Mary and the Spiritual Land Mines

Mary superimposed on its Hebrew source מרים (M...

As Catholics we have a special relationship with Mary.  Mary is co-redemptrix.  It was through Mary, her body, that redemption came into the world; that Jesus gave up his body on the cross for redemption of the world.  Mary is the new Eve bringing women out to the shadow of sin, (read here for some out of evil), and back to being equals with men, partners in faith.  We ARE called Priest, prophet and Queen because of Mary.  She is the woman that showed the world that faith, power, leadership and discipleship go hand in hand with women!

She helps us out of the spiritual darkness, and into the light of faith.

The debate of how does the Church TRULY views women is one that reaches all ages from 20 year old moms who cry because they don’t know how to be spiritual and a mother, to 30 year old women/moms who see the Church’s ideal of women and wonder if they truly understand who women are and how they feel, to 40 year old women/moms who want to see more women in roles of leadership and feel the church is doing a disservice if they don’t, to sixty year old women/moms who look back on their faith life and wonder what did it do for them.

It is a debate that will not stop just because the Church does not want it talked about.  It is important to women, because it touches one of the most fundamental aspects of life: Who Am I?  And in the spiritual realm it is an issue that touches the core of the soul.  Without a connection to something greater than ourselves we have no connection with others.  Without an understanding of our spiritual nature as women we begin to see ourselves as men-lite, we must be able to see how we contribute to creation or we lose our connection to creation and feel person-less.

Many women want to understand their spirituality, see their face reflected in God’s and often have trouble with that.  As Catholics we do have Mary who could and is a role model of how to live as a faith-filled women; but even here there are land mines.  Do we see Mary as meek and mild, (funny replace the m with a w and you have wild), girl-woman.  Is she the unknown woman, or the  “The Excellent Wife” of scripture, who “[she] rises also while it is still night” (Proverbs 31:15) and “Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Verse 17).  Is she the profound mother who chides Jesus to work his first Miracle?  She is certainly the woman Jesus loved!

A twitter friend of mine Dianna Kennedy, @DiannaKennedy, and I were having this very conversation.  For her, she must be very careful not to put Mary on a pedestal.

Me: I think how you view Mary depends very much on how you think the Church wants you to act as a mother and a faith-filled woman.

Dianne: I have to try not to put her completely on a pedestal — there are days when she seems completely out of reach.

Me:  Mary is not a pedestal girl that is for sure, she is work a day just like us. leader just like us, strong just like us 😉

That is the struggle we have, how to understand our role as spiritual beings, as mothers.  For a moment we must put aside the hurt we may feel about the Church and concentrate on what is TRULY important: Our relationship with the God who loves us.

Is a spiritual director working helping moms find God in the everyday. She has been a spiritual director since 1998: worked as a Director of Religious Education for Holy Cross Parish(2000-2005), was Director of Project Rachel, a healing ministry for Post Abortive women(1999-2000). Patty worked a social worker for Catholic Social Services (1988 - 1995) Then studied for spiritual direction at the Dominican Center of Religious Studies, DeWitt Michigan

She is married 20 years and has four children

She has a BS/BA in social work from Aquinas College, CSD Certified Spiritual Director


  1. Elizabeth Johnson

    My favorite depiction of Mary is expressed in a poem by Irene Zimmerman, called “Litany for the Ordinary.” It goes:

    Mary, queen of the ordinary–
    queen of spinning wheel and loom
    who wove from ordinary stuff
    the flawless fabric of
    God’s humanness;
    queen whose pregnancy
    put Joseph’s other plans aside
    and sent his saw singing
    into cradlewood;
    queen of water jars daily filled,
    of swaddling clothes spread outdoors
    to dry, of scrubbed floors
    and everlastingly sawdusty son;
    queen of skinned knees,
    splintered fingers,
    aching stomach, fevered head,
    herbal teas;
    queen of fresh-baked bread
    whose wheaty power
    put flesh on growing boy
    and joy at evening meal–
    Mary, queen of ordinary time and space,
    thank you for your ordinary grace.

  2. Elizabeth!!!!

    How exciting to have you peeking at my blog!!!

    Thank you so much for the litany, it truly shows Mary as she is: an ordinary woman making the ordinary extra-ordinary

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