Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Journey of Understanding Mary...

My relationship with Mary has gone through so many stages. Here is a brief overview of the stages that it has gone through:

Protestant
Dumb, dumb, dumb Catholics. Why are they so fascinated with Mary and not focusing on Jesus? Why is she so important to them? She is not any better a person than I am or any other person on this Earth? She is not God or Divine. She was only a vessel that God used to fulfill his plan of salvation. If it wasn't going to be her, it would have been someone else. Instead, they should be focusing on Christ, our Savior, and not Mary. By focusing on Mary, they are not spending time with our Lord and Savior. What would Mary say about all of these prayers to her and not to God? She would be ashamed.

Courting a Catholic Woman
Hmmm....This woman is teaching me a lot about what Catholics really believe. Catholics do not believe that Mary is divine. I could have sworn that is what they thought. I know that they pray to Mary, but not in the same sense as I had originally thought. I thought that prayer was synonymous with worship when talking in a religious context. However, I am learning that there are more meanings to prayer. When Catholics pray to Mary, they are making an earnest petition and/or supplication. Whew!!! I am so glad that I got that cleared up before I take things further with this Catholic woman. I am glad that I worship a merciful God who will see that Catholics do not worship Mary and instead are asking her to intercede for them on their behalf - even if I and my Protestant brothers do not understand it. Too bad that Catholics don't know that the dead people can't really hear them.

Catholic Curious
I love my Catholic wife. She is the best. She sure does keep a lot of Catholic books around though. I mean they are everywhere. Take for instance when I had some time to...think, and I wanted something to read. I picked up some book explaining why Catholics do the things that they do. It had a lot of great stuff in it. More and more, I am realizing that there are a lot of misunderstandings regarding the Catholic Faith. Hmmm....they are making a lot of claims. I wonder if they are true. I mean, let's just imagine that what they are saying is right...Jesus founded one Church with Peter as the Head of that Church with the power to bind and loose. That same power has been given to all of the Pope's throughout history...almost over 2000 years. Wouldn't that be something...what if it is true.......nawwwwww!!!!!!

Catholic Leaning
Wow. I just got back from the Defending the Faith Conference in Stubenville and it was amazing. I learned to appreciate Mary a lot more. God reached into time and crafted this young girl to be pregnant with the Saviour of the World. I mean instead of inscribing the Word of God onto stone tablets, He was going to inscribe the Word of God onto flesh - and he chose this little Jewish woman to be the Ark of the New Covenant. I remember how much the Jews loved that Ark of the Old Covenant. It was something that only the most holy people of the Levite tribe could ever see once a year. If those stone tablets were that important and the Old Ark was so holy, how much more important would the New Ark be?

Also, this business about Mary staying a virgin until death, makes perfect sense now. Joseph knew what was going on. He knew what God was about to accomplish through Mary. He knew that she was the Ark of the New Covenant. If he would have regarded the Ark of the Old Covenant with such reverance, as to he would not be able to see let alone touch, how much so would he regard Mary? He would not have believed himself worthy to defile such a Holy Virgin. I am surprised that he was even able to stay in the same room with her.

Maybe I was wrong about Mary being just like me. Maybe she is a little more holier than I am and a little less of a sinner. I mean after all, the Bible says:

In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!(Luke 1:42).

Evidently she is more blessed than all of the other women to walk the Earth, because scripture says so. Something else I never noticed before:

...From now on all generations will call me blessed,(Luke 1:48).

Uh oh. I have not been calling her blessed. I have been regarding her the same as any other person, even myself. That means that I have not been giving her the honor that she deserves. It is funny that I can get excited about meeting a movie star or a famous author, but I cannot even give the Mother of Jesus the honor that she is due. All of a sudden it is a lot easier for me to refer to Mary as The Most Blessed, Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Conclusion
I have grown and I am still growing in my understanding of Mary and the role that she played in salvation history. God did not have to use Mary in order to put into action His plan of salvation, but He did. I don't think that He did that on a whim. I don't think that He just randomly selected some Jewish girl out of thin air either. I believe that Mary was especially created for this purpose.

As far as taking attention away from Christ, she doesn't. The only reason why she is even considered Holy is because of Christ. When you say Holy Mary, Mother of God, you are in fact describing Christ, not Mary at all. She is holy because of Christ, and the only reason why we refer to her motherhood is because she is the mother of God.

I was also able to reconcile my understanding with the dead in Christ being able to witness our journey and pray to the Lord on our behalf. I discuss that in the Communion of Saints post. Out of all of the saints that have ever existed, I know that Mary made it to heaven. If that is the case, I know that she would be the first one to approach for intercession amongst all of the saints of God.

Whether you are in agreement of what I am saying or not, let us not diminish Mary anymore. She is not on the same level as us regarding holiness. Let us not be afraid to say that she is blessed. To fail to do otherwise is unscriptural.

5 comments:

Chad and Tammy said...

Carlus,

After our discussion the other day, you know how I feel about this. Except for the "Dumb, dumb, dumb Catholics" phrase, I agree with what you wrote under the "Protestant" heading. Please read this article on the topic. It makes a strong case against the emphasis that the Roman Catholic Church places on Mary. Also, this article about the pope's recent visit to Pompeii illustrates his level of commitment to Mary.

Chad

Carlus Henry said...

Chad,

Yes. I know where you stand on this topic. You are actually standing on better ground than I was, because you do not believe the whole Dumb, dumb, dumb Catholics bit.

I did have a chance to read the blog post that Pilgrim posted. There are a lot of points in this post, and there is no way that I can do all that they said justice with a valid response here. I did also read the comments that Kenneth, the Catholic is making in the comment section. He is making a pretty good attempt at defending the faith to his Protestant brothers and sisters.

First, let me thank you, because I had heard about the Zenit site, but did not know how to spell it.

The Zenit website, is not meant for Protestants. What I mean to say is, they are not taking into consideration being sensitive to non-Catholics reading their articles.

If you are really interested in understanding what Catholics really believe, you should look for sources where Catholic authors have written for Protestant audiences. A great article to read that a Catholic Convert, Dwight Longenecker has written, is How to Explain Mary to a Sola Scriptura Protestant.

LarryD said...

Carlus - I came to your blog via your comment posted at the NCR. It was really cool to read your progression to a deeper understanding and love of our blessed Mother.

I'm a cradle Catholic, then moved away from the Church for a number of years, and then reverted about 10 years ago, and it was through Mary's intercession that brought me back, so my love for her is deeper than ever. Besides, if Christ loved her, and we're to be like Christ in all things, then it makes sense for me to love her as well.

I'm going to come back from time to time to read your posts. The faith of a convert is a beautiful, inspiring thing, and from what I've read thus far, your faith shows very clearly and shines like the sun.

God bless you, and welcome home!

Belteshazzar Mouse said...

Some day I will come back to this post with more detail. Let me start by saying Carlus does a great job in this post outlining Catholic beliefs. He understands Catholic teaching here better than most cradle Catholics.

I briefly looked at the article Chad referenced. It starts out good (there are a lot of misunderstandings about what Catholics really believe and this article hits the nail on the head for some of them). There are a couple of misconceptions I would like to emphasize. Understand that there are a lot of Catholics that do not get these points.

We do not worship, adore or pray to Mary to use any extraordinary power. Some ask intercession, as I would ask any friend for intercession. Some see her example as inspiring and use it as a model for their lives. Some use pictures and statues as a reminder and inspiration, knowing that they and she hold no special power. I would wager you know a Catholic that believes or has written otherwise: THEY DO NOT KNOW THEIR FAITH. Please feel free to challenge me on this. Understand that use of language has changed over hundreds of years but, fortunately, the Holy Spirit has chosen to let Church teaching on this remain consistent.

I will leave 6-9 to a later time, and I imagine that Carlus has a good post coming on this.

I can think of two instances in the Bible where great prophets ascended into heaven. If you can find these passages and name these prophets and show me where the idea of ascension is non-scriptural, or offensive in the case of Mary, please do. I do not contend that you will find Mary's Ascension in scripture.

As for 13 and 14, the Catholic Church has only one thing to say about Marian apparitions and that is if there is, or is not, anything that is a deterrent to faith. There have been more apparitions that have been denied by the Church than otherwise. As a Catholic, I choose not to believe in any of the Marian apparitions and that is OK.

I am sure that there may be some follow up on my part as my words are strong and quickly composed.

Carlus Henry said...

LarryD,

Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to seeing your comments on more posts that I do in the future. I am always looking for people to make sure that I am not comitting a heresy. :)

Also, if you would like to keep up with the posts, please consider either signing up for the RSS Feed, or subscribing through email. Both links can be found on the top of my site on the right.

Pax.