Mary did you know?
  • davido
    Posts: 257
    I have several times heard that the position of the fathers and the church is that yes, Mary knew. Can someone point me to some documentation on why that song does not represent the Catholic position?
  • I would say that far more problematic than some epistemological error that might be inherent in the lyrics is this:

    Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
    This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.


    Well, that, and the song (warning: here comes my unjustified opinion about a matter of taste) is just gross.

    Thanked by 1Brian Michael Page
  • See attachment ;)
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  • Theological problem:

    If the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is true, then

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


    poses a question, at the very least. Mary was saved in view of the merits of Her Son, at the very moment of her conception, so when this imagined conversation takes place, she is already full of grace, already saved.

    Yes, I would avoid using this.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    It seems that every year, I encounter someone asking about this song. Yes, it has theological problems along with tacky music. I also seem to routinely run into those who tell me how Jesus gradually developed knowledge of who he might be or become. Yeah, right!
  • Yes, this discussion is perennial (well, since the 90s...). And yes, one can get creative and make the lyrics somehow not heretical. And for what? To listen to tacky music?

    I have a hard time believing that the young woman who spoke the words of the Magnificat is the naive unwitting juvenile girl that songs like this make her out to be.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    I am no Patristics scholar, so I can't readily pinpoint anything from the Fathers on the specificity of the BVM's foreknowledge, but Scripture is clear that she and Joseph were given fundamental pieces of general foreknowledge.

    There may be private revelation about the specificity of foreknowledge, but that would not be something that bound the faithful.

    For what it's worth, when I meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries, I find it help to compare and contrast our Lord's and the BVM's intertwining suffering, our Lord being perfectly aware of what would unfold, and the BVM only more generally, so that our Lord had the immense pain of certainty* and the BVM the other immense pain of uncertainty, with important touch points, as it were.

    Starting off as our Lord leaves the Upper Room, consider our Lord's farewell to his Mother.

    * As in, if we knew what were going to happen to us, we'd never get out of bed...
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    Theologically protestant, naive to the truth and (as Charles mentioned) tacky tacky tacky music.
  • I remember doing a choral arrangement of this song back during my salad days of Methodism - we called it the "Three Stooges Song" because the opening sounded for all the world like "Larry, Moe and Curly".

    Funny what pops into your mind after a while!
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Pentatonix version
    The basso profundo of Pentatonix was a Visalia choral student. I taught with his dad, who converted from Judaism to RC'ism. These are good people who are touched for whatever reason. Lighten up.
    Our orthodoxy badges are immaculate. Not good for liturgy, end of story.
    But is it necessary to wrest and rip the sentiment from the faithful? Is it simply black and red flowing in our veins? I was briefly in a state of grace, but the intolerance and demagoguery here sometimes maxes out. Over and out.
    Thanked by 1Olivier
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 866
    The Magnificat makes it pretty clear that she did, in fact, "know." And as it is directly from the Bible, there is no reason for Protestants to think otherwise.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,454
    Cool story Melo. My kids really enjoy the craftsmanship of Pentatonix. I'll tell them about this.
  • Well, melo, if I came across as intolerant, then I apologize. My intention is never to judge. As for demagoguery, I really don't see that, here.

    Sometimes good people sing bad music. I do it. (No comment as to whether I'm a good person.) I don't have a problem with it. Talented people can even sometimes make bad music enjoyable to hear.

    I stand by my judgement that the music in question is not very good, and that the lyrics paint a picture of Mary that I find contrary to what I find in scripture and Church teaching. My judgment. Good, talented, people can disagree. I'm not judging others, but stating my opinion.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    I don't see demagoguery either. I see good theological judgment and good aesthetic taste.
  • The flip side of this Advent/Christmas music question is, why not look to the wealth of traditional music for these two seasons? Richard Terry received a British knighthood for his work with modern publications of medieval and renaissance carols and songs, a number of them with B.V.M. as the subject. Edgar Pettman also modernized some really great carols - besides "The Angel Gabriel". These are all "folk music", although from a bygone era, but with solid Theology.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zAKrMsxAqo

    My new favorite Advent carol which certainly illustrates the penitential message of Advent (Thomas Ravenscroft, 16th c.):

    Remember O thou man
    thy time is spent:
    how thou art dead and gone,
    And I did what I can,
    therefore repent!

    Remember Adam's fall
    o thou man
    From heav'n to hell!
    How we were condemned all
    In hell perpetual,
    There for to dwell.

    Remember God's goodness,
    o thou man,
    And promise made!
    How he sent his son, doubtless
    Our sins for to redress:
    Be not afraid!

    The angels all did sing,
    o thou man,
    On heav'n's high hill;
    Praise to our heav'nly King,
    And peace to man living,
    With a good will.

    In Bethlem He was born,
    o thou man,
    For mankind's sake;
    For us that were forlorn,
    And therefore took no scorn,
    Our flesh to take.

    Give thanks to God always,
    o thou man,
    with heart most joylly,
    For this is our happy day,
    let all men sing and say:
    "Holy, Holy!"
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Michael et al, did this song pick a fight with CMAA? Nope.
    And there will be those with bad judgment and bad aesthetic taste among us always, just like the poor in riches and spirit.
    The point about its inefficacy for liturgical has been made here. It's settled.
  • I performed a hideous arrangement of this song last night with the symphony. I never liked it anyway, and this particular arrangement threw a spotlight on all that's wrong with it. Sigh. My husband and I were discussing problems with popular Christmas music last night at dinner, too...Primarily the secular tunes, but also ones like Mary Did you Know. Could be a great project, although a bit "grinchy" because people are so nostalgic and attached to this stuff.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Not sure how a song can pick a fight or not. But a song that is popular, requested, and problematic is the perfect candidate for CMAA discussion.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Then discuss away, as I'm not trying to stifle same. I have no desire, especially today, to respond to folks picking a fight either. Trenchant polemics won't, however, mitigate the hearts of those (charged with the responsibility) who pick parish repertoires. It has to be done locally, one on one, IMO.
    But to coup de grace my metaphor, this song is like the little emo kid at recess, walking the perimeter of the playground away from the chosen kids who hold court every day. Because one day they run out of targets, the cool kids decide "Let's go get that kid, he's not one of us." They were already large and in charge, but it wasn't enough for them. They ran out of scapegoats. So, they go out of their way to mess with the emo kid. They felt better about themselves. For that one day.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 382
    "And he said to them, 'How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?' And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart." Luke 2:49-51

    It would seem that there is an extent to which Mary does not know everything, and that Christ's divinity is revealed to her gradually, as it is to the Apostles.

    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 for ever;
    and of his kingdom there will be no end.” …

    “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
    therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
    the Son of God.
    (Lk 1:32-33, 35b)

    But these are titles that are given to David and Solomon as well, denoting their special relationship with God as the anointed one, or Messiah/Christ. To read into it as saying that Mary understood or definitely knew that Jesus was God incarnate is working from our Post-Resurrection/Pentecost knowledge of God, and forgetting that at the time, the idea of the Jewish God becoming man was utterly inconceivable and unprecedented. And it still is now, if we allow ourselves to view the mystery with the new eyes of Advent.

    Mary was told a lot, but the extent to which she understood was probably limited by her situation within salvation history, which would have understood the titles given by Gabriel in a non-Divine, but still extraordinary way. Mary probably understood that there was something unprecedented going on, but God becoming man is so extraordinary, that it was probably revealed to her over time.

    As for the Immaculate Conception, it was necessary for Christ to deliver Mary, he just delivered her more perfectly than anyone else: pre-emptively, rather than after the fact. The moment in which he would provide salvation from sin was yet to come, at the Passion and Death, so there's nothing outright contradictory in the song. Just perhaps a lack of finesse for the sake of poetry. And of course you could get into how Christ's entire life was effective for the remission of sin… But I won't.

    And as far as what Christ knew, the Post Conciliar theory that I think best fits is that Christ perpetually had the natural knowledge provided by the Beatific Vision and his nature as the Word of God, but within his human mind/brain, he was supernaturally limited by his human capacity and development. Like how you can show the image of the Cross to a child, and they can know and experience it, but they won't come to understand it until they've grown. So Christ was given in His human intellect what was necessary for his mission, so particulars like knowing peoples thoughts, but first and foremost, he always knew of his identity as Son and of his Mission. Though the extent to which an embryo can understand or comprehend infused knowledge of its nature as God is obviously limited. I think it's like if you can imagine that child having experience of the Cross at all times, from the moment of conception, that knowledge is always there, even if the child cannot fully understand or explain it, it's there and the child always has knowledge and communion with it.

    Whew. That was a nice break. Back to studying for finals! Ora pro me!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    this song is like the little emo kid at recess, walking the perimeter of the playground away from the chosen kids who hold court every day. Because one day they run out of targets, the cool kids decide "Let's go get that kid, he's not one of us." They were already large and in charge, but it wasn't enough for them. They ran out of scapegoats. So, they go out of their way to mess with the emo kid. They felt better about themselves. For that one day.
    As the kids say,

    Wait. What?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    hey

    I am not surprised Mary and Joseph were a bit ticked with their 12 year old son. especially if they knew they just lost GOD!
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • Gosh. I'm truly sorry if I made anybody upset by saying that I don't like the song. I mean that. I have no desire or intention of making people upset.

    Saying that I don't like it might make me the equivalent of the playground bully if I had any authority in these matters. But I don't. I'm just a guy.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    It has nothing to do with being a bully. Songs are not troubled children. They don't have feelings. They aren't hurt by criticism. They don't care;they can't care. They are not living beings.

    MichaelDickson et al are in fact living beings with feelings.
  • @Vilyanor -- good luck on your exams!

    The issue over which I and others have expressed some concern is not the question of what Mary knew at the time of Christ's birth. That's a very interesting question, on which you've presented some relevant evidence. I am not aware of any definitive Catholic teaching on the matter, though I'm happy to be corrected.

    The issue is that the lyrics present (to my ear -- others may be hearing it differently) as a possible object of Mary's knowledge, at the time just after Christ's birth, that Christ "will soon deliver you." If the song is presuming that Mary could have known such a thing, then it is presuming that the statement is true. (It would be an odd question to ask for one who thinks it false. It is perhaps not irrelevant that the man who wrote the lyrics probably believed it.) However, it would seem that the correct Catholic teaching is that Mary had already been saved by Christ, at the time of her conception.

    I do not deny that the song could be construed as somehow not having this implication. It's a song. They are by nature open to interpretation. However, the interpretation that makes it out as contradicting the Immaculate Conception is, I think, sufficiently natural to make the song theologically suspect.

    That's my judgment. I do not think ill of you, or anybody, if you disagree.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • emo...melo....hmmm.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I thought emo died out with Myspace. It basically came from the hard punk rock of the 1980s. Does anyone still promote that style of dress? I haven't seen the kids imitating it in years.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    None of you are discussing the song save for Michael and, by extension, Vilyanor. There is, however, a great amount of posturing and semantics. And point of fact, it is about bullying, on more than one level. That no one has advanced Steve Collins' tactic, aided by Julie's example, says a great deal about the mindset.
    And for the record, the contention that songs are not living beings, advanced just to win a pathetic argument, flies in the face of what aesthetics teaches, informs and inspires us all.
    It has nothing to do with being a bully. Songs are not troubled children. They don't have feelings. They aren't hurt by criticism. They don't care;they can't care. They are not living beings.

    I'm not an STD, but might this qualify as an argument by reductionis ad absurdam? I'm sure I screwed that Latin up. What is to be expected of a know-nothing?
    I'm weary of this dreadful catfight just to prove supremacy. And my friends, this is what it has devolved into, REGENT OF THE HILL. If this is what CMAA wants, no true discussion, no reasonable attitudes, then by all means call me out personally and close your circle.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    It's reductio.

    Dude. You are calling a large number of people names and acting like you are capable of judging everyone's motivations. What is up with that?

    I repeat: it's a SONG. It does not have feelings.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I repeat: it's a SONG. It does not have feelings.


    But I surely do have feelings about the song, and they are not good ones. ;-)
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    If this song WERE a kid in school, it would be a three-sport letterman with a hot girlfriend and a new SUV. Guys want to be it, girls want to date it. It has been holding steady dominance for years with no sign of fading. It is not forlorn. It is the BCSOC.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Yeah, but I have seen some of those lettermen and hot girlfriends a few years later when they were no longer hot or athletic. Not a pretty picture. LOL. I am talking about Mary of questionable knowledge, not the other titles mentioned since the original post.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    FYI...I know of several dioceses where there is an injunction to use it. In those places, a proper theological explanation is given why one should not use it.

    It does however have a life of its own....which is why every year I write an explanation about it. This year I even wrote a FB post about it on my own page.

    Et voila....
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 382
    @MichaelDickson

    Thank you! Yeah, this is pretty much all theological theorizing, you're free to believe differently. Which isn't to say it's just made up willy-nilly, it comes from the analogy of faith and living tradition, but it's a theory that can't really be proven.

    I don't really think the problem of the Immaculate Conception is really a problem, because Mary's preservation of sin is a preemptive saving that looks forward to and is effected by the cross. Mary is saved, and redeemed like the rest of us, just in a timey-wimey, before the linear time way, and more perfectly than the rest of us. Christ delivers Mary on the Cross, just as the rest of us, but he does it through time, because he's God and can do that. Mary would not have been preserved from original sin without the Cross. It's all very wobbly-wobbly timey-wimey. It's related to the transcendence of time in the Mass, or how people in the Old Testament could receive the necessary grace for their callings before Christ's coming. The Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is the center point, the True Event of history, and all else, before and after, looks to that event.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Dude. You are calling a large number of people names and acting like you are capable of judging everyone's motivations. What is up with that?

    No, that is not the case. It is your spin and your motivation.
    I've learned a great deal dealing with others, ala Mr. Flowerday. You can't claim a middle ground as advocated by the second greatest commandment with people who masque their true intention to vanquish at all costs.
    So, as I've been called out personally, albeit as "Dude," I will leave you all to your own devices. So long, what a long, strange journey it's been. Have fun stormin' the castle.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Catholics tend to focus on the part which seems to deny the Immaculate Conception. True, she was delivered, and it is the same grace, the meritorious cause of which is the Passion. But, God sees the Passion and Mary's conception in one glancs, hence it could be applied to her before it happened in time.

    The song implies that she did not know and that she was amazed just as the rest of us would be. Baloney. The Greek of the salutation (kecharitomene) is used twice in the New Testament, never in the Old. Mary would have known that.

    The part about his ruling the nations is a bit stupid: Gabriel said “his kingdom shall have no end”!

    Sure. Our Lady didn't know everything all at once. The piercing of her heart by Simeon and losing him in Jerusalem are two examples of this. But she and Joseph were not surprised. They knew he was the Messiah since they knew Isaiah’s prophecy. And it seems this would have been made even more certain after the Visitation.

    If Our Lady had to learn all these things as do the rest of us, she wouldn’t have asked for his help at Cana. The apostles contrast to Our Lady in this, I think. And if she had a limited understanding of the Incarnation insofar as that was outside of the Jewish view of God, it is reasonable that she was more capable of understanding than the rest of us and thus was not surprised at all when the shepherds and Magi came, even if she could not yet articulate why they came, i.e. that he is the Son made flesh.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • @Vilyanor

    All true, and you nicely illustrate what I meant when I said that the lyrics can be construed in a non-heretical manner.

    However, when one person says to another: "Did you know that X will happen?" it is normally implied (to my mind, but I have no monopoly here) that X has not yet happened. But in Mary's case, X had indeed happened. Yes, the historical event upon which X depends in a timeless fashion had not yet occurred. And yet, the doctrine is not that Mary was conceived with sin and only later saved by Christ. She had already been saved by Christ when Christ was born.

    That's the problem, as I see it. It is simply too easy to suppose that the lyrics mean that Mary had yet to be saved at the moment when Christ was born. Indeed, I'll submit that this meaning is the plain meaning of the lyrics, though not, I agree, the only possible meaning.

    Anyway, I suppose that the contours of our positions are clear enough by now. Thanks for the conversation.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    1. As to the question, "Mary, did you know?" the song seems to never answer "yes" or "no."

    2. Few liturgical troubadours are able to write both a good text and good music. Similarly few pop troubadours have the talent of John Lennon. The text of this particular song is trite. I'll write more on this if anyone wants to argue the opposite position, namely, that the text is great.

    3. The lack of knowledge of several commenters about how the gospels were formed is shocking. One could easily think that this is a forum for fundamentalist Christians, and that Saints Matthew and Luke interviewed the Blessed Mother (and, for Matthew, Saint Joseph) before they penned their infancy narratives. St. Mark may have known the mother of Jesus, but he has no infancy narrative. If someone knows nothing about this matter, it would be better that he or she does some serious reading before offering up what amounts to pious piffle.
  • I'm afraid to sit down, whatever's crawled up the behinds of some commentators might crawl up mine as well...It's a shitty song that obviously most people here dislike. Let's leave it at that. ;-)
  • If someone knows nothing about this matter, it would be better that he or she does some serious reading before offering up what amounts to pious piffle.
    The insults continue to grow.
    Thanked by 2Kathy Spriggo
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    If I understand melo aright (which might be a mistake on my part), he's saying that some of the criticism of the song has an unpleasant effect on people who happen to like it. It spoils their innocent devout enjoyment of it. They read harsh criticism or sarcastic talk about the song and feel offended, as though someone said "you people must be foolish if you like this."

    Of course nobody who's criticizing the song is out to hurt other people's feelings. Well, except for CharlesW, who would like to rip the song's little heart out and stomp on -- oh, just kidding.

    Let me restate that: I'm sure that nobody who's criticizing the song is out to hurt other people's feelings. And critiquing songs is certainly one of the tasks people reasonably do on this forum.

    All I can reasonably do is urge people to protect their own feelings: if you recognize that a song you happen to find endearing is getting broadly scorned on the forum, interrupt the process before it goes any further; move on to the next thread and avoid reading the one that's going to be miserable for you. You're not obliged to read all the opinions.


  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    About Fr. K's point regarding Scripture: I agree with him in part. The Church believes that the Gospels contain true historical information, but Holy Mother Church does not place Her full authority behind every line of the Gospel narratives about the birth of our Lord and require us to treat them as literally, exactly true. The Magisterium has not addressed all those details and confirmed them down to the last letter.

    The stories of the angelic messages to Our Lady and to St. Joseph might include some embellishment. (That would be part of how the early Church expressed some of the truths they held about our Lord.) Mary and Joseph might not really have received all those details which are described in the gospels' angelic words. So we should be careful about saying what they knew or not.

    For the purpose of discussing the song, it is sufficient to say: Scripture depicts Mary as knowing these various things, and if the song doesn't reflect that, it is a shortcoming about the song.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Of course nobody who's criticizing the song is out to hurt other people's feelings. Well, except for CharlesW, who would like to rip the song's little heart out and stomp on -- oh, just kidding.


    Hardly. I just don't program it. When I encounter it somewhere else, I try to tune it out. No kidding!


    3. The lack of knowledge of several commenters about how the gospels were formed is shocking.


    Although I didn't take part in that discussion, a few thoughts on that. Bible scholarship is one of the few fields where a "scholar" or group of them can come along, declare any previously held knowledge as something to be believed by only fools, and propose a new theory that explains everything. Of course, the people who don't embrace the new scholar and his scholarship, are similarly unenlightened fools.

    Many problems exist with Bible scholarship. There have been many "critical" methods of scholarship including form, redaction and supposedly historical criticism, to name a few. A Bible historian will find that the first century guild of fish merchants did such-and-such, therefore the early Christians of the same era did and practiced the same. Perhaps they didn't. We have no original texts, no eyewitness accounts, and no CNN coverage of the lives and daily activities of the apostles. Our knowledge of early Christians can be sketchy as well, and there were competing factions of Christianity whose views are not well known. So finding that Claudius the fish monger did things a certain way and lived at the time of the supposed writers of scripture is no proof that anyone other than Claudius believed and practiced as he did. Bible scholarship is long on loose associations, speculations, and theories, but short on hard evidence. In other words, take those "scholars" with a grain of salt.
  • It's almost as if some here think that God is the author of Sacred Scripture. (Purple, as you wish.)

    (Yes, to anticipate, I've read the subsequent parts of the Catechism. And yes, it's complicated. That's my point. One need not have a naive, uninformed, hermeneutics to draw some of the lessons that have been drawn, here. I neither endorse nor reject those lessons, here. My point is that there is no need to suppose that people are being hermeneutically stupid.)
  • CharlesW and I were posting at the same time. I agree with what he says on this point. (And 'some of my best friends' are biblical scholars...)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Mary knew because God is not a rapist. Uninformed consent is no consent at all. That said, I think it is possible that there were things that Mary didn't understand/remember, or put out of her mind consciously/unconsciously.
    Thanked by 1JoeM
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    That said, I think it is possible that there were things that Mary didn't understand/remember, or put out of her mind consciously/unconsciously.


    "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

    Clearly she didn't know everything, or if she knew, she may not have fully understood. We can never know how much she knew or how much divine revelation was given to her. She may have known more than any of us, or more than we would know in the same situation.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    Considering the episode of finding Jesus in the Temple, Scripture doesn't claim or imply particularly detailed foreknowledge for the BVM.
  • I don't think anyone's posted this yet (if it has popped up, apologies for the redundancy), but here's an analysis of each question: Mary Did You Know FAQ
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    TimTheEnchanter

    If Mary knew Jesus was God, then she ALREADY knew that 'all things were possible with God'. Therefore, she 'knew' that Jesus could walk on water, cure a blind man, turn water into wine, etc. She 'knew' that he could call down a legion of angels at a moments notice. She knew. She is not God, but her abilities and prowess are far beyond anything any human can conjure up.

    For more information on the amazing BVM, read de Montforts True Devotion.