Mary Did You Know FAQ

Mary Did You Know FAQ December 1, 2016

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

A: No. Mary is not omniscient and could not foresee every particular act of her Son. See the story of the Finding in the Temple in Luke 2:41-51.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

A: Yes. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk 1:31). “Y’shua” means “the Lord is salvation”. Mary knew the meaning of that Name. That’s why she said, “My spirit exults in God my *Savior*.” It’s also why she spoke with complete awareness that her Son was the fulfilment of the promise of salvation to Abraham, a promise that encompasses the whole world since Abraham was told that through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. So she says,

“He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” (Lk 1:54–55).

Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

A: Yes. In fact, she knew that her Son had *already* delivered her, because she, the most saved person in the world, was immaculately conceived by his grace and preserved from all sin both original and actual. That’s why the angel greeted her with “Kaire, Kecharitomene” or “Hail, Full-of-Grace” (Luke 1:28) and why she thanks God her Savior.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

A: No. Mary is not omniscient and could not foresee every particular act of her Son. See the story of the Finding in the Temple in Luke 2:41-51.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?

A: No. Mary is not omniscient and could not foresee every particular act of her Son. See the story of the Finding in the Temple in Luke 2:41-51.

Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

A: Yes. In fact, an angel who walked where angels trod, named Gabriel, specifically informed her that “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32)

And when she asked for clarification of this astounding claim, the angel told her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.”(cf. Lk 1:32–35).

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

A: Yes. This goes with being “Son of the Most High” and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Part of the job description, particularly since Mary (who, along with Joseph, taught Jesus his Bible) knew the Book of Daniel backwards and forwards and knew this passage:

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.(Da 7:13–14).

She heard Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man many times. She knew what he meant by that.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

A: Yes. The Angel Gabriel was really quite plain about all that:

“and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32)

Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

A: In summary, yes.  Mary did know that.  And Christians knew she knew that for roughly the first 17 centuries of the Church until a small but influential minority of Protestants, mostly in the English-speaking world came to dominate Christian discourse. The result was multiple generations of Evangelicals so filled with fear and loathing of Mary that they came to believe that Mary had no idea who Jesus was and lived her life in either stupid incomprehension of, or hostility to, the Son of God.  So we get tales that constantly cast her as either an unbelieving blasphemer (in Evangelical exegeses of Mark 3).  Or conversely, we get condemnation of Mary for believing Jesus too much and trying to shove him on to the public stage (in Evangelical exegeses of the Wedding at Cana).

So the myth has grown up that Mary had no idea who Jesus was and that Jesus was typically hostile to her.  What this illustrates is that the same principle by which the Latest Real Jesus always reflects our face back to us also applies to Evangelical takes on Mary.  What we discover in the strange Mommie Dearest vision of Mary in older Evangelical circles is nothing about Mary, but plenty about the peculiar fears Evangelical culture has of connecting anything feminine with Christian piety.

Given that background, I regard songs like “Mary Did You Know” as a step forward for Evangelical culture, but a step backward for Catholic culture.  Along with Simcha, I think it’s a song that has no place in the liturgy since it is a marinated in a theology that is, at best, describable as “Recovering Evangelical”.  It is a song written by and for a younger generation of Evangelicals who see Mary as a sort of “forbidden fruit”: someone their parents did not talk about and weirdly treated as taboo.  Someone they are becoming curious about.  That’s good.  I encourage that curiosity because it will, with God’s help, lead to a recovery of the fully Marian piety that was handed down by the apostles to Holy Church.  But Catholics should not sacrifice that fulness by embracing Evangelical and post-Evangelical notions that Mary was ignorant of and hostile toward her Son.  She wasn’t.  She was his greatest disciple and knew herself to be the Mother of the Son of God from the start.  The sooner we see that, the sooner we grasp how to be disciples ourselves.

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  • douglas kraeger

    A question that I would like answered: Mary did you know that since, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, your Son was the exact same infinite nature as His Father, therefore all-knowing, all-loving (Wisdom 11:24), and all-powerful, and because God does not change His mind (Num. 23:19); Did you know that the love, honor and obedience He showed you (as His Mother) and St. Joseph (as the head of the Family) was and therefore eternally IS the way God Honors you Both? Should we strive to honor St. Joseph the way Jesus does eternally, as the head of the family, as the “lord” of the family according to Jewish tradition given them by God, with all the rights and obligations that go with this honor?

  • Greg

    The one thing I have learned in my experience of practicing law is that it is difficult if not impossible to prove what a person knew and when they knew it – I say Mary knew. The evidence you have to prove that she didn’t know is weak and would never hold up in court. At the very least, the question is a fair one to ask.

  • Peter

    My one question for Catholic apologists is this: The fact is, many Catholic Bibles use or admit to the possibility of “full of grace” (which lends to, not proves, her Immaculate Conception) as “O favored one.” The New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version both use “favored”, the New Jerusalem uses “‘Rejoice’, you who enjoy God’s favour” with a text note of “you who have been and remained filled with divine favour.”The Revised Standard Version Catholic edition translates the phrase “full of grace” but its footnotes says, or, “O favored one.” Translations from the Vulgate use “full of grace.”

    In view of this fact, that Luke 1: 28 is possibly translated as something other than “full of grace” that maybe just this one proof-text should be used to prove the Immaculate Conception of Mary?

    I highly doubt that Mary heard these words and said, “Oh, I must be the ever-virgin Mother of God, Immaculately Conceived and will be assumed into Heaven and crowned as Queen, and will be the “Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, and Advocate of the People of God.”

    The Immaculate Conception, which is Catholic dogma, should be defended by more than just one verse of Scripture which can be translated in different ways.

    The fact is, is that Catholic Marian doctrine developed over the centuries, just as Trinitarian doctrine gradually grew over the time, with the final aspect of the Holy Spirit in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed laid out in the late 4th century..

    Mary could not have viewed herself as “Immaculately Conceived” because Original Sin developed in the 4th and 5th centuries by Augustine and other theologians against the Pelagians.

    The Immaculate Conception of Mary must be placed in the full context of the entire Scriptures, including a defense of the translation of Luke 1: 28. It also should point to the development in the Fathers regarding Mary being the “New Eve,” and then the belief of the entirety of Christianity in Mary being all-holy.

    We should also remember that Orthodox Christianity does not recognize the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; however, my understanding is that they don’t understand Original Sin the same as the Roman Church does.

  • aja

    Sigh …. Another Christmas and another inane blog about a simple Christmas hymn that many people find charming. I don’t know what about this simple song threatens Mark, Simcha and other Catholic bloggers so much. Their criticisms are childish, quarrelsome and wholly unbefitting persons who truly are trying to build up the body of Christ. Some of these brethren seem more concerned about offending Muslims, Hindus and atheists than about offending their own Christian brethren (particularly our “separated brethren”. They seem to enjoy congratulating themselves and their Catholic brethren on their Catholic superiority. In fact they seem to glory in their Catholicism more than in the cross of Christ. I thought the sect of Pharisees died out. I guess not. Many have just become Catholic bloggers and their devoted followers.