A distinctive feature about Roman Catholic spirituality is that it acknowledges and honors both the masculine and feminine expressions of our humanity. On the one hand, it was in the man, Jesus, that God fully put Himself into our shoes. And yet, apart from the cooperation and participation of our Blessed Mother, God would not have been able to carry out His redeeming work as this has been offered to us.
By not allowing women to be ordained to the priesthood, the Roman Catholic Church has been perceived at times as a faith community that downplays women and their role. Our Blessed Mother was not a priest in the sense that the Apostles expressed this role. All were called by the Lord for their distinctive roles. In relation to our Lord, the role of motherhood and that of apostle are both unique. These roles complement each other.
In our homes as the Lord has designed them, our mothers have a unique role. They often set the spiritual tone of a given family. In our Lord’s Family, the Church, our Blessed Mother sets a distinctive tone for the family as a whole. This tone comes to expression as we pray and reflect upon the four groups of Mysteries of the Rosary: the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries.
I was raised in a Christian tradition in which devotion to Mary was not stressed. A number of the non-Catholic Christian traditions have never, to my knowledge, denied what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary. Devotion to Mary has been put on the back burner in a number of Christian traditions because of a fear that this would downplay or detract from our devotion to Christ. A number of us former non-Catholics who have come into the Full Communion with the Catholic Church would testify that as we pray and reflect upon the Mysteries of the Rosary, we grow closer to Christ, the one Mediator between God and man.
Most of us would no doubt agree that in a home as the Lord intends it, both our father and our mother have a unique and vital role in relation to us as we develop. Through the love, care and support that they express daily, we children receive the motivation and strength to recognize, develop and embrace our unique roles in the world.
As Catholic Christians, let’s be grateful for belonging to a faith community that honors both the masculine and feminine expressions of our common humanity. As we grow in the ability to appreciate the uniqueness of both our Lord and of His Blessed Mother, hopefully we will experience that kind of climate in which we each will be eager to find the Lord’s niche for ourselves in the Church and in the world.
As an addendum, I would simply state that for me, devotion to our Blessed Mother has enabled me to relate to the celibate priesthood as an on-going opportunity to be embraced rather than as an ordeal to be endured. Pray for us, O Blessed Mother of our Lord!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor