Mary and the Saints

Do Catholics worship Mary? Why do Catholics emphasize Mary so much?Answer

Catholics believe that worship is due to God alone. Catholics do, however, venerate Mary. In other words, we honor our Blessed Mother with great reverence and devotion because she is the Mother of God.

Mary is the model of perfect love and obedience to Christ. God preserved Mary from sin, and she conceived our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing Christ into our world. Catholics can’t help but honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is full of grace, the Mother of God and our Mother, for her “yes” to God that made the Incarnation possible. And without the Incarnation, we would not have salvation.

Mary is the most beautiful model of total submission to the will of God. Catholics do not view Mary as equal to Christ, but rather venerate Mary because of her relationship to Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it” (CCC 964).

As Catholics, we pray that we can respond to God’s call to holiness for our lives in the way that Mary did. Mother Theresa prayed to emulate Mary’s devotion to Christ:

“Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, 
so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life, 
love Him as You loved Him, and serve Him as You served Him….”

AnswerIn 1 Timothy it says Jesus is our sole mediator, yet we pray to Mary and the Saints. Is that going against the Bible?

1 Tim 2:5 reads as follows: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” Many think that the practice of praying to the saints goes against the Bible, claiming that Catholics are making them mediators between God and man and thus diminishing Jesus‘ role as the sole mediator.

But this is not an appropriate interpretation of the passage. Let‘s see why not…

In the O.T. we see that Moses, Abraham, and Job interceded on behalf of others… that’s mediating between God and man. We know that it is okay to ask others here on earth to pray and intercede for us…. that’s mediating between God and man. So we have a situation here where a passage of the Bible is being misinterpreted and misunderstood.

There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, but as members of the Body of Christ, He allows us to share in His mediation.

Also, Scripture tells us that we have only one foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11); but, Scripture tells us that there is more than one foundation (Eph 2:19-20). Scripture tells us that we have only Lord, Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-5); but, Scripture tells us there is more than one lord (Rev 19:16). Scripture tells us that we have only one Judge, Jesus Christ (James 4:12); but, Scripture tells us there is more than one judge (1 Cor 6:2).

These are not contradictions in Scripture, not when these passages are all properly understood in context. Jesus is the only foundation; Jesus is the only Lord; and Jesus is the only Judge. But, we are members of Jesus‘ Body. Therefore, we are able, according to the graces given by Christ, to share in Jesus‘ role as foundation, as lord, and as judge, and in other aspects of Christ, as well. Another example, a father shares in God‘s role as Father, by His grace. And, so also, we, and the saints in Heaven, and the angels in Heaven, can share in Christ‘s role as Mediator.

AnswerIn Romans, chapter 3, it says that none is righteous and that all have sinned, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is without sin…could you explain that in light of Romans 3?

Romans 3, verse 10 says, “…as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” Yet, James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. If absolutely no one is righteous, then who is James talking about? Luke 1 says that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous before God. If absolutely no one is righteous, then how can that be? Is Scripture contradicting itself? No. Rather, we have to make sure to interpret Romans correctly, and that means realizing that the key to understanding Romans 3:10 is the phrase, “it is written.”

Here in Romans, Paul is quoting from the O.T., Psalm 14 to be exact. In Psalm 14 it says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God. They are corrupt…there is none that does good.’” But then that same psalm goes on to talk about the “righteous.” Well, if none has done good, who are these righteous the psalm is talking about? Obviously, when the psalmist says that none has done good, he is talking about the fools who say there is no God. He is not talking about absolutely everyone.

The same goes for St. Paul when he quotes from this psalm. Paul is not saying absolutely no one is righteous; if he was, then how we would have a hard time explaining all the Old and New Testament passages that refer to the righteous. In Romans 3:11 it says that no one seeks for God. Does that mean that absolutely no one is seeking God? No, to interpret it that way would be strange.
This also is true for verse 23, which says that “all have sinned.” Babies haven’t sinned. This is not an absolute. There are exceptions. It’s something to think about. So, it is perfectly legitimate to say that these passages from Romans, when interpreted in context, in no way conflict with the Church’s teaching on Mary being without sin.

AnswerWhy do Catholics call Mary the Queen of Heaven? Doesn’t God rebuke the Israelites in the O.T. for worshipping a false goddess called the Queen of Heaven? Should we not refer to Mary with that title, therefore, since it is the title of a false goddess?

In Jeremiah 7:18, God is indeed upset with the Israelites for worshipping a false goddess called the “queen of heaven”. However, just because God rebuked them for worshipping the false queen of heaven, doesn’t mean that we cannot pay honor to the true Queen of Heaven…the Blessed Mother.

That type of thinking would lead you to believe that just because people worship a false god that they call “god,” we, therefore, should not call the true God, by that same name…God…because that’s the same title the idolaters use for their god. That is faulty logic.

In the same way, the fact that there is a false “queen of heaven,” does not lead to the conclusion that we worship a false goddess when we call Mary the “Queen of Heaven.” Just as the fact that there is a false “god,” does not lead to the conclusion that we worship a false god when we call our Father in Heaven God.

And there is a true Queen of Heaven, which we see quite clearly in Revelation 12:1: “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…” So in this passage, we read that there is a woman…she’s in Heaven…and she has a crown on her head. It is the true Queen of Heaven, Mary, the mother of the male child who is to rule the nations.

As Catholics, we do not worship Mary; we honor her, just as Jesus honors her. So there is absolutely nothing wrong, from a scriptural point of view, in calling Mary the Queen of Heaven, and in honoring her just as Jesus honors her.

AnswerThe Bible clearly says that Jesus had brothers and sisters, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin…how can you reconcile those seemingly different positions?

Mark 6:3 says, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses, and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” We need to realize a few things here about these “brothers and sisters.” First, there was no word for cousin, or for nephew or niece, or for aunt or uncle in ancient Hebrew or Aramaic – the words that the Jews used in all those instances were “brother” or “sister.” An example of this can be seen in Gen 14:14, where Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, is called his brother.

Another point to consider: If Jesus had had any brothers, if Mary had had any other sons, it’s hard to believe that the last thing Jesus did on earth was to grievously offend his surviving brothers? What I mean by that is in John 19:26-27, right before Jesus dies, it says that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to the beloved disciple, John. If Mary had had any other sons, it would have been a bit of a slap in the face to them that the Apostle John was entrusted with the care of their mother.

Also, we see from Matthew 27:55-56 that the James and Joses mentioned in Mark 6 as the “brothers” of Jesus are actually the sons of another Mary. And, one other passage to consider is Acts 1:14-15: “[The Apostles] with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers…the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty.” A company of 120 persons composed of the Apostles, Mary, the women, and the “brothers” of Jesus. There were 11 Apostles at the time. Jesus’ mother makes 12. The women were probably the same three women mentioned in Matthew 27, but let’s say it was maybe a dozen or two, just for argument’s sake. So that puts us up to 30 or 40 or so. So that leaves the number of Jesus’ brothers at about 80 or 90! It is hard to argue that Mary had 80 or 90 children.

So Scripture does not contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church about the “brothers” of Jesus, when Scripture is properly interpreted in context.

Church Fathers
Suggested Books

Mary, a History of Doctrine and Devotion, VOL. I: From the Beginnings to the Eve of the Reformation
By Hilda Graef

Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture
By Jaroslav Pelikan
Jaroslav Pelikan, world-renowned historian and author of the best-selling Jesus Through the Centuries and many other books, examines all of Christian history and culture to create the most complete portrait of the Virgin Mary ever written. Pelikan assesses the ways Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, artists, musicians, and writers, and men and women everywhere have depicted, venerated, and been inspired by Mary, a symbol of hope and solace for all generations.

Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine
By Patrick Madrid
The best ever explanation of the Catholic doctrine of the communion of saints written for a popular audience. Patrick Madrid explains in a clear, easy-to-follow style why Catholics pray to and honor Mary and the saints. Using the Bible and the testimony of the early Church Fathers, he provides a concise overview of the biblical and historical foundations of this often misunderstood Catholic doctrine. He also walks you through the standard anti-Catholic arguments against praying to Mary and the saints and demonstrates from the Bible why these arguments are themselves unbiblical.

Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
By Scott Hahn
A fresh and enlightening new perspective on Mary, Mother of God, and her central importance in the Christian faith, from the author of the highly successful The Lamb’s Supper. In The Lamb’s Supper, Catholic scholar and apologist Scott Hahn explored the relationship between the Book of Revelation and the Roman Catholic Mass, deftly clarifying the most subtle of theological points with analogies and anecdotes from everyday life. In Hail, Holy Queen, he employs the same accessible, entertaining style to demonstrate Mary’s essential role in Christianity’s redemptive message. Most Christians know that the life of Jesus is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. Through a close examination of the Bible, as well as the work of both Catholic and Protestant scholars and clergy, Hahn brings to light the small but significant details showing that just as Jesus is the “New Adam,” so Mary is the “New Eve.” He unveils the Marian mystery at the heart of the Book of Revelation and reveals how it is foretold in the very first pages of the Book of Genesis and in the story of King David’s monarchy, which speaks of a privileged place for the mother of the king. Building on these scriptural and historical foundations, Hahn presents a new look at the Marian doctrines: Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Assumption, and Coronation. As he guides modern-day readers through passages filled with mysteries and poetry, Hahn helps them rediscover the ancient art and science of reading the Scriptures and gain a more profound understanding of their truthfulness and relevance to faith and the practice of religion in the contemporary world.

Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship
By Edward Sri, Scott Hahn
A compelling, in-depth presentation of the gebirah, or “Great Lady,” tradition in salvation history and its profound connection to the doctrine of Mary’s queenship. Edward Sri elucidates the common approaches taken to Mary’s role as Queen and demonstrates how the queen-mother theme in the Davidic kingdom can shed light on the presentation of Mary as heavenly Queen in the New Testament and in the Church. A challenging read that will bear much fruit for those seeking to grow in knowledge of Scripture. The Letter & Spirit Project aims to make studies of important themes in Sacred Scripture widely available to students, clergy, and laymen. The Project is sponsored by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, of which Scott Hahn is founder and president.

Theotokos- Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God
By Pope John Paull II, John P. Beal

The World’s First Love
By Fulton J. Sheen
Fulton J. Sheen tells the story of Mary and examines Marian beliefs ranging from the Immaculate Conception to the miracle of Fatima, from the angel’s announcement that Mary was to be the mother of Jesus to the time of her assumption into heaven

The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries
By Edward P. Sri
This popular introduction to praying the Rosary draws readers closer to Jesus and Mary by placing the mysteries—including the new “Luminous Mysteries”—in the context of Scripture. The book explains Pope John Paul IIÂ’s profound reflections on the meaning of the Rosary, addresses commonly asked questions about Mary and the Rosary, presents his practical teaching on how to pray it, and provides the biblical background for all twenty mysteries. It also includes a Scriptural Rosary that offers ten Bible texts suitable for meditation on each mystery. An appendix offers the complete text of Pope John Paul IIÂ’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved
By Gary Jansen
THE ROSARY is a beautifully illustrated practical and reverential primer to a centuries old prayer that has touched millions of lives. In the introduction, author Gary Jansen appeals to the universality of one of the original Christian prayers, “Though traditionally considered a Catholic act of devotion, the rosary with its primary focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, is ultimately a . . . universal prayer–one that can appeal to Christians of all denominations.” Written for both Catholic and Protestant Christians, candid explanations on why and how to pray the rosary along with useful instructions on how to get the most out of the meditative and spiritual exercise of repeating prayers are in the first of two sections. Prayers including a visual and spiritual journey that illuminates the teachings of the New Testament follow in the second section.

365 Saints: Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of their Lives
By Woodeene Koenig-Bricker
Revealing how the saints actually lived, a daily guide offers a saint for each day, detailing their hopes, joys, fears, and sorrows, little known quirks and sayings, as well as a full year of meditations and practical suggestions.

Voices of the Saints: A 365-Day Journey with our Spiritual Companions
Bert Ghezzi
Catholics around the world rely on the Catholic saints for guidance and inspiration . . . so it’s important that the saints and their stories be easy to find. Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi provides readers with many convenient ways to look up 365 Catholic saints: chronologically, alphabetically, by feast day, even by theme. The saint’s patronage is also listed when available, as is the date of beatification or canonization. The voice of each Catholic saint comes through clearly in quotations drawn from their own writings, the recollection of witnesses, and the careful work of biographers. A prayer or Scripture verse concludes each entry.

Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
By Peter Kreeft
For the first time in 400 years the Catholic Church has authorized an official universal catechism which instantly became an international best-seller, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Using this official Catechism, the highly-regarded author and professor Peter Kreeft presents a complete compendium of all the major beliefs of Catholicism written in his readable and concise style. Since the Catechism of the Catholic Church was written for the express purpose of grounding and fostering catechisms based on it for local needs and ordinary readers, Kreeft does just that, offering a thorough summary of Catholic doctrine, morality, and worship in a popular format with less technical language. He presents a systematic, organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental Catholic teachings in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. This book is the most thorough, complete and popular catechetical summary of Catholic belief in print that is based on the universal Catechism.

Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned Answers to Questions of Faith
By Peter Kreeft, Ronald Tracelli
Unbelievers, doubters and skeptics continue to attack the truths of Christianity. Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is the only book that categorizes and summarizes all the major arguments in support of the main Christian beliefs. Also included is a Protestant-friendly treatment of Catholic- Protestant issues. The Catholic answers to Protestant questions show how Catholicism is the fullness of the Christian faith. Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is full of the wisdom and wit, clarity and insight of philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. This is an informative and valuable guidebook for anyone looking for answers to questions of faith and reason. Whether you are asking the questions yourself or want to respond to others who are, here is the resource you have been waiting for. Topics include: faith and reason, the existence of God, God’s nature, creation and evolution, providence and free will, miracles, problem of evil, Bible’s historical reliability, divinity of Chris, Christ’s resurrection, life after death, salvation, the Eucharist, Catholic hierarchy and more.

Paul: Contending for the Faith

Directed by Stephen Ray
Zealous for the God of Israel, Saul of Tarsus pursued murderous threats against the disciples of Jesus. But Saul s zeal was turned upside down when he was knocked from his high horse and humbled by the hand of God. Join the adventure in this edition of the Footprints of God series as Stephen Ray, best-selling author and popular Bible teacher, takes you on the road with St. Paul through Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Fall from a horse in the desert and dangle over the Damascus Wall in a basket. Cling to driftwood in the sea and stride along ancient Roman roads. You ll better understand the life, ministry, and sufferings of Paul the Apostle.

Mary: The Mother of God
Directed by Stephen Ray
This second film in the the Footprints of God series follows Mary on her extraordinary journey on location in Turkey, Israel and Greece with popular Catholic author and speaker Stephen Ray as guide. Down-to-earth teaching on subjects like Mary s Immaculate Conception, Assumption into Heaven, and her role of intercessor, and more are offered in an energized, high-impact style that combines the best elements of a travel documentary, biography, Bible study, apologetics course, and church history review.

 

Song: Immaculate Mary

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Immaculate Mary
(from the recording, Blessed One)
Copyright ©2005, Aaron Thompson.
www.aaronthompsonmusic.com
All rights reserved. Used with permission.