Marian Reverence vs. Marian Excessiveness

Guys, bear with me as this is a source of frustration for me and there is not many places I can turn to for discussion about it. This is in no way meant to start a flame war, so please come into this conversation with context.

I am struggling with what I am guessing may be possible resentment or at least definite frustration on how Mary is venerated. What is killing me is I actually have a relationship with the Blessed Mother - so I almost feel as if I am slandering a good friend. Which is not my intention.

This started with me looking up the new movement to institute a 5th Marian Dogma which I read about here. (BTW - lets stay on topic, the 5th dogma is another thread). Which I read about the other 4 dogmas.

There is one or two dogmas that I need to research more on - specifically that Mary was immaculately conceived, and that of the Assumption. If I am honest with myself, I am not too sure on those - but also accept that I am imperfect and accept them on faith for now. I place solace and trust in 2000yrs of theologians that they know what they are talking about.

But this triggered irritation within me again - that Mary seems to be venerated so high. And although I know she is not on the same footing as Christ himself, it is hard to perceive that she isn’t sometimes.

For example, I see in my own church, within the Hispanic culture specifically that she is elevated to almost cult like status. Outside of that specific case, I see others almost pray to her instead of with her. I see movements like this to bring in a new dogma that makes no sense to me personally (not to combat heresy, or clarify something completely confusing, etc). I see the Catholic Church almost put an over emphasis on the Blessed Mother.

Mary is a Saint, and an important Saint. God obviously turns to her for important tasks and she held an important place in history.

But all things still come through Christ, period. And sometimes I truly feel as if that is lost. Am I the only one that thinks veneration of Mary is a little too over the top sometimes, or even excessive?

I guess I need to just keep my side of the street clean and not worry about how others worship with her. Who am I to critique that. I guess it is just confusion I need to surrender to God. And hopefully, she will understand why I say what I do and not look at me in an unfavorable light.

Thanks for letting me share everyone. Sorry for the rant.

The 5th Marian Dogma doesn’t seem to have any momentum right now, and in fact seems to have a lot of Vatican opposition.

As regards excessiveness, well, that’s what happens when you get a billion people all in one room. :slight_smile:

I also think it’s excessive when people allow themselves to be crucified during Holy Week and other strange things. But as you say, keep your side of the street clean, and make sure you know what the Church actually teaches, and if necessary, speak up to your local parish authorities if something seems to be getting out of hand. Every excess should be treated as a catechesis opportunity.

This is the way I look at Marian devotion:

God already bestowed upon her the greatest honor imaginable: to be the Mother of Jesus. To carry him, give birth to him, and raise him. Jesus’ public ministry was only 3 years. Mary was able to spend ten times that amount of time living a quite life with God Himself.

Nothing I do, no matter how ornate or seemingly over the top can possibly compare with the honor that God has already given Mary.

Have you looked at Catholic Answers’ tracts on Mary? They may help clarify a few things for you (and if anything doesn’t make sense, you can always post a question about it.)

Hispanics don’t treat her like a cult status. They simply acknowledge that she is the mother of God. They know that she is a very important part of the Catholic religion. Other Christian religions like to minimize her importance or act like there isn’t any.

Thanks everyone for their support and information - I am actually going to follow and read up some on that link.

And Carjack1, let me clarify - I was not applying this to all Hispanics. I was speaking of reverence of the Hispanic culture within my specific church only. But that should be something I could ask a respected member in the Hispanic community about (one of the leaders is in Knights with me) or the pastor specifically.

As long as one does not elevate their devotion to Mary to equality with God and does not worship her as Divine one really can not have an excessive devotion or reverence for Mary if one is also worshipping God weekly (or more) through the Mass, receiving the sacraments and being Christian.

Mary does not draw people to herself - she draws them to Her son. By the same token Jesus and Mary are inseparable in love and affection - where Jesus is there also is Mary.

I would not worry at all about feeling that God needs us to moderate and balance our affections for Mary since He is very pleased to honor Mary and is not in anyway threatened or displeased with honoring her and petitioning her favor. But if somone were to stop going to Mass or try to create a new liturgy where Mary becomes the center of worship - then you can bet this would be heretical and not something God, nor Jesus nor Mary would approve of.


He is very pleased to honor Mary and is not in anyway threatened or displeased with honoring her and petitioning her favor.

Wow. To the point and dead on - how did I miss that.

I agree with the OP to the extent that in a lot of places at a lot of times people and communities have overstepped the bounds of discretion in their veneration of Our Lady. I have known people who “can’t pray to Jesus” because they are “unworthy” but pray to Our Lady “instead.”

There is/has been MUCH devotional abuse surrounding the Mother of God.

That said, abuses do not constitute teaching. The TEACHING on Mary is bedrock. If there have been excesses, that is a PROBLEM but not an authentic teaching or practice of the Church.

My take on it is that it is actually not possible for us to love Mary as much as Jesus loves her, so I wouldn’t worry about expressing “too much” affection for her, whether it’s myself, or other people.

Would that we could give half as much love to our own family members, though.

There needs to be a balance, but I’d rather see someone correct the balance by treating his own mother or sister the same way he now treats the Virgin Mary, rather than start treating the Virgin Mary in the same way that he now treats his mother and his sisters. :wink:

Y’all come on over to East Harlem on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! I’ll show you some highly questionable practices.

I agree that other Christians tend to minimize her, actually sometimes to the point of demeaning her. I’ll take East Harlem over THAT!


I agree that other Christians tend to minimize her, actually sometimes to the point of demeaning her. I’ll take East Harlem over THAT

I see it being difficult to give as much honor as Chirst gives His mother. However, if you think that someone is going overboard, please evangelize them.


C’mon over to East 116th Street next December 12. :smiley:

Well said James.

Have a very good friend, Baptist, whom I’ve been clarifying & correcting many of the Catholic misconceptions & assumptions he picked up, has issues with hispanics, as a group, which *appear *to idolize rather than venerate. Of course this is unfair, and bigoted. And we should not judge nor will know whats in one’s heart … but I tend to agree with him & the OP this seems to be a cultural thing.

Please excuse me if I am wrong, but I think that we certainly are unworthy to speak to God. Speaking to Him through Mary is a sign of humility and reverence for God. Of course, this does not mean we can’t pray straight to Jesus. He’s a pretty nice, merciful guy :wink: . But personally I don’t have any problem with people who only pray through Mary. It really does bring you closer to Jesus and especially makes you revere him all the more when you pray to Him at Mass on Sunday.

I’d also like to say that really, we do pray to Mary, just as we do all the saints. I mean, when you ask Mary or a saint for a favor, wouldn’t you consider that praying to them? Perhaps you just meant some people mistakenly think Mary can do things independent of God.

Yes: I absolutely do know people who pray “to” Mary in the SAME way we pray to God, and not as we pray to her for her intercession: as though she were an indepentent agent.

Mind you, I pray the rosary daily, and wear my miraculous medal at all times in commemoration of a personal, life-changing favor obtained through Our Lady’s intercession for me under her title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal – when I wasn’t even talking to her aout it!

And, of course, much “Marian excessiveness” often simply translates as “not-my-cup-of-tea.” For example, the shrine to OLG in the sanctuary, flanked by the flag of Mexico and surrounded with plastic flowers and running lights that flicker in time with those classic hymns of the Gregorian repertory, “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” IN the sanctuary. Did I say in the sanctuary?

do you know of your presonal knowledge what is going on in the hearts of these people? How do you relate the investigation into declaring a new Marian dogma to the devotion of people you observe, by your own admission, at your own location. and THEN you state “the Catholic Church” puts an overemphasis on the BVM. Members of your parish, in and of themselves, do not constitute the universal Catholic Church.

First the dogma has not yet been defined. If you want to discuss it, start a thread limited to that topic, or better yet, visit other thread on th etopic.

Second, do not criticize the devotional practices of others unless and until you have irrefutable evidence that they are overstepping grounds of Catholic doctrine and practice. I doubt very much you can say that about people you observe casually in the outward expression of popular piety in your parish. If you can see into their hearts please notify the Vatican so your cause for sainthood can be started.

Third, the formal proper name for a devotion to Mary or a particular saint is indeed “cult”, divorced of course from the sensational meaning given to that word by popular media.

If you want to discuss the DOGMA of the Assumption of the BVM (required for belief of all Catholics) then visit one of the threads which discusses the basis of this dogma in the theology of the Person of Christ, or start a thread on that topic.

Please pick a topic so we can continue discussion.

Sounds like a wonderful invitation, but I’ll be coming back from Orlando probably somewhere near CentralFLJames area.


When I was a Protestant I had a lot of trouble with this, I felt afraid to ask Mary for prayer and couldn’t understand why people have devotions to her at all…I thought I don’t need Mary, I have God.

Somewhere during my conversion to Catholicism, I realized that I needed to deal with my feelings about this… I asked God to help me… and when I prayed the Rosary for the first time, I felt both Jesus and Mary listening to me. It’s hard to explain but at that moment I just knew it was true. And ever since then, I have had a better understanding of Mary… I believe she is really our Mother, and cares about us, and wants to lead us to her Son.

There’s also one other thing that God has been showing me. And that is, if we honour Mary, we are honouring Him too. And if we dishonour her, we dishonour Christ. She is His Mother. So because of this, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with venerating her :slight_smile:

I’m sorry I don’t really have anything specific to say to the OP, I see what you mean about some people taking it ‘too far’, but what really matters is what’s in their hearts…maybe in their actions their devotion is ‘excessive’ but inside they put God first. He knows :slight_smile: when people love someone they often exaggerate their words and maybe that’s why some of the Mary prayers are so ‘extreme’. I think as long as they are putting God first and letting Mary draw them to Christ, all is well.

I can totally understand the Hispanics’ deep devotion to OL Guadalupe…after all, she led them away from a religion of human sacrifice! Hopefully, if the Lord wills it, she can act powerfully in this day and age to end the holocaust of human sacrifice in North America. (Abortion!) OL Guadalupe is the only apparition of Mary to ever appear as pregnant (IIRC).

Re the fifth Marian dogma, well, I don’t think we should dogmatize love. It’s pious devotion, but not a de fide doctrine, and should stay that way. I love my Mama just as much as the next Christian (and more than many who!!! to.their.mother!!!)…but I don’t think we should dogmatize devotion.

Perhaps the people who want the dogma are encouraged by the last two dogmas over the last two centuries…I am not sure they were advisable, because they weren’t defending Christ against heresy like the first two dogmas…not sure of their purpose really. Perhaps Our Lady was acting as preventive medicine for some later secular heresies that were to spring up?

I think people who want the dogma pay far too much attention to private revelations as if those should dictate what the Church should be doing. Jesus didn’t give an apparition of his Mother the keys to the kingdom!!!

That being said…when properly understood and thinking with the church…Marian devotion is beautiful…we don’t have the power to honor Mary more than God does.

To love Mary is to honor the wondrous works of God!

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