Skip to comments.Mary Is Queen of Heaven, Not Pope (part 2)
Posted on 09/18/2005 1:40:23 PM PDT by NYer
Mariaphobia is the irrational fear of Mary.
In my last column I remarked that the surprise, for many Evangelical converts to the Catholic faith, is how much smaller Mary is to the Catholic than she is to the evangelical. For the evangelical, the Catholic Mary looms large as a kind of ur-goddess.
The fear that pre-occupies the evangelical imagination is that, say what Catholics will, once the convert is safely inside the Church, the priest will produce the brain chip implant and you will be reprogrammed to adore and worship Mary by the Vaticans Mind Control Laser Platform in Geosynchronous Orbit above North America. But the reality, when you finally get past the irrational terror of Mary and enter the Church, is that nobody thinks shes another God, as you feared. Instead, you find that a small minority of Catholics think shes another Pope.
Its funny, really. Each religious tradition has its own genius and its own pathologies. On the pathology side of evangelicalism, particularly its charismatic flavors, one finds (in a peculiar minority of evangelicals) a frequent anointing of prophets who have the end times mapped out in one way or another.
Usually, this involves heavy doses of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, as well as ingenious interpretations of events in Israel, bar codes, and numerical evaluations of some world leaders name. But lest Catholics clap themselves on the back too much, it must be noted that the convert is tempted to mutter different religion, same pathologies when he enters the Catholic communion only to be greeted by a small but earnest cadre of apocalypse-minded Catholics who center exactly the same sort of prognosticating, not around Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation (after all, were Catholics; we dont read the Bible more than we have to) but around some alleged revelation of Mary involving chastisements, asteroid impacts, three days of darkness, and weird commands issued to the pope or the bishops of the world.
The queer thing about this particular subculture in the Church is that it appears to hold to the notion of Church Governance by Apparition. A certain sort of Catholic can get the notion in his head that the Church is governed, not by the bishops in succession from the apostles and in union with the pope, but by a series of private revelations from Mary. Such Catholics are often not particularly cautious about distinguishing between public and private revelation, still less about whether a Marian apparition has been approved by the Church. Indeed, the creepier and more apocalyptic the revelation the more such a Catholic will be certain that its rejection by the Church is a sign of apostasy and imminent judgment on the sinister Masonic/New Age/Jewish conspiracy at work in the hierarchy.
So if an alleged Marian apparition starts claiming that the pope must define this or that teaching as dogma, or starts telling Catholics to save up beeswax candles to prepare themselves for the three days of darkness that are just around the corner, the apparition enthusiast will often regard it as a judgment on the pope not on the reality of the vision if the pope does not salute smartly and do whatever the latest visionary is demanding. This is, however, to fundamentally fail to grasp what the Church has always taught with the authority of Christ.
A Marian private revelation is no more binding on the Pope than it is binding on any other Catholic. The governance of the Church remains the task of the Churchs Christ-appointed governors, the bishops. Mary does not supersede them in their proper and Christ-appointed role, and authentic Marian apparitions never try to do so. If the magisterium judges a Marian revelation to be authentic, the Holy Father or the bishops may well act in obedience to it (as, for instance, when Our Lady of Guadalupe requested the building of a Church and Our Lady of Fatima requested the consecration of Russia to her immaculate heart).
But in such cases, the magisterium is still left to act in freedom. It is not obliged to practice government-by-apparition, and apparition enthusiasts overstep their bounds when they declare a pope or bishop apostate if they fail to live up to the apparitionists level of enthusiasm. This basic counsel to trust the Holy Spirit in leading the Church comes hard for many people. The spectrum can be wide in such matters. Some people are the kinds who immediately rush off to start praying the Rosary and light candles to water stains on a highway underpass in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Others dont find even Church-approved apparitions and private revelations particularly helpful to them and therefore dont bother with them much. Thats their right (the Church doesnt say you must believe in the stories of Fatima and Guadalupe, just that you may) but the sensible thing to do is to trust the Holy Spirit to guide the Church as he promised he would.
Otherwise, we can find that our passions become so engaged in defending our views that, should the Church rule against us, we end up placing our view of private revelation over the Churchs and condemning the Church for its erroneous approval or disapproval.
Enjoy the discussion!
And what does the large majority of Catholics feel???
---In my last column I remarked that the surprise, for many Evangelical converts to the Catholic faith, is how much smaller Mary is to the Catholic than she is to the evangelical. For the evangelical, the Catholic Mary looms large as a kind of ur-goddess.---
I see. So, just don't worry about Mary. Mary not important. OK.
And what does the large majority of Catholics feel???
Catholics love, respect and honor their mother Mary for having said "yes" when God, through His messenger the Archangel Gabriel, asked her to be the Mother of our Lord. That "yes" brought into this world, our Savior. And, as he hung, nailed to the cross, He entrusted His mother to John and to us. Mary is due that honor, love and respect.
The large majority of Catholics (represented by me!) feel that some so-called visions may have been produced by dreams, wishful thinking, unrecognized hopes and fears, sleep-deprivation, abnormal psychology, or even by the mischief-making influence of spiritual entities who like to deceive the faithful. And that some visions are probably authentic, but still difficult to authenticate.
And that we can rejoice in Mary as the Lord's mother and ours, without necessarily owing anything to private revelation. While still honoring some vision-visitations that we really kinda like.
Virgen de Guadalupe, ruega por nosotros!
Thoughts on Our Lady
O Blessed Mother,
Impossible for me to imagine, really,
all those years with him who was love incarnate,
growing up straight and tall ,
a graceful sapling
turnng into a man.
I can imagine him
playing games through the streets of Nazareth,
sitting at Joseph's feet among the wood shavings,
watching you sewing.
Yet, to be with him all that time -
Did not the villagers notice
about the youth
growing in their midst?
And you -
impossible to imagine
a lifetime spent
tending and caring,
loving and fixing for
God on earth -
Amazing that the glory invisible in your home
did not shatter your walls -
Indelible the brightness
it left upon your soul!
She said Yes, that's it in a nutshell, the rest is history to our benefit. She is also full of grace, immaculately conceived, gave Jesus his DNA at the incarnation (not the first trimester to any pro aborts reading this), his human face, his human fabric and personhood, raised and taught Jesus and suffered along with him.
Very beautiful meditation, my friend!
Here's my favorite, by G.K. Chesterton:
The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down
I like that one!
here's another I wrote:
Like the fragrance of rose
wafted on the breeze
on a spring afternoon,
almost unperceived at first,
but growing more precious by the second,
you come into my life,
when I need it most,
when I least expect it,
calling me gently home.
How could it be,
that the mother of my Lord
would deign come to me,
with the gentlest of mother's touches
to call me home
in that kindest of ways
ready to wipe my tears
and take me gently home?
O my Lady and my Queen,
Friend and comforter,
too often I have sent you looking for me!
and thank you
for always keeping me under your mantle,
ready to lead me gently home
to your son Jesus.
Uncritical credulity and acceptance can sometimes be as bad as stiff-necked skepticism and a refusal to believe no matter what.
Scripture tells us that Satan appeared to and attempted to mislead even Jesus Himself so we must be aware that not every manifestation of the supernatural is necessarily heavenly.
The's the greatest saint, conceived without the stain of original sin. She's the "Queen of Heaven" and "Mother of God."
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
The Blessed Virgin Mary - Catholic Encyclopedia
I knew some folks like this a few years ago. They were part of a small Marian prayer group at my college and were completely obsessed with every Marian apparition that came along. They weren't very interested in Lourdes or even Fatima, but rather with more recent apparitions. None of these apparitions had been approved by the Church and most of them involved prophecies of chastisements and great miracles. I remember in the fall of 1999 being told by these people that because 2000 was a Jubilee year there would be a huge miracle in March. In March of 2000 some sort of sign was supposed to appear in the sky and everyone in the world would see it and suddenly be converted or something like that. March of 2000 came and went and no such miracle occurred. This didn't seem to bother these people; they just latched onto another apparition.
What really surprised and bothered me was how these people showed such a complete lack of discernment and obedience to the Church. Otherwise they were very orthodox and they really liked Pope John Paul II. But when it came to the matter of apparitions, all their orthodoxy and obedience went out the window. They didn't even see the contradiction; a rational and reasoned approach to life was not their forte, to say the least.
Very lyrical, very beautiful.
Most practicing Catholics understand that it's wise (but not necessary) to reflect on the words of the Virgin coming from Church-approved visionaries such as St. Bernadette, the children of Fatima, St. Faustina and other humble, pious souls who've been granted the immense burden of bringing a message from God (given through Mary) to the world. These visions are helpful, but all that is required for salvation is already present in the faith.
Others, however, have begun to cling to apparitions which are NOT approved by the Church. First and foremost is Medjugorje, which has produced both good fruit (conversions, vocations) and bad fruit (clergy/visionary disobedience, prosperous cottage industries, multiple condemnations from the local bishop who has the final say on these matters). I don't believe that the Virgin is appearing in Medjugorje. I agree with the bishop that there is nothing to indicate that this is authentically coming from God. That said, there are many Catholics (my mother among them) who believe strongly that she is appearing there. For those who believe - especially those who have gone there many times - I fear that they will have a crisis of faith if/when something occurs to prove the vision false. To me, this is a big red flag, when a cult of personality (or a cult of geography) overshadows the alleged message. In most - if not all - visions approved by the Church, the Virgin Mary does not hang around. Her words are strong, focused, and absolute. She appears maybe a handful of times and leaves. The messages of Medjugorje are very banal and repetitious. If she has to keep repeating herself, it's clear she (and the visionaries) are doing a poor job of getting the message across. Just my opinion.
I've had friends who went to Medjugorje and has stunning conversions. I treasure that. But that comes from the mercy of God ("those who seek shall find"), not from Our Lady of Medjugorje. The Virgin Mary is the quintessence of purity and humility, so I write the previous sentence knowing she would not take credit for God's saving grace.
But with such fervent devotion to a decades-long, unproven apparition, it should cause some to pause and evaluate whether or not this is really of God.
I might be wrong about this. But my discernment is telling me otherwise. Catholics can make pilgrimages to Lourdes and Fatima and Akita and elsewhere, if they so desire, since these places are approved sites. Betania, Venezulea is also an approved site, although the departed seer, Maria Esperanza did not receive explicit approval regarding her messages.
Catholics need to just be on guard and remember that our devotion to Mary is intended for one thing only - and that's to become closer to Christ.
The bride of Christ. Not Mary.
Disgusted by a preponderance of ridiculous Virgin-in-a-piece-of-toast phony apparitions that make it all the harder for some to believe when something generally miraculous occurs.
Catholic teaching is that Mary had no pain in childbirth (Rev 12:2)
"Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth."
and that she only had one child (Rev 12:17)
"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
More than likely, the woman symbolizes the messianic community - the OT "church" if you will.
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