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.

Her Own

hail-holy-queen-st-alphonsus-liguoriExcerpt from:  Hail Holy Queen!, by St. Alphonsus Liguori, pgs. 44-45:

Mary is the Mother of sinners who wish to repent, and as a mother she cannot do otherwise than compassionate them; nay more, she seems to feel the miseries of her poor children as if they were her own.  When the Canaanitish woman begged Our Lord to deliver her daughter from the devil who possessed her, she said, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil.”  But since the daughter, and not the mother, was tormented, she should rather have said, “Lord, take compassion on my daughter:” and not, Have mercy on me; but no, she said, “Have mercy on me,” and she was right; for the sufferings of children are felt by their mother as if they were their own.  And it is precisely thus, says Richard of St. Laurence, that Mary prays to God when she recommends a sinner to Him who has had recourse to her; she cries out for the sinful soul, “Have mercy on me!”  “My Lord,” she seems to say, “this poor soul that is in sin is my daughter, and therefore, pity not so much her as me, who am her mother.”

Would that all sinners had recourse to this sweet Mother!  for then certainly all would be pardoned by God.  “O Mary,” exclaims St. Bonaventure, in rapturous astonishment, “thou embracest with maternal affections a sinner despised by the whole world, nor dost thou leave him until thou hast reconciled the poor creature with his Judge;” meaning that the sinner, whilst in the state of sin, is hated and loathed by all, even by inanimate creatures; fire, air, and earth would chastise him, and avenge the honor of their outraged Lord.  But if this unhappy creature flies to Mary, will Mary reject him?  Oh, no:  provided he goes to her for help, and in order to amend, she will embrace him with the affection of a mother, and will not let him go, until, by her powerful intercession, she has reconciled him with God, and reinstated him in grace. 

Our Lady of Lourdes, from India

Mid-June, over at Contemplative Haven, I posted a link to a video of the trailer/promo for the movie, Our Lady of Lourdes, written and produced by Mr. Kamalakar Rao Ponnapalli.  As well as wishing to help in some small way to spread the word about this movie, I was curious as to why Mr. Ponnapalli, a Hindu, was inspired to create a movie about a Catholic saint and the Blessed Virgin (and to dedicate ten years of his life to it).

Mr. Ponnapalli has kindly sent me an article previously printed in Lourdes Magazine, from which we can gain some further insight into the motivating forces behind the creation of the movie. If you click on the article it should expand, and you may click once more to get it to a readable size.

 

Mr. Ponnapalli was inspired by the fact that a simple girl like Bernadette could be used as an instrument of God, and he wished to express this to the people of India, so that they too would understand that wealth, roots, health and power are not necessary in the sight of God, and are not prerequisites for making a difference in this world.  It is quite exciting to read that even though Mr. Ponnapalli received guidance from both a Catholic priest and a Catholic Brother regarding the film, things did not really flow smoothly until after a visit to Lourdes in 2005. His spontaneous meetings with various people who proved to be of great benefit in the creation of the film were “encounters arranged by Mary”, Mr. Ponnapalli believes – he even uses the word miracle!  I was reflecting on all this when I happened upon a passage in my Redemptorist “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” book, which seemed to me to be quite appropriate in terms of Mr. Ponnapalli’s experience with Mother Mary:

In these pages we are not using the word “miracle” in the theological sense as when we speak of the miracles of Jesus or the miracles recognized by the Church in the process of canonization of the Saints.  Here we use the word “miracle” in a wider sense as used by the faithful.  It is not a question of dogmas of faith but rather, experiences of faith.  In this Christian sense, these “miracles” also have norms of certitude.  In the idiom of the faithful a miracle is a grace, a help, a protection, a favor asked for and received, an experience of inner peace.

Truly, Mary is Our Lady of All Nations and the Mother of All Peoples.  Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us, Mr. Ponnapalli; the miracles of Lourdes continue!