Friday, August 22, 2008

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

Today is my name day ... I was named after the Queen of Heaven, Regina Coeli.

And here's where I feel my inadequacy as a Catholic ... I just don't have a whole lot of warm mushy feelings about the Blessed Mother. I can tell you why I think she's awesome ... she lent her humanity, her body, to the Incarnation. Wow. Her young girl body, her womb, contained GOD, all the power and glory and infiniteness that is her Maker and ours; it is Mary's flesh that joined to His divinity when He wanted to become one of us. I think that deserves Queenship, and veneration. But it doesn't equal daughterly devotion. I think of her sometimes as mother-in-law: "Mother Mary, help me to love your Son better, to be a better wife to Him." But I've never felt like she's my own mother. I've never felt a whole lot for her at all, except awe for her role in the great love story of the Incarnation.

We Catholics often get accused of idolatry for venerating the Blessed Virgin and other lesser saints. I have to say, I think many Catholics DO cross that line between veneration and worship, and I think the Church is culpable for not teaching the distinction more strongly. A lot of people firmly believe in the saints' power to work miracles in their own right, rather than the more limited power to intercede effectively for us based on being closer to God than we are. Or am I wrong to make that distinction? Didn't the apostles work miracles in Jesus's name? No, but who worked the miracle, really? The apostle or our Father? Well, I think it was God working by their intercession, wasn't it?

There is a "communion of saints", of course there is. If one believes that life goes on after bodily death, then of course the beloved dead are still with us. They see and hear us, even if we don't see and hear them. We pray for each other, we ask each other to pray for us here in the face to face world. Why shouldn't the saints still pray for us 'over yonder'? God does see and hear them, and what's even better they see Him face to face. Honestly, though, I feel as or more comforted by the prayers of people here in my face-world, or even people with whom I have interacted online, who have shown real concern for me. Or my grandfather -- who was an atheist. I bet he's not an atheist any more! :) And well, we've already discussed my heretical unbelief in eternal damnation. My Abuelo is all right, I truly do believe it.

But mostly I just go straight to God in prayer myself. And I guess I think that's when crossing the "idolatry" line gets a little dangerous, when people pray to the saints instead of to God. Pray with me, brothers and sisters, but your prayers can't substitute for my own relationship with God. At least, maybe just at the very beginning, when I needed God but hadn't found Him yet, or maybe if I'm under a lot of stress and my own prayer life is lacking, then your prayers can carry me. But if I can find time to pray to the saints, I'd better have time to pray to God.

Seems a lot of people conceive of God as an angry old white man up there on His throne, and they go to Mary or some other saint because they find them less intimidating. But that's a problem, I think ... God is God, we can't go around Him! And He's NOT an angry old man, He's a loving spouse ... a baby boy ... a suffering one of us ... a mother who aches for us, her children, and nurtures us. That's GOD.

Mary is human. I already have a human mother ... so no, I don't really get the deep devotion to the BVM. I respect her, I look up to her, I call her awesomely blessed ... and I can talk to her as big sister, or as wise mother-in-law ... but I'm really all about her Maker and mine, I'm all about the divine baby who borrowed from Mary's humanity to join Himself forever to me and all of us.


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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