Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mary: Mother of All (Not Just Catholics)

This article appeared recently at "Divine Caroline."

Why would anyone who doesn’t consider herself a traditional Catholic be interested in a book about Mary, the mother of Jesus? The answers, and there are several, might surprise you.

Among the monotheistic world religions, she is a solitary feminine presence honored across faith traditions. In Islam for Today, Latino Muslim convert and journalist Juan Galvan writes, “In the Quran, no woman is given more attention than Mary. Mary receives the most attention of any woman mentioned in the Quran even though all the Prophets with the exception of Adam had mothers.”

As Mother of the Church, she is the personification of wisdom. As Queen of Heaven, she is the human being closest to the ear of God. For centuries people have been seeing visions of her, delivering prophetic messages to those most in need of the touch from the Divine. And in the gentle repetitions of the rosary, her spiritual children have derived comfort and assistance from her in their darkest hour.

The Mary of my childhood was an impotent figure, a silent figure in every Christmas pageant, or the kneeling figurine that was packed away every New Year’s day. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen so many women like me, hungry for the transcendent, turning to New Age solutions to satiate their quest for spiritual truth. Instinctively they know that there is more to this world than can be seen with the naked eye and it’s only natural that they long for a connection with the infinite that affirms and resonates with their lived-out experience.

For me, the reasons are even more personal. I love Mary because I love her son, Jesus. I love her because she is my own spiritual mother by adoption and I can relate to that because I too am an adoptive mother. I love her because, at a time in my life when I desperately needed to know that I was not alone and forgotten in this world, I turned to her, testing her the way my own foster son tested me—clinging and desperate, and I received the kind of answer only a mother could give.

Sure, there’s more to it than that. For thousands of years, Christians have been venerating Mary by hundreds of different titles: Star of the Sea, Black Madonna, Lady of Guadalupe, the New Eve, Seat of Wisdom. For a long time I avoided her because I was afraid giving her too much attention would deprive God of the honor that was due to Him alone. But the more I got to know her and the saints that counted themselves her spiritual sons and daughters, I realized I didn’t have to worry about that.

The hidden maiden of Nazareth draws us close to her in order to lead us to her Son, Jesus. But cuddled up close, like a child, I saw that the wisdom of the ages was there for the asking.

You can purchase Behold Your Mother at and