Understanding Marian devotion ie St. Alphonsus and St. Louis

Looks like my long post got deleted as I got logged out, so I ll try to makes this short and consice. I have trouble with Marian devotion, and it makes me uncomfortable. Sure you could say its not required nor the does the church say that but, apparently many Saints and Popes would disagree with you. So my post boils down to two points.

Why is it ok to kneel in front of Mary and pray to her, shouldn’t we only do that infront of images and statues of God?

(I understand intercessory prayer and I give the benefit of the doubt that, thats what there doing when they kneel down in front of her)

Why are the writings of say St. Alphonsus and St. Louis De Montfort seemingly condoned by the church and not condemned as heresy? I’m not saying they should be, but to people new to this it could appear that way.

Since my post got deleted I’m going to attempt to post this without quoting them as i know there high popularity and there writing. as St. A if not both of them said that Marian devotion is necessary for Salvation.

I’m going to leave this here, but when i have more time and if i need to say more to give you guys more to go off of I will.


pax et bonum

Here is an example of what I am referring to.

Marian devotion is certainly something converts can have a hard time with. I have heard it said that Marian devotion is a sort of "final stumbling block for converts. I suggest reading Tim Staples book Behold your mother: a biblical and historical defense of the Marian doctrines.

God bless you on your journey.

Kneeling is a posture of supplication and of humbleness in western culture, and to my knowledge gained that connotation for prayer during medieval times which is perfectly legitimate. People knelt before kings and others as a sign of respect and veneration, but not as a form of treating them as God.

We kneel in prayer because we are humbling ourselves and asking for assistance. This can be to Christ, of course, but it can also be to the Saints who are worthy of respect and veneration precisely because they are works of God in themselves. But we only worship God.

As for the authors you mentioned I am no expert. One thing I can say surely is that language evolves over time. Even in the early twentieth century, you could use the word “worship” and not be referring only to the adoration due God. It had a broader definition. You could worship a king, for example, and no one would have thought you meant he was a god.

Mary also desires only to lead us to her son, Jesus. To tell us to do whatever he says. To lead us into understanding Jesus in the most intimate way, as a mother knows her son.

I neglected to mention in my new post that I fell in love with the catholic faith because of my passion for the middle ages, as I already loved Christ. So yes I have seen that, while not an expert seems to have been common to have knelt before a king in homage. The famous examples being the great kings of England paying homage to the Kings of France for there French lands and I believe what happens is you kneel down in what looks like prayer, the king covers your two hands with his and kisses both of your cheeks.but exactly, I like what you said for instance prayer seems for a long time can just mean ask, nothing to do with worship at all. Yeah and I love that and makes totally sense, but like I said when I see the huge amount of Marian devotion and the statues everywhere and the rosary so popular, it comes off as overwhelming and while i can see those things leading to Jesus. it just seems like if your devotion is oh so high to her, you would have less time for God? maybe thats the Protestant background in me speaking but I think it lays at the heart of me not being comfotable, as it seems it could be out of balance if that makes sense.

God bless you to and its definite mine, hence my haste i guess you could say in making this post. it was one of my main blocks in the beginning and i can say as of now its by far my biggest, but i pretty got everything else out of the way so can focus on this and thanks for the rec! I love Tim Staples work and hes helped me out so much

Since we cannot possibly know what anyone intends who kneels before any statue, we cannot say what they are doing, can we? :wink:

Seriously though, to understand Mary’s place in God’s plan of salvation has been an ongoing, in depth meditation on the part of theologians and mystics for hundreds of years. It is not surprising, then, that such deep contemplations and result of hours of meditative prayer will be understood by those of us who haven’t put the same time and effort into this aspect of our faith. It’s like trying to enjoy great classical music when all you’ve heard all your life is pop music, if you see what I mean.

Everything the Church teaches about Mary is centered in Christ’s Incarnation. Mary is our great Mother, Lady, and Queen because she said yes to God when he proposed that she be the Mother of God (theotokos=Godbearer). Eve was our first Mother, Lady, and Queen of humanity, but she lost her glory when she fell. Mary regained that dignity for herself and all of us, for one day we will reign with Christ. We moderns tend to think in terms of equality, fraternity, etc., especially after the Enlightenment, but we are actually a royal priesthood–note the word royal. It’s not just there for embellishment–it means we have a divine heritage, and we have it because Mary said yes to God instead of no, as Eve did, losing us our heritage and our saving grace, restored in Mary’s fiat by becoming the Mother of the Redeemer and so all of us. I’d say that deserves to be honored by kneeling to say thanks, don’t you? :slight_smile:

Why are the writings of say St. Alphonsus and St. Louis De Montfort seemingly condoned by the church and not condemned as heresy? I’m not saying they should be, but to people new to this it could appear that way.

Since my post got deleted I’m going to attempt to post this without quoting them as i know there high popularity and there writing. as St. A if not both of them said that Marian devotion is necessary for Salvation.

I’m going to leave this here, but when i have more time and if i need to say more to give you guys more to go off of I will.


pax et bonum

Their writings are “condoned” because they are true, and more than condoned, encouraged but with the understanding that here are beauties brighter than the sun and sublime thoughts higher than the universe, and so have to be approached with that in mind.

Hey I love your post, i got to run but i do appreciate what you said and hope to get back to you soon. but I want to say one quick thing. ST Alphonsus said

Mary is called “The Gate of Heaven” because no one can enter Heaven but through her means.

I take that Marian devotion is necessary for salvation, but ive heard the Church does not teach that… but idk the stament comes off as kind of wrong to say, shouldnt that be Jesus role? hes are judge not Mary, does shes intercede for us sure, but God is our Judge. I do agree what you said about the frat, its a very american protestant it seems like and one ive been affected by. you figure most of the churches history was under kings and emperors, and prob had the logic ur talking about. anyway had to rush that one, ill be back later!! but i really like the music anaology, im not trying to bite off more than I can chew. But i think my discomfort is big enought that i should adrees it as much as i can and its big enought to maybe prospone converting till i get it taken care off maby not fully but enough

I’m pressed for time just now, too, but I’ll simply say that St. A means that since Mary is the means through which God chose to incarnate his Son, she is the Gate of Heaven through which we all go–in Christ. Nothing we believe about Mary is about her alone. All the Marian teachings have to do with Christ and his redemption of mankind. I’ll catch you later–gotta feed my husband. :smiley:


Marian devotion is not a requirement.

That said, you’ve likely been groomed to believe that any reverence (notice I didn’t say worship) given to anyone outside of Christ is taking away due reverence from Christ. We don’t view it as a mutually exclusive allocation but rather as one leading to the other. The former thought process was developed to contradict the Catholic Church.

In church, we say Lord have mercy on us, but we say Mary pray for us. It’s never the reverse…

I recommend taking an extra look at Luke 1, such as “all generations shall call me blessed” and “how is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Lastly, I understand the statue thing seems hokey to you, but I can guarantee that no one thinks the statue is alive, and that most have the proper understanding of the Saints as compared to Jesus. Either way, the statue, crucifix or other artwork helps one visualize during prayer.

Well…when you read the books of St. Alphonsus and St Louis de Monfort, keep in mind that the poetic language they use, and was in vogue in their lifetime.

You read their works on Mary with the right guidance from someone…just food for thought.

I just read this very nice article I think you’ll find helpful, Warwick: patheos.com/blogs/eatingpeaches/2017/01/mary-faith-without-a-last-page/. :smiley:

My uncomfortable level is coming from solely from the act of people kneeling and praying front of it, but thanks and yes what you said about visualization helps. Yes I would say I’ve been groomed that way. What you’re saying seems to make more sense of communion of saints. I’ve heard the amazing Fr. Pacwa describe the intimacy of the bond we have in communion of saints quoting the verse from Acts 9 and he was saying (im paraphrasing) that it teaches when you persecute a believer you’re persecuting Christ. So I can absolutely see the same logic for this and you can say the person who only does Marian Devotion, only has images of her and solely prays to her is not going too far in Marian devotion and is not out of balance because under that line of thinking when she’s honors Mary she is honoring Christ. I would say someone like my Mother would say if you spend more time praying to Mary and in devotion then Jesus/God then its out of balance. So I tend to think more in the latter, but I’m a mix of both. I’m trying to understand the other side more though. I love St. George, St. Michael and the idea of military saints. I would say my love for them and particular images of them has only led me to love Christ more and identify with his church. The whole way I fell in love with the Catholic faith in the first place was mostly because of my passion for the middle ages. When I gave up and thought I could never be a Catholic, my love for the Medieval Catholic culture and liturgy pushed me through it. Gave me the strength and desire to keep going and dont give up. So Christ definitely works in different ways then one might think. I also know the prayers like the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina do reference Jesus.

Its just overwhelming as a former Protestant to see all this devotion to Mary, countless images, altars, kneeling down to statues and just the sheer amount of all of it. It does make me feel close to thinking its out of balance, but I’m trying to think with my head as well as my heart. I’m sure because of who I am and who I was I’m extra sensitive to it. I just sense there’s a culture out there in the Church that believes that they can never go directly to the King and it saddens me to hear that. In my opinion a possibility why people feel that way is a lot of Catholics may not be certain of there salvation and they don’t see the loving God I do. Even though I’m a beginner in looking at the Church’s teaching on salvation I have studied it a lot and I still don’t fully understand it. So I could see why Catholics who haven’t studied it at all or in years wouldn’t be so sure of there salvation. But I could see why people wouldn’t see as God as loving if there not sure of there salvation. I’m not saying by any means I believe in sola fide , the prot view of salvation is superior in anyway or the lack of assurance is only in the uneducated. But the prot. view of sola fide the way I was taught is so simple to understand (all you have to do is believe) and the fact they don’t believe in purgatory. So I could see why there could be a lot of people in the church that don’t see as God as loving and would never dare pray to the king directly.

It reminds me of a little girl saying “My mother is sweet shes never hit me with a belt or punished me, I’m going to ask her, I’m afraid of my father, why would he say yes to me?” I just would hate for that view to spread and are fear of God to become unhealthy and we never go to him directly. Do I think the saint’s prayers are more powerful then are’s? Sure that’s very possible, not to mention Mary’s must be number one in that line of thinking. But this could be the former prot. coming out but I do think it’s possible Marian devotion can go to far and get out of balance. But I’ve also hear we can never love her as much as God and we should imitate Christ’s love for her.

You could say why are you overwhelmed with all the Marian images in church? How is that any different then a statue of Hulk Hogan, Richard I,or Farrah Fawcett? People don’t worship them they just imitate them with feathered hair, big muscles and swords.Well my response would be I don’y believe the Church promotes us to worship her, I just think it’s possible for us to go to far but open to hearing the other side. While I’m pretty indifferent to secular statues, there not In Church. But then again it may help me to understand more what I said about Fr. Pacwa and the comm. of saints. I’m not saying lets go back to the good ol’e days of Harry VIII and destroy Church images no not at all. I love them deeply and I think those churches helped bring a whole era of people closer to God. That whole charade he pulled was a disgusting if not Satanic thing he did, but I personally feel that maybe sometimes we as humans go to far and I get uncomfortable like I said with the kneeling and other things i mentioned.

I appreciate that, I do now for instance how much are language has changed and that for example a lot of medieval art was allegorical and not taken at face value. Like people in the painting would represent something Ie Sin. I’m trying to use my head and not just my heart. I got unsure when I read a page about how devotion to her is necessary and read quotes from all these saints and popes. But as I read a thread on her, I was reading and thinking its not an infallible teaching of the Church other wise I’d feel like we’d now. Or id hope so haha. So it does help its not necessary, But I do love Mary. And dearly hope ill relax about this eventually. Its gotten better but I do love her and I’m sure my relationship with her will get better.

I do have a feeling that deep in my soul I should become Catholic, I fell in love with the faith years ago and while I didn’t pursue it till recently. Its aura never escaped me.

Actually, most Catholic people who are most devout and closest to Christ, the ones who let Him know all their worries and give Him all their joys, are also extremely big on talking to Mary. (The others are usually really big on some other saint…) Catholics who don’t talk to the saints usually also don’t think of Jesus as real and close, or of the Gospel as applying to them personally. If you picture Heaven as filled with individuals all interested, a real cloud if witness, you can understand your own individual relationship with God and with other members of Christ’s Body.

The truth of the matter is that, as important as the theology is, it is being part of a real family with Jesus and Mary and Joseph that helps us understand Jesus as true God and true man. People who refuse to talk to Jesus’ mom when she is just as accessible as He is, through His providing us the communion of saints, are going to have a hard time knowing Him as a person. The entire Gospel of Luke is a lot harder to understand if you ignore Mary’s obvious input.

And that is why Marian devotion tends to prevent false ideas about Christ, like Arianism or Docetism.

Also, devotion to the martyrs and to Mary is an early Christian thing, long before it ever gets to be a medieval thing. Tons of patristic quotes in St. Alphonsus. (Who actually was more of a canon lawyer research type. His Mary books are a tiny part of his huge output, and among his devotional books he wrote a lot more about Christ than about Mary.)

A few thoughts:

As the mother of our Lord, we ask for Mary’s intercession in order to lead to Jesus. Her merits are not viewed apart from Jesus. So, I am not certain the concept is as separate from Jesus as you might think. I think Luke 1 is crucial here. Additionally, we view the woman in Genesis and Revelations as Mary.

You also might consider that the intercession of the saints existed well before Protestantism. For example, some attempt to (wrongly) indicate that Augustine supported sola fide or sola scriptura, but don’t mention he wrote about the intercession of saints and purgatory. This was the early fifth century.

Additionally, the Catholic church views the body of Christ, the church, as one body and not separated by death. One can support this view using a combination of Eph 1 and 4, Col 3, Heb 12, Rom 8, and Rev 5 and 6. Add James 5, and you have one united church, not separated by death, that prays for one another.

Regarding the altar- In the first century, Ignatius of Antioch (Acts 11 indicates the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch), among other things, wrote there is one bishop and one altar. He also wrote about the real presence of the Eucharist (the altar is used during its consecration).

I would also review Galatians 3. Depending upon the version, it indicates that Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified before their eyes. 1 Cor 1 indicates that Paul preached Christ crucified. So, there is some evidence in scripture that the Christians upheld the concept and image of Christ crucified (i.e. The crucifix and giving reverence to His sacrifice).

I could see that for sure, I guess maybe my example of the Marian devotee going to far isn’t the mainstream as thought but i dont know the church is huge and many different kinds of Catholics out there. nothing like your ol country non-denom church with 100 people in it haha. But that is beautiful and made me want to convert more as someone described the church as a rainbow with many different shades. Thanks for the visual like I said I love Saint George and that’s only helped me in loving Christ and his church more so I can relate. The catholic church is so tangible, I’m not used to that. With Protestantism its like if ML was right, then what do you say about the church for the past 1200 years? That idea really turns me off, there’s a seemingly common idea that when or around the time the church expanded with Constantine that it sinfully comprised with pagans, it fell way from the true faith and went into darkness till ML came along. My mother didn’t say it that severe and not saying she believes that but i remember her saying that she felt the Catholic church went astray from the first Church and it practiced things aren’t in the bible. While I may not be PP 100 percent as that was awhile ago, what she said really stuck with me. If that’s true that would mean more or less the church was in darkness for 1200 years or at the very least led people astray. And society didn’t get it right again till ML came around. It was either after she said that or before I felt this big disconnect between the present and the times of Christ in the prot church i was going to. Like there theology punched 1200 year old hole in the calendar of life and we have this big black space between say 315 to 1521, it was sad. But then I study the Church, the tradition and they say we have a direct line between now and the times of Christ and the apostles and that is the Catholic Church. I loved it and it was a refresher, it makes sense of why I have a hard time with bible alone theology and that the church was in the dark for 1200 years. Anti Medievalism and Anti Catholicism really go hand in hand don’t they?

If it helps I have no problem talk to Mary, I do love her, even though I will say maybe I have a bit hurt relationship with her cause of my background and the stark diff it is to the Church. But I pray about it, no its not the talking just the kneeling down in front of her. For example I pray that God will heal my relationship with her and that I will learn how to properly do intercessory prayers and devotion to saints. Honestly the other day I was sitting in my chair and I was like you know what I should say something to Mary. I told her I loved her and I asked her to pray that God heals my relationship with her or something like that. I didn’t kneel down devoutly and say a hail mary. I’m not saying that;s wrong, but i just say in my chair and looked up and said hey haha. I’m telling u that because I think illustrates my fear or reluctance to kneel down to a saint in a prayer position, as I didnt want God to think I was doing anything improper or worship like. Like I said though im working on it. But I’m sure you’re referring to what I said I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of devotion to her and that makes sense.

I will have to go back to Luke 1 for sure, and yeah that’s a theology that’s huge in the church that im working on. The fact that its really a big family its more then just Jesus and the bible. God gave us a Church, a whole big family to love, to talk to and try to imitate through there images and writing. What I was told about prioritizing still resonates with me, but really the church has the same doctrine. when it talks about latira and dulia. so it does help that i feel like im not totally on the other side of the church on this and its getting better. I love your last qoute and made me realized that mabye my senstivity to the subject put blinders on me and i only focused on what I was upset about making it worse. But yeah I can see calling her Mother of God prevenrts heresy. ive read about there postion on it and they clear it up nicely.

It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things, even while you are worrying!

There is nothing wrong with taking baby steps. Just keep walking forward the best that you can.

Yeah its very difficult honestly, but at least I have narrowed it down to Marian devotion and kneeling to saints/statutes in prayer. I guess i kinda let devotional writing slide. But it still feels like there’s all this attention on Mary that I’m not used to. I’m not saying no attention, but it just seems like its so much that is equal or more than the amount God gets. It could be just cause I’m sensitive to it but still. there was a picture and it was something like " Oh we focus on Mary too much?. Sorry I was to busy prostrating in front of are blessed Lord." I’m thinking about making a separte thread for the stautes subject. as it may be more effect and streamlined to sepatre. But thanks and converting feels like the right think and i really dont think i could go back to protestantism and I dont see orthodox happening. but yeah theres something deep in my soul that wants to do it. Like I said it grabbed me through my happy then it eventually spread in my heart like wildfire.

A couple of thoughts from a fellow convert:

Firstly, perhaps you’d like to ask Mary to help you understand her role in God’s plan of salvation and that she help you draw closer to her Son (her reason for being God’s ambassadress).

Secondly, that you consider that everything you’ve learned about Mary and worship is based on non-Catholic perspectives deeply engrained in your mind. Seeing things from a different perspective is not unlike becoming a citizen of another country–one with very difference sensibilities, history and emphasis.

And that you understand that what we believe about Mary is under the authority of Christ’s Church which he founded on Peter and the Apostles, not on our likes and dislikes or what we think okay or what “seems” right to us. Jesus formed a new family with himself as the head, each of us has our place in the body. The saints you cited, and others, have likened Mary to the neck of Christ’s body–she cannot make a move the head doesn’t direct, but she can move the head–through our prayers offered up through her.

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