For days I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop trying to think of something to write about that is important to me or, in my humble opinion, important to others.
I just got home from a brisk 1.8 mile walk with Hunter. On the walk we went by the Catholic Church. Like many churches they have a reader board out front on which they either place dates and times of services, special notices, or pithy little sayings intended to “make you think” about something they think you ought to think about.
On the reader board today was this phrase — “Roses for Mary.” Most Protestants or members of other faith traditions or those that claim no religious affiliation or belief at all would say something like “Look at that. Who says the Catholics don’t worship Mary?” I imagine this is a near universal sentiment, even among Catholics.
I went to a very conservative undergraduate Christian college. I was taught there that Catholics worship Mary. On the other hand, I followed this up by attending a liberal seminary in the tradition of the theologies of demythologization. That is, the miracle accounts and the birth of Jesus are reported as they are because the writers of the New Testament had no other way to communicate these experiences except by means of metaphor/allegory. Hence, the stories surrounding Mary and the birth of Jesus.
So, the story is that Mary gave birth to a baby named Jesus. This, even stripped of the myth, is entirely plausible. And, let’s face it, Jesus is central to Western culture. Even Jews and Muslims confess that he was a remarkable man and/or a prophet. Even the nones, i.e., the “non-religious” among us, must at least acknowledge that Jesus is key to understanding much of the history of the Western world, both good and bad, moral and immoral, if we allow ourselves such judgments.
So, to shorten the point of this post. Roses for Mary. As I have suggested, it is a notion that is reasonably feasible that Mary was the mother of Jesus. There seems to be no good reason at this place in history to deny, or affirm for that matter, that this is true. Obviously, this has not always been true. Many have fought and died throughout history defending or denying that there was something special about Mary.
The Catholic Church does not recommend or require the worship of Mary. The Catholic Church does recommend/require the honoring of the one they believe to be the “Mother of God.”
This is crass but we honor our own mothers with small gifts and flowers from time-to-time, unless there are reasons not to. If you believe that Mary is the “Mother of God,” as is affirmed by the Catholic Church, and if you believe that Jesus rose from the dead in a salvific act of mercy for all, then we should certainly honor the woman that gave birth to this Jesus. I don’t worship my mother but I do honor her. I even think it is appropriate to give her roses.
[For those reading this who have some theological sensibility, this is oversimplified. Targeted to one small part of the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding Mary.]