Happy Birthday, Mama Mary

Manila Bulletin, September 8, 2006 | Go to article overview

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary


Byline: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A LONDON unbeliever sat watching an Irish shoeshine boy polishing his shoes. The man noticed a medal on the boy's neck and asked, "What is that you're wearing around your neck, Pat?"

"A medal, with the Mother of Christ on it!"

"Why do you honor her? She is just like my mother."

"Ahh... but there's a hell of a difference between the two sons!"

The story might well illustrate the difference in attitude towards the Blessed Virgin between Catholics and non-Catholics.

* * *

Today, September 8, is the birthday of the Blessed Mother and for Catholics who have a special love for her, some activities and special Masses will be held in her honor.

Are Catholics overdoing their veneration of Mary?

For ardent Marian devotees, there can indeed be an exaggerated devotion to Mother Mary. For instance, in church some devotees focus their prayers and attention ONLY on the Blessed Mother without paying attention to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Catholics are not supposed to adore Mary nor make her equal to God in any respect.

* * *

The special honor Catholics show to her comes no less from God who honored her first by choosing her from billions of women to be the Mother of His own Son.

Mary herself prophesied: "All ages to come shall call me blessed" (Lk. 1:48).

While it's a basic truth of Catholicism that there is only one God who alone is to be worshipped, that does not mean that we are forbidden to pay proper and sensible honor to creatures.

God explicitly commands us to honor our own father and mother. Is it then wrong to honor God's Mother?

* * *

MOTHER OF GOD? Critics against the veneration to Mary would ask: If God exists from all eternity, how can Mary, a creature, born in time, be called the "Mother of God?"

The answer depends on what you hold about Christ, her Son. If Jesus is merely a man, then Mary is merely the mother of Jesus, the man. But if Jesus is truly the Son of God who took flesh in the Virgin's womb, then Mary is rightly called the Mother of God, because her Son is God, the Second Person of the divine Trinity.

But did Mary not merely give birth to the humanity of Christ?

* * *

The angelic doctor St. Thomas Aquinas gives the following answer: "Do mothers beget bodies or persons, i.e., made of soul and body? The answer is, of course, as persons! …

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