WHY DEVOTION TO MARY?
Why have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? This is a point debated hotly among our Protestant brethren and which is briefly answered here..
Perhaps devotion to the Mother of God is the constant "WHY?" even among Catholics. Is it necessary? Or, is She important to our Christian life? Finding no convincing answers, this develops into a kind of restraint to come to Her. The Mother of the Redeemer becomes a stranger to the soul that was washed by Christ's blood-the blood that He owed from Mary. Others are even afraid that devotion to Mary might interfere their devotion to Christ. "How can I give my full attention to Christ, and so my love, if I am devoted to Mary?" It is simply the difficulty of loving two persons with one heart. Yet, this is the common rationalization of many. Others are apathetic to any Marian devotion because they are thinking that it is "Too Much!" for Her, a creature like us. It is as if too much devotion to Mary would make Her a god. These are the assumptions of others that prevent them from experiencing the warmth of Her maternal love, the happiness of being a child to a most loving Mother and the consolation of being drawn closer to Jesus.
But we can sum up this cold Marian attitude in a single word: IGNORANCE. It is the lack of knowledge of the person, privileges and role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Oftentimes there is a confusion between veneration of Mary and adoration to Her. Of course, we don't and never adore the Blessed Virgin as our Protestant brothers accuse us. There is a bold line that delineates between veneration and adoration. No matter how you multiply your veneration, it never ends up with adoration. Just as addition can never make an infinite sum, so our veneration and devotion to Mary remains simply honor to a creature. Period. When we honor Her we never displease our Lord. It never interferes our love and devotion to Christ. It is noteworthy to quote what the Church says on this matter: "The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power.. It rests on His mediation, depends upon it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 60).
Jesus is never envious when we honor His Mother. On the contrary, He wills it. He even expressed it in the Fourth Commandment: "Honor your father and mother." Is not the Blessed Virgin our Mother? Jesus Himself upon hanging on the Cross gave His Mother as our Mother: "Behold thy Mother" (John 19:27). Although we are not worthy of Her motherhood, Christ gave Her to us because He knew very well that we need a mother like Her. And She is not simply a metaphorical Mother, and we as metaphorical children, but Mary is TRULY our Mother in the supernatural order just as she who gave us birth is our TRUE mother in the natural order. According to Fr. Neubert, S.M.: "A mother is one who gives life. Mary has given you life, the most real life."
In order for us that we may honor Mary as our Mother, Jesus, the Son of God, set an example to follow. He was very obedient to Mary (Luke 2:51) because He was the most loving Son. If to be a Christian means a follower of Christ, then are we not to imitate the love and obedience of Jesus to His Mother? How can we become perfect disciples of Jesus imitating Him in every aspect of His life when we fail to love and obey His Mother? And this is precisely what Marian devotion consists of, love and obedience. So in the person of Jesus we have that divine example of devotion to Mary. His example must be perfect; and that is, what we ought to follow as Christian. If we have to follow Christ's standard of devotion to His Mother, then we should not be afraid in giving Her "too much" love for we will never come to love Her as Jesus did, according to St. Maximilian. Do we think that we can outmatch the love of Jesus to His Mother? Then why are we so reserved in giving our love to Her, in expressing our devotion to Her? Being a Mother of grace She rightly deserves our love-the highest love that we can possibly have. And don't be afraid; our love to Her is too little in comparison with Jesus' love.
Why devotion to Mary? Because Jesus wills it by giving Her Mother as our Mother. Fr. Stefano Maria Pio, FFI, S.T.D. says: "The first foundation for devotion to Mary is Her status as Mother and our status as Her children." This is the reason why the saints had a passionate love to the Blessed Virgin because they looked at Her as a fond Mother. They believed that only by casting themselves upon the maternal care of the Immaculate Mother that one can truly resemble Jesus who quietly rested in His Mother's arms.
Only in frequent recourse to Her that one can be nearer to Jesus. And only in loving Her that one can love Jesus more than one can do by himself. Devotion to Mary is highly recommended in the school of the saints. There is no other way, that is surer, closer and quicker, to Jesus than Mary. AD JESUM PER MARIAM (To Jesus through Mary) is the watchword of the servants of God. In Her we have nothing to do but only a disposition: be a child to a mother; as simple as that and we will experience a sweet intimacy with Jesus, our Brother.
This document is part of The Little Internet Library of the Blessed Virgin Mary maintained by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate as the central feature of the Home Page of the Immaculate.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are a Roman Catholic Religious Institute of solemn vows headquartered at Benevento, Italy. Their Home Page is maintained from the Marian Friary of Our Lady Queen of the Seraphic Order, New Bedford, MA, United States of America.
To Contact Write:
Marian Friary of Our Lady Queen of the Seraphic Order
New Bedford, MA 02741-3003
This article first appeared in "Pro Maria", a publication of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the Philippines Islands. If you live in the Philippines and would like to subscribe to Pro Maria, write Pro Maria, 14 Salinas Drive, Lahaug, 6000 Cebu City, Philippines