Back in 1984, when I had a full out born again conversion experience with Jesus, I was convinced that He is the Truth the Way and The Life.*1 That hasn't changed. I'd say that my walk with God has developed, grown and flourished. It has sprouted from a tiny seed and branched out to a great big oak tree.
At the time and moving forward in my walk with the Lord, I never had an issue with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In the little Baptist church I attended in Pompano, she wasn't mentioned, so there was no issue. Later, Assembly of God, Pentecostal, and Baptist churches took stabs at Mary and at the Catholic Church. I listened, but it never sat well with me to develop contempt for another Christian church, and especially someone's mother...Jesus' Mother.
I heard how the Catholic Church worships Mary and statues and how the Pope is seen as God, and that Catholics confess their sins to a priest, as a way of relieving responsibility, and then go back into the world and commit the same sins over again. I didn't care. My relationship with Jesus was fresh, alive and totally sold out. Getting into delineating denominations was too much for my milk fed infant crawl with Christ. What did it matter? Did this or that church worship Jesus, espouse the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, the Second Coming? That criteria was good enough for me.
But then, life got tough again. The Jesus that I knew was evasive. I doubted, my faith became diffident. I no longer knew the answers. I felt alone in being a mother of five all under the age of 7 and my oldest was autistic. I felt like I was drowning.
There is a long story in between, but I will get to the point of Mary.
I was introduced to praying the Rosary. When the kids napped, I sat on the sofa, looked out the picture window and thumbed my way back to sanity by praying the Mysteries of Jesus. Each event contained a myriad of scripture verses to meditate upon as I invoked Mary to pray for me.*2 I didn't feel so alone, so little of faith, and I could lean on her to pray for me. She knew the inside story of Jesus. She was I found out, the first Christian. She was trusted to take care of Him. She was the original chalice. She could mother me too. In a big way, salvation with Jesus was wrought through her. Jesus through Mary.*3
Later as a Catholic, I learned of her Immaculate Conception. Not a big deal. If Jesus is the new Adam and Eve was created without sin, why is it a stretch that Mary was conceived without sin?*4 Why wouldn't she be? Jesus, fully divine, the Holy of the Holiest can not dwell in sin, as a baby growing within His mother would need a sacred womb. *5 That is okay by me.
Then at the foot of the cross, Mary stood. Nobody doubts that every word out of the mouth of Jesus during his Passion was significant on all levels. Every word meant the world. So when Jesus said to John, behold this is your mother and to Mary, behold, your son, he meant that Mary would be our mother too. That John would take care of her memory. That John represents all the beloved of Christ, and that Mary the mother of Jesus is the mother of the Church, that we are to cherish her.*6 No biggie, to me. No hang ups here either.
Also I learned that Mary was assumed into heaven. Why not? Did she not merit that as the Mother pierced by the sword that Simeon prophesied?*7 Could she not be counted in with Elijah and Enoch? And you would think that if she did suffer a mortal death there would at least be a tomb to visit. But there isn't. I am okay with Mary being assumed, being honored as Blessed among all Women, (Elizabeth said it)*8 Mary was the first to say yes to Jesus.*9 And she said Yes! We can say yes because of her. God set it up this way. He could have blinked Jesus into existence, ready for ministry, but he chose a human family to bring forth the salvation message. A holy family. Not a sinful woman, and not an average Joe did He trust with his only begotten son. *10
We are taught to think critically. We can infer from scripture these thoughts about Mary. She said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord."*11 Her example expands and enriches our understanding of God. It doesn't detract from it.
I believe that God isn't jealous of Mary. I've heard that Fulton Sheen said, "Don't worry about loving Mary too much. You couldn't love her more than Jesus." Right on!
Mary serves as exemplar for my life in Christ. I have hope in heaven because of her example. *12
Veneration isn't the same as worship.
No we don't worship Mary, we just don't ignore her.
1 * John 14:6: Jesus as The Way the Truth and The Life
2 * Hebrews 12:1 The Communion of Saints
3 * Luke 1: 26-38: the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary
4 * Romans 5;15: Christ as the new Adam
5 * 2 Chronicles 5:7-9: The example of a holy tabernacle
* Hebrews 9:11: A more perfect tabernacle
6 * John 19: 26,27: Jesus' words to John and His Mother Mary
7 * Luke 2:35: Simeon's prophecy
8 * Luke 1:42: Elizabeth's Greeting to Mary
9 * Luke 1:38 & 46-55: Mary Says YES!
10 * Matthew 2:13,14 and 2:21: God's call for Joseph
11 * Luke 1:46 Mary Magnifies Jesus
12 * Philippians 3:20,21: New heavenly bodies