Hello everyone! I am on my way possibly back to the Church after being away several years. One of the things holding me back is the veneration of Mary and the saints, but I am gaining more understanding.
When I was a young pre-teen and teen, I felt very close to Mary. We were all told to keep journals as a project at school and we could put anything we want in it – I pasted a copy of a painting of Mary and a prayer to her in it.
I also remember one evening I was very upset (my parents had a rocky marriage at that point – thankfully the Lord has blessed them with healing, I also was bullied in school) and I remember it was because my cousin and best friend had just had to leave from a visit with me. I was feeling really lonely and sad and I asked the Virgin Mary to help me find comfort. As I was falling asleep, I felt the softest hand brush the hair off my forehead and could smell flowers.
When we least expect it the Lord can allow us to have a tangible experience of His love, and many times the experience is of His mother. Her Son desires the best for us, and her will is united with His Will!
I hope you will one day be able to honor Mary again, because, without her fiat, where would we all be today? It was her unconditional “yes” that helped make our salvation possible.
Consider that God honored her. She was also told by God, through the Archangel Gabriel, that ALL generations would call her “Blessed”. Well, all generations do call her “Blessed”, but that is predominantly through the Catholic faith or faiths in communion with the Catholic Church.
Other faiths frequently flatly refuse to honor Mary, or at worse, denigrate and ignore her and encourage others to do the same.
At the foot of the cross, we believe that Jesus gave us everything, his body, blood, life, even his mother. He said to John to behold his mother. We Catholics believe that, at that moment, Jesus was giving us his own mother, to be humanity’s spiritual mother.
We believe she is our mother.
As to the saints, some claim we worship them. However, we ask them to intercede for us. We do not worship them.
Think of it this way. Would you hesitate to ask a family member, or friend, to say a prayer for you? Well, we do not see this as taking anything away from God to ask a friend to pray for intercession on our behalf.
Well, we Catholics believe that when we die, we still live. Scripture confirms this, says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of the living, not the dead. So, we believe the Blessed Virgin Mary and saints to be just as alive as you and me.
Further, we believe in the same way that it’s very okay for me to ask you for a prayer or you to ask me, that it’s fine to ask someone who is already in heaven and is very much alive. In fact, it might actually be even more advantageous to ask a saint to pray for you than a sinful person here on earth.
We believe intercessory prayer is similar to the family dynamics, at times. Well, you know how a child will go to a father, get “no” as an answer, go to the mother, ask for her to speak to the father on the child’s behalf. Often, her intervention makes all the difference and works. Praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints is a little like that.
We also see no separation in the Church. We believe the Church in heaven is not separated in any way from the Church on earth. We believe in the “Communion of saints”.
Many Protestants are absolutely adamant that we must pray directly to God with no intermediaries. However, I notice that in the Bible, God often worked through intermediaries. He could have spoken directly to Mary, but for his own reasons, he spoke through Gabriel.
Now, in the Bible, we know that Christ, while still on earth, spoke to both Elijah and Moses. This wasn’t intercessory prayer, but nonetheless, it shows we can communicate with the saints.
In another case of a rich man who goes to hell, he asks Abraham for intercession rather than asking God, directly. This is an example of intercessory prayer. Although Abraham didn’t intercede that time, this kind of prayer can, and does, work.
Getting back to Mary, at the Visitation, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. When she is, she honors Mary, as well. When we pray the “Hail Mary”, we quote 2 parts of scripture, what the Angel Gabriel said and what Elizabeth said to Mary.
We believe one of the many names for Mary is the “Ark of the Covenant”. Her body housed God for 9 months! Mary’s womb was where Christ first set foot on earth. She is the Mother of God, and we must honor God’s mother!
Mary had a unique relationship with the Trinity. She is the daughter of God the Father, the mother of Jesus, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. So, we see how God feels about Mary.