As I ponder the beauty and nature of our Blessed Mother, it never ceases to amaze me the consternation and confusion experienced by a few of my other brothers and sisters in Christ as they contemplate what they often disparagingly refer to as “that whole Mary thing…”
“What’s up with the way you Catholics worship Mary? What makes her so special? God loves all of us and she’s no better than anyone else. And all those statues, songs and poems…that’s idolatry!”
As a convert from protestantism to Catholicism, I’ve always counted it a singular blessing to have never experienced any such confusion. To love Mary has always seemed such a natural expression, indeed an extension of loving Christ. How can one not love the Mother, who clothed the Son, first in Flesh, then swaddling clothes, and finally a shroud? How can one not love the Daughter, whose “fiat” all of Heaven awaited in breathless anticipation? How can one not love the Spouse of the Holy Spirit…she who became the living tabernacle of the living God?
How can one not love the Woman, who beheld the Son, as He suffered and bled for all humanity…the same Son who then gave this same humanity to her, she who would be Mother of us all…After that, he saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. John 19:27
The most holy Virgin had more faith than all men and angels. She saw her Son in the crib of Bethlehem, and believed Him the Creator of the world. She saw Him fly from Herod, and yet believed Him the King of kings. She saw Him born, and believed Him eternal. She saw Him poor and in need of food, and believed Him the Lord of the universe. She saw Him lying on straw, and believed Him omnipotent. She observed that He did not speak, and she believed Him infinite wisdom. She heard Him weep, and believed Him the joy of Paradise. In fine, she saw Him in death, despised and crucified, and, although faith wavered in others, Mary remained firm in the belief that He was God. ~St. Alphonsus Liguori~
And as for her elevated status amongst the blessed in heaven…
Is it really a stretch to understand that there are degrees of glory in Heaven, particularly as we contemplate the Mother of God? Just as some walk closer and more perfectly with God in this world, so shall they be rewarded in the next…logic, Divine Justice, Sacred Tradition and Holy Scripture attest to this truth:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27
But the planter and the waterer are one; but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. I Corinthians 3:8
Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings. 2 Corinthians 9:6
One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory 1 Corinthians 15:41
“Star differeth from star in glory…” Indeed! And so shall we, as we enter the glory of Heaven, differ from one another in degrees of glory experienced in the Beatific Vision. Heaven is not a socialist empire, with a “beige” population of cookie-cutter Christians. It is a place which defies explanation: But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
I can only rejoice with the understanding that the Divine Justice and the Mercy of God will render to each of us “according to our works.” St. Therese of Lisieux, expressed her own concerns regarding this very subject, and was given an explanation of such simplicity, such charm by her older sister, Pauline:
One day I expressed surprise that God does not give an equal amount of glory to all the elect in Heaven–I was afraid that they would not all be quite happy. She sent me to fetch Papa’s big tumbler, and put it beside my tiny thimble, then, filling both with water, she asked me which seemed the fuller. I replied that one was as full as the other–it was impossible to pour more water into either of them, for they could not hold it. In this way Pauline made it clear to me that in Heaven the least of the Blessed does not envy the happiness of the greatest; and so, by bringing the highest mysteries down to the level of my understanding, she gave my soul the food it needed. ~St. Therese of Lisieux – Story of A Soul~
These words clarify, give comfort and help me to fight the good fight everyday, to not put off that good deed, that small kindness. I am a tiny “thimble”…and I needn’t ever be envious of those great “tumblers” who hold so much more…for I shall be filled as full as can be!
Full! Our Blessed Mother is Full of Grace! And we her children are blessed, too, by what God has done for her. She lives, in the glory of Heaven, praying for her children and waiting for that day when we all come home…and I, her daughter, have no shame in her images; the poetry and hymns composed that glorify God by acknowledging His Mother…I have no shame whatsoever in sharing with everyone “that whole Mary thing…”