I have a friend who once was Catholic. She has since fallen away from the faith and considers herself atheist. She sometimes drops by this blog to chime in (through Facebook or e-mail threads) on current Church events that she hears about through mainstream media.
In all honesty, I think she just hears God calling her name now and again. :)
Anyway, she asked me a question and gave me permission to expound within the blog itself. Considering her tendency to only talk about things like abortion, the death penalty or women priests (sidestepping the child-abuse scandal), I was REALLY surprised to hear a question about the rosary spill out of her.
"Why do you talk about Mary and the rosary so much?"
Cue big cheesy grin.
My immediate response was, "Because I love them."
She responded with "Why?"
I took a moment. This friend, let's call her Lily, views the Blessed Mother, Jesus and pretty much all saints / religious figures as akin to Santa Claus. At one point in history, they probably existed in some form, but they've long since died and their legends morphed them into something very different from who they originally were.
Thus, her question of "Why?" is not a surprise. Even with her Catholic upbringing, she does not view the Communion of Saints possible. Thus, veneration of, or prayers to, spirits / souls is pointless. After all, wouldn't my time be much better spent serving others in a positive way?
So to answer her question, I needed to lay some groundwork.
First, I asked her ideas on what happens to a person upon death. Is death final?
She affirmed that was her belief. Upon death, we go in a box in the ground and that's that.
I asked if she was open to the possibility of a soul. She granted me an open mind and said there could very well be a soul that goes somewhere, but she simply doubted it.
A seed is all I need, baby.
Since my belief obviously sides with souls and an after-life, I logically hold that those who have died before me are living this "after-life." Those who lived exemplary lives, like the Blessed Mother and favored saints, are in Heaven. Those who didn't, well, we've got Purgatory and Hell.
Obviously, since Heaven is where us Catholics believe Jesus to be, that's where we, too, want to go. The truest example of a Heaven-bound soul is the Blessed Mother. Thus, if I wanted to be sure I got to Heaven, I'd go ahead and follow her example. Much like an amateur poker player might study up on Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth or Dan Negreanu, us Catholics like to look to study up on the best of the best. Who better to follow than the Mother of Jesus, herself... the one we believe to be Queen of Heaven?
The rosary is an in-depth study of Our Lady. As I've said before, the rosary is the Photo Album of Christ. It is also the photo album of Our Lady. Though not depicted in each decade, she is spiritually present in each and every frame. Thus, in praying the rosary and going over the details of how Our Lady responded to these challenges and blessings, we come to understand how we, too, should respond to challenges and blessings.
So to answer the question, "Why do I love them?" I answer this:
I love Our Lady because she is a living part of the Communion of Saints who actively works to restore my inheritance with Christ in Heaven. Through her the gift of Salvation (Jesus) came into being, and through her I have the most perfect example of how to get my soul into Heaven. The Rosary, gifted to us by Our Lady, is a picture-map to Heaven. It is the most simplistic tool we have that directs us on how to enter Heaven. How could I not love that which teaches me so much? How could I not love the person who grants me so much?
Plus, she's so darn sweet. What is there not to love about her? :)
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