If Mary were but known
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow, which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, and quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading … (a) peculiar devotion (to the Blessed Virgin Mary). Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!
The equivalent of the Psalmist’s statement “O taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Psalm 34:8) is the power expression of the saints: “Oh, if Mary were but known!” No one inwardly experience the goodness of God and remain the same. However, you cannot experience God if you do not create a relationship with Him. You have to experience Him by knowledge. Hence, the Penny catechism asks, “Why did God make you? God made me to know Him (knowledge), love Him, serve Him in this world, and to be with Him forever in the next.” You cannot tell the taste of honey unless you taste it yourself. You can only know this really and personally by experience. So, it is with Mary. However, knowledge of Mary, preaching about Mary and devotion to Mary has drastically declined in our times. Unfortunately, we have failed to employ ourselves in acquiring knowledge of Mary and applying her in our daily affairs. Hence, our lingering problems in life! Confusions and despair! Thus, we are preoccupied with the task of highlighting the incredible efficacy of knowledge of Mary, preaching about Mary and devotion to Mary.
The Efficacy of Knowledge of Mary
An evidence of the power of Mary (by Fr. Ray-Maria Jackson): In 1985, some resident doctors in Nigeria took two post-graduate examinations – West African College and Nigerian College (Fellowship examinations). A medical doctor I know at St. Margaret Teaching Hospital, Calabar, was one of those who sat for these exams. He prepared for his papers, but before he left for the examinations, he went before the statue of our Lady and prayed the fifteen decades of the Rosary, begging our heavenly Mother to help him. In the night our Lady appeared to him in a dream and told him to rejoice. He understood the message. When the results were released, he had one of the highest marks in the West African College examination and took first position in the Nigerian College examination.
Knowledge of Mary has drastically declined in our times. St. Louis de Montfort and Father Faber complained of such ugly trend in the Nineteenth Century. I wonder what they would say if they were here in our Twenty First Century. The reasons are not farfetched: ignorance, human respect, carnal prudence, fear, and mediocrity/timidity. We hide the truth about Mary for fear of embarrassment and shame. Mary is not known especially in Christianity let alone in the secular realms. No wonder she is so controversial a figure in our Christian faith and the world. It did not start today. Faint and unsound theology/knowledge about the Lady has been there since the early days of the Church. Remember the heresy and movement against Jesus and by implication Mary – Nestorianism. (To be continued) – Fr. John-Mary Atep.