Tuesday, May 6, 2014

marian ramblings

This post has been lurking in my drafts for awhile, but after reading this post by Daniel Stewart, I thought it was time to bring it into the light!

I'm not a cradle Catholic.  My family attended a Lutheran church when I was little, but when I was in third or fourth grade we began attending an evangelical "mega-church" (this one, to be exact). It was great, in all the ways that those kinds of churches tend to be. Everyone brought their highlighted and dog-eared Bibles to church every Sunday, there was a band that played worship songs that were both catchy and moving, the sermons were relevant and Scripture-filled, and you could be fairly certain that your neighbor in the pew was either "on fire for God" or wanted to be. I attended the affiliated Christian school from 6th through 12th grade, where every semester we had a required class on Christianity (or "Bible class" as we called it, because, you know, evangelical)-- one year on marriage and family, one year on in-depth Bible reading, one year on apologetics (that was a good one-- the stuff I learned in apologetics class still influences my life).

But then, in 2009, I converted to Catholicism.

This post isn't going to be a "conversion story"-- I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that my beliefs haven't "lost" anything in the transition, but have only gained scope, depth, and assurance. (The only thing I "lost" was the guarantee of an "on fire for God" congregation. Sad but true, but obviously not limited to Catholicism. See: mainline Protestantism.)

When I converted, I embraced fully the teachings of the Church. Because, I mean, what would be the point otherwise? If you don't believe everything the Catholic Church teaches, then you don't believe in the Catholic Church and there's no point in calling yourself Catholic. It would be like saying, "Yeah, I'm Republican, except I'm in favor of graduated tax rates, and I think health care should be single-payer, and I'm pro-choice and in favor of gay marriage and affirmative action, and I think we should have tighter gun laws and looser immigration laws, and we should cut funding to the military. But, you know, my family is all Republican, so it's cultural." That makes no sense. But it makes MORE sense than calling yourself Catholic and disagreeing with the Catholic Church, because the Church isn't just a set of ideological views from which you can pick and choose... the whole concept behind the Catholic Church is that it's the church established by God and therefore contains the fullness of truth and His authority on earth.

BUT (and here's where we get to the whole point of this post... longest. introduction. ever, amiright?) despite intellectually agreeing completely, and consciously trying to adjust my actions accordingly, sometimes I find myself having trouble getting emotionally on board. Devotion to Mary, specifically, has been on my mind lately. It's not that I have any difficulty believing in the teachings about Mary. It's that I have trouble feeling devotion to her-- I know of course, that "feeling" something isn't required, but it something that can be helpful-- and something that can be cultivated.

I'm sure that this difficulty is related to my evangelical background. Now, I was never part of the subculture of Protestantism that disparages Mary (a subculture that makes no sense to me-- if God chose her, who are we to disagree?). In my church growing up, she was considered important in her role as Jesus' mother, and she was someone who was considered admirable and virtuous. But we just didn't think about her that often, other than at Christmas. Not nearly as much as, say, the writers of the New Testament.

So I've been trying to think of ways to increase my devotion to and just day-to-day awareness of Mary. I've got this book lined up in my books-to-read pile, and a couple more in my Amazon Wish List:
- Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross
- Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom
(And thanks to the post I linked to at the top, I'm adding Mary and the Fathers of the Church to my list.)

Any other ideas? If any of you have been in this situation (which I suspect is common among converts, especially former Protestants), what have you found that helped you?

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