Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I'm sorry it has taken me so long to answer this lovely sincere question from a couple of days ago. We have only one patch of the garden left to conquer. The entire deck was full of everything we had to tear down and today was trash pick up for the whole mess. We had to get everything in the green can and out to the curb. It's a wonder we didn't lose Sister Mary Fiacre under the vines and weeds and leave her by the curb by mistake.
Sister Mary Martha, I am in the RCIA process, I have sent away for and received a medal, I'm wondering, how can Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal protect me when I can't see her? Does she protect people from the demonic? What graces do people get from the medal? Can she really be a mother to people who don't have that mother figure in their life like St. Catherine saw her as today? What do you think?
Good for you! Keep up your work in the RCIA!
Here's the thing: Your medal is just a reminder. It doesn't have any special power at all. Mary doesn't live inside it.
It's like having a picture of someone in your wallet...not the picture of the person that came with the wallet...a picture of a loved one. Why do we carry that stuff around with us anyhow? To show off how pretty they are? To indicate that we're the person that won't live through to the end of the movie?
Did you ever notice that? Once some poor devil hauls out a picture of his wife there in the foxhole to show his buddies, that guy is doomed. Everyone should scream, "In heavens name man, put that away!" The same goes for "I only have two weeks left on my stint." Or, "This is my last day! I'm retiring tomorrow!" Never say those things if you want to live through a movie.
Where was I? Catholics use images of saints and Mary and Jesus to remind us of things. What we strive for, what we believe, the fact that the saints and Mary and Jesus are always around to help us. We don't get any graces from the the medal. We get don't even get any graces from Mary. We get graces from Jesus. Mary asks Him for us.
Remember that story where Jesus and his pals and Mary are all at a wedding and the host runs out of wine? Nobody knew yet that Jesus was JESUS. He hadn't started in yet and He wasn't going to start in that day. Mary, of course, knew. Not only had an angel come to tell her she was with child when she was still virgin, but there are stories about little Jesus healing birds and whatnot. She asked Jesus to help out with the embarrassing wine situation and He actually said no, He wasn't about to start His ministry right now at this wedding.
This is the start of everything Jesus did in His public life, remember. You'd think He'd really want to be careful about when and where He began. He must have been thinking that all over very carefully. He said an adamant "no" to the whole wine thing.
Mary must have given Him a look or something, because the next thing you know, there's wine. In fact, it's really especially great wine.
What do we learn from this story? Jesus listens to His Mother.
How do we know that Mary is around when we can't see her? She shows up for visits all the time! How did we get the Miraculous Medal to begin with? Mary came over and asked St. Catherine to make it because France was in big trouble, circling the drain as it were, spiritually speaking. (Don't anyone dare point any fingers at France! For one thing Mary loves it there and for another, you'll need your finger to grab onto the side of the tub so you don't go down the drain yourself here in the USA.) Clearly, Mary is watching out for you like any good Mother.
You don't even have to believe that Mary visits anyone! She'll still be watching out for you.
As a Catholic you are never required to believe in the personal revelations of anyone. Mary sightings fall under the category of personal revelations. Here's what you have to believe about Mary:
1. Mary was always a virgin, before and after she had Jesus.
2. Mary gave birth to Jesus and no one else.
3. Mary's son was always divine.
4. Mary was free from original sin from the moment of her own conception.
5. Mary's whole body and soul went to heaven.
6. Mary is the Queen of Heaven.
Did I miss anything?
You don't have to believe that Mary appeared to anybody ever. This also leaves you free to ignore Mary on pieces of toast and gooey melted chocolate Marys.
And as for Mary being a good mother figure, I answer your sincere question with this sincere answer: when God decided to have a son, He picked Mary to be the child's mother. Have a better pick than God? I didn't think so.
Here's one of my very favorite books about Mary.