Pope prays in front of statue of Our Lady of Fatima during Marian vigil at Vatican
Pope Francis prays in front of the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima during a Marian vigil in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 12. The statue was brought from Portugal for a weekend of Marian events culminating in Pope Francis entrusting the world to Mary. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Oct. 14, 2013) See POPE-FATIMA Oct. 14, 2013.

 

After Saturday evening Mass, I found it necessary to leave my car on the side of the road and take a ride from a total stranger.  She was very polite, though at first as I began to get out of my car, hoping to indicate I was in need of help, she drove right past.  About a minute later she came rolling back.  Turns out she was having a bad day and decided just to drive on by.  But, as she later stated, she wasn’t going to let that stop her from helping someone in need.

She was on her way back from a yard sale.  A close friend had recently passed away and she was in the process of cleaning out her home.  After a minute of shifting various books and other items to the back seat, we were traveling down the road steeped in a conversation.

I mentioned that I was on my way home after Mass.  She said she was a Christian but had two older siblings who received their first communion.  She had attended my Parish before, for quite some time, and also for weddings and funerals.  Seeing that I’m always happy to share my faith for its potential to help enliven another, and knowing we were getting close to home, though we always are, I decided to share how praying the rosary has often helped me through tough times.

She replied, “Oh that’s right, you guys pray to statues right?”

“Well, not exactly.”

I tried to explain that we believe Mary is in heaven, RIGHT NOW, how very blessed she is to be the mother of our Lord, too blessed to be left behind… so to speak.

“I know but that’s what you guys do, right?”

So, I began to talk about the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in Jewish history, the vessel the Israelites used in order to carry:
1.) the stone tablets of the Law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai
2.) the bread from heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after leaving Egypt and
3.) the rod of Aaron that had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds, signifying Aaron’s position as the first High Priest of the Israelites, as explained in the 17th chapter of the Book of Numbers.

God gave detailed instructions on the Ark’s construction; it had to be made from acacia wood (supposedly incorruptible) and plated inside and outside with pure gold.  It had to be kept free from all impurity and profanation.  So holy was the Ark of the Covenant that God struck a man named Uzzah dead because he dared to touch it (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

I then began to talk about how the Ark foreshadowed Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, the vessel chosen by God to bring the Word made Flesh into the world, God Himself in the person of the Son.

Surely if I could get her to understand that she would understand how holy Mary is and how it wouldn’t be fitting for her to be anywhere but in heaven right now.  Once she understood that, surely she wouldn’t believe I was merely praying to a statue any more than someone holding Scripture while praying to God is praying to the ink on the page –God is a living, triune being, not ink on a page; Mary is a living person, not a statue.  And yet, Scripture helps us to understand who God is, just as a statue of a loving mother holding her son in her arms, nourishing Him, helps us to understand Mary.

I wish I had a copy of “My Ideal: Jesus Son of Mary,” by Fr Emil Neubert, S.M. –I would have read the following passage to her, entitled Contemplate and Admire:

JESUS:
Contemplate now what my filial love has inspired Me to do for My Mother.

  1. From all eternity I thought of her and loved her, for from all eternity I saw in her My future Mother.
    I thought of her when creating the heavens and the angels; I thought of her as I formed the earth and the human race.
    I thought of her as I pronounced sentence against your first parents; I thought of her as I revealed Myself to the ancient patriarchs and prophets.
  1. Out of love I heaped privileges upon her, each of which exceeds the greatest of My bounties towards other creatures. I exempted her from laws to which the whole human race is subject: her alone did I make Immaculate in her Conception, free from all concupiscence, unsullied by any imperfection, more full of grace than all the angels and Saints, Mother of God and ever a Virgin, glorified in her body, even as I was, before the general Resurrection.
  2. Although I came on earth to redeem the human race, I gave thirty years of My life to Mary alone and three years to the rest of humanity.
  3. Nor was I content to have her share My privileges and live in intimacy with Me; I willed that she should also have a part in the very mission which My Father had entrusted to Me. I, the Redeemer, determined that she should be the Co-Redemptrix with Me, and that everything which I merited for the Salvation of the world because it was strictly due to Me, she should merit too because it was supremely fitting.
  4. I also willed that she should be associated with me even in Heaven. I willed that, as I am an advocate with the Father, she should likewise be an advocate with Me, in order to distribute all graces to men, because she cooperated with Me in gaining them.  For, in Heaven even as on earth, I am her Son, and I am infinitely happy to reward her liberally for all that she formerly suffered and did in love for Me.
  5. Listen further: I live in the Church; that is, in My Mystical Body directed by My Spirit. What the Church does is really done by Me; what the Church does for My Mother, is really being done for her by Me.  Think of all the veneration and love the Church has shown her: the defense and proclamation of her privileges, the institution of feasts and devotions in her honor, the approval of confraternities and religious societies destined to serve her.  Think over the piety of the Church’s children; of the Saints, who were all so devoted to My Mother; of fervent souls, who are drawn more and more to honor her in a special way; of the ordinary faithful themselves, who are so watchful over her honor, so clear-minded in recognizing her privileges (sometimes even more so than learned men), so enthusiastic the moment there is question of giving her some special mark of affection.  What is all that if not a grand and yet quite imperfect manifestation of My own incomparable filial love toward My Mother?
    To all that the Church Militant has done and will do for Mary down to the end time, add what the Church Triumphant does for her throughout eternity; for I live even more in the Saints of Heaven than I do in the faithful on earth.  Imagine the gratitude, respect and love which the blessed unceasingly manifest to their Queen and Mother, to whom they owe their eternal felicity.  In them and by them, remember it is always I who honor and love My Mother.
  6. Pass in review these proofs of My filial love; delve into them, sound their depths, try to understand all you can about them, and notice that what you cannot understand surpasses infinitely anything you will ever understand of them. Then, say to yourself that it is this infinite filial love which I wish you to share.

 

But I didn’t have it with me.  And besides, the conversation shifted to how she thought she knew my mother and father.  Apparently she had been in a car accident and believed my mother was the one who would come to her home to provide support and counseling.  That is a very kind and motherly thing to do –that is exactly what Mary does for us when we ask for her intercession!  But, I digress.  She was correct in recognizing my father as a counselor, but that my mom had done that sort of work as well was news to me, that and that they often rode a motorcycle together.

As we pulled into the driveway, I invited her inside.  Surely my mom would appreciate seeing her again if all she’s said is true.

As it turns, she had my parents confused with another couple.

After kind greetings and apologies for a misunderstanding, I walked her back to her big red truck.  With the engine running and her foot on the brake, I tried to finish where I left off.  I told her that if she researched the Kings in Scripture, she’d eventually discover the special role their mothers had.  Jesus descended from King David –the kings of Judah, who were from David’s lineage, prefigure Jesus’ kingship.  Accordingly, the wife of the king of Judah was not the queen, the queen was the king’s mother.  She was known as the Queen Mother and had great honor and authority in the kingdom.

“The title Gebirah (Gebira), meaning “Great Lady” or “Queen Mother” was a royal title and an office which was bestowed upon the mothers of the Kings of Israel, but limited to those Queens who were mothers of kings in the line of King David.  When the monarchy divided into the two kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north, the institution of the Gebirah was not practiced in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The Northern Kingdom was ruled by 9 ruling houses (dynasties) but Judah continued to be ruled by the House of David. The Hebrew word, gebirah, is found fifteen times in the Old Testament.

Sacred Scripture indicates that the Gebirah assumed a throne alongside her son [see 1 Kings 2:19] and exercised her role as counselor [2 Chronicles 22:3] and intercessor to the king [1 Kings 2:13-21.  In times of conquest both the king and his mother represented royal power and both were deposed [2 Kings 24:12].  The Gebirah was clearly the most important woman in the Kingdom of Judah; a king had many wives, but only one mother.  The Gebirah of the eternal Davidic Kingdom of Jesus Christ is Mary of Nazareth.  Upon her Assumption into heaven Her Son placed her in her well-deserved place beside His throne as mother of the King of kings.  She appears in this role in Revelation 12:1 ‘clothed with the sun and standing on the moon.’  As Christ’s mother she reflects His light just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and she calls all her children in the family of the Church to follow her Son and to do, as she advised the servants at the wedding at Cana, ‘whatever He tells you.’ [John 2:5].[1]

She was very kind in listening to me for as long as she did.  Thankfully, you’ve gotten a much more detailed account of what I’d hoped to share with her.  Perhaps this is no mere coincidence.  Moreover, as stated in “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness,” by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., “Nothing happens in the universe without God willing and allowing it.”

The following day, I attended Mass again (this time to serve in the choir).  Afterwards, I went to visit her at the yard-sale she was hosting.  I told the deacon about the encounter and he suggested I visit the bookstore to see if there were any apologetic works I might share with her, in defense of Mary’s honored position within the Church.  I took two pamphlets on the rosary (one was in Spanish), and a beautiful green rosary.  When I arrived, she was pleased to see me and introduced me to her sister (the one who had received her First Communion).  She kindly accepted the pamphlets and rosary and I stepped away to search for something useful.  As I admired several nice tools, one of which was a finely crafted rock hammer, probably used in the mine, I overheard her sister instructing her on how to pray the rosary.  Now that’s awesome!

There are other Scriptural foundations for Mary as our spiritual mother, referred to as typology.  I would encourage anyone hoping to enrich their life with her graces to research the evidence supporting her intercessory ability for you, i.e. her love for you, right here, right now.

 

Here are some additional resources worth considering:

Venerable Fulton J Sheen –The Blessed Virgin Mary –The Woman I Love[2]

Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary[3]

Top 15 Catholic Books About Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus[4]

 

REFERENCES

[1] The Blessed Virgin Mary: Queen Mother of the New Davidic Kingdom.  Agape Bible Study.  Online.  http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/mary%20the%20queen%20mother%20of%20the%20new%20davidic%20kingdom.htm

[2] Sensus Fidelium.  Venerable Fulton J Sheen –The Blessed Virgin Mary –the Woman I Love.  YouTube.  1 Jan 2013.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG5-RSevDBI

[3] Fr. Chacon, Frank; Burnham, Jim.   Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary.  San Juan Catholic Seminars. Farmington, NM. 2012.

[4] Armstrong, Dave.  Top 15 Catholic Books About Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus.  Online.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/39E7YWPDY0H2K

 

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https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/should-roman-catholics-be-using-statues-to-pray-to-mary-or-dead-saints/

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