For those of you who do not know, I graduated from the University of Dayton, a Catholic and Marianist university. The university happens to be the home to the largest collections of resources of Mariology – the study of Mary. My thesis advisor, now director of the Marian Library, gave a speech for his installation as the director about why we should study Mary. He quotes Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianist order: “We can say that the knowledge of the Blessed Virgin leads us to a much deeper knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The story of Christianity begins not with the birth of Christ, but with the “yes” of Mary. In order to grow in our knowledge, understanding and relationship with Jesus, we must understand who he is and where he comes from. Jesus is fully God, so we study and learn about God. But Jesus is also fully human, so we must study and learn about Mary, his human mother.
As we study Mary, we discover her role as the first theologian, the first to “ponder these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Mary soaked up everything Jesus had to offer and then held it close, reflecting on what it meant. Of all Jesus’ followers, Mary is the only one who was present at both his birth and his death. She truly was his first disciple, the perfect model of what it means to follow Jesus.
So we turn our gaze to Mary, for through our study of her, we will come to more intimate communion with her Son.
How has Mary impacted your faith? Is she an active player in your spiritual journey?