Beliefs about Mary, the Mother of God, are one of the biggest sore spots between the ancient church and the post reformation denominations. Having been a convert from Catholicism to Evangelicalism and then back to the Catholic faith, I have been on both sides of this argument and maybe that is why I am a little more cautious about blogging about the May Crowning. However it is Mothers Day, and in many Catholic churches the May Crowning will take place today.
The Catholic beliefs about Mary, especially when terms like Queen of Heaven are invoked, appear to place Mary in an almost God-like position; this is where the arguments begin, and for catholics where it ends. Because the fact is that no catholic ever thought Mary was God, even if they called her Mother of God. It might be a possible outcome to assume that the term Theotokos would place Christ as subordinate to Mary, but in reality the term is meant to uphold the very Christ-centered belief we call the Incarnation, the belief that God took on humanity.
In a similar way the title of Queen of Heaven could mean several things. Often it is tied to other “queens of heaven” from mythology and pagan belief, and implied that the term makes a god of Mary, placing her above Jesus. But in fact it is the opposite. Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus to the christian is the King of Kings. This makes Mary a Queen Mother.
The point about Mary that is so often missed is that she is the first to have faith in Christ. The angel announces the birth and Mary accepts. Mary states in the sacred scriptures “for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” and this is what the church has done. It has given the place of honor to a woman. Above all men, all popes, kings, prophets, martyrs, and all other humans it is this “second Eve”, who trusts God and bears the fruit of the Tree of Life. We may be accused of worshipping her, we aren’t. We get accused of being patriarchal, then why accuse of worshipping a woman? We are accused of pagan influence for beliefs about Mary, and I say if it is a pagan idea then the idea was made new and born again the same way all pagans have been, through Christ; however beliefs about Mary are all easily explained from the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures and the women of faith mentioned there. Eve (Mother of all) , Sarah (Laughed at her annunciation), Bathsheba (Queen Mother to Solomon).
A crown will be placed on a statue of Mary, in other traditions, flowers will surround images of Mary, Icons will be crowned, all to remind us that God has regarded the humble handmaid ( humilitatem ancillae) and done great things. Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, and Mother of the Church.
Luke 1: 46-55
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.