just?”
You also get a lot of talk about following God’s law as walking on an “unspotted way.”
On the other hand, the Bridegroom addresses the Bride in the Song of Songs 5:2 as “My spotless one” as well as “my sister, my sweetheart, my dove.”
So yeah, one of the earliest things that was done in the Church was to treat stuff that was said to the Bride as titles of both the Church and of Mary. And if God was calling Mary “spotless” in the Bible, obviously she must have been spotless. Figuring out exactly how that worked was what took all the theological development time, but calling Mary “immaculate” shows up really early.
The other aspect is where it gets less straightforward! Just as Jesus was often compared in early Christian homilies to the various OT male sacrificial animals (and particularly the “spotless lamb”), so Mary and the Church were compared to the female animals that were used. One of the sin offerings was a “spotless ewe.” This was reinforced by the tendency to compare Mary to all the various OT matriarchs, which brought in the prophet Nathan’s comparison of Bathsheba to the poor man’s pet ewe lamb (2 Samuel 12:3). I could point out a lot of other stuff, but that’s probably enough.
Anyway, you can see that a lot of these terms are not just used for one reason, and that they have a lot of associations packed into them. You may not agree with how “immaculate” is used in Catholic theology that involves Mary, but the term itself is definitely Biblical.
I forgot to say that of course, the Church is Biblically supposed to be made immaculate! Just ask Paul!
Ephesians 5:25-27 –
“…as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.”
“gloriosam Ecclesiam, non habentem maculam aut rugam, aut aliquid hujusmodi, sed ut sit sancta et immaculata.”
The Greek word for “immaculate” in this passage is “amomos.”
Colossians 1:22 says more about this:
“But now he has reconciled you, by Christ’s physical body, through death, to present you holy and without blemish and irreproachable before Him --”
In this one, it’s “amomous.” Accusative, masculine plural.
Anyway… in case you’re wondering, the feminine Hebrew form for “without blemish” is “temimah.” Not quite as pretty as “immaculata,” but it’s pretty enough.
And I found another use: in Psalm 19:7, where it’s translated as “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul,” it actually says “The Law of the Lord is without blemish.” So that’s a nice connection between the Jewish idea of the personified Torah as Bride, and the personification of the Church as Bride, and the titles of Mary.