Tag: Mary

10 Thoughts You May Have Had, If You’re Not Crazy About Mary

10 Thoughts You May Have Had, If You’re Not Crazy About Mary


Like many people, I have struggled very much with Our Lady’s place in my life. I have struggled to understand her or see the need to pray to her. I have resented devotions towards her and seen her as an unnecessary “addition” to our faith. Yet in all this, I longed very much to understand who she was and I wanted to know her love in the way that I saw my friends knew it. I knew I was missing out on something not only wonderful, but important and by the grace of God I was able to overcome my misconceptions. During this journey, I discovered many things that Mary is not and in them, I came to discover what she is and how she has a place in my life.

1. Mary is Not A Goddess or an Idol

© Waiting For The Word/flickr

One criticism often levied at Catholics is that we worship Mary. This may be a struggle in our own faith as well- how is it right to pray to Mary? Well, we often ask other people to pray for us. Mary is a mediator between us and God. How can Christ reject His mother? She takes our prayers to Him and reminds Him of our sufferings. 

2. Mary is Not Judgmental or There to Point the Finger At You

© Jun Acullador/flickr

Because Mary was born without sin, I believed that she judged everything I did and looked at my sins with disdain. Yet I did not realize that Mary can go to your darkest places with you and be the light that guides you home. St Augustine described Mary as being like the moon, which reflects the light of the Sun (Christ) a light in our darkness when the light of the Sun is too bright for us to look at. Mary is known as the ‘refuge of sinners’ and like all good mothers, she wants only to bring us home from our brokenness and into the Mercy of her Son. She does not stand in judgement before us, but she does keep nudging us, calling to us, encouraging us to return home.

3. Mary is Not Frightening

© Angelica Guzman/flickr

The number of apparitions of Our Lady can be a controversial topic. Did she really appear? Can we know for sure that people are telling the truth? Are we required to believe in them? They can seem downright weird and when we don’t understand something, it can be very frightening. It may take a visit to a place of pilgrimage of an apparition to feel any understanding or peace about it. However, all of Our Lady’s apparitions are motivated by her love of us and her messages come, like all good mothers, because she cares about us and wants us to be saved from the consequences of our sins. We are not obliged to believe in these apparitions. They are ‘private’ revelations. However, some devotions surrounding them are very beautiful and with time, you may find yourself drawn to the messages of them.

4. Mary is Not Your Earthly Mother

© Glenn Marsch/flickr

In order to understand Mary, we naturally look to our own mothers as a model of motherhood. They are the lens through which we see her. However, no matter how wonderful our earthly mothers might be, they are never going to be perfect and so we tend to project the negative characteristics or experiences of our own mothers onto Our Lady, making her into a bigger, more negative version of our own mother. This can be a particular problem if you have a very broken relationship with your earthly mother. But fear not. Mary was without sin, making her therefore the best kind of mother there is. She is all the positive attributes of your own mother and more. She is the best at motherhood! She cares for us and longs for us to know her son better!

5.  Mary is Not Weak

© Peter Paul Rubens / art-prints-on-demand.com

This is a common misconception about Our Lady and comes from our lack of human understanding of the concepts of obedience and humility. Yes, Mary was obedient and humble, but that doesn’t mean she was a pushover, subservient or grovelling. It means she always knew that God had a perfect plan, better than her own, greater than her understanding. It meant that she was generous with everything and cared deeply about those around her. Whilst maintaining her humility she was also assertive- think of Mary at the Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1) when she was persistent in asking Jesus to do something about the situation. It also takes a strong person to be obedient. It takes a strong person to be a refugee (Matt 2:13), to bring up a child in poverty, surrounded by suspicion and ridicule in a homeland ruled over by violent occupiers from another country. It takes a strong person to watch their only son publicly tortured, humiliated and eventually executed. There is nothing weak about Mary.

6. Mary is Not the Sum of Every Single Devotional Image You’ve Ever Seen Of Her

© Justin Kern/flickr

We are visual people, we build up ideas and concepts in our mind through what we see. Growing up in our faith or coming to the faith as an adult, we see a lot of images of Our Lady  depicted in one way or another; fine art, prayer cards, statues, icons. These may be extremely helpful to us in our devotion to Our Lady but at the same time others may be hugely detrimental. They are all personal interpretations and therefore may suit one person more than another. If what you have previously seen isn’t your taste, keep searching. I was surprised by how much changed when I was able to find a picture of Our Lady that I identified with. We are a universal church; we have many cultures from which to draw from and these can all help us gain insights into who Our Lady is. In turn, this can strengthen our relationship with her and she then brings us closer to her Son.

7.  Mary Is Not Distant and Uninterested in Your Life  

© Randy OHC/flickr

Christ gave us His mother at the foot of the Cross (John 19:26). The very moment before He died, in agony, Christ still thought to give us His mother. It takes time and prayer and patience and persistence to build a relationship with her. But Mary is passionately interested in your life. Look to the story of the Visitation (Luke 1:39)- after receiving such huge news, Mary didn’t think of herself but set off on a long journey to share her news with her cousin Elizabeth, giving of herself with a spirit of generosity and interest. In the same way, in our own lives, she wants only to help bring you to the joys of her Son and eternal life. She can cut through the mess and difficulties of our life and bring us straight to Jesus. She teaches us to walk, like a toddler, again and again picking us up when we fall over.

8. Mary is Not Boring

© Sean MacEntee/flickr

Firstly, Mary cannot be boring- have you ever tried to raise the Messiah?! Mary lived with Jesus for thirty years of His life and then is present in the Gospels in the background for three years of His ministry. She witnessed the miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2: 1), was present at the Crucifixion (John 19:25), must have met with the Risen Christ and prayed with the Apostles after the Ascension (Acts 1:14) to name but a few extraordinary events in her life. This does not a boring person make! Another sure-fire way to believe that Mary is boring is through a poor introduction to the Rosary.  We may believe that Mary wants, inexplicably, to hear endless, dull monotonous prayers for some unspecified reason known only to her. Give the Rosary a second chance! Give it a third, or fourth, or fifth chance! Give it infinite chances! I love the rosary and yet I find praying it so difficult. The beauty of the rosary lies in its deceptive simplicity. The rosary, though we are right to pray it for our intentions, is not about us. It is about walking through Christ’s life with Mary at our side. It is about entering into the mysteries of our faith and meditating on them through the simplicity of repeating the Hail Marys. It is about asking your mother again and again and again for help. Switch off all the distractions, find a quiet space in your mind and heart and use your God given imagination to put yourself into the moments of Jesus’ life. Padre Pio said that the Rosary is the most powerful weapon we have. We have no idea what lies within its straightforward exterior. Pray the Rosary with complete confidence and trust and discover where it takes you.

9. Mary is Not Made Up

© Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P./flickr
© Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P./flickr

Where did all this devotion to Our Lady come from?! When in doubt, go back to the beginning. Meditate on the remarkable nature of a simple girl from a poor background. Read the Bible verses where Mary is mentioned; the Annunciation, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Way of the Cross. If you have struggled with all the exteriors of Mary in our faith then simply meditate on who she was in the Gospels. How would she have felt at these times? What would a mother feel like today experiencing these things? Too often we can get used to the miracles and extraordinary stories in the Gospel. Rediscover Mary’s story, and let it surprise you.

10. Mary is Not ‘Just For the Girls’

© Francesco Granacci via Wikimedia Commons
© Francesco Granacci via Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly, it was the devotion of my male friends to Our Lady that most helped me on my way to understanding her. When I found the ultra girly, flowery approach to Mary too much, I saw how much strength my male friends drew from Mary. To them, she was a strong female role model who spoke both to the little child in them and encouraged them forward into the man they were made to be. It was a man, John, whom Christ gave His mother to, on the Cross. (John 19:27). Mary would have been around the disciples and even prayed with them (Acts 1:14). She brought up a son. She knows how to relate to men! Mary has something to say to everyone, and her motherhood is for everyone.

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10 Thoughts You Might Have Had If You’re Not Crazy About Mary written By Ruth Baker For CatholicLink 

About Ruth Baker.

Ruth Baker is 26 and comes from England. She loves running, wild camping and writing and thinks there is almost nothing better than the feeling of satisfaction after a day out in the mountains. She is currently studying Creative Writing at university. Her faith means everything to her.

Did Mary Know That Her Son Jesus Was God?

Did Mary Know That Her Son Jesus Was God?

Did Mary Know That Jesus Was God

How well and how much did the Blessed Virgin Mary know about Jesus? The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Spirit revealed to Mary the knowledge of the divinity of Christ and His incarnation, from the beginning of the Annunciation: when the angel Gabriel informed her. Mary’s knowledge of Christ’s divinity from that time on is an explicitly biblical teaching:

Luke 1:26-35 (RSV-CE) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [28] And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”  [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.  [30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. [32] He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” [34] And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” [35] And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Simeon’s prophecy perhaps informed her (if she didn’t know it already) of another aspect of her role as the Mother of God: that a sword would pierce her heart (Luke 2:25-35). The text (2:33) says that Mary and Joseph were “amazed” at these words, but that could just as easily refer to their amazement that Simeon had this knowledge and word from the Lord, as opposed to the content of his message.

Furthermore, Mary’s knowledge was — shall we say — “confirmed” when she visited Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, who called her the “mother of my Lord” (Lk 1:43). Right after that passage, we see Mary praising God in the famous Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55). For what? It was because she was to be the mother of the Son of God, the Messiah, God the Son, God incarnate, which is precisely why she has been called “blessed” (Lk 1:48). She obviously knew all this.

The prophetess Anna also appeared in the temple at that time and spoke about Jesus’ messianic mission (1:36-38). Not only did Mary and Joseph know full well Who Jesus was, but also all who heard (and believed) her words, or Simeon’s.

And that’s not even mentioning the preaching of John the Baptist and the knowledge of the Three Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-6, 9-11). Their knowledge that Jesus was Messiah was precisely what caused Herod to try to kill all the infants, so as to kill the Messiah, Jesus, among them (Matthew 2:7-8, 16-18).

Lastly, Joseph was told by “an angel of the Lord” in a dream Who Jesus was, that “he will save his people from their sins” and that one of His names would be “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:18-25).

Yet some would have us believe that Mary — the very one whom an angel visited, to announce the virgin birth and incarnation — did not know what many others already knew soon after Jesus’ birth; that her celebrated “yes” or “fiat” to the angel’s glorious announcement (Lk 1:38) was made without having the slightest idea what she was consenting to? Such a scenario is beyond strange in its sheer implausibility.

Fr. William G. Most observed:

The traditional view holds that Mary did know the divinity of Christ at the time of the Annunciation.

Would God ask her to consent in the name of the whole human race, and still withhold from her knowledge of that to which she was consenting?

Most theologians believe that God had also given her infused knowledge of all that she needed to know at any given stage of her mission. (Mary in Our Life, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Image, 1963 [originally 1954], 278, 280, 240-241).

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen concurs: 

“Mary’s mind was filled with the thought of Divinity in the stable” (The World’s First Love, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952, 212). The Blessed Virgin Mary didn’t “grow in awareness” or “gradually figure out” Who Jesus was.

Some argue that Mary was unaware that Jesus was God the Son, or that she disagreed with His mission, based on the following passages:

Mark 4:21-22, 31 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” [22] And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el’zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” . . . [31] And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him.

It is not at all clear that Mary is included among those “family” who were doubting Jesus (insofar as the doubt goes; she came, yes, but it is not stated or implied that she doubted or was puzzled). We know that some doubted and disbelieved, because we are informed of that in inspired Holy Scripture, and Jesus said that “a prophet is without honor in his home town.”

We can’t determine simply from this data, that Mary agreed with any of the negative appraisals. It’s an argument from silence. She may have gone out of concern (for any number of reasons, such as His personal safety from the unruly mobs), but to conclude that she was puzzled about Jesus or His mission, is not warranted from the biblical text.

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity – Biblical Evidence 

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity – Biblical Evidence 


Biblical Evidence for the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (CCC 510).

The answer is that the Catholic faith is not a product of consumer culture. It proposes certain truths to us not because they suit our lifestyle, but because they’re true. Nobody prefers a universe in which it’s necessary to “take up your cross” (versus, say, a universe in which you just have to take up your TV remote) in order to find life eternal. It’s just that the universe Jesus describes happens to be the universe we live in, like it or not. In the same way, the Church tells us Mary is a perpetual virgin not because it suits somebody’s lifestyle, but because she is a perpetual virgin, and that has real implications for us.

Once upon a time, almost no Christian denied that Mary the mother of Jesus was perpetually a virgin: including Protestants. Of the early leaders of that movement, virtually all fully accepted this doctrine: including Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, Turretin, and Cranmer. Moreover, most Protestant exegetes continued to believe it for at least another 350 years or so. 

But today, for various reasons, things are very different, so it’s helpful to revisit the biblical arguments, since the Bible is the authority all Christians revere in common. A surprising number can be found.

1)  Luke 2:41-51 describes Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the temple at the age of twelve, for the required observance of Passover. Everyone agrees that He was the first child of Mary, so if there were up to five or more siblings, as some maintain (or even one), why is there no hint of them at all in this account?

2) Neither Hebrew nor Aramaic have words for “cousin.” The New Testament was written in Greek, which does have such a word (sungenis), but Jesus and His disciples spoke Aramaic (a late version of Hebrew), and the Hebrew word ach is literally translated as adelphosthe literal equivalent of the English “brother.” In the Bible, it has a very wide range of meanings beyond “sibling”: just as “brother” does in English. Thus, it is routinely used in the New Testament to describe cousins or kinsmen, etc.

3) Jesus Himself uses “brethren” (adelphosin the non-sibling sense. In Matthew 23:8 (cf. 12:49-50), He calls, for example, the “crowds” and His “disciples” (23:1) “brethren.” In other words, they are each other’s“brothers”: the brotherhood of Christians.

4) In comparing Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25, we find that James and Joseph (mentioned in Mt 13:55 with Simon and Jude as Jesus’ “brothers”) are the sons of Mary, wife of Clopas. This other Mary (Mt 27:61; 28:1) is called Our Lady’s adelphe in John 19:25. Assuming that there are not two women named “Mary” in one family, this usage apparently means “cousin” or more distant relative. Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 mention Simon, Jude and “sisters” along with James and Joseph, calling all adelphoiThe most plausible interpretation of all this related data is a use of adelphos as “cousins” (or possibly, step-brothers) rather than “siblings.” We know for sure, from the above information, that James and Joseph were not Jesus’ siblings.

It’s not mere special pleading to argue in this fashion, nor an alleged “desperation” of Catholics who supposedly “read into” the texts their prior belief in the dogma of perpetual virginity. Plenty of Protestant exegesis and scholarship confirms these views: especially in older commentaries. For example, the prominent 19th century Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, states, regarding Matthew 13:55 (my italics added): 

An exceedingly difficult question here arises – What were these “brethren” and “sisters” to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or, Thirdly, Were they His cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed . . . In addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, . . . prefer the third opinion. . . Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties.

5) The Blessed Virgin Mary is committed to the care of the Apostle John by Jesus from the Cross (John 19:26-27). Jesus certainly wouldn’t have done this if He had brothers (all of whom would have been younger than He was).

6) Matthew 1:24-25 Joseph . . . knew her not until she had borne a son . . .

This passage has been used as an argument that Mary did not remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus, but the same Protestant commentary also states (my italics again):

The word “till” [until above] does not necessarily imply that they lived on a different footing afterwards (as will be evident from the use of the same word in 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 6:23; Matthew 12:20); nor does the word “first-born” decide the much-disputed question, whether Mary had any children to Joseph after the birth of Christ; for, as Lightfoot says, “The law, in speaking of the first-born, regarded not whether any were born after or not, but only that none were born before.”

John Calvin used the same counter-argument in favor of Mary’s perpetual virginity. In fact, in his Harmony of the Gospels, commenting on Matthew 1:25, he thought the contention of further siblings based on this passage was so unfounded that he wrote, “No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.”

7) Jude is called the Lord’s “brother” in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. If this is the same Jude who wrote the epistle bearing that name (as many think), he calls himself “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Now, suppose for a moment that he was Jesus’ blood brother. In that case, he refrains from referring to himself as the Lord’s own sibling (while we are told that such a phraseology occurs several times in the New Testament, referring to a sibling relationship) and chooses instead to identify himself as James‘ brother. 

This is far too strange and implausible to believe. Moreover, James also refrains from calling himself Jesus’ brother, in his epistle (James 1:1: “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”): even though St. Paul calls him “the Lord’s brother” (Gal 1:19).

It’s true that Scripture doesn’t come right out and explicitly state that Mary was a perpetual virgin. But nothing in Scripture contradicts that notion, and — to say the same thing another way — nothing in the perpetual virginity doctrine contradicts Scripture

Pope Francis Institutes A New Memorial Into The Catholic Calendar – ‘Mary, Mother Of The Church ‘ 

Pope Francis Institutes A New Memorial Into The Catholic Calendar – ‘Mary, Mother Of The Church ‘ 

The Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been inserted into the Roman Calendar on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday.

On March 3, Pope Francis decreed that the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar. 

The liturgical celebration, Beata Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, is to be celebrated annually, as a Memorial. From this year, all the dioceses and parishes will celebrate this Feast the Monday following Pentecost. This official celebration underlines a characteristic of the Virgin Mary, who is both mother of Christ and of the Church.

Being a Memorial, this celebration includes its own readings. All calendars and liturgical books will thus include this memorial for both the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. The reading of the breviary, in fact, includes the text of Paul VI’s proclamation of Mary as Mother of the Church.

The Decree was released Saturday 3 March by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, explained the Pope’s decision is based on the ancient tradition built around the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church. Cardinal Sarah also explained Pope Francis wishes to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety,” Devin Watkins explained in an article published by Vatican News.

The decree itself revisits and explains the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers. It quotes Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great’s reflections on the importance of the Virgin Mary not only in the life of the Church but also in the life of Christ Himself:

“In fact the former [St. Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St. Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”

The decree explains such reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer,” and explains Mary became Mother of the Church when, at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25), she “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.”

This decree was signed on February 11, 2018, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The liturgical texts, as well as their translations approved by the episcopal conferences, will be published after the confirmation of the Dicastery.

~Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us! 

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