Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mary, The Rosary, and the story of the Demons and the Swine

I wanted to write this article, somewhat “tongue in cheek”, but also as a reinforcement of the power of the rosary, and my growing devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As I wrote in an earlier article, my church has put together an Edge group (Catholic Middle School youth group). I am one of the catechists (lead teacher) for one of two sixth grade classes. We recently moved from the planning stage to the teaching stage, with the first day of students upon us. Our motto with middle schoolers is “show no fear”. Well, I don’t necessarily think I had fear, but a healthy dose of nervousness. I wanted the meetings to go well, not just for me, but mostly for the children. What to do, when we need a little “help”…The catechism (#971) tells us:

…from the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,” to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…this very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word [Jesus Christ] and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration…

The Church teaches that Mary helps us, through “liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayers, such as the rosary” to know her son. She can help take us to a deeper sense of the “adoration” mentioned in the second part of #971. She can also help those with their needs…such as strength, courage, peace, etc. She, of course, does not create, or give these things on her own. Mary “continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ” (#975). She is not only Christ’s mother, she is OUR mother, and delivers our petitions as only a mother would.

What does this small lesson on Marian Theology have to do with my Edge class? We move to the Gospel of Matthew for the analogy:

When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “if you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned… (Matthew 8: 28-32)

While the analogy of sixth graders and demons is not a perfect one, we all know that middle schoolers can be little tough to handle, especially 20+ on the first night of youth group. Before the children arrived, I walked to the Church and prayed the Rosary, meditating on the Joyful Mysteries in front of the Tabernacle (the tabernacle is the “container” in which consecrated hosts are preserved for adoration and future Masses). Our Church has the tabernacle in the center of the alter (against the back wall) with a statue of Our Lady on one side, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other, with the large crucifix above the tabernacle. The placement of these items is perfect juxtaposition to the rosary. We keep the body, blood, soul and divinity, and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as our focus. Mary points to all of this, and strengthens us in our faith.

After praying the rosary, the children began to show up. Our class went as well as it possibly could have. The students were much easier to manage than I could have imagined. This, of course, was only one night, so I am not declaring a miracle yet! The point of this article comes to fruition as the youth director directed me to the story of the demons and the swine (which I was not familiar). We were discussing how the other sixth grade class had some disruptive students that posed some challenges to their discussions. I did not get the impression that they were truly demons, and that they were overly chaotic, but in any case, somewhat challenging. We laughed at the notion that the demons left the children from my class and went into the children of the other class. We also agreed that it may be a good idea to have both of us pray the rosary next week and send the demons to the seventh grade class! We of course were able to learn a little scripture through our humor and challenges.

Let us not forget our Mother. God had the benefit of eternity to choose a woman among all women. St. Luke tells us in the annunciation; as the Angel Gabriel tells Mary:

Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you…do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus… (Luke 1: 28, 30-31)

He chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. Mary tells us, “…he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1: 48). If Mary is good enough for God, she certainly is good enough for me! There is so much symbolism throughout scripture that drives the importance of Mary. One, of course is Mary as the Tabernacle, carrying Jesus in her womb. Just as the tabernacle in every Catholic Church has Jesus inside of it, Mary carried him, to deliver him to mankind. Remember your Mother, Mary in your prayers. Give her your prayers; she will take them to Jesus as a Mother petitions for her children.

“Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art though among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour death. Amen.


Jonathan said...

Just a pondering: have you ever run across any scripture commanding us to pray through Mary?

Catholic Commuter said...

Thanks for the question. First, I will defer to the experts. Try the free download on Mary at www.biblechristiansociety.com. Jesus does say at his crucifixion (John 19:26-27): ...woman behold your son...behold your mother...Also read Luke 1:46-55 known as the Canticle of Mary; it starts "My sould proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior...behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed". There is alot of justification for praying to Jesus through Mary in the Catechism as well. Please let me know if you need more information on Praying through Mary. Maybe also do some research on the Communion of Saints...God Bless...