To be Catholic is to love Mary. Although Marian devotion is not nearly as much of a dividing line now (between Catholics and those who could be Catholics) as it once was, it remains a hallmark of Catholicism. If I see a rosary hanging from a rearview mirror, I know that car is probably driven by a Catholic. If I see Our Lady of Guadalupe on the back, it’s definitely driven by a Catholic, and probably a Mexican one. Baby Jesus is rarely seen in Catholic art outside the arms of his loving mother. The Sacred Heart of Jesus finds its companion in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary is the only saint who merits holy days of obligation (three of them!), and her image or statue is found in almost every Catholic church.
I read and reviewed Rome Sweet Home back in January. I remember Scott Hahn’s description of literally ripping his grandmother’s rosary to pieces and praying that she would be free from the chains of Catholicism. I remember cringing and clinging to the sure hope that Hahn had turned his life around, since he was now writing a book about his conversion. Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God is the conclusion to that story. This book unpacks the new perspective of a man who was once ashamed of his mother yet now proudly belongs to the Mother of us all.
Hahn is a covenant theologian, so he organizes the first part of his book around covenants: family relationships that go far beyond mere contracts. God formed the first covenant with Adam and Eve, adopting them into his family. Eve disobeyed God, Adam failed to protect her, and sin entered the world. Fast-forward to the New Testament: Jesus comes to redeem and protect his bride, the Church. His companion is not a wife, but a mother, whose perfect obedience brought about the birth of the Savior. Without Mary, the perfect man lacks a perfect woman. That cannot be. We need Mary.
In David’s covenant kingdom and those that followed, the queen held a critical position. She was the sole holder of that title, the advocate of the king, and the only one to whom the king showed deference. Uniquely, the queen was the mother of the king, not his wife. Each wife held no precedence over any other, but the king only had one mother. She had been married to a previous king, connecting the royal line to her son. Jesus, the Son of David, is the King of Heaven. His one queen is his mother. Without Mary, the king lacks a queen. That cannot be. We need Mary.
Hahn breaks open Scripture to reveal Mary at the heart of the gospel, right next to her son. He writes, “Down through the centuries, the Church has carefully preserved, protected, and defended its Marian teachings, because to give them up would be to give up the gospel.” To ask where Marian doctrine is in the Bible is to miss Jesus’ great love for his mother. Acknowledges Mary’s role takes nothing away from Jesus, but only adds to it by giving us a model of perfect faith and singular love.
Why Catholics love Mary is not always as clear as the love itself. Love is much more than a feeling, though. When love is true, it comes from the head and the heart. Don’t be afraid to intellectualize your love for Mary. It will only grow.