Mary Did Know, Yes, She Totally Knew

It’s almost that time of year again, when Protestants roll out the statues of saints (nativity scenes) and sing about Mary. Well, actually just one song about Mary. The ever-popular Mary, Did You Know.   So let’s just clear things up right now so no one can claim ignorance; Mary, Did You Know is heretical nonsense. Seriously, stop singing it and pray for the poor soul who wrote it.

Apparently, some explanation is warranted as I can already hear the music being cued up in every Baptist church in town. Yes, dear friends, it is heretical for both Bible-Only Christians (most Protestants) as well as, and especially, faithful Catholics.

Sola Scriptura Christians are fairly quick to demand chapter and verse support for every Catholic teaching (yes, they do exist, all of them in fact). The Bible they claim is the only authority and source of truth, overlooking of course that nowhere in the Bible does the Bible state, suggest, or imply Sola Scriptura as doctrine. The Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura. Also, documents can’t self-authenticate (totally illogical). I digress.

Ok, so here we are during the Christmas season and a song with a super catchy melody asks if Mary knew. Here are the lyrics:

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

Let us now consider Luke Chapter 1. An angel of God named Gabriel visits Mary. The angel announces to Mary that she has “found favor with God” and she will “conceive” in her womb and bear a son, “and you shall call his name Jesus,” which is literally the Hebrew name for “the Lord (Yhwh) saves.” So here we have Christ’s identity and His mission! The angel continues, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and his kingdom there will be no end.” The angel was pretty clear who this baby Jesus was. Mary knew because the angel told her. Scripture is so very clear about that.

If anyone knew, it was Mary! She confirms this knowledge in the canticle she offers to Elizabeth when they first meet and St. John the Baptist recognizes his Messiah in Mary’s womb. If fact, Elizabeth knew too! Upon meeting Mary, she declares, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for you. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Here Elizabeth is even declaring the truth of Jesus and acknowledged that Mary is blessed for believing this truth. Mary knew, and so did Elizabeth and the yet to be born John the Baptist!

Let us also consider Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46-56, and Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” How much clearer can Mary articulate that she understood who this baby was and what His mission was to be in light of the fulfillment of the prophesized Messiah?

Catholics should be especially cautious about this song for the line, This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” Nooooo! Really? What does she need to be delivered from? Sin? Nope! Catholics understand the angel’s greeting, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28) Mary was without sin and we call this special grace her Immaculate Conception. She was preserved from original sin. God is her savior because she was protected from sin by being preserved from it in the first place by a special gift of God. She will not “soon” be delivered, as she was delivered before St. Anne conceived her.

This is a dogma the faithful are bound to accept. It has always been true that Mary was immaculately conceived as even Scripture tells us she is “full of grace.” If something is full, nothing can be added to it. There is no room for sin. This doctrine makes sense because the spotless purity of Jesus could not be contained in an unclean vessel. Mary had to be pure and preserved from all sin, even the stain of original sin.

In 1854 Pope Pius IX offered the dogmatic definition of the doctrine by stating, “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

Scripture contradicts this lyric that Mary will “one day” be saved/delivered and the Church has through its magisterial role defined this doctrine so the faithful can understand not just who Mary is, but who Jesus is. This doctrine speaks to the perfection of Christ that he would create, with intention, His own mother with a perfect soul, “full of grace.”

We should also not forget Luke 2: 22-38 when Mary and Joseph present baby Jesus in the temple and Simeon and Anna offer prophesy about Jesus. Simeon even tells Mary, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against, and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Yes, Mary knew the suffering and trial that was to come.

I’ll finish with some words of Mary from the revelations of St. Bridget, a mystic from Sweden born in 1303. Upon presenting Jesus to the Temple, Mary recalls to St. Bridget:

“For though, by divine inspiration, I knew that my Son was to suffer, yet this grief pierced my heart more keenly at Simeon’s words, when he said that a sword should pierce my soul, and that my Son should be set for a sign to be contradicted. And until I was assumed in body and soul to Heaven, this grief never left my heart, . . . for every time that I looked upon my Son, wrapped Him in His swaddling clothes, or gazed upon His hands and feet, so often was my soul swallowed up, as it were, by fresh grief, for I thought how He was to be crucified.”

Yes, Mary knew, and we should love her even more because she did.

 

 

18 thoughts on “Mary Did Know, Yes, She Totally Knew

  1. I actually love this song!! Simply because it speaks to our human head and our human hearts not fully connecting! Yes, logically she knew – but, emotionally, she wouldn’t have fully grasped the weight of the magnitude of her fiat.

    Our Lady of Sorrows has expressed just that, when she identified meeting Simeon at the Presentation of our Lord as one of her Sorrows – that it was that meeting which pierced her heart the first time, of many to come!

    So, I don’t find it to be heretical. I find it to be a beautiful song showcasing how we make decisions, many times, logically based – and, in looking back (or traveling through the consequence – either positive or negative), we realize the full magnitude of our decision!

    Just my defense. I get oddly defensive of this song, but not from a theological perspective. 😂

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts Anni! I would ask you to ponder that if she did not “fully” grasp the weight and magnitude of her fiat, could it then actually be a fiat? Kind of like informed consent. Yes, we humans tend to divide the intellect and emotions, but this is an artifact of our fallen nature that we are divided not just from God, but within ourselves (Genesis shows the confusion of nakedness and hiding from God after eating of the tree). Mary’s entire being was honored by God, not just her logic or mental knowledge, He would have honored her heart as well and ensured that her fiat was something she could choose to offer totally and freely with her entire being (just like we should in marriage). She offers herself completely heart, mind, body, and soul to The Holy Spirt and through that union as the spouse of the Holy Spirit she is brought even more intimate knowledge of God’s intended plan for the redemption of man. I think this song lulls us into a rather “domesticated” idea of Mary and Scripture offers us a much different picture. She becomes through this meditation (a bunch of leading/suggesting questions) a woman unaware and kind of a bystander in the whole event. We may need to meditate on who this promised child is, but not by reducing the Mother of God to just some small town girl with no idea what is going on.

      In the end, the song’s denial of her Immaculate Conception is enough to make it heretical.

      God bless you Anni and I pray you have a wonderful Advent!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will say, I agree with the line you reference. However, although she was conceived without Original Sin, she still needed her Son to deliver her – Scott Hahn’s “Hail, Holy Queen” book discusses that far better than my brain is able to explain today. I can’t explain it, actually, but when I read it – and, subsequently discussed it with our chaplain – it makes sense.

        That said, every time I hear the song, I answer “yes” to all those questions – but, I delved deeper (call it my clinical perspective, if you will) and it resonates on the level in which I previously mentioned, and was backed up when I read about Our Lady of Sorrows.

        I pray you will have a beautiful and blessed Advent as well! 🙂

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  2. I am so, so glad you chose to write about this song! It has always gotten under my skin, even before my conversion to our beautiful Catholic faith:) While I am glad that Protestants choose this time each year to acknowledge our Holy Mother, the song does reduce her to an “innocent bystander” figure in the birth of Christ (as you pointed out), thereby diminishing the power of her fiat. Instead of asking, “Mary, did you know?” we should be CELEBRATING, shouting from the rooftops that she DID know, and let us all thank her and honor her for her consent! This is a woman full of humility, courage, and yes, grace. A true model of feminine power. So of course she is threatening to our current cultural ideas of femininity, and of course she would be depicted as meek and helpless (at least indirectly, as in this song). But let me step down from my soapbox…;)

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    1. Thank you Allison! I’m so glad you liked this post and of course sharing my love of Mary! I really wanted to defend her dignity and truth in this one! God bless you! I pray you have a fantastic Advent this year!

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  3. Hi, amazingnearness.
    I’m one of those aforementioned Protestants. I often read Christian works (including blogs) and have always been in awe of and interested in Catholicism.
    I wanted to mention one thing and ask two. I would love to hear your thoughts.
    First, I hope you aren’t hoping to reach curious Protestants with the tone you use. It dissuades people from seeking as it shows disdain rather than empathy, which surely we as believers should do. Truly, I mean to give you a fair and honest take – to edify, not belittle (2 Corinthians 13:10).
    The first of my questions is about your Luke reference. Though I’ve read that hundreds of times, I’ve never jumped from Mary being full of grace to meaning Mary was sinless. Can you give further, not repeated, explanation and textual evidence/suggested reading on your interpretation? Similarly and hypothetically, could Christ’s sinlessness and purity be lessened by being in Mary? He was also surrounded by sin outside the womb, for His whole life, and that didn’t diminish His purity. Surely, God’s word supports the fact that a mother and child are separate entities (Jeremiah 1:5).
    My second wonder and question is twofold. It deals with your statement that Mary “was ‘saved’ before her conception.” Is this your belief or the Catholic belief? (Or both?) Are you meaning that Mary didn’t need the redemption that Christ brought to mankind? – that she was equally sinless and pure as Christ? – that her human nature never showed? Do you have further suggested reading and textual evidence on this? I struggle finding such in the Bible.

    I wish you blessings.
    Thanks.

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    1. Hi Angela! Thank you for reading! I appreciate that much of what I write can seem off putting to some Protestant readers, and I want to thank you for your willingness to read a Catholic Blog! This blog is geared toward fellow Catholics; however, I seem to have many more Protestant brothers and sisters reading lately and I praise God for this! Your questions are very very good! Thank you! I will do my best to respond. Please note that Catholics hold Sacred Tradition as a source of authority that is equally as inerrant as Sacred Scripture. Scripture is best understood in light of that Tradition.

      Thank you for responding. I acknowledge that Marian theology is a challenge for most converts and even many Catholics. I will do my best to explain (and I pray God will help me find the words). First, Catholics worship God alone. We do not mistake a creature – even God’s greatest creature – for the Creator. We honor Mary. Honor is not worship. We honor her because of the gifts God has given her. By making her His mother, God honored Mary more than we ever could. We honor Mary because Jesus honored her (perfectly obeying the 4th commandment), and we are called to imitate Christ. Do not get caught in a false dichotomy. This is not a Jesus or Mary thing. God is a non-competitive being. He is not diminished in any way the love and honor we give Mary or our spouse, or our own parents.

      Part of understanding Marian theology is understanding Typology in Scripture. OT often prefigures the NT. As in the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham prefigures the crucifixion and the Father sacrificing the Son. Mary is the New Eve. Mary enters the story at Genesis 3:15 (we call this the protoevangelium) “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel (NAB).” Scripture gives us the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the plan of Redemption with Jesus and Mary (The woman and her offspring). So typology – Jesus is the new Adam and Mary is the new Eve. Team one – disobedience, Team two obedience/total fiat. Even 1 Corinthians 15:45, reflects this. Add Romans 5:14 – Adam was a type of Christ. The fallen angel (satan) speaks to Eve in the garden words of death and the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary words of life. Eve, our mother in the flesh, disobeyed God, cooperated in Adam’s sin and caused the fall of the human race. Mary obeyed God and contributed greatly to Christ’s redemptive mission. She was his mother and perfect disciple. St. Irenaeus wrote, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.” Note also that during Christ’s public ministry He refers to His mother as “woman.” At the wedding of Cana as well as from the cross, and we are to recall her role as the New Eve, replacing the disobedience of the first “woman.”

      Ok, so the Typology thing is clear I hope. Mary is the New Ark of the covenant. The Ark contained the written word of God, and Mary carried the living Word of God as she is pregnant. Even the Ark in the desert was treated with such reverence as to only be seen and carried by the Levitical priest. What happened to the one guy who touched the ark who was not a Levite? I think he spontaneously died on the spot (2 Sam 6:6-7). Poor Uzzah. The Ark of the New Covenant is the holiest object just like the OT Ark. The OT Ark had to be plated inside and outside with pure gold. It had to be kept free from all impurity and profanation. I think you can see the she is not “a very normal woman.”

      Mary is also rightly called Queen as she is the woman in Rev. 12:1 who is the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Any king of the house of David would be expected to have a queen mother. That’s what Mary is: the Queen Mother of the Messianic King. King Solomon enthroned his queen mother at his right hand, and Jesus enthrones Mary as his Queen Mother. (1 Kings 2:19-20)

      There are four defined doctrines about Mary: She is Mother of God, A Perpetual Virgin, Immaculately Conceived, Bodily Assumed into Heaven. (Although she has appeared to mystics throughout history, including Fatima and Lourdes, this is not doctrine and the faithful are not bound to believe in apparitions or the private revelations that come from them.)

      The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is clearly the hardest for non-Catholic Christians to accept and understand. This privilege was given to Mary in view of Christ’s merits. Jesus was Mary’s Savior (she declares this in her Magnificat). She was redeemed by Jesus Christ just as we are, except that Mary’s redemption was unique: it was proactive redemption. The fruit of Christ’s redemption was applied to preserve Mary from sin, as it is applied to us to remove sin contracted. So Mary was saved before she was conceived.

      So what about Romans 2:23 “all have sinned.” This is why Catholics are admonished not to isolate chapter and verse. Who was St. Paul talking about, who was he writing about? If we back up and read Romans 3:9-1: “all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God.” St. Paul was admonishing both Jews and Greeks. Did he mean to include even babies in this warning? Are babies or children who have not reached the age of reason capable of sin? Remember, St. Paul was talking about personal sin as opposed to original sin we inherit. So he does not mean “all” in the absolute sense, which would include every single person (babies, mentally disabled, children). Also, St. Paul is quoting Psalm 14 in which Kind David is lamenting the widespread rebellion in Israel (verse 3 – There is none that does good, no, not one.) David’s enemies are not just the Gentile nations, but also fellow Israelites. David is using all in the collective sense, and so is St. Paul. St. Paul is trying to say that both Jews and Gentiles commit personal sins and both need to be justified by faith.

      Luke 1:28 “Ave, Gratia plena.” Hail, full of grace. Note the angel does not use her name. Her title is her identity. She IS “full of grace.” She has the fullness of grace and this would be impossible if Mary were touched by any sin, because every sin diminishes grace. The enmity in Genesis 3:15 is total. She is the total opposite of sin. The opposition to sin and the devil is total, so Mary and Jesus remain without sin. Again, the typology of the Ark of the Covenant. If the OT Ark had to be so pure and preserved to contain the written word of God how much more to contain the living Word. God struck Uzzah dead instantly because he dared to touch, and thus profane, the precious Ark (2 Sam 6:7). If God took such care to preserve the OT Ark from stain, defect, or profanation, how much more would He carefully preserve the NT Ark (Mary), which carried the even holier cargo of the living Word, from all stain of sin?

      Eve was free from all stain of sin and concupiscence (the inclination to sin) when she disobeyed, thus, her “no” to God was a perfect choice of the will. For Mary’s obedience to undo Eve’s disobedience, Mary’s “yes” to God must be as perfect as Eve’s “no.” This could only be true if Mary were free from both sin and inclination to sin, just as Eve was.

      Ok, so that is a start to the Marian doctrines. Remember, this reflects even the earliest traditions about Mary (traditions even Martin Luther defended). The idea that Mary is a sinful average small town girl is a modern development and a tool of the devil. The devil hates and fears Mary and has planted this corruption in the heart of many Christians. His “non serviam” (I will not serve) is opposed by Mary’s humble fiat of obedience, and he hates her for it. I will end with a quote from St. Ephraim (306-373), in the Nisibene Hymns, he writes, “You [Christ] alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others; For there is no blemish in you, nor any stains upon our Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?”

      I forgot to add a couple things. In Luke 1:35 the original word for “overshadow” is “episkiazein.” This word is used in Ex 40:35. The expression used by the angel is the same used in the Greek version of Ex 40:35 to describe how Yahweh “overshadowed” the Tabernacle, making it His dwelling place in Isreal. Again, this is more biblical evidence that the Early Church Fathers properly understood, “Hail, full of grace” and Mary as the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the New Eve, and the New Ark of the Covenant. Also, consider that St. Irenaeus, the friend of Polycarp, who was in turn the friend of John the Apostle wrote (before the bible, 130 to 202), “Just as [Eve] . . . having become disobedient, was made that cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, . . . being obedient, was made that cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race . . . Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the virgin Mary loosed through faith (Against Heresies).” So the earliest Christians had clarity about the bible’s message about Mary and the Catholic Church has defended this for 2,000 years. I would say that in fairness, the burden of proof that these doctrines are not true would fall on the late “reinterpretation” that Mary was just an ordinary sinful person.

      One more Early Church Father. St. Ambrose writing about the year 390, said of Mary, “The Ark contained the Ark of the Tables of the Law; Mary contained in her womb the heir of the Testament. The Ark bore the Law; Mary bore the Gospel. The Ark made the voice of God heard; Mary gave us the very Word of God. The Ark shown forth with the purest of gold; Mary shown forth both inwardly and outwardly with the splendor of virginity. The gold which adorned the Ark came from the interior of the earth; the gold with which Mary shone forth came from the mines of heaven.”

      God Bless you Angela! I hope this helps!

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  4. Wow – that last answer to Angela was fantastic, almost an article unto itself. I hate this song, and as a former Protestant, it irks me that there are blind spots of the ‘sola scriptura’ camp to a very unscriptural song. And, it also cracks me up that it’s the one time of year that our Protestant friends have no problem getting out the statues of Mary and singing songs about her. Not only did she know, but because she knew, it is even more remarkable what she was saying ‘yes’ to. Thank you, mama Mary. Without her and her ‘yes,’ we would not have a savior.

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful words Ari! May God bless you on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Mama Mary is always praying for us and taking care of all her spiritual children. What a sweet beautiful mother we have! God bless you this Advent! (Also feel free to copy and paste the explanation to Angela for any of our Protestant friends who might need a little clarification on the biblical supports for the Marian Doctrines.)

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  5. Yes I agree, we should stop singing this song and pray for Mark Lowry, the poor soul that wrote this song. He is my neighbor and I have known Mark for many years. Once when I was discerning a vocation to the priesthood I told Mark about my desire and he told me that he would ordain me. I asked him by what authority, he stopped talking and we haven’t spoken to each other since. Mark gets a royalty check every time someone sings this song. He is rich! I have never known Mark to share any of his money with the poor or anyone. Please pray for him.

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  6. As a Catholic, I love this song. Not because it goes against Scripture, but because it makes us ask the questions and seek out the answers. Our Blessed Mother most certainly knew, but when I hear this song, it makes me cry for her pain. For 33 years she lived with this knowledge locked away in her heart. Perhaps the song was written without the best intentions, but it has made this woman appreciate her Lord, and her Lord’s Mother even more.

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  7. I heard a priest tear this song to shreds back in advent lol as a Protestant it was a good song but as you said its heresy. Not only Mary would’ve known but really the whole Jewish community who knew the scriptures. Lol even the wise men knew and a lot of Christians today don’t know.

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