Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Converts realize potential of Mary
Grace for the Day audience heard how a couple discovered Mary's place and power in the Church
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
STONY PLAIN - As orthodox Lutherans, the Quist family did not fully understand Mary's role in the Church.
One Sunday, a few years ago, Paul and Carol Quist went to a Catholic Mass at St. Thomas More Church. It was the feast of the Assumption, and the parishioners sang hymns to Our Lady.
The Protestant couple refused to sing the hymns, dismissing this as idolatry, "Mary worshipping" and making her equal with Jesus. They also rejected the whole notion of mediatrix and the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an intercessor in the salvation process.
Motherhood involves an intimate bond and connection with her child. Catholic devotion to Mary is a logical extension of a child's personal affection for his own mother.
"We didn't understand that. Look at those Catholics, lifting Mary up right next to Jesus. We didn't recognize that honour and veneration are not the same thing as worship," said Carol.
Paul was a Lutheran pastor for 16 years before becoming a Catholic in 2005. He was the archdiocesan director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for three years, resigning from the position in September 2009.
Today, the couple spreads the good news about marriage, family, sexuality and the human person that they discovered in the Catholic Church.
They were guest speakers at Grace for the Day, an annual Eucharistic and Marian Conference at Ephphatha House, near Stony Plain. About 30 people attended the three-day conference, June 11-13.
Before becoming Catholic, their view of the saints was akin to distant relatives, those they would have no contact with until they were in heaven themselves.
"Now as Catholics, we are just learning to love the saints. We ask them to pray for us. This is like going up to a relative and asking, 'Hey, would you pray for me?'" said Carol.
"These saints are our brothers and sisters who have gone on before us, but are still very much accessible to us, with Our Lady being the greatest of the saints."
Paul wondered why he needed Mary when he already had Jesus. What he did not understand was that Catholics identify their own feelings for Mary with the feelings Jesus had for his mother.
"Jesus is God in man, one divine person with two natures. That's part of the reason we need Mary because we can never be like Jesus and we don't have a divine nature," said Paul.
"Mary didn't have a divine nature either. She is purely human, and she shows us through the grace of God what's possible for human beings."
Mary shows Christians humility, how to grow in faith, how to be more like Jesus and the way to salvation.
"Christ is, ultimately, the exemplar of who and what a human person is. Mary always points us to her Son. It's not about her. She points to her Son and says to do whatever he tells you. She brings her holiness, obedience and openness," said Carol.
Paul described the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, The Little Mermaid, as a morality tale of "human beings trying to use technology or magic to overcome our limits."
It's about a young mermaid who gives up her utopian life under the sea and her identity as a mermaid in order to gain the love of a human prince. Unlike the Walt Disney adaptation's happy ending, the original story ends in tragedy. Her body dissolves into foam along the seashore.
Paul compared the fairytale to the confusion about the nature of the human person.
REMEMBER GOD'S PLAN
People fail when they try to be self-creating, do-it-yourself projects. Confused about freedom, some people believe they can do whatever they want, without consequences, veering away from God's plan for their lives.
"The modern human person doesn't want limits. They will not tolerate limits or the idea that there's a design, that there's an author. We think we can create ourselves in our own image, instead of recognizing and bowing to the fact that we're created in the image and likeness of God," said Paul.
Citing Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, Carol said human beings are meant for communion and designed for love. Concepts have sent people off-track, including Sigmund Freud's theory that humans are slaves to their instincts.
"That's like being no better than an animal. We are not driven by our instincts. People who say celibacy is impossible are really saying that they have no control over themselves, and they have no choice but to follow their instincts.
"That is just not true. It's a minimizing of who the human person truly is and a minimizing of this free will that we have," she said.
Another false worldview is the Marxist idea that individuals do not matter and that what's important is the collective.
"What he taught is that the human person is just a cog in the machine, and what really matters is the big machine, not the cog. What this means is that the human person becomes dispensable," she said.
To further oneself in Mariology, Carol recommended reading St. Louis de Montfort's writings and devotions to Mary, and praying the rosary, which is meditative and opens the door to who Christ is.
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