Why be a Marian Christian? (in other words, why be Catholic?)

A truly Catholic Christian is a Marian Christian; a believer in the Trinity of Father Son and Holy Spirit who stands in relationship to the great cloud of witnesses, the Body of Christ in heaven and on earth, and thus also in relationship to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. In short, the Marian Christian is one who imitates Christ not only in prayerfully submitting his life to God, not only in denying himself and daily taking up his cross, not only in loving God with all of his heart, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself, but also in loving Mary as Christ does.

One mark of a Marian Christian is a deep understanding of the virtue of purity. In recent years the ideal of purity, especially sexual purity, has been more publicly defamed than ever before. Not only are young people bombarded by a culture that promises the reward of sexual fulfillment without the responsibility of child-bearing, but countless well-funded pro-gay lobbies have raised their voices to establish a climate in which any voice but theirs will be tagged as hateful, bigoted, and thus, immoral and finally illegal. With each victory in the press and in the courts they wax bolder and more aggressive.

As the sexual confusion of the western world threatens to spiral out of control, no one has made a more cogent case for the traditional Christian view of the sanctity of marriage than John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. He builds his case on a strong philosophical foundation as he approaches the biblical texts with both freshness and reverence. His is a remarkable point of view, like all things genuinely Catholic, forever young and new, yet always ancient and old.

A marked decay is observable in Protestant teaching in this area. At my college I am surrounded by colleagues who are convinced Christians must support gay rights. And I observe an increase in confusion and a sort of amorphous helplessness amongst my more conservative Protestant friends.

I would submit that one of the reasons that Marian Christians understand these issues best (along with the other issues related to human sexuality-abortion, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, artificial birth control, etc) is precisely because they are Marian. There is something about taking her out of the picture, as Protestants do, that leaves only two options: cave in or be angry.

The Marian Catholic has more spiritual resources and a deeper understanding of what purity means. Thus, the Marian Christian is better at being pro-life without being angry. I think there are good reasons for this and suggest that the non-Marian Christian should think about them.

Perhaps it’s time for Protestants to think about coming home.

8 Responses to “Why be a Marian Christian? (in other words, why be Catholic?)”

  1. Blake Says:

    “I think there are good reasons for this and suggest that the non-Marian Christian should think about them.”

    False dilemma

  2. B. Mac Cormack Says:

    Oh puleeze!
    “..more spiritual resources”, and “deeper understanding”? Were these not the claims of the Pharasees and Saducces in the time of Jesus on Earth?
    How did Jesus react to their claims of spiritual superiority? What a demeaning and proud position to take!
    As a born-again practicing Catholic I find your characterization of non-Marian believers to be condescending and offensive. I feel your haughty judgmental position would not pass the love test that Jesus modeled for us.
    a non-Marian believer.

  3. Marvin Limbo Says:

    Is roman catholic a real christian? How do we call them christian if they teach human rules as it was God’s rules? Did any apostles preached about mary? Are there two mediator between God and man( Jesus and Mary)? Do a man really need a mediator to Christ? Is there any way to salvation rather than Jesus? The Bible tells us the truth. Do not be deceived.

    • kumacho Says:

      Actually one should ask if protestant Christianity is true Christianity. Who was first? Before the protestant reformation, ALL Christians were Catholic. They are the true Church with apostolic succession. The ones who changed were the Protestants. And they got rid of everything in their liturgy and Bible that was Catholic, including the due respect and veneration of Mary, who was used by God to give birth and nourishment to the Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. God chose her because of her purity, humility, and devotion. She is the new Ark of the Covenant. She always leads us to her son, Jesus. She gives us peace, hope, and love.

      I am a former evangelical, charismatic christian and Mary, Mother of God came to me one day. Pray the Rosary. It will change your life.

  4. KTillman Says:

    Questions/Comments for my brother in Christ:
    1. If Marian maximalist theology and devotions were so essential, why we don’t see them until 13th century? example: search great doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summas. You will see none of this excessive & unnecessary focus on BVM. In fact, Aquinas and his great order of Dominicans were strongly opposed to the totally speculative idea of Mary’s immaculate conception. So not only there is no Scriptural grounding of this later-day Marian excesses but also there is no clear indication of the Church’s Holy Tradition consistently supporting it.
    2. I know marian maximalists want us to believe that we cannot be good Catholics if we don’t follow their excessive marian practices. Not so. I am a Catholic Christian, proud of our faith tradition which includes St. Aquinas, Cardinal Newman, Meister Eckhart, St. John Chrisostom, St. Theresa of Avila, Karl Rahner, Yves Congar, last two great Popes John 23th and Paul 6th, and many other great Catholics throughout the centuries. Contrary to what marian maximalist wants us to believe, praying the Rosary daily or supporting the definition of the proposed dogma, co-redemptrix, are not the litmus tests for being a good Catholic.
    3. Last but not the least, how do you reconcile the over-emphasis of marian maximalists with Luke 1:46-55, her great Canticle, a totally humble and faithful response to God? Mary I know and love is the humble handmaid of God, the first disciple of Christ the risen Lord, obedient servant of God, our dear Mother. No doubt that the Blessed Virgin will never approve some of these excessive focus placed on her by ill-informed maximalists. In fact, our Lord himself sets the tone for Godly humility: “I do not accept human praise” he says in the Gospel of John 5:41. How then, Mary, is comfortable with all these excessive praises and embellishments?

    • Fr. Frederick Gruber Says:

      You makes some vast, sweeping claims. Allow me to offer a few points in response.
      Ad 1. Marian devotion can be seen throughout the first Christian millennium, well before St. Thomas Aquinas. It is there in the words of Mary in the Gospel according to St. Luke: “All generations shall call me blessed,” which must have already been true in the first century for this to appear in his Gospel. St. Irenaeus manifests a Marian devotion. In the second century, we also see this in Origen. The catacombs of Priscilla and many ancient icons give evidence of a Marian devotion expressed in Christian art. St. Ambrose wrote in his commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. “May Mary’s soul reside in each one of us to glorify the Lord; may Mary’s spirit reside in each one of us to rejoice in God.” (Bk II, 26,). The Council of Ephesus in 431 gave a renewed impetus to Marian devotion with the definition of Mary as the Theotokos. St. Ephrem the deacon praises Mary in his poetic works. St. Ildefonsus of Toledo practiced a form of Marian consecration already in the 7th century. St. Thomas Aquinas himself writes beautifully on Mary in his commentary on the Haily Mary. Aquinas did not strongly oppose the definition of the Immaculate Conception, though he did favor a theory of Mary’s cleansing from original sin immediately after conception. In short, there is clear indication of the Church’s Holy Tradition consistently supporting Marian devotion.

      • KTillman Says:

        Dear Father Gruber
        Thank you for your comments. Love of the Holy Mother and theologically appropriate understanding of her continuing role in guiding believers to her Son indeed goes back to first moments of the Christian Church. That is understood. Nevertheless, many scholars maintain that some of the Marian piety and practices are not historically present in the early centuries of Christianity.
        For example, the most important Marian devotion, Rosary, started at the turn of the 13th century. Regions of southern France and northern Italy were plagued by the Albigensian heresy and the related heresies of Waldensians and the Catharists. Great St. Dominic established the Dominican order to witness and preach to the people against these widespread heresies. Intercessions of Mary and Saints helped St. Dominic defeat these heresies and win many people back to the Holy Catholic Church. Tradition tells us that St. Dominic made the Psalter of Jesus and Mary (aka the Angelic Psalter; based on the angelic salutation to Mary) easier to say by arranging the repeated prayers into three parts of five mysteries each, thus establishing the Rosary as we know it today. There is a closely related second hypothesis about the origins of the Rosary which puts the date around the 12 century. According to this version, the Rosary developed in imitation of the 150 biblical Psalms that priests and religious were required to pray over a certain period of time. The 150 Psalms made up the “Psalter,” part of the official daily prayers, Breviary. According to this theory, the Rosary developed as a substitute for the Breviary for those faithful who didn’t have the money to learn to read, but nevertheless desired a regular means by which they could express their devotion to Jesus and Mary through easily memorized prayers.
        Similarly, Marian feasts came much later than the apostolic or post-apostolic age. It should be noted that the pre-7th century historical record indicate such feast were initiated in the East but were absent in the west. In the Western Church a feast specifically dedicated to Mary, just before Christmas was celebrated in the Churches of Milan and Ravenna in Italy in the 7th century. The four Roman Marian feasts of Purification, Annunciation, Assumption and Nativity of Mary were gradually and sporadically introduced into entire Western Church by the 11th century.
        Father McBrien (professor of theology, Notre Dame) in his classic tome, Catholicism, (1994) summarizes the crux of the matter succinctly: “Two extremism are to be avoided in Marian devotion: a minimalism which withholds any and all veneration from Mary, and a maximalism which assumes there are practically no limits to such veneration.” (p. 1119, #20). And he points out that: “Between these two extremes there is wide spectrum of legitimate devotional options” (p. 1106). He then goes on to propose 11 theological criteria for evaluating various expressions of Marian devotion (pp. 1106 – 1107). I will be happy to list those well-reasoned propositions if you like. Father McBrien’s criteria echo closely the sentiment of Vatican II, Lumen gentium Marian chapter (nn. 52-69) and Marialis cultis, 1974 apostolic exhortation of the great Pope Paul VI. Similarly, Fr. Thomas Rausch, professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University, has an excellent chapter (chapter 9) in his first-rate text, The Roots of the Catholic Tradition (1986). There are, indeed, many others.
        Glory and honor to all Saints of God, especially to Blessed Virgin Mary; Theotokos.

  5. waddetenstudio Says:

    I’m gay and want a deeper meaning of Christianity by becoming a Marion Catholic “a believer” my motive is to be selfless service to God and work good deeds and see miracles at work in places of decay which I’ve seen other Marion’s perform..how do I become Marion.

    Darin Wade


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