Saturday, February 16, 2008
Always Room for Jell-O
When I was younger I used to take unofficial, impromptu polls. I wondered if there was anyone who just couldn't stand Jell-O. I had never seen anyone refuse Jell-O because they absolutely could not abide eating it, the way someone might gag at the idea of eating cottage cheese or cavier or mussels. I've never seen someone get that look on their face that a child might have if you tried to feed him a fish with it's head still on when facing down a dish of Jell-O. In my poll, I didn't find anyone who actually could not stomach Jell-O, although I did find several people who would rather not eat it, and that had to do with the consistency of it and not the taste.
I also did a poll to find out if I could find any women who did not like pasta. During that poll I discovered that women like pasta better than men and I didn't find any women who didn't like pasta.
More recently, I started asking non-Catholics of all denominations what exactly are the tenets of their faith. What makes a Methodist a Methodist and not a Baptist, what makes a Lutheran not a Methodist, because I really don't know and I can't seem to find any answers. This was an impromptu questioning, but I asked at least 25 people of a number of different denominations and I didn't get one answer from any of them. Not one. I got a few answers about why the person had chosen a particular congregation. (It was close by, they liked the minister's sermon's, that sort of thing.) Nothing more. I'm still on the case, if anyone cares to enlighten me.
Our question today was asked a few days ago when we were talking about just praying to Jesus and ignoring Mary and the saints.
I get a hoot out of your blog, though I'm protestant. Today I couldn't resist disagreeing with your father. Not to say that there aren't arrogant Protestants...there are and I am one of them at least part of the time (and perhaps now). But most of us, when we insist on talking only to Jesus, do not intend arrogance. We are simply repeating what our church taught us from birth. I've often seen Catholic submission to the magisterium characterized as proper humility...wouldn't the same fidelity to church teaching also be humility in a protestant? (I realize you must in the end regard our position as error.)
What a nice person! Isn't this a nice way to have a discussion?
Since Protestantism sprang from the mind of Martin Luther (and King Henry the VIII), I decided to find out why Martin Luther dumped Mary and the saints. I knew that in general, Luther's whole idea was to get the corrupt clergy out of the picture, clearing a path between you and Jesus. I imagined Mary and the Saints just got plowed under along with the sellers of indulgences when this antiseptic road to Jesus was paved. If you don't need a priest, you certainly don't need Good King Wenceslaus. Imagine my surprise to find this type of thing:
"One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. " (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521)
"Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of us all.
If Christ be ours . . . all that he has must be ours,
and His Mother also must be ours." -- Martin Luther, 1529
We're not in 100% agreement. Mary IS something for the sake of herself...she is the Immaculate Conception. But she is something for the sake of herself because of Christ. Mary does wish that we come through her to God. Given what Luther actually has to say about Mary, it seems to me that all that stands between a Protestant and Mary is the misunderstanding that anyone is praying to her. For the 40 zillionth time, we are asking her to pray for us, the same way I may ask you to pray for me. She is the Mother of us all. Don't you ask your Mother to pray for you? I do. A mother's prayers are very special.
I have to wonder if the whole notion of dumping Mary and the saints simply took on a life of it's own, as Protestantism tried to draw distinctions between THEM and US. It certainly seems to be a bone of contention. People get so cranky about it, in my experience. Amazing, as Mary is such a sweet person. What is there to be so grumpy about?
A perfect segue to this question:
Dear Sister Mary Martha:
What do you think is the appropriate response for someone snottily saying, "I'll pray for you!" when in a disagreement? I was thinking a sincere, "Thank you, I can sure use them." But, you're pretty clever and maybe you have something better?
I think your response is just fine. Here are some more ideas:
1. Please start now.
2. OH! Thank you! Let me get you a list of petitions!
3. I'll pray for you, too. A lot.