A Word in Season
Blessed Virgin Mary: A Mother Not Just for Catholics
Hearden describes a chapter penned by Mariologist Sr. Mary Catherine Nolan, OP, discussing the subject of Mary and Islam.
Often you hear passing references that Muslims revere Mary . . . Mary plays a part in the Qur'an. She is revered as someone without sin. She is revered as a model of purity, as a model of salvation, and the mother of the great prophet, Jesus. That last point is, of course, the great dividing line between Christian and Muslim belief.
But it is interesting when you compare the story of Mary in the Qur'an and the story of Mary in Christianity you see both similarities and differences.
One area of agreement is that the subject of Mary's virtues are extolled both by Christians and Muslims. Hearden adds that those places of agreement can be starting points for peaceful dialogue between peoples, in imitation of Mary's virtues.
This book is for adult readers looking to explore and understand their neighbors who differ in faith from themselves.
Kimball: This book is readable in that each chapter is a separate stand alone essay. Perhaps you'd like to start reading the chapter that represents your own faith tradition. Then after that, you may wish to read a chapter from another tradition. The reader may connect with some of the chapters but not all of them . . . and that's okay . . . This book is a little compendium . . . and a way to get a bit of an educated idea as to how other [faith traditions] come to understand Mary.
Hearden: It has often been said that Mary is the key to Christian unity. She is a mother. She does want us to come together. Mothers want people to love their children. Her child is the Perfect Child and He is God . . . Her mission in salvation history is to bring God to the world and the world to God through her son. That's what she has done in history, and what she is doing now, at least, in part through the ESBVM.
As President of the U.S. Chapter of the ESBVM, and describing her years of ecumenical work at various ESBVM congresses and meetings, Kimball reflects openly about the fruitful effects toward unity that follow dialogue and research regarding the Mother of Christ.
I have seen people in tears. I have seen people embracing one another, who would have never approached each other, who would never have spoken with each other . . . And if you stopped them and ask them, 'Why is it?' The answer is usually 'We've discovered we have a common mother.'
People have a regard for "Mother."
Indeed, that speaks to my own experience as a mother. And I've observed powerful changes that a mother's love can bring, and the far-reaching influence a mother can have within an extended family. The members of the ESBVM experience this on the ecumenical level with growing interest. Kimball concludes:
I find that there can be quarrels and there can be contention and there can be struggling. But if Mother speaks, or Mother acts, or at least if there's even a conception that Mother wants us to work this out . . . I've seen this first hand, that people who thought they could never talk to a Catholic, or they could never talk to a Protestant, or they could never walk into an Orthodox Church . . . suddenly are giving the Kiss of Peace to their fellow brothers and sisters and it's all because they have a sense of the Mother.
Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to “A Word in Season” via email or RSS.