The Church does worship Mary and the Saints


#1

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

I am troubled when I hear a blanket denial of the “charge” that Catholics worship Mary (and the Saints). To deny this seems dangerous, and at best a rhetorical gambit. In fact, one can find texts in English that use the word “worship” for the honor paid to Mary and the Saints. To clarify this issue with a Protestant or other non-Catholic, one has to be more careful of the language than to directly deny the “charge.” Here is a part of the article on “worship, Christian” in the online version of the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912):

The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe, “honour”; from worth, meaning “value”, “dignity”, “price”, and the termination, ship; Latin cultus) in its most general sense is homage paid to a person or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross. This article will deal with Christian worship according to the following definition: homage paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.

The rest of the article is here.

How do people approach this topic when discussing it with non-Catholics?
How do non-Catholics think about this issue?

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


#2

According to the King James Bible we are commanded by Jesus to seek worship from others.

Just look at Luke 14

10: But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

Now if you are talking about the modern version of “worship” that Protestants do, no Catholic worships as Protestants do so it is impossible for a Catholic to “worship” Mary unless he worships like a Protestant. We worship at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so only a Protestant can “worship” Mary as their worship service sometimes resembles the honor we sometimes give to others.

In Christ
Scylla


#3

Would you be more comfortable if we were to explain latria, dulia and hyper-dulia?


#4

I really do not think that you know what you are talking about with that statement


#5

You pretty much never say that Catholics worship anyone other than God, even though the original word worship was not equated to adoration. You use the vernacular when talking to others…therefore in the vernacular and in the understanding of worship today, we shouldn’t say we worship Mary or saints. Even though the original definition was meant to be taken as honor, we should use words easily understandable by Protestants.


#6

You pretty much never say that Catholics worship anyone other than God, even though the original word worship was not equated to adoration.

And even the word “adoration” was not always equated with Latria. And interestingly enough, even today, is less so than “worship”. It’s like, “oh, I simpy adore her.” And I have seen some writings where the author speaks of adoration for Mary, and the three homages the cardinals traditionally paid to the newly elected Pope were called adorations (adoratio).

You use the vernacular when talking to others…therefore in the vernacular and in the understanding of worship today, we shouldn’t say we worship Mary or saints. Even though the original definition was meant to be taken as honor, we should use words easily understandable by Protestants.

Yes, but that troubles me. For two reasons:

One, it is like we are making a concession of language to them. Like, our changing of the names of books of the Bible from “1 Parlipomenon” to “1 Chronicles” or “3 Kings” to “1 Kings”. Why should they have the authority to define religious usage of language? What next? If we budge on this, what if then they try to take their linguistic conquest a little further and attempt to reserve “veneration” for God alone. I’ve already seen that happening when I’ve talked to them. So we’ll be forced to use “honor” or something. Oh, but then they’ll try to reserve that for God alone. It’s what happens when people have stark dichotomies and try to polarize language with extremism. Then we’ll be left saying, “Oh, we just really like and respect the Saints”. They will leave us with a poverty of religious language if we don’t make the buck stop somewhere.

Two, it is ONLY a problem of language. It is only a semantical issue. If the concept we are describing (dulia) doesnt change…why should they care if we call it “worship” instead of “veneration”? It’s sort of a trick, low-level intellectually, to just say, “no, we don’t worship them, we give them veneration.” Well, that’s just exchanging one word for another without explaining the difference. I’d say we would be just as well off saying, “In some definitions of the word Worship, we do worship them. But it is not the species of worship due to God alone. It is a high honor and relgious invocation. But we certainly do not recognize them as having the majesty of Self-Existence or having any glory or power that isn’t completely dependant on God”.

Just switching words around doesn’t actually explain anything to them. Heck, a REAL idolator could just say, “Oh…uh…no. I’m just ‘venerating’ this idol.” Without actually explaining WHAT the difference between the two words are…all we’re doing is emotionally manipulating them by choosing a word that (while it means the exact same thing in our intentions) they are less familiar and so more comfortable with. But it doesnt touch on the underlying concepts at all. It’s just arguing over a label.

Would you be more comfortable if we were to explain latria, dulia and hyper-dulia?

I would be. The Greek is much more precise. Like I said, English has no word that applies exclusively to Latria. Worship certainly has a long history of NOT meaning just latria, and even adoration.


#7

Hello A!

 Blessings and happy father's day! (In case you are a dad:D 

Your statement begs a question, what do protestant (at least your denomination I do not expect you to know everything) describe as “worship”? I mean if I where to go to you and say “I will like to worship God in the way you worship Him” what do I have to do? For Catholics “Go to mass” is the answer. Is for protestants “Go to the Sunday service” the correct answer and if it is, what in the service constitute the actual “worship”? (I’m no trying to start an argument, I just have never thought about it before)

In His love…

A Catholic Deacon


#8

I like your ideas. You make a good point about giving in on religious language. Could you talk more of latria, dulia, and hyper-dulia? I’ve only heard of them before…never described.


#9

Over the years the meaning of the word “worship” in the English language has changed. It is axiomatic that if you use the word today in everyday speech it will be understood as meaning the type of adoration/love that is proper to give to a deity. Hence, if you (meaning Catholics) use the same word when referring to the type of adoration that you give to Mary and the Saints, the Protestant world, and for that matter the non-Christian world, is going to believe that you equate Mary and the Saints with God.

Is it “fair” that the meaning of the word has changed and thus put you in this dilemma? No, but it is what it is. Your use of the word “worship” with respect to Mary and the Saints just “proves” to anti-Catholic Protestants that you are doing exactly what they THINK you are doing. Don’t blame them for believing that when you persist in using archaic language.


#10

Agreed.

Now some non-catholics will object saying that English words don’t change in meaning. If they do, ask them what “gay” meant 50 years ago and what it means now.

50 years ago, “gay” meant “happy” now it means “homosexual male”


#11

Exactly…which is why no one uses the word “gay” in the old sense anymore…at least if they wish to be properly understood. Nor should Catholics use the term “worship” with respect to Mary if they wish to be properly understood.


#12

I’d pretty much agree, though this is still worth knowing don’tcha think?


#13

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

I am not sure what is meant here. How has the word changed? Is it just that the Protestant usage has been adopted by Webster’s? Have Catholics forgotten that religion is more subtle and complex than the “street usage” of words is capable of reflecting? Has Catholic education failed to teach a sufficient vocabulary?

I think the phrase “hero worship” is still understood, without the connotation of latria.

It seems to me that, if I adopt the proposed usage of the word “worship,” then I am likely to be badly misunderstood by the “non-Catholic” world.” If I adopt a meaning of “worship” which allows dulia to encroach into the area of latria, and so there is no word to express latria in English, then a person with the “current usage” is going to mistake the Sacrifice of the Mass as the same sort of “worship” as singing and extemporaneous praise, which many Protestant theories call “worship” in the restricted sense of “the honor due to God.” Surely, from a Catholic point of view this is to eliminate the essence of latria from the discussion. This would be like equating the Liturgy of the Hours, and its offerings of praise, with the Liturgy of the Holy Mass, which is the sacrifice of Calvary re-presented to God by Christ.

Equating the two amounts to not being understood.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


#14

How has the word changed? That’s what words do. They’re fluid.

"Main Entry: 2worship
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -shipped also -shiped; -ship·ping also -ship·ing
transitive verb
1 : to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power
2 : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
intransitive verb : to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship
synonym see REVERE

  • wor·ship·per or wor·ship·er noun"

We “worship” Jesus in the first sense, we “worship” Mary in the second. (Keep in mind that dictionary definitions are always insufficient)

Have Catholics forgotten that religion is more subtle and complex than the “street usage” of words is capable of reflecting?

Yes. That’s why 1) we have Latin as the offician language of the Church and 2) philosophy and theology often use words in different senses than their colloquial usage. And philosophers and theologians disagree themselves on what words mean. For example, the concept of “essence” in Aristotle (that which constitutes a thing necessarily) is not equivalent to the concept “essence” in Thomas Aquinas (that which a thing is) and is not equivalent to the concept “essence” in Jean-Paul Sartre (that which a thing was).

But when dealing with practical apologetics on the proletariat level, we cannot use a more technical vocabulary. In common usage, for example, “essence” means something important, but not necessarily necessary.

Has Catholic education failed to teach a sufficient vocabulary?

Yes.

It seems to me that, if I adopt the proposed usage of the word “worship,” then I am likely to be badly misunderstood by the “non-Catholic” world.”

True. But there is certainly nothing wrong with telling an intelligent prole that we worship mary, then go forth and define what is meant by worship. Some eastern European lit today still says “worship” - we need to understand the ideas more than the words.


#15

I believe I know exactly what I am talking about. If you object please object with some substance and an explanation of how I have made a mistake. Not just a nuh-uh or a weak insult.

As Christians we are required to correct others if we actually care about each others Salvation. So as a Christian I ask you to act like one and show me where I am wrong, unless Salvation does not matter to you.

A real Catholic worships only God at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for a person to worship Mary they would have to be Protestant* as no Catholic Church centers the Mass around Mary.

*my definition of Protestant is someone who rejects Catholic teaching. Some people call themselves Catholic but if they reject Catholic belief then they really are Protestants who say they are Catholic.

God Bless
Scylla


#16

In the past, the term “worship” meant the same as the word “venerate” - one could worship one’s parents or someone they look up to, or a hero or God. There was no confusion of idolatry (and this was in a time when people practiced their religion more seriously, and would not commit idolatry)

This is where some judges get the term “Your Worship” (this is just like today’s term: Your Honor)

In the past, Worship had the same meaning as Venerate.

Today, the word Worship primarily means that what is given to God. Just as Gay primarily means homosexual.


#17

Even if the word “worship” can still retain its older archaic meaning, it now carries with it a more common accepted meaning.

That’s why today, it’s no longer wise nor prudent to say “Catholics worship Mary”; it’s just as weird-sounding as “Protestants worship the Bible” (which is also true, technically speaking).

So yes, in today’s environment, a blanket “Catholics don’t worship Mary” is the first and best response. Things like latria, dulia, and hyperdulia only add baggage when the one we talk to have no grasp of the concepts.


#18

Hey, not only do Catholics not worship Mary, most today don’t even worship God :wink: sorry…i couldn’t resist.


#19

Having been a Baptist all my life, when I hear someone pray “Hail Holy Queen” it looks and sounds a lot like worship. I think most Protestants would agree.


#20

Nor should Catholics use the term “worship” with respect to Mary if they wish to be properly understood.

But we’re going to be EXPLAINING either way. So we might as well explain in a way that preserves our religious language. We’re going to have to give an explanation either way, so why not give a good one.

We can say either:

“No, we don’t worship Mary, we venerate her.”

OR

“We worship Mary, but it is not the worship due to God alone. It is a high honor and religious invocation. But we certainly do not recognize them as having the majesty of Self-Existence or having any glory or power that isn’t completely dependant on God.”

EITHER one is an explanation…except that the first really doesn’t explain anything, it doesnt get to the heart of the difference…it just deceptively switches labels.

If we’re going to have to explain our teaching to them either way, not use my second explanation. It’s cuts right to the heart of the issue: what exactly do you mean by “worship”. AND preserves our richness of usage and powerfulness of language.

Having been a Baptist all my life, when I hear someone pray “Hail Holy Queen” it looks and sounds a lot like worship. I think most Protestants would agree.

Exactly. And just saying, “No, it’s only veneration,” doesn’t explain anything. That’s just switching words. It’s a low-level cookie-cutter response that they teach amateur apologists. But that’s why I don’t really like the “apologetics” approach to evangelization and catechizing. Too much of it is based on pre-prepared, low-level, automatic responses to common objections. It doesn’t get into the deeper underlying issues or theological discussion at all.

The real issue here is WHAT you exactly define worship as.

To Catholics, it is not that any specific external gestures are reserved for God. We can kneel before, bow to, praise, pray to, have feasts in honor of, make images of ANYONE in heaven. Is this “worship”? Sure, I’m arguing that word should be retained for it.

But is it Latria? No. Latria is that worship reserved for God alone, and is different in that all the other worship of Mary, the Angels, and the Saints recognizes that their glory and worshipability is due only to God.

Their glory comes only from God. They have no power of their own. They are completely dependent on God. But, by God’s grace, they truly have merited and become holy and deserving of worship. The have been divinized, undergone what the East calls theosis, or deification. They really participate in the divine life, and through God’s grace have merited glory and deserve (due to God’s grace) our acts of worship.

We do not believe in a salvation that merely legally covers the imperfections of creatures, like snow on a dunghill, but which through grace truly makes us good and holy. Which is a gift of God. So dulia is the honor and worship paid to the Saints that they deserve, but only BECAUSE of what God has wrought in them, the good and glory merited in their souls but due only to grace.

On the other hand, latria, the worship do to God alone is distinct in the fact that we recognize him as being self-existence, being the source of his own glory, having power that is his own and not from anyone else. Many of the external acts of latria are the same as dulia; prayer, praise, kneeling, bowing, etc…but the important part is the internal recognition that God is infinitely greater than the Saints, self-existence, and His majesty is the source of all their glory. In a sense then, we are worshipping God IN His angels and saints.

But this distinction may be too nuanced for the Protestants, who alledgedly can’t distinguish the same act done but with different attitudes, for whom I guess “worship due to God alone” means that you can only pray and praise and sing Amazing Grace to God…so maybe I’ll just throw out the old standby and say, “Yeah, they look the same, but this one’s just veneration,” without going any deeper…:rolleyes:

The protestants aren’t dumb and I have a little more respect for them than that. If we just try to switch labels on them…they’ll catch on. We should actually EXPLAIN if we are going to be talking to them anyway. But let’s call a spade a spade.


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