Some 16 young people of the parish turned up yesterday for a session on Our Lady. They had been given a homework to write twenty sentences on Our Lady. The youth had come well-prepared; one even had not twenty but some fifty or sixty sentences. Besides saying that Our Lady was Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, Queen of Heaven, our Mother, etc., we learnt also that Mary was respected and esteemed also by the Orthodox Christians as well as by Muslims. In fact, her name appears more often in the Koran than in the Bible.
After this sharing, it was time for questions. Why do Catholics worship Our Lady? Three were selected: Why do Catholics worship Our Lady? What was the difference between Assumption, Ascension, and Annunciation? How can Mary be the Mother of God?
What followed was very brief attempts to answer these questions.
Catholics do not worship Mary. Worship is an act reserved for God alone, Father, Son and Spirit, and to no other, not even Mary. We venerate Mary, just as we venerate the saints and indeed all holy people and even our parents. But Mary has a very special place in God's work and plan, and so we give her a very special veneration...
Ascension: a word reserved for Jesus ascending to his Father after the Resurrection.
Assumption: a word used about Mary being taken into heaven. It is her sharing in the Resurrection of Jesus - just as all of us also hope to share in his Resurrection. As scripture says: Christ the first fruits, and then all of us. (See the second reading for the feast of the Assumption: 1 Cor 15, 20)
Annunciation: the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary and telling her that Jesus will be born of her.
Mother of God: the Church decided to use this title not so much to honour Mary, as to answer the question: Who is it that was born of Mary? Was he only a man, or also God? 'Mother of God' is not a Mary doctrine so much as a Christ doctrine: it safeguards the mystery that the second person of the Holy Trinity was born in time of a woman, as scripture says.
It was wonderful to see how reflection on Mary leads inevitably to Jesus. There is no competition between Mary and Jesus! Her soul glorifies the Lord, her spirit rejoices in God her saviour! She is the dawn that gives way to the Bright Sun that is Jesus!