I was thinking about her life I was not worshipping her

I asked a friend of mine to join me at Mass. Afterward, I went to the front to think. I sat with my head bowed in front of the statue of Mary.

After this, she asked me why I was praying to Mary.

I told her I don’t pray. I told her I am not sure if I can believe due to some sticky issues of dogma.

(please do not derail this thread by asking me what those issues are)

But, I was stunned by her question.

Why did she get this idea? Where did she get it from?

I was just thinking about her life.

Bowing your head is a pretty standard posture many take when praying.

Seems a reasonable assumption from her to me.

I do that when I am balancing my checkbook.

Not sure if that is a reasonable assumption to make. Am I worshipping my bank account when I do this?

She made an assumption which was incorrect. You were in a church. Your head was bowed. She assumed you were praying. But you were just thinking.

And one might look at other people in church with their heads bowed and assume they are praying, when in fact they might be just daydreaming!

But folks don’t typically bow their heads in prayer while balancing the checkbook, so in that case, it would be unreasonable to conclude that you were praying to it.

But people frequently bow their heads in prayer while kneeling/standing/sitting in front of statues and other religious imagery - particularly in Catholic and Orthodox churches. Thus, it sounds like a reasonable conclusion to make in that situation. :shrug:

Speak for yourself, buddy! That’s one of my number one times to pray - “Please, God, get me out of this mess!”


Dunno if this has been suggested this before, but have you ever gone to adoration? Talk about quality time in silence! There, if you realize it or not, you are in Jesus’ presence. There, you can silently reflect, read, pray, give thanks, or just sit. You could even ask your friend to accompany you and bring something spiritual to read. Just a thought.

Your friend asked if you were praying to Mary, while the title of your post refers to worshipping her. Please note that these are two very different things.

We are called to worship God alone. Catholics do not worship Mary. We may venerate her (and other Saints who provide examples of faith to us), but not Worship her.

We do however pray to her. We pray for her intercesion on our behalf to God…in the same way we might ask a friend to keep us in their prayers.

So please note that clear distinction between praying to Mary and worshipping Mary. The first a perfectly fine as a Catholic, the second is not.

Yes, we pray to Mary, the Mother of God, whenever we ask her to intercede for us with the Father in heaven. We can do that while standing, kneeling, sitting down or walking. We can also bow our heads while praying.
None of those gestures may readily be interpreted as worshiping by an onlooker. Distinguishing between praying and worshiping is the business of the person doing it and God Himself.

bowing ones head was an ancient gesture of respect, the Japanese still bow for this reason. They are not praying. So when you bow your head to Mary its respectfull not Worship.

“I was saying hello to my mother. you gotta problem widdat?”

The other issue here is that many Catholics DO, in fact, pray to Mary in a worshipful way rather than asking for intercession. I want to be clear on this, I LOVE OUR BLESSED MOTHER and I ask for her help on a regular basis. (you should see how many Hail Mary’s I recite when I am flying in turbulent weather!) LOL

However, there are more than a few Catholics who take things way too far and spend more time talking about or praying to Our Lady then they do the Holy Trinity. I walk into more than a few Catholic homes and see pictures of Mary and hardly anything about Jesus Christ, less about God the Father, and hardly ever the Holy Spirit. Its no wonder people misunderstand it.

interesting in my experience if a home has the sacred heart of Mary up then you will also find the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As for pictures of the Holy Spirit the clue is in Spirit :D. and God the Father never has a physical form either.

I don’t know which homes you go into but not the Catholic homes I see.

Also have you ever asked these Catholics do they Worship Mary or are you just assuming it?

If they said they are worshiping Mary then they are not Catholics they are Heretics and you should ask them to discuss the matter with their parrish priest. :smiley:

I think it was a reasonable assumption given the context. If it had occurred any where else, it would be more out of context to assume that.

Her conclusion may also reveal a slight stereotype about Catholics. The assumption that we DO pray to the Saints and to Mary.

And depending on how technical you want to get about the words “pray to” vs. “seek intercession” – she may be right about that assumption or completely wrong.

Some Catholics say “NO, we don’t pray to the Saints, we ask them to pray for us, we seek their intercession”
While other Catholics will simply say… “Yeah, we pray to them, Prayer is not worship, they are 2 different things. Prayer is communication.”

But regardless, most people outside of Catholicism, assume that Prayer and Worship are the same thing.

If she asks you more about it… I’d point this out.

The word Prayer, itself, comes from the Greek “Precari” [pre-kar-ee] which means “a sincere petition” NOT worship. Prayer is how we communicate with those in heaven or who have passed on, essentially, since we can’t send them a letter, an email, or call them on the phone.

Worship is an act of will. You can not judge or presume what someone worships. You can not trick them into worshipping something that they in fact do not. Even if they go through the motions, if one truly does not believe…then they are not truly worshipping.

Therefore, we can not judge people’s actions externally when it comes to what they in fact do or don’t worship. We have to ask them and trust them when they answer, since only they know their own will.

Too often, non-Catholics externally judge a catholic who kneels before the Pope or a Statue and assumes they worship that person or object without ever asking the person what they believe.

In my experience, Catholics understand this distinction… it is often the non-Catholic who struggles with discerning the two things and gets Prayer and Worship confused.

I personally believe that Prayer to the Saints, to Mary, to the Angels is perfectly OK, even Biblical.
We see in Revelations the Angels taking our prayers and presenting them to God.
We see in the bible that those in heaven and those on Earth are BOTH connected to God and the “body of Christ” so there is no separation.

I may be making some assumptions, but in the most part I am taking it from more than their home. It is from the way they write and talk as well as the devotions or prayers that they do and the manner in which they do them. I have spoke to some of them about it privately and will freely admit that making such a determination can be quite subjective. Someone besides me seeing the same things may not come to the same conclusion. But, it would not be difficult for someone who is not used to drawing the fine distinction between 'praying to" and worship to determine.

When I have been asked by non-catholics if I pray to Mary or the Saints my answer is “nope, I ask them to pray for me”. That seems to be the easiest way to make the distinction in a way that most people can grasp without too much effort.

Great post! I will likely ‘borrow’ some of your arguments! :thumbsup:

One of the other things which has been moderately successful for me in explaining the devotion or intercession of saints to non-Catholics is that we see them as models for our lives in Christ. I explain how Mary never said no to God and that St. Joseph was willing to conform his life to the God’s will and thus became a great example for Christians to follow in our own faith journey.

Thanks again for the info!


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