Apologize: Immaculata, the Mother of the Bride
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Adulation of Mary from Protestant Divines:
"In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God." (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 7, p. 572.)
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin."(Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," December [?] 1527; from Hartmann Grisar, S.J., Luther, authorised translation from the German by E.M. Lamond; edited by Luigi Cappadelta, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, first edition, 1915, Vol. IV [of 6], p. 238; taken from the German Werke, Erlangen, 1826-1868, edited by J.G. Plochmann and J.A. Irmischer, 2nd ed. edited by L. Enders, Frankfurt, 1862 ff., 67 volumes; citation from 152, p. 58)
"She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil...The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." (Personal "Little" Prayer Book, 1522)
"It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is his true Mother, Christ is his brother, God is his father."(Sermon, Christmas, 1522)..."Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother." (Sermon, Christmas, 1529)
"It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. ... Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary as at the same time the eternal God." (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)
"It is right and profitable to repeat the angelic greeting - not prayer - 'Hail Mary' . . . God esteemed Mary above all creatures, including the saints and angels - it was her purity, innocence and invincible faith that mankind must follow."
'The Virgin Mary . . . completely sanctified by the grace and blood of her only Son and abundantly endowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and preferred to all . . . now lives happily with Christ in heaven and is called and remains ever-Virgin and Mother of God."
Now, given that it is essentially different from the adoration that is properly due only to God, I believe in Marian devotion for a few other reasons. Here's Why-
1. Hail Mary. Our Savior, being a good Son, honors His Mother. We are to imitate Christ, thus...
2. Full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. These Scriptural words are a composite of the utterances of the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Enough Said.
3. Mother of God: Get your Christology straight, people. The Second Person of the Trinity became clothed in the flesh of His virgin Mother like any other infant, while being and remaining fully God. The two natures, human and divine, distinct and whole, were perfectly united, once and for all, in Jesus of Nazareth, who is God. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, who is fully God. Think about that. Our Lord Christ, who is God, is in the resurrected flesh of this woman now. They probably look alike.
3. Pray for us sinners: The first miracle which Jesus performs ever is at her behest, according to John's Gospel: "Son, they have no wine;" (John 2:3-how beautiful is that?) And then turning to the servants, "Do whatever He tells you." (John 3:5) These are the only words which are recorded of her in Scripture, except for that inquisitive and realistic "How can this be?" and then "Be it unto me!" at the Annunciation. In short, a wonderful person to pray with. A wonderful person to pray for you. And John indicates that our Lord from time to time does as His Mother suggests.
3. ... Now, and at the hour of our death: For and in the Church, Mary is the model disciple; she is the absolute FIRST to identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Savior, her Savior; she is one of the last with Him at the Cross; she is carefully identified as being present at Pentecost. In short, a good example. Always there with Jesus, who addresses the beloved disciple with the words, "behold, your mother."
I understand just how jarring the whole thing is- that this woman is the mother of God; that Jesus was indeed HER little child; that He learned about God from her as a toddler; that the prayers which He prayed, He would have heard from her. My angle is that Mary and the doctrines which surround her, are simply the best guardians of authentic Christianity. Look closely at Mary and get the whole thing straight about who she is, and you are one step closer to an accurate understanding of that Incarnation on which our salvation hangs.