It’s said that today’s Christians are less moved by the figure of Mary than believers in other times. Perhaps we are unconscious victims of fears and suspicions that arise from distortions that have existed in Marian piety.
Sometimes there was an over-the-top insistence in Mary’s protective function, the Mother who takes care of her sons and daughters in everything bad, without converting them to a more Gospel-inspired life.
Other times some Marian devotions didn’t know how to exalt Mary as mother without creating an unhealthy dependence on an «idealized mother» and cause a religious immaturity and infantilism.
Maybe this same idealization of Mary as «the only woman» could feed a certain disdain for real-life woman and be one plank more in male domination. At the least, we ought not easily lose sight of these objections that are made against us Catholics from various fronts.
But it would be sad if we would impoverish our religious life by forgetting the gift that Mary could signify for us believers.
A well-formed Marian piety doesn’t close anyone into infantilism, but does guarantee the enriching presence of the feminine in our life of faith. God Self has desired to become incarnate in the bosom of a woman. From then on, we can say that «the feminine is a path to God and of God» (L. Boff).
Humanity always needs this wealth that we associate with the feminine because, even though it is also a part of men, it’s concentrated in a special way in the woman: intimacy, welcome, solicitude, tenderness, kindness, and self-giving to mystery, to gestation, to offering of life.
Every time we marginalize Mary from our lives, we impoverish our faith. And every time we disdain the feminine, we close ourselves off from possible sources of coming close to that God who has offered Self to us in the arms of a mother.
We begin the year celebrating the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. Her faithfulness and self-giving to God’s word, her identification with the little ones, her holding onto the decisions of her Son Jesus, her helpful presence in the newly-born Church, and above all her service as Mother of the Savior make of her the Mother of our faith and of our hope.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf