How do Catholics keep from putting Mary above Christ?

Hi everyone,
I was just listening to my local Catholic radio station where I listen to Catholic Answers Live. However, I missed it and tuned in to hear a half hour of continuous Rosary recitations. It was beautiful but troubling to me in a way because it brought back an unpleasant old memory that I will describe below. The way they alternated from men praying the Rosary to women while intejecting music at times was mesmerizing and pretty. However, it made me wonder the following:

How do good Catholics draw the line between venerating Mary and uplifting her so high that her importance equals and competes with that of Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirirt?

Unpleasant memory:
Several years ago I was traveling in South America. I remember visiting a prominent park situated on a big hill in Santiago, Chile, (or at least I believe it was Santiago). Toward the bottom of the hill, there was a section of small statues of some saints. About half-way up the hill there was a big statue of Jesus, which I thought was very nice. However, when we got to the top of the hill, there was a gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary with lots of candles and other stuff adorning it.

It made me wonder and I thought to myself, “These folks love Mary more than Christ”.

Having been on this forum for almost a month, I know there are a lot of Catholics who venerate Mary and love and serve God and Christ strongly and sincerely with their whole hearts. I’ve interacted with many of you.

Can you explain how you keep from putting Mary in a higher position than Christ in your life? To me, that sounds like it could be a challenge for Catholics.

Not difficult at all. Mary is not God.

That’s about it. Sometimes non-Catholics act like we don’t know the difference, like we are stupid or something.

I wish other Christians would stop treating us like we are dumb. We know the difference between Jesus and Mary.

-Tim-

Timothy,
I did not mean any disrespect. I respect Catholicism very much. I apologize if I did not communicate my point as well as I would have liked, but it is a genuine question.

I assume that most Catholics do differentiate between them and keep them in their proper status. From the outside looking in, though, it seems confusing to me because it appears at times like Mary is right up there in status with the others but then again I am not Catholic. Once again, I apologize if I offended anyone because that was not my intent.

I can see where there may be confusion. As Seraphim73said, “Mary is not God.” There may be some that may cross the line, most understand that the Blessed Virgin deserves the highest honor as it was her answering yes to God’s will that gave us Jesus. She is who leads us to Christ.

Not difficult at all. Jesus is God, to be adored. Mary is a woman, gifted by God to be conceived without original sin and to be the mother of Jesus the second person of the Trinity in One God. No comparison. Mary is a loved creation of the Lord, but still a creation.
I don’t understand how people can think we can make any possible equality between Mary and our God. It is absurd.
I don’t know how more plainly we can make our beliefs clearer. God is God; Man is Man. We worship only one God and will have no other Gods before us. If that is not clear they are either stupid or malicious.

Mary, daughter of God the Father.
Mary, mother of God the Son.
Mary, spouse of God the Holy Spirit.

The Mass. The Eucharist. Eucharistic Adoration. The Divine Office.

That is only the beginning. But I do hear what you are saying. Some people and many cultures do venerate Mary so highly I could see why you wonder and ask that question. :slight_smile:

Actually the answer is very simple: Mary would not be worthy of our veneration if it were not for Christ.

Therefore our love for Mary as Catholics is but one facet of how our love for Christ and all he has done for each and every human being. We honor Mary because she is the Mother of our Lord and because the Lord gave her to us and our mother from the Cross. (John 19:27) Mary is who she is today because all the graces from Christ are made evident in her.

So it is Christ in Mary that we see and honor. If Mary had not been the one who had received such graces from Christ then she would not be the one we would be honoring in the way we do. It just so happens that Mary is this one, and we are not one to argue with our Lord.

Thank you Delson for answering the question in a way I could more easily understand. People who know me know I am not a Catholic basher. In fact, I plan to attend my first Mass tomorrow night as an inquirer of the faith. In my faith tradition, we don’t recite the Rosary or focus on Mary except at Christmas time when we read the Christmas story so it is all a little foreign and confusing to me. I hope folks will pardon my ignorance. However, nobody has tried to explain why Mary would have a more prominent position in the large public park I visited in Chile. Perhaps there is a valid explanation for it but it looked kind of odd to me and was troublesome to me.

Thansk for the reply and explanation, Marie. Maybe in Chile they view Mary a little differently than in the USA, but I don’t know for sure.

No problem.

I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so I know where you are coming from in a way.

To me from the standpoint of a JW, the Rosary was just a repeating of prayers to Mary. I had no idea that the one praying was actually meditating on various events from the life of Christ while they did so. The Witnesses had taught me that the Rosary was just about saying the “Hail Mary” over and over again–they never told the whole truth that the main part of the prayer was contemplation over the events of Christ’s life (often seen through Mary’s eyes).

One thing to note, not all Catholics pray the Rosary nor is it a requirement. I’ve developed a neurological problem (narcolepsy) which makes the Rosary practically impossible because the repetitive nature induces sleep attacks and I can fall and hurt myself (any repeated action will do so, even driving!).

For me, my prayer is the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church said several times a day: a recitation of the 150 Psalms over a period of a four week cycle. The Rosary was actually modeled on the official prayer to aid those who did not have access to the prayer books used for this office of prayer.

So let not Mary be an obstacle. Let her prayerful life be an example. As long as you engage in prayer, whatever way you can, God hears. And even if you don’t say a Rosary, you can rest assured Mary prays for you!

I think that’s a perfect answer. Mary is not God. And in a way, that makes things easier. She is a completely normal human being, and a lot of times I wonder if she’s not just easier to relate to. She went through a LOT to carry, birth, and raise our Lord and did it without an ounce of divinity. If that’s not inspiring, I do not know what is. She is our mother because God is our father, and you might notice that in a very traditional household, the father has more power but the mother is softer and more nurturing. This idea of motherhood I do believe is what draws people to pray to Mary so much.

Mary is not God. Mary is nowhere close to Jesus. No matter how much we pray to her or venerate her, we KNOW this to be true. But because Mary is not God, there are certain qualities we attribute to her: she does not have the glory and majesty and praise of Jesus. She is merely a humble, poor Jewish woman…who was the mother of God. Praying to Mary and venerating Mary isn’t better than praying to or worshiping Jesus, is it different, and we do it for different reasons. I would compare it to saying “You eat more radishes than cake, so you like radishes more than cake”. It would appear so, yes, but in reality they are two entirely different things. Cake is my favorite food of all time, but in the world of vegetables I like radishes the best. Even though it is logical that I should eat cake all the time because it is my favorite, it’s also nice to have an entirely different flavor of food and eat radishes a lot too. Jesus is who we love the most, but in the world of us ordinary humans, Mary is probably our favorite. I’s logical that we pray to Jesus the most, but if we do pray to Mary more often it still doesn’t mean we love her more or in any kind of the same way.

Anyways I guess that is one way to look at it.

Thanks for the encouraging words and explanations, Delson. Sorry to hear about your neurological problem. I pray that the Lord will envelop you with His presence and be your strength. Take care and God bless.

Hi, there…Tommy…well, understanding the Mary from a catholic mindset is one of the most difficult you face in studying the catholic faith.

However, let me borrow the words of a convert named Scott Hahn, in trying to answer your question:

*A friend of mine who had heard I was thinking about the Catholic Church called up one day and said: “Do you worship Mary like those Catholics do?” I said, “They don’t worship Mary; they honor Mary.” “Well, what’s the difference?” I said, “Let me explain. When Christ accepted the call from His Father to become a man, He accepted the responsibility to obey the law, the moral law which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. There’s a commandment which reads, ‘Honor your father and mother.’” I said, “Chris, in the original Hebrew, that word “honor,” kaboda, that Hebrew word means to glorify, to bestow whatever glory and honor you have upon your father and mother. Christ fulfilled that law more perfectly than any human by bestowing His glory upon His heavenly Father and by taking His own divine glory and honoring His Mother with it. All we do in the rosary, Chris, is to imitate Christ who honors His Mother with His own glory. We honor her with Christ’s glory.”
*

And another explanation from this thread, which I borrow, and explain the catholic mindset:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=11012687#post11012687

In hierarchical terms, Mary (human) is higher than us, but infinitely lower than Christ (God and man).

Since the ancients understood their lowlinness in relation to God much better than we do, they naturally were attracted to the 100% human mother, whereby Christ could be accessed through her compassion and lowliness. Men knew they were lowly and unworthy. Mary was a human being, sharing in our lowliness. Yet she was also the Mother of God, and she had her son’s ear! Thus, many were instinctively drawn to approach God through His mother.

Hope this helps.

A biblical devotion to Mary will always lead to her son jesus. For me reading about Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe have helped.

Within a week of saying the rosary at the age of 33 I was permanently delivered from an addition that was with me daily from 18-33. It was a major reason why I left my evangelical church and started going to daily mass five years ago. No matter how hard I tried to stop my sinful addiction it didn’t stop until Mary took my hand and lead me to a truly personal relationship with jesus

It is probably, traditional. In a church I visited several years ago, the statue of the patron saint of the town, which was in the church, was life size, from floor to ceiling almost. In the center was the the crucifix, about 1/3 the size…and above the tabernacle.

Do we think we are belittling Christ based on the size of the statue? Of course not…the center of our worship is Christ…and during the Mass, we focus on the Eucharist…which the priest consecrates and holds…saying “Behold…this is the Lamd of God who takes away the sins of the world…happy are those called to the supper of the Lamb…”

Anyway, when you go to your first Mass…you will find out what the response is when the priest says those words above…:slight_smile:

Agree with some of the comments previous. Just go to a Catholic Mass, it will clear up things for you as to the center of our faith. The epitome of being Catholic is the reception of the Eucharist. You MAYBE will hear a Hail Mary at a Mass but that’s just the priests discretion. Someone here has a quote as their signature that says, “Don’t ever be afraid of loving the Virgin Mary too much, you can never love her as much as Jesus.”

In Latin America it’s very common to see and it might make you think that she is worshiped but Mary is our mother, who wouldn’t be absolutely in love with their own mother? Though I am sick as to anyone who wouldn’t be, that would be a tragedy.

Though if you do watch the movie Man on Fire, Marc Antony does say “I too worship La Virgen de Guadalupe.” And that did make me cringe.

As Catholic author and evangelical convert Mark Shea puts it: “Mary looks much bigger from outside of the Church than she does from the inside.” You come from a tradition that has discarded much of what went before, except the bible, brothers and sisters, and Christ. While what remains is great, historically, it is woefully incomplete. Keep in mind that everything we do leads or points to Christ at some level. Everything.

How do we avoid stressing things other than Christ? Simply put, the Eucharist - source and summit of our faith - is the center of Catholic life. It is the true presence of Christ, which otherwise occurs only in Eastern Orthodox Churches. Not Jesus’ chosen mother, or all of the Saints, or all of the devotions can top that. But, neither does that eliminate our brothers and sisters in heaven, right?

Why do we honor Mary? Because God honored her first. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize that God honored Mary by conceiving of her in the Divine intellect, then bringing her to flesh so that she could, in turn, give her flesh to Christ. She is the flesh and blood of Christ - by God’s design. Since God honored her, so do we.

The problem for most bible Christians, as I see it, is that they have been exposed only to a very simplified theology. It may be a mile wide, but it is only an inch deep. Catholic and Orthodox liturgy and theology, is like the ocean as compared to the bible Christian river. Really.

As other people have said, Catholics are very much aware of the fact that Mary is not equal to God. We venerate her, but we do not worship her. We only worship God. She’s not a ‘goddess’. But, she is a very special and unique woman, and was created that way by God, Himself.

What most non-Catholics don’t realize (or certainly don’t believe), is just how special Mary is. She was destined to become the mother of Jesus (therefore being the actual Mother of God, the Son). So, she had to be very different than every other woman that was ever born. If not, then Jesus could never have been born, at all. Mary had to be born without Original Sin, which she was, through a profound miracle of God. She is the only (fully) human being* that has ever been born as pure as God had created Adam and Eve. She is the only perfect human being (other than Jesus). This was because Jesus could not have been born to any woman that was stained by Original Sin, because that sin would have also been transferred to Him, as He was formed in her womb, which would be completely impossible for Him.

Catholics believe that Mary was born to a very elderly couple that had never been able to have any children. Faithful Jews were very dedicated to having many children, in the hope that they might grow up to somehow glorify God. Being very old, the couple (St. Anne and St. Joachim) fervently prayed to God for a last chance to have a child. They promised to offer the child completely to His service, so they could finally give glory to God. They had always loved and been very faithful to Him. So, because their intention was pure, He decided to bless them with Mary. That’s why she was conceived without the stain of Original Sin, because their intention was give their child to God, for His greater glory. There is no doubt that Mary gave great glory to God, by saying “yes” to His angel, and giving birth to His Only Son.

These are just a few of the reasons that Catholics hold Mary in such high esteem, because God does, too.

(*Jesus was both fully man and fully God. Mary was only human.)

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