Concerning Mary

This began as an epic comment on Churchman Kirk’s Mary post, so I figured that my own (albeit raw) post was in order.

Mary is a dream-come-true for me, which, in my pseudo-insecurity makes me question the impulse to embrace her.

As a (shall we say) forceful female, I’ve always resisted attempts to imply “boys are better.”

Not that I persisted long in my childish notion that girls are better, but I stood strongly on the philosophy of (I learned later) the musical Oklahoma! “I ain’t sayin’ I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be damned if I ain’t jest as good.”

What’s always been hard for me is not encountering nearly as many men with this attitude.

And so I find the veneration of Mary honorable and a hopeful act, for by acknowledging her place and treating her with respect, I see the value of all women (vicariously) lifted up.

That said, I totally get the hesitancy of adoration (is that the right term, or are the labels restricted to certain individuals?) for Mary.  And Kirk’s post framed it nicely for me when he said,

A Catholic man must be a momma’s boy indeed!

When I hear that term, momma’s boy, I think of my own attachment to my mother, and the difficulty I had “separating.”

In the TV show Burn Notice the main character observes, “People with happy families don’t become spies. A bad childhood is the perfect background for covert ops – you don’t trust anyone, you’re used to getting smacked around, and you never get homesick.”

I wondered a lot about “happy families” in high school.  How does normal separation happen when no one is driving you away?  For me I think I made up problems.  And in doing so I followed a time-test progression of how children see their mothers:

  1. Mommy is amazing! A goddess! None can compare with the giver of all life and sweetness!
  2. Mom’s alright.  Useful to have you around.  OMyGoodness you just saved my LIFE thank you!
  3. My mom is great and definitely better than your mom, but I’ve developed enough social skills not to put it quite that way. Or even to really speak of it much.  I just know.
  4. Mother you’re in the WAY!
  5. Yeah, I know she’s great,but I’m mature enough not to be deluded to thinking she’s *perfect*

In this way MOTHER is a mirror, not only of our developmental stage but just as clearly of ourselves.

At #1 she’s amazing and the best person in the world *because* she is the person in the world most aware of US.

And this doesn’t even have to be on a selfish level. All of us have genuine needs that require a caregiver, and we love much where much has been given.

At #2 we’re more aware of ourselves as individuals. Self-respect increases with our reduced neediness while we continue to derive security from the EverPresence.

At #3 we tie our value to what we are associated with.  By having the best mom we assert our own greatness.

There is a point where we aren’t talking about ourselves when we’re talking about our mom, but I think that doesn’t come until after #5.

#4 is the stereotypical “independence” stage. We emphasize our value by making ourselves worth more than that which we previously valued most-highly

Even #5 is about us, as we try to show we’re smart enough not to be deluded by “childish” notions of perfection.  Though by now enough veneration has sometimes returned that we must be in frequent contact with our sinful mother to remember her imperfections are that glaring.

In referring to Mary as Our Mother, I don’t believe it’s inappropriate to look at the various ways she’s treated in light of this pattern.

I would argue that most protestants are at levels #4 and #5 with Mary.  I don’t think any of the healthy ones actively dislike or despise her (a disappointing inference I get from some Catholics).  I suggest that the protestants who treat Mary in this way have the same attitude toward the apostles and the Church Fathers; those don’t get better honor simply for being men

Though they will be spoken of more, since it’s their words we study in the scriptures.

Protestants have come face-to-face with their own sinfulness and imperfection in fulfilling the law of Christ, and project their struggles on all humanity.

Personally I can’t see a reason aside from direct teaching to prevent this, so I am in complete sympathy with them.  They are being consistent in the only way they know how.

All that, coming around to say I think I’m currently at #3.

I have this glowing hope that I am more cared-for than I’ve known, and I’m not really sure how to talk about it.  Or to whom.

I expect I’ll learn eventually.  Reading other people’s writings about Mary has been a peaceful beginning.

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One Comment to “Concerning Mary”

  1. Wonderful comment/post! Thank you so much for your praise and for linking back… And you are so right: Mary stands as a pillar of flawless marble, not to be ignored or dismissed as the only one of her kind, but to inspire awe in us at the possibility that lies in all the unfinished stones of the world. The beauty, dignity, and greatness of women is indestructibly bastioned by her nature and example.

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