I am a cradle Catholic, but never practicing… Now I am thinking of returning to the Church.
One thing that has always bothered me about Catholicism is that everytime I would see a Catholic church, there’s this statue of Mary, with everyone kneeling in front of her, but nowhere to be found outside is the person who is actually worshipped inside. I would take a guess that it’s because Mary is considered the mother of all believers, but it still borders on something more than adoration. At least, it seems to. I would think it would be more appropriate to have a cross outside, or even a crucifixiation scene with both Mary and Jesus in it.
Just for clarification, I know that Catholics don’t worship Mary, I’m just saying from an outsider’s perspective it gives the wrong impression… Thoughts?
Wrong language. Adoration is reserved only for God.
Welcome to the Catholic Church. From an outsiders perspective (seeing without Faith), it would appear we worship a piece of bread, have really boring “services”, and do lots of other weird things like not eating meat during certain times of the year and not being able to use contraception! As far as the world is concerned, we are loons. I think having a statue of Mary around and seeing lots of faithful praying to Mary also looks weird but what can you do except give a good explanation when it is asked of you?
Everyone goes to the churches you are talking about to worship Jesus. Do you notice that those that pray to Mary then go on to Mass to worship the Lord? Do you understand the intimacy they have with Jesus when they receive the communion?
I would take a guess that it’s because Mary is considered the mother of all believers, but it still borders on something more than adoration. At least, it seems to. I would think it would be more appropriate to have a cross outside, or even a crucifixiation scene with both Mary and Jesus in it.
All the Churches in my area have a cross outside. They may have a grotto dedicated to Mary and often it’s more prominent if the Church’s name is drawn from Mary, i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
But the number one reason they are at the Church is to worship Jesus.
So why do they say those prayers to Mary?
A lot of them will tell you that Mary drew them closer to Jesus, and wouldn’t you want to thank her for that? After all, didn’t she say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord”? She brings us closer to God!!!
Just for clarification, I know that Catholics don’t worship Mary, I’m just saying from an outsider’s perspective it gives the wrong impression… Thoughts?
Try it from an insiders perspective and you may find that outsiders are wrong.
Here’s what I found out. I recently asked this question of people that I knew who attended daily mass and said a rosary every day. “Which came first in your life, the rosary or daily mass?”
Nearly all of them said that they began saying the rosary daily. Then later on, they began to attend the Mass daily. It seems in each case that devotion to Mary drew all of them closer to daily Mass where we worship Jesus in the most intimate way.
P.S. I hope my tone in this post doesn’t give you the impression that I’m chastising you. Your questions are most welcome!!! And Good Luck on your journey!!!
Remember, the Catholic Church is like looking at the stained glass windows. They are both so much more beautiful when looking at them from the inside than from the outside!!!
We don’t need pictures or statues of Jesus inside (although there is, or should be, a crucifix prominently displayed in the sanctuary of every Catholic Church), because we have Christ himself literally present in every single tabernacle in the Eucharist.
And we fall on our knees before him in worship at every single Mass, if not oftener (usually people will genuflect to the Tabernacle before taking a seat, and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament).
Let’s draw an analogy - the Jewish Temple had loads of images of cherubs (angels) and different pictures decorating the place. No images of God though, not even on the Ark of God’s presence itself - they were strictly forbidden. Do you think anyone who went there did so to worship anyone but God though?
Every Catholic Church has or is supposed to have a Crucifex over or around the altar the central place of worship for the Catholic. This is where adoration takes place not in the garden or outside of the church where one is likely to see Mary who is never adored but venerated no matter what it looks like to outsiders. And who better to welcome Christians to her Son than his Mother Mary? This anti-marian thing is downright disrespectful. Jesus is the Groom of the Church is he not? Would you not allow your husabnd to have a a photograph or painting etc of his mother or would you be so jealous as to not allow it?
And to outsiders we are committing idolatry when we adore Jesus is the appearance of bread and wine. But if we are right about the whole thing then they are commiting a reverse form of idolatry of not adoring Jesus. So this is a very important thing for you to consider when deciding to come back to the Church or not. I think with some study you will find the Catholic stance is not only the traditional one whcih all Christians had for 1500 years prrior to the Reformation but the Biblical one as well.
First, to say that there is always a statue of Mary with everyone kneeling at it is a gross exaggeration. In all my years as a Catholic I’ve never seen “everyone” kneeling at any statue, Mary or otherwise. At most I might see one or two people praying at a statue. Usually there are none.
I like to point out that in the Mass, the summit of Catholic worship, which happens perhaps a million times a day throughout the world, there are well over a hundred references to God (the Father, Son and/or Holy Spirit). There are four references to Mary.
I agree. Prior to converting, I had heard that for Catholics, it’s all Mary, all the time. Sooooo not true. She barely gets a mention. It really is all about Jesus.
I wouldn’t worry too much about other’s people’s impressions - there’s not much we can do about it… if it weren’t Mary, they’d be picking on us for another reason. Jesus said if they persecuted Him, they’ll persecute us…
It was my quest at wanting to learn more about Mary that lead me to Jesus Christ and His Church. I have much loved statues of her all over my house. Its my portrait of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is given the place of greatest honor in my home though.
Yes the Mass is pretty much all about Jesus thus we have Jesus above the altar it is his sacrifice that is celebrated. He is central the catholic form of whorship called the Mass. The stereotypes by anti-catholics is so off the mark that it shocks those who actually know what the mass is all about out. It is in our private prayer petetiions that Mary might play an important role as she as in Biblical scene the Wedding Feast of Cana has the Lord’s ear like any good Jewish mom does. We never adore Mary that is reserved for our highest form of worship to God alone whom we adore alone at every mass.
Doesn’t it depend on the church building? They’re all different.
Our church has a sculpture of the Holy Family, with the Boy Jesus front and center.
We have statue of Mary, but it’s kind of in the back.
I play piano at the Italian parish in our city, and they have 18 images of Mary, but more of Jesus, along with images of several Italian saints. It also has a life-sized copy of Pieta in the lobby, which is emotional and beautiful.
Every Catholic church has the images of the Stations of the Cross, which feature Jesus.
And as others have pointed out, Catholic churches have the tabernacle, where Jesus resides, not just an image, but Jesus Himself.
I’m sure that the architecture and decor of some Catholic church buildings give the impression that Mary or a saint is worshipped. IMO, each person who enters that church should take the responsibility to learn the truth. If they go to a wedding or funeral and have questions, why don’t they just call the priest the next week and ask? That’s what my husband and I did. We made an appointment with the priest in our church and asked him to please explain the mass and answer other questions that we had about Catholic worship.
I was evangelical Protestant for over 40 years, and just about every Protestant church I was part of or visited had pictures of the emeritus pastors, or a missionary board with pictures of all the missionaries. Often these pictures would be near the foyer of the church. Many people would gather around these pictures, especially the old people, and stare at them. Does this mean that Protestants are worshipping the pastors/missionaries? Of course not!
Yeah we should not forget although Mary is a barrier to many proestants in regards to Catholcism but she is an attraction to Catholicism to many Hindus love Mary, Jews love Mary, Islam loves Mary, Buddhist love Mary, non-religious love Mary, there are so many people of these types that I know myself or read about that love Mary and attracted to Mary she can be quite the attraction to people that she leads to Jesus and the Church ultimately. And lately there has been some protestants more open to her especially since the Passion of the Christ excellent depiction of her and many Lutherans are again saying the rosary as Martin Luther did back in the day. So we shound’t forget those Mary leads to the church as we tend to focus those whom she seems a barrier from entering the church.
What you say is an outsider’s perspective is absolutely correct.
If you are semi-familiar with the mass and/or the bible, I recommend Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper. It clearly establishes the mass and the center of Catholic life. It’s a fairly short and not-too-difficult read.
If audio is more to your liking, visit biblechristiansociety.com/ . There are lots of downloadable apologetics files or you can order free cd’s.
Yeah every catholic church has the stations of the cross whose focus is Jesus, the all have a crucifex whose focus is Jesus, they all have a tabernacle whose focus is Jesus himself present, and many have stained glass windows of Jesus and othe statues of Jesus, Pietas with Jesus and Mary. So the non-catholic chooses to focus on the one Mary statue in the whole place. Call me crazy but who has the problem here? People see what they want to see I guess. And shame on you protestants for worshipping your pastors and missionaries!
we must not visit the same churches. Most churches named after Mary have a statue of her outside, some churches with other names may also have statues, but never except at certain pilgrimage sites, shrines, on on the first Sunday of May for May crowning,including my childhood (at St. Mary’s parish, where we had a statue of Mary in a rather inaccessible grotto, but not in front of the church) have I seen crowds of people kneeling to the statue. On those occasions, anyone who was outside then went inside for Mass, where the actual worship of God takes place. Every Catholic Church I know of does have a cross on top, and a crucifix in the sanctuary.
I do not get your point. Worship takes place inside the Church, we do not worship the crucifix, which is still merely an image of the One whom we do worship. What difference would it make if everyone was kneeling outside, as long as the true worship, the Mass takes place as it is supposed to?
my thoughts since you ask? you are raising an issue without substance for some reason of your own. If you are sincere in your desire to return to the Church, confess your sins, return to the sacraments, read scripture, and renew your study of what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices. Coming here is surely a good first step. Welcome home.
Maybe I need to clarify this, as I have gotten some hostile responses.
As I stated in my original post, I know that Catholics do not worship Mary. I know that the Mass adores Jesus only. And I understand the points about Mary drawing people to Christ. The church I am speaking of bears one of Mary’s titles.
My point is, and what I’m really trying to wrap my head around the reason for, is that if I pass a place of worship, and outside is a statue of anyone, whoever, I would assume that that is the person who is most highly honored at that place of worship, in this case, Mary the mother of Jesus. It just seems to be odd that one would give her so high a place of honor to outsiders. It’s confusing to say the least. And yes, people have that said that to think that way is ignorant, but everyone who is not familiar with the Catholic faith is ignorant of it. To say that “Well, they just don’t know any better” is ignorant of my concern… My concern is for those who are not familiar and think it’s odd, and I’m looking for an explanation of why Mary is given this honor and asking why the Chruch may not consider it misleading to those who are not Christian.
And please stop bashing, because I believe that I am bringing up a question that many outside the faith will and who I have heard in the past ask. I am not asking for any other reason that honest seeking of the answer for myself so that I can explain it to others in the future.
OK. Your assumption about statues representing the one worshipped in the church is simply wrong, as assumptions sometimes are. There is simply no tradition in the Church of having a statue of Christ outside of every church. I guess the Church has always assumed that a church building is self-documenting. In the past, at least, people simply understood that it was God who was worshipped in a Catholic church.
You could think of it this way. The church building itself is a house of God, built for the worship of God, so compare the size of the church building itself with the size of any statue out front, and that will give you a rough idea of the relative esteem in which Catholics hold God and any particular saint.
Finally, there is a big difference between people who are truly ignorant of Catholic teaching, and people (Protestants, usually) who are already primed to believe the worst regarding Mary’s place in the Catholic faith. I think it is only the latter who are under discussion here. A truly ignorant person wouldn’t even know who the lady of the statue was, and would presumably be more curious than judgemental. But as for those Protestants who assume the worst regarding Mary and the Church, we cannot be responsible for their errors. We can correct them, but we can’t re-package the Catholic faith for their benefit.
I’m sorry if the responses seem hostile. Being a new poster, (welcome by the way! ) you may not realize that we’ve already answered about 498,286 threads about Mary. They are always the same old arguments (why Mary over Jesus) and it gets oh so tiresome to repeat it over & over again (It’s actually all about Jesus) so maybe we’re unnecessarily quick to fire off a response that seems a bit harsh.
But yours is a valid question - Why would Catholics allow it to appear that Mary is more important (by placing the statue outside the Church). Fair enough. I guess I would say, as others have, that Mary is very important to our Faith - she leads many to Christ and although we don’t worship her, we love her very much. If others want to read into it more that what’s there - what can we do other than lovingly correct them? It is, after all, our Faith. We shouldn’t have to change it (take out all the Mary statues) to please others because ultimately it’s God’s opinon that matters and He doesn’t mind, I am certain, that we love His dear Mom.
If you want to answer others who ask, “Why Mary outside the Church?” invite them to come inside the building where they will see the focus of our Faith on the cross.