We often hear about apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her miracles. Do you adore Mary more than Christ in the Catholic Church?
In Christian Churches, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed since very ancient times. If we analyze this in religious terms, we may say that Christianity, which developed in a world that was excessively male-centered, has fulfilled herein a natural human yearning for the maternal aspect of life, which it tended to lack. On experiencing their weakness when in the throes of illness or death, Christians tended to cling to the Blessed Virgin Mary, seeing her as a comforting and helpful presence, and as a person imbued with the tenderness of a mother.
However don’t get me wrong. We do not worship the Virgin Mary as though she were a goddess. Rather, we believe the Virgin Mary prays to God along with us.
I have spoken earlier about the “Communion of Saints.” In Christianity we believe that the children of God, both those who have departed this life and are now in life eternal, as well as those who are still undergoing trials on their earthly journey, share the grace of God and support one another by transcending space and time. The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is to be comprehended in the context of this Communion of Saints. The Virgin Mary is considered as playing a special role in the communion of God’s children, just as a mother would do in the case of a family. The reason for this is because she was the first to respond to God’s work of salvation and to participate in it. Mary is also a person who was saved through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Yet, as she was the first to receive salvation, she is so to speak, the first fruit of the work of salvation.
As the Gospel of Luke describes in the famous scene of the Annunciation, by voicing the words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” Mary accepted the call of God on her own free will, and offered her existence as an instrument of salvation. Mary nurtured Jesus with all her heart, she assisted his work of communicating the Gospel, and accompanied him along his path to the cross. One may say that Mary was the one closest to Jesus, more than any of his disciples.
If the words, “I shall pray for you,” make sense to us, and we do pray to God for some person, then you may be certain the Virgin Mary is a person who prays for us. The Gospel of John presents as follows the scene on the cross, where Jesus leaves his last will and testament to Mary and his beloved disciple.
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26～27). We may understand this to mean that the author of the Gospel of John already had a clear awareness of the role that Mary was to play with reference to the Church, when he wrote that passage.
Stories of various appearances and miracles probably stem from folk beliefs, and the fact that we believe in Christianity does not mean we have to believe them all. Nevertheless however, it is right and proper to seek support and consolation in the Virgin Mary, in the course of our various trials of life. The faithful know through their own experience as to how great a blessing this is.