In our last post, we talked about the theological importance of Mary. Through her, God was joined with creation in a way more intimate than ever before or there ever will be. Mary is among God’s most perfect creations. For this reason, she glorifies God and is our help in times of need. She is the terror of the demons and the mother of Christians.
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion prompted by some interviews by the pope on what the Church ought to talk about or at least emphasize. I suggest that we talk more about Mary. From the last post, the theological importance of Mary should be clear. There is no better way to highlight the incarnation than to say “God has a mom.” The movie Passion of the Christ captures this truth beautifully in two scenes, both flashbacks. The first is when Christ is finished building a table and Mary asks him if he wants to come in for lunch. After Jesus runs in Mary reminds him to wash off His hands and he does so, but then splashes Mary with some of the water and gives her a kiss. Even some of the most despicable people in the world love their moms, how much more must God love His? Another scene that really shows the human side of Jesus is when He falls carrying the cross. In this scene Mary has a flashback of when the child Jesus trips playing with a ball and she runs to help Him.
Pope Francis recently stated that he wanted to have a better theology of women and mentioned the importance of Mary. The importance of Mary is not something to merely skim the edges of, we have to delve into this. If the Pope wants to talk about the importance of women in the Church, he has to make Mary the center. Now it is not only true that Mary should be the center of this kind of theology, it is also prudent to emphasize this point. The reason is as follows: the pope can affirm the importance of women while making explicitly clear that women cannot be priests nor need to be in order to be significant. Second, the pope can teach about the virtues of Mary’s Immaculate Heart including her purity as the Virginal Mother of God. Third, he can subtly compliment the ancient Church which is often seen as the “big bad evil Middle Ages superstitious “execute all scientists” and “enslave women” church. The pope can say “look how the Church before the modernist influences took hold honored Mary!” The pope can soften the secularist view of the Church before Vatican II. Fourth, the pope has the opportunity to do what he wants in creating a more “motherly” and forgiving view of the Church in the world. He need not issue condemnations or excommunications in order to talk about Mary. Now, setting aside whether or not the Pope is entirely correct in wanting to make the Church the forgiving mother rather than the strict father, the point is that there is merit in emphasizing the nurturing side of the Church and since the pope clearly wants to do this, what better way than through the Mother of all Christians.
Another important reason to use Mary as a starting point for discussion is because we can get points across to all audiences. We need not worry that the secular media will be deeply offended if the Pope becomes “Mary’s Pope.” In all honesty, if Catholics became truly Marian and used this to talk about important issues, it would soften the blow of the enemies of the Church. Surely the devil wants to attack Mary but at the same time, he is in a bind because the secular world doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on in criticizing Mary right now. The liberal world has warmed up to Pope Francis. Would he alienate them by talking more about Mary? On the other side of things, the traditional minded Catholics who often are made uneasy by some of the Pope’s comments and sometimes either jump to unnecessary defense of dumb comments or unnecessary criticism of the remarks would be comforted by his use of Mary in his teaching. What traditionalists would have a problem with “Mary’s Pope”? If Catholics followed the Pope’s lead in this, the traditionalists would surely be pleased. Finally, there would be minimal resistance by the clergy. It is relatively easy to talk about Mary. What could possibly be wrong with a Church that talked more of God’s mom?
Further, Mary is a great starting point to talk about motherhood and other important moral issues of the day. Mary’s role in the holy family can be a pointer the dignity of motherhood which is attacked on all angles in the culture. The devil hates moms, above all else he hates the mom that shared in our redemption. If we use Mary as the starting point to talk about motherhood, defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, the family, contraception, and the dignity of life, perhaps the lukewarm (not the complete enemies) would be more open to hearing the Church. The attack against motherhood is part of the devil’s assault against human nature. In this way, we forget what sin is. The role of men and women are warped. Children are seen as a burden and not a gift. The worship of God is seen as a separate cultural, emotional practice rather than the primary moral duty. Mary is a great way to point the world in the right direction.
The most important reason why we should talk more about Mary is this: If we succeed, the world and the Church hears more about Mary and devotion to her. We are not going to win the battle against evil, win the battle for the soul of the Church, or save any souls alone. We will not end abortion, eliminate greed, get people back to Mass, increase faith worldwide, unify the Church, wipe out radical Islam, assure our right to religious liberty, or accomplish anything else without help from heaven. There is simply no way to argue, fight, or strategize our way to victory. We must work hard for the good of souls, but what good is hard work without hard prayer? Padre Pio says prayer is the key to God’s heart and God alone can change the world.
Now, what does that have to do with Mary? It has everything to do with her. If the world hears more about her and about devotion to her, those open to God’s grace will respond accordingly. God will surely not refuse any of Mary’s petitions, He will not deny His own mother what she asks of Him. At Cana, Jesus turned water into wine sending Him into his passion earlier. This is what is meant by what is said by “my time has not yet come.” The entire plan of the Son of God was changed in order to have good wine. Why? Because Mary asked.
As much as Mary loves her children, she wants us to ask for grace in order that we may receive it. When she appeared to St. Catherine and gave her the medal of the Immaculate Conception, she showed her rays of light hitting the earth and these were the graces that people had asked for. But there were places on Mary’s hands where no rays came to hit the earth the reason was that these were the graces that people had failed to ask for. God places no limit on love, only we do, when we fail to ask. But, if the Church decides to start praying more to Mary, it means we are asking for graces. If we ask for graces, we will receive them. The graces that Our Lady will obtain for us are far more powerful than all of the evils of the world put together.
In times like this, there is nothing more needed than recourse to Mary. Who can complain if the Church started talking more about her? What could go wrong? If the priests and Bishops and even laity followed suit and shared our love for our good mother, what would the world look like? Not everyone would grow closer to her and Jesus. But some people would, and these people would help obtain God’s mercy in these times. I can guarantee this: If we talk more about Mary, we are only going to increase devotion to her. No one says “all this talk about Mary, better stop saying the Rosary.” From there, it’s only a matter of how many people listen. But if one soul listens, others will follow, because his prayers will drag another to God. Like links in a chain, one right after the other will follow. Sinners are converted one at a time.
To the Pope, Bishops, Priests, and all other Catholics: Start talking about Mary. Start emphasizing her importance. She is a theological starting point and a moral compass. Devotion to her is essential. St. Thomas says “Christians are guided to heaven by Mary.” If as Catholics we wish to transform the Church and the world, we have to start somewhere. Let’s ask Mary to help us, first starting with our own faults and then she’ll take care of the rest.
As a concluding thought, to all those who read this, no matter who you are: look to Mary. Mary is our good mother. She will take care of you. There are few things in this world I am certain of, most things are a matter of probabilities. But I can say this, I know for a fact, as much as I know anything else, that if we look to Mary, we will not regret it. If the Church has recourse to Mary, her prophecy will come true.
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will Triumph”