Defending Marian Devotion


#1

This is an article (which I believe was written by a Catholic Bishop in Utah) that I have had saved in a word document for a while now - I just thought it was a relevant read for the day:

For a final illustration of Catholic fidelity in preserving the Gospel of Christ I choose, from among many other subjects available, the devotion to the Mother of our Lord. That the devotion to Mary is important cannot be doubted. It is important not only because it is so highly appreciated by Catholics but also because it is so much depreciated by non-Catholics. With us Catholics it plays a constant part in our religious experiences; with many non-Catholics it seems to suggest idolatry.

Here let me observe in fairness to my neighbors in other churches, especially to those of the Protestant group with which I was formerly associated, that their indifference to the rightful claims of Mary is largely a matter of misunderstanding. I am well aware that they are as eager to conform to the spirit and letter of the Gospel as are we Catholics, and are as honest in their professions of faith. I am sure that they would join us in honoring Mary if they understood that it was correct for them to do so. It is my hope that at least a few of them will ponder seriously what I write.

The Catholic devotion to Mary flows logically from the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, wherein it is stated that she is the Virgin Mother of our Lord, who is the Son of God and the savior of the world. To be thus chosen and set apart from all other women was most extraordinary distinction, a mark of God’s special favor to her. The facts are to be found in both the Old and New Testament. For the former, I quote: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

From the New Testament there is the narrative of the Angel’s visit to Mary. “Hail, thou that art highly favoured,” the angel said, “the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women…And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God’” (Luke 1:28- 30).

Then came Mary’s reply. It is the Magnificat, part of which I quote: “…for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:48-49).

It is tempting, by way of supplementary evidence, to call in facts of history in order to point out the high esteem in which Mary and the devotion to her have been held by the Church and Catholic people during the past centuries.

The facts are so voluminous, however, that selecting from among them for a brief comment is most difficult. Furthermore, if I can judge correctly, the non-Catholic reader is less likely to be interested in the testimony from history than in that from the Scriptures. This latter, I have already indicated, in part at least. I trust that it is sufficient.

When rightly understood, the devotion to Mary is seen to be most correct and attractive, reasonable and inevitable. It is natural for us as American citizens to show honor and reverence to the leaders and heroes of our country; to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and others. In much the same way we Catholics honor the Christian heroes. They are the saints, men and women, who during their lives were close friends of God. Just as the people who praise a painting for its beauty are in reality giving honor to the artist, any honor given to Mary is given ultimately to God, her Creator. In honoring the saints we honor God himself. By keeping their names alive we help preserve the principles for which they lived and died; we stimulate ourselves to imitate their example. We believe that all this is good for us and for the Church and for the world.

Among the saints Mary comes first. Whatever may be said about the devotion to the saints in general must be said about the devotion to Mary in a superlative degree. To honor we have set aside certain days of the year, among them two holydays. In her honor we have special devotions during the entire month of May. To her we dedicate shrines, churches, basilicas, schools, colleges, and cathedrals. Artists honor her in pictures, in statuary, architecture, and music; no one else has been such an inspiration to art. Writers dedicate literature to her. We name children for her; certainly no name is more common among Christian peoples than that of Mary. And in every place of worship there is an altar or at least a statue in her honor, beautiful with flowers and burning lights.

(cont’d)


#2

(cont’d)

The Protestant objection to the devotion to Mary stems from the fear or opinion that the Catholic Church has allowed mere veneration to creep up to the level of worship. Let it be said very frankly that if the Church were guilty of such a fault, it the Church taught her people to “worship” the Mother of our Lord, the devotion thus fostered would deserve unquestioned disapproval. Certainly it would be a mistake to put Mary, a creature, in the place of God, the Creator.

In support of their complaint, Protestants point out that we Catholics pray to Mary. In so doing, they ask, do we not express worship? Let me explain that the word “pray” is used with more than one meaning. We worship God, certainly, when we pray to Him, but we do not worship our fellow men when we ask them to pray for us. The attorney in court does not worship the judge when he “prays” to him to grant a favorable decision. Similarly, if here and now I should ask you, my readers, to pray for me, I assure you that I do not worship you. And when Catholic laymen come to me, as they frequently do, to ask me to pray for them, I am not deceived into thinking that they regard me as God.

Many times in Protestant services years ago I heard persons ask for the prayers of others in the congregation. If such requests are reasonable, as they surely are, then our requests to Mary that she pray for us are equally reasonable. And such, let me add, is the fullest expression of the Catholic devotion to Mary. The fact that such requests are referred to as prayers does not change their character. They are an indication of humility on the part of the petitioner, plus the confident expectation that Mary’s prayers to God, because of her superlative worthiness, have a superlative efficacy.

The prayer universally addressed to Mary by Catholics is the “Ave Maria,” the “Hail Mary.” It begins with the salutation of the angel to Mary, as quoted from St. Luke’s Gospel, and concludes with the simple petition, “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” This prayer is repeated many times in the Rosary, which is one of the principal devotions among Catholic people both in public and in private.

The prayer also used by Catholics, called the “Hail Holy Queen,” concludes with the petition, “pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.” Similarly, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, recited by both laity and clergy, repeats the petition, “pray for us.”

It is suggested, however, that undiscriminating Catholics misunderstand the intentions of the Church and abuse the devotion to Mary by confusing it with the worship of God. I do not presume to pass judgement about the justice of such a complaint. I say merely that the abuse of devotion does not condemn its correct use. The only correction called for is that we Catholics take care to represent truthfully to our neighbors and to ourselves this and all other features of our religion.

It is pertinent to inquire what alternative to the Catholic devotion can be proposed. If, as the critics of the Church insist, the Catholic devotion is an unwarranted expression of the Gospel, I ask them to point out the correct expression. In so far as I can observe, in most of the non-Catholic Churches with which I am familiar, there is no special honor or veneration shown to Mary. No hymns are sung to her; no pictures or statues recall her pre-eminence; no petitions are addressed to her. There is nothing to identify her as the exalted Mother of our Lord. Suppose now that the Catholic Church were to follow this pattern of neglect.

Who, I inquire, would fulfil Mary’s prediction about herself? Recall her words “Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” The truth is that if the Catholic devotion to Mary were abandoned nothing would take its place. It appears to be easy for critics to complain about the Catholic devotion, but it is evidently difficult for them to propose anything which, even in their own opinion, is better. Christianity will have either the Catholic devotion to Mary or no devotion.


#3

Its a good article. For me though, It boiled down to a place in the Bible where Jesus was given a prime opportunity to teach us about this devotion and instead chose to direct a person who was praising his mother to something else:

**Luk 11:27 ** While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”
**Luk 11:28 ** *But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” *


#4

For me, it’s even simpler than that.

I follow Jesus commandments to honor thy Father and thy Mother. Jesus has one Father, in Heaven, and one Mother.
If it was good enough for Jesus to honor His mother, then it’s good enough for me too.


#5

[quote=BrianH]"**…***blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." *
[/quote]

Indeed, blessed are those who hear His word and observe it.


#6

[quote=Dan-Man916]For me, it’s even simpler than that.

I follow Jesus commandments to honor thy Father and thy Mother. Jesus has one Father, in Heaven, and one Mother.
If it was good enough for Jesus to honor His mother, then it’s good enough for me too.
[/quote]

and the last part of that sentence ? Dont pick and chose :slight_smile:

Mat 15:4 "For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’

seriously, I understand your point, To me though…this is like a volleyball game, they set Jesus up to spike that ball and explain why hundreds of years later the devotion to his mother would be so important and yet…he didnt do it, is there any other way to interpret that exchange?
BH


#7

[quote=BrianH]Its a good article. For me though, It boiled down to a place in the Bible where Jesus was given a prime opportunity to teach us about this devotion and instead chose to direct a person who was praising his mother to something else:

**Luk 11:27 ** While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”
**Luk 11:28 ** *But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” *
[/quote]

And the Angel sent by God said, …“blessed art thou among women”.


#8

[quote=I Leatherman]And the Angel sent by God said, …“blessed art thou among women”.
[/quote]

Yes, you better believe it. Is the Marian devotion the logical extension from this comment?
Well possibly, BUT when someone in front of him engages in Marian devotion…he says,
“On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

BH


#9

11:28. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
At ille dixit quippini beati qui audiunt verbum Dei et custodiunt


#10

[quote=I Leatherman]11:28. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
At ille dixit quippini beati qui audiunt verbum Dei et custodiunt
[/quote]

Well, I do not read Latin or Greek, so…in English rather means “rather” …so the translation is wrong? Rather should not be in there?
I might bow out on this, I have learned that brothers and sisters do not mean brothers and sisters and “until” does not mean until…it gets to be mental gymnastics to twist this…BUT like I said…I do not know Greek…so if rather really means rather…never mind :slight_smile: suit yourself guys
BH


#11

[quote=BrianH] BUT when someone in front of him engages in Marian devotion…he says,
“On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

[/quote]

Hi Brian.
Remember Mary’s fiat? She said “yes”. This is what is being referred to here. Jesus is saying not to focus on Mary’s womb, or the nourishing breasts. Rather, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey. Using His mother as a prime example.

Get it? :slight_smile:


#12

Yes!

He actually magnified her praise by inferring she was not just blessed for having been His physical Mother, but for having heard the Word of God and kept it! And He focused their attention back to their own need to do likewise in order to be blessed, and not rely on their being children of Abraham in the flesh.

John 8:39 They answered, and said to him: Abraham is our father. Jesus saith to them: If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham.

Mary did the works of Abraham, and for that reason was she blessed. And she is blessed among all other blessed women for therein having borne Our Lord.

Now, the Jews had the Word of God but did not keep it. Yet they kept trying to claim honor as the children of Abraham! But the proper cause for honor is explained by St. Paul:

Romans 9:7 Neither are all they that are the seed of Abraham, children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 8 That is to say, not they that are the children of the flesh, are the children of God; but they, that are the children of the promise, are accounted for the seed.

John the Baptist had to put them in their place, too:

Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance; and do not begin to say, We have Abraham for our father. For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

She indeed is blessed, as the testimony of the angel declares:

Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

She is more than a child by flesh, as the Holy Spirit in Elizabeth says:

Luke 1:45 And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

But perhaps to preserve her humility, He did not expound upon it further. Besides, His primary mission was to bear testimony of His Father. But after He left earth, He promised another to come and bear testimony to Himself, the Holy Spirit.

John 15:26 But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.

John 16:14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you.

And the Apostles likewise were appointed to give testimony:

John 15:27 And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning.

Unfortunately, there are others who come nowadays purporting to represent Christ and His Church, and put down its authority by replacing it with their own.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

The Protestants indeed must rely solely on Scripture, for that is the only source of testimony they have.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures, … the same are they that give testimony of me.

If they do not stay strictly within its confines, then they are guilty of misrepresentation. But are they doing that when they set up churches with their own traditions?

Mark 7:13 Making void the word of God by your own tradition, which you have given forth. And many other such like things you do.

For by their tradition of denigrating Mary, they make void the prophecy:

Luke 1:48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

These “generations” can be said to be the generations of the true believers, the true children of Abraham, of the promise.

And further, is it scriptural to seek to bring down the Catholic Church which is, on the whole, doing the Lord’s work?

Mark 9:37 John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. 38 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name, and can soon speak ill of me.

How many more things can be pointed out that various Protestant sects do (innocently or not) which puts them outside their sole authority of scripture?

However, the Roman Catholic Church is within its rights to not be “limited” to Sacred Scripture as the Protestants are obliged to be. For we have the “Tradition” of the verbal tesimony and divine authority of the Apostles handed down through the validly ordained bishops of the Church.

hurst


#13

[quote=BrianH]Its a good article. For me though, It boiled down to a place in the Bible where Jesus was given a prime opportunity to teach us about this devotion and instead chose to direct a person who was praising his mother to something else:
[/quote]

That kind of reminds me of the times when someone would ask Jesus what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matt: 19:16-17 " 16
Now someone approached him and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

In Mark: 10, Jesus gives the same answer, to which the man responds that he has kept the commandments from his youth. How does Jesus respond to this? Verse 21: “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Jesus had the chance to slam-dunk the “Personal Lord and Savior” thing home, and yet he chooses to preach works. Even in Mark where he tells the guy to follow him, it is only on the condition that he forsakes all he has. Perhaps you can find some other verses that support faith alone and the “Personal Lord and Savior” ideal, but none of them would have been as explicit as this could have been. Does that mean that you will disbelieve it because Christ didn’t make it painfully obvious. I can think of one other thing that wasn’t made painfully obvious: the trinity. There is nothing that says the Scriptures are easy to read, but there are things that say it is difficult (2 Pet 3:16).

Here is a good article explaining Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant.


#14

[quote=BrianH]Its a good article. For me though, It boiled down to a place in the Bible where Jesus was given a prime opportunity to teach us about this devotion and instead chose to direct a person who was praising his mother to something else:

**Luk 11:27 **While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”
**Luk 11:28 ***But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” *
[/quote]

He was actually agreeing with the woman that His mother is blessed, and at the same time letting the woman know that she was calling Mary blessed for the wrong reason.
Mary is blessed not because she bore and suckled the Savior, but because of her fiat, her complete and total “yes” to God.


#15

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