Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; 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 1:30-33)
Catholics are often accused of inventing theology, of making things up that have no basis in Scripture. And few Biblical people draw as much non-Catholic ire as Mary and her place in Christian theology.
There are four dogmas relating to Our Lady: her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual Virginity, that she was the Mother of God, and that she was Assumed bodily into heaven. In addition to those four dogmas, there are a number of doctrines which have not been elevated to dogmatic status, but nevertheless are understood to be part of divine revelation. One of them is the focus of today’s feast — the Queenship of Mary.
The accusation that Catholics “make up” theology is easily dismissed. One simply has to look at the path Salvation history in the Old Testament to see that it took time — sometimes many, many generations, for aspects of the unchangeable Will of God to be understood by humanity. Look at the protoevangelium. Look at the understanding of the Passover as a prefigure of the Last Supper (and, to us Catholics, of the Eucharist). Marian dogmas are no exception. Consider the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, that, through a singular grace, Mary was preserved from the stain of Original Sin. While the dogma was declared in 1854, the Church had been slowly perceiving its existence since at least the 400s. The intervening 1400 years were filled with a slow understanding of the nature of Original Sin, its transmission, and the cleansing thereof. Far from some piece of novelty theology, created out of air on the whim of a pope, the truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception existed from all time, and is Biblically based.
The Queenship of Mary is even more clearly spelled out in Scripture. The angelic greeting at the Annunciation clearly refers to Christ’s Kingship, as the Catechism states, “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it” (CCC 964). Throughout space and time mothers of monarchs have themselves been known as queens. There are a number of places in the Old Testament, for example, where the mother of the king is referred to not only as a queen, but is honored as a valued councilor of the ruler. Our Lady’s behavior at the wedding in Cana, particularly in light of her Son’s response to it, echoes the Old Testament relationship between kings and their queen mothers.
Contrary to non-Catholic suspicions, Marian doctrine is not idol worship with a thin veneer of Christianity slapped on it. What lies at the heart of all theology involving Mary is a deeper understanding of Christ. The Immaculate Conception helps us better understand Christ’s salvific work on the Cross. The Assumption teaches us about the Resurrection and the Ascension, about the great desire God has to be united with all of us in Heaven. So too can we learn lessons about Our Lord from honoring the queenship of His mother. We see the dignity and glory Christ longs to bestow upon us as His disciples. We see the boundless generosity of God, to call us His children and offer us a share in His inheritance. We see that, just as Mary’s queenship is entirely dependent on Christ, so are we dependent on Him for all things.
And we see how in Christ, all things are made new, and even a humble young woman from a tiny village in an occupied nation can cooperate with grace to change the entire world.
So today, take a moment to straighten your crown, you prince or princess in the Royal House of God, and remember that your queen is there to intercede for you. But be warned — her answer is like to be identical to the one she gave the servants at the wedding in Cana, “Do whatever He tells you”.