For Mary’s month, an excerpt from the book I co-wrote with David Gustafson–Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate.

This is from the chapter on Marian Devotion. David has been taking us on a little tour of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. He’s been describing the various chapels dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. As an Evangelical he finds them excessive, but he keeps his poweder dry until he comes to the Polish chapel, where he finds a dedication that is a real show stopper.

David writes…

A Polish chapel features “Our Lady of Czestochowa“. In that chapel is posted a prayer to Mary (“An Act of Consecration to the Mother of God”) by the heroic Polish Cardinal, Stephan Wyszynski. His prayer caught my attention—it made me sad, actually—and impressed itself on my memory:

O Mother of God, Immaculate Mary! To Thee do I dedicate my body and soul, all my prayers and deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am and all that I have. With a joyful heart I surrender myself to Thy bondage of love. To Thee will I devote my service of my own free will for the salvation of mankind, and for the help of the Holy Church whose Mother Thou art. From now on my only desire is to do all things with Thee, through Thee, and for Thee. I know I can accomplish nothing with my own strength, whereas Thou canst do everything that is the will of Thy Son, and Thou art always victorious. Grant, therefore, O Helper of the faithful, that my family, my parish, and my homeland might become in truth the Kingdom where Thou reignest with Thy Son. Amen.

For life in the maternal bondage of Mary for the Holy Church,

My blessing,

Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski

If Cardinal Wyszynski’s references to Mary and Jesus were replaced by references to Jesus and the Father, this prayer would be uncontroversially Christian.

As it is, I cannot understand how a Christian minister can commend this prayer. To whom does the Christian properly dedicate himself, body and soul? (Php. 3:7-14.) Whom does the Christian want to serve, be with, work through and for? (Matt. 10:37; Col. 3:24.) Through whom can the Christian do all things? (Php. 4:13.) Who reigns in the Christian’s kingdom? (1 Cor. 15:25.) My little citations to proof texts are ridiculous. Even the most careless reading of the New Testament admits only one answer to all these questions: Jesus Christ.
Can I hope that Cardinal Wyszynski’s “Act of Consecration”, addressed instead to Jesus’ mother Mary, is an aberration, and that in reality Catholics are not encouraged to devote themselves to Mary in this extravagant way?

I encourage you to read David’s word and try to understand his objections to Catholic Marian devotion. He’s not against Mary as such, but sincerely believes that such devotions are excessive and must necessarily be giving to the Blessed Virgin the devotion and dedication that are due to her Son.
How would you answer David? (and no fair just telling him he’s a demon-possessed Protestant)
Tomorrow I’ll post my reply to David.