The Queen of Hearts
I confess in the early years of my reversion to the Faith, reading the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Louis de Montfort, I struggled with the same concerns. But by the grace of God I set myself to live within the tension of the question, rather than move too hastily towards an immediate answer (We Tolkien fans would call that a very "Entish" way of thinking). I tried to give the Church, which is 2000 years old, and these doctors and mystics of the Church who probably had the same concerns as I did at some point, the benefit of the doubt. I wore my scapular and prayed the rosary and I let the seed of Marian devotion germinate. Now at 40+ years old, I'm really starting to see it blossom.
To say that looking at Mary distracts us from looking at Jesus is like saying that looking at a beautiful landscape distracts us from looking at the sun.
We are drawn to look at nature's beauty precisely because it has been touched, graced, and illuminated by the sun. I look at Mary, I am drawn to her beauty, because I see the effect of the Son, Jesus, upon her.
Why is Mary so important? Why does the Catholic Church heap so much attention, so much focus, so many accolades towards this woman? For the same reason humanity is drawn towards art, music, poetry, and love. These created things occupy our hearts and minds because they reflect the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of God, and so does Mary. They don't take away from God, they mediate His Reality. We might say they embody Him, but that would really only be true in Mary, in whom He took on a body... the Word became Flesh in her, and dwelt among us.
So she is the masterpiece in the gallery of humanity. She is full of Grace. She is what we are meant to be; dwelling places of Divinity, tabernacles of the Most High. Mary is pure, she is the holy one. The whole one. Mary is the Queen of Hearts.
Mary's open YES unraveled the knotted NO of Eve. Mary's YES brought harmony out of the disharmony of sin. All of our NOs shouted out to the Father throughout human history can never quench the great YES this one woman gave. Mary's great YES opened a window in the skies and gave Love the freedom to reign again in a human heart. And she can teach us, like a good mommy, how to speak. She prays our first word will be "YES."