People have all sorts of “Mary problems,” like issues with the titles Catholics give her, with her apparition sites, with her statues in our chapels, or with our dogmas declaring her perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, or assumption into heaven.
Those can all be answered with theological apologetics, but on this Marian feast day while you as a Catholic might be able to recite the apologetics defending our teachings or even devoutly pray a rosary, do you like her? Do you talk to her like a mother? Or are you jealous of her immaculate life?
When you’re trying your absolute best and still sin it is difficult to look at Mary Mother of God, Most Holy, Blessed Virgin with the Immaculate Heart. It’s easy to experience what I’ve heard called “holy jealousy.”
I’ve particularly heard many other young women struggle with being close to Mary because she was the one chosen to be Jesus’s mother and everything that entailed while we’re just… us.
On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, let’s begin to set aside this “holy jealousy” and form a real relationship with Mary.
Here’s an analogy I’ve heard: If you walked into a room with Jesus and Mary, who would you walk up to? Well, Jesus, of course. If you did, then He’d point to His mother and introduce you anyway. If you walk up to Mary, she’d walk you right to her Son.
“Why can’t I just walk up to Jesus?” you might ask.
Without His Incarnation, you couldn’t just walk up to Him. With Mary’s fiat, God came to us. That was her role to play in the salvation of us all. If you suffer from “holy jealousy,” perhaps take a few things into account.
– An obstacle. Mary isn’t like a tollbooth on a bridge to Jesus. She doesn’t force us to like her or desire fame or fortune. A holy saint, she only asks God’s Will be done. She’s not here to stop us. If we’re on one side of a river and God is on the other, then Mary is the bridge God created to bridge the gap. He walked over the bridge to us, died, and rose again. Would you burn the bridge? Would you walk around the bridge? Why do the same to Mary? Don’t burn bridges, especially those to God.
– Competition. Stop comparing yourself to Mary as if it is some competition to our-holy each other. That’s not why we have Mary. Your role to play is not going to be the Mother of God; that was her role. If we were all on a soccer team and Mary was goal-keeper, we can’t all pretend to be the goal keeper, too. If we did, God (our “coach”) would be without any players for all the other positions. It is important to do your own part because you were made for sainthood, too, just not with the same path as her. And, you can’t keep score as if you’re playing a game against Mary. Holiness is not quantifiable. It’s all about quality, so start a quality relationship with one of your biggest fans and coaches—the Mother of God. She wants you to reach sainthood.
Mary is our mother, queen, and the Immaculate Conception.
As you may well know through catechetical classes or theological reading, she gave birth to Jesus, Jesus is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and thus, she is the Mother of God. When Jesus was on the cross, He gave us her as our mother, too (John 19: 26-27).
When you go to a friend’s house, you certainly wouldn’t ignore your friend’s mother. Your best friend’s mother is probably motherly towards you, roots for you, and wants to feed you just as much as she does her own child. That’s Mary. You talk to her while you wait to Her Son’s Second Coming, she wants you to receive the Bread of Life, and she helps you become a saint.
Of all the things Mary is, remember that she is mother above all. And, a wonderful, loving one at that! Check out more about Mary as Mediatrix (meaning she helps us unite with Jesus, which she uniquely does as mother) and Co-Redemptrix (meaning being with Jesus while He redeems us and participating fully in her part in God’s Plan) based on God’s work in her life. These are all about her being our spiritual mother as Jesus planned. Let her take you under her mantle and lead you closer to Him.
You’ve probably heard that as adopted children of God we are princes and princesses. So, why is Mary queen? The mother of the King in Davidic kingdom was queen; she advocated for people (Isaiah 7:14; Genesis 3:15; Matt 2:11; https://stpaulcenter.com/understanding-mary-as-queen-mother/ ). Because Mary gave birth to Jesus, Our King, we call her queen in line with this Old Testament tradition.
This doesn’t make her a goddess or equal to God, and Mary’s queenship is good for us in multiple ways.
First of all, it is radical! Women are blessed because of Mary’s blessing from God, so honor her as God has honored her. Many people accuse the Church of being anti-women, but Catholicism is far from teaching dishonor of females! Pray the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) with our queen, and be grateful for the unique honor and respect Christ taught us to have for all women.
Also, queenship makes her our biggest advocate. She is our Advocate, which you may have also learned in classes, but have you ever thought about why she’s advocating for you? As queen, that’s huge!
She’s not being pridefully “holier-than-thou.” She’s using her unique position in God’s Plan for your salvation to help you find Christ!
As Fr. Mike Schmitz says, Jesus saved her before she “got sick from original sin.” Her unique position is the fact that she was Immaculately Conceived as a gift from God for her to fulfill her role in salvation and for us to be saved through Christ.
It’d be really nice to also have been born without original sin, but rather than be jealous, count your own blessings. You can fulfill your vocation through baptism—while her role necessitated that purity from original sin to hold Christ. Why would God ever want to be formed in a womb that was anything but immaculate?
St. Thomas Aquinas defined dulia (honor paid to saints for living their lives for God), hyperdulia (special honor to Mary for her sainthood as Mother of God), and latria (worship and adoration to God alone). Like how we see the moon because she reflects the son, we see Mary because she reflects the Son of God.
If you struggle with “Mary issues” that aren’t so much with doctrine but more with having a relationship with her, talk to her. Ask her for a relationship. Ask God especially to help you understand His Mother. Your prayers will be answered, and she will be a great spiritual mother to lead you closer to God than you think is possible. Who else could do that except for the one who carried Him in her womb and He wanted to be there for us, too?
Thanks, St. Mary! Let’s grateful—not jealous—of her Immaculate Conception. He gave her to US to help us find HIM, and God knows we can use all the help we can get.
To learn more, please refer to the Church, the Catechism (Here for one example: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p6.htm), the following Catholic Link articles, or the following books:
– Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn
– Meet Your Mother by Dr. Mark Miravalle
More Marian resources: https://catholic-link.org/catholic-faith/holy-mary/
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