Struggling with Marian Devotion
Maybe I could call this reflection, “Confessions of a Less-than-Catholic-Feeling-Catholic”.
I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty, however. I simply have questions.
The Virgin Mary herself had questions. Her first words recorded in the Bible were in the form of the question “How…?” I have some “why” questions that are, at heart, questions about “how.” For this particular series of reflections beginning now, just before the Feast of the Assumption, and ending with the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin, I’ll focus on these particular questions of mine:
Why is there a Catholic devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Is the Sacred Heart of Jesus not enough? If Jesus is the one mediator between God and Man, between Heaven and Earth, then why on Earth do some Catholics seem to depend on Mary’s prayers of intercession?
Some new, little insights that I’ve recently received regarding these questions will be given later in this series. For this first reflection, I want to share with you, to confess to you, dear reader, my difficulties and hesitancy in having a devotion to Our Lady. This hesitancy of mine, these questions and difficulties do not prevent me from recognizing who Mary is — the New Eve, Our Blessed Mother, and truly the Mother of God — or from having love for her, but I do feel myself pulling back whenever I hear someone with a strong Marian devotion suggest that I pray to Mary and that I will find all that I need beneath Mary’s protection.
When I’m continually directed to Mary, I sometimes feel like I am being detoured. I keep thinking, “But… I chose Christ. It is Jesus whom I seek and desire, Jesus who is my Savior and Lord.”
Let me take a moment here to say something intimately important.
You, my dear reader, may have asked Mary’s intercession on my behalf. You may have shared your beautiful devotion to Our Blessed Mother with me on this blog, through email, or in person. Thank you. I want you to know that I have heard you and have taken you seriously. People with beautiful Marian devotions are, well, beautiful, and I have great admiration for all of you. Indeed, you are the inspiration for these reflections, as your words and your prayers have encouraged me to take a second — and third and fourth — look at my relationship with the Mother of our Lord.
The Heart of the Problem
It’s very difficult to be a member of the Catholic Church without being pulled over and over again toward Marian devotion, especially when witnessing the prayers of faithful men and women who extol her goodness, beg for her intercession, and call upon her as their guide and guard. My question is asked internally — But isn’t the Holy Spirit our guide and guard? A certain liturgical prayer may ask for Mary’s intercession, or a good, holy person may tell me that all will be well for me because Mary is watching over me. But doesn’t Jesus hear me? Isn’t God watching over me? Can’t I trust the love, mercy, and goodness of God?
The Bible gives us a beautiful, simple, powerful, and profound understanding of Jesus’s mother, the first of His disciples, the one whom all generations will call Blessed. Although I haven’t read the whole Catechism, I have taken courses on the Church’s teaching on The Blessed Virgin Mary and appreciate the theological reasons for dedicating dogma, doctrine, holy days, and churches to her. However, when I read the writings of Saints who have passionate and lofty devotions to Mary and what they say about Mary, how they feel about Mary … well, I certainly see that I am not like them.
Is that wrong?
Helping Me to See
There are sound theological answers to all of my questions. And I know that the Church forbids worshiping The Blessed Virgin — Mary is not God. The Church also doesn’t require me to put images of The Virgin Mary in my home or to try to pray the rosary every day. I do these things because they help me, for instance, to be mindful of the beauty of God’s love.
I simply haven’t wanted to keep stopping at the image of Our Lady, focusing continually on relationship with her. I want to go beyond, I want to go to her Son, Our Lord Jesus, and, in going to her Son, I want to delve wholeheartedly into the transcendent reality of Almighty God in His merciful gift of divine union. Of course… this is precisely what true Marian devotion is intended to accomplish. We are never meant to stop at the image of The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Throughout my journey of faith, although I freely acknowledge the importance of Catholic doctrine when it comes to Mary and the theological truths of her importance, I have not desired a personal devotion to her. This has not exactly changed. What has changed, why I’m writing this long, multi-sectioned reflection, is that I don’t want to dance around The Virgin Mary anymore. I don’t want to feel myself take a heavy sigh whenever I hear that Mary answers every prayer or someone tells me that I’m under her mantle of protection. I want to embrace the truth that is hidden in these words, in these attitudes, and see the whole truth of who Mary is and what my relationship with her should be.
Jesus told His beloved disciple to look upon Mary as his mother and that disciple did so, taking Mary into his home. I, too, want to be a beloved disciple of Jesus, so I need to heed His words: if I truly want to take Jesus’s words to heart, if I truly want to be Jesus’s beloved disciple and do what He says, then I really need to know how to behold Mary as my Mother and take her into my home.
So let’s see where this new series of reflections will take us…
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
© 2022 Christina Chase
Feature Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
Christina, Beautifully written! One of my favorite saints is John Paul the great! I am one who is devoted to mother Mary and believe she keeps me connected to my Catholic faith.
what is so beautiful about our Catholic faith is we all have our own strong devotions That keep us faithful …some to the sacred Heart of Jesus, some devotion to Mary, some to the Saints-we have so many strong novenas to pray, and the rosary. That’s what makes our Catholic faith so beautiful -we have so many wonderful prayers and devotions. If one was to ask John Paul why his pontificate was so fruitful, he would have unhesitatingly affirmed that it was due to the entrustment of his papacy to the Virgin Mary. John Paul’s deep Marian piety is best expressed not by stories of theological reasoning, but the words of the following prayer he wrote, entitled ‘Totus Tuus’:
Mary my Mother
Live in me, Act in me,
Speak in me and through me,
Think your thoughts in my mind,
Love through my heart,
Give me your dispositions and feelings,
Teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus,
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior,
Possess my soul,
Take over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself,
Incline me to constant adoration,
Pray in me and through me,
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always.
Yes, indeed, the Catholic Church offers beautiful imagery and devotions for everybody! What touches me the most about St. John Paul II’s deep Marian piety was how he truly saw her as his mother. Having lost his own at such a young age, and then being the only survivor of his immediate family when he was but 20, he drew much comfort and strength from Our Blessed Mother, along with all that he needed to serve God and the Church through her Son. Thank you for reflecting with me!
Christina, thank you for sharing so honestly. I also felt the same feelings about Our Blessed Mother for many, many years. Like you, I did not understand the logic of praying to Mary instead of straight to Jesus, or God the Father. The start of my relationship with Our Blessed Mother is on my “About” page. After years of refusing to pray to Mary, I was COMPELLED to start praying the rosary. I started praying (before work and /or during my lunch breaks) My whole faith life changed. My relationship with Jesus became more intimate, and I started changing. Most of the intentions that I asked Mother Mary for, I started to see were granted. There are still a few I am waiting for, however, I have faith that those requests will also be granted. She is Our Holy Mother, and wants the BEST for us…so she covers us with her love and protection and leads us closer to her son, Jesus. I read an amazing book that explains what is happening in our current culture, and what Mary’s role is (or should be) in our lives and in the world. The book is called “The Anti Mary Exposed.” I promise that the book will hold your attention from beginning to end. I learned so much from it! May God be with you on your journey to Him.
With love, Bernadette (feel free to email if you have questions or concerns) email@example.com
Bernadette, thank you for reflecting with me! I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to share with my readers this quote from the about page of your blog: “I am learning to take one day at a time to absorb and share God’s love with a world in need. Many times, someone needs to know that “somebody loves me” before they can accept that “God loves me.” This is beautifully true! I came to understand it myself when I saw the influence of my smile on others. May we all be aware of our ability to share God’s love with each and every person that comes into our lives.
On the Rosary, I hope that you are able to read the second reflection in my series on Marian devotion: https://authorchristinachase.com/2022/08/18/prayer-beads/ This tells of my own relationship with the rosary.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
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Thank you for sharing your blessed experience with the Rosary…and for sharing words from my site❤️
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