Saturday, 25 March 2017

Much Ado About Mary

Once upon a time there was an old priest who became rather forgetful and tired of giving sermons at Mass on Sunday.

He used to write down his sermons and then read them at Mass; but more often than not he used to forget bringing his sermons to church; so at sermon time he had nothing to read anyway.

He reasoned that if he had to write down his sermons in order to remember them, then how could the congregation be expected to remember them after leaving church.

With such impeccable logic he decided to do something about it.

One Sunday morning at Mass he announced: “I’m getting old and forgetful. I really can't be bothered anymore with writing sermons I instantly forget. So from now on there will be no more sermons at Mass!”

His congregation was very disappointed and some even complained to the Bishop.

The Bishop called the old priest in for an explanation. Somewhat pensively the old priest explained that he could no longer remember what to say in his sermons, and even though he prepared sermons in writing, he often forgot to bring his writing to church, which meant he had no sermon to deliver.

The Bishop sympathised with the elderly colleague and said: “Here's something you could try. Next time you have to give a sermon say in a loud voice ‘I have an announcement to make!’

“This will ensure you have everyone’s attention. They will hang on to your every word.

“Then say just as loudly ‘I have fallen in love with a woman’.

“Now this will certainly have them all listening very carefully and remembering your every word.

“And then calmly tell them about the Virgin Mary, and all the good she did for us. It will be easy. Just speak from the heart of your love for Our Lady”.

The old priest was overjoyed and the following Sunday he stood proudly at the lectern and said loudly:

“I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE!”

And sure enough everyone sat up in their pews to listen very carefully. The old priest then continued just as loudly:

“THE BISHOP HAS FALLEN IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN …”

As the congregation stirred in their seats the old priest went on:

“I can’t for the life of me remember her name …”

Many non-Catholics perhaps don't understand our devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and often believe that our love for her is wrong and somewhat sacrilegious. They quote bits of the Bible like: 
 
"Christ said ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.’

Or Paul message in his letter to Timothy when he says, "there is one God, and there is one mediator who brings God and mankind together, Christ Jesus."

To pray to Mary, or any other Saint for that matter, must seem like idolatry or blasphemy to many.

I suppose I understand this viewpoint on the surface of it. But let's consider it some more.

When someone is ill, or in some difficulty, we often pray for them and ask God to come to their aid. This is right and proper and it shows our charitable loving intentions on our part; it shows our generosity of spirit and caring.

Prayers are the greatest gifts we can give to or receive from someone. God loves to hear our prayers on behalf of someone else.

When we pray for others we are mediating for them. We are saying "God ... you know our friend X is a good chap really. He is not well right now. Please help him." Or words to that effect.

When we pray to Mary and asking her help we are doing no different. We are asking her, or any other Saint, to put in a good word for us with God. We are not worshipping her, but asking her to mediate in the same way as we do ourselves when we pray for someone.

It is significant perhaps that Christ's first miracle, turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana, was indeed done through the mediation of His Mother. She was a guest there. She was not in charge of proceedings. She noticed that wine was running short and asked Her Son to help. Is this a clear signal from Christ Himself that there is nothing wrong in asking Mary to mediate or intercede for us?

When we light candles in front of Mary's statue, or place flowers, this is not idolatry. We are not worshipping the statue made of stone, or whatever material. The statue is a mere representation of what Mary might look like; it is to help us imagine who we are praying to. It is no different to us having a picture of our loved ones in our wallet or purse, or on our desk at work. We don't love the picture, but the individuals it portrays. It is a reminder of our loved ones. When we place flowers or light a candle by the grave of a loved one, again we are doing this as a sign of respect and love. It does not mean we worship the individual buried there.

A number of people, including Catholics, have miss-understood what it means to place flowers or light a candle by the statue of Our Lady, or any of the Saints. Indeed, many, perhaps naively, but certainly wrongly, do end up "worshipping" and kissing the statue. This is wrong and it is time the Catholic Church reminded its followers of this fact. I have lit many a candle in my days, but in no way am I worshipping a piece of stone or marble!
 Let's look at this another way.

God chose Mary to be the Mother of His only Son. He obviously had, and still has, high regard for her. Do you think that when I get to meet God face to face He will punish me for daring to love Mary? Or Joseph? Or any of the other Saints?

When we pray to Saints we do not worship them. We merely ask them to mediate for us. To put in a good word for us with God. Just as we do when someone asks us for a reference for a job, or club membership.

And God knows ... we need all the help and good words we can get!

I know I do. So please pray for me. It won't do you any harm and might do me a lot of good.

Thanx and God bless.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, my! I can only imagine how that must have gotten the attention of the congregation..especially when he forgot Mary's name! God bless you, Victor. :)

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    1. Good story to start my post, Cheryl.

      God bless.

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  2. Oh priests need to retire when they get to that age! :)

    For those that don't understand why we Catholics (and Orthodox too) revere Mary so much, read Luke chapter 1. The lines 46-48 are particularly important where Mary says:
    46 “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
    47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
    48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
    behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed."

    "All ages will cal me blessed." That's why we refer to her as the Blessed Mother or the Blessed Virgin. Notice also she says her soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. We find the Lord by going through Mary. Pray for us oh Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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    1. Well said, Manny. I agree. I think such messages should be proclaimed from the pulpit very often because a lot of Catholics confuse their own faith; or forget it even.

      God bless you, my friend.

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  3. Hi Victor! You bring up some great issues that many have with 'statue idolatry.' I have dedicated myself to Mary, and wear a medal to remind me of that. It doesn't mean that I put Mary first, it means I understand that her life can inspire mine, and that her prayers are more powerful than my own.
    There are certainly less statues in churches now than there were when I was young, and I suppose that's in reaction to fear that we'll all love them more than the Lord. (Which to me is silly. I miss those statues!)
    Funny story to start out your post! It surely grabbed my attention and gave me a Sunday smile :)
    Blessings,
    Ceil
    PS I just got your book in the mail from Amazon. It's in my personal queue to read!

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    Replies
    1. You are so right Ceil. The medals or statues are there to remind us of Mary (or other Saints). We don't worship the medal or statue itself. Our Church should explain that more often, I think.

      I too miss the statues in church. Our church has only two; Jesus and Mary. Gone are the statues of the other Saints.

      Ceil, tomorrow I shall be posting another controversial post which is also not understood amongst non-Catholics. I hope you can share your views on that too.

      Thank you for getting my book. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think of my humour.

      God bless you and your family.

      Delete

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