Ten Years a Catholic, Ten Years with Mary


2104 marks my tenth anniversary within the Barque of Saint Peter.  I converted when I was a senior in college and haven’t looked back.

If I’ve learned anything in ten years, it’s that conversion is not a one-off deal.  It continues.  For example, reading the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church has had the effect of making me more liberal… and more conservative… in my old age.  My (very Americana) social and political assumptions have sometimes blinded me to the more obvious and explicit of Christ’s teachings.  Yes.  Still learning.

The hardest Catholic thing for me to grow into has been devotion to Mary.  Ten years of happy-idol-worshiping-confessing-to-He’s-Just-a-Man-Whore-of-Babyloning and I still have my Protesting knee jerk reaction at the mention of her name. (Behind this reaction is a trust issue, I’m sure, but I’ll leave that in the confessional.  With that He’s-Just-a-Man.)

Annunciation (detail), Fra Angelico.  Courtesy WikiCommons.

Annunciation (detail), Fra Angelico. Courtesy WikiCommons.I felt called to meditate on Mary this past year, and I’d like to share some of the fruit of that meditation—just a few points that have helped me accept and rejoice in the role that Mary placed in our salvation:

1) All God’s actions have both a temporal and eternal dimension.

The Incarnation, the Divine rip-roar into history, is a temporal and eternal event.  This event was dependent upon a woman’s freely-given yes.

Her temporal yes became bound up in God’s eternal act of Redemption.  She was drawn into the inner life of the Trinity in both a spiritual and visceral way: The Second Person of the Trinity was within her and took her human flesh.

This act, in some mysterious way, lives on in eternity.  Redemption passed and continues passes through her.

2) Mother of God, Mother of the Church (cf. John 19:26-27).

Being a mother is teaching me how much my own mother loves me.  Likewise Mary.  Mothers love their children and their children’s interests.  The Church is the Body of Christ.  She is Christ’s mother.


One thing I love about Catholicism is how seriously it takes Christ’s words and actions in light of the above temporal/eternal point.  What Jesus said on the Cross–the point of Redemption–he means it.  He particularly means it.  The last words of Christ are very, very important.  He’s not just passing off his mom to some gullible disciple.  There’s more going on in this scene.

3) Poor and needy.

God is very close to the materially and spiritually poor. People who know their need are more receptive to accepting God’s help.  You can’t fill a bucket that’s already full.

It’s no surprise that Marian devotion flourishes among Catholics who know their neediness.  I also don’t think it’s a surprise that many of the people who poo-poo Marian devotion are either a) wealthy, b) well-educated, c) pleasure-saturated, and/or d) cynical.  They don’t care about Mary because they’re too good for that.

The subject of Mary is an inexhaustible one. When I’m willing to look into profundity that is the Incarnation with honesty and openness, I find my heart opening and my old knee-jerk reaction growing less.

Copyright 2014 Rhonda Ortiz


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  1. Just one word of caution…. we can’t assume that just because one isn’t “poor” materially, that they won’t have a Marian devotion. I know many very gifted people who have a true devotion to our Blessed Mother and who employ their material giftedness to do great things for others. I know you weren’t saying that only the poor love Mary, but I just wanted to throw that out there for conversation.

    • No, of course you’re right. But what I would say is that, very often, there seems to be a correlation between having more (whatever it is) in the world’s eyes and concurrently being “too good” for Mary. Not that one excludes the other, but that we have the problem of a rich man and that old camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle problem.

  2. Elizabeth Desiderato on

    I too have a great devotion to Mary. She has guided me and been with me through mountains and valleys.

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