At the Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference back in September, one of the guest speakers was a Catholic evangelist named Gary Zimak, who gave a very interesting talk about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
By the way, the term “Catholic evangelist” is not an oxymoronic concept. It’s true that Catholics are generally not associated with the word evangelist, which is most often used to describe fundamentalist Protestant preachers. But the fact is, all believers are called to spread the Good News of the Gospel. Some do it by traveling the world and giving presentations at large conferences, like Mr. Zimak, and the rest of us are supposed to do it by living godly lives and being unafraid to stand up for the Lord in the midst of our secular culture. So, are you doing a good job these days being a Catholic evangelist? Um, yeah, me neither.
You may notice that these four events correspond to different decades of the Rosary. In rosarian terms, the word decade does not refer to a period of ten years. Instead, it means ten recitations of the Hail Mary prayer, said while meditating on a particular Gospel event.
The Annunciation is when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to give birth to the Messiah, even though she was a virgin. Mary replied, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on there, chief! You got some ‘splainin’ to do!”
Actually, that’s not what Mary said. One of the reasons I enjoyed listening to Mr. Zimak was because he humorously expressed how we might respond, using current vernacular, if we were in Mary’s situation. What Mary really said was, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Then, soon after, she said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
A few months later, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, and proclaimed what is called the Canticle of Mary, or The Magnificat. This is a beautiful prayer extolling the glory of God.
Then, moving ahead to the time when Jesus was 12 years old, Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days. When they finally found Him, inside the Temple in Jerusalem engaged in deep spiritual conversation with the religious scholars, Mary said to Jesus, “You are SO grounded, young man! And no Nintendo for a month!!”
No, what she really said was, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
Finally, if we fast-forward to the start of Jesus’ ministry, Mary and Jesus and His disciples were at a wedding feast in the town of Cana. If you’re familiar with this story, you know they ran out of wine right in the middle of the festivities, a serious social embarrassment for the hosts. Mary told Jesus about this problem, and then said to the catering staff, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Those are the last words of Mary recorded in Scripture: “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.”
Catholics do not now worship, nor have they ever worshipped, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is a human being, created by God, and worshipping her instead of worshipping God would be a terrible thing to do.
However, the Bible clearly says that Mary is “blessed.” She has been favored in a special way by God. She is the earthly mother of the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, the vessel through whom the Incarnation occurred. So, we rightly venerate Mary as one of the most special of all saints.
On the four occasions when Mary is quoted in Scripture, she never put the focus on herself. She always pointed to the Lord. And that is her main role in Church history. She points to Jesus. The last words she spoke in Scripture summarize the Gospel: Do whatever Jesus tells you.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is our spiritual mother. She is a great saintly example for us. Gary Zimak wrote an interesting book on this topic, which was the basis of his presentation at the men’s conference. It’s titled, “Listen to Your Blessed Mother: Mary’s Words in Scripture.”