Here’s something I use with my RCIA classes:
There’s Something about Mary – Understanding Catholic Devotion to Mary
For many converting to the Catholic faith from another religious tradition, our intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin is difficult to understand and accept. And for many who do convert to Catholicism, acceptance of our Marian devotion is the last, and perhaps biggest obstacle in acceptance of their new faith.
If you are confused, and especially concerned that Marian devotion is a non-negotiable requirement for entering the Church, don’t be. You are not required by the Church to pray to the Father through Mary. But many of us who converted from Protestant traditions, after accepting Mary for the blessed figure she is to Catholics around the world and throughout the ages, will tell you their reluctance to embracing Marian devotion was based entirely on the one-sided opinions they were exposed to before their inquiry into the Catholic faith.
So, through the use of scripture, let’s take a look at why Mary, the mother of Jesus, is such an important figure to us.
If we are to believe the bible to be the true Word of God, we should be quite comfortable in calling Mary, the Blessed. In Luke 1:42, Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) when visited by the pregnant Mary after being filled with the Holy Spirit, “cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”” Note: This verse is the biblical source for the Hail Mary as well as the 2nd Joyous Mystery (the Visitation) of the Holy Rosary.
Since we have mentioned the Rosary, lets set something else straight. Catholics, do not pray to Mary in the sense that we believe she has the power of God to do things for us. Rather we pray to Mary (or perhaps some might say, we pray with Mary – and the other saints), that she will pray for us.
Asking Mary (or other saints) to pray for us makes perfect sense. We ask friends and relatives to pray for us. And prayers of others do work! Just think of Mary and the saints as others (others much closer to God) joining in prayer for us. Revelation 5:8 makes reference to the saints offering prayers on our behalf: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, …”
And, if you need more scripture to lend support to what you may have considered our over-the-top love of Mary, in Mary’s canticle (the Magnificat), Mary claims (Luke 1:48b) “…behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” So, more often than not, in accordance with the scripture, we refer to her not just as the Virgin Mary, but the Blessed Virgin Mary.
But, because all things in our faith have to do with Jesus, this is a good point to remind ourselves that whether we are Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, or non-denominational Evangelical, we agree on this indisputable fact: JESUS IS GOD!
Now, while Catholics clearly venerate Mary (the definition of veneration is the showing of profound respect and reverence, it is NOT defined as worshipping), some Protestant denominations seem to avoid discussing Mary (often such discussion is viewed simply as just too Catholic) at all. At best she is scantly mentioned around Christmas time, and only thought of as some nice woman we see as part of a Nativity scene.
One reason we venerate Mary goes back to our common beliefs that since Mary is the mother of Jesus and, Jesus is God, we can safely reach the logical conclusion that Mary is the Mother of God!
As indisputable, the fact that Jesus is God, we learned from the the Nicene Creed that Jesus was just as much human. While his human nature came from his mother, Mary, his divine nature came from his Father (God, through the Holy Spirit – See Luke 1:35 …”The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God…”).
So now lets draw another, equally logical conclusion that gives us cause for our intense respect and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and the power of God. That is, she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit.
From the very time of creation, we learn that it was God’s divine plan for men and women to pro-create. And scripture further tells us that this plan was for the creation of children after man and woman had joined as one – that is, children were intended to be a gift from God given to a married couple.
So it was intended by our creator that the mother and father of a child would be spouses.
With this established we can add to a pretty compelling list to why it is right and just to venerate Mary.
As the mother of the Son of God (conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit), Mary is not only the Mother of God, but the Spouse of God (the Holy Spirit)!
So, if you accept these facts, you will now understand the high esteem that we as Catholics hold for Mary, the Blessed Virgin is not just some blind, random or meaningless act of faith, but is deeply enrooted and justified in scripture.
If you are still having difficulty accepting the Catholic devotion to our Blessed Lady, pray to the Father that the Holy Spirit open your heart through the understanding that only He can provide.
I hope this is of some help for use in a discussion with him!