Day 29 and I'm just now getting to the Blessed Mother? What kind of Catholic am I?
Yes, Catholics love our mother Mary. We consider her the Ark of the New Covenant; just as the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament bore the Presence of God, Mary bore God himself in her womb. We also consider her the New Eve, the sinless, obedient virgin whose offspring freed us from sin. We believe she was immaculate -- preserved from sin -- from the time of her conception (that's what "Immaculate Conception" means). We also believe she was assumed body and soul into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. (See Joe's post for more on the Immaculate Conception and Assumption.) We call her the Queen of Heaven, the woman described in the Book of Revelation:
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne." Revelation 12: 1-5We also see this image of woman both in Genesis:
"She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Genesis 2:23and in the Gospel of John:
"And Jesus said to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come." John 2:4
"When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own home." John 19:26-27Just as the original "Woman," Eve, through whom sin was brought into the world, is the "mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20), the "Woman" Mary, through whom our Redeemer was brought into the world, is the mother of all those living in Christ -- our Blessed Mother.
Now before I get into why I love Mary, a couple notes:
1. As I mentioned in my posts about saints (Mary is the Queen of them!), Catholics worship no one but God. We honor Mary, we revere her, we love her, but we do not worship her.
2. I think some people misinterpret the Catholic belief in the Immaculate Conception to mean that we do not believe Jesus' salvation on the cross applied to Mary. That is not the case; we believe that it was miraculously applied to her from the moment of conception, and that she was free from original sin. I heard an analogy once that I think helps a lot: imagine Jesus' salvation of each of us as him digging us out of a pit, one by one. Mary never fell into that pit in the first place, but it was because Jesus stopped her from falling in it. It still wasn't something that she accomplished herself; Jesus just saved her in such a way that she was never spoiled from the stain of sin. (That doesn't mean that she lacked free will. It means that she was put back into humanity's original position, like Eve! But Mary chose to be obedient to God, where Eve chose to be disobedient.)
Why I Love Mary:
1. Because she loves me. She is my spiritual mother in Heaven. I love this because I think it helps us no matter what our earthly mother is like. If we have a wonderful, caring mother on earth, we can imagine our Blessed Mother being very much like her. If our earthly mother is not so wonderful or caring, we can take comfort in knowing that our Blessed Mother is always there for us, taking our petitions to her Son. If our earthly mother is deceased, we can take comfort in a very similar way, and also pray for our Blessed Mother's intercession for our earthly mother's soul.
3. Because she helps me to be a better woman. It's not easy for a woman to know where to turn when looking for examples and advice. The post-feminist world sends us messages that are conflicting and often harmful: you're empowered, but your body and your love aren't worth the vows of marriage; you can do anything you want, as long as you avoid motherhood, reject your femininity, and try to be the same as a man. Sigh. Got Truth? Obviously, my life is different from Mary's in many ways, but I look to her example as a wife, mother, and woman who was completely devoted to her vocation. The very best way to live out our womanhood is to completely embrace who God has made us, and to seek to do his will in all things.
How about you? What do you love about Mary?
Further Reading on Mary:
Beautiful like the moon by Jen of Conversion Diary
There's Something About Mary by Dwija of House Unseen
How Mary brought me back to Jesus Part 1 and Part 2 by Elizabeth of elizabethesther.com