What about devotion to Mary?

I realize this will be a touchy subject for some – especially if you do not hear me out completely or jump in without reflection. I ask for your responses to be considered and thoughtful. Please don’t think I mean to disrespect nor cast aspersions on Church teaching nor anyone’s personal beliefs or devotions.

I am a cradle Catholic of 43 years. With the exception of about a year after high school, I have been a regular participant in a parish and I have taught CCD and been a Lector. I have my questions and issues with Church teachings, but I realize that it is up to me to align myself with the Church and I am not leaving nor am I rebelling. I have reached a place where I have made a decision - not irrevocable, but pretty firm right now - and I’d like some thoughts from you all.

Here goes…

I am uncomfortable in my own heart with some of the devotion, adoration, and prayers to Mary. I revere Mary as the Mother of God, I believe whole-heartedly in the Virgin Birth, and I have no reservation that she is Blessed among women. However, while I am in the midst of my own doubts and questions and issues with Marian devotion, I have arrived at a place where I think I can remain for awhile while I sort this out in my soul and I hope you will help me in this.

Can I remain a Catholic in good standing in the Church if I have chosen, for the time being, to put aside (not reject) devotions, litanies and prayers to Mary? What if I never arrive at acceptance of that in my own heart? I find no question in my heart about the Mass, I believe in intercessory prayer and veneration of Mary as Mother of Our Lord. But, for instance, if I go to Confession and I’m given a penance of the Rosary then I find I’m in a corner as I am not entirely in line with the Church on the Rosary. I pray it and I concentrate on the Mysteries more than the devotion to Mary.

I’m not even sure I’m able to make my feelings clear here about it, and I hope (and I’m sure having seen many of you in the Prayer Intentions threads) that you will understand how hesitant I am and with all respect and humility for those who are fully in accord with devotion and adoration to Mary. I thank you for your consideration and thoughtful replies.

Hi Azchurch :slight_smile:

What you are doing, I think, is right. It is good to at least not go against Church teaching and totally reject everything or anything of what the Church says about our Mother and Queen. It is not required for any of us to go to Mary for her intercession towards God. If you are uncomfortable with praying the Rosary or any Marian prayer/devotion as penance after Confession, just tell your priest openly and candidly, and he will make appropriate adjustments for you. It is required for priests to adjust the penance after Confession if the layperson will not be able to do the said penance.

I would like to point out something: faith is a gift from God. Therefore leave to God how active and noticeable our Mother will be in your spiritual journey towards heaven. I would suggest three things:

  1. Pray one last Marian prayer, any prayer you want, and leave to God how our Queen and Mother’s care and love would manifest to you, and what should your response be. I would recommend the Memorare:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Then forget about it. Let go and let God.

  1. Never close your door to our Mother. Keep your eyes and heart open, let her do God’s work through herself for you.

  2. Talk to a spiritual director, maybe your parish priest, about your struggle to understand Mary. Read also books about her. I would recommend Mother Teresa: In The Shadow of Our Lady. It is a very beautiful book about Mary’s part in Bl. Teresa of Calcutta’s spirituality.

God bless.

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (Jas. 5:16–18)

Above scripture is another reason why we chose to ask Mary to pray for us. She is the most righteous among all of us. Her prayer has more effect than any of us. :slight_smile:

So for instance, if you go to Confession and you’re given a penance of the Rosary, you can ask Mary to pray for you for God’s grace for strength not to repeat the sin, and at the same time you meditate on the Mysteries. :hug1:

Dear az I am reminded of a homily our priest gave last year.It is perfectly normal that from time to time we will question our vey faith.It is good to question that which we don’t understand.From time to time our faith will be tested.
My suggestion would be to make an appointment to speak with your parish priest and prepare the questions you would like to discuss.Talk openly and honestly to him face to face and discuss the things you feel unsure about.If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your own priest phone another and make an appointment to go and see another.
Dear friend I know what a caring faithful prayerful person you are.I thankyou for your prayers for others and sharing of your experiences here on CAF as these have helped so many people.
May God bless you and bring you to the answers you seek.

There is a hint of a spiritual attack here. Nothing to get paranoid about, but this is exactly how the enemy works. However, since he is a coward, he is easily repulsed. He has appealed to your dislike of certain disordered devotions to Mary. Opposition to Mary, in all of its forms, has its root in the evil one. He detests her. Nevertheless, we have all seen those who rarely mention our Lord, but speak almost exclusively of Mary. This likely upsets her! As to her role in our faith, it simply morphed from bringing Jesus to us, to leading us to Him and, as part of the Communion of Saints, to intercede (not mediate!) for us. You are well aware that you need never pray a single Rosary to be a good Catholic.

So many of us have had the same questions, the same doubts. If your heart is not in the devotion to her, it is better that you stop them at this time and simply pray for an increase in faith that will bring understanding along with it. Confession is a good time to reveal your doubts, so that your Priest can evaluate the source of them. An even better time to express these doubts is during a private discussion with your Priest.

Certainly, the Hail, Mary cannot be a stumbling block? It is directly from scripture, with only the name Mary added for clarity. If it is a penance given you, I would strongly suggest that, out of obedience, you pray it while asking for an increase in faith and understanding.

I have heard Mary, Mother of the Son by Mark Shea (Evangelical convert) praised far and wide. Perhaps a bit of R&R (reading and reflection) is also in order?

The key question is Where does this aversion to Marian prayer come from?

What makes you think it is bad?

Is it Protestant or other influence or reading?

Do you disagree with the teaching of the Communion of Saints?

Do you honour your Father by ignoring your Mother?

Dear Az,

It appears from your op that you have a misunderstanding about the Rosary. One is not praying they Rosary properly if they are only doing out of devotion to Our Lady. The whole point of the Rosary is to bring a person closer to Jesus. Contemplation of the mysteries is the most important part.

Though devotion to Mary can be wonderfully enriching for some, it is not required by the Church. You are required to believe the Marian dogma’s but that is all. You have already stated that you believe in those things.

However, twice in your op you refer to adoration of Mary. This is disturbing to me and I just want to clarify that in the Catholic Church, adoration of Mary or anyone other than God is forbidden. This leads me to believe that you might have been exposed to some devotional practices that are over the top. In other words, they concentrate so much on Mary that she is glorified and God isn’t. I have seen this myself and not only am I not comfortable with this, it really upsets me. We are told in scripture to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, but some Marian devotees seem only to have their eyes fixed on His mother. Believe me, this is not what either of them want. Mary only wants us to come to Jesus.

You’re right there Prayer Warrior - I live in the center of very intense adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When they bring the image around to our parishes, I become uncomfortable as I see people going up on their knees and kissing the bottom of the portrait, etc. When I hear about some of the visions and apparitions of Mary that talk about praying to Mary for special intentions and such, it just strikes me as - something. Not quite right.

I’m not leaving for the Protestant church, nor do I think that my internal struggle with some interpretations and practices regarding Mary are demonic attacks.

I’m not adverse to the Hail Mary…in fact, there’s nothing in there with which I have any question. The Rosary, on the other hand, does have some connotations for me and that’s my issue. I can’t rightly explain it, but maybe (sounds silly?) the 10 to 1 ratio of Hail Mary to Our Father is an issue? I just can’t pin it down.

But some have brought up good points in that there are places among Catholics where Marian devotion has become exclusive and borders on superstition and over the top. I’m talking through this out loud so some of my thoughts are a bit raw and not formed but I’ve been thinking about this for months and months. Beleive me, you’re getting 1% of what I feel like writing but I’m trying to keep this down to a manageable few thousand words.:wink:

The reason why I bring it up here is because I trust you all to be open and compassionate as though we were sitting around a diner having coffee and chatting about things. I don’t have the opportunity where I live to have the open hearts and minds that are on this forum to discuss this. You haven’t let me down. I appreciate your inputs all of you.

A few of you recommended I talk to my parish priest - and I likely will and thanks for the suggestion. Before I go to my pastor, I wanted to throw this out to you good people and try and work out my real issues and condense what is bothering me. Thanks for letting me bend your ears!

You understand that the Virgin of Guadelupe is pregnant with Jesus, right? That is the reason for the crawling, because the faithful are actually crawling to our Lord. I see this “knee walking” to our Lord at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I think you may have more of a cultural misunderstanding going on here.

My wife is Mexican and we’ve been in this majority Hispanic parish for over 20 years. It’s not a cultural misunderstanding nor lack of comprehension about the reasons that is my issue. I can understanding crawling to the True Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. I’m not sure about crawling towards a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Bottom line is: we each take care of our own faith lives while being aware that God is in charge of everything. We cannot let any over-devotion on the part of others deter us from proper devotion. It is clearly eating at you, and that part is what you have control over.

azchurch, I think po18guy makes a good point of the possibility of spiritual attack. I see that you are very sincere in your faith and would hold out the possibility (or probability) of Satan looking for a weakness or opportunity. I don’t have much to add to all the other good comments other than to be careful not to give the devil an opening. With prayer, everything else will work itself out.

Dear Azchurch.

You are playing right into the devil’s hands. He just LOVES when he can pull souls further from the truth of the Catholic faith. If you put aside devotion to Our Lord’s mother, even for a short time, that will certainly be to your detriment and your loss. Our Blessed Mother’s sole purpose is to bring souls to her Son.

I feel bad that you’re having reservations about Our Lady. Why don’t you spend some time in Eucharistic adoration and ask our Lord to enlighten you on the subject.

Excellent points. He should also keep in mind that someone from Mexico or the Philippines will express devotion in a different manner than, say, someone from England or Finland. We have to avoid spiritual snobbery if someone else’s practice doesn’t match one’s own perhaps more reserved approach.

I live in the center of very intense adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When they bring the image around to our parishes, I become uncomfortable as I see people going up on their knees and kissing the bottom of the portrait, etc. When I hear about some of the visions and apparitions of Mary that talk about praying to Mary for special intentions and such, it just strikes me as - something. Not quite right.

Praying to Mary for special intentions is completely right, since one is invoking her aid and prayer in ones plea, as is proper under the Communion of Saints. Going on ones knees is a traditional penitential act - largely abandoned in the affluent west. Is that a good loss? I’m not so sure. I would not want to do it, but I couldn’t criticise those who do. Nor would I criticise someone kissing a picture of someone they loved.

I’m not adverse to the Hail Mary…in fact, there’s nothing in there with which I have any question. The Rosary, on the other hand, does have some connotations for me and that’s my issue. I can’t rightly explain it, but maybe (sounds silly?) the 10 to 1 ratio of Hail Mary to Our Father is an issue? I just can’t pin it down.

The Rosary is a complete devotion. When praying the Hail Marys, one is meant to be meditating on the individual mystery in question, particularly with respect to Mary’s view of it as a human witness, and as a type of the Church.

**i bet Jesus has a devotion to His Blessed Mother Mary!

i, for one, do not want to have to stand before Jesus & answer His question; “Why did you not love my Mother as I love my Mother?”

She was the only human being chosen by God to conceive, bear, give birth, nurture, live with & love Jesus until His Crucifixion, Death & Resurrection & Ascension into Heaven!

Jesus is always the focus of any devotion to Mary!!!**

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


If you feel this way, then you should most likely pray more to Mary, not less. Try it before you reject it, please?!

Don’t let Satan fool you. His defeat is through her because Jesus wants it this way.

It isn’t always spiritual snobbery. I have a good friend of Mexican descent, who flat out told me that she thought throughout her childhood and young adulthood that Mary was “on par with God” and to be worshipped like Him. Though a family is responsible for their child’s spiritual formation, she also blamed those in her parish for setting an example of Marian worship.

Loving Mary is appropriate and Marian devotion is perfectly appropriate. If Marian devotion is done in the with the right spiritual approach, it is wonderful. But I see time and again Catholics rush to the defense of Marian devotion without taking pause to wonder if some “devotion” has crossed the line to worship. Many Catholics seem to have a knee jerk reaction to any questions about Marian devotion without thinking that there really may be many Catholics who have gone over the top.

Last week I saw a thread questioning a prayer directed to Mary which said “in you I place all my hope and my salvation”. Really? What happened to Jesus, our Hope (1 Tim 1:1)? What happened to the Holy Spirit? What happened to the Grace of the Sacraments which sanctify? There are other Marian prayers that rub me the wrong way as well, but that one stunned me. (Clarification: I love the Hail Mary: it is very scriptural, it identifies Jesus as God when Mary is referred to as Mother of God, and it identifies Mary as an intercessor). Anyway, there are many who say satan is deceiving the OP away from Mary, but deceiving one into Marian worship would be a victory for the enemy as well.

Thanks Prayer Warrior. You have succinctly articulated some of the issues I have with the question of where Mary fits in my Catholic faith.

Without being flippant nor disrespectful, let me try to explain how I have seen and heard some of the petitions to Mary.

"Mary, I pray that you will (intention inserted). Amen"

This is not me being a cultural snob nor “misunderstanding” how one or another person approaches their faith. I believe absolutely in the Intercession of the Saints - among whom the Mother of Our Lord is Queen. But I see too often the prayer become a request to Mary to do something, not a prayer of intercession to Mary on behalf of the person to God.

I’d rather not get sidetracked with the arguments about cultural or regional devotions because I’m not going to try and rebut every individual instance of how Ugandans do this because… or Chileans say this because…

Thanks again for your input and thoughts everyone. Remember, I’m not fighting Catholicism, the CAF, you, Mary, nor God. I’m just trying to work this out and I hope it might help someone else as well.

I believe all of the Creed we say at every Mass 100% without reservation nor hesitation. Nowhere does this mention devotion, petitions, nor any other instructions about Mary. So, if I **completely believe **the Creed, is it demonic attack, is it wrong, is it “un-Catholic” to refrain from devotion to Mary in my own personal beliefs within the structure of This…Our CREED:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, (Yes, I believe! Yes, she is blessed among women!) and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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