Why Marian ?

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Marian apparitions……Marian messages….. Marian rosary….. Marian shrines….. Marian statues…. Marian…Marian….Marian!

What are  these all  about? Why don’t you  set your eyes on  Jesus Christ rather than his mother? Don’t you know that he is the only mediator  between God and man? Your  veneration of Mary  tantamount to idolatry. Never think that  rosary will help you reach  heaven. Never  be under the illusion that  Marian apparitions are true. They are the hallucinations of  gullible believers. Do not  attach any credence to the so called  Marian messages, because  what the  God wanted to tell us  was  already revealed  through Jesus Christ. It is absurd to think that by visiting a Marian shrine you will gain something extra!  

As a Catholic you might have  encountered somebody reasoning  like this.  If you have not yet faced  such questions, be ready to face them  soon, the  reason   being the  peculiarity of the  times we live in. They will keep on  asking such questions in the vain hope that  they would someday succeed in  convincing us. The answer to all these questions also stems from the  fact that we are living in a time when such  questions should abound.  But  such a  general answer will not satisfy anybody, least of all those who are bent on denying any special place to Mary in the  Church. So we need to  go deeper and  try to find convincing answers  to these questions. 

Christ is the cornerstone of  Church and his teachings are there in the Bible for all of us to  read, meditate, teach and live.  Whenever a Christian is in doubt, his natural instinct is to open the Bible and  get  the answer.  Many Christians think that   Bible alone should be  the  only yardstick of christian faith and practice.  We use the  term ‘Sola Scriptura’ (Scripture  Alone)  to indicate this  school of thought.  Well, it is  a good  line of thinking because whatever is required for our salvation is contained in the Bible. 

‘Sola Scriptura’ is the doctrine that the Holy Bible, being the Word of God, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians in the post-apostolic age. We have no quarrel about it  nor do  we ever claim that Bible is not  sufficient  for  leading a  man to the promised  kingdom, of course if he practices what is  written therein.  Having settled this, let us  come to our  subject  viz. the role of Mary in the Church. Is there anything that prevents us from  giving Mary  a sort of  higher  respect  which in catholic parlance is called ‘Hyperdulia’. It  is a kind of veneration of  a higher  degree when compared to ‘Dulia’ which  refers to the  veneration or respect  paid to  saints and angels. ‘Hyperdulia’ should not be confused with ‘Latria’  either which is the   supreme  homage to be paid to  God and God alone. 

So it is clear. Mary is a step above  saints and angels. Needless to say, the  veneration  given to Mary cannot be  equated  with the  supreme homage to be  paid to   God the Father.  In simple words, we  never worship Mary. Worshipping anybody other than God is, no doubt, idolatry. We Christians are not the kind of people who would break the first  commandment so easily. 

Who is  Mary? She is the daughter of  God the  Father, Bride of the Holy Spirit and Mother of  the Saviour.   Birth of Jesus was not  an accident. It was  destined to happen at the ‘fullness of  time’, at a predestined place, and  through a perfect mother. The long history of Bible verses  about the ‘offspring of the woman’ start from the very first  book of  Bible. 

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen.3:15).  These  are the words of   God the Father. And we know the context. It was when he promised a redeemer  to humankind.  Let us have a quick recap of the  events. God created heaven and earth, then created all  other creatures and finally man. To the man He gave a woman as  companion. Upto this point there are only three characters involved. Then appears the villain in the guise of a serpent.  What follows is the fall of man from  grace. From there starts the  history of mankind as we know  it. Man who is left to toil on earth. Man who is supposed to eat bread  by the sweat of his face.  Man who inherited a cursed land that will  bring forth  thorns and thistles for him. And finally  man who should  return to dust.

But  before sending  them out of the garden of Eden, God uttered  one of the most important  and most  misinterpreted  words. It was directed at the Serpent; ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel”(Gen.3:15). Here we see another character entering the  picture. The first  character appearing  in post- fall human history is another ‘Woman’. She was not named at that time. It was a mystery which the Father kept for himself   for centuries to come. It was a mystery  which was with  Him  before ages too.  That woman whose son would strike the head of the eternal enemy of  God was  named  Mary when the  perfect time  arrived. 

Some would argue, had Mary said ‘ No’ to the  call of Gabriel, God would have selected another woman to be  the mother of Jesus! It is  simple wishful thinking. Because Mary was destined before ages to be the Mother of  Christ.  While going through the books of  Bible we will get a  vivid description of God’s masterpiece, as  St Louis de Montfort calls Mary. Mary would give birth  to Jesus without compromising  her virginity( Isaiah 7:14). She  was a person full of grace( Luke1:28) and  a simple greeting from her  caused the  Holy Spirit to  come upon Elizabeth( Luke 1:41). She is called ‘Blessed among women’ by none other than   the mother of  John the Baptist, whom  Jesus  introduced as the greatest man born on earth. When filled with the Holy Spirit, it is natural  for any person  to call Mary blessed and more  important, to understand  the fruit of  her womb  as blessed (Luke 1:42). She is the mother of the Lord ( Luke 1:43). She  will be called blessed by all generations to come ( Luke 1:48).

Her life was a journey  with the  full knowledge that  her soul  is  going to be pierced by   a sword as prophesied  by Simeon. This journey ended at  Golgotha where she stood by the side of  the cross. When a  woman exclaimed to Jesus that   the womb that bore him and the breasts that  sucked him are blessed, what was Jesus’ answer? “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” It was truly the biggest appreciation  Jesus gave his mother, because she is the only person in the  whole Bible who said; “Here am I, the servant of  the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). Jesus is categorical in telling  that the  major reason for  Mary’s glory is  that she heard the word of God and kept it. Her only appeal to us is; “Do whatever he tells you”(John 2:5). She has every  right to tell it, because she herself obeyed whatever was  told  her by  God.

She is the Ark of the Covenant. To relate her with the  ark that Noah made to escape from the deluge makes perfect sense  in these  days when we are  staring at  a flood of  false teachings and  a licentious lifestyle giving  scant regard to the commandments. Also bring to mind the words of our  Lord that the  end  days will be like the  days of  Noah and Lot.

Mary was  the pillar that supported the disciples  and led them in prayer  in anticipation of the pouring down of  the Holy Spirit. She is our mother as well. According to John, the last words of  Jesus was ‘It is finished” (John 19:30). What Jesus said just before these words calls us  to meditate on one of the most  beautiful aspects of  Marian devotion viz.  approaching her as our own mother! By  uttering the words “Woman, here is your son” and “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27) Jesus gave his mother  to us also as a perpetual help. When Jesus say that ‘it is finished’ he intended to tell us that the  act of salvation and conquest of  Satan is accomplished through  his sacrifice in the cross. But it  reminds something more to us. Jesus calls Mary ‘Woman’ which was exactly the same  word used by  his Father at the beginning of  history  to describe the person  chosen to  be the mother  to His  son. That prophecy is now fulfilled. So it is finished. But Jesus knew that  for the plan  of  salvation to  pass to the  next phase post-crucifixion, the maternal care  of  Mary is required.  This is accomplished by  entrusting John to Mary.

As we know, Satan was decisively  defeated  at Golgotha. But the  battle is not yet over.  He is  still here to  seduce us, though he knows that his days are numbered. He is making  his last  attempt to  capture  as many souls as possible before Jesus comes again. But he finds the  going tough because of  the presence of  a ‘Woman’, his eternal enemy. That is why it is written; ‘Then the dragon was  angry with the woman, and went off to make war  on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and  hold the testimony of Jesus’ ( Rev. 12:17).

Do you think that  a mother will abandon her children when they face a fierce enemy who is marching ahead  with all his  armies? Do you think that she will stand aside as an onlooker when  her  children are  in danger of being ensnared by the deceiving  promises of  her arch-rival? It is but natural that  Mary does whatever she can do – and it is beyond our imaginations as she is the queen of  heaven- to help her  children.  This is the background of increasing number of Marian apparitions  happening these days. This is the background of Marian devotions  developed through centuries.  Marian messages are warnings about the ways Satan  employ to  entrap  her children. Rosary is the  weapon to  chase  away the devil. 

For a Christian, there is nothing to be ashamed of  in calling Mary his mother.  Neither theology nor tradition prevent us from  rushing to Mary in times of need and in anticipation that she will  extend her  helping hand  to  anybody who has recourse to her.  Do not shy away from her. Be bold to call her your mother and claim her maternal  care and love.  When the dragon rages his  final war on the  children of Mary, be assured that   she is with us in the  frontline.

It is time to ignore the oft-repeated question; ‘Why Marian?”  Because  it is all   there in elementary christian teachings. This is the time to ask, ‘Why not Marian?’  Marian messages, Marian devotion, Marian apparitions, Marian shrines and Rosary are  not for her children alone. They are the last attempts of the heaven to permeate the  hardened  hearts of those who  are still blind to the radiance of Mary.  What prompted us to  post a series of  articles about  Marian apparitions and  Marian messages is the  humble hope that it would help  Marian devotees to  grow into a deeper  relation with her at a  time  when it is most  needed. At the same time, we fervently hope and pray   that Mary will intercede for  those who criticise her to  get the  gift of wisdom to know the ‘Seat of Wisdom’, as we  call Mary.

Let us pray:  Hail Mary, Full of  Grace, The Lord is with you. Blessed are  you among women and  blessed is the fruit  of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray  for us sinners, now, and at the  hour of our death. Amen.

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