What if Mary Had Said No?
Nicolette Whittle, Kroonstad – The column “The problem with loving Mary too much” reflects the writer Arinze Joseph Ani’s concern regarding Marian devotion.
Mr Ani writes that many Christian denominations unfairly condemn the Church for the special honour given to Mary.
Current ecumenical Mariology shows a different picture.
Other Christian Denominations
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission released an agreed statement concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary as a pattern of grace and hope.
The “Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk Vrouebiddag 2014 Boodskap” states (my translation): “Then… his mother, the remarkable, Spirit-filled Maria — she accompanies him to the cross. This portrays the heart of womanhood” (Luke 2:5-7).
Dominee Herman de Vries wrote (my translation): “Maria has become an example to me. I want to share her way. After all, she brings me to Christ, her Son, my Lord.
“When I gaze at Maria, I see her Son. She directs me to Jesus in all her thoughts, words and actions, speech and silence, joy and sorrow.”
Concern is expressed that in certain cases appropriate honour due to the Mother of God (hyperdulia) has been unduly replaced by worship owed to God alone (latria), pursuant to many not having been instructed in the Church’s basic teachings.
Mr Ani calls for deeper commitment to catechetical instruction regarding this matter.
However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms the Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin as intrinsic to Christian worship.
From ancient times Mary has been honoured with the title “Mother of God”, to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.
Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel”, expresses this devotion to the Virgin Mary (Catechism 971).
Love by its very nature is inconclusively quantifiable. How much is too little love, how much too much?
Almsgiving and works of mercy are equally difficult to quantify due to Christ’s counsel within Matthew 6:3.
Reliable Mass attendance data is likewise inconclusively quantifiable due to factors such as life-saving duty of care commitments of faithful employed within essential services, familial illness or decrease of physical mobility, newly postpartum mothers, or poverty allied with distance or lack of transport.
Was There a Plan B?
Without God there would have been no Mary. Yet — and here is the mystery of God’s love for humanity and his honour of our free will — without Mary, there would have been no Son of God.
What if Mary had refused God’s request? Was there a Plan B?
Or would we have been eternally bereft of a Redeemer, doomed to eternal banishment from the presence of God?
So much hinged on one woman’s free will. Mary’s courageous choice won for each of us our personal Saviour, and opened the way for us to heaven. At the very least this incontrovertible fact should win her our respect. Indeed, our honour.
Not all feel drawn to hyperdulia. This presents no difficulty: Christ alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
Yet respect for Mary is only her just due. She alone of every disciple over two millenia bore the irreplaceable role within Redemption history.