Q: With all the ghosts in upbringing, how do people of
differing Christian faiths come to a common insight on
A: Speaking of the ghosts of our respective religious
upbringing only, there are Protestant ghosts and there are Catholic
ghosts. There are ghosts for every churchgoer. If some have a
tendency to negate Mary, others may have indulged in exaggerating
her role and place. So we all have to fight our ghosts.
The image of Mary as presented by the Catholic Church has many
facets. It is biblical, liturgical, doctrinal, devotional and
cultural. All of these aspects should come together. The isolated
cultural image is deceptive; it may disguise Mary as fertility
goddess. But so is the isolated biblical image, if it reduces
Mary to a purely semantic datum. However, any initiation to a
more comprehensive view of Mary has to begin with the
psychological affinities of the person who seeks initiation.
Given a Protestant background, it would seem possible to
highlight two aspects of Mary's life:
- 1) her special place in God's plan of salvation as Jesus'
- 2) her religious existence based on faith and grace only.
These two aspects of Mary's spiritual profile are common to
Catholics and Protestants, in general. A Christian can identify
with Mary's special call and faith existence. Such a call is
unique to each baptized person. If we see Mary in this light most
of us probably will be able to develop--over time--a new
solidarity with Mary. From these roots other strands of Marian
devotion may develop. It remains crucial that whatever we feel
for Mary it lead us to Christ and never separate us from the
In order to achieve these objectives it could be useful to find
out more about a person's psychological affinities with the
person of Mary. Does the person relate to Mary-disciple,
Mary-mother, Mary-associate of Christ, Mary-model...? All of
these aspects and more are contained in the figure of Mary.
From an immediately practical point of view the familiarization
with Mary's biblical image could be very helpful. Here is the
reference of a recent work about Mary in the New Testament:
Mary of Galilee: Mary in the New Testament, by Bertrand
Buby, Alba House, 1994. Fr. Buby is one of our scholars in