Beautiful like the moon

April 6, 2011 | 45 comments

Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of when I would go stargazing with my dad. We’d take his SUV out to some deserted field, miles away from the nearest streetlight, and lie on the roof to behold the sky above. We might point out specific stars and marvel at the fact that the trillions of chemical reactions going on in the thermonuclear fusion process were powerful enough to be seen here on our little planet, thousands of light-years away. Or we might shake our heads in wonder at the dancing clouds of gasses in the Orion nebula, or do thought experiments about what it would be like to see the ancient storms of Jupiter up close. But one thing we never left out was the moon.

Our appreciation of the earth’s biggest satellite was not something we shared with all astronomy buffs. Some people found the moon rather unremarkable. After all, it’s just a rock, the thinking went. It has no great chemical reactions, no dramatic storms. It doesn’t even produce its own light! It’s entirely dependent on the sun for its beauty. And yet that diminished our appreciation not at all. I loved how it gleamed like a great pearl, how you always knew where the sun was because the glow of the moon endlessly pointed to it. Maybe it’s just a rock, we thought, but it’s positioned perfectly to dazzle in the light, to act as our guide in darkness.

I’m often reminded of this when I think of Mary.

Of all the things I struggled with on the road from atheism to Catholicism, the veneration of Mary wasn’t one of them. It always made sense to me. (Which was not true for my husband. We’d have these back and forth conversations like, “Dude, she’s Jesus’ mom!” / “Dude, she’s Jesus‘ mom!”) I was bowled over enough by the idea that all the grandeur in the universe I’d appreciated all my life had a personal, living Creator; so when I got to the part in the Bible where God chooses his own mom, I just about fell off my chair. If I weren’t so stubbornly analytical I might have stopped all my research right there and just sought out the church that paid most respect to this woman, figuring that that must be the right one.

The arguments some of my friends make against the veneration of Mary remind me of the arguments some of our astronomer friends made against appreciation of the moon. Like the moon with the sun, Mary is entirely dependent on the Lord for her beauty. She does not create her own light; she merely reflects the light of the Son. And, like the moon, what a beautiful, gleaming reflection it is! God has positioned her perfectly to bathe us in the Son’s radiance when we can’t seem to find him, to point to him eternally, to act as our guide in darkness.

Sometimes when I’m outside at night I glance up at the moon and take a minute to gaze in appreciation of our underappreciated heavenly guide. And when I do, I’m reminded to give thanks for my other Heavenly guide.


  1. Katy

    Wow, what a beautiful reflection! (No pun in intended.)

  2. Rose

    This is beautiful and I’ll definitely have to borrow the analogy the next time I’m questioned about Mary.

    • Robin Ewers

      Next time you are questioned about MAry reference the bible. You will see how unbiblical and false this teaching is.

      • Phil

        Jesus never even commanded his apostles to write anything down. Not everything is in the Bible. Keep searching for the Truth. God bless you.

  3. Leila

    Yep, this is now a reference post! Perfect!

  4. Jackie

    The moon is certainly beautiful and radiant isn’t it?

  5. Petra

    I will always remember these nights in mountains, when moon was so close!

  6. Sheba

    “Mary is entirely dependent on the Lord for her beauty”. I want to be just like my mother-:)

  7. Brent


    Beautiful reflection. I, too, did not have a problem with Mary coming into the Church. My wife was a little more reluctant. I smiled when I read your conversation with your husband because that sounded a lot like me and my wife. : )

    By the way, the moon analogy is perfect because the light it gives us is a reflection of the sun. During this night, when the Son is not with us, may Mary, the Star of the Sea, lead us home to heaven as she radiates the Glory of the King!

    God bless

  8. Amanda


  9. Margo

    When I was a child my mother gave me a statue of the Virgin Mary with her arms widespread, standing on the moon. But I didn’t know it was the moon until I was much older and had become more aware of Mary’s real presence in our lives and the fact that she is Queen of Heaven and Earth. This post is a good reminder of that.

  10. Tootie

    I loved this! I never thought of the moon that way – I won’t be looking at it the same again 🙂

  11. Emily

    This was amazing. Thank you for posting this connection!

  12. Kimberlie

    Thank you for this post. The veneration of Mary was one of my hang-ups until I had a moment like you – wow! God CHOSE Mary to be His mother. Dude!! (as you and your DH are wont to say) 😉

  13. Patricia

    What a beautiful reflection on our Heavenly Mother, the Theotokos! All honor given to her glorifies her Divine Son! I shall share it with 2 dear friends of mine, both of whom are praying fervently that their husbands will enter the Church. God bless you! ICXC+NIKA

  14. Jason

    What amazes me about my God is that He didn’t just choose Mary to be His mom, He chooses each one of us to be His children. I remember hearing a song that reminded me as a Christian that I should be like the moon, reflecting the Son.

    I will never understand why the God of the universe chooses mere humans, but I will always love Him more and more for it.


  15. Christine

    Our Lady has touched my life in many ways. She loves us so much and wants us to love her Son.

  16. Liesl

    I’ve never thought of it this way… but what a great comparison to make understanding Mary a bit easier to grasp!

  17. Schneebly

    Beautiful analogy, if the moon barely makes enough light to read a book by, just think of the majesty of God, who’s light shines bright enough to boil atoms into energy.

  18. the Mom

    I love this post.

    When I was in high school, mt religion teacher tied the creation story in Genesis together with the New Testament and explained the creation of the sun and moon as a prefigurement (I think I just made up a word there) of the Son and His Mother. It is an image which has never left me.

  19. Pat Gohn

    Speaking metaphorically, tf Jesus is “the sun”, then Mary is a “the moon, who reflects his light most perfectly. But there’s an inherent call for each Christian in that thinking as well. We are all called to reflect His Light, too. And Mary is a great resource and guide for how to do that!

    Great post!

  20. ~Ana Paula~A Católica

    a Big HELLO from………. BRASIL!!

    That’s why is so Good visiting your Blog: you have the capacity to make complex things look so simple and (what is best) you do it with Poetry!

    Stay in the Love and Peace of God!
    You, Your Beautiful Family and All Your Readers!!


  21. Kara

    Have you done the total consecration to Jesus through Mary? It’s beautiful, and this quote always stuck out to me because it’s such a wonderful rebuttal to people that question the veneration of Mary:

    “She is not the sun, dazzling our weak sight by the brightness of its rays. Rather, she is fair and gentle as the moon, which receives its light from the sun and softens it and adapts it to our limited perception.” – St. Louis De Montfort

  22. cecilia

    That is such a beautiful post!

  23. Lisa

    How perfect and beautifully stated! I will probably use this in explaining Mary to those who don’t understand.

  24. Susan Cook

    Thinking of the idea mentioned that the moon ‘prefigures’ Mary, might we not say then that Mary is the true meaning behind all the mythology of moon goddesses? A truth woven into the fabric of the universe, as C.S. Lewis would say.

  25. Manda

    Okay, this is a fantastic analogy! I will be sending my protestant-pastor husband this way to read the article 🙂

  26. Louise

    The veneration of Mary is one of my favorite parts of being a Catholic. What a beautiful thought. I will never look at the moon the same way again.

  27. Kris, in New England

    As a soon-to-be Catholic (official on April 23!) I find this quite beautiful. I was raised Christian however they don’t believe in the worship of Saints, Mary, the Cross, etc… Experiencing the veneration of Mary has felt – normal. It is exactly as it should be.

    I particularly love the Hail Mary prayer. When my husband (a cradle Catholic) and I go to weekly Adoration it is the prayer I turn to every time.

    To liken Mary to the moon is just perfect.

  28. AgnesRegina

    AMAZING post as always. I love this. And I always loved the antiphon, “who is she that cometh as the morning rising – fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.” What a perfect description of Our Lady. Can’t wait to see her. (That isn’t meant to be presumption, just good old hope of heaven.) 🙂

  29. Barb

    I always think of Mary when I see the moon ever since I read someone else speak of Mary reflecting the light of her Son just like the moon…
    I did the Consecration to Mary last year and just renewed it again. Every time I read True Devotion to Mary, I love her more…

  30. Tienne McKenzie

    Wow, Jen, you really have a gift!

  31. courtney

    Wow! Perfectly written! Love the way you described Mary. Beautiful!

  32. magda

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

    • Robin Ewers

      Read your bible. Stop being carried off by false teacings. This is not biblical nor did JEsus who is GOD ever teach that we are to pray to Mary, worship MAry, that MAry leads us to Christ. NO! WRONG and it is blasphemous to say the least. AS is the catholic church. Repent, read your bible undertand that there is only ONE way to the Father…thru Christ the Lord.

  33. Izhilzha

    What a lovely image.

    Although what you say makes me think of the reasons why I am not at all comfortable with the veneration of Mary: she is far from the only person that God puts near us to be a reflection of His grace and glory. And if we revere her for it and ask for her prayers, surely we should be doing both–even more diligently!–with the people that God has placed around us in this time and place.

    • kelley

      Dear lzhilzha,

      You remind me so much of myself! May I share something? I too was not at all comfortable with the veneration of Mary or the saints until very recently. To be fair, I must tell you I am a very recent convert, and I come from an evangelical background. I now look at the saints who have gone ahead of us as our cheerleaders. They loved and served God here on Earth, but they have now met Him! They know Him in a way we do not yet. They have finished their race successfully, and they long to see us do the same, because they know the full joy of being with our loving, beautiful savior. They are now perfected, so they are much more perfect reflections of God’s grace and glory than we can ever be while we are still here. They will always point us in the right direction while the people in “this time and place” can fail. We still ask our friends in this time and place for their prayers too, but how much better prepared are those saints in heaven are now more alive than we can imagine!

  34. Judy @ Learning To Let Go

    A beautiful post! Jen, you always give me something to mull over. You are gifted, and serve us through your blog. Thank you.

  35. jessica

    The moon has always held a special place in my heart. Thank you for adding to it’s beauty.

  36. Linebyline

    Like you didn’t know that Son/sun wordplay was going to come in handy someday.

    Thanks for the great post. I do occasionally think about theology and astronomy at the same time, but I don’t think this one has ever occurred to me. Though I’m now suddenly remembering “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet.” Good observation.

  37. Sarah

    This is beautiful, thank you.

  38. Cottage By The Sea

    When my son in law was investigating the church (he is now a practicing Catholic) of whom my daughter says, she is glad she married before he fell in love with the church and became a priest. But, he had a lot of trouble with the concept of Mary in the beginning and I have a special affinity for Mary so, I wrote a little note (dissertation) of encouragement about our beloved lady and somehow it ‘sealed the deal’. I think sometimes education is the key. That and a little leap!

  39. Nadia

    Very nice what you post. It makes me think more about all this above us…

  40. Robin Ewers

    This is not biblical by an stretch of the twisting of scriptures. You catholics just buy any doctrine someone feeds you if it “sounds beatiful” There is only ONE WAY TO THE FATHER….I am the way the truth and the life no man comes to the father BUT BY ME..not MAry. MAry was not without sin also. Read the Word and stop being carried off by false teachings. There is only ONE NAME GIVEN AMOUNG MEN by which we must be saved…The name Christ JEsus.

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