Mary bring souls to the Catholic Church
I was told once that when you start to pray the rosary regularly that it is only a matter of time until you come home to the Catholic Church. I would have to agree. Mary is both a great stumbling block for the protestant, but also she is a great docent, leading us to her Son.
I never had an issue with Mary, I believe this to be a huge help in my conversion. Mary held a special place in my belief system, she gave birth to Jesus, my savior. As a child, having no knowledge of any Mariology, I knew that Mary was revered. Our chapel at St Johns Episcopal was named after her, as many Episcopalian chapels.
If you are protestant and having a problem getting past Mary, let me offer the following.
The original problem was original sin. We were separated from God because we sinned. Lets not give this fact only a cursory thought. God cannot have anything to do with sin. Atonement had to be made. While mankind remained in sin, nobody could be in heaven. Obviously, not going to heaven is a big deal for we mortals, but lets not forget how big of a deal it is for God. God made us to love, and He very much wants our love. If we cannot be with Him, He still loves us but we cannot love Him. We are eternally separated. This messes up all of God’s plans! Can you imagine being sovereign of all the universe but still having your plans foiled by freewill? But there it was, we were separated. God wanted love which can only be given freely, so He could not simply “wave” the freewill thing.
So He came up with a plan. He would give His own Son for reparation. Jesus would die in reparation for our sins. But there is still a problem. How does Jesus, God the Son, get to be a human? Being born of a human of course. But wait, all have sinned. God cannot be apart of sin, as we just discussed. Problem. Solution? God could make a woman without sin to be His tabernacle for the gestation period so that Jesus could be born, fully God, fully man. Here we have the Immaculate Conception. It really could not have happened any other way.
Next, Why the whole virginity thing? Mary was to be the tabernacle of God. Here we should think of our church. There are things you do in front of the tabernacle and things you don’t. I’ll leave that at that. If you come from a protestant background that meets in an auditorium, this might be a harder thing to comprehend. Imagine coming before God. Would you walk up and give Him a high five? I know some that would. So lets go back to scripture. Why did Moses have to take off his shoes when approaching the burning bush? Why did people die when they touched the ark of the covenant? Why could only the high priest open the ark? Why do people get healed by simply touching Jesus? The answer to these questions is those things were holy, or set apart for God. If we want to be respected, we meet important people not by a high five, but by a respectful handshake. If we want to live, we should approach God with reverence and respect. Mary was full of grace, in other words, she was holy, set apart. To be radically set apart, which I think holding God in her womb qualifies, she cannot have been with any other man, whether married or not. Holy and set apart does not go away. She was consecrated to God. After the birth of Jesus she remained a virgin and sinless, as she was full of grace. This explains “born of a virgin” and “ever virgin”. The ark cannot be found, it was of God. Jesus was raised, He was God. Mary was also assumed, as she was just as the first ark, she was holy.
Why do we revere Mary? Because she said yes. She gave her life to be holy. Even though born without sin, she still could have chosen another route away from God. She lived a holy life in preparation for a ministry she had no idea of. Had she been told as a small girl that she would give birth to the Christ, maybe, but she remained holy without knowing why she was doing so. Then as a young teen, God came to her by the message of an angel. She was to be made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but she was not married. This is a stoning offense. She risked death in order to follow God. Finally, after Christ was born, she walked Him to the cross, a trial I hope I will never have to perform with my own children. How hard must that have been. So many of us might be angry at God, but she glorified Him. She is venerable. But whats more, she is in heaven with Jesus and God. Since she is in close proximity, why not ask her to intercede for us to God? Why not ask her to pray for us?
If we open our hearts to Mary, she will take us to her Son.