Monday, August 06, 2007

Something about Mary

Many thanks to Jena for all the nice ark-lovin' things she posted on her blog, which is always full of good ponderings (especially of the adoption kind).
I wanted to attempt to shed some light on the "praying to Mary" stuff that Catholics do that still promotes confusion, even division among many Christians today. If anyone has something to add or additional information to help clarify, please leave a note in the comments. Thanks!

The gist of Mary is this, she is Jesus' mother (not equal to Him or the other two parts of the Trinity), but beloved (not worshipped) by Catholics for her role. The Second Vatican Council affirmed this when they wrote that to understand the doctrines on Mary, they must always be related to Jesus Christ, who is "the source of all truth, sanctity and piety." She is honored for her role in the plan of salvation, the one in which her fiat and longing to do God's will resulted in the birth to the Savior, who would undo the damage done in the Garden.

In her final role of mothering the human Jesus at the Cruxifiction, Jesus turns to his beloved John and says, "Woman, behold your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19: 26-27) Jesus' last act on the cross was to give Mary as a mother to all of His faithful followers, symbolized by his most loved disciple, John. For many centuries, Christians have turned to the gentle mother of Jesus for comfort and help.

But that's just a little background, here's the deal with the praying stuff...

"Catholics honor Mary and look to her as our mother in faith, but they do not worship Mary or "pray to Mary" as they pray to God. Worship belongs only to God. Catholics ask Mary to pray for us, and believe that her intercession has a great effect in calling forth God's grace and mercy. But this is because of her special relationship with Jesus, not because of her own merits...Catholics believe that Mary also has a special role of intercession because of her special role in God's plan of salvation. Jesus and Mary are not in competition. Jesus is the source of all God's grace and salvation, and Mary directs her prayers and our attention to Jesus. When Mary is given such titles as "Mediatrix" or "Coredemptress", extreme care must be taken to explain that Mary has only been given a share in the work of Jesus Christ. Nothing she has done or could do in herself merits or gives salvation. Catholics pay attention to Mary because she is a model of discipleship; she teaches us what it means and what it costs to follow Jesus."

(from Catholic and Christian: An explanation of commonly misunderstood Catholic beliefs by Alan Shreck)

It is no different from me asking any one of you to pray for a need that I have and believing that there is great power in prayer united in the Body of Christ. Mary's relationship to Jesus makes her a powerful intercessory for our prayers. (I mean, what good Jewish boy doesn't listen to his mother?) Even the Rosary, which many people falsely believe or mistakenly proclaim is a prayer TO Mary, is actually a series of meditations based on the scriptural accounts of events in Jesus' life and ministry. You can read more about the role of Mary here, here, and here.

Love Jesus as Mary loves Jesus, Love Mary as Jesus loves Mary.

- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta


Becky said...

Beautifully stated! As Orthodox Christians we hear the same mis-conceptions about Mary.

Jena said...

Wow, I found myself going "hmmmmmm" over and over again while reading this. I was not expecting you to write a post like this, but this really clears up the many misconceptions I had(ve). Thanks Jane!

patjrsmom said...

Thanks for the opportunity, Jena. Many people (even cradle Catholics) don't understand some of the teachings of the faith. It's always interesting to me to share the whats and whys of the Catholic church. I hope it was helpful!


5KidMom said...

Absolutely fascinating! Even after years in Catholic school, and an upbringing in the Episcopal church, I still didn't know these things. Thanks for sharing.