“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why do Catholics Pray to the Blessed Mother Mary?

Many non-Catholic Christians have such difficulty in understanding and accepting why Catholics pray to our Blessed Mother instead of going directly with our needs to Christ.

To facilitate some understanding and shed some insight to non-Catholics, I would like to reference a passage in scripture, specifically the Wedding Feast of Cana.

I always felt if Catholics were asked to rank the 10 most important Scriptural Events (ex: Resurrection, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Beatitudes, Transfiguration, Passion, etc…), this event would most likely be left off their list. It would not be left off mine. This sacred text has so many different levels of importance and reflection. It is the official starting point of Christ’s public ministry. The passage also has strong contemporary and spiritual value in the fact that Christ chose a wedding as the place of his first recorded miracle when considering the tremendous hostility that the sacrament of marriage faces today in our society. With all of this being stated, most importantly it also shows us the way to present a petition to Christ that can not be refused.

As the sacred scripture tells us, the Blessed Mother asked her Son to help with a wine shortage that the embarrassed wedding hosts were experiencing by performing a miracle. Christ replied:

"Woman, what have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come." (John 2:4)

It is two small sentences… but it tells us everything of the Blessed Mother’s relationship with Christ.

First, the phrase "Woman" used by Jesus to address the Virgin Mother, was a title of respect. Christ did not use the term, "Mother" when addressing her as you would think he might, He elevated her beyond this relationship title (Mother) with an all encompassing title (Woman). It would be similar to calling Tiger Woods, "Golfer", or Michael Jordan "Basketball Player". It was her essence and her perfection.

Biblical scholars also would say this title of "Woman" reflects back to Eve in Genesis. The "Woman" that turned her back on God at the time of creation was now being replaced by a "Woman" who would never disobey or disappoint Him. The "New Eve."

Secondly, in this one line of scripture, Christ’s words validate that Mary had an intimacy with Christ and prior knowledge of His planned ministry. She was His close confidant. Christ is not saying, "Sorry Mom, I have to inform you now…it’s not My time yet to start My ministry yet." He takes the tone, "What does this have to do with Me, Mom… you know My plan... and you know it is not My time."

Catholics give Mary the title, "Co-Redemptress" because of the supporting role she played in Christ’s redemption of the world. She was there every step of the way. Mel Gibson has a very powerful scene in The Passion of the Christ, where, while being tortured, Christ locks eyes with His Mother from a distance and they rise to their feet together, she providing strength for Him to complete His mission. Now this is not based in Scripture, but it is reflective of the relationship they had. What is in Scripture was the support she gave her Son during His Passion. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that when every human word is written and spoken, the saddest of words in human history will be, "There was no room at the inn." In this quote, I propose the saddest event of human history was the Crucifixion, a creation destroying their loving God, and this event could have even been more sorrowful if Christ had died alone by Himself up on Calvary. Like an unloved dog in an alleyway. Mary’s presence prevented this from happening. Our Lady of Perpetual Help (left) is a holy image of Our Blessed Mother that depicts Christ as a young boy having a premonition of His Passion and in fear running into the comfort of His mother’s arms. She served this same purpose though His Passion. She was the loving presence at the foot of the cross that served as a comforting focus point for Him in a sea of hatred and torture. We should never underestimate the eternal gratitude Christ must have towards His Mother.

Finally, getting back to the Wedding Feast scripture and the point of this post, after stating it is not His time to perform a miracle, Christ actually does grant the wish of his Beloved Mother. So there was a historical destiny that was planned out for His all-important ministry that should have taken its course, but a request from The Blessed Mother to Christ changed this historic destiny. It altered human history.

The Marian shrines throughout the world are littered with piles of crutches from people who had an inescapable human destiny of suffering and sickness that was altered by a request from the Virgin Mother on their behalf to Jesus. Christ could not refuse the request because of who was asking it from Him. It was the mother who caressed Him inutero for 9 months. The mother who smothered His face with kisses when He was a baby. The mother who held Him in the middle of the night when He had nightmares as a little boy. The mother who taught Him how to walk and to laugh. The mother who kissed His face as an adult. The mother whose presence was always just a few footsteps behind Him while He was carrying His cross and who sanctified His wake with her tears. The mother whose kind eyes looked up at Him hanging on the cross to meet His blood-dripping, swollen eyes looking down on her sharing in His suffering. The mother who must have given Him a non-ending embrace after the Resurrection for all they had been through together.

This is why Catholics ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for us. It is a realization that Christ would never refuse her anything she requests on our behalf and many times we are in desperate need to change what is our human destiny.


Tina D said...

As a mom I can't help but be moved to tears by your descriptions of the Blessed Mother and her relationship with her Son. It's also nice to have Mary, Mother of God, who has gone through the same things with her son to relate to, someone who got it right to encourage me to do the same. Great post!

Rickson said...

I love my mother, Our Lady. When i first picked up the rosary, A new phase in my life commenced. It changed me. It changed how I see my earthly mother. I thought to myself: Would Jesus ever treat his Mother the same way? I began to love my own mother because of Our Lady. And I love you now for writing this:

There is a very deep and profound book on Mary called: Mary of Nazareth. Its very steeped in literature. My recco!