Even if you are not a regular reader of National Geographic, you may want to pick up a copy of the December, 2015 issue. Our Mother, Mary, graces the front cover with the title “Mary, The Most Powerful Woman in the World”. It’s not often that the secular world bestows such a high title on the humble Mother of God we as Catholics love so deeply. What is it about Mary that makes her so powerful?
I was skeptical when I saw the cover and a bit worried about how the author, Maureen Orth, would portray Mary. I’ve read too many articles that misinterpret information and ridicule Catholics for the beliefs that we hold. However, this article was respectful, captivating, and informative. About a quarter of the way through the article, I couldn’t hold back my tears. The stories of the millions that flock to seek healing in places where Mary is said to have appeared are what caused me to become emotional. What is it about Mary that draws so many to her?
The author shares several stories of individuals and goes into a very detailed history of many Marian apparitions. She writes not only of Catholic devotion to Our Lady, but also of the Muslim devotion to Mary. Mary is spoken of highly in the Koran and because of that Muslims will frequently visit Catholic churches to give her honor. What is it about a young girl from a small town many centuries ago that still has influence in today’s culture?
The photos in the article are stunning and add to the beauty of the post. The devotion of the people in the pictures speaks louder than any of the words on the page. The love and emotion is evident on their faces as they honor Mary. The photography alone can be used as a way to witness to the power of Mary. Take a moment to study these photos. What is it about Mary that leads people to fall on their knees, weep, and also be filled with joy?
Dr. Matthew Bunson, Professor at Catholic Distance University, explains what it is that is so compelling about Mary appearing to us throughout the generations. “The Church’s approved Marian apparitions are a powerful reminder of the on-going role of the Blessed Mother in the life of the Church”, Bunson says. “In her messages, her call to repentance, and her promises of protection and care, we see the Blessed Mother as a model of discipleship and one who constantly helps us to focus on her Son, Jesus Christ. Through her apparitions, millions have turned their lives away from sin and have been drawn to Christ.”
I’m not an expert on Marian theology so I can’t say whether or not all that was written about Mary in this article aligns with Church teaching. Not all of the apparititions mentioned in the article have been approved by the Catholic Church. There were also a few phrases that may be somewhat off and a reference at the end of the article promoting a National Geographic series The Cult of Mary, but other than those instances the feel of the post is certainly reverent and well done. What is it about Mary that makes even the secular world curious?
Be sure to read the article and watch the video with prayerful discernment, but also use it as a way to evangelize. The cover makes for an excellent conversation starter with a co-worker or friend. Simply asking, “Did you see the cover of National Geographic? What do you think about Mary as the ‘Most Powerful Woman’ in the world?” can be a way to engage in a discussion about Mary and the faith. At the end of each paragraph in this post there is also a question that could be used to talk about the virtues that Mary models for us.
No other person has become so powerful because of obedience and humility. Mary is drastically different from the powerful people in our world today. Point that out to others. It can only be through the power of God that Mary is so influential. There are so many lessons we can draw from this feature in National Geographic and use in our ministries. Finally, don’t be afraid to share with others your own stories about the power and love of Mary.
Take a moment today to lift up in prayer all those that will read this article in National Geographic. It will find its way into many hands, minds, and hearts that may not fully understand or comprehend the gift we have in Mary. Join us in praying that even the hardest hearts become softened and opened to the love of Jesus through Mary. Let Mary be the most powerful woman in your life and follow her humble example of love, obedience, and trust in our Lord.
I highly recommend reading, studying the pictures, and sharing with your apostolate the full article from National Geographic (found here).
Looking for Catholic resources on Mary and apparitions for your apostolate?
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