(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)
I found an old post from 2008 that describes my conversion of heart on "the Mary issue."
In my post I said: "I became a Catholic in 2002, yet I've always had a "block" when it came to Marian devotion. I remember clearly my first Holy Day Celebration in 2001. As a new RICA member I slid into a pew at the evening service of the Immaculate Conception. "This feels pretty weird, what am I getting myself into?" as I struggled to understand why I needed to be in church at night to celebrate an "invented" doctrine from 1950 which I'd never heard before in my 25 years of being a Christian.
This year, I formally consecrated myself to Mary, through the method of St. Louis de Montfort on the Feast of the Annunciation.* It's been a slow-a pathetically slow- process. I stumble along in darkness, groping through the nightly rosary, staring a devotional pictures, trying on unfamiliar concepts like "Mediatrix" and "Assumption."
This year [ 2008] is the 150 anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes. I feel a special kinship with Saint Bernadette. Her "dullness" at the her catechism consoles me. Just as her trust and faithfulness in suffering inspires me. I've gradually gone from viewing Mary as this strange, fearful BVM, to my Blessed Virgin Mother too.
"Through this journey, I've always felt this "Mary block" must be mine alone. "I must have some weird mother issues" I thought. I could figure out why so many other Catholics leaped confidentially into the lap of Mary, why I always felt shy and uneasy."
My parish had a program where a Statue of Our Lady of Fatima "visits" individual households. Having a visiting statue of Our Lady in my living room was a real turning point for me. I talked about learning more about the "Five Saturday" devotion.
"First Saturday's making reparations to our Blessed Mother's Heart." The premise behind this devotion is beautiful. The faithful devote the first Saturday of five consecutive months to going to Confession, Daily Mass, saying the rosary and my favorite "keeping our Mother company for fifteen minutes."
The reason for choosing the number five, has to do with the five major ways the world hurts our Blessed Mother's heart. First, we deny the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Second, we deny the perpetual virginity of Mary. Third, we deny Mary the title of "Mother of God." Fourth, we desecrate the holy images and statutes of Mary. Fifth, we "uprooted the devotion of Mary, particularly among the young."
The priests on the video carefully explained how each of these "hurts" harm our relationship with God. The Immaculate Conception was God's first gift of redemptive grace. Mary is "the dawn of Christ's perfect day." Her quiet, hidden sanctification was God's signal to the world that we will able be saved through Christ.The perpetual virginity of Mary, was Mary's gift back to God. He accepted that gift and insured that she remained forever a virgin, even through the birth of Jesus.
At this point, I gasped openly. I felt this sting in my heart. My Methodist faith, which I'd always seen as sort of sweet and harmless, was actively promoting four of the five harms to Mary. The Methodists (and most other Protestants) recognized Mary as "the Mother of God" and trotted her out in nativity scenes at Christmas. Otherwise, my religion was actively seeking to destroy devotion to Mary as "incompatible with the true worship of Jesus Christ alone."
We denied that Mary remained a virgin and taught that she had other children beside Jesus. We denied that she was special or above us, through the special circumstances of her conception. We tore down her "idolatrous" shrines and built crisp white churches with plain walls. We "uprooted" Marian devotion, particularly among the young, particularly among ME.
You can read my entire post here.
* I have to give a special shout out to fellow Catholic Blogger, Conversion Diary Jen, for encouraging me to first finish this challenging month long devotion. I fell completely off the daily prayer schedule during a week long Florida vacation trip. In a fit of perfectionism, I was about to give up finishing this devotion completely. Jen encouraged me with the memorable quote "I think Mary understands that we're not going to be perfect the first time we try this. She's a Saint after-all!" The very day I dedicated myself to Mary, I "mysteriously" won 4 tickets to the Papal Mass from my parish lottery draw.
Going to the Papal Mass in April 2008, helped my husband and I realize that we called to become Carmelites. I was about to completely drop the idea of contacting my local Carmelite group before making an initial phone-call because I felt so unworthy. Jen said to me "I don't think people are exactly beating down the doors to become Carmelites. Why don't you just call them and see if they'll take you?" The funniest thing was my reaction: "Oh no, Jen. The Carmelites! The Carmelites! Everyone wants to become one of them!" She's a good friend to have in your corner, that Jen!