So why are Catholic so into Marian devotion (not worship)? I'm glad you asked!
First, let's examine exactly who Mary is? In Genesis 3:15, God assures us that there will be enmity between the Woman, her seed, and the devil's seed, and that she will crush the head of the serpent. This crushing of satan's head was accomplished at Golgotha, the place of the skull. Jesus always addressed his Mother as “woman,” so to remind us all that Mary is that promised woman from Genesis. And women do not have seeds, they have eggs, so this is going to be one special woman!
The first word that Gabriel spoke to her was “HAIL,” which is a royal greeting, as in Hail Caesar, or Hail King of the Jews. Gabriel next called her full of of grace, which means that she is sinless, since no one can be full of grace and have any sin on her soul. The Catholic Dogma of the Immaculate Conception says that she was given this fullness of grace at her conception. So therefore, St. Gabriel is telling us that she is the royal sin-free Queen Mother of the Kingdom, the mother of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. In a foreshadowing of the Queen Mother's importance, in 1 Kings, King Solomon gets a royal throne for his Queen Mother, Bathsheeba, and it is placed at the right hand of the King for the Queen Mother to sit in. In Hebrew, the Queen Mother is known as the “gebirah.” The root word for “gebirah” is “geber,” which has the connotation of strength; not strength in the sense of physicality, but rather, warrior strength. Geber is also the root word for Gabriel, which means the strength of God. In Luke 1:48, Mary says, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (all scripture is under that same inspiration), that ALL generations to come shall call her blessed. No one else in the entire bible except for God said that He is blessed! This statement of hers is the fulfillment of the prophecy made in Psalm 45:17.
Mary is also the new Ark of the Covenant. Hebrews 9:4 says that the old Testament Ark had 3 things inside it – The manna, or supernatural bread from heaven; the Word of God in stone known as the 10 commandments, and the rod of Aaron, the symbol of the High priesthood. In a similar manner, Mary, during her pregnancy, had Jesus inside of her, who is the Bread of Life, the Word of God made flesh, and the new eternal High Priest. The OT ark of the Covenant was a powerful weapon against the enemies of God. For instance, when the Jews marched around Jericho with the Ark of the Covenant during their conquest of the promised Land, the walls of Jericho fell down. Just so, Mary is also a powerful enemy of satan, the enemy of God. Satan, like Jericho, can be defeated if we keep Mary in front of us.
There are a lot of parallels with Mary and Rachel, the wife of Jacob, in the Old Testament. We learn from Genesis 35 that Rachel's birthpangs were so intense when she gave birth to Benjamin, that she died. In Revelation 12:2, we hear about Mary's birthpangs while giving birth to us, her spiritual children, at the foot of the cross (Mary suffered no birthpangs when giving birth to Jesus, because birthpangs for physical birth are due to original sin, of which she was free of). And like Rachel weeping for her children who were being taking into captivity in Jeremiah 31 (many years after her death, BTW), just so, Mary weeps for us when we are taken captive by sin.
Mary is also the new Eve. Eve was an immaculately created virgin who said yes to the spirit lucifer, eating the forbidden fruit, and causing sin to enter the world. Eve came out of Adam. Similarly, Mary, also an immaculately created virgin, said yes to the spirit Gabriel, which allowed salvation to enter the world in the form of Jesus, who gives us the Eucharist from the tree of life known as the cross to overcome the effects of the forbidden fruit. Jesus came out of Mary. And just as Eve became the physical mother of all the living at the foot of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:20), Mary becomes our Mother at the foot of the tree of life known as the cross, when Jesus said, “Behold your Mother” in John 19:27.
In this, His last will and testament, Jesus gives the disciple whom he loved His most valuable possession, his Mother. Notice that the bible doesn't say “John, behold your mother.” Rather, Jesus is addressing this to the disciple whom he loved. You and I are disciples, and Jesus also loves us very much, so this giving of Mary is also addressed to you and me. Like John at the cross, we also need to take Mary into our home.
One of the reasons that Mary is so powerful against Satan is taken from Revelation 12, where we learn in Revelation 12:17 that we are her children if we obey the commandments and bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ.
In Luke 1:46, Mary says that her soul magnifies the Lord. Well, her soul is still very much alive, as are all souls ever created, and therefore she is still magnifying the Lord. Magnification makes things clearer, larger, and more in focus, and that is a great thing to do to Jesus. And, if a magnifying glass focusses the sun just right, it can start a fire. Jesus said in Luke 12:49 that he wants to cast fire upon the earth, so maybe the lens of Mary's soul is one way he does that.
Mary is like the Star of Bethlehem in 3 ways. First, just as the Star of Bethlehem led wisemen to Jesus, Mary leads us to her son the fastest and best way. Second, a star is always burning with lots of fire. Mary is on-fire with the love of the Holy Spirit, who appeared as flames at Pentecost. And third, like a star, Mary is the most famous woman of all time, recently appearing on the covers of TIME and National Geographic, 2000 years after her death.
And so what are the benefits of doing this consecration? Adopting Mary as our Mother means that she will adopt us as her children as well. This isn't a one-way street! A good mother always cleans up her children. Mary will lead us all to desire to clean up our souls more frequently in the sacrament of confession. A good mother always feeds her children the best food, and Mary will lead us all to a renewed love of the Eucharist, our daily supernatual bread. A good mother always instructs her children in virtue, and if we consecrate ourselves to her, all of her virtues like humility, forgiveness, meekness, chastity, etc., will now start to become our virtues as well. Vices that have controlled us for years will no longer be our master. Our prayer life will be enhanced, so that we will give more honor and glory and praise to God than for personal requests. Just as Jesus came to us through Mary in total humility, we in turn, also go to Jesus through Mary in total humility, as the conduit of His grace.
St. Bernard of Clairveaux said that Mary is like the neck which connects the head of the Church, Jesus, to His Body, we the Church. And as everyone knows, if the head is missing the neck, the body is decapitated and quite dead.
Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church in scripture. We, the laity, form his bride the Church, in the new Covenant, which is a family bond. And like it or not, in a marriage, the bride always gets the mother – in – law as part of their new family.
Jesus said that unless we become like little children, we will NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven, in Mark 10:15. And what do all little children have in common? They all love and trust in their mother. When you look up at the blue sky with the bright sun shining through it, think of our Mother Mary's blue mantle covering us. The Holy Spirit often appeared as the shekinah glory cloud in the bible, so think of the clouds in the sky as representing the Holy Spirit. Since they are in front of Mary's blue mantle, it symbolizes the union of Mary with the Holy Spirit. And when the bright sun shines through the blue sky and the clouds, that symbolizes her Son Jesus shining brightly through it all. And when the clouds fill the sky, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit in His entirety, usually you get rain, which represents God baptizing the earth. Mary, with no light of her own, fully reflects the light of the Son, like the full moon fully reflects the light of the sun. And don't forget that Mary's Immaculate Heart is totally united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary told St. Brigid in her Revelations that just as Adam and Eve sold the world for one piece of fruit, just so, Jesus and Mary will redeem it with one heart.
Ever see a statue of Mary crushing the serpent's head, along with her standing on a crescent moon? The crescent moon is Islam's symbol, and this indicates that Mary will unite the Muslims and Christians one day. The crescent moon is also a symbol of the occult (remember Mickey's hat in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, from Fantasia). So by standing on the crescent moon, Mary will also crush the sorcerers and witches out there, who are very active today.
Fetal Micro-Chimerism is the scientific term for the fact that all mothers and children exchange cells during the birthing process. So Mary has actual cells of Jesus inside of her, and Jesus has actual cells of Mary inside Him. No wonder the devil hates her so much.
St. John Paul II consecrated his entire papacy to Mary, and because of that, the Soviet Union is no more. An atheist workers' revolt in the streets of Russia (the Bosheviks) in 1917 was overcome by a Marian workers' revolt in the streets of Poland (Solidarity) in 1989. Mary asked us all at Fatima in 1917 to say the rosary for world peace. The power of the rosary showed itself at Hiroshima in 1945, where the Jesuits, saying the rosary every day a mile from ground zero, not only survived the blast, but also lived into the 1980's with no radiaton poisoning whatsoever. The power of the rosary also showed itself at Florida State University, in 1978, when Ted Bundy broke into a young girl's room to kill her, but then left suddenly. She was saying her rosary at the time.
Nobody can beat the devil at his game all on their own just using their smarts, because the devil is smarter and slyer than any of us. However, you can beat him using your heart, mainly because he doesn't have one, and doesn't understand a good heart's action. But even then, we are at risk due to the weakness of the human heart. So what we need to do is to get a new heart, one that can't be beaten by the devil. And that heart is Mary's Immaculate Heart, which is ours for the asking, if we consecrate ourselves to her. An important thing to remember is that Mary can instill in us the gift of perfect contrition for our sins, that is, being 100% sorry for our sins because they displease God. Imperfect contrition is when we are sorry for our sins because we fear going to hell. Perfect contrition for our sins at the time of death really helps us to chase the devil away and to let God know that we want to be with Him forever, and it shortens our purgatory time.
Mary said at Fatima that in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. So by consecrating your parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you will be protecting it from modernism and false teaching. Parishioners from now on will have increased protection from the wiles of satan, because where Mary is, satan cannot be. There will be longer lines for confession and more people signing up for Adoration. There will be more people attending Mass and fewer people leaving the Church.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of the greatest saints and martyrs of the 20th century, said:
"Modern times are dominated by Satan and will be more so in the future. The conflict with hell cannot be engaged by men, even the most clever. The Immaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. However, assumed into Heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation. She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God's kingdom upon earth."
Saint Louis de Montfort once predicted the following:
“But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially break out in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel; that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him. They shall be little and poor in the world’s esteem, and abased before all, like the heel, trodden underfoot and persecuted as the heel is by the other members of the body. But in return for this, they shall be rich in the grace of God, which Mary shall distribute to them abundantly. They shall be great and exalted before God in sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their animated zeal, and leaning so strongly on the divine succour, that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil, and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.”
As Mary told St. Juan Diego at Tepeyac:
“Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.
So, in closing, in honor of this occasion, I wrote a very short poem:
--“Mary, Mary, quite necessary, how do your children grow? With silver wings, and golden rings, you know!”