Why is Mary Important


I’m in some discussions with a protestant friend who has a hard time accepting things that are not easily arrived at using a hermeneutical approach. I’m getting more comfortable answering most of his questions about Tradition and Scripture, but he asked me something the other day that really stumped me.

Why is assent to the doctrines on Mary important?

I understand the definition of the “Mother of God” doctrine was a response to the Nestorian heresy. But what about the Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity and Assumption?

Is Jesus’ life and work any less important or glorious if we don’t believe these things about Mary?

Any light you can shed here is much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,



Dear Craig,

Assent to the doctrines on Mary is important because they are true. Not only that, God Himself considers them to be important. The definition of the Mother of God doctrine came about in response to heresy, but the content of the definition was held by the Church long before the heresy came along.

Basically, Mary is so special because God determined that she be special. Mary was God’s idea! It was He who determined that she would be the physical channel by which He would become incarnate. Everything—everything that His Church teaches about Mary derives from that! At no time in the history of Salvation has there been anyone like Mary. That God would so elevate a human being automatically singles that human being out for special attention from us. To not recognize this is to risk devaluing the Incarnation and God Himself.

Are we to say that Jesus does not deserve a mother who is free from original sin or who remained a perpetual virgin or whose body was protected from the physical corruption of the grave? Whatever honor we pay to Mary only corresponds with the majesty of her Son.

It’s not a matter of Jesus’ life and work being any less important or glorious if we don’t ascribe such honor to His mother, it’s a matter of how important and glorious we see Him! Honoring His mother, far from detracting from him, gives Him more honor!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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