Filling the Protestant Void (Part 1): Mary

Neil Babcox, before his conversion to the Catholic Church, had been a member of the Protestant clergy.  After reading Sam’s comment on my previous post (i.e., Sam of Contemplative Christian), I remembered hearing Neil’s testimony and wanted to share it here, not with conversion uppermost in my mind – but not without that possibility hovering around either 🙂 – but with the knowledge of Mary’s love for all of her children, be they Catholic, Protestant or non-Christian.

In terms of conversion to the Catholic Church, Neil tells us that for many Protestants (he speaks of clergy, but I think it can be as readily said of most Protestants), “…the greatest stumbling block and the last obstacle to overcome is Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”  His own experience, however, was the exact opposite.  For Neil, Mary was one of the “greatest draws and guides” into the Catholic Church. 

He speaks of two experiences which brought him closer to Mary:  one, a week-long retreat at a Trappist monastery and the other, one of his meditations while doing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

Neil recounts his developing understanding of the “Hail Mary”, as well as a transformation in his reading of the Scriptures in light of Mary.  He speaks of a “lifting of the veil” (as I too did in my previous post); Neil’s was in reference to the intercession of Mary and the saints and how this had been lost to Protestant understanding since the Reformation.

Listen as Neil tells us of his discoveries through his reading of Marian theology, and of his love for the Rosary.

Neil, “wasn’t looking for Mary, and yet she came over the hills of my heart into my life.”   He says to his Protestant brothers and sisters:  “…love for Mary didn’t take me away from Jesus a single bit.  Love for Mary brought me closer to Jesus than I ever had been before.”  Amen, Neil.  To Jesus through Mary.


3 Responses

  1. Gabrielle, thanks for sharing this. Neil’s testimony is compelling, and his experience with Mary in prayer during the Exercises struck a chord. Its true, this is a stumbling block for many Protestants…we’re comfortable revering Mary, but not directing devotion toward her. We can say she’s something special, but we’re not entirely sure what to do with that…and Protestant pulpits are largely mute on the subject. In the meantime, the maternal void persists. I feel a pull to explore this more deeply….I appreciate the “nudge”. 🙂

    In Christ,

  2. I’m glad you had the time to watch the video, Sam. I do understand how unfamiliar and difficult this can be for Protestants, who are not brought up with this devotion to Mary. There is a vast theology behind all aspects of it, but it can begin very simply, with an opening of the heart to Mary as Mother. She will take care of the rest, little by little, and her only desire is to bring us into a more intimate relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No human knew Them as intimately as Mary, nor reflects them as purely. The next “nudge” will be the Eucharist (Part II). 😉

    [If I could recommend a good “starter” book, it would be “Introduction to Mary”, by Dr. Mark Miravalle (Queenship Publishing)]

  3. Devotion to the Queen of Heaven has been an old and dangerous phenomenon. No doubt the Jews in Jeremiah’s time thought she helped their worship of God, but they were tragically and obstinately deluded. Jer. 44.25-6

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