Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Jesus, Through Mary?

I could honestly use some help with my Marian devotion. Simple explanations? I've read a book of articles written by Balthasar and Ratzinger about Mary as the Source of the Church and I just received some books on the Rosary (Balthasar's Threefold Garland and St. Louis de Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary) as well as a book by St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary. But I just don't understand the "to Jesus, through Mary" thing. And St. Louis de Montfort's language sometimes pulls amens from me and at other times his language about Mary makes me squirm. I'm still only beginning Montfort's True Devotion to Mary so perhaps I simply need to give him the time to better explain. But I feel dense here. Like he keeps talking and his words are just bouncing off of stone walls (i.e. my head).

The thing is, I love the Rosary and I love the place that Mary has in our Church - I suppose my trouble is with St. Louis's understanding of Mary's place in our Church and lives. I'm not saying he's wrong or even that he has a different understanding than the the teaching of the Church. I just don't comprehend it yet - I don't get it. So pray for me. I think I'll be discussing the matter with my priest as well, but any suggestions or explanations you could provide, I'd appreciate. Perhaps I've been too general here to garner any specific response.

Maybe I could put it this way best: I understand the hows and whys of Marian doctrine, but cannot wrap my head/heart around Marian devotion. Maybe that seems schizophrenic, maybe it is. Maybe it's simply hardness of heart. Maybe it's some vestigial Evangelical theology in my brain. I don't know. But that's kind of where I am right now. Any help?

Update: My terminology is most likely skunked on this issue, but I'm just trying to figure out what's going on in my head and heart and Church. I understand Marian devotion - as much as that I pray the Rosary and other Marian prayers and continue to grow in love of our holy Mother. What I struggle with is the idea of, as St. Louis de Montfort, that seems to make Mary a necessary mediator to Jesus. I can understand a love for Mary and a desire to be close with her, but I don't understand the seeming stern necessity that Montfort makes of devotion to Mary.

And either I don't understand Montfort or I don't understand the Church, but Montfort seems to reinforce the typical misunderstandings of Protestants concerning Marian devotion - not to the extent of worship - but a Marian devotion, fervor, that seems absent to me in the writings and concerns of the early Fathers.

Totus Tuus makes some sense to me, but Montfort does not. Does that make any sense to anyone familiar with these things? Can anyone help me with sorting this out?

Update on the Update: I think I'm beginning to see the light on some of this, thanks to the introduction to and writing of Balthasar in The Threefold Garland. I can understand it more easily through the lens of an icon like the "Panagia" (icon shown) and how the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics speak of the Theotokos. I'm not sure I still understand the expression of "to Jesus, through Mary," but I might be beginning to grasp the mind and heart behind it. The Rosary itself is a kind of "panagia" in words, in prayer.


Lover of Our Lady said...

Have you read Scott Hahn's "Hail Holy Queen"? Would highly recommend.
The world received Jesus *through* Mary. She is the ultimate intersessor. So to pray to Jesus *through* Mary is a shortcut to the deepest depths of Jesus' heart. She takes the prayers to Jesus and he looks with so much favor on her...does not refuse her request. It makes the prayer more effective because it's being hand delivered to Jesus by his Blessed Mother.
Don't forget to ask her for help in understanding. God Bless.

Fred said...

This was exactly the phrase that was a problem for me when I was 20. I saw it chiseled into the walls of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. More later!

kkollwitz said...

Wow! Since you mention the East, let me tell you about my favorite Marian meditation, the Platytera (which I'm so fond of it's my blog url).

from Wiki:
"This type of icon is also sometimes called Platytera (Greek: Πλατυτέρα, literally wider or more spacious); poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon (Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών): "More spacious than the heavens".

It helps to GoogleImage a few Platyteras to get the feel of it.

Anyway, I'm like you a bit in looking askance of a lot of Mary Stuff. But I never tire of thinking about how Jesus humbled himself to grow in Mary, to let this woman be His mother, how much he loves us all to do that, and how mysterious and wonderful must be the relationship between Mary and her Son.

BTW, you're familiar with Fr Longenecker; you may like his Mary book. It comprises a series of discussions with a fundie friend of his. I got it to sort out some of the Mary was helpful.

IIRC, they discuss Montfort.

kkollwitz said...

Oh...I see your Panagia...I forget that that's the proper term for what I refer to as Platytera.

Scott Lyons said...

LOL, thanks for your recommendation on Hail, Holy Queen. I suppose that the Blessed Virgin was the Theotokos/Mother of God is no struggle with me or with an believer, but that she still is Theotokos as some beautiful icons depict her that I have trouble wrapping my mind around. I can understand it, but I don't understand the devotion the "through Mary" devotion part of it. I'm getting there though.

Christian, thanks for your comments and suggestions. I have the Platytera as well on my computer as well, but didn't realize they were the same icon. I've heard of Fr Longenecker's book on the subject before, perhaps I'll look into it just for that dialogue about Montfort.

Fred, interested in hearing what you have to say on this one.

Fred said...

Scott, I confess that I've never read Montfort. But, I have shared some points over at La Nouvelle Theologie...

Anonymous said...

How did God choose to bring about the birth of the Word Incarnate? He could have done this several ways, but what way did He choose to bring Jesus Christ to us?

Jesus, the Word Incarnate, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ His Only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.." Pray to have a heartfelt understanding of what this means, and you will have a better understanding of Mary's role to bring Christ to the world and within each our hearts.

This role was given to Mary at the cross by Jesus when he turned and said to His "Beloved Disciple", "Behold, your mother". Are you His beloved disciple? Beloved disciple, behold your mother! This was not just a suggestion, this is what the Lord told His Beloved Disciple to do. Then He turned to His mother, and told her to "Behold your Son". There is a reason that Our Lord did not simple use the name "John", or "Beloved Apostle". He was speaking to all His beloved disciples, that is you and me, and all of His disciples (followers).

If you really want to grow deep in union with Jesus, in such a way that He is fully born within you, this will require the intercession and prayers of the Virgin Mary, who leads us to her Son. This is God's design. It's how He chose to do it.

Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit. But that is just the beginning. Jesus is born, through the Virgin Mary, fully into your heart. Walk with her. Embrace her as your spiritual Mother. She will teach you and bring you more fully in union with her Son, that He may be, not only conceived, but born fully within you.

There are so many scriptures in the Bible that speak of Mary's role!

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ!
June D.