I desired to post a few more expanded thoughts on Mary from my perspective.
God bless you...
Mary: A Fresh Look at the Rosary by a Former Protestant Pastor
Ronald D. Curley
"Br. Barnabas," of St. Anthony's Retreat House
P.O. Box 531
Stevensville, Montana 59870
An article submitted for publication in (...)
[Abstract: Ronald Curley is a former evangelical, ordained, Baptist pastor who converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1995, and was confirmed Easter Vigil, 1997. He holds two master's degrees (environmental health science and ministry) and is doing Catholic post-graduate work at Gonzaga University in Pastoral Ministry. Formerly, Ron had little interest in Mary. Now, however, since his conversion, he is seeing ever more evidence of the glories that God has bestowed upon the Mother of our Lord. Today, he writes from that perspective for Ecclesia-on- Line, (Fr. Daniel Meynen's Homily Service), and, the Apostolate of the Legion of St. Michael on Bro. John Paul Ignatius' Apologetics Forum.]
ARTICLE: Mary: A Fresh Look at the Rosary by a Former Protestant Pastor
Mary. There was a time, a number of years back when I would have immediately have put up a "mental barrier" of "Extreme caution" at the mere mention of the name, "Mary." For me Mary was a subject we avoided, as a youngster and evangelical Christian that was a "Catholic subject," because Mary simply was "not that important" to us. My family had moved from Indiana to California in the early 50's, and the word, "Mary," was something that the Catholics talked about, but, not us non-catholics!
Sure, she was the "mother of Jesus," someone that was quickly to be forgotten and done with after the birth of Jesus, after we read the gospel stories of Matthew and Luke at Christmas time. She was no one special, we would think. Yes, she was a humble servant of Jesus, but, never mind all the "frills those Catholics, the pagans, put all over Mary!"
And, so, the feelings would go back then.
I admit that I bought into the placing of Mary in the "closet" of my Christianity for many years, because I felt that I was on the "right track" by emphasizing "sola Christus, "sola fide," and "sola scriptura"!
In 1995 something happened to me, a personal crisis, that I give praise our Lord Jesus Christ and appreciation to our Blessed Mother. It was at that time that I followed up on the gentle "tug" of our Lady, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, within my heart. I visited the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Parish in Missoula, Montana and, there, in that place, my heart was strangely warmed, as I sat in the presence of a statue of our Lady. There, in the presence of that representation of Mary (with other representations of the saints and our Lord Jesus' Sacred Heart) I realized the "iconoclastic" tendencies I had known were all wrong. These were representations of the greater reality. These were aids to worshiping the Triune God. Little did I know then that I would be a Cantor in front of this very statue of our Lady every Sunday at noon Mass at St. Francis Xavier Parish. Our Lady's likeness is literally looking at my back. I often feel like I should turn sideways to the people and toward the alter with our Lady to the right of me, so as not to be disrespectful. Seriously, though, Mary has taken on new meaning for me, beloved priests of God!
Little did I realize how important for me would be the Holy Rosary of our Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as the other devotions within the framework of Catholic spirituality. Yet, I have sensed more and more the growing reality of Mary's closeness to all of us, a matter of God's gift to all of us who really do need a Mother that we know loves us unconditionally, as does our Heavenly Father, as manifested in his Son, Jesus Christ. I found myself realizing more and more the Holy Spirit's ministry has come through our Lady. God saw the need for the gentle touch of Mother to be extended to each one of us in the community of faith in the Church. Mary has provided that, because of the graces of God through her.
I have found myself reflecting on many things at my retreat house, as I am allowed to by our Lord to contemplate the spiritual riches of Christ through Mary, our Mother. One area that has caught my spiritual attention is the Rosary's Fifteen Mysteries. Let us explore some of these reflections for the greater glory of God (ad majorem dei gloriam). I work with a Jesuit Parish.
The catechism teaches us : "The Virgin MARY most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith MARY welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that 'with God nothing will be impossible' and so giving her assent: 'Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word.'[Lk 1:37-38 ; cf. Gen 18:14 .] Elizabeth greeted her: 'Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.'[Lk 1:45 .] It is for this faith that all generations have called MARY blessed.[Cf. Lk 1:48 .]"
With this blessed truth in mind, I seem to flee internally (spiritually) to my Mother for help in this disclosure of herself. Our Lady is foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15, foretold of again in Isaiah 7:14. She was untainted by original sin, and therefore, was a source through Divine Grace of the enmity between the seed of the woman and Satan, pictured in type in the Genesis account. Eve was surely not the "woman" that was meant by the promise of God in Genesis 3:14-15, for this foreshadowed the Second Eva, Mary, the Mother of God. Again, our Lady is seen in Galatians 4:4
When I came to the realization of the four Marian dogmas, I was entranced, for this made the understanding of the Spouse of the Holy Spirit even more clear for me. These took time to be declared. I believe it was 700 years before the Franciscans were able to see the dogma of the Immaculata declared by the Holy Father Pius IX in 1854. It was another 100, (approximately) before the dogmas of the Assumption (1950) of Mary was dogmatically defined for us. Of course, the first definition was Mater Dei in Ephesus (431) and then, Perpetual Virginity at Lateran (649), early in the history of the Church. Yet, I found these were truths that have always been important for the Church. And, this is reflected in the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What appears to be happening is the intricate, symmetrical, and, lovely order of God's redemptive purposes in Christ is that the Holy trinity has willed to graciously include our Lady at every turn of the pages of Holy Scriptures. The Woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15 is coronated in Revelation 12 and tied by that context in a very close relationship with the doctrine of salvation in that very context for the remnant of her seed. The "seed of the woman" is the subject of Genesis and Revelation, as we are identified with our Mother, the Mother of God and the "Mother of the Church" (as defined by Paul VI) and re-affirmed by the present Holy Father, John Paul II. "Totus tuus" is more for all of us than a Latin term.
Our Lady has "cooperated" with God in the reconciliation of God and humankind while she was still on earth. This is clear from Luke's Gospel, especially.
Yet, we see in the Rosary we pray with our Lady a most profound symmetry. I have noticed this and it comes forth to me, as I pray and look at these mysteries. Let us reflect upon these for a while, beloved of God. Recently, someone asked a question about praying the Rosary with Mary. I sensed something here that was deeply embedded within my soul, because of my own relationship with Jesus and his Mother. Our Lady is the Mother of the Church. As our Mother, the Mother of God, the Mother of our Savior, (the Lord Jesus Christ), she has an
identification with, that is, a special identification with her Son, Jesus. There is an internal and symmetrical beauty to the Most Holy Rosary, a lovely symmetry that allows us to travel with her and explore our own destiny as we prepare, and are prepared by the Spouse of Mary, the Holy Spirit, to meet Jesus Face to face someday.
It is God's purpose to prepare us fully to meet Jesus. We are being made into a "chaste virgin," (II Cor. 11:2), as well we all must know. It is very fitting that Mary prays these mysteries with us, as she has the approved visionaries in the apparitions, because she prays our prayer that shows us the symmetry of our own journey with Jesus, our Hope of Salvation and our only Savior. Let me enlarge upon this a little, asking my readers to forgive me for, perhaps, suggesting no new discoveries, but, a sense of what has been there all the time waiting for me to see with you as well.
Joyful mysteries --
The "annunciation" and "visitation" are parallel events, as I would term them, to the "presentation" and the "finding" of Jesus in the Temple. The main subject for these other mysteries is the Advent of Jesus Christ, with those other mysteries standing on either side of the Birth of the Lord Jesus (the 3rd mystery) in the Rosary. These all are parallel mysteries that seem to "mirror" one another.
The annunciation of the Lord to the Temple's "Ark of the Covenant, " Mary, is
likened (mirrored) to the presentation of Jesus by the "Ark" (Mary) in the Temple at Jerusalem. How profound to think that The Ark is returning to the Temple with the Tabernacle of Yahweh in the wilderness. How fitting that our Lady is later seen in Revelation 12 going into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God. How fitting that our Lady and Joseph went to Egypt and returned from that wilderness.
The visitation with Elizabeth (who name means, "house of God of Salvation", and Elizabeth was amazed and glorified God, giving us part of the Rosary), coincides with "Salvation of Yahweh," (Jesus) teaching in the temple that spoke of his coming salvation to the amazed ones who listened to his answers to questions.
Thus, we have joyful mysteries where on one side there is Mary with Jesus before the birth of our Savior, followed by Mary and Jesus after, following the pattern of perfection and cooperation in the plan of God.
Sorrowful mysteries --
In the Sorrowful mysteries Mary, our Mother, prays with us in the valley of tears -- She was there with the "piercing sword" in her Immaculate Heart. The Crowning with Thorns (that also pierce) is the central point for these five mysteries. Jesus is pierces by the thorns of our sins and spat upon and mocked. I hear the words of Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 7:14.
The "agony" in the garden is coupled with the "carrying of the Cross," as our Lady teaches us through the Rosary that we must also be prepared to suffer the Passion with Jesus, as we take up our own crosses to follow Jesus, as Mary did.
The "scourging" at the pillar and the "crucifixion" and death are coupled as the ultimate thing that little mankind may do to us in Christ, as we fully surrender with Mary to Jesus, her Son. In Philippians 2:1-8 -- We find the supreme example of humility and the reality that Jesus paid it all. Yet, the obedience of faith is seen in his Mother, the great example of faith for the Church is in her Mother.
Glorious mysteries --
Still, the Glorious mysteries are the ones that lead us with Mary and Jesus into the joy that is set before all of us in the fulness of her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, that we see in the 3rd centralized mystery -- Pentecost (the "descent of the Holy Spirit" is the birth of the Church she (Mary) is the Mother of, as chosen by Jesus and given to John at the Cross).
The "resurrection" of our Lord strikingly parallels and connects with the "assumption" of our Lady (the resurrection for her) to the heavens. Someday, we will be raised from the dead and taken to meet the Lord in the air, there to be with him forever.
The "ascension" of Jesus, our risen King, corresponds also with the marvelous "coronation" of our Lady, the Queen Mother now in heaven. What a beautiful picture of the desire of our Lord and our Lady for us, as the "chaste virgin" stature desired for us in Christ. How fittingly do we say with St. Paul, II Corinthians 5:17.
The "Hail Mary...," is "Rejoice Mary...," and as such, she may also rejoice, as we do in this valley of tears. This lovely prayer helps me realize that I am called with Mary to rejoice and be glad that we have so great a Redeemer. It is in order that we may also learn rejoicing, because we are going to be presented to Christ someday as a spotless "chaste virgin," and, our Lady desires that we experience this hoped for reality now in the blessed hope of our Lord's return in glory for us all. Let us remember Philippians 1:6.
In closing, I must only say this, Let us be faithful and fruitful in faith with her, our Mother, for him, (Jesus), our Savior.
Deus et Sanctissima
In Christ -- Ron