Later this month all the members of American Catholic Solidarity will be required to fast and pray for an end to one of the greatest sins of man…abortion. (Check the official ACS Twitter page at @catholicfreedom for more details.) Now, every Catholic knows that one of the most effective prayers is the rosary. It incorporates all of the best elements of Christianity.
It starts with a definition of the basic beliefs of Christianity (the Apostles’ Creed). It then includes prayers to God and the Virgin Mary. In addition, there are the mysteries, which are no less than a meditation on the gospels.
With all of these wonderful elements, it is difficult to see how anyone could object to the rosary. Yet, most Christians do object to it. The reasons why are many, but the main reason is that the Virgin Mother of God is invoked in the rosary. Why do Catholics honor Mary so greatly?
One simple explanation is that the fourth commandment (fifth for our separated brethren) seems to command it. In our English translation the fourth/fifth commandment reads: Honor thy father and thy mother. One look at the Hebrew, however, bears out the inadequacy of this translation.
The Hebrew word translated as “honor” is “kaboda”. A more proper translation of “kaboda” is “glorify”. So the fourth/fifth commandment should read: Glorify thy father and thy mother. If we’re meant to glorify our own father and mother, how much more should we glorify the Mother of God? The Hebrews practically glorified the Ark of the Covenant. How much more should we glorify the New Ark of the Covenant?
Furthermore, I would point out that even Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, glorified Mary. The Gospel According to Luke tells us that when Mary greeted Elizabeth upon entering her house, Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?” (1:42-3)
Protestants would chastise Elizabeth for these words. She knew Mary carried God Himself in Her womb. So why didn’t she say, “Who am I that my Lord should come unto me?” Yet, Elizabeth did not say this. She asked how she could be so honored as to receive a visit from the Mother of God! Elizabeth recognized and glorified Mary’s importance!
St. John the Apostle also glorified Mary. Well, really, God glorified Her. St. John simply wrote down what he saw. In Revelation 12 John writes about four people. One is referred to as “a male child who was to rule all nations with an iron rod”. (Rv. 12:5, citing Ps. 2:9) This child we know is literally Jesus.
Another person St. John refers to is a red dragon. John identifies him as Satan. (Rv. 12:9) Yet another person referred to is Michael the Archangel. (Rv. 12:7) so we see that three literal people are referred to by St. John in Revelation 12. But we aren’t done yet!
The first person referred to is described as “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”. (Rv. 12:1) this woman is then described as the one who gives birth to Jesus. (12:2)
Now, since the other three people mentioned in Revelation 12 are literal people, then the woman must also be a literal person. Protestants claim this is only a reference to the Church. By allusion, that is correct. But Revelation 12:1 is primarily referring to Mary. Remember, Protestants have an either/or approach to biblical interpretation. Catholics take a both/and approach. In any case, the text is clearly a reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. But what does the imagery mean?
I don’t want to delve into too much detail here, but a basic explanation is warranted. Basically, the woman being clothes with the sun, and standing on the moon can have many meanings. The most basic is that she is over the entire universe. Proof of this is that the woman also wears a crown. Anyone wearing a crown in the ancient world would be royalty. This woman, then, is queen of heaven and Earth!
The crown is said to be made of twelve stars. The number 12 is derived from the number 4. In the ancient world 4 is the number of mankind. Twelve was used by the Jews to symbolize their people. There were twelve tribes of Israel. There were also twelve Apostles. So Mary is the queen of all mankind.
In the Bible stars are often symbols for angels. In fact, John demonstrates this in Revelation 12:4, 9. So Mary is queen of heaven!
How wonderful is our God to give us such a great queen as Mary. She is the pinnacle of God’s creation. She who was seen fit to carry God Himself in Her womb. How could we not glorify Her? By doing so Catholics are only following the example of Jesus Christ; who made His mother queen of heaven and Earth! So let us join St. Elizabeth in saying, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?”
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity