Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Alright where was I? Distracted by Mel Gibson, the possiblity of war in heaven, Fidel Castro's intestines, I've dropped the ball in the story of Mary.
So what do we know so far: No one prays TO Mary, we ask her to pray for us, just like we would ask anyone and everyone to pray for us. Her life story is told while saying the rosary.
Well, not all of her life story. I think I've mentioned Tradition with a capital "T". These are things that are not found in the New Testament in black and white, but things that we accept as true because logic dictates they are true. The Immaculate Conception is one of those things. Mary must have been conceived without the stain of original sin on her soul or she would have passed original sin onto Jesus. That can't be right. So Mary never had original sin. Voila! It stands to reason.
Somehow the story of Mary's parents made it into the archives, too. I have mentioned the story is found in the gnostic gospels which has buckets of information that is simply not to be believed, the killer baby Jesus stories, Mary Magdelene as the lover of Jesus (imagine the look on my face as I type that!)...the list goes on.
But out of the gnostic gospels we find the names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, an old childless couple. One day when Joachim went to the temple, the rabbi gave him an earful about being childless and Joachim is so embarrassed that he ran off to live in a cave. Anne is at home crying her eyes out about the whole mess. This goes on for quite a while.
Then an angel came to each of them. I'm not sure if it's the same angel, or two angels came or it's Gabriel running all around or what. In the New Testament, which we do take as gospel (pardon the pun), in one story there are two angels at the tomb waiting for the apostles after Jesus has risen, in another one there is one, and in a third there are none at all. Oh well. He rose. Anyhow the angel informed Joachim and Anne that they will have a baby.
Anne is so excited she made a promise to dedicate the child to God. Joachim rushed home. They met tearfully at the gates of the city. It would make a great movie of the week.
When Mary is born, Anne never lets the child's feet touch the ground for three years. When Mary is three her parents take her to the temple where she becomes a temple virgin and learns to sew and weave. That's the last we hear about Joachim and Anne.
Anne is a pretty celebrated Saint in the Catholic church. Joachim...not so much. Maybe because too many people would confuse him with Mary's husband, Joseph. Maybe because we felt sorrier for Anne in the first place what with Joachim embarrassing her by running off that way, so there she sat barren and abandoned. Or maybe we just like the idea that Anne was so thrilled with her daughter that she lugged Mary around for three years. I wonder how Mary learned to walk. She had to have learned to walk. You couldn't get by without walking back then, and she did follow Jesus all around....hmmm.
Now there comes a point where Mary can't be in the temple anymore at that certain age where girls become women. She's pledged to remain a virgin, but she can't live at the temple. What to do? The temple elders gather up all the eligible bachelors in town, young and old. They each have to put their staff in a pile. Joseph, an old guy, wins when his staff miraculously grows a rose.
Joseph has the same reaction a person has when they go to a Tupperware Party and win the big prize, which is that YOU have throw the next Tupperware Party (how do they get away with that?). Marry the girl that has to remain a virgin? No, thank you.
But an angel comes and tells him, "Look just go along with this, here." Not sure which angel, a new one, one of the Joachim and Anne ones, Gabriel... Anyhow he goes along with the plan.The angel must not have told him the whole plan, though, because he's not happy about it, it seems. He leaves his very young wife alone for a long time while he goes far away to 'work'. (I guess he had to go get some trees or something.) When he returns she is pregnant. He must have felt like such a sucker! Not to mention old and unwanted. I'm sure there must have been some shouting.
Back goes the angel to explain further. At this point everyone is finally on the same page. And this is where the New Testament picks up the story, when a very pregnant Mary has to travel with her husband to Bethlehem.
There is no historical evidence of any of this until we find the couple on their way to Bethlehem. But it all makes sense.
St. Ann is the patron saint of Grandmothers and mothers.