Today is the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Marian piety is one of those hot-button issues, for many different theological, historical, philosophical, and sociological reasons. I remember being taught as a youth that we Methodists, unlike our Catholic neighbors, didn’t “worship Mary.” I think now that comments like that reflected both passing acquaintance with some of the extreme forms of veneration of Mary, and ignorance of what Catholics actually taught about her (this was after Vatican II, mind you).

It’s worth pointing out that the magisterial Reformers did not completely do away with devotion to Mary, though over time it died out in the churches of their heirs – though more slowly than one might imagine.

For me, today’s feast points to the reality of Christ’s humanity. The history of Christian thought shows again and again that the temptation to downplay, relativize, and even deny Christ’s full humanity is strong. It seems easier to accept a less-than-human Savior than it is to face the implications of Christ’s really being fully human.

As both Catholics and Orthodox teach, and as has also been affirmed by many bilateral and multilateral dialogues on Mary and the saints, authentic Marian piety ultimately points us to Mary’s son.

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