I have a confession to make. I am hopelessly devoted to the Virgin Mary. I am! I ask for her intercession all the time, I have a t-shirt that says Mary is My Homegirl (and I can wear it reverently), my house is decorated (and thus, very blessed) with icons of her, and I have not one, but TWO key chains with graced with her likeness. I am one of those people who is more likely to think "what would the Blessed Virgin Mary do" than "WWJD?" This is why I have to be Catholic. Even if someone came to me and said "hey, it has been PROVEN that Methodist is the correct religion" I might just have to go to hell. Seriously. Because for me, Mary is where my heart lies. I have lately been really struggling with going to Mass. Aside from all the kids and the annoying habits of the parishioners (like making the orans posture BACK at the priest), spiritually, I really get nothing out of it. I think it has a lot to do with not being able to take communion, and probably because I left the Church just at the time that mass started to lose its wonder, so I remember feeling something when I went to mass. But a couple of weeks ago for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I couldn't WAIT to go to mass, because I knew it was going to be all about Mary! I couldn't wait for the homily, or the songs, or just to look at the statue and see her and reflect on how awesome she is.
I can almost hear all the Protestants grinding their teeth. But she is awesome. Because she was human. I think that a lot of Catholics and non-Catholics alike never take that into account. Sure, she was without sin, but she was still just a person like you and me. Jesus suffered, yes, but he was God. He knew what was waiting for Him, He knew that it would be hard, but then He would resurrect and be in heaven for all eternity. Mary had to take that on faith alone. And she still had to give her son up to the mission she knew He had, watch Him be ridiculed and called a blasphemer, and ultimately die a horrid, grisly death. Then she was left alone on earth with no one but John and a whole bunch of people who probably thought she was nuts. Can you imagine?
When I was younger and feistier, I used to hate the idea of the Virgin Mary. I hated that Christianity only gave us one woman and she was impossible to live up to. And if you were Protestant, you didn't even really get her to live up to. Now that I am older, I understand more of what is being shown to us through Mary. She has to be impossible to live up to. We aren't really supposed to live up to her anyway. She's a symbol of all the goodness we are capable of if we just have faith. Mary had other plans. Some traditions hold that she had been a temple maiden and sewed veils before she was married off and the Angel Gabriel came to her. But she didn't let her own plans get in the way of God's will for her. She didn't hesitate or say "why me?" She just said yes. And, as much as a vast majority of Christians would like to try, we can't ignore her. Jesus may be the gift of Christmas, but that doesn't mean that Mary is just the pretty paper to discard. She's not God, she's not divine, (and NO, we do not worship her); she was just a person who God had very big plans for and who chose to accept those plans because she had faith that everything would turn out okay for her in the end. And doesn't that make her a pretty amazing example?