So things persisted like this for some years, before a change happened, because I didn’t know what to do about any of it.
In those years, the rift between me and the “incorrect practices” surrounding Mary grew.
I know that God must have been working hard on me, because I don’t remember any external circumstances that led to my change of heart. All of a sudden, one day in late 2012, I decided that my attitude was a problem that I needed to do something about.
My thought process was (more or less), “I am Confirmed, for crying out loud! At some point my formation is my own responsibility!”
The real problem was that, in my heart, I was not submitting myself to the teaching authority of the Church that Jesus established, and therefore, I was no different than any other dissenting Protestant or cafeteria Catholic. I knew I needed to bring myself under that authority.
That very next year (2013), for Lent, I decided that that was going to be my “thing” that I did. Two thousand years of continuity and doctrinal unpacking, and I just KNEW the answer had to be out there, this was just a problem with my catechesis, just like any other problem in catechesis. All I had to do was dive in, and find it.
|It's in there somewhere, right? Oh, heavens, what have I gotten myself into!|
So I went to my local Catholic bookstore, to find some educational reading material. I knew that my objections were due to a blank spot or a gray area in my training, so learning more about Marian doctrine and it’s history and it’s development over time seemed to be the most logical place to begin.
I was fortunate to find the encyclical Redemptoris Mater. It’s about Mary in the life of the Church, by Pope St. John Paul II. And I started reading it. I read a goodly portion of it during Lent that year, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s struggling in their relationship with the Blessed Mother. The edition I bought also had an introduction by Pope Emeritus Benedict, before he was elected Pope.
I also stumbled upon the book Secret of the Rosary. It’s about the proper practice of devotion to the Rosary and the fruits of this devotion that are enjoyed by many. It is primarily, I think, devotional reading. It was interesting, but it wasn’t nearly so helpful (at the time) to me as Redemptoris Mater was, because my problem was basically a rebellious attitude about something I thought might be wrong.
I knew there was no way that I’d finish reading (and absorbing) even both of those in a single Lent, so I figured if I didn’t get everything I wanted from them, it would at least be a good start.
In addition to these, I also committed to daily rosaries during my commute.
My strategy was this: I would (a) learn as much as I could about why church teaching is what it is, (b) learn about the closeness (how, why, and otherwise) others experience with Mary, Marian doctrine, and Marian devotions, and (c) spend time with her.
I was (essentially) trying to improve my relationship with the Blessed Mother. When you forge a relationship with someone, you learn about them and you spend time with them, and that’s what I was resolving to do.
I guess that’s enough for today. This post is already getting pretty long.