HAIL, HOLY QUEEN: The Mother of God in the Word of God
by Scott Hahn
(Doubleday, 2001, 191pp, hardback, $44.95. Available from AD Books)
The place of Our Lady in God's redemptive plan is often a sticking point for people who are returning to the faith or converting to Catholicism. This is especially so for Protestants, who seem to be so deeply indoctrinated with the belief that we Catholics worship Mary - placing her on an equal footing with God - instead of honouring her .
Scott Hahn, himself a well- known convert from Protestantism and now a Catholic apologist, has written Hail, Holy Queen for such people, to dispel their fears about recognising Mary's importance and allowing her to be part of their lives.
Hahn has put together all the evidence from Scripture and Church teaching that is needed to prove Mary's central role in Christ's mission and her undeniable claim to honour. He shows how devotion to the Blessed Virgin is in fact Christocentic, as the more we love her the more she teaches us to love her Son.
Our Lady was in God's plan from the beginning of time and it was only through her "yes" to the angel Gabriel that Jesus could become man and redeem fallen humanity. So without her there was to be no birth, death or resurrection of Christ and therefore no hope of eternal life.
Our lady was pre-figured in the Old Testament, as was Christ. Hahn brings to our attention the various "types" of Our Lady that are to be found in the Old Testament, such as Eve and King David's Mother.
There are also parallels between Our Lady and the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the word of God in stone, Mary's body contained the Word of God in flesh. The Ark was the instrument through which God made a covenant with His people to recognise them as His. Mary was the instrument through which God made a covenant of salvation enabling those who followed Him to become His children.
Another way to understand Mary's place in our Church is to recognise that the Holy Trinity is a family and, as Hahn so succinctly puts it, "a family is incomplete without a loving mother". By dying for us and giving us the opportunity to reach eternal life, Christ, in effect, made us part of His family. While dying on the cross He gave his mother to John who represented all His faithful followers. Mary is therefore not only Jesus' mother but our mother and consequently she deserves our attention and respect. But, more than this, she plays the role of any good mother, wanting to help us in our problems and to intercede for us.
Certain dogmas of the Church, such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, can be great obstacles for those who are converting to the Catholic faith from another Christian denomination. For Protestants who believe that the Bible is the only authority, neither of these assertions can be proven because they are not found in Scripture. Hahn admits that even after his conversion, proving the Assumption to his Protestant friends was no easy task. Yet here he shows in an extremely simple manner the logic of these dogmas.
Hail, Holy Queen explains very simply and completely why Our Lady is integral to the Catholic faith. Scott Hahn has set out his arguments clearly, often with a touch of humour, and aimed at a level that all Christians can understand and enjoy, not just theologians, and not just Catholics.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer.