Marian Devotion vs. Apparitions

I am a Protestant who would be very eager to convert to Catholicism if I could reconcile the issue of the Virgin Mary.

This may be hard for non-converts to understand, but Mary is a MAJOR stumbling block for those of us who were not raised in the Catholic Church. The biggest problem is that we know nothing of her other than she was the mother of Jesus - she is hardly ever mentioned in our world outside of that event.

I have read an article on Patrick Madrid’s Surprised by Truth site, and I can reconcile the information I see about Mary there - that the Co-Redemptrix means she said “yes” to Jesus, etc. To oversimply, that Mary is one of the best (after Jesus) examples of how we are to be as believers.

What I do not understand, and where it seems to me that Mary is being elevated to God-like status, is the Marian apparitions. I don’t understand, from the Fatima apparitions, why a humble woman who seeks to lead us to Jesus would say to consecrate Russia to her - like she would be the one responsible for saving the nation. It seems that in apparitions, Mary is demanding adoration, devotion, laud, etc. for herself by asking for shrines, consecrations, and so forth and claiming that she will convert a certain area.

This seems (to me) out of character for the humble person that Mary is shown to be throughout the gospel narrative, as well as infringing upon God’s right to be the sole object of our adoration and the sole director of salvation.

Can anyone help explain this to me? I know that we Protestants have trouble understanding pious love, but this seems to go beyond those boundaries, and (as I said) is the one stumbling block holding me back from enrolling in my nearest RCIA class.

Thanks so much, and sorry for the novel.

I don’t understand, from the Fatima apparitions, why a humble woman who seeks to lead us to Jesus would say to consecrate Russia to her - like she would be the one responsible for saving the nation. It seems that in apparitions, Mary is demanding adoration, devotion, laud, etc. for herself by asking for shrines, consecrations, and so forth and claiming that she will convert a certain area.

Keep in mind that you do not have to believe in these apparitions, technically.

Anyway, the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary isn’t Mary becoming responsible for saving Russia, except in the sense that she’s a co-redemptrix. Mary’s prayers are the most powerful prayers of a human, because of her intimacy and closeness to Our Lord. It is only because of Him that she is so favored. Russia was in such a state that Mary was pleading for us to request her intercession. Just as Christ will not act on our behalf unless we let Him (we have to accept Salvation) all the Saints are so bound.

The adoration, devotion, etc. is to lead us to Christ. It’s very difficult to explain and understand, but loving Mary automatically makes on begin to focus on and love Christ. Many protestants do not believe this, they think this is what we tell them to get them to start a devotion to Mary, but it is true.

Also, in the apparitions Mary consistantly tells us to turn back to the Sacraments, back to repentence. These are all turning towards Christ. Whenever she asks for a Church to be built, well, who is going to be most honored by that Church? Catholics worship Christ in our churches, so if one is built it will be devoted to God first and foremost, despite who’s name may be on the sign.

I suggest you get some books on the Apparitions of the blessed Mother and read. You will see many documented cases and especially at Fatima how even the atheist newspaper couldn’t believe their eyes. But you must read about them first.
The Blessed Mother comes to tell us her son exists. She always has a message. I was in Medjugorgie and to be there is to believe. You don’t have to believe, but you can’t help but believe.
Read about Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, and others, how many millions of converts from these apparitions took place. How many documented miracles alone just at Lourdes, France.
Jesus sends his mother to us because we are not worthy to see the face of Christ yet. She is very important to him as well as to us.

Hi - I’m also a Protestant now in the midst of a swim across the Tiber.

On the issue of Mary, which is a common issue among Protestants, I would suggest Scott Hahn’s book, “Hail Holy Queen”. Scott was a evangelical protestant minister who converted to Catholicism - he is today a wonderful Catholic apologist with many helpful books to those grappling with these, and other issues. His book on Mary was, I thought, particularly interesting.

In fairness, his book does not really address the aparition issue - but then aparitions are private, not public, revelation - some are legitimate and acknowledged by the Church, some are not (much like in the Pentacostal movements, some I believe legitimately have the gift of tounges, and many do not, but may think they do out of exuberance and a desire to be close to God).

Blessings,

Brian

I don’t see in any of the apparitions, Mary giving us any new ideas about how to be a model christian.
She seems to be preaching to the “choir” in the apparitions.
This is how I see it at this point in time though.
I liken it to Sara trying to “help” God along.

There is a lot of marian excess in the Roman church. I’m not really sure why. The Marian excesses of Alphonsus de Ligouri and Louis de Montfort are extremely problematic to protestants and most eastern Orthodox. My guess is that they think “regular” worship of God isn’t as effective or isn’t as fun as Marian worship.
But I think most of these marian devotions are superflous at best and some are downright superstitious

Well, we Catholics (not all of us “Roman”) happen perhaps to think it slightly problematic that some (not all) Protestants have attempted to ‘correct’ what they think is ‘excessive attention’ by actively denigrating Mary --Scripture tells us she is to be called blessed by all generations, yet some (not all) of these don’t even call her that. She isn’t even worthy enough to be recognized as Mother of Christ (and some of these people are so confused that they think that Jesus is half-man/half God and Mary was ‘only’ the mother of the ‘human half’, and that He ‘repudiated her’ and even cursed her).

In a climate where this kind of ‘acknowledgement of Mary’ is considered PRAISEWORTHY, even calling her ‘blessed’ is considered ‘too popish’. So no wonder they think that ‘proper treatment’ is too much, and are so quick to exaggerate and to ASSUME that Catholics are ‘idolators’.

Most of them would be ASTONISHED to realize the first Protestants gave Mary as much respect as the maligned Catholics do. . .and more than some Catholics today!

There is a lot of marian excess in the Roman church. I’m not really sure why. The Marian excesses of Alphonsus de Ligouri and Louis de Montfort are extremely problematic to protestants and most eastern Orthodox. My guess is that they think “regular” worship of God isn’t as effective or isn’t as fun as Marian worship.
But I think most of these marian devotions are superflous at best and some are downright superstitious

There is a lack of Mary in the protestant faith communities. I’m not really sure why. The lack of Mary found in every protestant belief system I’ve encountered is extremely problematic to Catholics, Orthodox, and traditional Christians. My guess is that they think that by ignoring, shunning, and occasionally slandering Mary they believe they are pleasing God, or that they just think it’s fun to ignore her. But I think most of these protestants just don’t know any better, and are ignorant of historical Christianity, to the point of being almost another religion.

Protestantism is a broad title but granted there are fundamentalist that are at one end of the extreme but the Marian excesses of Rome are the other end of the extreme. Pointing out the faults of the fundmentalists doesn’t excuse Rome.

The lack of Marian devotion or even her recognition in protestantism is due the latter’s faulty theology. Once the theology attacks the sinlessness of Mary, then that opens the way to other errors (i.e., that she had other children, her role in the Church, her relationship to her Son, etc.).

Pointing out the faults of the fundmentalists doesn’t excuse Rome.

Neither does it excuse those who do not give Mary her due.

If you do not believe in her perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, her assumption, her sinless life, and deny her title Mother of God, or refrain from praising her or praying with her then you do not give her her proper respect. It’s sort of like spitting on the Queen of England in her own country.

I never did try to excuse the extremes of the fundamentalists. I am pointing out the errors of both extremes

The immaculate conception was denied by Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Bernard among other prominent Roman catholics. Were they spitting on the Blessed Virgin Mary? And since when did God, or even Blessed Mary for that matter, demand that we praise or pray to her. I thought she was the humble haidmaid of the Lord.

“All generations will call me blessed.”

Mary hasn’t demanded that we praise her, we praise her out of love (and she forsaw that we would call her blessed). I don’t priase my wife because she demands it, I do it because I love her. The Church is the bride of Christ, and we praise Christ out of love, and as he honored His mother, we honor her as well, who is not only the mother of Christ (Mother of God), but made our mother as well as part of the body of Christ, and by Christ’s words to “the disciple whom he loved” - “here is your mother”. Notice how Christ did not say John - bu the disciple whom he loved - Christ loved all of his disciples and loves us and Mary is our (yours and mine) mother. I love her and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Blessings,

Brian

The implications of Rawb’s post are that if you don’t priase and pray to her you “spit in her face”. That’s nonsense. Spitting in the Virgin Mary’s face is pretty serious but scripture is silent about the necessity of praising or praying to her. I’m not saying that it is wrong to render Mary an appropriate amount of worship but only that it is not necessary. And the worship that many Roman catholics render to her is oftentimes excessive and superstitious.

VARC - I can tell you are a sincere Christian and I understand where you are coming from. Yes, scripture alone does not mandate or specify the level of praise we give to Mary or outline her role, expresssly, as intercessor (although the idea is there in the Wedding an Canna scene and there is further support for the concept in the Old Testament (the concept of Queen mother is an ancient Hebrew one reflected in the Old Testatment with the queen often playing the role of intercessor on behalf of others with respect to the King). And I agree with you that there are undoubtedly some within the Catholic community who, with the best of intentions, over due this (and other things) in a manner that is inconsistent with Church teaching. However, I believe (and if one believes or comes to believe) in the power of Apostolic Succession and in the authority of the Church, and thus have no difficulty in following the teachings of the Church as it relates to veneration of Mary (and other Saints, for that matter), which veneration is not inconsistent with scripture and is part of the Deposit of Faith.

Blessings,

Brian

I for one will have to disagree with the Roman church’s propagation of the Marian excess as espoused by many apparitions, Alphonsus de Ligouri, and not least of all, Louis de Montfort. These excesses are not catholic they are sectarian. They have not been practiced and believed “always, everywhere, and by all” but are exclusively held by christians in the church of Rome.

Alright, this is a minor point but…

…this is misleading. St. Thomas argued that Mary was sanctified before her birth and that she also committed no actual sins. He just didn’t draw it right to the point of conception. And remember that St. Thomas, no matter how brilliant, didn’t have the charism of infallibility - besides, he would have submitted to the wisdom of the Church on this matter anyways.

Rawb’s post said that denying the immaculate conception was spitting in Mary’s face. That’s bull. Many Catholics in good standing were very comfortable in rendering Mary modest worship and denying th IC at the same time. The truth is that denying the IC is more like spitting on Pastor Aeternus(Vatican I). So be it.

Some Protestants like to make a big deal out the Catholic respect afforded to Mary, simply because it’s something they can contort to criticize the Catholic Church and that contorted information get passed around and people start to accept it as truth. The fact is, Mary is a creature, granted a very special creature, but a creature nonetheless and a “human” spirit just like us. She is not a goddess, she is not worshipped and she is not prayed TO. Some people may pray WITH Mary, or ask Mary to pray FOR them, but she is not a deity to which prayer is directed as an end in itself. Mary is venerated, which means she is given the special respect due to a meritorious created person; but she is not adored, i.e. worshipped. There are some Catholics who go WAY overboard with the veneration bit; but that is an issue with them on the individual level, it is not taught or encouraged by the Church. These people are a small minority, though they tend to be pretty visible; and, with a billion Catholics in the world, even a tiny percentage can still be a lot of people.

Nobody has to believe in apparitions, they are considered “private revelation” and are not part of the deposit of faith. When the Church approves one of these things, it does NOT guarantee the authenticity of the event. About all it says, after very careful investigation, is that the apparition does not appear to have been an outright fraud and that the message conveyed by the apparition did not contain doctrinal error; therefore, the Church does not have an issue if people CHOOSE to consider the apparition valid. Like the overwhelming majority of Catholics, I don’t really pay these things too much mind; I simply don’t know and they don’t impact me one way or the other (though, given the number of witnesses “without a dog in the fight,” it would appear that something did indeed happen at Fatima). If you look a the content of the messages that come from the apparitions, they almost exclusively deal with calling people to conversion, prayer and expressing the fact that God is love. To the extent that they have resulted in MANY, MANY, MANY people coming to God, perhaps they do indeed serve a purpose in the divine plan. Who knows?

If I were you, I’d go ahead and start RCIA; nobody will try to convert you, you can stop at any time you wish and no questions will be asked. You’ll get your answers straight from the horse’s mouth and probably have some fun too. Lots of non-Catholics, with no intention of converting, take RCIA just to learn what the Church really teaches. In any case, I think you’ll find that your issue in this area is really a non-issue.

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