Need help answering this Mary/pagan goddess connection claim

I just need some resources and some good answers here. My friend sent me this link:

evangelicaloutreach.org/devotion-to-mary.htm

that supposedly proved how Catholic devotion makes Mary into a goddess blah blah blah… :rolleyes: He’s wondering how I would answer.

I know there are answers, but I’m honestly just too tired to go through all this and research at the moment. So I’m turning to you guys. Can you help me with these? Especially the month of May objection. To me it’s pretty ridiculous, but I feel I should give my friend a better answer than just a laugh, which was my first reaction to this piece. He really is searching.

Any help would be appreciated.

Answers to what? Nothing this guy (the author of the webpage) is saying is untrue. He is not quoting anybody incorrectly or out of context.

The problem is that he does not understand what he is quoting. It seems he just trolled around for some Catholic quotes which were favorable to Mary (which probably took him all of 30 seconds) and put them together, concluding that “a lot of adoration” means Mary is somehow equal to God.

For example, he quotes St. Louis de Montfort:

There are several interior practices of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Here are the principal ones, stated compendiously: (1) to honor her as the worthy Mother of God, with the worship of hyperdulia; that is to say, to esteem her and honor her above all the other saints, as the masterpiece of grace, and the first after Jesus Christ, true God and true Man;

The quote is accurate, and de Monfort specifies exactly what he is talking about (namely hyperdulia) and explains exactly what the term means (the honor given to Mary).

But this guy doesn’t understand the term “hyperdulia.” There are three “degrees” of honor in the Church:

**Dulia **- Veneration or homage, different in nature and degree from that given to God, which is accorded to the Saints.
Hyperdulia - The highest degree of dulia, reserved for the Blessed Virgin Mary as the highest of the Heavenly Saints.
Latria - The worship given to God alone.

I think this guy rejects the idea of ANY sort of honor (dulia) to ANY of the Saints. Naturally, he has the harshest criticism of the highest degree of dulia. This probably means he objects to the whole concept of the Communion of Saints. You can’t talk about Mary to somebody who does not understand that there’s no such thing as death.

Of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary predicted her own honor among the nations:

For, behold, from this day forward, all generations will call me blessed. [Luke 1:48]

In what Church is this prophecy fulfilled? The extent of most protestant recognition of Mary is to put a 14-year old girl into a blue dress once a year for a Christmas pageant.

Thanks David. Good stuff. I think you’re right that I’m going to have to explain the communion of saints to him for any of this to make sense.

It can help to first seek common ground and agreement. Ask him if he believes that people in Heaven are alive. Surely a Protestant believes in eternal life. Ask him if he asks his friends to pray for him. Ask if he believes that Jesus honored His mother. Agreeing on these three points will make it hard for him to justify his position.

How should I address the quote where DeMontfort says devotion to Mary is necessary for salvation though? I think that’s what is bothering him the most.

I’ve always thought that devotion to Mary was extremely beneficial but not strictly required. Am I wrong?

Robyn p.

I would focus on general principles.

Memorize this phrase that Tim Staples frequently uses:

** All Marian doctrines have Christologic implications.**

How you view the Blessed Virgin Mary DOES affect how you view Jesus.

I would focus on the (implicit) denial of Jesus as God by the website you mentioned. After all, if they have an issue with the Blessed Mother being “God bearer”, (and you have to know what this term does and does NOT mean) maybe their real problem is believing Jesus as True God AND True man.

Does this make sense for a starting foundation for discussion with this person on this subject?

God bless.

Cathoholic

I would explain that St. Louis de Montfort was flat-out **WRONG **when he said this.

de Montfort was not a Pope or a Bishop (he was a priest). As such, he is not part of the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Heck, Martin Luther was a priest (of the Augustinian Order), but he is a poor source to cite for Catholic doctrine.

Saints can be wrong. The Church canonizes people based on how they lived their lives, not on how theologically “correct” they were.

A very small subset of Saints have ALSO been recognized for their teaching contribution to the Church. These few saints are recognized as “Doctors of the Church.” de Montfort is not a Doctor of the Church. But, even the greatest Doctor, called the “Angelic Doctor,” St. Thomas Aquinas, (a Dominican priest) was really squirrely about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and theologians STILL argue about what he really intended to say.

There’s NOTHING WRONG with saying that any particular Saint got something wrong. If someone wants to say that the Angelic Doctor got Immaculate Conception wrong, I would not care to debate the matter. I feel even less compelled to defend Saints of lesser authority when it comes to the matter of defining Church doctrine.

Because doctrine is not defined by Saints (people in heaven). It is defined by the Magisterium of the Church (people on earth - Popes and Bishops, while they are alive on this earth).

Yes that is a good point. I think his main issue right now is the type of language certain writers use when speaking about Mary. I’m trying to explain to him the nature of devotional language, and how it’s not necessarily theologically accurate. (like David pointed out)

I feel like I have to get past this before we can get into the actual dogmas themselves.

St. Louis de Montfort was not wrong. He said a true thing in a way that is difficult to understand.

Believing that Jesus is Son of God and Son of Mary is dogma.
Dogma are the beliefs necessary for salvation, which are taught inside the Church.
The Church is the ordinary means of salvation that was set up by Jesus.
So if you don’t believe that Mary is the Mother of God, you can’t be saved (without a bunch of special graces given from God, despite being outside the Church).

Likewise, without special stuff happening direct from God, you need to be a Mass-going communion-receiving Catholic to be saved.
All the Mass prayers (in every Catholic rite I know) will include Marian prayers;
we ask Mary and other saints to pray for us.
So in order to go to Mass and receive Communion and be saved…
you have to have Marian devotion.

But it’s not a matter of having to have one thing. You have to have all the theological things.

It’d be like saying, “You have to believe in the Book of Esther in order to be saved.” Well, yeah. You have to believe in all the books of the Bible to be saved, because you have to believe in all the things God has taught us in all their forms, if you want to be saved.

I know what you’re trying to say, but you are not correct.

We are saved by one thing and one thing only: the Grace of Christian Baptism.

We are not saved by beliefs (or works or faith or anything else).

Disbelief, in itself, cannot remove us from a State of Grace. Only mortal sin can do that.

It’s possibly for disbelief to be mortally sinful, but only if you WANT to disbelieve. You would have to be obstinate in your disbelief to incur mortal sin.

Most people who struggle with disbelief are undergoing something called a “crisis of Faith.” Great Saints of the Church have struggled with disbelief.

A person who finds himself struggling with any (or every) belief does not incur EVEN venial sin, provided three conditions are met:

[LIST=1]
*]He must recognize that his disbelief is a flaw that should be corrected.
*]He must make a sincere, ongoing effort to correct his disbelief (coming here is one way).
*]He must not teach others his disbelief as authentic.
[/LIST]

As long as those conditions are satisfied then disbelief is not mortally sinful and will not remove us from the State of Grace we received at Baptism (or had restored in Confession).

I would agree that, yes, some poor and often less than well educated Catholics (esp in Spanish colonies) prob do accord worship to Mary that in all honesty should be reserved for Jesus alone.

However one swallow does not Spring herald.
As sinners weakened in heart and mind we are all on the way to a true worship of the unseen God despite small hearts and sometimes small minds.

However the teaching of the spiritually mature who have gone before us is clear - as other contributors here have made clear.

Whenever dealing with Evangelicals you have to understand that you are dealing with ‘nominal’ Christians. IOW, they have thrown SO much of Christianity out the window, that in effect they worship the Bible.

They have tossed out a visible church, the Sacraments (especially Baptismal regeneration and the Holy Eucharist), Apostolic succession, etc. etc. If it is not EXPLICITLY AND CLEARLY ENUMERATED in the Bible for them, it doesn’t exist.

They tend to be semi-arian or at least Nestorian in their Christology, so naturally they have no great devotion to the Virgin Mother of God.

Since they have no use for all of the Christian doctrines of the Sacrificial nature of the Holy Eucharist and the Mass, they have little or no understanding of True Divine Worship (which Catholics take for granted.)

So when dealing with an Evangelical, one must have compassion on their blindness, and try, if possible, to turn the dialog back toward their own lack of Faith and loss of Christianity as practiced in the Bible. I would not even try to explain the devotion Catholics have for the Virgin Mary, as it would naturally fall into place, if they grasped even some of the basics of Christianity which their blind guides have arbitrarily tossed overboard.

To be honest, I don’t even consider them to be Protestants. Protestants at least subscribe to some of the sacraments, and a visible church.

The Gospel for today (May 31, 2015) was the Great Commission - the final verses of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

I had somehow missed the verses leading up to the Commission:

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

These are the APOSTLES!!! They had SEEN the Resurrection. They had been instructed by the risen Lord for “40 days.” They had SEEN him eat. Thomas fell before him and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

And, yet, they STILL doubted! And it was to them, these doubters, that Our Lord entrusted the ministry of the Church, while they yet doubted, despite the many proofs they had witnessed.

I hear what you’re trying to say, and while your first statement is close to correct, it isn’t and neither is your second one.

Yes, the only absolutely necessary thing for salvation is the Grace of Baptism. However, for all intents and purposes, it is not the only thing necessary for salvation. A man who lives 30 (or 20, or 10, or even 5 or 1) years after he is Baptized might possibly have never sinned mortally, but not without the help of other Graces. And what are these Graces? The other Sacraments, Sacramentals, Faith, beliefs, works of Faith, the Communion of Saints, Devotions, and all that comes with the Ordinary means of Salvation which is the Church.

Devotion to Mary isn’t necessary in the strictest sense, but is necessary in a more ordinary sense.

OK, the game is afoot.

Yes, the only absolutely necessary thing for salvation is the Grace of Baptism.

Yes. This is the only doctrinaly sound thing you have said.

However, for all intents and purposes, it is not the only thing necessary for salvation.

Oh, really? The Catechism of the Catholic Church disagrees:

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. [CCC 1263]

A man who lives 30 (or 20, or 10, or even 5 or 1) years after he is Baptized might possibly have never sinned mortally, but not without the help of other Graces. And what are these Graces? The other Sacraments, Sacramentals, Faith, beliefs, works of Faith, the Communion of Saints, Devotions, and all that comes with the Ordinary means of Salvation which is the Church.

Woah, that’s a whole boatload of other “necessary” graces. Can you cite any authentic Catholic doctrine to support ANY of this? I cited the Catechism. Can you do that?

No?

The ORDINARY means of salvation is Christian Baptism (renewed, if necessary, by Sacramental Confession). And NOTHING ELSE. There is the possibility of an extraordinary (ie, not ordinary) means of salvation, which has NOTHING to do with Baptism OR Mary. But the Church doesn’t know how that works.

Devotion to Mary isn’t necessary in the strictest sense, but is necessary in a more ordinary sense.

It’s not necessary in any sense whatsoever.

Nothing in your quoted text says that Baptism is the only necessary thing for salvation. Actually, the Catechism disagrees with you on this point.

Baptism is necessary for the unbaptized.

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.60Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.

All the Sacraments are necessary for believers.

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51 “Sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. the Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. the fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature52 by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Saviour.

Well, the above demonstrates that you are in error, first of all, but it does not prove my position. So, what about all the rest? I will try to make my case.

Baptism as a Sacrament effects Grace. Indeed, salvation is found in Grace and nothing else; specifically, salvation is found the Graces of forgiveness and new life. As state by the Catechism, these are the two principle effects of Baptism:

1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.64

But Grace is only as effective in a person as the person’s disposition to it.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation49 that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God."50 From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.

Thus, for example, if one is not disposed to receive the grace of forgiveness and new life, to enter into the life of the Church, etc, then Baptism will not effect in that person the Graces it ought. In other words, you can’t baptize someone who doesn’t want to be baptized.

Likewise, if a believer is not disposed to the Graces of the Sacraments of the New Covenant, then the fruits of those Graces are stifled. And what are the fruits of the Sacraments?

As I quoted above: “the fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature52 by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Saviour” We are saved through the fruits of the Sacraments, in that we become one with the Son, the Saviour. That is our new life.

But if a positive disposition is necessary in order for this fruit to be effective in us, then that which produces within us a positive disposition to such graces must also, therefore, be necessary. Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders produce this within us as an indelible seal:

1121 The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or “seal” by which the Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible,40 it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated.

But guess what, Sacramental and pious devotions also do this (from Chapter 4, Article 1 Sacramentals):

1670 Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. "For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.

To continue…

The following falls under the Chapter 4, Article 1 Sacramentals, and so should be understood in a similar fashion as above.

1674 Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. the religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals,178 etc.

And why should they talk about piety and popular devotions? Because piety is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And these gifts, which we receive through the Sacraments, are permanent dispositions of docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

To have piety, and popular devotions, then, is to have an open disposition to the Graces of the Holy Spirit. It is this open disposition to Grace which makes salvific Sacramental Graces effective in our lives. Devotion to Mary is just one form of piety.

Well, to summarize my argument:

  1. For the believer, Sacramental Grace is necessary for salvation.
  2. A positive disposition to Grace is necessary for Sacramental Grace to effect salvation in a person.
  3. From 2: Those things which produce within a person a positive disposition to Grace are necessary to produce that positive disposition to Grace.
  4. Along with the Sacraments, things like Sacramentals and Piety (and other things like Virtues) produce within a person a positive disposition to Grace.
  5. Therefore, from 1, 2, 3 and 4, things like Sacramental and Piety, for the believer, are necessary for salvation because they predispose and prepare a person to receive those Sacramental Graces that are necessary for salvation.

Mr. Snaith, I get what you are saying. But I also see where David is coming from. Honestly, it looks to me like you two might be having more of a semantic disagreement than anything else.

It looks to me like David is using the word necessary in the dictionary sense of “required absolutely”. In other words, if something is necessary for salvation, then there is no way to get to heaven without it. That’s why he says no Marian devotion is necessary for salvation. If it were, the Church would bind it on us under pain of sin. (e.g. Along with weekly Mass, we would have to pray a rosary etc…)

But since the Church does not require us to have any devotion to Mary, it cannot be said to be a strict necessity for our entrance into heaven. The only thing required is that we be in the state of grace. Marian devotion can greatly HELP us stay in that state, but it’s not a requirement for heaven in and of itself.

But you are not saying it is an absolute necessity correct? From what I’m reading here, I get the feeling that you – and most likely DeMontfort – are using “necessary” in a different sense than David is. It sounds like you are saying devotion to Mary is a necessity the same way people say education is a necessity. Strictly speaking, it’s POSSIBLE to live a full, healthy, happy life without ever setting foot in a classroom. But education can get you a lot more advantages and can make your life a lot easier than life without an education. It can prevent a lot of hardships as well.

That’s pretty much how devotion to Mary is. Under normal circumstances, it is “necessary”, because we need all the help we can get. But it’s not a requirement to enter heaven. We don’t have to have a relationship with Mary, the Church doesn’t require that of us. (though we would be stupid not to!) All we can’t do is deny that such devotion is valid and beneficial.

I might have completely misunderstood both of you though, so please correct me if I did. This is just what I’ve gathered from reading this thread.

C’mon. You’re putting me on, right? That’s like saying that vaccinations are only necessary for people who have not had vaccinations. Which is true, but is utterly pointless.

Pencil sharpeners are only necessary for dull pencils. I could go on.

All the Sacraments are necessary for believers.

Now I KNOW you’re putting me on. Holy Orders is a Sacrament, but most believers do not get Ordained. Some do not receive Matrimony. Some are not Confirmed.

Well, the above demonstrates that you are in error, first of all, but it does not prove my position. So, what about all the rest? I will try to make my case.

This promises to be interesting.

Thus, for example, if one is not disposed to receive the grace of forgiveness and new life, to enter into the life of the Church, etc, then Baptism will not effect in that person the Graces it ought. In other words, you can’t baptize someone who doesn’t want to be baptized.

You’re just trying to yank my chain! Babies don’t “want” to be Baptized (but this is the ordinary means of Baptism in the Catholic Church).

Likewise, if a believer is not disposed to the Graces of the Sacraments of the New Covenant, then the fruits of those Graces are stifled.

I didn’t know we could stifle Sacraments. I suppose if we willingly participate under completely false pretenses then we could. But why would anybody do that? That seems pretty far out. If somebody doesn’t want to go to Mass, no police officer will show up at his door and handcuff him and drive him to Mass.

To continue…

Maybe, but I’m done here.

David, I’m being sincere here. I would appreciate if you were less mocking.

Vaccinations aren’t required to prevent death. Maybe if an epidemic is ravaging your town, but even then, it’s a preventive measure, and not always one that’s necessary. Baptism is necessary for forgiveness and new life for everyone who has not yet been baptized. For those who have been baptized, it is no longer necessary. It once was, but is no longer, because they either already possess that new life, or have lost it and need to revitalize it through Confession, or have wounded it and need to strengthen it.

Whatever the case, my statement was not pointless.

You’re right about this, of course. Nevertheless, all of these play a necessary role in the economy of salvation. Unless you think the Church is putting you on… since it is the Catechism I quoted which says they are necessary.

No. Babies neither do nor do not. However, parents have a particular authority here to act on their behalf. Their positive disposition to Grace validates the baptism.

However, if someone is going to Mass because it’s part of their culture, and the pressure of not wanting to be ostracized by their community motivates them to do this, even though they do not believe in it, that would count here, and it is not in any way far fetched.

There may be plenty of ways a person might involve themselves in a Sacrament without actually being positively disposed to the graces of it.

Well, I can’t force you to continue conversing. I wish you wouldn’t leave though, as I prefer dialogue.

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