Yesterday I was introduced to a book written by a guy named Todd Burpo. Apparently his 4 year old son had an out of body experience & went to heaven. He described the Trinity, the angels, the beauty of it all & even saw famous Bible people & departed family members. I watched interviews from TBN & other ministers who seemed very excited, full of faith & wonder. I, however, am not easily convinced. Whether the kid's story is true or not, one thing troubled me: where was Mary in the mix?
I understand this book is written from a Protestant standpoint, so of course Mary would probably be absent. Nevertheless, I came home & asked God to reveal Mary to me... Was she really alive in heaven? Are the things the Catholic Church says about her true? Later in the evening, I opened up my copy of the Magnificat. The readings for that day centered around none other than the Blessed Virgin. I can't help but think of this as an answer to prayer, though it may just be coincidence.
Some folks say Protestants don't "see" Mary because she's not really "out there" to be seen. But perhaps the problem is that Protestants haven't been encouraged to look for her. Artists tend to render her as a petite, demure white woman dressed in blue & white... nothing threatening there. But folks seem to bristle at the idea of Mary existing anywhere outside the confines of the Gospels. When they see Catholic artists depicting her floating through the sky with a crown on her head & beams of light shooting from her hands, that's it. Of course they can't take her seriously. But then how can we take the claims of Jesus' disciples seriously? What about when He walked on water, was transfigured on Mt. Tabor, or appeared in one place in one form after His resurrection & then disappeared & appeared as Himself somewhere else miles away? Was it all a crock? Do we REALLY believe the eyewitness accounts? If so, why can't we believe what the Catholics say about Mary? Since she was still alive when the New Testament was being written, its stands to reason that accounts of her death & assumption into heaven wouldn't be there. After the Bible, what do we have to rely on? Its important to remember that the Bible is just a snapshot of a greater whole. Everyday, outside of the Bible, we rely on history, culture, tradition, faith, science & continuing educational experiences to teach us who we are & how we should live. Mary is a big part of Christian history, both written & unwritten.
To steal the format of a once popular bumper sticker: No Mary, no Jesus. Know Mary, know Jesus. It may sound lame, but it's true.
I took a challenge at the beginning of my conversion journey to ask Jesus to reveal His mother to me. That led me straight to the Roasry, which led me right back to Christ. If looking for Mary leads me away from Jesus, then pursuing her is worthless. But if she in fact leads me to Christ, how can I deny her importance & the possibility that Catholic tradition is true?