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FROM HANDMAID TO QUEEN

In my exchanges with Protestants on Mary’s queenship, I have witnessed firsthand their unprintable reaction and disgust. They are scandalized that we, Catholics (they must add the Orthodox, too), give much honor to a “mere” handmaid of the Lord by elevating her to the level of a queen.

Before I respond to the issue, I just wish to remark that such negative Protestant attitude towards Mary’s exalted position as queen was not present in Martin Luther, the originator of Protestantism. Martin Luther admitted that the title “Queen of Heaven” is “a true enough name and yet does not make her a goddess.”[1] In fact, the instigator of the Reformation went as far as calling Mary “more than an empress or a queen.”[2]

Martin Luther had the good sense of not seeing any anomaly in a lowly handmaid becoming queen. What’s so objectionable with that? Perhaps, those who find it revolting for God to exalt a lowly and humble maiden from Nazareth (reminds me of “nothing good comes from Nazareth”) do not really know the Scriptures and the ways of God. It is the clear and consistent teaching of God’s Word that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt. 23:12).[3]

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s utter humility is reason enough for her to be exalted. She acknowledges her nothingness and praises the Almighty God for all the great things He has done for her (Lk. 1:49). The Virgin Mary confesses that God “has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (Lk. 1:48). Yet, despite her lowliness, she proclaims “from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48).

With her humility, Mary is privy to God’s thoughts: “He sets up on high the lowly” (Job 5:11). This we see in the Magnificat where the Blessed Virgin herself declares: “He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly” (Lk. 1:52). This pronouncement of the Blessed Mother echoes 1 Samuel 2:8: “He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.”

The Coronation of Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace as Queen of Heaven and Earth
The Coronation of Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace as Queen of Heaven and Earth

Our Blessed Mother, next to her Son, is indeed our paragon of humility. As her children, we must be like her – she who so humbled herself before God; hence, the Lord has exalted her to unimaginable heights of glory. Scripture says, “humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you” (Jas. 4:10). May the example of our Blessed Mother be always on our mind her dear children.

By thinking about Mary’s humility and lowliness, our Mother becomes so real to us – someone who is very much like us because she is one of us. Royalty in our Christian perspective is service and not lording it over to others. To reign is to serve. The Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, consists in that. So, too, is the queenship of Mary. As servants of Jesus and Mary, our life must be characterized by selfless service. As children of Mary, we must be able to say at the end of the day, “I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did” (Ps. 116:16, GNT).

Dr. Scott Hahn notes that as royalty, “Mary can seem remote to those of us who labor at ordinary jobs, who bear no titles of nobility, who hardly distinguish ourselves from the crowd of royal subjects.”[4] He asks, “How can we, dressed in the rags of our sins, approach Mary, who is sinless and enthroned in glory?”[5]

The famous convert from Presbyterianism to Catholicism answers his own question: “we need to recognize the serious spiritual and theological problem that lies behind it. It is not so much a bad Marian image; she is, after all sinless and regal. Rather, this Mary phobia – which is all too common, even among Catholics – betrays an erroneous self-image. Moreover, it reveals a deeper problem in the way we have appropriated the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the good news is that, even if we do go about dressed as paupers, we have royal blood coursing through our veins.”[6]

Mary is Queen because her Son is King
Mary is Queen because her Son is King
[1] Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Luther’s Works (St. Louis: Concordia) 24:327, cited in Fr. Mateo, Refuting the Attack on Mary (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 1999) p. 67.

[2] Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Luther’s Works (St. Louis: Concordia) 36:208; 45:107, cited in Fr. Mateo, Refuting the Attack on Mary (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 1999) p. 110.

[3] Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture citation is from the New American Bible (NAB).

[4] Dr. Scott Hahn, Hail, Holy Queen (New York: Image Books, 2001) p. 118.

[5] Ibid. 

[6] Ibid.

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About Atty. Marwil Llasos, O.P.

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