"All generations will call me blessed."
-2-A significant amount of my faith formation post-elementary school happened in Presbyterian circles. The youth group at my parish was very poorly attended, so in addition to that, I went every week to the thriving youth group at Brighton Presbyterian Church. Through that, I became involved in Summer's Best Two Weeks, a non-denominational Christian sports camp. All the ones where I worked were hosted at Presbyterian churches.
-3-I learned a lot about my Catholic faith through these experiences. Being challenged on points of doctrine is a good incentive to learn to defend one's faith! I questioned a lot of what I had always believed and found solid answers to my questions. Since that time, though, I've been cautious about devotion to Mary. It's one of the red-flag issues for many Protestants, and I can see why. There are certainly people who have turned Mary into an idol, ascribing power and giving worship to her that belong only to God.
-4-I asked a priest friend of mine once, "How do you know if you've crossed the line into idolatry?" He replied, "Prayer should bring you closer to God. That's your measuring stick." Because I've retained the caution about Marian devotion that I picked up in Presbyterian churches, I've often felt a little ill at ease with the line from Hail, Holy Queen that describes Mary as "our life, our sweetness, and our hope."
-5-Just this past week, I finally understood. When I attended Mass for the feast of the Assumption, the priest spoke of Mary as our life. In Mary, we see what our life can be when infused with God's grace. She is "our life" because she is the ideal of our life. Our life should be one of humble obedience, as hers was. In the same way, she is our hope as an example of what awaits us. Her assumption into Heaven encourages us to trust in God's will for our eternal life.
-6-This description finally helped me reconcile calling Mary our life and our hope with Jesus' statement that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is indeed the source of all Life. And we can see how that life should be played out in the life of Mary.
"Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin Mary too much.
You can never love her more than Jesus did."
St. Maximilian Kolbe
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