Wednesday, August 22, 2012
That's the Queen of Heaven, Just Ignore Her
Perhaps this information will upset some people, specifically, the separated brethren, who would like Mary to go sit down, as far as I can tell. In as much as I vehemently disagree with that sentiment, I do understand why they feel that way. They don't want anyone between themselves and Jesus. I know this because I've had many conversations, while trying to explain Mary's place in our hearts, that ended with, "Well, I just pray to Jesus."
It doesn't matter if I patiently point out that they ask other people to pray for them. Do they believe that Mary lives on in Heaven? Yes, they do. Then why not ask Mary, of all people, to pray for you, just like you'd ask me to pray for you? Then comes the previously mentioned conversation ender. I usually mention that it doesn't make sense, in that case, to ask anyone to pray for them, ever.
So today I have a question for the separated brethren. I know you're reading, because I hear from you all the time and I welcome you. Here's the question: Where did you get this idea that we should ignore Mary?
As far as I can tell, the whole notion of dumping the saints as people to ask for intercession came from Martin Luther. I actually understand where he is coming from:
"Furthermore, how will you endure [the Romanists'] terrible idolatries? It was not enough that they venerated the saints and praised God in them, but they actually made them into gods. They put that noble child, the mother Mary, right into the place of Christ. They fashioned Christ into a judge and thus devised a tyrant for anguished consciences, so that all comfort and confidence was transferred from Christ to Mary, and then everyone turned from Christ to his particular saint. Can anyone deny this? Is it not true?"
It actually is not technically true, but I know why he feels that way. We love our patron saints! If there are people out there praying to saints, that is a problem and that is the issue to which Luther refers. The truth is, we are not to pray "to" the saints, even though we refer to these prayers as such.
The biggest offender springs to mind: St. Anthony. Technically we may be asking for his intercession to ask Jesus to help us find our keys, but it sure doesn't sound that way when we say, "Holy Tony, come around, something's lost that must be found." I think if we are honest with ourselves, we somehow believe that St. Anthony will not bother Jesus with finding our keys. Anthony will just find them for us on his own.
So of course the separated brethren are confused. We are confusing.
But so are you, separated brethren, because Martin Luther, who started this particular ball rolling, believed almost everything we believe about Mary, including that she is the reigning Queen of Heaven. He believed that she was immaculately conceived (the Immaculate Conception, which means that Mary was born without original sin on her soul), that she was perpetually a virgin (even though a lot of modern Lutherans don't). He didn't seem to believe in the Assumption.
So how did Mary get pushed into the background? We can argue that St. Rose of Lima might not be the best example to follow when she made herself a hat of glass and spikes. But there is no argument to be found that Mary was not the perfect example of love, obedience, humility, strength and a life of grace. How does one on the one hand acknowledge that Mary is indeed the Queen of Heaven and on the other hand say, "Oh, her? Yes, she is the Queen here. Just ignore her."