Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do Catholics Worship Mary?

I'm hoping that some of the visitors we receive on this wonderful new community blog of ours are those who hale from different faith backgrounds than ourselves.
That being the case, I offer this post for their benefit:


I have found that this is one of the most common misconceptions about the Catholic Faith.
The plain and simple answer is: NO, Catholics do NOT worship Mary. Catholics worship ONLY the ONE, TRUE, GOD in the MOST HOLY TRINITY...Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

True, Mary, as Mother of Our Redeemer, holds a special place of honor in our Church.
The proper term for the respect and esteem given to her in the Catholic Church is: veneration.

We "venerate" Mary.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "venerate" as follows:
venerate - Definition
[vĕńə-rāt́]
(v.)To regard with respect, reverence, or heartfelt deference.
As is made clear by that definition, to "venerate" is not the same as "worship", which is defined by the same dictionary as follows:worship - Definition
[wûŕshĭp]
(n.)The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity
(v.)To honor and love as a deity.

Deity, is to be defined as:
deity - Definition
[dḗĭ-tē, dā́-]
(n.)A god or goddess.
(n.)The essential nature or condition of being a god; divinity.

Catholics believe in One, True God, therefore "deity" pertains to that same God and no other.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in # 963:
"The Virgin Mary...is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of Our Redeemer...She is 'clearly the Mother of the members of Christ'...since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of Its Head"..."Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church".
(Following are my personal thoughts):
If we are to follow the example of Jesus, in His life on Earth, then we can not help but offer our respect, honor, and obedience to Mary, just as HE did.
Well known is the story in Scripture of the Wedding in Cana, (John 2: 1~11), where Our Lord performed His first public miracle at the beckoning of His Mother! When Mary first said, "They have no wine", Jesus responded, "Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come"...However, Mary goes on to tell the servants, "Do whatever He tells you"...and Jesus, AT THE REQUEST OF HIS MOTHER, honors her, respects her, and fulfills her request by changing the water into wine!
:
So to, must we "Do whatever He tells us"...and clearly, by His actions in Cana, He tells us that Mary is to be respected.
The Angel Gabriel told this humble handmaiden, that she had found "favor" with God.
So to then, should she find "favor" in our hearts if we are to follow His Way.
As a homeschooling mother, I find SUCH comfort, and peace, and JOY contemplating Mary as she held, cuddled, loved, taught, cared for, and raised THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
Think of how close you are to your son...(if you have one)...very often, if we wish to know something about someone, the best person to ask is his/her mother.
This is what Catholics are doing when we venerate Mary. We are not "praying" using the sense of the term as to "worship"...we are "praying" using the sense of the term as to "ask, or request"...and what we are asking, is that she tell us about her Son...that as she kneels before Him in His Kingdom of Heaven, to please ask Him to help us, to bless us, to come to our aid, to bring us to Heaven with Him....and we trust, that just as He listened to her and granted her request at the Wedding in Cana...He will listen to her and grant her request on our behalf!

12 comments:

  1. Hello,
    I'm a "newbie" to following this blog...was sent to read this blogpost from a friend. I actually converted from Baptist to Catholic in 2010, but I have a few "issues" that have yet been dealt with for me. Praying to Mary is one of them. I do not believe that Catholics WORSHIP Mary, but they have a prayer for her? They PRAY to her...in my opinion, that is the breaking one of the ten commandments-Thou Shalt have no other gods before Me...why do we have to ask Mary to ask Jesus to grant the request? Why not just pray to God?? I just don't get that part about Catholicism. I realize that you say in your post that its not the same kind of "praying" that most people(like me) think, but regardless, its still praying to someone else...I've tried really hard to understand this, but over a year later I am still not convinced that it is the right thing to do. If it was, why isn't it in the Bible? Why doesn't it get mentioned?
    In my opinion, its just another "tradition" that is passed on by Catholics.

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  2. Judy,
    What a beautiful post on how we think of Mary!

    Rachel,
    Here is a link to a post explaining the Hail Mary. The words come from the Bible - http://fiat-themysticalrose.blogspot.com/2009/08/biblical-prayer.html

    Another link that may be of help to you is: http://fiat-themysticalrose.blogspot.com/2009/09/mother-of-god.html

    My husband is also a convert to Catholicism with a Baptist background and had to work through this issue. Another helpful source would be to read the Early Church Fathers on this. They had a great deal to say about Mary and many of these writings have survived despite the passage of time. I hope this helps a bit. My husband just started a blog and will be discussing some of these issues. God bless!

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  3. Rachel,
    Here's a link to the man who explains things better than anyone. His name is Dr. Scott Hahn and he is a covert to Catholicism who had similar questions to yours plus many others. I highly recommend this site - http://www.scotthahn.com/mary.html

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  4. Thank you, Mary! Will look at all of these sites now...

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  5. i don't know if you knew this, but that picture is of a very famous statue in the town of Medugorje in Bosnia where Our Lady appears. i believe it is of Our Lady of Grace and the visionaries have stated that that state is the best representation of Mary.

    Beatutiful Post and God Bless

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  6. Judy,
    Great and instructive post.
    Rachel, I am glad you have joined us here. Mary is a great intercessor for us and her only desire is to draw us closer to her Son.
    I agree with Mary, Dr. Scott Hahn is an excellent Catholic resource for those who have questions about Mary and Catholicism is general.
    Thanks Judy and God bless.
    Blessings to you as well, Rachel. May God lead you in your questions and search.

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  7. Hi Judy, great explanation on Mary and a wonderful discourse by your commenters! I'm in agreement with Mary333 about Scott Hahn and in fact, he has made a CD with the Lighthouse Catholic Media called "Discovering the Biblical Significance of Mary."

    I just bought online "A Marian Bible Study" to learn more about Our Blessed Mother too. (In came in the mail with Victor's book Visions which I've started reading first!) After I start it, I will definitely blog about what I am learning.

    I would also recommend to Rachel that she pray to Jesus to show her the significance of His mother in our lives.

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  8. I have a friend, who has a friend (this is true believe me) and this friend is only holding back from being a Catholic because of two things the teachings of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. He buys everything else about Catholicism and actually was attracted due to the teachings of Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Theology of the Body. What exactly would you recommend I tell my friend to tell his friend as far as what to read or listen to?

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  9. Great post. As a convert, I too had to come to an understanding of who Mary is and why such devotion. I have grown closer to her over the years. One of the best things I ever read was that we need to love Mary because Jesus loved her. Amen!
    And this week I am doing a talk on Mary for a group at my church. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

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  10. Colleen(inadequate disciple),
    Scott Hahn for the subject you mention, especially his explanations on the Immaculate Conception. Check out his site if you get a chance. He also has a lot of great books out. I always recommend Dr Hahn when people have questions on anything about Mary (or any other tough subject concerning the Catholic Faith).

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  11. Rachel, WELCOME! (Both to this blog and to the Catholic Church!)
    If you could (aside from checking into all of the wonderful links Mary gave to you above) ponder this idea for a while: If I have a need or an intention (perhaps a family crisis or a health issue) and you are my friend, is it not natural for me to come to you and ask, "Rachel, please pray for me and ask Jesus to heal my daughter (or whatever)"? St.Paul tells us that this type of intercessory prayer is "GOOD".
    Because our Catholic Faith holds us to a belief in "The Communion of Saints" (this meaning, that we are able to communicate in prayer with those who are already in heaven/Purgatory...that God allows them to pray FOR US and thus, we are permitted to ASK them to pray for us)...it follows then, that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus, would be our greatest intercessor! You are right (as are all Protestants, too) that we can go STRAIGHT TO Jesus...but...again...if this is so...why do we bother ever asking a friend or family member to pray for us when we can just pray to Him for ourselves? Of course, you would most likely say that it is always nice to have more than one person praying for the same intention...So, you see, Rachel...it is for THAT reason that we approach Our Lady...to humbly ask her to JOIN US IN OUR PRAYER...she TRULY IS OUR FRIEND in heaven. Think of the days of Shakespeare...when someone would invite another to tea and they would say, "Pray tell,would you be so kind as to join me noon tomorrow?" This is similar to how we are using the word "pray" when speaking of Mary...we are SAYING (PRAYING) to her "Would you be so kind as to keep this intention in YOUR prayers to your Son".
    Also...when someone is on earth...perhaps a son who lives with his mother...and we go to his house and do not see him there but we DO see his mother in the garden...it is natural to ask the mother about the whereabouts of the son...after all, mothers KNOW their sons. Though this may be a weak analogy...it is somewhat the same...We go to Christ's mother...for we know that AT ALL TIMES she is with Him and knows Him SOOOO well...And we trust that she can help us grow closer to Him for she has already trod the path of our own journeys...so she KNOWS THE WAY. HE is the way...and her humble prayers on our behalf will lead us to HIM. Does this help you understand a bit more Rachel?

    As for your question, Colleen@InadequateD...one of the BEST books I have ever personally read to help gain understanding about Catholic Doctrines/Dogma is a very simple book called "Bible Basics" by Steve Kellmeyer. I recommend this HIGHLY to anyone who is seeking a deeper understanding of any Catholic Tradition/Teaching. It has a marvelous section on the True Presence in the Eucharist and explains how there are various terms of "eat" in the Aramaic language and how Jesus went back and forth between them but used the one that means a "literal gnawing and chewing of animal flesh" whenever He spoke of "eating the flesh of the Son of Man"...this is why they all left...because they knew He was NOT being symbolic and they thought the idea was just too tough to handle. Anyway, I'm off-topic here...but not really because the book I suggest will help your friend and anyone else seeking clarifications! God bless!

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