The Catholic Defender: Mary, The Mother Of My Lord At The Visitation
It was 6 May 2007 serving in Iraq where the day before I had been outside the wire looking for enemy weapons cache going house to house. Just to be a part of this, we have some of the bravest Americans who do their job well.
I got up early at o’dark hundred to go to the First Sergeant’s meeting for the day and later went to the Battalion area for a class I was preparing to instruct later that day. While there I struck up a conversation with a Soldier there who asked me about the Catholic Faith. Specifically, about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This lasted only a short time because I was planning to go to the Division Chapel for the 10:30 Mass. I did explain that Mother Mary is Queen of Heaven because Jesus is King of Heaven. The Queens of Israel were never the wife of the king, but the King's mother. We first see King Solomon, Son of David, provided a chair for his mother, Bathsheba, where she would intercede on behalf of the people before the king (1 Kings 2:19). This is the Jewish Tradition that we see connecting Jesus and Mary in Psalms 45.
When you offer meat and potatoes, you can get a lot of information in 5 minutes. On my way back to our Battalion area, I meditated on what I just told the young man and how thankful I was to the Lord for having His truth in my heart. With this I began to see the Faces of Mary.
While I was in my room, I had my computer up and running and I stumbled on a story of a recent Catholic Convert, Francis J. Beckwith. To me, this just excited me that much more checking out his story. It was reported that he had been a high ranking member of his congregation world wide.
It’s about a 15 minute walk to the Division Chapel but this particular morning, I was excited about the news so I planned to share this report after Mass when Father gives me the chance to inform people the places and times to be at our Bible Studies and RCIA.
For me, the news of Francis J. Beckwith’s returning to the Catholic Faith was huge. He was among the highest Lutheran leaders and highly respected among the Protestant Evangelical academics.
His conversion to the Catholic Faith was like a shot heard around the world. Well, here in Iraq, I heard it and I was anxious to share the news about it.
So, I grabbed my weapon and my gear and I set off to the Chapel. By the time I arrived there, I was drenched, sweating profusely in this 100 plus heat, but it was worth it!
I guzzled down a quick quart of water and prepared for Mass. At the end of Mass, Father as normal gave me the opportunity to announce the upcoming events for the week. We had RCIA that was currently continuing as many people kept coming who wanted to become Catholic. We had just received about 70 Soldiers for the Easter Vigil earlier in April.
Now I had several more Soldiers who were coming forward to be received into the Catholic Faith. Many from my Battalion! We also had Bible Studies that I was conducting at our Chapel (Warrior Chapel) and at the Division Chapel.
It was now time that I had the chance to tell everyone about Mr. Beckwith coming home to the Catholic Faith. I was speaking with a small group of Soldiers when a an Iraqi contractor approached me to ask me a question. He had originally approached Father, but Father referred him to me.
With a small group listening in, the man asked me what I thought an apostle was. I responded that an apostle was simple one who is sent. That is the textbook definition. However, I explained that Christ sent his Apostles out into the world after preparing them for three years for the Great Commission.
The Gentleman then identified himself as a “Nestorian” Christian who he claimed represented about 5% of the Iraqi Christians in Iraq at the time.
He wanted to challenge me on why the Catholic Church refereed to Mary as “Theotokos” meaning “Mother of God”? I responded with a question of my own, “What is the difference from referring to Mary as “Mother of God” as opposed to “Mother of my Lord”?
I then quoted Luke 1:42-44, “Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”.
Notice that St. Elizabeth refereed to Mary as “blessed” twice during this exchange. Notice also that she refereed to Jesus as “Lord” in her womb as well as the word of the Lord.
Adoni was the word used to illustrate “Lord” referring to God. By this time, my Nestorian friend understood my meaning and with that, he had no further questions. He was interested in our bible studies from this point on. In this way, Jesus led me to Mary, then Mary, as always leads us all back to Jesus. The Catholic Church celebrates the Visitation on May 31 and is the second Joyful Mystery in the Rosary.
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.