Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
Mary and the Saints
We can also avail ourselves of God's blessing to us in Mary. Mary can be seen as a holy object in that she is the Ark of God wherein lived, Jesus, the God-man. But Mary is more than a magnificent holy object, she is a person, the mother of the Word Incarnate. And as a person we can have a personal relationship with her.
We can turn to Mary as our mother in our difficulties, turmoil, needs and joys. As we have recourse to her we can experience her maternal care for us. This will help us discover God's gentle love for us as is described in Isaiah 66:13, "As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you," It is difficult to experience that maternal comfort from what we generally perceive as a masculine God before whom we stand in fear and awe. We see many instances of this fear and awe in Old Testament passages. For instance, when heavenly beings, angels or emissaries of God appeared to the prophets they fall on their faces and were unable to get up until the Lord gave them power to do so (e.g. Daniel 10:9, or Ezekiel 2:1). There are New Testament incidents evoking that fear and awe such as at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan where the Father spoke and especially on Mount Tabor when after the Father spoke Peter, James and John fell on their faces in fear. So one thing our devotion to Mary can do is help us appreciate the other side of God, His gentle and nurturing nature.
In many ways, praying to and through Mary helps us to conform to the will of God, both in practical terms and in mysterious ways as well. Let me offer another example of this kind of practical help we get from our relationship with Mary. Let us suppose a person was injured by someone. Such a person might feel like praying to the Father or Jesus for vindication and even retribution on the offending party as was frequently requested in Old Testament times. In fact, I know a man who used to pray that God would take a particular person quickly, a person with whom he had theological differences. However, when praying with and to Mary it seems inconceivable that we would ask for vengeance from a maternal, loving mother, who would not want harm to come to her children even if they are presently cut off from God. Therefore, through Mary we tend to be more gentle and forgiving of others thereby we become more like her Divine Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. By communicating with the Mother of Mercy, we are moulded into the image or her Son, who is Mercy Itself.
A second way we can learn about the mercy of God is by our natural willingness to ask Mary, the mother, for things that we might feel a little reluctant to ask from the Father. This is the same tact a child would use in asking a mother for something trusting; that the mother will act as an advocate with the father. This opens us up to a greater scope of God's mercy in hearing our prayers. It is also built on our natural experiences with our parents.
The mysterious operation in our soul of devotion to Mary, can be related to the fact that Jesus spent most of His earthly life with Mary. And as we follow His example and spend time with her, we will be more surely formed into an image of her Son, Jesus (Rom 8:29; 1Cor 15:49; 2Cor 3:18; see Gal 4, 4 &19; Col 3:10; 1Pt 1:15-16). This process, being a mystery, cannot be easily explained. However, from the witness of the practices of the saints, and their affirmation of Mary's influence in their spiritual growth, we have testimony of the benefit of her help. As we practice devotion to Mary we will in time have our own experience of Mary's assistance that will testify to the truth of this sanctifying relationship. I will address more of the mystery of Mary's influence in the life of a Christian in the teachings on Mary that follow.
Once the Holy Spirit has opened us to devotion to Mary through our prayer, reason and faith we will feel the freedom to turn to her intercessory aid. In doing so we may use some childlike justification as to why she should help us by her intercession, such as, by reminding her that we, who want to be the beloved disciple, are her children (Jn 19:26 & 27).
Our petition to Mary could be a short prayer or a long one and might include a devotional prayer such as the Rosary or novena as added weight to our prayer. Then we trust that she will come through; knowing as we do with God that our prayers are always answered. As stated above, Mary's intercession with the Father can be compared to a child who wants a favour from his natural father but asks the mother to make the request of the father feeling the father will not easily refuse his spouse. God has given us Mary to pray in this manner for our needs.
I should explain that no matter how much we pray to Mary, love her or hope in her help, all of it, prayer, love and hope goes through her to Jesus and to the Father. As a saint once said, "When we say Mary she says Jesus." For instance, when Elizabeth said, "Blest are you among women (Lk 1:42)", Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord". She keeps no glory for herself but God receives all the glory. Whatever glory Mary receives, she receives from God and she returns it to Him.
I feel close to God when I am prayerfully in the presence of Mary. It feels like Mary and I are a team praying together to God for my needs. I feel united to God even though I am praying to Mary. I feel more confident that God will answer my prayer through her and with her but I know that God is the only one who can do anything. He is the one that ultimately answers all prayer. How much more quickly He will answer her intercession than our own will become apparent as one reads of the significance of the role she was chosen for as laid out in the following pages.
The same arguments for praying to Mary apply to praying to the saints and angels although their roles are different from hers and their influence is less. Nevertheless, God has also given us angels and saints as intercessors and protectors and he wants us to avail ourselves of their help by asking it. This great cloud of witnesses always surrounding us hears and sees us and they intercede and protect us.