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New “Know Your Faith” series: Understanding Marian devotions

Catholic News file photo: La Divina Pastora celebrations, Siparia

The Know Your Faith series 2022 resumed yesterday (Monday, May 2) with the theme Marian Devotions. For this month, in which special Marian devotions are done, the focus will be on different dogma associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The primary source of what is known about Mary is the New Testament. “Everything we know about Mary must be grounded in scripture, so any sound Marian theology and spirituality need to take their bearing from sacred scripture,” said Fr David Khan, in his presentation ‘Mary in Scripture and Tradition’ the introduction to the subsequent topics over the coming weeks.

He added that there are things about Mary which are not found in scripture but are based on tradition. “The Tradition mentioned here is…. tradition with a capital T meaning, it has existed for a very long time, it has been in practice for a very long time…likewise there are many things spoken of Mary in an oral tradition for a very long time.”

Fr Khan, Vicar for the southern vicariate, parish priest Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando and lecturer in Marian theology, Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Tunapuna, stated there are things which are considered “disputed” because they were questioned and challenged.

On the other hand, there are ten events in scripture with Mary which various scripture scholars have agreed are undisputed. These are: The Annunciation (Lk 1: 26–38), The Visitation (Lk 1: 39–56), Nativity of the Lord (Lk 2:4–14 and Mt 1:18–25), The Presentation (Lk 2: 22–40), The Magi visit the Messiah (Mt 2: 10–12), The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13–15), The Finding in the Temple (Lk 2: 41–52), The Marriage Feast at Cana (Jn 2:1–12), At the Cross (Jn 19:25), Praying with the Apostles (Acts 1:14).

Fr Khan also highlighted Mary in the non-canonical gospels also called apocrypha, which have been part of oral tradition in the Catholic Church. He mentioned the Gospel of Thomas which contain stories and legends about Jesus’ childhood. One of them is Mary’s sending Jesus to collect water. He broke the pitcher and returned home carrying the water in his cloak. Chapter 19 of this gospel also has the finding of Jesus in the temple as in Luke.

Fr Khan said a major apocrypha gospel in relation to Mary is the Protoevangelium of James or the first gospel of James. “In the canon of New Testament, we don’t have the names of Mary’s parents, but we celebrate the Feast of Joachim and Anne. Where did this come from? This is in the Protoevangelium of James and in the tradition of the people, the people always believed Mary’s parents’ names were Joachim and Anne.”

The Protoevangelium also contains stories of Mary’s conception and birth, her childhood and marriage to Joseph. Fr Khan’s presentation also focused on the scripture where Mary speaks.

The moderator for the first session was Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan, catechetical coordinator for south/central, member of the St Dominic’s parish, Penal.

One of the questions she asked Fr Khan at the end was about the praying of the Rosary. He responded that praying the rosary can strengthen faith as it meditates on the life of Jesus and Mary, two persons of great faith.

“We need models, people who live life like us in the good times and bad times…and how did they survive? They survived by trusting God, hence the reason we pray the Rosary.” He clarified, “These people of faith help us to do the will of God. By praying it assures us we have their help in doing the things we need to do also.”

The Know Your Faith series is a collaboration of the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) and the Office of Pastoral Planning and Development (OPPD).

Gary Tagaille, consultant/head of OPPD said the Know Your Faith series aims to assist Catholics in knowing and understanding their faith and in practising it with meaning and fervour.

The next session is on ‘Divine Motherhood’ May 9, followed by ‘Perpetual Virginity’ May 16, ‘Immaculate Conception’ May 23, and ‘The Assumption’ May 30.

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