Catholics often have to explain to their Protestant friends that no, we don’t worship Mary. We do venerate her, though, because she freely chose to say “yes” when God asked her to bring Jesus into the world. And we ask her to intercede for us because of her closeness to Jesus.
Catholics have a set of doctrines about Mary, and a whole branch of theology called Mariology. This doesn’t mean every question about who she was and her role in salvation history is set in stone, however. For centuries, theologians–most of them men–have debated topics such as whether or not Mary was perpetually a virgin, how much she knew about her son’s mission, and whether she could have, theoretically, said “no” instead of “yes.”
But why Mary in the first place? Why did Jesus, whom Catholics worship as the second person of the Trinity, come into the world through the body of a young woman from a poor family in Roman-occupied Palestine? Was this necessary in some way, or just chance? What is the theological significance of God’s choice of Mary to bear God to the world? Why, in short, did God choose Mary?
To answer these questions, guest LaRyssa Herrington joins hosts Emily Sanna and Rebecca Bratten Weiss on the final episode of the season. Herrington is a doctoral student in systematic theology at the University of Notre Dame researching womanist theology, Mariology, eschatology, ritual studies, and sacramental theology.
You can learn more about Mariology and read some of Herrington’s writing in the links below.
- “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” by Elizabeth Johnson
- “Could Mary have said ‘No’?” by Kevin Considine
- “How Catholics’ love for Mary shaped church teaching,” by Alice Camille
- “A new illustrated book celebrates Madonnas of color,” by LaRyssa Herrington
- “’Sisters in the Wilderness’ after 30 years: Resiliency and survival as the legacy of womanist theology,” by LaRyssa Herrington
- “A sacrament of love: Black Catholic reflections on the life and legacy of bell hooks,” by LaRyssa Herrington
Glad You Asked is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries.