Catholics Don’t Worship Mary?
Let me start off by saying that I don’t know too much about Catholic theology as it differs from other Christian denominations. Growing up, there were no Catholics where I lived (or at least, I never knew any until at least my teenage years, and there still is no Catholic Church within 20 miles of my childhood home); Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians a-plenty, along with smaller segments of many various other denominations, but no Catholics. In school (private, Christian school), we mostly stuck to things that all Christians had in common, though in our history lessons of Western civilization, of course we had to get into religious wars and Catholic dominance of Western Europe, etc., so I had a good overview of Catholicism generally. Since growing up, I’ve learned more about Catholicism, even engaging in a couple of online forums (fora?) for a short while, but never delving very deeply into it; and most of what I learned was from an anti- or at least non-Catholic position (or from pop culture, like the christening scene in The Godfather, and the Christmas Day Mass in While You Were Sleeping).
However, now I have several Catholic friends on facebook, and am currently living in an area that is predominantly Catholic, so I don’t want to unnecessarily offend Catholics, even if I do think they’re wrong; and at one point I previously said something to a Catholic about “praying to saints”, and she said that they don’t “pray to saints” as if praying to God, but rather asking them to intercede, just as you might call up a friend and ask them to pray for you about something; therefore, in order to meet Catholics where they are, I can’t go based on what I have read from non-Catholic sources about what Catholics believe, because they tend to reject such language. Yes, the non-Catholics are right in that Catholics pray to dead people, but Catholics reject the unbiblical insinuations of it, and put a Biblical (or quasi-Biblical) twist to it, so that they can hold what seem to be two contrary opinions at once. [I say "quasi-Biblical", because I do agree that it is Biblical to ask people to pray for you, but that it is unbiblical (perhaps even demonic or approaching witchcraft) to communicate with the dead, and that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that living Christians should ask dead Christians to intercede for them.]
So, Catholics claim they don’t “pray to dead people” in a bad/unbiblical sense, and they also claim they “don’t worship Mary” (another common charge leveled against Catholics by non-Catholics). No matter how many non-Catholic resources I could quote confirming Mary worship, Catholics wouldn’t accept them as truly understanding Catholicism, and they would brush off any such statements as being inaccurate, so I decided to go to the source. Just about every movie that depicts Catholics or Catholicism at all includes one person with a rosary necklace and/or praying the rosary, but I never knew exactly what it was; at some point I learned that the necklace is used as a reminder of the form of the prayer, with every bead being a different thing to say or think about, so that once you go all the way around the necklace, touching each bead and saying the right prayer attached to each bead, you were done. But here is the rosary from a Catholic source.
It starts off good enough with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, but then comes three Hail Marys. So God gets one prayer, while Mary gets three. Okay…. The first part of “Hail Mary” is taken from the Bible in which the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, but then it devolves into asking a dead person to intercede on behalf of the living — again, perfectly acceptable to Catholics, but nowhere said or implied in the Bible. Continuing the rosary is again something that no Christians so far as I know would have a problem with, “Glory be to the Father”, followed by the first “mystery” (there are 4 different types of mysteries, with 5 mysteries in each type — more on that later), then “Our Father”, then while contemplating the “mystery”, the person is to say 10 Hail Marys followed by another “Glory be to the Father”, then repeat the cycle with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mysteries, saying each mystery followed by “Our Father”, 10 Hail Marys and “Glory be to the Father”. Does anybody else see the problem of the ratio of praying to and hailing and honoring Mary vs. praying to and honoring God?
Now a brief sidetrack into the discussion of the “mysteries”. Most of the things in the “mysteries” are taken directly from the Bible, and are basically just a recitation or repetition of stories in the Bible, although with some occasional non-Biblical/extra-Biblical things thrown in — but for the most part, are things that no Christian would disagree with until… the last two of the “Glorious Mysteries”, “The Assumption” and “The Coronation”. Having read that, I just have to say, “WOW!!” Whoo, boy!
The Fourth Glorious Mystery: THE ASSUMPTION
- After the apostles have dispersed, the Blessed Mother goes to live with John, the beloved disciple.
- Mary lives many years on earth after the death of Christ.
- She is a source of comfort, consolation and strength to the apostles.
- As she had nourished the infant Jesus, so she nourishes spiritually the infant Church.
- Mary dies, not of bodily infirmity, but is wholly overcome in a rapture of divine love.
- Her body as well as her soul is taken up into heaven.
- After her burial the apostles go to the tomb and find only fragrant lilies.
- Jesus does not permit the sinless body of His Mother to decay in the grave.
- Corruption of the body is an effect of original sin from which Mary is totally exempted.
- The bodies of all mankind, at the last judgment, will be brought back and united again to the soul.
Spiritual Fruit: To Jesus through Mary
The Fifth Glorious Mystery: THE CORONATION
- As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God’s creation.
- Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of heaven and earth.
- More than we can ever know the Hearts of Jesus and Mary overflow with joy at this reunion.
- Only in heaven will we know the great majesty of that coronation, and the joy it gave to the angels and saints.
- Even the angels, who by nature are greater than humans, hail Mary as their Queen.
- Mary shares so fully in the glory of Christ because she shared so fully in His suffering.
- Only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption.
- The angels and saints longed for the coming of her whose heel crushes the head of the serpent.
- Mary pleads our cause as a most powerful Queen and a most merciful and loving Mother.
- A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Spiritual Fruit: Grace of Final Perseverance
Really? First, there is nothing in the Bible of this; it’s just Catholic additions. Secondly, if Mary were sinless (4th mystery, #8 & 9), why does she need a Savior and Redeemer? — Luke 1:47. Thirdly, the “spiritual fruit” that is supposed to come from this 4th mystery is “To Jesus through Mary”?? In a recent discussion with a Catholic friend of mine on facebook, I told her that one of the problems I had with Catholicism is that it puts the priests as a mediator between God and man, while the Bible says that there is One such Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). She basically said that priests weren’t mediators in that sense, and affirmed that Jesus was the only Mediator. I still insist that Catholic priests are mediators in a way that the Bible forbids, and now after reading this, I must add in that Mary is another such mediator. If we have to go through anybody but Jesus to get to God, whether that is priests or as this says, “through Mary to Jesus”, then that is putting an unbiblical mediator between God and man. Now Catholics may say that it’s not putting a mediator between God and man, but it is. Fourthly, aside from the blatantly unbiblical nature of all this (except #10, which is a quote from the Bible and may or may not refer to Mary at all), #7 — “only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption”?? Oh, dear! And #8 is not just “extra-biblical” (meaning, outside of the Bible, like the existence of the Mayans and Incas) but absolutely **UN**Biblical. The Bible says that it is the heel of the Son, the offspring of the woman, that crushes the head of the serpent, *not* the woman’s heel!! — Gen. 3:15.
Okay, enough of the “mysteries”. Back to the rosary, which is technically finished, but after the end of the rosary, this is supposed to be said:
HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
So now MARY is “our hope”??? We cry to Mary, and “send up our sighs, mourning and weeping”? Why not just straight to God? Why this other mediator between God and man? And MARY is our advocate? How unbiblical can it get!?
Finally, I also take issue with them saying that we are “poor banished children of Eve”. While technically true in that Eve is the mother of all living, it is through Adam that we have our federal headship, and we sinned in Adam, not in Eve. That is just one more twisting of the Bible by misplacing the emphasis that the Bible gives, putting it on something that is not emphasized.