Can someone remain "neutral" about Mary & still become Catholic?


#1

I have a good Christian friend who is fed up with Protestant “make it up as they go along” churches and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing. I can’t understand what the big deal is… I told her why can’t she just accept it and think to herself “well maybe she was… maybe she wasn’t… I’ll find out for sure when I get to heaven.” So my question: Would it be possible for someone to take a pass on the whole Mary sinless thing? Could they remain neutral on the issue and still become a Catholic? P.S. She’s read every Catholic argument for Mary being sinless so it’s not that she doesn’t understand - she just doesn’t buy it 100%.


#2

Personally, I don’t think it would be a major problem. It is difficult for me to understand all of the teachings about Mary as well, and I am a cradle Catholic. I trust that the Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from making moral or religious statements that are false. Although I do not understand them, I accept them, and I will never argue to the contrary. At the same time, I pray for understanding on these matters.

I would think that if your friend has this attitude, she would do well here in the Church.


#3

Catholics are not in a position to pick and choose. I played that game myself. I was what we call a “cafeteria catholic.” When we do this we create a serious problem for ourselves. We cannot place our individual human wisdom over that of the collective 2000 years of Church wisdom and authority. Jesus made promises to the Church and He has kept them.

Any and every Catholic teaching, whether it be about Mary, birth control, infallibility, authority or whatever is immediately up for grabs if we dissent from any one official teaching of the Church.

When we have difficulties we need to pray for God’s grace. We need to ask God to give us a spirit of surrender to truth. We need to pray that we are humble of heart and mind, and we must be willing no matter what the cost to follow the Lord. I would always suggest that whenever a teaching is questioned that the individual continue to study and pray. Sometimes we think we have exhausted all the arguments and explanations when we have not. Or sometimes we just need to hear it expressed a little differently for all of the pieces to fall into place.

My own issues were of my own making. My pride and personal desires blinded me. I could not see this at the time, but God’s grace is a miraculous gift given us in power. Just have your friend continue to grow closer to the Church and to pray. Your friend’s love for God will not go unnoticed by the Lord. Your friend will eventually embrace Church and all that she teaches. You and your friend need to be patient and prayerful.


#4

[quote=carol marie]I have a good Christian friend who is fed up with Protestant “make it up as they go along” churches and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing. I can’t understand what the big deal is… I told her why can’t she just accept it and think to herself “well maybe she was… maybe she wasn’t… I’ll find out for sure when I get to heaven.” So my question: Would it be possible for someone to take a pass on the whole Mary sinless thing? Could they remain neutral on the issue and still become a Catholic? P.S. She’s read every Catholic argument for Mary being sinless so it’s not that she doesn’t understand - she just doesn’t buy it 100%.
[/quote]

This is a teaching of the Church to be held by all the faithful. She must not reject this teaching if she wishes to become Catholic. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception IS a Holy day of obligation and she will be required to attend this Mass which honors this Dogma.


#5

[quote=carol marie]I have a good Christian friend who is fed up with Protestant “make it up as they go along” churches and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing. I can’t understand what the big deal is… I told her why can’t she just accept it and think to herself “well maybe she was… maybe she wasn’t… I’ll find out for sure when I get to heaven.” So my question: Would it be possible for someone to take a pass on the whole Mary sinless thing? Could they remain neutral on the issue and still become a Catholic? P.S. She’s read every Catholic argument for Mary being sinless so it’s not that she doesn’t understand - she just doesn’t buy it 100%.
[/quote]

No, absolutey NOT! That’s cafeteria Catholicism, picking and chosing from those beliefs we feel comfortable with and rejecting those we don’t like. One has to accept the whole enchilada!

Antonio :frowning:


#6

[quote=Pax]Catholics are not in a position to pick and choose. I played that game myself. I was what we call a “cafeteria catholic.” When we do this we create a serious problem for ourselves. We cannot place our individual human wisdom over that of the collective 2000 years of Church wisdom and authority. Jesus made promises to the Church and He has kept them.

Any and every Catholic teaching, whether it be about Mary, birth control, infallibility, authority or whatever is immediately up for grabs if we dissent from any one official teaching of the Church.

When we have difficulties we need to pray for God’s grace. We need to ask God to give us a spirit of surrender to truth. We need to pray that we are humble of heart and mind, and we must be willing no matter what the cost to follow the Lord. I would always suggest that whenever a teaching is questioned that the individual continue to study and pray. Sometimes we think we have exhausted all the arguments and explanations when we have not. Or sometimes we just need to hear it expressed a little differently for all of the pieces to fall into place.

My own issues were of my own making. My pride and personal desires blinded me. I could not see this at the time, but God’s grace is a miraculous gift given us in power. Just have your friend continue to grow closer to the Church and to pray. Your friend’s love for God will not go unnoticed by the Lord. Your friend will eventually embrace Church and all that she teaches. You and your friend need to be patient and prayerful.
[/quote]

Antonio :clapping:


#7

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]This is a teaching of the Church to be held by all the faithful. She must not reject this teaching if she wishes to become Catholic. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception IS a Holy day of obligation and she will be required to attend this Mass which honors this Dogma.
[/quote]

And the Dogmatic statement on that dogma states that “it must be believed by all the faithful!”

Antonio :slight_smile:


#8

Yes, like others have said, one is not ready to join the Church until you are ready to accept every teaching of the faith. If the Church is wrong on any one issue, the entire faith collapses. Why should we trust the Church when she says that Matthew is part of the Canon, for example, if she is wrong about our Lady?

I would suggest that this friend of yours pray, pray, pray…and talk to a good, orthodox priest, with a healthy devotion to our Lady. I’m a former Evangelical myself, not yet confirmed even…but I’ve been fostering a devotion to our Lady over the last several months, and find her an ever present advocate…a loving, kind, and unfailing mother.

Has your friend read the Marian paragraphs in the Catechism? There are a number, just look in the index under “Mary”. I’d like to share 964 and 971.

964
*Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”;504 it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son."505* (As quoted from usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt3art9p6.htm
References 504 and 505:
LG 57.
LG 58; cf. Jn 19:26-27.

971:
“All generations will call me blessed”: "The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."515 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."516 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.517
References 515-517:
Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56.
LG 66.
Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, English translation)

The Catechism is online at usccb.org/catechism/text/index.htm, if you don’t have one. The Marian references are:
829
773
973
965
963-972
964
2030
273
966
974
487
485
509
723
971
490
488-93
508
491-492
721
968-970
975
493
507
495
721
967
144
494
511
2617-2619
722
484
411
496-507
510
506
502-506
499
497-498
500
(sorry they are in a weird order, I just typed them in from the index, which told you the specific Marian point addressed in each paragraph).


#9

No, primarily because one would also be rejecting the authority of the Church. So now there are two Church dogmas rejected.

When I became Catholic, I did not accept at first the Marian doctrines internally. I did however accept that the Church had the authority to teach infalliably in such matters and accepted these teachings solely because they were taught by the Church, which had far more wisdom and experience than I did, like a child who does not understand physics accepts parental instruction that electrical sockets are dangerous.


#10

[quote=carol marie]I have a good Christian friend who is fed up with Protestant “make it up as they go along” churches and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing. I can’t understand what the big deal is… I told her why can’t she just accept it and think to herself “well maybe she was… maybe she wasn’t… I’ll find out for sure when I get to heaven.” So my question: Would it be possible for someone to take a pass on the whole Mary sinless thing? Could they remain neutral on the issue and still become a Catholic? P.S. She’s read every Catholic argument for Mary being sinless so it’s not that she doesn’t understand - she just doesn’t buy it 100%.
[/quote]

I have two comments given in charity. :slight_smile:

First, there is only one truth. I’ll try to draw an analogy, when we attended school we didn’t have the notion of arguing with the teacher about science or math, as if our own imagination was more sensible or correct than what the professor intended to teach us. We accepted what we were told (sometimes with a sense of awe and wonder) because we wanted to learn.

Remember when you first learned that water expands when it freezes? It goes against just about everything you’ll know about what happens to things when they get cold, usually things reduce, it doesn’t sound sensible! So what are we to do, refuse to believe it? Call the teacher a liar? Look for another school?

The proper attitude for the student is to accept what is being taught now and expect to eventually see and understand the proofs later.

The church is like a school for us, if we do not yet understand it is still incumbant upon us to accept the Truth as taught to us. In other words, trust the teacher.

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” Lk 18:15

The second point I should make is that this whole issue is difficult for a lot of people because of their notion of Original Sin. Perhaps one should study what the church teaches about that first, break out the Catechism and look it up. Your friend may be making some assumptions about Original Sin that come straight from the Protestant background and that could be making the Immaculate Conception seem like a much bigger hurdle than it really is. Properly understood I doubt that it should be a long term difficulty.

It is important to remember that a convert will have a whole system of thought in place. It very often is not possible to address just one single issue at a time, but perhaps they should be addressed together.

I would like to suggest a book “Theology and Sanity” by Frank Sheed. It’s the best book I can remember reading for understanding the Catholic world-view.

God Bless you both!


#11

" and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing"

Ask your friend if she believes God is all powerful and can work miracles. If she agrees to this question, then ask her why she doesn’t think that God could create Mary without original sin.


#12

I’d recommend that a person who is having difficulty with any teaching of the church, and I’ve had trouble with several over the years, do the following basic steps:

[list=1]
*]Accept it as true, simply because the Church says so, even if you don’t “get it”.

*]Pray for assistance in “getting it”

*]Follow where the Holy Spirit takes you, listening with an open heart and seeking answers to every question you still can’t let go.

*]Trust that God does not want you to be in turmoil when you desire to know him, but he does allow you to learn all the lessons you need, which means sometimes there is pain along the way for you to learn the biggest lessons of all. He loves you and will bring light to your path if you open yourself to Him.

*]Be patient. God works on His schedule, providing us with what we need, when we need it, according to His plan. Sometimes the path we travel is as important as our final destination. I marvel at how long I wandered before coming home. But I now know that there is much I have learned that I need to better serve him. Who knows what He needs you to do in the future that He is only now beginning to prepare you to do.
[/list]God Bless,

CARose


#13

I kind of agree with CAROSE you don’t have to get it you just have to trust the church teaces the truth and that you will pray to understand that truth someday.

Lord knows I didn’t understand everything when I converted.
I Trusted more than I knew. Know I know more and somehow trust more. As a protestant we are tuaght to search the scriptures for every truth that is taught. That can be a good thing but when we don’t agree with an interpretation that becomes a barrier to conversion. I wouldn’t be judgemental as some here seem to be. This is a very difficult decision your friend is going thorugh pray for her.


#14

Hello:

I had a difficulty one time with doubts about the dogmas around Mary and I spent time praying about the area and guess what I have grown stronger in my beliefs abouit the Marian dogmas.

So, I suggest you tell her that if she is that sure about becoming a Roman Catholic that she pray or offer to pray with her that God enlighten her mind with understanding and belief in the teachings. Sounds like this one I would not pressure her, just let our Lord teach her.

Regards,


#15

[quote=CARose]I’d recommend that a person who is having difficulty with any teaching of the church, and I’ve had trouble with several over the years, do the following basic steps:

[list=1]
*]Accept it as true, simply because the Church says so, even if you don’t “get it”.
*]Pray for assistance in “getting it”
*]Follow where the Holy Spirit takes you, listening with an open heart and seeking answers to every question you still can’t let go.
*]Trust that God does not want you to be in turmoil when you desire to know him, but he does allow you to learn all the lessons you need, which means sometimes there is pain along the way for you to learn the biggest lessons of all. He loves you and will bring light to your path if you open yourself to Him.
*]Be patient. God works on His schedule, providing us with what we need, when we need it, according to His plan. Sometimes the path we travel is as important as our final destination. I marvel at how long I wandered before coming home. But I now know that there is much I have learned that I need to better serve him. Who knows what He needs you to do in the future that He is only now beginning to prepare you to do.
[/list]God Bless,

CARose
[/quote]

Ditto on this point. One should not make it a big deal if they are strugling with a doctrine. Its ok to agree to disagree, as long as you just agree with the Church. The Church will change their minds after awhile.


#16

[quote=pnewton]No, primarily because one would also be rejecting the authority of the Church. So now there are two Church dogmas rejected.

When I became Catholic, I did not accept at first the Marian doctrines internally. I did however accept that the Church had the authority to teach infalliably in such matters and accepted these teachings solely because they were taught by the Church, which had far more wisdom and experience than I did, like a child who does not understand physics accepts parental instruction that electrical sockets are dangerous.
[/quote]

Bingo! (To use a Catholic term.) You describe myself: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” I’ll probably never be as comfortable with the Marian doctrines as a cradle Catholic, but I trust the Church. Once you trust the Church, the game is over. You have to surrender, Marian quibbles notwithstanding. In fact, she’s probably the one nudging Carol Marie’s friend into the fold.


#17

[quote=carol marie]I have a good Christian friend who is fed up with Protestant “make it up as they go along” churches and would become Catholic today if it weren’t for the Mary being conceived without sin thing. I can’t understand what the big deal is… I told her why can’t she just accept it and think to herself “well maybe she was… maybe she wasn’t… I’ll find out for sure when I get to heaven.” So my question: Would it be possible for someone to take a pass on the whole Mary sinless thing? Could they remain neutral on the issue and still become a Catholic? P.S. She’s read every Catholic argument for Mary being sinless so it’s not that she doesn’t understand - she just doesn’t buy it 100%.
[/quote]

Actually there are a great number of things that I don’t understand but accept. There is a difference b/t not “getting it” and rejecting it. You say she doesn’t buy it 100 percent. Please make sure and tell her/reassure her that is why we call so many things mysteries…none of us can totally grasp all the teachings of the Church. The difference is that while we may not “get it” we just accept it. It’s not like she has to do anything with it on a daily basis right? She isn’t required to stand up and defend it, talk about it, write about it etc. She just knows it is something the Church teaches and although she doesn’t totally understand it she still accepts the teaching authority of the Church. By ALL means encourage this lady into a decent RCIA class and remember at least she KNOWS the Catholic church even teaches this. Do you know how many cradle Catholics don’t even know what the church teaches at all nor care if they agree with it? The fact that she even cares at all is a good start!


#18

Hey everyone! Let’s be really careful here not to shun someone away from the Church simply because they don’t intellectually grasp every single teaching of the Catholic Church. I think first we need to be careful to determine what the objection is…is it a downright rejection of the teaching—or is it just that she fails to “get it”? Anyone here who says they intellectually grasp every single teaching of the Church needs to rethink that statement. Do not pretend to act like we can fully understand the mysteries of God. You may ACCEPT a teaching fully without intellectually understanding it. There are a great many things we accept on faith without understanding. Let’s be really careful not to make everyone feel that they have to become a theologian. Although I myself feel the need to microanalyze things we should remember that not everyone must do that. They must accept but they do not have to fully grasp it. I know plenty of people who believe that Jesus is present in the bread and wine but cannot explain how. In fact can you explain how? It is a mystery. We must remember that Jesus tells us to become like a little child. That means simply to have faith and trust. This woman sounds like she wants to just trust and have faith even though she may not grasp a teaching. If we tell someone like that to back up and leave until they fully intellectually grasp every teaching of the Church then we may indeed be the ones guilty here of turning away one of God’s own.


#19

Cardinal Newman once said “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt”, and that seems to be applicable here. She is not being asked to understand it, and she might always have difficulties with it. She is being asked to accept it despite those difficulties.

As others have already pointed out, the Immaculate Conception is a dogma. When she rejects dogma, she also is rejecting Church authority. And if that’s the case, why convert at all?

I will pray for your friend, and I’m sure others on the list here will as well. Again, I would stress to her that she is not being asked to understand it, but to accept it. She may find that, with prayer, her difficulties will vanish or become unimportant.


#20

Well, it’s not like she can rush out tomorrow and get confirmed as a Catholic so I’d say she has some time to decide whether she really wants to become one or not. If she can find a good RCIA program, maybe by the time she is finished with it she’ll find it easier to accept Marian doctrines on faith or maybe she won’t and will decide Catholicism’s not for here. Inquiry is the first step, isn’t it?


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