Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dear Bliss,

I am glad you wrote me about your latest struggles.  Being a convert to the Catholic faith has its own particular challenges, the one you mentioned is a common one.  

Don’t be ashamed of the reticence you feel at honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It’s understandable. It’s a leftover emotional habit. It will, little by little, go away, as you get to know better the Church’s attitude towards the Mother of Christ and, therefore, the Mother of Christ’s brothers and sisters (i.e., you and me).

One important aspect of that attitude is what I like to call Marian freedom.  A lot of non-Catholic Christians get icky feelings when Catholics praise Mary because they think Catholics believe that Mary’s elevated role in the plan of salvation taints God’s omnipotence, as if God couldn’t save humanity all by himself, so he was forced to enlist the help of this wonder-woman.  If that were the case, I would get icky feelings too. But it’s not the case.

God was free to save us in whatever way he wanted to.  He was even free not to save us at all. After Original Sin he could have crumpled up the universe as we crumple up a rough draft, and tossed it into the cosmic circular file.  He could have saved us be dropping red Twinkies from heaven with little messages on the label: “Savor and be saved”, and whoever believed and savored would have been saved. But he didn’t.  He freely chose another way. He freely chose to send his Son, his Eternal Son, in human form, to be a New Adam (as St Paul puts it), who would succeed where Adam had failed: in faithfully fulfilling God’s will even when put to the test by the Devil.

As part of that plan, he chose to include a New Eve, which, in my humble opinion, was a nice choice.  It fits. After all, the human race is male and female; only together are we fully in the “image of God”, as the Book of Genesis puts so clearly.  And the Fall of the human race involved mess-ups on the part of Eve as well as on the part of Adam, so why not work out the Redemption with the help of a woman?  Yeah, why not?

Of course, without Christ, even Mary would have been just another sinner.  It was only in view of his future saving sacrifice that she was conceived without sin and preserved from sin.  But the point remains the same. God wasn’t forced to work with Mary in order to save us; he freely chose to. Digesting that truth does wonders for alleviating icky feelings.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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