The Role of Mary

A question was asked about the importance of Mary in the spiritual life of Catholics and the misconception that Mary can appear equal to Jesus.

Recently I was asked to please pray for someone because “Father, I know you’ve got a direct line to the Big Guy upstairs.” It is natural to ask others for prayers and it’s not uncommon to think those who have dedicated their life to God have more impact with their prayers of intercession. With Mary this is certainly true. She is unique in her holiness and unique in her role as Mother of God. I told the gentlemen that I would pray for his intention but implored him to put Mary “on the team.” She’s the real all-star when it comes to intercession.

We honor our Lady because she is unique in the order of grace. Mary is the Mother of God. No other creature can state that she bore the Redeemer of the World. At the wedding feast in Cana, Mary instructed the servants to, “Do whatever He tells you.” Mary’s holiness and dedication to the will of God surpassed all others and she continues to guide us gently to her Son. When we honor Mary in our prayers and liturgical feasts we are honoring the power of God and His generosity in giving us so loving a mother. When we venerate Mary and ask her intercession we give glory to God.

The teachings of the Church have always explicitly stated that Mary is in no way equal to Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the importance of our Lady in paragraphs 963-975 and clearly states her unique role which finds it’s source in Christ Himself. Here are a few important excerpts from the Catechism which explain the Church’s devotion to Mary and her powerful intercession:

969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.

970 “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”

971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

4 Replies to “The Role of Mary”

  1. Since we are on the role of Mary, in the Catechism 697, Addresses topics on Light and Clouds in vs 46…..The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadowed” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. It also follows with other accounts of clouds and that cloud revealing the living and saving God. Can you speak on the same cloud in Ex 40: 34-35 relating to Moses completing the Tabernacle, and the Blessed Mother being the “New Art of the Covenant?”

    1. Yes, the cloud is a consistent indicator of the presence of God in the Old Testament, as you note it is a frequent reference in the Old Testament. The Shekinah or Glory Cloud leads the Jewish people in the desert. It is seen as pillar of fire at night. The Cloud also overshadows the tent of meeting etc. Hence it is no merely arbitrary metaphor when the Gospels speak of Mary as being “overshadowed” by God the Holy Spirit. It is an ancient and marvelous indicator of the presence of God. Insofar as Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant, you are most correct. Allow me more time later to address this issue in more detail in a formal blog posting. Probably in the next two days.

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