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Devotion to Mother Mary

All the major Christian churches are turning to a reading of the Scriptures and finding it impossible to deny the place of Mother Mary within the belief and practice of the early Christian church. Before Vatican Council 11, with rare exception, devotion to Mother Mary was largely observed by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. One of the fruits of the Reformation was to alienate many Christians from this devotion. And Mother Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (Luke 1:48) for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

Luke 1: 39 - 56: The final reading from St. Luke's gospel shows Mother Mary acknowledging her gratitude for the favors God has shown her.

1 Cor. 15: 20-26: This second reading from St. Paul emphasizes that death is the fate of everyone; but death does not have the final victory, unless we want it to! Christ's victory can be ours, as it was for Mother Mary.

Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical - "Marian Devotion", encouraged Catholics to an increased use of the Bible; and Pope John Paul 11 in his letter "Mother of the Redeemer" and more recently with his introduction of the Mystery of Light to be added to the recitation of the Divine Rosary, has drawn attention to "the special presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and His church."

There was much more going on that did not get written, but which was passed on by word of mouth in those critical formative years. Eventually, these oral traditions were recorded by the early Fathers of the church. And it is here that we find the second great foundation stone of Christian teaching and practice - Tradition.

From the Scriptures it is possible to trace a developing appreciation of Mother Mary as mother and woman. But a purely biblical study only reveals a limited picture; it cannot tell the whole story, for the New Testament only concerns itself with the early beginnings of Christian reflection on the person of Mother Mary. In the documents of the New Testament we have only the written record of faith and practice of the early Church.

In this continuing study of Mother Mary's place in Christian belief and practice, the Second Vatican Council has asked that we be careful to refrain from false and exaggerated devotion, but to remember that true devotion consists neither in sterile or shallow affection, nor in vain credulity, but needs to be based on verifiable faith.

Tradition is so important to the development of any culture - as the Fiddler in "Fiddler on the Roof" proclaimed "Tradition! Where would we be without our traditions"? It is on the grounds of constant tradition within Christianity that two important teachings concerning Mother Mary have been proclaimed in comparatively few years back - the teaching on the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius 1X in 1854, and the teaching on the Assumption of Our Lady given by Pope Pius X11 in 1950.

Faith and Love caused Mother Mary to respond positively to the invitation given to her to co-operate with God. We, too, have been invited to be one with Christ. The example of Mother Mary's faith and love, hopefully, will encourage us to respond positively in order to share her triumph over death.


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