As a “cradle Catholic,” I grew up loving, Mary, the Mother of God. When I was baptized, I received a Miraculous Medal, and I received my first pair of rosary beads at my First Communion; I’ve prayed the Hail Mary for as long as I can remember, and have never missed a Marian feast day.
Mary has been such a central part of my faith.
In fact, I assumed she was central to every Christian’s faith. It wasn’t until I was 20 years old, and talking to one of my friends who had converted to Catholicism, that I was even aware that many non-Catholics are uncomfortable by the role Mary plays in our faith. He explained that the biggest obstacle for him in converting to Catholicism and fully accepting the Church’s teachings was Mary.
I was amazed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around this concept. I couldn’t understand how anyone could misconstrue our love and honor for Mary as worshiping a false God!
And then I started Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory, which prepares you for a Marian consecration, and suddenly I understood why people were uncomfortable. St. Louis de Montfort’s teaching on Marian consecration emphasizes that we must make a gift of ourselves, entirely (body, soul, our exterior goods, and our interior spiritual goods), to Our Lady…
What? St. Louis makes it sound so extreme… no wonder Protestants think we worship Mary.
As I read it, I started panicking: “Why would I do that? I thought I was supposed to give all of that to God? And if I do this, am I worshipping Mary instead of God?” Thoughts like this were racing through my head. Seeking answers, I continued reading and realized that the purpose of all of this was to belong entirely to Jesus through Mary. Hmm. Plot twist.
Still, I wondered if the purpose of all of this was to belong to Jesus, why not go directly to Him? Why spend so much time asking for our Mother’s intercession?
To Jesus Through Mary
When Catholics pray to Mary they are not worshiping her, rather they are honoring her and asking for her intercession on their behalf — in fact, more than praying “to” her, we pray “with” Mary, asking her to pray with and for us. St. Louis de Montfort uses an incredible analogy of a peasant requesting a favor from a king, to explain Mary’s role in our relationship with God:
It is as if a peasant, wishing to gain the friendship and benevolence of the king, went to the queen and presented her with a fruit which was his whole revenue, in order that she might present it to the king. The queen, having accepted the poor little offering from the peasant, would place the fruit on a large and beautiful dish of gold, and so, on the peasant’s behalf, would present it to the king. Then the fruit, however unworthy in itself to be a king’s present, would become worthy of his majesty because of the dish of gold on which it rested and the person who presented it.
We are that peasant — sinful and broken — wishing to gain the favor of the King. Mary, Queen of Heaven, willingly takes our messy, imperfect prayers and purifies, sanctifies, and beautifies them; placing them on a dish of gold before our King, Jesus.
Honor Your Mother
As Jesus was dying on the cross “he said to his mother, ‘Woman behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Son, behold, your Mother” (John 19:26-27). In that moment, Jesus gave us his mother. We honor Mary, not only because she is our mother, but because God, himself, honored her. Out of all the women in the world, God chose Mary to bring his Son into this world. Mary gave God her unwavering yes, becoming a vessel for God’s plan for Salvation.From the moment of conception to the foot of the cross, she is the perfect embodiment of the obedience of faith (CCC 144). It is for this, that we hold Mary in such high esteem.
Do Not Be Afraid of Loving Mary
St. Maximilian Kolbe said:
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did and if anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his mother, he will not have Christ for his brother.”
By loving and honoring Mary, we can grow in the ability to emulate her life — to make a complete and total gift of ourselves to God, to give God our ‘yes.’ Through Mary we can grow to know and love her son, Jesus, more deeply because she continuously directs our hearts to Him.
“Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life,love Him as You loved Him, and serve Him as You served Him….” St. Teresa of Calcutta