The reason cradle Catholics have a difficult time defending their faith is; “Cradle Catholics are taught the answers before they learn the questions.” Maisie Ward, author of Gilbert Keith Chesterton (biography).
Not long after Chuck and I had our premarital counseling with Pastor Jerry and after he gave his series of anti-Catholic sermons, his church decided to start having ‘Dinners for Eight’, in order to give this new little church a sense of community. In case you are not familiar with this sort of dinner, it’s where four couples meet at one of the couple’s home and each couple provides one part of the dinner, either an appetizer, salad, main course or dessert.
As we sat around the table enjoying our meal, the main topic of discussion revolved around Pastor Jerry’s anti-Catholic messages. They were of course in complete agreement since some of them were in fact ex-catholic. They were quite involved with their common denunciation of the church and they had no idea as I sat there as quiet as possible, I was Catholic.
Chuck immediately and politely, informed the group that I was Catholic, in hopes of making them aware that things they were discussing may in fact be hurtful to a member at the table. His hope was to be short lived at best. All eyes at the table turned to looked at me.
Holy guacamole, Batman, there’s a Catholic at our dining table! Instead of being embarrassed at their anti-Catholic rhetoric, they were angry at my presence. And the attack began.
They stared with the usual condemnation of our prayers to Mary. One man quoted the gospel where Jesus says, “Who are my mother, brothers and sister but those who do the will of my father.” This proves, he declared, that Mary deserves no special mention.
“And even more specifically,” I said and repeated the gospel where the woman in the crowd calls out to Jesus, blessed was the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you and Jesus replied that no rather, blessed are those that hear the words of God and keep them.
They looked at me confused. Did I just prove their point?
Then I continued. Jesus, I explained, is not saying his mother is not blessed, but rather her blessedness was not based in her physical maternity, it was much deeper than that. For if Jesus was really saying his mother was not blessed, he would be negating three times Mary is called blessed by the power of the Holy Spirit in the first chapter of Luke. First, when the Archangel Gabriel comes to her to ask her to be the mother of the Christ. Second, when her cousin Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting and the baby in her womb jumps for joy and Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit calls her blessed among women. And last when Mary herself answers Elizabeth by saying that behold from hence forth all generations will call her blessed. Jesus mirrors what Elizabeth says about Mary, that she is blessed among women because she believed in the words of God when she answered God’s call and said, “Be it done to me according to your word.” Fiat.
The Catholic Church considers Mary to be the new Arc of the Covenant for just as the first Arc had to be specifically and purely fashioned, she had to be purely fashioned in order to hold the presence of Jesus, the word of God made flesh.
“But you all pray to Mary,” they argued.
I explained how In the German language there are two words for prayer. One explains the praise and glory meant for God alone and the other is the prayer said to saints and angels. Catholics, I explained, only pray to God using the first form of prayer and to Mary and the Saints we use the other form of prayer even though English does not provide different words for the two forms of prayer. We never ask forgiveness from Mary. We ask her and the saints to pray for us just like we might ask each other. (Such as “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”)
The man who sat directly across from me, showed the most anger and complained, “But the saints are dead, what good is it to pray to the dead?”
At that point, I had stifle a laugh since I immediately had the mental picture of saints in coffins in heaven. It seemed so obvious to me but I explained that those apart from the body are alive in Christ not dead and buried in Heaven. Funny how that did not seem to calm them.
I continued, “Catholics love Mary as our mother. If Jesus is our adopted brother, then Mary becomes our adopted mother”. I suggested they read the 12th chapter of Revelations where it says that when the dragon cannot get to Mary, it goes after her other children, those who believe in Jesus. I finished with, “Now maybe you are not glad to have a mother in heaven but I most certainly am!”
They didn’t know what to say to that. But of course that did not stop the attack.
It may be as hard for me to understand how my brothers and sisters in Christ who are not Catholic, hate our love and honor for Mary, as it is for them to understand how this love and honor for her in no way takes away from our love and honor of Christ first and foremost, but rather magnifies it. To us that would be like saying, “Because I love my mother, I am offending and not fully honoring my husband.” Or like saying, “Sorry Mom, but since I am married now, I can’t love you any longer.”
Love cannot take away from love but increases the ability to love. Like a metaphor for the our capacity to love is the saying, “A thousand rivers flow into the sea, but the sea is never full.” Ecclesiastes 1:7 also in the Book of Tao.
If my mother attempted to come between my husband and me, then she would be acting in a way that is not loving. Rather, Mary said, “Whatever he (Jesus) tells you to do, do it.” She never takes away from Christ nor attempts to supplant his authority instead she helps to lead us to his throne. Jesus, who most certainly would have followed the Ten Commandments would have honored his Father and his Mother. So, if we are to become like Christ, should we not also honor Mary our Mother?
The attack to be continued…..
Revelations Chapter 12 (start with end of Chapter 11)
Luke 1:42 – 45