Ok, so first i would like to say that i believe in all Catholic dogmas on the Blessed Virgin and i have no problem with intercession of saints. But yesterday i got into a debate with a dear friend who is a protestant and the issue of praying to Mary came up, i explained that we don’t actually pray TO Mary but we ask her to pray for us. He said that in practice that is not true, then showed me his mothers Catholic prayer book and showed me some prayers, and asked me if they sound like prayers to Mary or asking her intercession, unfortunately i had to answer that they sounded like prayers to Mary, because i also got that impression from the prayers he showed me.
So my questions is, is it possible that sometimes we pray to Mary, or was my friend wrong.
Prayer is not directed to God ONLY; prayer is a communication to anybody. (You can see this in the English language and in Great Brittain where the Shakespearean word ‘prithee’ is a form of ‘pray thee’ as in “I pray (ask of) thee”, and in legal terms where we ‘pray for relief’, etc.
So of COURSE we pray to Mary (as we would pray to our friends in life as well), and we pray to God, but the understanding of prayer to Mary and the saints as that the ultimate ‘aim’ of the prayer is always God.
We can pray to our friends to aid us if we understand that the aid is ONLY in fervent request of that aid from GOD.
We ask Mary to pray for us and to aid us, but the way she aids us is to be ‘with us’ when we ask God for anything. Just as we might, if we were children, ask Mom to go with us when we want to ask Dad for something. DAD is the one who decides, but if Mom is along with us, Dad will know that she approves of our request and that will be a factor in his (ultimate) decision.
Mary may certainly be the ‘channel’ through which God sends His grace (after all, she was the channel through which God sent His son!) but she herself does not generate any ‘aid’. Mary is not God.
If your friend would ask anybody to join with him in asking God for something, then he should have NO problem understanding that prayer to Mary is exactly that, asking her to join us in prayer for something. Intercession is allowed of any person: St. Paul often asked others to interceed for him in prayer to God!
Doesn’t Scripture say both that the prayer of a righteous person availeth much AND that 'where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst"? So doesn’t it make sense to ask Mary to 'gather with us in His name" so that she can join with us in petition to God?
Thank you for replying.
I do understand what youre saying, but its exactly what my friend accused us - Cathlics of doing, saying that we only ask her to pray for us, but in practice pray to her.
This is the kind of prayer he quoted:
O Most holy and Immaculate Virgin, my Mother; you are the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the advocate, hope, the refuge of sinners, and I, the most miserable of those sinners, come to you today. I put all of my hope and my entire salvation in you.
This really does look like a prayer to Mary. Am i missing something
Um, I do find some fault in your logic. I have never prayed TO a friend. Ever. I have asked a friend to pray FOR me, I have prayed WITH a friend but I have never prayed TO a friend. In fact I’ve never heard of anyone praying TO a friend.
Below I’ve taken a prayer to Mary and edited it so that I’m praying it to a friend. Tell me if you think it sounds appropriate.
“Dear John, help those in need. Give strength to the weak. Comfort the sorrowful. Pray for God’s people. Assist the clergy. Intercede for all religions. May all who seek your help find your unfailing protection.”
Really? Would you pray this to a friend? Even the most God-fearing friend you know? Would you pray this to your priest?
PS: Just saying this particular argument wouldn’t stand up to most Protestants. That’s all.
Edited to Add: The above prayer is a typical Marian prayer from a list of devotionals I found. It doesn’t seem like anyone is seeking God’s help there, except in the brief request for prayer, they are asking Mary DIRECTLY for HER help.
Yeah that’s exactly what happened to me, i lost an argument, because the prayer that my protestant friend showed me sounded like a prayer TO Mary. So my argument: “we ask her to pray FOR us”, seemed like an argument in theory only but not in practice.
I’m personally not comfortable with prayers that sound like they are directed directly to Mary - that’s why i asked this question, either i don’t understand the church’s teaching on praying to saints, or some prayers go “too far”.
I hope that poeple who read this understand me - english is not my first language
I think the real issue is that (most?) Protestants consider all prayer to be worship. This is clearly not the case. As explained above by another poster, prayer is communication. We can use the wedding at Cana as an example of people going TO Mary to request a favor of Jesus. If I asked anyone reading this forum to pray for me, you could technically say I was praying to them. We misunderstand the word “pray” in my opinion. Remember how the English use it? “Pray tell me…” Clearly that is not worship.
Jesus loves to see us come to Him in prayer, but not NEARLY as much as He likes seeing His momma!
As a good, holy priest once summed it up, if Mary was good enough for Jesus, she’s good enough for us!
I agree with Scoobyshme. Prayer is not worship but a method of communications. The Blessed Mother and all the saints are not accessible to us by mail, e-mail, twitter, phone calls, etc. Prayer is how we reach them.
Your Protestant friend really wants you to say that you do not “pray” to Mary and that then begs the question of how, exactly, do you ask her to pray for you? Don’t let them equate prayer with worship!
I understand all that. I fact in my country “pray tell me” is exactly how we use the word pray
But the problem is when we explain to protestants praying “to” saints, we say that we only ask saints(in this case Mary) to pray for us, but some of the prayers to Mary seem like more then that, for example i wouldn’t say to a friend “be my salvation”. :shrug:
If you’re protestant friend found a prayer that was addressed to Mary the prayer was ain error. Catholic doctrine on this is very clear.
The problem is that people google up prayers allegedly to Mary and wave them around like the sword of Excalibur claiming they prove Catholics pray to Mary. We don’t know the source of these prayers and often times they are translations of prayers that didn’t pray to Mary but appear to do so when translated to English.
Don’t be surprised if next as he pulls up a Church document telling Catholics to worship Mary. It is all over the Internet also and basically is a mistranslation of a Latin document.
pray (prhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gif) v.prayed, pray·ing, prays
*v.*intr. **1. **To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
**2. **To make a fervent request or entreaty.
*v.*tr. **1. **To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer.
**2. **To ask (someone) imploringly; beseech. Now often used elliptically for I pray you to introduce a request or entreaty: Pray be careful.
**3. **To make a devout or earnest request for: I pray your permission to speak.
**4. **To move or bring by prayer or entreaty.
I often request something of them, and they’re often earnest too. Do I worship Mary? Nope, but I do pray TO her all the time. After all, if you think about it, Jesus prayed TO her as well when he asked her for favors as He was growing up. Even God prayed TO her when He asked her to carry our Saviour… was God worshipping Mary? No, but He was beseeching her to answer a prayer by Him.
It seems like the prayer is adressed directly to Mary.
And there are more prayers like this. The prayer which he quoted was fro a standard Catholic prayer book in my country, i also own it. I’m kinda confused
We pray prayers addressed to Mary all the time, so I don’t know where you get the idea it’s wrong. What do you think we are doing when we pray: “Hail Mary, full of grace…”? We are addressing our prayer to her, of course we are. There’s nothing wrong with that at all! Why should we bend over backwards to please our Protestant brethren who simply don’t understand/don’t wish to make the distinction between prayer and worship? I address Mary and the other saints all the time–and proud of it! They are all there to help us, of course we can ask for their intercession and aid. They aren’t dead, you know, they’re alive in Christ and have been given the power and authority to order the angels and come to our help. It’s one of the most beautiful teachings of the Church which no Catholic should be ashamed to declare to the world.
This appears to have been taken from a prayer attributed to Saint Alphonsus Liguori, and it may not have even been quoted accurately. Although I’m not sure, this would probably fall under the category of private devotional.
When we speak to the Saints and Mary in heaven, are we saying anything to them that we wouldn’t say to them if they were standing in front of us? We are allowed to “honor” the Saints and Mary, the same way we are allowed to “honor” our father and mother, like God has commanded us to do. When someone does something good, we are allowed to honor, admire, respect and imitate them. We are allowed to recognize their graces and favors from God (“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb”), as this act of recognition DOES give glory to God. We are also allowed to ask them for help (“Pray for us sinners…”). This is no way takes away from our ability to praise and love God and glorify God. In fact, when we honor Mary, it truly gives glory to God because Mary is God’s creation.
Is it wrong to ask your parents for mercy and forgiveness when you’ve done something wrong? Absolutely not, so it is no different to ask our Mother in Heaven to “hear and answer my prayers, in your mercy…” etc. Anything we say to Mary in prayer can also be said to our parents on earth, so I don’t deem it inappropriate at all. Besides, Jesus has given the Queen Mother power to distribute all of His graces.
Yes but there are a lot of prayers that don’t have the “pray for us” part. If i say “i’ll ask Mary to help me find a job” it sounds like i expect Mary to help me find a job not God. Maybe i’m being scrupulous :shrug: