Apr 2, 2008
To worship Mary would be a grave sin, because worship is reserved for God alone. So why do Catholics pray to Mary and venerate statues of her?
Catholics venerate, or honor, Mary in prayer and song. Some people mistake prayer and veneration for worship, but to Catholics, they aren‘t the same thing. Prayer is simply entering into communication with a holy spirit. Veneration is giving special honor to a saint. Worship is for God alone, and Catholics worship only God through the mass.
Does the Bible Say to Honor Mary?
Critics of Marion devotion say that the Bible doesn’t say to honor Mary, and therefore it shouldn’t be done. However, in Luke’s gospel, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth said “Blessed are you among women” and Mary acknowledges this blessing by saying “all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).
Both women realized that Mary was uniquely blessed because she was entrusted with the honor of carrying God-in-human-form, Jesus Christ, in her womb. She alone was chosen for the highest honor in the history of the world. Catholics understand that if she is special enough for God to honor her, then she is certainly special enough for humankind to honor her too.
Why Do Catholics Make Such a Big Deal about Mary?
In a word: Jesus. Catholics make so much of Mary because of her son; the one she conceived, bore, nursed, nurtured, taught, raised, and ultimately suffered for through the unspeakable grief of a mother losing her child. Whereas all the priests, prophets, kings, evangelists, and apostles bore witness to the word, Mary actually bore the Word. This puts her in a class by herself.
How Can Mary Be the Mother of God?
Protestants often object to the Catholic tradition of calling Mary the "Mother of God,” arguing that she is nothing more than the mother of Jesus’ human body. The Church teaches that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine and his two natures cannot be separated. If Mary gave birth to Jesus, she gave birth both parts of him, both the part which is human and the part which is God. Mary gave birth to a divine/human being, one who is completely man and also completely God. Therefore Mary is the "Mother of God."
Why Pray to Mary When You Can Go Directly to Jesus?
All good mothers pray for their children and Mary is no exception. If God is the Father of believers, and Jesus is the brother, then Mary is the spiritual mother of the faithful, and Catholics believe that she is very influential with her son.
Remember, Jesus worked his first miracle at the wedding in Cana (he turned water into wine) at his mother’s request. When Catholics pray to Mary they are asking her to pray to her son on their behalf because according to Tradition (the sacred oral teachings of the Church), her prayers carry a lot of weight with her divine son.
Are There Other Reasons to Honor Mary?
Mary is worth honoring and emulating because she is the ideal example of perfect obedience to God. Knowing that she could be stoned to death for carrying a baby conceived out of wedlock, she still said “yes” to God: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When she said “yes” to God she demonstrated perfect courage, perfect obedience and perfect faith.
Mary is a pillar of strength. She stands, not swoons, at the base of the cross as her son’s life is ripped away. Mary understands human suffering. Her own life was full of suffering: a problem pregnancy, a difficult delivery in a faraway land, a son who was deemed mentally unstable by his own family and was ultimately killed like a common criminal.
Mary bore her suffering with strength, dignity and perfect faith. For these and countless other reasons Catholics worldwide continue to appreciate and venerate Mary.