Wednesday, April 06, 2005

In Her Majesty's Service

Two brothers in Christ, Tim and David Bayly of "Out of Our Minds, Too," were in Florida last month for the protests at Terri Schiavo's execution, and found themselves in the awkward position of being in a clump of Catholics praying the Rosary. (Tim's comments can be found here, David's here.) Catholics don't blink much at it, but I can tell you there's no more flammable controversy between us and Protestants than Mary. It's an emotionally charged thing for them, and it smacks (more than smacks – reeks) of idolatry to pray to her. I have more respect for the Brothers Bayly than I can say, and I feel like I should try to speak to their condition, as George Fox would have said.

A whole bunch of Catholics have apparently explained the business of praying with saints to them, but it's still uncomfortable, and I don't blame them. To be honest, I still feel funny praying to (or with) saints myself. What doesn't bother me at all is the other side of Mary: the devotion to her. I can praise and revere her without having to talk to her, and that's not a problem to me at all. Let me try to explain:

Picture, if you will, a medieval knight. If you're realistic enough to have an image in your head of an unbathed, illiterate oaf, then imagine one of the idealized ones from Le Morte d'Arthur. It doesn't matter for our purposes.

Now imagine that the knight is devoted to the service of the queen. In practice, he answers to the king, her husband (or son), but he may revere her as his patroness and refer to himself as "the Queen's man." Is he treasonous? Of course not. There's also an attitude (perhaps unspoken) that if the knight needs something, the queen will get it for him from the king.

In the same way, the British army has a number of regiments called "The Queen's Own." Sure, Britain has a reigning queen now, but those regiments were formed long before the time of Elizabeth II. When Charles becomes king, they'll still be "The Queen's Own." Now, Charles is unlikely to get his nose bent out of shape over it, because when they devote themselves to his wife's service, they're serving him. They still take their orders through the usual channels (in earlier times, that would have been the king himself), but the queen is still their special patroness and symbol of their patriotism.

We Christians, similarly, may devote ourselves to Mary the Queen, the mother of our King. We can do it because her service is His service. Everything we do for her is for Him. Unlike human monarchs, we know that Jesus and His mother aren't working at cross-purposes. If a thing is His will, it's her will too. We can also call her "mother," because Jesus charged St. John with her care at the cross, saying "Son, behold your mother." I know it's a bit of a stretch, but we take that to apply to the whole Church. She's our mother, our queen, our patroness: the symbol of our loyalty to the King.

For this reason, I have no problem being devoted to the Queen of Heaven (I love that title!) because I know that it causes me to be more devoted to Christ the King than I would be otherwise. As I say, I'm still a little leery of asking her for favors, but when it comes down to it, I can be the Queen's man because I'm the King's man.

1 comment:

Bethany S. said...

I am sorry, but I still can not see how that is Biblical. Mary, first of all is not a queen. No where in Scripture was she revered, or even so much as a queen. No, Christ was revered. God did use her as a vessel to give birth to His Son, whom we worship for all that He has done. We also are to be willing to allow God to work in and through us. Mary can be an example of this, but more to be looked upon is Christ, and the apostles. God told us to have no other gods before Him for a reason. Mary is one of your religion's gods. It also states in Romans 8:26-27; 34, that, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." These two passages specifically tell us, as the children of God, that it is NOT Mary, a mere human being, who intercedes on our behalf, but Christ and the Holy Spirit, whom are both part of the Godhead. Our Savior sits at God's right hand and tells our God that He should have mercy on our behalf. Where in Scripture is Mary lifted to such a high and glorious position? "Each of us like sheep have gone astray. All of us have turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isa.53:6) "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."(Romans 3:23) All, includes Mary. She too was a sinful human being. Also let me point this out about Christ. Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-16 states this, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess." "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Christ is our high priest. This does not include Mary, or the Pope for that matter, or any priest or "father", but Christ and Christ alone. Here it even calls us to approach Him with confidence. It does not say to approach Mary first or to approach a man who has the title of "priest" or a supposed "holy father", which only Christ alone should be called; but it DOES say to come to Christ. I cannot see how you can even revere Mary. Christ alone is to be praised. He desires that we come directly to Him and confess our sins and run to Him when we are afraid or lonely and He will give us rest and peace. He is our awesome and amazing God. All He wants us to do, is to seek Him and Him alone, so that we might come to know Him on a more intimate level. There is so much to learn about God, and Mary and the "saints" hinder the Catholic church from knowing any more about Him. I am sorry to see this.