"ALL GENERATIONS SHALL CALL ME BLESSED." - St. Luke
During this month of May, one might well consider these questions: What impact does Our Lady have upon the non-Catholic world? What impression, if any, does she make upon it? What do they think of her? After all, Our Blessed Lady herself said: "All generations shall call me blessed." Note that she says that they "SHALL" call me blessed. That is a command, and she is a lady who always has her way.
She makes a far greater impact than you and I imagine. Martin Luther, after leaving the Church, wrote a most exuberant tribute to our Lady: "Her dignity is summed up in one phrase when we call her the Mother of God; no one can say greater things of her or to her, even if he had as many tongues as leaves and blades of grass, as the stars in heaven and the sands on the seashore."
It seems strange, then, but it is a fact, that Protestants in times past considered Catholics excessive in their devotion to Mary. We read, for instance, of the companions of John Knox, confined with him on French galleys at one period of his life. An attempt was made to persuade the prisoners to renounce their heresy, a picture of the Blessed Mother being presented to one of the Scotch Protestants to kiss. He claimed it was an idol and refused to touch it, whereupon it was thrust into his hands. He took it, threw it into the river and said, "Let Our Lady save herself; she is light enough; let her learn to swim."
This was irreverent but less virulent than the anger of Cromwell’s men who broke into the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. The Chapel was carved with many images of Our Lady and the soldiers ran amuck, smashing the heads of every single image except one—a small head of a devil.
Today, this hostility has not altogether disappeared. A theologian of the Church of England once urged the Anglican Church to realize that "Christianity without Mary was a monstrosity"; at the same time he pointed out that Anglican authorities in England, almost without exception, condemned the chief Marian doctrines. You may remember, for instance, that the Archbishop of York and Canterbury protested against the definition of the doctrine of the Assumption.
Yet, it seems that the Protestant mind and heart are not altogether in line with the official attitudes of their ministers. From the recorded experiences of converts to the Faith, we can see that many Protestants are strongly attracted to the Blessed Mother. This has been so as far back as Cardinal Newman’s time. In his Apology he confesses that in his pre-Catholic days, in spite of his ingrained fear of the Catholic Church, "...I had a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin, in whose college I lived, whose altar I served and whose immaculate purity I had in one of my earliest sermons made much of."
It seems strange that the Mohammedans have a great devotion to Our Lady. But they do. They reverence Our Lord as the greatest of prophets and Our Lady as the greatest Lady who ever lived. If you ever visit the shrines in the Holy Land you will notice many Mahammedans praying before the statue of the Mother of God.
We ought not to be surprised to find that the Queen of the Apostles has an extraordinary apostolic influence over those outside the Faith. It is not surprising that she has figured largely in many conversions. She is the hammer of heresies, but that hammer is encased in Our Lady’s velvet glove. Her aim is not destruction, but merely to make straight the way of the Lord.
Let us love Our Lady with a great love. Let us always look up to her, poor banished children of Eve.