As a Lutheran at a Lutheran university (and a theology major, at that) I’ve heard the argument that Luther still reverenced Mary and didn’t take away a lot of doctrine about her. That happened over time. I haven’t really thought about Mary all that much, personally, but you will have some pre-semmers here reciting the “Hail Mary” from time to time.
Anyway, I think a stumbling block to most “protestants” is the fact that there isn’t much Marian theology in Scripture whatsoever. Especially not worship. That would definitely be a problem.
I’ve heard Catholics say that Mass isn’t legitimate unless there’s a statue somewhere in the sanctuary. Is this true? If so, that would be another thing that would kind of make real-presence non-Catholics roll their eyes.
I’ve also read some statements by specific groups of Catholic devoted to Mary, such as this: “Please obtain for me all the graces I need for the sanctification and salvation of my soul, for you are the Mediatrix of All Graces, you are the Co-Redemptrix of the world.” That’s definitely a problem for a lot of people.
I’ve actually been doing some reading of Nikos Kazantzakis novels (he wrote “The Last Temptation of Christ” so he’s probably considered a heretic). He presents his native religion as being very Orthodox and Mary is often brought up a lot (read “The Fratricides”). I like the picture he paints of her. I see why people pray to her or through her or whatever. I see why people go to saints for comfort. I understand this human urge. However, I haven’t prayed to Mary or the apostles or my dad because I can pray to Christ. And he can actually do something about it.
This one gave me a laugh and made me roll my eyes too. Mary is only mentioned by name in the Mass twice (three on Sundays when we say the Creed). It is definitely not at all focused on her.
And it definitely makes not a slightest difference to the legitimacy of the liturgy if there’s not a statue of Mary around. Although we do require a crucifix with a corpus of Christ on it.
Statements like this remind me of Fulton Sheen’s saying ‘most people dislike what they think the Catholic Church teaches, not what it actually does. And if it actually taught most of it, Catholics would dislike it too.’
Yes there are some loons out there in Catholic land (pseudo-Catholic I should say) who go overboard to the point of heresy in their Marian devotions. This is possible. But then there are those who nail themselves to crosses in the Philippines each Good Friday in imitation of Christ as well - so go figure.
No Catholic who knows his faith would honestly tell you that Catholics worship anyone or anything other than the One Triune God.
One of the best explanations for this (and other Marian dogmas) I have read is a book called Hail, Holy Queen by Dr. Scott Hahn. I would recommend you read this if you are truly interested - he explains it so much better than I probably could.
Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t know if I could gather up enough money for it as I’m a college student trying to pay tuition, but our library has some good Catholic literature. I will try and see what I can find there.
I’m not Catholic, but I would never consider myself anti-Catholic or anti-Mary or anything. I’m understanding more about your church and doctrine as I go along. Some of it I still disagree with, but some of it I’m also understanding. This helps that process.
I’ve never heard that before, and I can’t imagine that that is true. The validity of the Mass is dependent on a validly ordained priest pronouncing the words of the consecration. I’ve never heard any mention of a statue.
As far as dogmas 2.0-4.0, my major issue is that here you have dogma that is of the highest level within Catholicism (De Fide) that I just can’t open my Bible and confirm. As nice as it may be to believe that Jesus assumed Mary to heaven, I have no way of knowing whether that is the truth.
As far as the immaculate conception, maybe this is just me, but it does seem to me that if God really had an exception to Romans 5:12 and 5:18, I should be able to confirm it in the Bible somehow. The explanations that I have heard so far really appear forced to me.
Somehow the perpetual virginity one does not bother me as much…don’t ask me to explain why because it is not logical.
The phrase “Devotion to Mary” is something I have a hard time comprehending. I have a hard enough time being devoted to Christ. What does it mean to be devoted to a person in heaven?
But then again, I’m not really all that offended by Marian devotion, it is just very foreign to me. I mean we are not dealing with Baal here. The last I checked Jesus and Mary were on the same team.
Well, the main one that comes to mind right now is the Immaculate Conception. I am certainly willing to grant that Mary must have been an extraordinarily righteous and godly woman, but in all charity I do have trouble with the “all-holy” title.
I must also admit that the little I have seen of de Liguori (spelling?) has also created some difficulties. I could certainly use some enlightenment here, and a Catholic perspective, since the people who I have heard bring it up have all been Protestants keenly bent on “proving Marian worship.” Maybe someone could explain a bit?
And isn’t Jesus our life, our sweetness, and our hope?
I’ll have to put Mr. Kazantzakis on my reading list. I don’t think that writing a fiction book can technically makes you a heretic, although it might be blasphemous of sacriligious.
The graces that Mary obtains for us, she obtains through Christ. And you most definitely can trust that Christ obtained graces for you on the cross, because He did. But, you can never have too much grace. Just like hot chocolate
So, Christ is THE Mediator between God and man, pursuant to 1Tim.2:5, “…there is also one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus…” , however, we are all encouraged to intercede for each other, in 1Tim.2:1-3. This direction holds true for the Church in heaven, just as much as for us, so we are not only permitted, but encouraged to ask for their intercession. Mary has a special place among the saints because of her familial relationship with Jesus. Just as because of her intercession at the wedding at Cana, Jesus performed a miracle for the happy couple, so He will employ special graces to us who have His mother intercede for us.
In conclusion, I am not yet knowledgeable enough to know what Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix mean, so i’ll let someone else explain it.
I think some of the difficulties that you have is that some of the teachings of the Church are based on Sacred Tradition. The Catholic Church preserved the Tradition handed down, in much the same way some of the Old Testament Scriptures were passed on.
In this tradition, when the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) died, most of the Apolstles, at least those who had not yet been martyred, were able to come before she she passed. She was entombed, as in a normal burial. However when her casket was opend, and I do not recall why, a few days later, instead of her body, they found the casket full of flowers, mostly roses. There was no body. Thus the bodily assumption of Mary was derived from this Traditional teaching.
As for the Immaculate Conception, that is MAry was conceived without the stain of Original Sin, that is based on, among other things, some theological deductions. (I may not be stating this entirely accuratly so I apologize if I get parts of this wrong.) Mary was going to be the person who, more than any other person, would make the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity a reality; thus she had to be as pure as possible. To that End, God granted her a unique grace, one given to no other person, that would enable her to carry out this wonderous task, carrying and giving birth to her own creator. If someone as holy as Moses could not look on the face of God, how could a woman, no matter how pious, carry in her womb the very person of God? So through a special grace from God, she was delivered from Original Sin before she was concived so she could carry out this singular and utterly unique role. It predisposed her to be in a holy state where she could accept the Holy Spirit when the Angel Gabriel came to her and told her she would bear Jesus.
As for devotion, in Catholic teaching, there is a big difference between deviotion and worship. I would say that Catholic definitions for certain words, (prayer, devotion, honor, praise, to name a few) is significantly different than Protestant definitions. That may be part of the difficulty that many non-Catholic Christian have. We use the same words to mean different things.
The Assumption is one of those doctrines that can’t really be “proven” by Scripture, however we can see that it’s not anti-Biblical. We know that Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven, body and soul, and so we can say that there is precedent, and from there we apply the “arguement of fittingness”, which, granted, is not proof, but since those two men were assumed into heaven, we can say that it would be fitting for Jesus to bestow this honour on His mother. Also look at the Book of Revelation, and i think the C23 (my new name for the Catholic Church) identifies Mary as the Woman in the sky…it’s been a while since i’ve read Rev, so take from that what you will.
Regarding the Immaculate Conception, and your reference to Rom.5:12 and 5:18, we must first learn what “all” means. Look at v18, where it says “so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all”. We know that not all people will gain eternal life, so “all” must mean something less than “everyone”.
The timeline put forward by the Church (and elevated to dogma :P), is that Mary was cleansed of original sin and the effects of original sin which would have taken effect were all wiped out at the moment of her conception. Read Luke 1:26-38, and focus on Gabriel’s words, and contemplate what kind of person might merit those words from an archangel.
A devotion to Mary should be undertaken with the goal of a deepened devotion to Christ, who is our ultimate goal.
If I am not mistaken, and I may very well be, the church teaches that Mary most certainly did die before she was assumed.
Traditionally, and this is supported with scripture when Jesus spoke to from the cross, she lived with the Apostle John until her death. There is a house near Ephesus, in Turkey, when she reportedly lived for a time.
One thing to keep in mind. The Catholic Church is famous for preserving the relics, including body parts, of holy people. For example, I was recently blessed with a relic of a saint, the tip of a her finger, who died more than 600 years ago.
With that in mind, don’t you suppose the Catholic Church would hang onto the remains of Mary like nothing else? But the Church does not have her remains.
…that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. (Munificentissimus Deus, 44).
It does not say that she died, it does not say that she didn’t die. Only when her time on earth was completed. The faithful are free to believe either that she died or she didn’t. The general consensus of the majority though is that she did die.
I don’t find Marian devotion very problematic any more. My main problems are as follows:
I suspect that belief in the Perpetual Virginity arises from the view that total sanctity is incompatible with sexual intercourse. The terms in which Jerome (who came as close as any orthodox theologian to saying that sex was intrinsically sinful) defends the doctrine only make me more suspicious of it. Furthermore, the doctrine of Mary’s virginity in partu (which appears to be intrinsically part of the PV doctrine historically) seems very Docetistic to me. If Jesus “teleported” out of His Mother’s womb, then that implies that His Body was from the beginning something other than a normal, physical human body. This is a disturbing implication.
Regarding the Assumption, my only problem is that I don’t see why (given its late attestation and its long presence in the Church without definition) it couldn’t simply have been left as a pious opinion.
The same is true with the IC, but of course there’s also the classic Protestant fear that it compromises the uniqueness of Christ. As with the PV, my real fear is of a Docetistic Christology–that Catholics have trouble seeing Jesus as truly human, so they have “promoted” Mary into the role of sinless human being who can intercede for the rest of us. I have no problem with the idea that Mary was “entirely sanctified” from the first moment of her life onwards.
Overall, I think the important issue to bear in mind is that all Marian theology is really about Christology. Who we think Mary is says a lot about who we think Jesus is. Protestants tend toward Nestorianism in my opinion–the separation of Jesus’ humanity and His divinity. But Catholics and Orthodox have some tendency in the opposite direction–Jesus’ divinity swallows up His humanity and Mary takes on some of the properties that belong to the human Jesus. I don’t have a problem with the latter if it is not combined with the former. I can accept, in a sense, the slogan “de Maria numquam satis” (concering Mary you can never say enough). In and of itself, the problem is not putting Mary “too high.” And of course the problem is not, as silly Protestants sometimes claim, that Mary comes to be “above Jesus.” Rather, my fear is of a view of Jesus that downplays His humanity, so that we need another, purely human intercessor.
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.