Skip to comments.[Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican Caucus]Scott Hahn: "If We Ignore the Mother, We Can't See the Child"
Posted on 04/11/2008 8:33:54 PM PDT by markomalley
ROME, DEC. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Scholar Scott Hahn roundly rejects the idea held by some outside the Church that Catholics, by honoring Mary, somehow detract from God.
"The glories we honor in Mary are merely her own reflections of God's glory," says the author of books such as "Rome Sweet Home" and "Hail, Holy Queen." Here, the one-time Presbyterian minister spells out his ideas.
Q: Why do you say that Catholics should love Mary a lot more than they do?
Hahn: Because God does! And he wants us to love her as much as he does.
At the time of the annunciation, the angel Gabriel prophesied that all generations would call Mary blessed. In our generation, we need to fulfill that prophesy. We need to call her blessed. We need to honor her -- again, because God did.
Jesus himself, as a faithful Jew, kept the Fourth Commandment and honored his mother. Since Christ is our brother, she is our mother too. Indeed, at the end of John's Gospel, Jesus named her as the mother of all of us beloved disciples. So we too have a duty to honor her.
If we look back into the biblical history of ancient Israel, we discover that the Chosen People always paid homage not only to their king, but also to the mother of the king. The "gebirah," the queen mother, loomed large in the affections of Israelites. And the evangelists are very much aware of this.
In Matthew's Gospel especially, we find Jesus portrayed as the royal Son of David and Mary as queen mother. The Wise Men, for example, traveled far to find the Child King with his mother.
We find the mother of the Son of David portrayed in a similar way in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12. There she is shown to be crowned with 12 stars, for the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Testament writers, you see, were careful to show us Mary's important place in the kingdom, and how we should love and honor her.
In my personal life, I've found the Blessed Mother to be a great intercessor, as she was at the wedding feast in Cana.
Why should we love Mary more? Because of God's grace -- she exemplifies it! Because of God's Word -- she teaches it! And because she is God's masterpiece. The Scriptures provide too many reasons to love her; I couldn't list them in so short a space.
Q: What are the main objections that non-Catholics present against Marian doctrine and devotion?
Hahn: Some non-Catholics believe that, by honoring Mary, we're somehow detracting from God. We're not. The glories we honor in Mary are merely her own reflections of God's glory.
St. Bonaventure put it very well when he said that God created all things not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to share it. Mary's sinlessness itself was a grace from God.
St. Augustine said: When God rewards us for our labors, he is only crowning his work in us. When God exalted the lowly virgin of Nazareth, he was crowning the greatest of his creations. When we honor Mary, we recognize God's work, and we praise him.
Others object to the Church's dogma of the immaculate conception -- that Mary was without sin from the very first moment of her life. They claim that, if this were true, she would have no need of a redeemer, no need for Jesus. But that's not true. Mary's immaculate conception was itself a fruit of Jesus' redemption.
Even today, we can see that Christ saves some people by deliverance and others by preservation -- some turn away from a life of crime, others are preserved from it by their good upbringing. Mary was preserved by a singular grace. Mary, you see, is dependent upon God for everything. She, by her own admission, is his handmaid.
Some very misguided people try to claim that Catholics make a goddess of the Blessed Virgin. But that is an abominable fiction. As much as we exalt Mary above our own sinful selves, we recognize that she is more like us than she is like God. She is still a creature, though a most wonderful creature. God himself exalted her to show us both the greatness of our human nature and the all-surpassing greatness of divine grace.
Even the early Protestant reformers never called for a wholesale rejection of the Marian dogmas. Luther and Calvin believed, for example, in Mary's perpetual virginity. Luther even believed in the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, centuries before the Church solemnly defined it. Not until later generations would Christians come to such a far-reaching rejection of Mary's place in salvation history.
Q: How does Mary help us to understand the mystery of Christmas?
Hahn: Well, it's impossible for us to imagine the Christmas story without her. Her consent, her "yes," made that day possible. When God became man, he was born of a woman, born under the law. Christ is at the center of Christmas, but he chose not to be alone at the center. As a baby, he needed a mother to hold him. If we choose to ignore the mother, we can't see the Child.
In the stories leading up to Christmas, we encounter Mary as the model disciple. God found her humility irresistible, and we have to imitate her. God empowered her to love his Son as much as he deserves to be loved. And so we imitate her in that as well. Mary helps us to understand the mystery of Christmas because she received the greatest Christmas present ever, and she gave it to the world, just as we should.
Q: Why do you most converts to Catholicism have such an intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin?
Hahn: I can only speak for myself. I discovered the Catholic Church as not only the family of God, but as my family too. Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but my mother too.
That's a wonderful discovery to make so late in one's life. So maybe we're making up for lost time! Or maybe we have a special affection for the practices that are distinctive to the ancient Christian faith -- the practices that we missed in our own upbringing.
Challenge the Caucus designation of this thread:
Non Caucus members should be able to refute misrepresentation:
Article states that “Luther and Calvin believed, for example, in Mary’s perpetual virginity.”
‘It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.’
Calvin’s COMMENTARY ON A HARMONY OF THE EVANGELISTS, MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE
I would have to agree. Which means this thread will not be a free-fire zone. Standby with Extinguishers and Water Hoses.
Mary is...there aren't enough words. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!
Wonderful article. Marking it for my saves page of bookmarks.
“Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”
You got a link for that? :-)
It’s in Luke.
Nice. When I want a link I can’t get one. :-)
Click on the verse numbers or the footnote numbers. It’s all there.
Sorry, I thought the verse numbers were linked. They aren’t. My mistake.
How is that a misrepresentation? The very source you quoted verifies Hahn's claim in Calvin's case. Here's a link to Jerome's defense against Helvidius that Calvin referenced: The Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's certainly worth the read, especially if you can enjoy a caustic wit:
If I choose to say, the apostle Paul before he went to Spain was put in fetters at Rome, or (as I certainly might) Helvidius, before he repented, was cut off by death, must Paul on being released at once go to Spain, or must Helvidius repent after death, although the Scripture says In sheol who shall give thee thanks?
John Calvin also wrote this:
“There have been certain STRANGE folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matt 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; BUT WHAT FOLLY THIS IS!
“For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent his angel to Mary. He had therefore NEVER dwelt with her nor had he shared her company....
“And besides this, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is NOT because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second. Thus we see the intention of the Holy Spirit. This is why to lend ourselves to FOOLISH SUBTLETIES WOULD BE TO ABUSE HOLY SCRIPTURE....” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)
“We have already said in another place that according to the custom of the Hebrews all relatives were called ‘brethren.’ Still Helvidius [a 4th century heretic] has shown himself to be IGNORANT of this by stating that Mary had many children just because in several places they are spoken of as ‘brethren’ of Christ.” (Commentary on Matthew 13:55)
“Concerning what has happened since this birth the writer of the gospel SAYS NOTHING...certainly it is a matter about which NO ONE will cause dispute unless he is somewhat curious; on the contrary there never was a man who would contradict this in obstinacy unless he were a PIG-HEADED and FATUOUS [i.e. foolish and stupid] person.” (Commentary on Matthew 1:25)
As a Catholic apologist noted:
Max Thurian, who was a Calvinist when he wrote MARY, MOTHER OF ALL CHRISTIANS (NY: Herder and Herder, 1963) but later converted to the Catholic faith, summarizes the views of the Protestant Reformers —
“A very ancient tradition of the Church affirms a perpetual virginity of Mary; and the Reformers of the sixteenth century themselves confessed ‘-Mariam semper virginem-’ [Mary ever-Virgin].....
“The entire tradition of the Church has held to the perpetual virginity of Mary as a sign of her dedication and of the fullness of God’s gift of which she was the object. The Reformers themselves respected this belief.”
“For Calvin and the other Reformers accept the traditional view that Mary had only one son, the Son of God, who had been to her the fullness of grace and joy.”
“In regard to the Marian doctrine of the Reformers, we have already seen how UNANIMOUS they are in all that concerns Mary’s holiness and perpetual virginity.”
(Max Thurian, MARY, MOTHER OF ALL CHRISTIANS, p. 37-40, 197)
Apparently there is no mirepresentation of Calvin’s views. He believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary.
Excellent. Thank you.
It seems more than likely that James the Just, “the brother of The Lord”, was the same person as James the son of Alphaeus, who was not the child Mary and Joseph, and was a relative (cousin?), of Jesus, but not what we would call our “blood brother” (but it is altogether possible they were raised so closely that they were, in essence, brothers.)
If Mary had other children, why would Jesus instruct the Apostle John to take care of her? Surely St. James the Just, the man who was held in such high regard by the other Apostles that they left the final say during the Council of Jerusalem to him, would be capable of taking care of his own family. That is, of course, if Mary of Nazareth was his mother.
Why the Evangelical crowd on FR presses this point is beyond me. It seems to be just a sheer hatred of anything “Catholic”.
Exodus 32: 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord. 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
Compare the two passages. "God just isn't enough. Bring out the idols." Some things never change, do they?
Sadly the Protestants are going to have fits about how the reformers viewed the BVM.