First Maxim: "One should carefully beware of decreasing, even in the slightest, the honor that is due to Mary."
Second Maxim: "One should be ready to defend the privileges of Mary even at the risk of his life."
Recently, in part because ARCIC II has been debated in the Anglican Synod and in part because I have been re-examining my own theological thinking. It is also one of those things which celebrating the Traditional Rite has gradually been raising too, as well as a visit to one of our more modern churches where there was an image of Our Lady but there seemed to be no Marian devotion, the image tended to the didactic rather than the devotional, which I found troubling, in a mildly nagging sort of way. It struck me as being neo-Iconoclastic. I remember a group of priests being a little unkind about a younger priest who had asked the hard bitten clergy of his deanery, "Don't you love Our Lady?"
I am left cold and unmoved by many modern sightings of Our Lady, I prefer mine with patina of history upon them. I have always rejoiced over the common sense of the Fathers of Vatican II in placing the document on Our Lady firmly context of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, she is after all the first and foremost disciple of her Son and a model and image of the Church. An authentic Mariology has always been the underpinning of an authentic Christology.
I think like many modern Catholics I can be rather cerebral about her, I am quite happy with the "Sceptre of Orthodoxy" but I tend to baulk at "Bring[ing] flowers of the rarest". I am quite convinced that that is not really Catholic. Today we might be more than a little uncomfortable with Fr Faber's tears and sentimentality and his, "Oh! How that would have pleased dearest Mama!" but it comes from a long and honourable tradition of Marian devotion, it is entirely congruent with the spirituality of the last thousand years, though compared to the East it is just a tad saccharine.
Getting devotion to Our Lady right is essential not just to our understanding of Christ and Christology but also to our own becoming by adoption Sons, our own deification - Fr Philip Neri Powell, has had some interesting posts on this recently. For us Catholics we have nothing to do with being cloaked in Christ's blood, we believe not disguised by Christ but actually become by Adoption what Christ is by Nature. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin teaches us how to be other Christs. I suspect a symptom of the loss of this understanding is directly linked to an undermining of Marian devotion, perhaps a recovery of Marian devotion, with its tenderness, its sentimentality, its filial obedience, trust and love might help us re-find that most basic of all Christian doctrines.
Perhaps we have something to learn from the Irish grandmother or Sicilian peasant (if there are any nowadays), over the next few days I shall try to find out.