November 27, 2007

Mother Mary

This little girl is growing up before my very eyes.
I’m still clinging to the baby in her who’s fading fast.
I don’t want her to grow up and feel the pain and suffering that the world brings.
I want her to keep her child-like outlook and optimism, her freshness.
I know that’s not possible, but I can’t help myself.

These thoughts about Hattie have led me to the question: Did Mary, the mother of our Lord, feel this way? Did she want Jesus to remain her baby forever? I know she didn’t bear a normal child, a sinner, like I did, but she had to share Him with the world like no other mother will ever have to share their child. I think about Mary in a whole different light now that I am a mother. She watched her child, her baby, suffer, be mocked and rejected. She was one of the few at the foot of the cross. There was nothing she could do to help her son that wouldn’t get in the way of His plan. It goes against a mother’s nature, though, to sit back and watch your child in agony and do nothing.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary didn’t have pain in childbirth because pain in childbirth is a curse following Adam and Eve's original sin. The birth of Jesus could not, therefore, bare the mark of original sin. Likewise, Mary had to be clean of original sin in order to make the incarnation possible. This is always a heated topic among our Protestant friends and family. What many of them don’t know or understand about the Church’s teaching is that we believe that Jesus still saved Mary, like God saves each of us, but He just did it in a different way, for His own glory. It was not for Mary’s sake or for her own glory. She was a servant of God, and He chose to bring His Son into the world through a pure vessel. This makes perfect sense to me.

Childbirth is rough, even with the epidural. The contractions, bringing forth life, the healing that comes with it, and I think some feel like it deifies Mary because she didn’t suffer in the way that every other woman does in childbirth. The thought scares many into thinking something that isn’t taught by the Church. The fact is Mary did suffer; she suffered in a far greater way than labor pains by bearing the Son of God and watching Him take on the weight of the world’s sin and evil. I don’t think I could do that. Mary couldn’t have done it either……without God. God blessed Mary with the faith, strength and obedience that she needed to fulfill her vocation. We can see that in the Magnificat, the song of Mary’s praises to God when she goes to visit Elizabeth while pregnant with Jesus:

And Mary said,
46 My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

What a beautiful example we have to meditate on and follow this Christmas season and always!


Missy said...

Have you watched The Passion since Hattie was born? The scene when Jesus stumbles carrying the cross, and it flashes back in Mary's mind to when he was a little boy and stumbled - oh, here come the tears again.

Sean, Stephanie and Hattie said...

Get me every time.... - Sean

Oso Famoso said...

I thought I'd give a good picture of the proper Catholic view of Mary as told by Father Richard John Neuhaus:

“Anything that pits Jesus against Mary or that depicts them as rivals for devotion is disordered. The entirety of Mary’s role is encapsulated in her injunction at the wedding of Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ These are the final words of Mary in the New Testament and, in substance, the final words of Mary forever.” (p.42)

“Any devotion that displaces, overshadows, or obscures the triune God, that impugns the mercy of the one mediator Jesus Christ, that neglects the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, or that tends to separate a particular saint from the whole body of Christ is a disordered devotion.” (p.42)

“…the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue I mentioned earlier lists four ‘pracitcal guidelines’ that should be applied in devotion to Mary and the saints…Third, they should be ecumenically sensitive, leaving no doubt as to Christ’s unique role in our salvation.” (p.42)

“Nonetheless, there are excesses, abuses, and deviations from the structure of faith that must be firmly addressed with pastoral wisdom. For instance, Catholic bishops and other leaders must strive to correct the widespread idea that Mary or one of the other saints has a particular power over God or Christ to obtain benefits. Some ecumenically attentive Catholics have suggested that we should replace the idea of praying to Mary with that of praying with Mary. This has considerable merit, remembering that Mary is ‘the first of the disciples’ and ‘the icon of the Church.’” (p.43)

Before we get comments about elevating Mary to Christ...

Wisdom From the Pope

“The inalienable dignity of every human being and the rights which flow from that dignity - in the first place the right to life and the defense of life - are at the heart of the church's message." Pope John Paul ended his address, saying: "In spite of divisions among Christians, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ...brothers and sisters in the Lord.'" Pope John Paul 2