As you may be aware, a local anti-Catholic pastor regularly makes the Catholic veneration of Mary a frequent target on his ubiquitous “drive time” radio spots. He’s not alone of course. Mary-bashing is almost a sport amongst many anti-Catholics, and any recognition of her, other than honorable mention for her role in the Christmas story, seems to drive them mad.
The thinly veiled disgust with which these people speak of Mary is a source of pain for many Catholics who not only regard Mary as the Mother of God, but as their own Mother as well. It's like these guys are saying bad things about your own mom, and there is nothing that quite boils the blood as when some jerk is messing with your mom!
I can remember my own mother crying after a fruitless conversation with a neighbor who had left the Catholic Church for one of those born-again church-in-an-abandoned-gas station deals. The neighbor blasted Mary with all the regurgitated venom she could recall from the anti-Marian diatribe she probably had heard from her “gas station pastor” the night before. I was just a boy then, but even today, I can still feel the rage that welled up within me, seeing my mother wounded, but also smelling the evil I still smell today when someone attacks and degrades the Mother of God. Perhaps you know the “smell” as well.
But what to make of it? From whence comes this hostile disgust? This knee-jerk attack? What is it that drives these people nuts about the veneration of the Blessed Mother and impels them to degrade, impugn, muddy, and malign the Woman through whom the Son of God took flesh? Is it just a lack of understanding? Misinformation? Invincible ignorance? Perhaps all of the above. But perhaps something else too. And here's my thought.
In Genesis 3:15, God informs Satan of his doom: “I will put enmity between thee and the Woman and thy seed and her seed and she will crush thy head while you lie in wait for her heel.” In short, it’s curtains for Satan, and Mary is at the center of it.
Some believe this verse (as found in the Vulgate) to be translated in error, that it is not Mary who will crush the head of Satan but her seed: Jesus. Thus later translations change the “she” to a “he”. But translation debates aside, God undeniably chooses to crush Satan through Mary. (Thus the centuries of paintings and statues showing her doing so.)
Without getting too theological here, it is necessary to understand that salvation is ongoing: that Christ has saved us, is saving us, and will continue to save us (should that be our desire) until the end of time; and he does so, he comes to us, as he first did, through his Mother. Thus John Paul II says: [it is] “in Mary and through Mary (that) the situation of humanity (sin) has been reversed...” (The Protoevangelium of Salvation). And this is why Satan hates her.
However, Satan cannot harm Mary directly because she is sinless. God has put “enmity” - total opposition - between Satan and the Woman. Since Satan is pure evil, total enmity in this case means the total opposite of pure evil which is pure good, sinlessness, which is precisely why Mary is the “Refuge of Sinners” and why we “flee to thy (her) protection”.
As humans, it is impossible to imagine the cosmic proportions of Satan’s hatred of Mary. But I believe we get a glimpse of it when the Mother of God is attacked, either in the pornographic “art” of a Marian image splattered with elephant dung (as displayed in the Brooklyn Museum), or the diseased harangue we hear from the likes of the anti-Catholics already noted.
To Satan, it matters not how or through whom the Mother of God is discredited, demeaned, and disavowed. The fewer sinners that seek her refuge, the more for him to devour. Don’t be one of them.