Perspectives of Mariology
"Nothing amuses Catholics more than the suggestion in so much of the old Protestant propaganda, that they are to be freed from the superstition called Mariolatry, like people freed from the burden of the daylight." *( G. K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion.) Since my arrival and involvement in a predominantly Roman Catholic community, I have become more and more aware ofa lack of knowledge ( and possibly, understanding) of Mariology. My evangelical Protestant upbringing has been confronted with the devotion to Mary, expressed by newly-found friends. This has fostered the determination to examine the subject. The following pages are the product of an attempt to investigate the background to, and the continuing influences and effects ofMariology. At the outset, I assumed that my venture would follow a pathway of'Mariolatry;' but I was assured by a Roman Catl1olic priest that 'Mariology' was the topic to be addressed. Impressions of Mary have been taken from various quarters and commentators, in order to present a survey of Mary's place, privileges, attributes and reputation, from historical vantage points, (from antiquity until the present), manned mainly by Fathers of the Church and churchmen. Together with the Roman Catholic Tradition, those of the Orthodox persuasion, the Reformed Churches, the Anglo-Catholics, ( and Muslims ), have provided their own varying perceptions of the subject; all of which have to be considered within the evolution of ideas that have emanated from a variety of sources. The Graeco-Roman religious beliefs and practices, Jewish teaching, interpretation of the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments, ( and the Apocrypha ), together with new philosophical concepts, have had their respective influences on the Marian discussion. The comparatively recent attempts to concentrate on the Scriptures, in order to vindicate the Marian cult, have not overcome the problems raised by historical speculations. Obviously a gulf will always exist between those who formulate their 'doctrine' on the bases of Scripture and Tradition, and those who depend solely on Scripture. This exercise has been undertaken within the latter inclination. While the result, for myself, has been a more comprehensive appreciation of its evolution, coupled with a better understanding of Mary's place in popular devotion, the quest, so far, has also strengthened the conviction that the theme, as a whole, will remain contentious. On the other hand, the polemic, provoked by non Scriptural claims, may well lead to the diminution of a more balanced appreciation of Mary's role in God's purposes.
- Theology