Can someone please answer some questions about Mary?


#1

I have been a Catholic for almost 2 years. We never discussed Mary in the RCIA classes. When I was at a Bible study Thursday night, we were discussing a situation with one of our fellow class members. Someone suggested we pray and she began praying to MARY instead of GOD. I don’t get it. It felt very weird and wrong to me.

Later I asked my friend about it and she said that yes, Catholics do pray to Mary. That they believe that she powerful and above all women. She basically gave Mary credit for Jesus birth, when frankly, I see Mary as the vessel used to bring Jesus to the people.

Help, because this doesn’t feel right to me.


#2

We don’t pray to Mary to worship her like we worship God. Instead, when we pray to Mary we ask for her intercessions for us with God. She has a special position as Mother of God. We venerate her for this position and the special help and comfort she can bring us. She is Jesus’ mother and, because Jesus made us part of God’s family, she is our mother too. We don’t ask Mary to do things for us; we ask Mary to ask God to do things for us.


#3

We ask Mary for her intercession, we pray to and worship God alone. Jesus allowed Mary to intercede with him at the wedding feast at Cana. She begged him not to leave the host family with the embaressment of running out of wine. He basiscally said it wasn’t his business, and that his ‘time’ for miracles wasn’t yet. However he did as she asked. In that sense, he gave us permission to ask her to appeal to him for favors.

Mary, as you say, was a willing instrument.

I don’t know if it’s of any help, but when having difficulty in approach Mary as a Catholic newly returned in 1978, I found it difficult to approach Mary, I said to Jesus, “She is Your Mother, and You want us to love her. Please help me,” Then I went to the kitchen to write a family letter. Instead, I came to write ‘Dependence in prayer’ and this one. Next morning I read it and cried as I did each time that I prayed it for some while.

Woman of faith, pray for us
Dear Mother Mary, you have been honoured, blessed, and gifted by God. You are our mother because in figure of John, Jesus gave us to you as your children as He hung dying on the cross. We ask you to speak to God on our behalf.

It was through your faith that Jesus first manifested His power at Cana, thus beginning His work before the appointed time. Although it concerned neither life nor death, nor eternal salvation but the human feelings of others, He granted your trusting prayer. Such was your faith, and God’s love for you, Saint of all saints!
Therefore, we trust our prayer to Your faith in God!

You see everything that we need in service of God, and all that we desire for each other. You feel the aching of our hearts and hear our longing prayers. You behold our faith, our repentance, and our love.

Stand not silently by, Mother! Our Father, your Son, and the Holy Spirit who overshadowed you and blessed you with our Saviour—They cannot refuse you!

Please give us your unfailing intercession before God so that the fullest gifts and blessings are granted to each of us. We stand humbly before you, Mother, and entreat you with our hearts, minds, and spirits…Mother! April 1980


#4

Would you feel the same way if someone else asked for prayers from you? We solicit prayers from others all the time.

Perhaps there is some confusion about what we mean by praying “to” Mary. What is really being said here is that we are asking that Mary pray “for” us. We are asking God for help “through” the intercession of Mary. The prayers themselves do not stop with Mary. She is able to perfect our petition and present them to her son much better than we can.

Hope this helps…


#5

That’s okay, it is natural that it may not feel right if this is your first exposure to the idea that Mary is truly your mother and loves you as her own child.

The basics are pretty straight-forward – she is not to be worshiped but through the ages she has been deeply respected or “venerated,” she is always there for us, we can “talk things over with her” (that’s called “praying for intercessions”), and she will happily go to her Son on our behalf for all that is good for us. If you can wrap your mind around those things and keep that mind open, then you may turn around someday and realize it does, indeed, feel VERY right to you.

When I converted many years ago, I told the priest flat out that I just didn’t get this “Mary stuff.” He told me not to worry about it . . . she would wait for me. And she did.


#6

Try to remember when you were a very little child. Sometimes it may have been hard for you to present your wishes to your father (depending on him and what your family was like). The nurturing feeling may not have been as evident in him as in your mother. Imagine yourself offering him a gift of what you’ve found outside (but you realize it’s not as nice as your older brother’s and sister’s gifts), so you give it to your mother (in this case, Mary) and she puts it on a nicer tray while straightening up everything. She gives it to him (or, in this case, Him) for you, when he’s in a good mood to receive it.

“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold , your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:26-27

We believe that Jesus meant that not only was Mary now to be St. John’s mother but also mother of The Church and mother of each of us, individually.:wink:


#7

In addition, some other things to ponder:

And so should we all. Considering that the Holy Spirit Himself, inspiring Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, called her “blessed among women”. In Aramaic, there was no superlative, so to say “You are the most blessed woman” you would have to circumvent, like we see in the Luke account of the Visitation. So if God the Spirit was calling her powerful and above all women, I’m pretty comfortable doing the same.

She basically gave Mary credit for Jesus birth, when frankly, I see Mary as the vessel used to bring Jesus to the people.

You are both right. At the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared to Mary, it was her Fiat, her “yes” that was required. God wouldn’t have “forced” a pregnancy on anyone. Mary, knowing all that might befall her as an unwed mother according to Mosaic Law, still trusted totally in God, and gave her consent. If that doesn’t require an act of will, some credit due, then I don’t know what does.

And you’re right, as well. She IS a vessel. She is THE vessel. Part of the Litany of Our Lady describes her as “Vessel of honor” and “Singular vessel of devotion”. But she isn’t “just” a vessel- as in “God just picked the first ovulating Jewish girl He could find to be a vessel for the Incarnation.” She’s a vessel in the same way the Ark of the Covenant is a vessel, and no one would call the Ark “just a vessel”, would they?

Hope that helps.


#8

Why would I ask Mary to ask God to hear my prayer, when I can go straight to Him? I’m sorry, I just can’t accept that. I wish I could because it would make things so much easier. I’m just sick about this.

I would feel different if the woman had asked me to pray for our classmate. That would be two of US praying to God for His healing. This woman prayed to Mary. Not God. This feels like a total deal breaker for me. I’m sick about it.


#9

Think about it this way…it’s not a perfect example, since it deals with humans, but…

You could go to the head of your company and ask for a favor, promotion, etc. You might have a good relationship with him. You might talk to him often. He might see what a good, committed employee you are and grant your request. Or, he might see the situation differently and answer your request, though not as you expected.

But you might not want to do that for a number of reasons. For instance, you may not know him that well. You might be intimidated. You may want somebody to put in a good word on your behalf first. This person may see how hard you are working and ask the boss to consider your request. However, in the end the boss can do whatever he thinks is best for the company and for you. He may consider the person’s words, but he’s the boss.

Also, sometimes terms can be confused. “Praying to Mary” is not praying as though we are praying to God. We are asking for her intercession. Sometimes Catholics say “pray” and actually mean asking for her prayers to Jesus; hopefully they understand the difference and do not mislead others.

Think about this also–you said you would willingly pray for others. Can’t others go straight to Jesus as well? If so, why would your prayers be of benefit to them? Is it because you are a Christian and close to Jesus? How much more would His mother’s prayers help us then?

Please don’t be sick about this. You don’t have to ask for the Blessed Mother’s prayers if you are not comfortable with it. I’m sure Jesus understands as this appears to be a common issue as people are converting. Ask for His help in understanding the role of His mother’s intercession in our lives.


#10

Why would it make you sick to follow Jesus’ example?

Think about it- Jesus is God. He could have come to us in a cloud of fire, descending from the sky. He could have wandered out of the desert, fully grown. He could have come as the Incarnation in any way He chose- and He chose to utterly humble Himself by coming to us through a woman. He chose to humble Himself by coming as a tiny child, a baby utterly dependent on one woman to meet all His needs.

Why would we ever feel sick when following Jesus’ example? Why would approaching Jesus through the same route He took to come to us make us feel odd? Nothing about the hows and whys of the Incarnation were an accident. There was a very specific reason why God chose to come to us through a woman. I think following that example and coming to God through that same woman only makes sense.

Also, and not to insult you in any way, but I often hear people say “Why can’t I just go to God directly” and the statement drips with unrecognized pride. Really, it is prideful to think that any of us, on our own, can approach God. Personally, I know I’m such a horrible sinner that knowing my prayers will passed through the hands of Our Lady, makes me feel a bit better.

But if one person’s expression of devotion to Our Lady is presenting itself as a “deal breaker” for you, then maybe you might want to approach your RCIA instructor about Marian devotion. Better to find out what the Church actually teaches than to be lead away.


#11

Ok, several things.

  1. Have you ever gone to a church service and asked the parishoners to pray for a cause, perhaps for a sick relative? If you have, then this is called “intercessionary prayer”. You are asking for them to pray FOR you and your intention.

  2. Do you believe that when we die, we do not cease to exist, but continue on with eternal souls, either in heaven or hell? Since you are Christian, I would guess probably so.

  3. In that case, what difference does it make if we ask those in heaven or those alive on earth to pray for us? We can ask anyone in heaven to pray for us, and not just Mary. We can also request the prayers of the saints and angels as well.

Reflect on the most famous intercessionary prayer - the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen

Note that we are specifically asking Mary to pray FOR us, just as I would ask my friend to pray for me. If this is wrong, then so is asking for those in church to pray for our intentions.

Here’s another example of a famous prayer from the Mass:

“And I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

The Catholic Church considers prayer so important that we are literally asking everyone in EXISTENCE to pray with us… angels, saints, Mary, and those alive on Earth! It is a remarkable statement on the universality of the church and our belief in the afterlife!

Another thing to consider… the use of the word “pray” has changed drastically over the last 500 years. Today, most Christians associate it with something that is specifically reserved for God, but in fact, “to pray” simply means “to ask”. Perhaps you have read Shakespeare, “pray tell” (in other words, I’m asking you to tell me). I’m certainly not “praying” to you as in worship, but requesting information. The problem is that sometimes language changes in one segment of society, and not in another. The Catholic Church continues to use the older meaning. So, even if you hear about a Catholic “praying” to a saint, angel, or Mary, they simply mean it in terms of “asking” for their intercession.


#12

The french language has an interesting way of putting it JudiTherese. I was corrected several times when I said the equivalent of praying to Mary, [prier à Marie].

They say praying with Mary [prier avec Marie}, **not to Mary.

IrishAm is speaking from similar experience…that’s hard to beat.

I’m quite sure the Blessed Virgin wouldn’t want you to be sick about it.

My father had this saying: “Each in his/her own way, at his/her own time.”


#13

No deal breaker…perhaps there is a semantic strain at work here. When we say “pray to” Mary…it means we “ask” her to pray for us, with us. Lots of good advice in this thread about that language.

Also, if it is good enough for St. Paul to ask others to pray for him (Rm 15:30), then all the more we should ask those in righteous in heaven, who are closest to God, whose prayers are so powerful, to pray for us (Jm 5:16). We do this because God wants us to ask each other to pray for us. It is not an “instead of” God proposition. Mary or anyone else is not the “ends”. I can provide you with a number of examples of intercession in Scripture if you like, where person A benefits because of the intercession of person B’s intercession to God.

I am a little disturbed that your RCIA class didn’t have anything on Mary! That was a disservice to you.


#14

We talk to the saints and ask for their intercession, because Jesus wants us to talk to our brothers and sisters.

Jesus also wants us to remember that the Body of Christ is one. Since we are never separated from Him, by life or death or depth or height or breadth, we are never separated from the other members of His Body, either.

But hey, here’s a silly analogy.

Suppose God was a candymaker, and candy was love and grace. God has all the candy. But God doesn’t keep it for Himself; He passes it out to all of us. He wants us to take some of it in; He wants us to pass some of it on.

So Halloween comes, and God’s delivered bags of candy to every adult in the neighborhood. The kids go out trick-or-treating through the whole neighborhood, and then end the night with a stop at God’s factory.

Now, is it stupid to go to the houses of their neighbors and share joy with them while getting candy, when they could just march up to the door of God’s candy factory? Or is it maybe a little rude both to God and the neighbors, to pass up all the joy of trick-or-treating by ignoring all His careful arrangements and their cooperative preparation to pass His candy out?

Shrug. As long as you don’t say that trick-or-treating with the neighbors is evil and wrong, nobody’s stopping you from loading up at the factory exclusively.


#15

Why would I ask Mary to ask God to hear my prayer, when I can go straight to Him? I’m sorry, I just can’t accept that. I wish I could because it would make things so much easier. I’m just sick about this.

Who’s saying you can’t still go right to Him? By asking Mary to pray with us, we pray with her, that’s two people praying for our intention, and, as Sacred Scripture tells us:

Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much James 5:16

and obviously, if we accept ‘man’ as meaning a general individual and can replace it with ‘woman’, and we know Mary is the most righteous woman ever created, her prayers must ‘availeth’ quite a lot!

I would feel different if the woman had asked me to pray for our classmate. That would be two of US praying to God for His healing. This woman prayed to Mary. Not God. This feels like a total deal breaker for me. I’m sick about it.

But in praying of Mary to pray for the Classmate, there were two of you praying; Yourself and the Blessed Mother. The saints can interceed for us and present our prayers to God, as evidenced, again, by Sacred Scripture:

And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. Revelation 8:3-4

Here we see, in the vision of St. John as he sees into Heaven, the prayers of the saints rising up to God. Our prayers, carried by the saints in Heaven.

Did you really not cover interecessory prayers, the role of Mary and the saints, Dulia and Hyperdulia, in your RCIA? Was there nothing on the Rosary?


#16

Dear Judi, Mary is one of us. When the Reformation occurred, Protestant thought severed Heaven and Earth in several ways. One of them was spreading the idea that there is no contact between the saints on Earth and the saints in Heaven, that when the die, saints on Earth go straight to Heaven and are eternally happy and never give a prayer or a thought to the people on Earth after that. Which wouldn’t be very gracious of them ;).

Before the Reformation spread this idea, Christians all over the world since the dawn of Christianity universally believed that God supernaturally allowed people in Heaven to know the needs of people on Earth and pray for them, when the people on Earth asked them to. People on Earth from the beginning of Christianity asked one another to pray with them, and they asked people in Heaven to pray with them. For the Christians on Earth and those in Heaven are, praise God, one body still. There is no division.

All Christians in those time periods prayed together as one single Body, everyone on Earth and everyone in Heaven, including even the angels, all praying to God together, interactively with one another.

This kind of praying is also in the Bible :). There are places in the Bible, specifically in the Books Psalms, Revelation, and 2 Maccabbees where people in Heaven receive prayers (Or, to use Protestant terminology, what we might call ‘prayer requests’) from those on Earth and then appealed to God on their behalf. It’s also in the Gospels, in the Transfiguration scene, when Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses even after they were dead (which is what praying to saints is all about). I’d be glad to get you scripture references from these books, if you like.

What you’re struggling with, and why this behavior feels so wrong to you, is a Protestant mindset that didn’t exist prior to about 1600. It’s not in the Bible, but rather is directly contradicted by multiple Bible passages. It’s not in the practice of any Christians prior to the Reformation, such as the Early Church Fathers or any Orthodox or Catholic churches.

I’m a former Protestant too- I understand the mindset you’re coming from. My family also is all Protestant, and they share your feeling about this.

To the Catholic Church, that unnatural feeling about our unity with those in Heaven doesn’t exist, because the unnatural feeling is the result of having grown up with a different belief. That belief comes from the tradition of the Reformation only. That is the only source it can be cited to- not the Bible, not the Early Church and not anything in the tradition of Christianity or any of the councils. It has no history save the views of Reformers who were radically opposed to much of what previously had been universal Christian thought, and passed on their anger and/or opposition to these ancient, sacred beliefs, to many generations of Christians after they died.


#17

First off, we do in fact, pray TO Mary.

“to pray” means to beckon, or ask. So, we ask Mary for favors, we ask her to pray for us, and to intercede for us.

It does not mean, we worship Mary as God, for worship can only be given to God.

We honor Mary, as Jesus honor’s her and has the 4th commandment requires.

One of the most difficult issues converts and protestants have with Catholicism is Marian devotion. They struggle with it, and its really due to misunderstanding. Even Scott Hahn said that this was at first difficult for him, before he converted to Catholicism. Of course now he has great devotion to Mary, and has written a book, “Hail Holy Queen.”

Jim


#18

My sister, welcome to the Catholic Church (my greeting is a little late, but all the same ;)).

As one of God’s own daughters, you are a part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints, and more specifically, the Church Militant. After we die, hopefully we become part of the Church Penitent (Purgatory), or even more happily, directly to the Church Triumphant (HEAVEN!! :thumbsup: ). I have heard Heaven described as a hierarchy in which each higher being (since each angel is kinda like its own species, and they as a whole are higher beings than us) enlightening each lower hierarch continually with more Truths about God. Of course, this doesn’t mean at all that God doesn’t communicate with anyone but the seraphim!

The hierarchy of the Churches Militant and Penitent mirrors the Church Triumphant. We are free and even encouraged to implore our spiritual superiors for help at any time. They, in turn will turn to their superiors, and so on, and eventually (like, in 2 seconds :extrahappy: ) we will have the entire Heavenly court begging at the Throne of Grace for your petition!

Consider how much God has interacted with the human race. He even involved humanity in our own redemption by becoming one of us! Praise the Lord for involving us when it was totally unnecessary!

So, it is for this reason, that God has set up this hierarchy to help us, that we may ask the saints for their intercession.

Peace


#19

Why would I ask Mary to ask God to hear my prayer, when I can go straight to Him? I’m sorry, I just can’t accept that. I wish I could because it would make things so much easier. I’m just sick about this

Several persons with your same struggle, have found their answer and their peace here:

Why the Creator chose for us to go through Mary

To Jesus through Mary :thumbsup:
God bless,

Edward Henry


#20

@ JudiTherese:

I was wondering when you attend Mass, have they ever used the penitential rite (confiteor) that goes this way? :

“I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault (supposed to strike our breast here)
in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do;”

Then in conclusion we invoke Mary, the angels and the Saints:

"…and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God."
If so, do you have trouble with that part where our Blessed Mother is mentioned too, or do you think maybe your fellow members are trying to force devotion to Mary on you ?


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