Sunshine Mary recently wrote a blog post explaining why she has a picture of Mary on her blog despite being a Protestant herself. She focused on how Mary is an excellent counter-example to feminism today, through her humility, trust, and especially her perfect submission to God’s will when she gave her fiat — “let it be done.”
She didn’t get into the issue of praying to Mary, and just stuck to the idea of following her example. Apparently the comments blew up anyway, as she more-or-less expected, so she removed them before I got a chance to leave one — or even read the others — so I’m riffing on it here.
I’ve never understood why Protestants have a problem with Mary. I understand not wanting to slip into the error of worshiping her. The Catholic Church is wary of that too, and has reined in groups that strayed over that line throughout history. But virtually ignoring her seems like a huge mistake in the other direction.
This is the woman God chose to give birth to Himself. She is the new Eve, who succeeded in faith where Eve failed. She is the one about whom God said to Satan, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (That’s why many statues of Mary show her stepping on a snake, by the way.) There in the middle of Satan’s victory dance at getting Adam and Eve to foul things up, God prophesied evil’s ultimate defeat at the act of a woman — and that act was Mary’s acceptance of His will. This is the woman whom the angel called, “Full of grace,” meaning she was as filled with God’s grace as it’s possible for any mere human being to be. She carried the Son of God in her womb for nine months, and the scripture tells us He was obedient to her (and Joseph) as He was growing up. Dying on the Cross, Jesus said to Mary and St. John the Apostle, “Mulier, ecce filius tuus … Ecce, mater tua.” “Woman, behold thy son … Behold thy mother.” He used some of His last few words to give Mary to John — and by extension, to all of us — as his own mother, so they would care for each other.
Even if you stop there, and don’t get into Catholic traditions or dogmas like the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception or numerous apparitions, isn’t the paragraph above enough? Aren’t those enough reasons to respect Mary, to think of her often, to follow her example, to turn to her in time of need and say, “Mary, my mother, please help me”? Who better to intercede with Jesus on our behalf than His mother? That doesn’t mean worshiping her; it just means showing her the deference due to the position God gave her. It’s crystal clear that God loves her; shouldn’t we?
Christianity without Mary isn’t just less interesting; it doesn’t exist. Oh sure, Jesus could have been found under a cabbage leaf, or appeared from nowhere as a full-grown adult. But it would be a very different religion. Without His birth to a woman in the Incarnation, you don’t have the parallel with Eve, the same redemption story. You don’t have the same emphasis on free will that’s essential to Christianity, so there would probably be more of a sense of God’s will pushing people around like chess pieces, which leads to heresies as diverse as Islam and Calvinism’s extreme of predestination, come to think of it.
So it’s nice to see a non-Catholic Christian showing some appreciation for Mary, especially knowing she was going to take heat for it. Since I couldn’t compliment her there, I am here.