Compelling testimony from another Patheos blogger, Christian Piatt:
I practice the “Hail Mary.” Not only that, but I use a rosary to go through my prayers. I’ve shared this with some folks, and inevitably someone is surprised by this. I’ll get something like, “I didn’t know you’re Catholic,” or “Why pray to Mary? After all, she’s not actually God.” Or is she? Not that I think she personally was “God with skin on,” like we sometimes talk about Jesus. But like her son, I do tend to think that she point us toward God, which seemed to be the one of the most important things Jesus did. In fact, when I’m asked what’s different about Jesus, as compared with other prophets and miracle workers in the Bible, I tend to respond that he, unlike others who preceded him in the biblical narrative, was more like the needle of a compass, pointing us in a common direction, rather than making himself the “X marks the spot,” or the ultimate destination. For me, Mary does this as well. There’s no story about her in the Gospels that suggests anything other than total devotion to God and to Jesus. In fact, in her conversation with God about becoming Jesus’ mother sounded much like Jesus prayer to God in the garden of Gethsemane, just before he was handed over to be crucified. Both offered humble submission: not my will, God, but yours be done. …This is yet another example of how I have found a new spiritual future by reaching back many centuries into the past. And as someone who wrestles with the very idea of some metaphysical existential “other” somewhere out there, operating above and beyond humanity in some way, these ancient icons, practices and methods of engaging in spiritual discipline connect me to a more full, more embodied and even a more transcendent experience of God than I’ve ever had in my faith journey in the past. So thanks, Mary for helping lead the way to humble acceptance and a more perfect experience of selfless, unconditional love. I owe you one.