Protestant converts: How did you deal with the Church's Marian doctrines?


#1

Hello all, I am a cradle Lutheran who goes to an evangelical Christian college and I am thinking seriously about converting to Catholicism. I am currently enrolled in the local parish’s RCIA program but like many Protestants, I am really struggling with the Catholic doctrine surrounding Mary. I really want to believe it, in fact, before enrolling RCIA, I was always quick to defend Catholics when I heard somebody accuse them of “worshipping Mary.” As a Protestant, my knee-jerk reaction is “Where is it in Scripture?”, although I do acknowledge the value of Sacred Tradition.

Here are some things I do believe:

  • Mary is the New Eve. There is a pretty clear thread in Scripture that draws the parallel between Mary and Eve. How significant this is in the overall message of the Bible, I am not sure but I am fully confident that God chose Mary so as to bring things full circle
  • There is something special about Mary as communicated through Gabriel’s greeting of her in Luke 1:28. Though I find exegetical analyses of this passage a little hard to follow, I think it is clear that the biblical Greek is conveying a deeper truth than Protestant interpreations give it credit for.

Things I am struggling with:

  • The Catholic interpretation of Revelation 12: If I am not mistaken, this is the passage most commonly cited as evidence of Mary’s Queenship in Heaven. While I could certainly see some evidence for the woman being Mary, I believe there is stronger evidence for the woman being Israel and the former interpretation seems a little bit opportunistic. I understand that the Catholic Church does not exclude the possibility of the woman represented Mary and Israel and the Church. Aside from the fact that the woman gives birth to the Savior, I’m having trouble finding any further evidence that it’s Mary.
  • Hail, Holy Queen: Yesterday, I received a rosary from a deacon and have prayed the rosary twice since then. While I have no qualms about the Hail Mary, the wording of the “Hail, Holy Queen” makes me a little bit uncomfortable, in particular the beginning that refers to Mary as “our life, our sweetness, our hope”. The wording of the prayer seem to imply that it is Mary that is the source of life, hope, sweetness and salvation rather than God.

Could anybody explain to me how they got past these objections? Are there any other doctrines you struggled to accept as a candidate for conversion? How did you get past those?

Thank you so much, and may the Lord be with you.


#2

I got past my Marian apprehensions through a more basic human level: I just prayed to her like I could reveal anything to her with complete confidence that she loved me, the way I would with my earthly mother, except to a much greater degree, because I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable telling my earthly mother absolutely anything. I do remember when I was first moving into Catholicism from my protestant background, that I prayed to her and said (paraphrased), “I don’t really understand why I should be talking to you, but help me to love you and to trust in you”, and I prayed the same thing to Jesus, “Help me to understand and to love your mother”.

So going from feeling apprehension to, I would say, being immersed in Mariology is something that came surprisingly natural to me.

That doesn’t at all make me a better person than you, because feelings aren’t what justify us or give us merit. It just means that Mary was able to more readily fill a part of me that was missing. Like I had this spiritual mother my entire life and only as a grown man through the Catholic Church did I ever come to realize it.


Onto some other things:

  • The Four Marian Dogmas exist because of her relationship to Christ. All Mariology is ultimately Christology.

  • As for those verses in Revelation, it’s important to understand the Church doesn’t actually officially interpret scripture, verse by verse. Generally, scripture is like an onion in that it has multiple layers and insights that can be gleaned from a single passage.

  • The “Hail Holy Queen” prayer made me uncomfortable at first too. There was a part of me that felt blasphemous in saying it, but that was just because I was conditioned to only pray to God, not use any alleged “middle men”. To this, we can go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and understand that our hope is in Jesus. When we call Mary “our life, our sweetness, and our hope” we are acknowledging that she is the chosen instrument through which God became incarnate, and that she continues to be our queen to the present day. It is also poetic language that a person lavishes upon somebody who they venerate and love. i.e. If somebody romantically tells their spouse “you are my world to me” we can safely assume that that person doesn’t literally mean that their spouse is the only thing in the world.

Finally, I will mention that these prayers are more ancient than the religious revolution that took place in the 16th century, and before veneration of Mary became controversial among some Christians. So there wasn’t any inhibition in lavishing these prayers with rich language. For any well-catechized Catholic, it was understood perfectly that Mary is incapable of giving us any grace without Jesus. The Marian prayers are the prayers of a lover and have similarities with the Biblical language used in the Songs of Solomon (which was one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages). So with private devotions such as these prayers, it’s probably not prudent to view them through an analytical frame of mind.

I hope this helped. There’s a lot more I could say but I am running out of room. Study up on it, be patient, and pray. God bless.


#3

I would venture to guess that most converts get past these uneasy feelings with the Catholic conception of Mary by ignoring them. How is it that you believe there is a clear relationship between Mary and Eve? I would love to hear your understanding of this relationship.
Blessings be upon you always.


#4

Thank you for your answer, this is very helpful!


#5

I wish I’d read Fulton Sheen’s “The World’s First Love” FAR earlier in my own conversion process.


#6

They exist because of a Marion mythos that evolved a hundreds of years after Christ walked the earth. They have little if any definitive proof from reading scripture.

Is this another way of saying, “What you wish see is what you’ll get out of it.” ?
If it is not a revelation from God and it makes you feel uneasy you would do well to leave it be. As a stumbling block for many and unnecessary to our salvation why pursue its promotion?

[quote=“TK421, post:2, topic:458377”]
Finally, I will mention that these prayers are more ancient than the religious revolution that took place in the 16th century, and before veneration of Mary became controversial among some Christians. So there wasn’t really any inhibition in lavishing these prayers with rich imagery and powerful speech. For any well-catechized Catholic, it was understood perfectly well that Mary is incapable of giving us any grace without Jesus. The Marian prayers are the prayers of a lover. We should recite them the way we would a beautiful poem.[/quote]

More ancient than the 16th century? Yes. Before Mary became controversial among Christians? To the degree they promote veneration of Mary doubtful. Many of these prayers developed directly out of the grey area during a time of transitioning from a peoples who worshipped female deities through poetic praises to a people who followed Christ and his monotheism. Some of these practices were obviously carried over and adapted into their new belief systems. The point is they come dangerously close to devolving over time into what was an earlier worship of a female deity. We can see this happening in the Cults of Marry that crop up here and there. I would venture to say that Mary gives us no Graces…only Christ does this.


#7

Thank you for your reply!

There are a few reasons I believe that Mary is the New Eve. Firstly, because Paul established frames Jesus as the New Adam in his epistles (1 Cor 15:45, Romans 17-19), I believe it follows that Mary is the New Eve. In Romans 5:19, Paul says “For, just as through the disobedience of one man, many were established as sinners, so also through the obedience of one man, many shall be established as just." Eve cooperated with Adam to bring sin and death into the world whereas Mary cooperated with God to bring life and salvation into the world. This is why God called a virgin, because Eve was a virgin at the time of the Fall. Eve rebelled and Mary submitted and like I said before, Eve helped bring sin and destruction into the world while Mary helped bring hope and salvation. Additionally, I believe that the woman referred to in Genesis 3:15 is referencing both Eve and Mary.

Of course, I am not trained in apologetics but the case that Mary is the New Eve is a compelling one! Thank you, I hope that this sufficiently answered your question!


#8

Also if it helps, Mary as Queen is not simply found in the Scriptural passages you have mentioned, but because Jesus is Lord.

If you read the OT and Jewish history, it is apparent that the QUEEN is not ‘the wife of the king’ (as it is for most secular kingdoms) but the MOTHER of the king.

Who is the Mother of Jesus Christ?

If He is King (He is), then she is Queen simply and solely because He is King.

So (as with all Marian (a) doctrines, pace Setarcos and his opinions, it is all about who JESUS is.


#9

I don’t fit your request because I am a lifelong Catholic but I wanted to share some reading material with you on the subject. If you have any concerns about how the Church fathers viewed Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant this might be of help…

http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts/Virgin%20Mary%20as%20the%20Ark%20of%20the%20New%20Covenant.htm


#10

Welcome to the forum! 034_wave

I’m not a convert (cradle Catholic), but I do help with RCIA. We actually talked about Mary just yesterday. :slight_smile:

With regards to Revelation 12, I wouldn’t say that’s the only evidence for Mary’s queenship. You are correct that Catholic biblical scholars generally will look at the woman as being Israel, Mary, and the Church. Any one of those interpretations does not necessarily exclude the others.

A good book on the subject is Queen Mother by Edward Sri. Revelation 12 is actually a small part of the book. Most of it centers around the concept of the “Queen Mother” in the Davidic kingdom of the Old Testament and how Mary fulfills that role just as her son Jesus fulfills what was foreshadowed in the kingship of David.


#11

I am also an ex Lutheran from the LCMS branch. I found more ease of mind studying how the doctrines were arrived at by the church, not so much trying to use Catholic Mariology to disprove my Lutheran mariology. It is also fairly well known that Calvin and Luther did not agree on the level Mary is venerated to but they did make several concession theologically on the manner of her grace that in our current time would be seen as too Catholic.

Another thing that might help you is reading the earliest selections of Church Fathers avilable on all tgat concerns Mary. You will find that even the early church debated the subject but eventually arrived at her current standing.


#12

I was very lucky when I converted as I didn’t have any problem with Mary.
In fact, I came to the church through Our Lady of Lourdes when I visited there in 2013.

It is something about these Mary apparitions that make them so credible. These children that were so pure in their hearts spoke directly to her! She encouraged us to pray the rosary.

I recommend a visit to one of these places if you have the possibility. Hopefully you will find peace.

Praying that you will find the truth and that the Holy Spirit will guide you through this process!


#13

I am a convert who had no problem accepting Mary as my spiritual mother to ask for intercessory prayer . In fact,Ijust finished praying the rosary before I checked this site today.


#14

I’m a convert, and I agree that Lourdes (and Fatima) are very compelling places, from a spiritual point of view.


#15

As a ‘cradle Catholic’, I find that some converts can be very inspiring and knowledgeable when it comes to matters Marian.
May I defer to Steve Ray’s talks on Our Blessed Mother? Steve was a former Baptist minister.

Try YouTube ‘Google’ - ‘Steve Ray on Mary in Ephesus’ - also, ‘Virgin Mary (Part 1)’ and ‘Virgin Mary (Part 2)’


#16

@setarcos

Hi,

Have you read the early dogmatic statements on Mary? I don’t see credibility in the formal development of Mariology being linked to pagan female deities. That’s even less circumstantial then people connecting Jesus to Sol Invictus.

The Trinity wasn’t dogmatically articulated until after the Great Persecution during the tetrarchy of Diocletian, in the 4th century. St Athanasius, under the tutelage of St Antony in the desert, had to go to great lengths in promoting it. That would be roughly the same passage of time in American history as the current year compared to the days of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. But the groundwork was always there, and among the 1st century Jews - who had a sensitivity to the sacred & ritual cleanliness from the Torah that far surpasses that average modern person - it was was readily understood that any woman that bore the God Man was not an ordinary woman.

Yes, there was a cult that worshiped Mary. There was also a cult (among many, many other examples) that literally worshiped lambs because of how Jesus was often portrayed as a lamb, and a regional council even had to forbid sacred artwork relating to lambs for a period. That’s what happens with groups of uneducated people without a link to Apostolic teaching making up their own theology. They believe increasingly weird stuff until somebody comes along to help them.

On another point:

“If it feels bad we should stay from it”. Emotional intuition doesn’t really mean anything. That’s a conditioned response from being taught a certain way. A person can have an intuitively negative emotional association towards blacks / Asians / Americans / cities / countryside / deep water / elevators / closed spaces / open spaces / crowds / teachers / doctors… the list could go on and on… based on how they were taught by their parents & peers, or based on a few negative experiences that became deeply imprinted upon the person. So what? How many of those negative associations are actually valid? Our emotions are useful motivators to help us do things, but God forbid that we use them as some kind of compass for making decisions. Emotions are nearly useless at discerning right from wrong.

If a person feels uncomfortable towards Catholic Mariology, it is probably because they were taught to feel uncomfortable towards it.


#17

Former Lutheran here too.

Actually Mariology was exactly what moved me to the RCC.

Lutherans are not united (just like any Protestant denomination) in doctrine and some Lutherans believe in Semper Virgo and in the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary.


#18

I am a convert and this too was a difficulty initially. I think what helped me most was to consider this as a sort of poetic prayer. No one would have problems with a spouse who said of the other he or she was their ‘life’. No one would have problems with a gravely ill man who said a certain doctor was his last hope. This prayer isn’t meant to be an exhaustive theological treatment on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


#19

Former Lutheran as well. My initial Mariological problem was the Hail Holy Queen. I took me a while to get through it. Even as a Lutheran, I took to the Rosary naturally as respect to Our Lady as the Mother of God. Eventually, treating Our Lady as my mother came natural to me.


#20

Hello. I was raised Catholic but American and infused with much protestant nonsense that still bothers me today.

We don’t believe things have just one meaning in Scripture symbolically. Such seems to be a later presumption that people have for some reason. Such double meanings or much more than double is found all over the place.
Jesus is King, and the mother of the King is queen. It is really that simple.

All devotion including, or should I say especially, Marian devotion is not opposed to God, but to bring one closer to God. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” says Mary in the Bible.
It is the way God chose to do things: it was through Mary that the world came to Jesus.
Similarly, as the Holy Ghost and Mary brought the world to Jesus, so do they continue to bring Jesus into the souls of the believers.

If the Bible merely told us of her Divine motherhood, then that would be enough to let us know how she is blessed beyond any other woman or quite probably creation. Yet the Bible says much more.
For instance, Gabriel says “Hail,” something that would be reserved for royalty, “Full of Grace,” prior to Mary being pregnant with Christ. The Greek here is a word used only once more in the Bible to describe the state of sinlessness a believer in Jesus Christ attains, but prior to Jesus’ Incarnation.
It was her “yes” that allows the birth of Jesus.
All this from just her “first” appearance in the Bible.


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