Month of Ma(r)y

For Catholics, May is the month of Mary. As a recovering Protestant, I always really enjoy this month, for it forces my gaze upon a person that still manages to make me somewhat uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong. I love Mary. I believe all that the Church teaches regarding her (i.e., the four dogmas). But as other ex-evangelicals have elsewhere confessed, I feel an inability to make any type of intimate spiritual connection with her. I think part of this is related to the fact that, when I start to make an attempt to really give myself over to her, all the old arguments against such actions come flooding back, personified in the voices of certain Protestant friends and family with whom I remain close. Heck, even when I typed “when I start to make an attempt to really give myself over to her” in that last sentence, I heard them.

“Why give yourself to Mary when you can give yourself to Jesus?” Well, to be honest, the answer that Mary takes us to Jesus doesn’t really cut it for me. 1) I can take myself. 2) How, at root, do we really know that she does take us to him? Does the Church officially teach this? Not that I am aware of. Surely, it is part of a great deal of devotional literature. And seen as there are literally an infinite number of devotions within the bosom of the Church, I need not choose one that focuses on Mary. But in saying that, I feel like I am voluntarily excluding myself from great spiritual blessings.

How to combat this lukewarmness towards Mary? I pray the rosary every weekday. But even that isn’t really a Marian devotion for me. OK. It’s definitely Marian, but I barely think of her at all when praying it. The rosary is so (take note, dear Protestant reader) Christ-centered that it really doesn’t stoke any Marian fire in me.

Every May, I make an attempt on St. Louis Mary de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. I’ve never made it all the way through yet. I’m not sure why. It could be an allergy to his writing style. It could be that it’s really repetitive. I think, though, that it’s related to the contents. And part of me is cynical enough to think that the publisher is well aware that the contents are going to be hard to swallow, seen as the first thing one reads when one opens the book is a long list of VIPs (i.e., popes) who praise the book. It’s like they know that we will throw the thing away as heresy, if we already aren’t inoculated against its contents by some popes.

OK. So fair enough. Catholics in high places praise its contents. So I conclude that my reaction to the contents is more reflective of a defect in me than of a defect in the contents. And yet… I can’t but help thinking: “how do we know?”. How do we know that, because Christ came to us through Mary at the Incarnation, that he therefore always comes to us through Mary. That all his graces come to us through her. That she dispenses them as she wishes. That she is intimately connected with his Second Coming, as with his first. How do we know? Has the Spirit really led us into these truths? Or are they mere speculation? St. Louis repeatedly says that he could prove all this with an abundance of Scriptures, but never does (so far). Because, putatively, he is speaking with a “simple” audience who do not need proofs. And yet, on the rare occasion that he does attempt to demonstrate some aspect of his teaching in Scripture, he invariably pulls forth some totally cryptic verse from Ecclesiastes or the Wisdom of Solomon.

One good development so far from reading this book, has been my growing awareness of the fact that I completely ignore the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. Mary’s relationship with the Holy Spirit is, in one sense, unique, but also can be taken as typical of the life of every Christian. Open yourself to the Spirit, and Christ will be born in you, you will become fruitful beyond imagination. I definitely need to keep meditating on that relationship. But that leaves me no closer to feeling any kind of connection to Mary. Or does it?

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~ by Rob on May 9, 2007.

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