How to Get Over My "Mariaphobia"?

Greetings everyone!

I’m a recent convert to the Catholic Church (received on Easter of this year), from Mormonism and am having a hard time getting used to Marian devotions. I’m already comfortable with the Rosary, and I believe I owe much of my conversion to our Blessed Lady’s intercession as I began praying the Rosary before having ever stepped foot in a Catholic church. I think the Rosary helped as a “stepping stone” (if you will). Though it’s an obvious Marian devotion, the fact that all the prayers are Bible-based made it easy for me to pursue it despite my anti-Marian upbringing.

The statues, icons, and Marian chapels at church, however, are another story. I’m still a little uncomfortable genuflecting, bowing, or kneeling in front of Marian icons/statues/etc. I know its nothing but a cultural anxiety I’m feeling having come from a religious tradition that essentially lambasted Catholicism for perceived “idolatry”. Though I know its not the intent of such devotions to place Mary on a pedestal higher than Christ himself, I can’t help but sometimes feel that I’m “robbing” Christ of worship due to him even though I already know that the veneration of Christ’s Saints especially his blessed mother indirectly venerates God.

Any advice or tips you can offer to help me get over this irrational angst?

My number one tip for getting over Mariaphobia… time.

Seriously, why would you expect to get over something like this quickly? Knowing the truth doesn’t usually change feelings right away.

My next thought is that either you ARE putting the saints in heaven on too high a pedestal or that you AREN’T putting the saints here on earth on a high enough one.:smiley: In other words, we Christians don’t usually have problem asking each other for prayers or advice. (You just asked people you don’t even know for advice via this forum. :eek:) In some ways the main difference between the saints in heaven and those of us on earth is that they are in heaven. :doh2: (Well, that and the fact that they don’t ever sin and their salvation is assured.) We Catholics believe that they are not dead. They are still very much with us. It’s just that we here on earth are incapable of experiencing them through our senses.

Keep in mind that the word “Pray” in English means to ask for something earnestly. While prayer can be a part of worship, it is not limited to worship. When you ask a fellow Christian here on earth to pray for you you are really praying *to *them because you are beseeching them to help you. All prayer requests, whether to fellow Christians on earth or to saints “in heaven”, are ultimately directed to God.

So hopefully I’ve helped to answer your internet “prayer”. :wink:

I’m a cradle Catholic, and I use to have a little problem with it also (my husband is Mormon, and put the thought in my head). I read something that helped me soooo much. It said, “Why wouldn’t we go through Mary for our intersession, When God used her for our salvation” something along those lines. But, after I sat and thought about it, it made since. Then there was the prophecy of her in the old test, ill have to look it up for you and get back with you about where it is. I hope this helps some.
God Bless

Two books I’d suggest.

Fulton J. Sheen “The World’s First Love”

Scott Hahn “Hail, Holy Queen”

I do not genuflect in front of statues and I don’t know anyone who does. I think genuflecting would be inappropriate. But we do sometimes kneel in front of statues because kneeling is a posture of prayer not just adoration. We may be asking for the assistance of the Blessed Mother or one of the saints to pray for us.

It is good that you have come to understand the beauty of the Rosary, which in reality is a simple way of learning about the life of Christ. This was especially true in early centuries before the Bible was printed. True devotion to Mary always leads us to Jesus. And she must have led you to the Catholic Church. Just like in the Scriptures at the wedding feast at Cana, she tells us, “Do whatever He tells you.” Mary is deserving of our respect and devotion because Jesus gave her to us and us to her at the foot of the cross.

My tip for you would be- Try not to focus on what you think others may be focusing on, but focus your attention on what is actually going on during Mass, or benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Listen to the prayers and readings. Our worship is all directed to God, Almighty Father through the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

You should not genuflect to a statue of Mary. We genuflect toward the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

If I kneel before her statue, it’s with one eye on the Tabernacle, and I ask her to bring my prayers to Him.

Hi :wave: I was going to suggest Scott Hahn’s book Hail, Holy Queen also. In fact, since you’re a former LDS, I’d suggest any of Scott Hahn’s books, especially A Father Who Keeps His Promises as well. All his books will help you see the progression of the Covenant from the perspective of family life. :thumbsup:

Another book I’d suggest to anyone who comes from an LDS background is St. Faustina’s diary Divine Mercy in My Soul. Not only did Faustina have personal encounters with Jesus. She also had some encounters with Mary as well.

I’d also suggest any videos on EWTN which features Fr. John Corapi as well. “Your Momma wears combat boots.” :smiley: He’s also famous for raising his rosary and saying “Don’t leave home without it.”

There’s are also movies I’d highly suggest as well. One I’ve enjoyed watching is called Mary of Nazereth. It’s a movie that gives you an idea of Mary’s role during Jesus Earthly ministry.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I’d also suggest you check out Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ if you haven’t seen it yet. There are some absolutely lovely and memorable scenes between Jesus and Mary.


Mary is the greatest gift (apart from the Gift of Himself) that Jesus bequeathed to us from the Cross. After all, he told St. John, and all of us, “Behold your mother.” At tne Annunciation, God did not force Himself on the Blessed Mother. He waited for her consent, her Fiat. It was the answer that literally had Heaven holding its breath, since Mary, as a creature with free will, had the freedom to say No. But, because God created a perfect vessel for Himself, enriching Mary with untold graces (applying the merits of her Son’s Passion, Death and Resurrection at the moment of her conception), her will was perfectly conformed to God’s.

Mary was also the first Disciple of Jesus, following Him unreservedly. In fact, her last words in St. John’s gospel are “Do whatever He tells you.” Mary brought Jesus into the world and now, through her intercession, she brings mankind to Jesus.

If you have photos in your wallet, let’s say of your husband, children, pets, don’t you get all gushy when you see them? If you have a picture of your newborn first child, don’t you kiss it and get excited about it? It’s almost the same with images of the Blessed Mother and the Saints. No, we don’t get all warm and fuzzy and the like. But, these images remind us of them and of their love for us.

A lot of folks seem to think that the Church is made up of only the warm, living bodies in the pews. Nope. The Church is made up of the Church Triumphant (the saints in heaven, including the Blessed Mother), the Church Militant (those of us here on earth) and the Church Suffering (the souls in purgatory). At every Mass, all of us come together, the seen and the unseen.

Hi Benedict Gal :wave: You said that very nicely. :thumbsup: Jeus and Mary would be proud.

Another way to see it is that every sport has its hall of fame where it enshrines its greats. If you were to go to Cooperstown or Canton, you’d see statues, plaques, paintings and relics of the greats of baseball and football respectively. You’d even see relics (yes, relics…what do you think Earl Campbell’s helmet or Babe Ruth’s bat are?) You go a presidential library, you see statues, photographs, paintings and relics (for example, the LBJ Library in Austin has pens that Lyndon Johnson signed major legislation with).

Likewise, the Catholic Church–knowing that her children need role models of sanctity, strength, perseverance, faith, charity, etc.–has its hall of fame. Being mortal, we respond to our senses so we need tactile and visual symbols. Hence, we have statues, icons and relics. Mary is the greatest hero in our Hall of Fame of the Catholic Church. She’s the tough, courageous, loving and holy lady who batted 1.000 with 10,000 HR and 1,000,0000 RBI. She’s the mother of our Church’s Founder and the greatest example of holiness we have. And then there are the heroic legions of holy men and women who pray for us and provide us with an example as we make our way through this world. This is a hall of fame that puts all hall of fames to shame. And the members of this hall of fame are still living and haven’t retired.

Hi PagoG :thumbsup:

She is also, quite literally, our ARK OF THE COVENANT. She carried Jesus the same way the Ark once carried the Spirit of God.

Just to clarify:

I’m not saying that I don’t understand the reasons for Marian devotion, only that when I participate I still have this internalized discomfort. It’s kind of like when as a child you run to your parents insisting that there are monsters under your bed. Your father then takes you to your room, turns on the lights, inspects every inch of your room to show you that there are no monsters. You can physically see that under your bed there’s nothing but some dirty socks and baseballs. You’re assured that there are no monsters, yet once the lights turn off again, you’re still scared.

The internalized feeling is still here with me even though I know better. I was just hoping that there were some ways to hasten the appreciation of and familiarization with Marian devotion.

It seems all there is is time.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful answers so far.

You see, it’s metaphors such as this one that made me understand Mary’s very important role.

Now if I could only get my emotions to align with my reason…

Scratch the “monsters under the bed” analogy, I have a better one.

Imagine that you’re an American born man who visits a nation like… France.

You become turned off to the culture as you’re both embraced and kissed by another man because you’re judging the French culture by your own American standard. Even after being told that the French man was not trying to “come on” to you, that its merely how French men greet each other, you still though much more understanding of this cultural phenomenon might be a bit uncomfortable for a while until you get used to living in French society.

My situation is similar in that my emotions are judging Marian devotion in Mormon terms (based on my upbringing).

Are you familiar with the prayer The Memorare by any chance. I’ve g otten in the habit of praying it as a part of my rosary. In fact, I like it so much, that I pray it before each of the mysteries. It’s a nice prayer to Mary that you may find comfort in.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.


Believe me, it didn’t happen to me all at once eather, and I’m a cradle Catholic. But I think EWTN has helped me and also the fact that there’s a nice Catholic bookstore that I often visit when I’m in downtown Pittsburgh.

Scott Hahn’s book “Hail Holy Queen” is especially good because he use to be a very serious anti-Catholic. Here’s a small sample of the kind of understanding he brings to all things Catholic.

As others on here stated - Catholics don’t bow to statues or genuflect to them - or at least one is not taught to do that. One genuflects before entering the pew because of Jesus’s presence in the Eucharist - although sometimes I suspect that some do this out of habit rather than wonder why it is they do that. I’ve seen that on Good Friday’s when the Eucharist is removed - one still sees people coming into church and genuflecting before they enter the pew.

It is always the lonliest feeling I get every Good Friday when I come in for services and realize He is not there and then do not genuflect. It really makes you appreciate the Real Presence - and without it - the church is only a building.

As to Mariaphobia - too bad we could not all be blessed with a personal apparition of her and you’d see love - she is a Mama…a Mama filled with love…

Just picture her as a mother filled with love and sometimes when you’re lonely - need advice or just want a little motherly comfort - go to her…

Hopper :slight_smile:

Don’t worry.

Marian devotion is a wonderful part of the Catholic tradition. From what you’ve shared, I say you are intimately familiar with it as the Rosary has meant much to you (as it has to me).

The “devotional” life of the Catholic Church is so rich and full…think of it as a treasure chest that is available to you as you need/want it. If you take one or two things, great, if you take 100 things, great. Do what seems to fit with you.

Liturgy, Sacraments–that’s essential. Devotions (e.g. rosary) are important but not essential to an individual.

  1. Remember that all prayers to saints, even to Mary, are intercessory. That is, we are not (if we are doing it right) asking them for a favor, but asking them to ask God for whatever favor on our behalf.

  2. Even the earliest known liturgies praise the Theotokos (literally, God-bearer, the greek knickname for Mary).

Remember that the Divine Liturgy of St. James, which has copies dated to the 200’s, and is attributed to the authorship of St. James the Just, Brother of the Lord, One of the 12… and it’s still in use. (The Melkites still use it.) It has prayers, in use for over 1800 years, asking the Theotokos to pray for us, and praising her as the ultimate example of human submission to the will of God. The DL of St Mark, likewise in use by the Coptic Church, is attributed to St. Mark the Evangelist. It also praises the Theotokos. These are the two oldest liturgies written down, and they are still in use in the Catholic church.
The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, as well, used by the various Byzantine churches (Catholic and Orthodox), praises the theotokos (and dates to the 4th C), as does it’s simplified form, the DL of St John Chrysosstum (5th C).

Praising Mary’s example reminds us of just how much she risked… Had Joseph hardened his heart, she would have been pressed to death under heavy stones. She risked ridicule, death, and lifetime shaming. She risked everything, giving her life to the Lord.

I have to second the “time” answer. Both God and His mother know your heart, and she will be there for you when you need her the most, and it will be so natural that you will not have to worry about forcing anything. When I became Catholic, I was so uncomfortable with Mary that I told the deacon I might never say a Rosary. How wrong I was!

Often we grow closest to Mary when we are experiencing some difficulty or struggle. That’s when she really become my mother. Patience! And welcome to the Church.

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