Mary Who She Is and Why She Matters

Who is Mary and why does she matter?

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'Mary 101' Becomes 'Mary: Who She Is and Why She Matters'

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Our series on the Blessed Virgin Mary by Dr. Robert Stackpole, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, has ended. It's now available in its entirety, in an expanded version, as the book Mary: Who She Is and Why She Matters (Marian Press). We sat down with Dr. Stackpole to talk about the book:

What did you aim to do with this book?
The idea for this book came from my good friend and colleague Dr. Bryan Thatcher, founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM). He discovered that many EADM cenacle members around the world have a heart-felt devotion to Mary, their spiritual mother, but few are able to articulate why the Catholic Church believes what she does about Mary. Many good Catholics just do not know (because they were never taught) why we call Mary the Mother of God, Ever Virgin, Mediatrix, and Queen of Heaven, or why we believe she was immaculately conceived and assumed body and soul into Heaven. As a result, many are troubled and confused when their beliefs about Mary are challenged by non-Catholic Christians. I wanted to equip EADM members, as well as other good Catholics around the English-speaking world, with a concise guidebook to the Church's main teachings about Our Lady to help them deepen their own faith and share it with others.

Why do Protestants resist honoring Mary?
Remember that the Protestant Reformation began in the early 16th century when devotion to the saints in the Catholic world was very elaborate, and at times filled with superstition. Some people turned to the relics of saints as if they were magic charms. So the Protestants were reacting against very real abuses and excesses at the time. But they threw the baby out with the bathwater by denying that we should celebrate the lives of the saints, or ask for their prayers at all.

Catholics do not worship Mary, or put her in place of her Son as the Savior of the world. Like the Church and the Bible, Mary is a channel, a vessel of His saving grace to us — and therefore a gift of God's love to all Christians.

How will this book help us answer Protestant objections?
I hope this book will be something that Catholics can share with their Protestant friends to show what Catholic devotion to Mary really is, for it is not the mix of idolatry and superstition that they fear. Saints are raised up by the Church to show us by word and deed the love of Jesus Christ, and how to love Christ better in return. And I hope it is a book that Catholics themselves will read and ponder (perhaps in parish study groups and EADM cenacles) to strengthen their faith and open their eyes in wonder to aspects of the mystery of Mary, our true Mother, that they have never fully appreciated before. The book includes discussion questions and prayers at the end of each chapter to make it user-friendly for small groups.

You talk about Marian apparitions in the text. Why?
The great apparitions of Mary at places like Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, and Kibeho are entirely in accord with Scripture. For example, when Mary discovered that her relative Elizabeth was in need, she did not stay in the seclusion of Nazareth, but journeyed in haste to the hill country of Judea to Elizabeth's house to come to her aid and share the gift and presence of the Christ Child with her (see Lk 1:39-56). Today, when the world has become dark with lack of faith and the hearts of many have grown cold, why should we doubt that Mary, who loves us as her own "offspring" in Christ (see Rev 12:17), would hasten to help us in extraordinary ways to bring us back to the Heart of her Son? That is what the approved Marian apparitions are all about, in a nutshell: the Mother of Mercy, leading a lost world back to the Merciful Savior.

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