A Letter About Mary
Grace and Peace,
To my friend and fellow minister of the Gospel, I send greeting. You have inquired about the Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church in order to better understand them and here I wish to lay out for you a more convincing argument about their legitimacy by means of scripture and reason. Before all else let us pray for all of Christ’s Church that we might grow in holiness and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit: Come, Holy Ghost, and fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle within us your divine love. Father, send forth your Spirit that we may be made new creations in Jesus Christ, your Son, and renew the face of the earth. Enlighten our dark hearts with the Spirit of Wisdom who proceeds from you and the Son, who is blessed forever, that we might be led into all truth. Amen.
I have been given every reason to believe these things on the account of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Word Incarnate, has a special place in the story of salvation and serves the Church as a perpetual reminder of the most perfect example of Christian life. It is a near impossibility to make one argument for a particular Marian doctrine, not because it is difficult but because all of them flow so perfectly together that if an argument is made for one them then an argument must be made for all. In other words, they are so intertwined with one another that if one is true then all of them must be true. Not one of these teachings detract from the Gospel of Christ or take away from it in any manner but in union testify to the splendor of Christ. Saint Mary gives us the same instruction, by word and life, that she gave to the servants at the wedding in Cana so long ago: “Do whatever he (Christ) tells you (John 2:5).”
Before all else, I will begin with her unique relationship and place with God, the Blessed Trinity. She is the daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit. No other person who has ever lived, indeed whoever shall, could hold such a place with God. Because of this the Marian dogmas are woven so thoroughly within the teachings of the Gospel and are in complete harmony with the scriptures and furthermore give full witness to Jesus Christ, by which the first promise of the gospel is fulfilled.
We agree that each one of us is guilty of original sin because of the fall of man and that by this fall we became heirs of the curse. This curse was this: “Thorn and thistles it shall bear for you, and you shall eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return (Gen. 3:18-19).” This curse, the curse of original sin, was for us a universal death sentence; but the promise is this: “I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the women, and between your offspring and her; they will strike your head, while you strike their heel (Gen. 3:15).” The enmity was placed between the women and the serpent, Satan, between his offspring and hers. This was the first promise, the protoevangelium. By a woman all fell to the power of sin, she was deceived and Adam with her. By them all humanity fell; we were all placed under the curse. Who then are the children of the serpent? All those who live under the curse and refuse Christ, the Son of God. As Christ testifies of them, “You belong to your father the devil as you willing to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character because he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).” Our race was murdered by the serpent, tricked into death, placed under the curse. However, if humanity is under the curse then Eve cannot be “the mother of all the living” but is, in fact, the mother of the dead. Yet, the scripture cannot be in error because it says that Eve was the mother of the living (Gen. 3:24). Then what does this mean? Although Eve incurred the curse she was to serve as a type until the promise could be fulfilled. Adam gave her this name because he in faith accepted the promise of God. Who then are the living if all humanity is under the curse? The promise says, “They will strike your head while you strike their heel.” Then who are they? The Lord Jesus Christ and his blessed mother. Where the first man and his wife fell to the curse, the Christ and his mother were without the curse. In the plan of God, he was to make a new humanity according to the promise so that we could be free from the curse. The promise was not made concerning Eve because she was under the curse and was the mother of the dead according to the curse. One who is under a curse has no power over it. As it says, “ You are dust and to the dust, you shall return.” And again, “There is no one who sins not (I Kings 8:46).” and again, “ You were dead in your trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).” If the first Eve was then the mother of the dead by means of the curse then why does it call her the mother of all the living? Because the promise was made not concerning her but her offspring. God keeps his word; in Mary, Eve became the ancestor of the living although she was under the curse, that is the ancestor of Jesus Christ and all those born through him that is “not alive according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” She, the mother of the dead, served as a reminder of the promise until her offspring would appear: Mary, the new Eve, the Mother of the Lord; who is the true Mother of All the Living, the Church through Jesus Christ, true God, and true Man.
Because of this, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is more than a high and lofty thought but a theological necessity. Saint Mary could not be born with the mark of original sin because she would be under the curse, a child of the father of lies, and not a daughter of the promise. If she were under the curse she could not strike Satan, by giving birth to God made flesh because, once again, one under the curse is subject to it, but she was from the beginning made subject to the grace of God. So at the fullness of time, Mary, Mother of God, was conceived by natural means but without original sin, immaculate and undefiled; in order that the promise would be fulfilled. This was a sublime act of grace on the part of God that united her conception with the eternal work of Christ; as it says that he is the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).” Grace is God’s to do with what he wills so that our salvation is not by our own merit but the merit of God. Mary’s soul was from the beginning given the same graces given to us at baptism so that she could be the mother of Christ and through him the mother of all who believe (Rev. 12:17). This is why the angel declares to Mary, “Hail, full of grace… (Luke 1:28)” The angel did not declare to her that she would be full of grace but that she was full of grace. As the scripture says in another place concerning her, “You are beautiful in every way, my friend, there is no flaw in you (Song of Solomon 4:7)!” If our father Abraham was blessed and was called a friend of God then how much more would the one that God named his mother to be blessed? Because of this, the Church throughout the ages has always held that she was not only free from original sin but all sin since she was filled with such grace from the beginning to be the true handmade of the Lord.
Moreover, it is necessary that we hold that she was not only a virgin at the time of Christ’s birth but also perpetually a virgin since she is the ark of the new testament. She was fashioned in the plan and foreknowledge of God for this purpose. The first ark served as a symbol and type of the ark that was to come, the Virgin Mother of God. As it is written about the ark, “The inside and outside were plated with gold, and a molding of gold was put around it (Ex. 37:2).” This gold served as a symbol of God’s grace and his supreme and absolute purity. It would not be fitting, indeed impossible, for God to rest on an ark unless it was sanctified and the object wholly set aside for him. This is another theological necessity, Mary was a perpetual virgin. After the ark was consecrated, God would not allow it to see corruption and if he did this for a thing that was a mere symbol of how much more for the reality? “In the ark were the gold jar containing the manna, the staff of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tablets of the law (Heb 9:4).” Now in order to fulfill the promises Mary carries within her own womb The true Bread of Heaven, the true High Priest and Good Shepherd, and the Living Word of God. She is the true ark because she carries within her womb our most blessed hope, Jesus Christ. Since she was his ark no other could enter her because she had been made holy, set aside for God. If God forced the false gods to bow down to the first ark then how much more will demons tremble before the ark of the new and eternal covenant. As it says, “Dagon lay face down on the floor before the ark of the LORD… (1 Sam. 4:4)” So to, Satan has fallen and his kingdom in ruins, his head bruised! As it says in another place, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple...A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went to make war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus (Rev. 11:19, 12:1,2,5,17).”
As an extension of her being the Mother of Christ we hold that she is also the Mother of the Church, as Jesus says to us through the scriptures, “Behold, your mother (John 19:27).” and as John has said to us “the rest of her offspring.” We are her children according to the promise since she is the true mother of the living. And we with her share as heirs of the promise through Jesus Christ, joint heirs with him (Rom. 8:16-17). Now the first fruit of the promise was Mary and this is fitting for us to call her Queen of Heaven and Earth because we have been made “kings and priests to our God (Rev.1:6).” However, she serves her Son, Jesus Christ; King of Kings and Lord of Lords, well since he is the true King of Israel. Considering the promise made to David, the Church holds that she now sits as queen mother of Jesus the King. As it says, “Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother (I Kings 2:19)” Just as the queens in the Davidic courts according to semitic custom were the mothers of the kings so too for us. That is why Solomon says to his mother, “Ask it mother, for I will not refuse you (1 Kings 2:20).” And is not one greater than Solomon with us? And his mother says on the behalf of the subjects, “Very well, I will speak to the king for you (I Kings 2:18).” Is not one greater than Bathsheba the mother of our King?
Mary being perfectly united to her Son and she always setting the holy example was not exempt from suffering on the behalf of Christ. As the scripture says, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted ( and you [Mary] a sword shall pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed) (Luke 2:34-35).” What was the sword that pierced her heart? No one may ever love Jesus as much as Mary did, that unique love that comes from a mother alone and such a love dictates to the heart, to her heart, the pangs and each distress of the passion of our Lord. If there was another who suffered at the cross it was Christ’s own mother, “whom at last the sword had passed.” She suffered as only a mother could, her heart being torn apart with each blow that was dealt to him. For this is what love does, it calls each of us into his passion to suffer with the crucified. She serves as the example par excellence of how we ought to love Christ. In the same way, Jesus loved his mother as only a child could. He both God and Man, knowing that all things were in his hands, allowed his humanity to outshine his divinity at the cross (though it was the paradox of love's greatest act) and there he shares with us his last thoughts before he gave up his spirit, he worried about his mother. Who would take care of her? Who would care for her as much as he did? There at the cross he gives his mother to us! There at the last moments of the passion says: “Behold, your mother!” and to her “Behold, your Son.” She is our mother now, we are made true children of the promises of God. Another act of love, Christ made upon his cross before his death was for us and his mother. These cease to be theological necessities but divine prerogatives.+
The last of the dogmas is the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of which I shall not say much since my tears have been shed on the last paragraph. The Son, Jesus Christ, loved his mother so deeply that when it was time for her to fall asleep he assumed her, body and soul into heaven. She was freed from both physical and spiritual death since she was free from the curse. It was not fitting that the mother of the living would suffer physical death but was free from it.
I could go on much longer concerning these things but I hope this is enough for you to consider. I have come to believe these things though I was an enemy of the Catholic Church, it was because of our blessed mother that came to accept it. Her prayers for me were heard and the faith was revealed in my heart. I understand if these things are to hard to accept but I ask above all else that your prayers be united to hers for the unity and state of all Christ’s Church on earth. And pray for me a sinner.
Your friend and fellow servant of Jesus Christ,