Shouldn't we warn against Mary worship?

I believe the Catholic teaching regarding Mary. I believe in intercessory prayers, Her queenship in Heaven (though maybe not like some), Her Immaculate conception, Her sinless life in Christ. I look at Mary as a perfect model Christian. I contemplate her role as a mother to the faithful. She is full consent of herself to God.
However, I think it is no doubt that many (against the Church’s teaching) take devotion to her to the point of worship. What I mean is, for some, it would be like one of the disciples staying home with her and asking her to talk to Jesus for them, while the others were out with Him. I realize she would tell them to get out with Jesus, and that is precisely what I think we should be telling them now.
We, as the Church, defend honoring Mary as our greatest saint, but I seldom, if ever, hear official warnings about placing her above her actual place in the Lord. I am not trying to debate Church teaching, but hear peoples thoughts on what is too much honor, and if we should do more to warn against too much honor.

God Bless Us All,
Thanks for your fellowship.

PS. Mary Pray For Us! :slight_smile:

Well, Benedict XVI had this to say just last year:

“Mary is the mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God as the “good soil” in which he can continue to accomplish his mystery of salvation. The Church also participates in the mystery of divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospel throughout the world, and through the sacraments, which communicate grace and divine life to men. The Church exercises her motherhood especially in the sacrament of Baptism, when she generates God’s children from water and the Holy Spirit, who cries out in each of them: “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannot give, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread.”

Mary is not just a saint, she is “Mother of God” (a belief made dogmatic by the Council of Ephesus in 431) a person of unique and special stature who is a central figure in our faith. I can see how you might construe statements like:

“The Church exercises her motherhood especially in the sacrament of Baptism, when she generates God’s children from water and the Holy Spirit, who cries out in each of them: “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6).”

As ‘worship’, but when it comes to “faith and morals” the pope is the ultimate authority!

My suggestion would be to heed the advice in the Catechism:

"To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

‘Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.’" - CCC 2478, quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola

Instead of worrying that the veneration of others has gone ‘too far’ and crossed into illicit ‘worship’, think of it as different Church figures resonating with different Catholics. That is, perhaps some Catholics find it easier to reach out to God via the Mother. If you are certain you must intercede and correct, consider St. Ignaitius’ sage advice above (which is the same advice given in the Gospel of Matthew).

Honestly, I don’t think that going “too far” in one’s devotion to Mary is something that is likely to occur in most cultures in the modern world.

I also think we need to be careful about making assumptions about what “many people” do. Based on what data? Our own anecdotal observations?

God, in His incarnation, already bestowed on Mary an honor far greater than anything we can give her. It’s far more likely that the honor we give her is too little than too much.

Actually the Church DOES warn against this.

If you look in FROM LUMEN GENTIUM starting around paragraph 62 and going through paragraph 67 you will find comments like…
This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator

The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary

But it exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to abstain zealously both from all gross exaggerations as well as from petty narrow-mindedness in considering the singular dignity of the Mother of God

Let them assiduously keep away from whatever, either by word or deed, could lead separated brethren or any other into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church.

So - if you read through these comments - especially withing the context of LG you will readily see that the Church does in fact warn against “Mary worship”

That said - I do agree with you that some people become very wrapped up in Marion devotion but it is not up to me to tell them that they have gone overboard unless they actually say something that is contrary to Magisterial teaching. I have very rarely had this happen.

What concerns me more in this regard is that some people seem to have a low regard for those who do not pursue the same level of Marion devotion that they do. Here it is a matter of trying to get them to recognize that everyone is in a different spot in their journey and different people are more comfortable with different things.
So I find it best not to belittle their devotional practices, even if they seem excessive to me personally, and ask them to respect my devotional practices even if they think mine are too little (as they relate to our Lady.

All of that said…I really like your image of staying home with our lady instead of going out and following Jesus. Good imagery there. :thumbsup:


I do believe Benedict, in his teaching, has correct explanation of Mary’s role in the Church. And that it is a singular and unique in nature. I don’t know about central. But I can see how it is in a true reverently way perceived as central.

I am not talking about someone specifically, so I see your good advice about not being judgemental to someones devotion if we can’t know their heart.

Thanks Spider42

Yes James! I am looking for these official teachings that prevent the faithfull from putting to much glory on our mother. It becomes, for that person, not Mary that they are looking at but an image from the devil.
I think it comes down to the question, “What is spiritual motherhood?”
Btw, I have never accused any individual of abussing Mary, or not knowing the true Mary.

Glad to hear from you.

Well said. I agree that there are too many Catholics that are ignorant of MANY doctrines and dogmas. This included. They should be taught; and the teaching reinforced throughout their formation at Catholics.

I am EXTREMELY uncomfortable with anyone being mentioned as ‘mediator’ besides Jesus. THAT is something I have a very hard time with, although I have a thread about that elsewhere on the forum.

I don’t think any of us should hesitate to ask our mother to pray for us.


CCC 971 “All generations will call me blessed”: "The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."513 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs… This very special devotion … differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."514 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.515

“very special devotion” and “adoration” are both definitions of worship.


  1. In the first place it is supremely fitting that exercises of piety directed towards the Virgin Mary should clearly express the Trinitarian and Christological note that is intrinsic and essential to them. Christian worship in fact is of itself worship offered to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, or, as the liturgy puts it, to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. From this point of view worship is rightly extended, though in a substantially different way, first and foremost and in a special manner, to the Mother of the Lord and then to the saints, in whom the Church proclaims the Paschal Mystery, for they have suffered with Christ and have been glorified with Him.(68) In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon Him. It was with a view to Christ that God the Father from all eternity chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else.

Luke 1:41 - And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

So the witness of the Gospels mean nothing? :shrug:

I’ve long struggled with how to understand and practice the Church’s teaching on Mary. It’s perhaps been the most difficult part of my being Catholic.

The toughest logical leap, at least in my mind, goes from honoring what Mary has done to looking at her as a necessity in the ongoing personal salvation of each individual. In other words, it’s one thing to say we should honor her, another to say we must honor her. I think that may be where the concern over “worship” comes into play.

In this aspect, the Magisterium appears to walk a very fine line. The rosary remains a personal devotion - an important one practiced by millions - but is never required of any Catholic. If you visit the Pope you will received, at least traditionally, a rosary but never have to pray it, and rosary-like prayers that are directed entirely to the Son without recourse to Mary (for example, The Jesus Rosary) are acceptable for Catholics to pray.

It’s been said that Mary is the way to Christ, as though a door. My concern is if we begin to see Mary’s door as being closed to those who don’t ask for her help or permission, which is certainly the intent I get from certain Marian authors like Montfort, Liguori and others, and that has been the intepretation of a number of Marian devotees I’ve talked with on these boards. So long as Mary holds that door open, I don’t think there’s a threat, but once we argue that Mary can close that door, we’ve argued an impediment to salvation, and imputed something akin to worship, that cannot be supported by faith.

Mary as model of cooperation and obedience, wonderful. To make the leap to Mary as necessary focus of veneration is another story.

Now this is interesting. I recall (and I wish I could find the reference now) that Mary actually has no role in baptism - this is an act of the Holy Spirit, and not a grace that she imparts (as such special graces are argued to be imparted through the rosary). When Benedict references divine motherhood, he isn’t referring to Mary’s motherhood, but rather to the motherly role that the Church holds.

This again is careful language. Mary’s mediatorship is at least once - as Theotokos - though not in the same way as the Church which bears a personal role in the salvation of each individual. Where Mary may intercede in an individual (a devotee, perhaps), the Church necessarily intercedes for all individuals because it is the reception of Christ through the Church’s sacraments that ordinarily imparts the grace that saves.

Provided he speaks ex cathedra. But even when he does not, what he writes bears authority (even if not infallible), provided that we understand the teaching. I have no idea how to accept Pius X’s teachings on the necessity of prayer to Mary for salvation:

From Ad diem illum laetissimum (1904) (P. 13):
‘But Mary, as St. Bernard justly remarks, is the channel … or, if you will, the connecting portion the function of which is to join the body to the head and to transmit to the body the influences and volitions of the head - We mean the neck. Yes, says St. Bernardine of Sienna, “she is the neck of Our Head, by which He communicates to His mystical body all spiritual gifts”’

Thus to sever Mary would mean to sever Jesus for without the neck, the body cannot join the head. Pius X is more explicit here:

(P. 15):
“Those, alas! furnish us by their conduct with a peremptory proof of it, who seduced by the wiles of the demon or deceived by false doctrines think they can do without the help of the Virgin. Hapless are they who neglect Mary under pretext of the honor to be paid to Jesus Christ! As if the Child could be found elsewhere than with the Mother!”

Which I read to mean “Christ cannot save you without Mary.” I’m sure this is an incorrect reading - it’s plainly blasphemous. But such is the nature of some Marian writings, confounding and difficult.

That’s acceptable. He saves us where we are and as He wishes, not any other way. Provided that I will not be condemned for my lack of Marian devotion (I practice a devotion to the Holy Trinity), I won’t condemn others for their own Marian devotion.

The Catholic faith has provided me with the deepest meanings of the mystical body of our Lord. Mary is the motherhood of that mystical body. But she is, like us, only a part of that body who all work together to serve the Lord. Once we put her outside that body, she becomes a deity that is not Mary. Her purity is in Christ and by His merits preserved from sin. She still suffered for the Lord. But like the Apostles warned those bowing down to them, that they are only men who God selected for His ministry. It is wrong to give them God’s glory.

I think the Catholic Church is fullfilled in Mary’s motherhood. But this is God’s plan and His grace in her. If I love Mary, it is because there is so much of God’s Holy Spirit in her. And the Church reveals much of that mystery.

That being said,
If you say people don’t or can’t give her too much honor, I cannot agree.

PS. Do we love Mary because there is authority and power in her or because there is an unscathed and humble obedience to our Lord and Savior?

John’s leaping indicates the grace that was bestowed upon Mary, not Mary’s mediatorship, Queenship, or any other honor. Indeed, the greatest honor any human could receive, to physically bear the body of our Savior into the world, had already been bestowed upon Mary at that point.

John’s leaping indicates that he and is mother were cleansed of original sin through Mary. She is the Mediatrix of All Graces. The Church has taught this for some time now. Why can you not accept Church teaching?

When did God grant you the power to see inside the hearts of men and make this judgement?

I doubt if anyone believes Mary to be God…so there is no danger of too much devotion…Jesus adores his Mother- we can do no less-and no more-we feel her love and devotion to us and we return it… asking our Holy Mother to speak to her Son and the Father on our behalf is no different than asking friends and family or the Saints to pray for us or others… quite frankly-when you look at some of the questions that are asked on this discussion board- it’s obvious we need all the help we can get;):smiley:

Do you put her outside the mystical body of Christ? Then you condemn yourself. I don’t accuse you of this, but it is done. My point in all of this is to protect people from not knowing Mary’s true role in the body.
I need help from all of you because I am a young Catholic and I have much to learn. And certainly don’t want to judge anyone’s heart.

I read some really great post in this thread. Here is my take on it. The Church is very clear that Christ is the ONLY mediator for us to God in matters of salvation. I think no one questions that. However, The Blessed Mother is also a mediator for her children to God in other ways. She brings us to know her Son and His Church.

I see people kind of going to the extreme on their devotion to Mother and I also see people that are very relaxed and can do without it. I do not know of one Catholic that places Mother above Christ in any regard. If anything, she helps us to glorify him even more!

My oldest son, who is almost 5, has always had a special relationship with the Blessed Mother. When he was about 2, he walked over to the statue of the Virgin Mother in our garden and kissed the head. He looked up at me and said that is Jesus’ mommy. Interestingly, I never told him about that let. So you see, we become closer to Christ with the help of His Mother!

Mediatorship is one thing - if I tell you something about the Holy Spirit that you didn’t know, I acted as a mediator in one sense, of bringing you more into the Truth than you had been. Paul would call that synergoia, my cooperating with God to bring you closer to Him.

Unique mediatorship becomes more difficult. Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, although we know (both through teaching and common sense) that our walk as Christians is never a “Jesus and me and nobody else” thing. We’re part of a family belonging to the Lord and work together, sharing our many and diverse gifts, to cooperate in the salvation of the whole world.

That said, I will share your discomfort when it comes to understanding how unique Mary’s mediatorship is. I can tell you that a friend of mine (Deacon Steve Baugh - recently deceased, please pray for him) explained some things about the Catholic faith to me in a way I’ve never before heard, and they made sense. In that aspect, his mediation to me was unique because he did something no one else did … that doesn’t mean that no one else can - and indeed I’ve adopted some of his approach when I talk about our faith. When we discuss Mary’s unique mediatorship though, it has to be in a way that doesn’t contradict our Lord as mediator of the Covenant, nor “put God in a box” so to speak. I think that’s one reason why Mary as mediatrix of all graces has yet to be dogmatically defined - it’s a really difficult topic to get right (and also to put into language that all theologians can agree upon). It remains somewhat unknown to us.

She certainly does anyway. The prayers of the saints in Heaven are for those of us on earth, for they lack nothing but abound in Jesus Christ. I think that’s a step below the concern expressed in this thread, but thank you for sharing your thought.

I think we have to be very careful in reading the language, though I appreciate you sharing passages from the Catechism that get to the heart of the matter. Very efficient of you.

Fair enough. She is Blessed.

My question is how is it intrinsic, by which word I take to mean “impossible without”, such that without devotion to Mary, we could not have the Mass. Yet, the Mass scarcely mentions Mary, only in a litany with the saints. So I’m inclined to take this paragraph to mean “Mary’s yes was intrinsic to the plan of salvation that we celebrate” and content to leave it there.

Note that the adoration mentioned above is reserved for worship of the Triune God. It doesn’t refer to Mary, except by difference (ie, Mary is not adored, but given devotion, while the Lord is adored).

The rosary and feasts certainly express this devotion. But the Rosary itself is the epitome of the whole Gospel,not because of Mary, but because the Gospel is retold within the rosary. It’s thus a prayer around the Gospel - simply praying decades of Hail Mary’s is not at all the same thing.

Here’s the difficult one to argue that it’s not worship of Mary:

So what does it mean to share in glory (ie, Col 3:4, Ro 8:17, 2 Th 2:14, 1 Pt 5:1)? Does it mean to receive praise from men, something akin to prayer that is offered to the Lord? I don’t know on this. The writers of the epistles call us to humility in order to partake in that glory. I’ll take a wide berth of interpretation here, since Paul VI extends that worship “in a substantially different way”, which could include everything from recalling the faith of the saints (something that the Apostle Paul himself does in addressing the various churches) to keeping devotional prayers to specific saints.

This is one of those passages that, following something that sounds dangerously close to actual worship of Mary, seems to step back a bit and say “the proceeding, subordinate to Christ”.

Thank you for your condemnation.

Perhaps you should learn to understand what the Church teaches before you force a protestantistic mindset on others.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit