I thought I would have to write about a dozen posts about Mary in order to work my way through all these things that were at the very least foreign to me, and at the very most concerning to me regarding Marian Theology. Who knows, I may still end up with that many. But for now I’m at a point where I can say:
Ok, Teachings of the Catholic Church in Regard to Mary. Ok.
I can nearly promise that I will have additional questions about this issue for a while to come. But ok.
Mostly because there has been a logical answer for everything so far. Though my heart is far from being at total ease with it, mostly I think at this point due to the utter unfamiliarity of this line of thinking.
Here is a very, very brief overview on the issues I struggled with and what has helped me.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary: The idea of Mary as the Ark of The New Covenant, and the parallels to the necessity of flawlessness in the original Ark. The idea of Mary as the New Eve, and the parallels to the original Eve being conceived without Original Sin. The idea that all Christians acknowledge the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in someone until their sins have been washed away by the grace of Jesus, and the logic that sin would have needed to have been washed away in Mary before Jesus could physically dwell inside her.
Mary’s Ever Virginity: I haven’t looked into this a ton yet, but my main argument against this as a Protestant has been the Bible verse that says Mary didn’t have union with Joseph “until” Jesus was born. Then, learning about the meaning and usage of that particular word “until” in other places in the Bible and that it wasn’t a given that the word meant what we use it as in most instances today.
Mary Queen of Heaven: The Jewish concept of the Queen Mother, and the passage in Revelation describing Mary are compelling.
Praying the Hail Mary and other Prayers to Mary: Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints, that as a whole body of believers, those of us here on earth and those in heaven consist as the Communion of Saints. Just as I ask my girlfriends to pray for me, asking others in the Communion of Saints that might not be so distracted (because of being in heaven) as we are with the day to day burdens we face to pray for us isn’t that much of a stretch. The Hail Mary is quoting scripture and giving Mary the acknowledgement of her special place in God’s redeeming plan, and then asking for her prayers for us on our behalf.
Mary’s Life-Long Sinlessness: Again, another one I haven’t looked into intensely yet. But, knowing how much our parenting affects our children’s human brains, the idea of Jesus needing to grow up in a home where his human mind wouldn’t be at all stifled, and would be allowed to flourish fully makes sense. Mary did provide Jesus with the human side to his nature… Also, I might be wrong on this, but in John chapter 1, Jesus is referred to as “Full of grace.” So is Mary in Luke chapter 1. To the best of my knowledge, no one else is described like that… and I think that could be an argument for this conclusion as well. That her life was so full of God’s grace, like a cup full to the brim with water, that there wasn’t room for anything else, including sin in it. I’m sure there is more to it, and when I get to that, great. But I doubt I’ll be the one to stump the Church on this one.
So… ok. And “ok” is a whole lot farther along from where I was when I started. I’m looking forward to learning more as time goes on, but it’s no longer one of my main pressing concerns. And, in fact, I could see how this understanding of Mary could be an asset to my faith in Jesus and my prayer life as well.