The Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Mary, and Holy Is His Name

If God has so honored Mary as the daughter of God the Father, mother of God the Son, and spouse of God the Holy Spirit, how could we do otherwise?

Sandro Botticelli, “The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book),” 1480-1481, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan
Sandro Botticelli, “The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book),” 1480-1481, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan (photo: Public Domain)

I’ve attended patriotic and homeschooling events with attendance, largely Protestant, where images of America’s Founding Fathers are revered. How would they have reacted to an image of the Blessed Mother? I think we all know.

Negative thoughts against the Catholic practice of honoring Mary make me sad. They are missing the boat — or rather the graces — that God laid out for us through his Blessed Mother.

A good word put in by the Blessed Mother was divinely effective at the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. I heard a priest point out that he had been to a lot of weddings, but he’d never been to one where the guests drank all the wine. “This wasn’t even a good miracle,” he claimed. Yet, his mother’s intervention moved Jesus to perform his first recorded miracle.”

Following Jesus through Mary

God chose Mary for his mother from all eternity to get closer to us. The human nature of Jesus, God’s only begotten son, got his human nature from his mother. When we honor her, we do as Jesus did following the Fourth Commandment to honor his mother and father. 

If God has so honored Mary as the daughter of God the Father, mother of God the Son, and spouse of God the Holy Spirit, how could we do otherwise?

“Idolatry!” We know the anti-Catholic accusation against honoring Mary well. They quote 1 Timothy 2:5, that there is only one mediator between God and man: Jesus. Yet, these same people are fine with our friends on Earth praying for us. What better friend could we have praying for us than the Mother of Jesus? We are going through Jesus but take his mother with us.

Mary and the Bible

The queenship of Mary and her intercession are rooted in the Old Testament. In the monarch of King David, it was the King’s mother people went to with their requests. In the Bible, the right hand is the place of ultimate honor, (i.e. Psalm 110, Hebrews 1:13), so the queen sitting at the king’s right hand illustrates that she is second only to the king himself. Keeping in mind that Jesus descended from the house of David and the Bible repeatedly brings out the strong connection, Catholics follow the tradition given to us in the Bible.

The prayer the Hail Mary is also from the Bible. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28), “Blessed art though among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (v.42). The next part, “Holy Mary” comes from, “you have found favor with God” (v. 30) and “Mother of God” comes from “mother of my Lord” (v. 43). The rest, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen,” is a request to Mary to pray for us. The Hail Mary is completely Biblical and focuses on the divinity of Jesus, so it is a Jesus-based prayer.

Surprisingly, devotion to Mary was once Protestant too. Anyone reviewing the writings of the biggest fathers of the Reformation can read that, despite major disagreement with some Catholic teachings, they shared a strong devotion to Mary. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, the three fathers of the Reformation, each affirmed the Catholic doctrines that Mary is the Mother of God and a Perpetual Virgin.

Marian Apparitions

Another aspect of Catholic devotion to Mary is the many apparitions attributed to her throughout history. The Church is very slow and conservative about giving a nod of approval to any such claim. Only after much investigation does the Church sometimes acknowledge that a supernatural event has occurred. Miracles and conversions often result through these apparitions and many sites have been visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims such as at Fatima, Portugal; Lourdes, France; and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. 

No one is required to believe in an apparition as a requirement of the Catholic faith. However, it’s reasonable to judge apparitions worthy of belief after Church authority has investigated and accepted them.

And we have the Rosary, a Jesus-centered and Gospel-centered prayer that Padre Pio called “the weapon” for its power to answer prayers. All the Catholic saints that I have gotten to know and love were devoted to the Blessed Mother. Many prayed multiple Rosaries a day. 

Alongside the disappointment of negative attacks against honoring Mary, there are stories of converts singing the praises of Mary, their newfound friend. No doubt some of those Rosaries prayed by the saints won conversions and revealed the love and power of the Blessed Mother to them. It’s a good intention especially in Mary’s month of May, to pray for more people to embrace our Blessed Mother and then to spread the love.