OPINION

The problems with Mariology

Response to a CathNews Discussion Board question. The question addressed to myself and two others was: "Correct me if I have the wrong impression, but it seems that you three all have some problem with accepting Catholic teaching and practice in devotion to the human mother of Jesus"

I accept Mary as the Mother of God and Theotokos. No problems with that whatsoever. I do not have a problem with her having a special place in God's creative plan nor the special role she played in the Incarnation.

The Holy Theotokos Icon, Holy Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Los Angeles

I do have a problem when some people endeavour to deify Mary. I do have a problem with some of the modelling about womanhood that some endeavour to read into the person of Mary. I think it portrays an insipid vision for women (and for men as well) and is probably not a true likeness to the vision of women and womanhood that God created. It is formed rather by particular cultural conceptions of what womanhood is supposed to be about and does not accurately reflect today either how most women see themselves or how most men see women. This is not some popularity contest though. It is to do with trying to discern "what is the real truth in these matters?" I do think this is one of the issues on which the Church needs to go back to torrs and start again. The Mary we have at the moment, in many respects is some cardboard cut-out personality and I honestly believe she is a much richer personality than the one one picks up from a lot of the imagery* that is publicly portrayed and promoted by the Church these days more particularly in sectors of the lay Church but sectors of the eccelsial leadership are very strongly supportive of that as well.

I do not believe that Mary has ever appeared to anyone. I believe people do have "visions" which are very, very real. I have had "visions" which are very real and I believe there are ways in which images can be created in the brain directly through the visual cortex and the eyes are bypassed as the input generator. That is a different thing altogether to Mary coming down on her bike from heaven and standing in front of someone. I do not believe Mary gives anyone "messages" and particularly "secret messages". I do believe some people sincerely believe they do receive messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary. I might be more convinced that Mary gives messages when she appears to someone with a modicum of intellectual aptitude and speaks in ordinary language accessible to the vast majority of ordinary people today instead of this "sucking up to Mummy", kindergarten level talk we constantly get through these so-called "messages". I do have a problem with all of the cult status of Mary but I also understand that the Church allows us freedom concerning such matters and these private revelations including the more public ones such as Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, etc.

I do not believe we need all this "miracle" business. The greatest miracles are sitting right in front of all of us simply by holding our hand up to our eyes and meditating on the genius and awesome power of He/She/This Mystery we call God who created and designed the human hand and the intricacy and wonder as to how it moves and manipulates things. There is far more "miracle" in that than all these other tricks of some circus magician type incarnation of God the Almighty and All-powerful.

The discussion I was having with Wrong Notions yesterday was on a slightly different issue to what I have covered above. It was concerning how some priests will not discuss serious theological questions when people raise them. Instead they try and denigrate the person without actually responding to the real questions that are being raised. In the particular matter Wrong Notions was referring to the person is treated as some sort of half-wit because they do not assent to all this fairy-godmother stuff about the Mother of God. No wonder, like Wrong Notions, they end up leaving the Church.

*And I mean there "word imagery" just as much, or even more than, "visual imagery" as in statues, paintings, graphic design, etc. It's the "picture we paint and broadcast" of who the Mother of God is through all media.

©2005Tom Scott/Brian Coyne/Vias Tuas Communications
Written: 02Mar2005

Tom Scott

"In spite of all that might be said against our age,
what a moment it is to be alive in!" James McAuley