What causes misunderstanding of Mary?

I have my own thoughts…but wondering what others think about this.

Could you be more specific? Which misunderstandings?


That when she “saves”, she takes on the role of the Savior. That prayer to her mean that people are worshipping her. That’s she’s just some ordinary woman.

People tend to use only their eyes and their ears, not that thing behind the eyes and be-
tween the ears. A some people see a person praying to Mary, the non-Catholic automa-
tically, without any decent time to think, believes they are seeing idolatry. Some others
see that Mary is held in high esteem, and without any neurons firing, will take that to be
Goddess-Worship. Others see a Catholic with a Rosary, then without a second to think,
instantly connect that to the prayer beads used by Hindus/Buddhists.
[RIGHT]When I say “non-Catholic”
here, I don’t mean all, there
are exceptions naturally.
The real key to understanding the misunderstanding is to understand that
they who misunderstand don’t even want to understand. Such people are
just happy enough to hold those who venerate Mary in contempt.

I think he means how Protestants often think Catholics worship her. For a friend of mine the pictures and statues of Mary everywhere in his grandma’s house threw him off. He considered his Grandma “not Christian” because of her strict devotion to Mary. I had to correct him and explain that Catholics are indeed Christians.

A lot of the issue stems from (get ready for it because it’s a good thing) our unfailing love for Jesus Christ. Let’s face it, Evangelicals may not ask Mary for intercession, pray to her, kneel before statues of her, etc; but that doesn’t mean we don’t love and worship Christ with all our heart. The idea of looking to anyone but Christ at any time can make some of us cringe. We believe that every person is creation, but Jesus was not created. We believe Mary was great but we only look to Jesus. So what would you expect when we see Catholics bowing before Mary and praying; it scares someone who doesn’t understand the context of what’s going on. I know it used to scare me.

(Disclaimer: I don’t claim to have understanding of Mary. I just think it would be good to understand why/how people misunderstand Mary so any confusion can be fixed.)

=EIF5A;11267925]That when she “saves”, she takes on the role of the Savior.

Well, yeah, this one would confuse, unless one is willing to say that I “saved” my children when I took them for baptism. I think it depends on the meaning, and how its explained.

That prayer to her mean that people are worshipping her.

The misunderstanding is often in the use of words, such as “prayer”. In most non-Catholic communions, prayer is only intended for God. The misunderstanding is that Catholics use the term prayer in a way that, in modern society, is archaic. “Help me, I pray you.” Pray as in request. Invocation is simply a request for intercessory prayer, something most non-Catholics do every Sunday.

That’s she’s just some ordinary woman.

Well, except for God’s abounding grace, she is an ordinary woman. I think that’s the beauty of her. An ordinary woman made extraordinary by grace, becoming the greatest model of the Christian life.


What causes misunderstanding about anyone , or anything ? John says we have an unction from the Holy One and know all things. Augustine says He teaches us. His ministry is perfect, only we are not. That is we can be wrong by ourselves, apart from the Lord. We can be born again and yet carnal, in some things. I myself have no misunderstandings about Mary, as I suppose you feel the same way. I will also say I presently see thru a glass darkly and will know much more and perfectly later about Mary. As far as misunderstanding what others believe, that is something else, and as I read more posts I think that is more your question. Even there I suppose the Lord can helps with patience, love, and discernment vs our own fleshly response to other’s belief’s.

I have a crackpot theory that it is God’s will that Mary would be a separator between protestants and apostolic Christians. They have their Creator and their King, but since the time of the original Reformers, their relationship with their spiritual mother has gradually grown cold among most protestants, as though they were an estranged child that doesn’t fully recognize their family. It is a reflection of their partial communion with Rome.

Yes, the misunderstandings can go both ways. That because say we don’t pray the rosary we are “cold” towards Mary or towards "spiritual " family or that we don’t honor her.

I think non- Catholics feel that when you talk about Mary, your taking away from God. They try to use science and math. They feel that if you ask mary to help, your going beyond God. But God is more than science and math. Protestants need to understand that.

There’s also the phrases Mother of God, and Queen of Heaven.

I know Jesus was, and is God. But He’s a part of the Being we call God. I understand that before Jesus became flesh He was known as the Word, and as the Word He was still a part of God.

As for queen of Heaven, I never thought of Heaven as having a queen. I don’t recall any of this when I was growing up.

And now I’m hearing Mary was taken to Heaven alive, without dying 1st. Where and when does this come from?

I also seem to remember that the woman holding a child has a pagan origin. Although I don’t remember which set of mythology it comes from. As a kid I was very interested in mythology as entertainment. I didn’t take it as real.

So all these things cause misunderstandings.

Devotion to Mary is worship to Jesus. The Incarnation is the Body and Blood of Christ delivered to us from the holy Virgin.

This altar nicely portrays the role of Mary; the Mother of God as Madonna. God the Father holds our Savior. It is always Christ.

Some well meaning Catholics add to the misunderstanding others have of Mary. I worked in a military chapel once and a group of women wanted to set the statue of Mary right next to the tabernacle. It would give the outsider the impression that we were genuflecting to Mary rather than Christ in the Eucharist. Some Catholics have actually crossed the line into error and do “worship” Mary. Some have a strong devotion to Mary that is confused by protestants. We also shoot ourselves in the foot…trying to add titles and honors to Mary such as “meadiatrix” which are fine when understood…but adding that title officially doesn’t enhance the faith at all and only serves to confuse both the faithful who are not theologians…and protestants. Still, a lack of trying to understand Catholic doctrine about Mary by Protestants is the biggest problem. How can a protestant not understand that the title “Mother of God” is about pointing to the divinity of Christ rather than trying to put Mary over God?

A woman at our church, who has now been catholic for several years, used to be a Presbyterian minister. She said to me that Christians who are not Catholic do not have a developed theology of the communion of saints, so doing anything with Mary does not make sense to them.

My close friend who is Methodist, and her father is a Methodist minister, asked me something about Mary, and I asked her what Methodists thoughts of Mary are. She said she, and her church doesn’t really think much, they just remember her at Christmas.

But I think what the lady at our church said really seems to make sense to me, because if you don’t have the communion of saints where we are all still family with God, whether living here on earth, or in heaven, or purgatory bound for heaven, then Mary doesn’t fit in at all.

Perhaps she should speak for herself, or her former communion if she wishes. I think Lutherans have a reasonable understanding of the Communion of Saints, as do Anglicans generally, and Orthodox.


I guess I need help with the definition of venerating or how venerating is done (honest).

Is there a difference in praying to Mary as opposed to *asking *Mary to pray for us?

Maybe it means the same thing to Catholics, if it does, Okay.

I think praying “TO” is a form of idolatry in a strict sense.

I listen and here things like “asking Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, all the Angels and Saints to pray for me to the Lord our God.” or a Litany of Saints…all asking for intersession by asking BVM pray FOR us. St. Joesph pray FOR us…etc Pope asks Mary to pray FOR us or whatever circumstance he wishes.

I can’t see anything idolatrous with asking Mary and Saints and Angels to pray for us.
Mary is without doubt #1 as far as her position in heaven as Queen.

We need to look into the origins of confusion over Mary in order to understand why some Protestants cannot/do not/will not acknowledge Mary in any other capacity other than a vessel God used to give us Jesus. IOW, they come very close to denying the Incarnation as believed in the early Church. Why? Because their origins lie in denying that God cooperates with our human nature to make us holy. Once one believes that the human person is totally depraved, then Mary becomes an embarrassment because it means that God actually used human flesh from a woman’s body to enter our world as a human being. Many who believe this are even saying that it wasn’t Mary’s seed, but God implanted a “pure” seed in her, which contradicts the plain words of Scripture. But it’s how far some will go to try to dodge having to admit that God builds on nature.

Once the natural aspect of the Incarnation is questioned, then it becomes easier to think of Mary as a mere “vessel” instead of as one who acted of her own free will and who had a major part in Christ’s life and ministry. Once people start to negate her importance, the next step is to question her necessity, then any valid devotion that might come naturally to the human heart has to be rejected until all we have left is a depiction of Mary kneeling next to the crèche at Christmas and nothing more, if that, and then often grudgingly acknowledged.

Jesus intended us to be a family. Families have mothers and fathers and children. And while we are all children of God, even Jesus since he was human, still God has a place for each of us within the family that we should rejoice in instead of trying to push such honors aside, as if they don’t exist. God exalts whom he pleases and brings down those he decides deserve it. The Church acknowledges all that her children have done in her service from the highest to the lowest. Such acknowledgement is not setting any of us up for worship, but she does recognize the work of God in her members and rightfully celebrates it, be it Mary or anyone else.

Catholics do not believe that Mary “saves” any person - Mary always leads one to Christ - She is the disciple that said “yes” to God with her fiat … Mary tells us to “do whatever He tells” us to do … Jesus said “who is my mother …” [family" but the one who does what the Lord commands - Mary is the ultimate example of the family of God - she believed what was spoken by the angel …

That prayer to her mean that people are worshipping her.

Prayer does not mean worship in its original context …In present secular and Protestant use - to pray has come to be associated solely with petition to a deity

[quote]1. To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. To make a fervent request or entreaty.

and even here there is a second meaning unrelated to an address to God.

However, in the Catholic sense it retains its older [archaic - ancient - you can insert your preference here] definition and use … to ask, to petition …

  1. To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer.
  2. To ask (someone) imploringly; beseech. Now often used elliptically for I pray you to introduce a request or entreaty: Pray be careful.
  3. To make a devout or earnest request for: I pray your permission to speak.
  4. To move or bring by prayer or entreaty.

In our legal system we still use this older definition … you pray for a hearing before the court … the writings are pleadings …

That’s she’s just some ordinary woman.

Scripture tells us that Mary is no ordinary woman - read the Gospel of Luke - “All generations shall call… [her] blessed” …

That’s fair. :slight_smile:
We venerate AND *adore *God, that making up what worship is, but we only venerate
Mary, as in we regard Mary with great respect and reverence, we don’t “adore” her.
Adoration is due only to God. We love Mary, Jesus gave her to be our Mother (not
Mother Goddess), and if you look in the Old Testament, we find that the “Queen
Mother” (Mother of the King) is very important, so the who is Mary to Jesus, the
King of Kings?

The phrase “Praying to Mary” or saints/angels is misunderstood too, a better way
to think of it is “Praying THROUGH Mary.” There really isn’t a difference, praying
is a spiritual communication.

Som[size=3]e[size=3]one please che[size=3]ck me on my previ[size=3]ous answer.[/size][/size][/size][/size]

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