This is an important one for me. Loving your Thumbs Up and will visit you, too, soon! Thanks! Megan
Today was a very important day for our little family. We needed something to come to pass, something we had been hoping for and working toward for some time now. We would find out today whether or not our prayers would be answered.
However, I figured some last-minute prayers couldn't hurt, so I decided to try a different approach for me: I went to church. Imagine that. Of course, being me, I couldn't do it all straight-forward-like...
A couple of weeks ago I took the boys out for a country drive to look for horses, Pants's newest interest. Somewhere along the way, I made about a half dozen wrong turns and ended up in another county. I was totally lost. I saw the "Entering Hancock County" sign and knew I was in trouble. Then I started noticing that every other road and mailbox had the name "Favre" on it, and I knew I was really in trouble: I was in Kiln. Or "The Kill" as they pronounce it around here. Hometown to Brett Favre and apparently every other Favre in the country.
Unfortunately, I don't follow football, wasn't excited at the prospect of seeing some Favre kin, and as far as I was concerned, was in the middle of some kind of inbreeding central, in which some redneck was bound to throw out a length of barbed wire across the road to pop our tires, drag us off into the woods, and do weird The Hills Have Eyes kind of stuff to us.
Just about the time I was about to start panicking, I saw a church. A beautiful church that didn't look like it housed any scary woods-people. The Annunciation Catholic Church. Welcome salvation to me. To make a long story short (I never do), I was able to call for help and use the church as a touch-stone for directions out of there.
Before leaving, however, I couldn't help but notice how inviting this particular church appeared to me. Most striking was the fact that they had a Mary garden, featuring a statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje. I found this fascinating, as just that weekend I was planning on creating my own Mary garden outside our kitchen window. Serendipity.
Today, feeling that a handful of rushed prayers said among piles of dinosaurs and diapers wouldn't do the trick, I thought of the Annunciation Church. It felt perfect, so I put Pants down for his nap (Al was home to watch over him), piled Cheeks into the car, grabbed my new one decade Miraculous Medal rosary and a handful of holy cards (these complicated Catholic prayers are still new to me), and hit the road.
Cheeks and I spent the next three hours together in the Mary garden, as well as inside the church. All alone, except for the bees and dragonflies that flitted around us outside as I prayed. It was perfect. It was just the solitude and peace that I needed. Putting my worries into Mary's hands, I could feel my anxiety drain away.
So, as a Catholic, was I praying to Mary today? Not exactly. No "Mary Worship" occurred today. Rather than praying to Mary or worshiping Mary, I was asking Mary to pray for me. I was asking for her intercession on my behalf to her Son. I was asking her to be my advocate. I was asking her to pray. My own little prayer chain.
Aldara at Catholic Mommyhood recently wrote about being rejected from some Christian blogrolls because she was Catholic. She was informed, after signing up for a Christian blogroll, that it was only for Protestants. Mind you, this was not a Protestant blogroll; it was a Christian blogroll.
Catholics are Christian. We don't worship Mary or the saints. We ask them to pray to Jesus, our God, for us. Just as we pray to Jesus, to Christ, directly. We don't need them as middlemen, but a little extra prayer can't hurt, right? I've heard some Protestants say, "I don't need a middle man to reach my God." Well, I don't either. But again, consider the Wedding at Cana: Jesus knew the bridal party had run out of wine, He is omniscient and knew what they needed, but it took His Mother to persuade Him to help.
I've written previously about recently making efforts to learn more about Catholicism and, honestly, what all this Mary stuff was really about. One night, while wrangling Cheeks on the floor of Barnes and Noble amid a mass of Catholicism basics books, I found an explanation about what all this "Mary Worship" stuff is. Written by a priest, he explained it this way:
If your neighbor asked you to pray for their sick mother, would you? Would you say, "Absolutely not. Tell her to pray to God herself." Of course not. You would say you would be happy to do it. And you would.
This doesn't mean you are worshiping your neighbor any more than it means Catholics worship Mary. Praying for intercession (prayers to Jesus) by Mary, saints, or our own dead relatives is just another way of asking for your neighbor to pray for you. The only difference is, these folks are dead and already in Heaven.
Most importantly, after asking your neighbor to pray for you (seriously, think about Protestant prayer chains), you don't then consider it covered and not pray to God yourself. No, you continue to pray to God directly, as well. This is the same for Catholics.
Between our prayers, prayers from our family, prayers from our friends, and His Mother whispering in His ear on our behalf, I imagine Jesus has probably had just about enough of us for a while. We've been coming at Him from all sides.
Granted, there is an awful lot of focus on Mary in the Catholic Church. However, it doesn't take away from focus and devotion to Christ. As a matter of fact, in considering Mary more, wondering about her life and role in the life of her Son, I've thought more about Jesus lately than I have in years. It is through Mary that I have found a closer connection to Jesus.
So that's what I think about "Mary Worship." I promise, this is not a religious blog.
Shortly after returning home this evening, we found that our prayers had been answered. The answer was "yes." We were overjoyed. Praise Jesus! (It's important for you to throw your hands up and your head back when you say that last part, ala "Praise Jebus!") I can't even begin to tell you the relief and gratitude we feel. This weekend is going to be one hell of a celebration.
After quite some time of wishing and praying for the same thing, I don't know what I'll do with all that praying energy now. Anyone have any prayers they would like me to say for them? That is, as long as you aren't afraid of being accused of a little "Megan Worship."
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us...