I was blindsided the first time someone accused me of worshipping the Virgin Mary. He said all Catholics do it, making me a pagan. Silly me, I’d never learned to worship her. I thought we were supposed to honor her. Thank heaven this person set me straight.
It’s the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day honoring when Mary was conceived without original sin. The Virgin Mary has an important place in Catholicism, Orthodoxy and the Coptic Church, and she always has. It makes sense: if Jesus is the King of Kings, then she’s the Queen Mum.
You see something similar with Bathsheba and Solomon in the Bible. If you have a polygamist society, then there might well be multiple wives of the king, but the king only has one mother, so his mother becomes an influential figure. I’m not going to get into the whole theology of Mary here. Call me a mariolator in the comment box if you feel the need.
The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel novena contains a line saying “None may withstand your power.” That drew me up short the first time I read it because I thought, “Well, Jesus can. He’s God.” I figured it meant no created being. Then someone said, “Oh, I like to think even Jesus will change things when Mary asks him to.” Which, to be fair, he did once before, at Cana. It’s not my time yet — oh, but Mom asked, so I’ll do something for them.
I’ve begun realizing why she can ask for anything and God would grant it, and it makes a lot more sense than the demi-goddess nonsense some people have accused Catholicism of promoting.
My Patient Husband and I have a great marriage. Imagine if my kids were to say to their friends, “Dad never says no to Mom. She could ask for anything and he’d give it to her.”
It would be true, and here’s why — because my Patient Husband and I are a team. We work in parallel and we work in union, and we have a unified goal and share a vision of our future together. We share priorities, and because of that, you can draw a few conclusions:
1) That if I ask him for something, it’s in line with his vision and his priorities.
2) That I would never ask for something counter to his priorities.
3) That if I ask, it’s important to me.
4) That I understand the cost of what I’m asking.
To jump straight to “Dad gives Mom anything she wants” misses the point. It misses the work we’ve done to create that kind of union, the understanding, the care, the sacrifices we make for one another, the closeness.
It’s humbling to think of Mary having achieved that kind of close relationship with God, closer than anyone, as the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Word, the Daughter of the Father. That she’s worked (let’s say) as hard at knowing and loving God as I did at knowing and loving my Patient Husband, at anticipating His wants and doing nice things for Him and making her decisions with a mind for what He wanted, and caring for Him. Always and without fail, making her goals match to His. That’s true espousal.
It’s more intelligible in my head to see her as someone who found someone she loved and then worked hard at letting Him know how much she loved him, and then forming a close friendship that eventually became intimate, to the point where one can’t refuse the other in large part because one couldn’t ask for something the other would refuse. Because she would refuse it too.