RCIA Class on Mary

It’s a couple weeks ago now that my RCIA class talked about Mary. Chris missed that class, even though he’s my sponsor, since our babysitter had to cancel on us. We talked about it afterward and of course the first thing he says is, “Why haven’t they had a class on Jesus? Understanding who Jesus is would go a long way to understanding Mary.” I found myself trying to defend the class organizers, but he’s right. My guess as to why they don’t have a “who is Jesus” course is that they either think it’s covered in the creed and the Trinity, or this class is really just a Protestant to Catholic conversion tool, and they find that people already know who Jesus Christ is. The latter seems more likely since all the classes seen to be focused on issues that Protestants have with Catholicism.

It was fairly well done, as well as can be expected in a two hour intro course on Mary. They included handouts for reference that went more in depth and had a question and answer session. I found myself grimacing at all the usual objections that people raised. “Didn’t the Assumption of Mary just become a doctrine? How do we know that it’s true?” “Wasn’t that a ground up doctrine and the people made the Pope do it?” “Doesn’t the Bible say Jesus had brothers?”

The control freak in me was itching to jump up and answer these questions. I did put my two cents in occasionally, like when I said that although the people may have called for the Assumption to be a doctrine, it was already believed, the people didn’t invent the belief and then make the Church dogmatize it. Of course, I think that comment was lost in the wind.

I even asked a question myself when the Immaculate Conception came up. They said one of the reasons we believe Mary was conceived without original sin (remember, sex isn’t a sin, this has nothing to do with sex!) is because Christ received his sinless nature from her. I said something like this a while ago, in my ponderings on Mary, but someone had told me it wasn’t true. So I questioned the catechists, asking why God couldn’t have just intervened at Christ’s conception and gave him a sinless nature, and why Mary didn’t need to get her sinless nature from her parents. The answer from the lady leading the discussion was akin to: “That’s just the way it is.” Thankfully, another catechist piped up and told me that Mary’s sinless nature isn’t just God intervening on her behalf, like I was thinking. If He was just intervening, then my objection would make sense. However, the salvation of Christ was applied to Mary at her conception. It’s more of an outside-of-time application of grace than just a snap of the fingers and she’s sinless. I think I get it.

Our parish’s new, enthusiastically orthodox “baby-priest”, Fr. Andrew, who co-blogs (in theory) at Shameless Popery, repeatedly made the point that Mary is special to us because we have become one with Christ. She is our mother, since she is Christ’s mother. The images of Mary holding Jesus are images of Mary holding us. It’s hard for me to get into that mindset though. I still suffer from remnants of Mary aversion, and even when praying the rosary I tend to focus more on Mary being special because she is the mother of Our Lord, and let that paint a picture for me about how wonderful and mysterious God incarnate actually is. Mary herself I don’t understand. I’m getting to know her though, partly because the awesome humility of Christ shows me exactly what perfection looks like, and that is mirrored in Mary’s surrender to God’s plan. She is, afterall, the Lord’s servant, pointing the way to Christ.

Advertisements

11 Responses to RCIA Class on Mary

  1. lenetta says:

    Did I tell you this already? I should look up the references, but MY mom is here and I hate to ignore her for too long. :>)

    There’s an OT passage where they’re moving . . . is it the ark of the covenant? Anyway, it starts to slip, and one of the men reached out to touch it and was killed instantly – because of his sin.

    So, if Mary was carrying GOD THE SON inside her, she would have to be without sin, or she’d have died at the instant of conception. Does that make sense? Tell me if it doesn’t and I’ll try to substantiate my claims. :>)

    And I’d guess that they don’t have a class on Jesus because most people know and love him already? Are there many people coming in from non-believing?

  2. trent13 says:

    I often think of spiritual growth as a matter of baby steps, at least that’s how it is for me. I am happy to think of the day when you will be able to think of Our Lady, literally as your mother, and indeed the best mother possible – better even than our human mothers considering that she constantly has purely our spiritual welfare in mind with the immense charity and humility that she has. Sometimes if I am having trouble sleeping I imagine that my soul is a child resting itself on her lap and she holds me, and a feeling of peace comes over me, and it seems as if I am falling asleep in her arms. I hope someday that you will be able to experience the consolations that God has made available through her, specifically with regards to loving her as your mother.

  3. Tap says:

    “enthusiastically orthodox “baby-priest”, Fr. Andrew”

    I looked up the Father’s picture at the linked blog and started laughing, because you described him perfectly. You would be good at helping police sketch artist.

  4. Stacey says:

    Yeah, that makes sense to me, Netta. It’s not really that I have a problem believing it at this point. I understand the reasons it makes sense, I just wasn’t really sure about the whole sinless nature thing, whether it was “necessary” or not. As far as I know, there’s not many non-believer converts in the class. Maybe since this is America, they’re tailoring the course for Protestants. In another part of the world, they may have to take more time explaining who Jesus is.

  5. Stacey says:

    Thanks, vivator. I like the point you make at the end, that there are generally known exceptions to some rules like “all men die once”.

  6. Stacey says:

    trent13, you said:
    “I am happy to think of the day when you will be able to think of Our Lady, literally as your mother”

    I’m happy to think of it, too. I think a lot of my baby steppin’ spiritual growth is now a matter of practice and understanding, not really a matter of belief. There seems to be a deep closeness to Christ that comes through Mary, and I hope to find it.

  7. kkollwitz says:

    “God couldn’t have just intervened at Christ’s conception and gave him a sinless nature, and why Mary didn’t need to get her sinless nature from her parents.”

    Here’s what I tell 6th graders, who also wonder about this:

    If God had intervened re: original sin at Jesus’ conception, instead of Mary’s, then Jesus’d still be part of Mary’s sinful body while in the Womb. The physical relationship was too intimate & absolute for Mary to have nurtured a sinless Jesus in a sinful person’s body from which he drew his whole physical being. I mean it’s just weird to think the little sinless embryo was totally dependent on a sinful environment in the womb, drawing on it physically to grow, and that was…ok.

    Plus, Mary had to be like Eve, created sinless. As the New Eve though, she chose not to sin, thus was able to provide Jesus a sinless human nature from conception onward. Instead of God intervening at Jesus’ conception to get the sin out of Mary’s egg, but still have Jesus develop in her sinful body, it just makes sense to me that Mary was conceived without sin & thus spare a sinless Jesus being carried for 9 months in an unclean Ark.

    BTW, I cover Mary in my class on Holydays. I point out that Marian holydays are really pointing something out about Jesus. Explaining Jesus & Mary simultaneously helps the kids understand that Mary is an integral part of Jesus, not some separate issue over yonder.

    More on that here:

    http://platytera.blogspot.com/2008/10/wednesday-sunday-school.html

  8. kkollwitz says:

    “However, the salvation of Christ was applied to Mary at her conception.”
    Well put. And can you imagine the salvation of Christ being applied to Christ at His conception instead of Mary’s? It just doesn’t flow.

  9. Stacey says:

    kkollwitz,
    That’s kind of like what Lenetta was saying about Mary being the new ark, and how a sinful man couldn’t even touch it. I do wish our RCIA class had explained more of Jesus and Mary simultaneously as you say. I think that’s part of the key to understanding all of this. I read your link about teaching the kids and it’s great isn’t it, how kids aren’t afraid to ask questions and follow conclusions? Sometimes I think they think through things a lot clearer than the rest of us, because they’re not going into it with a bunch of prejudices in their thinking!

  10. Stacey says:

    kkollwitz,
    That’s kind of like what Lenetta was saying about Mary being the new ark, and how a sinful man couldn’t even touch it. I do wish our RCIA class had explained more of Jesus and Mary simultaneously as you say. I think that’s part of the key to understanding all of this. I read your link about teaching the kids and it’s great isn’t it, how kids aren’t afraid to ask questions and follow conclusions? Sometimes I think they think through things a lot clearer than the rest of us, because they’re not going into it with a bunch of prejudices in their thinking!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: