Most of us who are Catholics eventually get asked, “Why do you Catholics worship Mary?” More often than not the question is not a real question it is a rhetorical question. For a few of you who might not know what is meant by the expression “rhetorical question,” it refers to a “question” whose purpose is not to seek an answer, but, rather, to make a (usually hostile) point. For example the expression “Who do you think you are!?” is in the form of a question but it does not seek an answer. Instead it is meant as a rebuke. And so it usually is when we Catholics get asked the “question” Why do you worship Mary?” we’re usually aware that it is not a sincere question seeking a sincere answer. However, for those cases where an answer really is sought I might propose the following approach:
“Well, of course we don’t worship Mary since that would be a terrible sin. Worship belongs to God alone. We DO honor her though. Afterall, she is Jesus’ mother. But let me ask you a question. Why in your church, do you NOT honor Mary at all? Doesn’t scripture say Every generation will call [Mary] blessed because God who is mighty has done great things for [her]? (Luke 1:48-49) It seems to me that we Catholics are fulfilling scripture but that in your denomination you are not fulfilling or following it. So why don’t you honor her at all? Why don’t you call her blessed as the Bible says?”
Now stop there and wait for an answer. Don’t keep going. Just stop and wait. Have them answer for a change. We Catholics are always on the defensive, always in answer mode. But we ought to ask a few questions too. And try to avoid a merely rhetorical or hostile tone. Try to allow this question to be genuine, respectful, one meant to provoke thought. It is possible that many Protestants have never been asked this question or pondered an answer. Now it is also possible that your interlocutor will try to change the subject or evade an answer by piling on about Catholics but just repeat the question respectfully and ask for an answer. Remember your point is not to argue, be hostile or win an argument. Your point is to provoke thought and get a real answer. And even if the conversation ends badly or with no answer, you’ve planted a seed, a question that they will ponder even if they don’t admit it. Jesus often asked questions to proke thought and conversion. I will be doing a post on this next week.
A final thought on Mary. Another way to explain out devotion and love for Mary is that we are imitating Jesus. We love, honor, respect and entrust ourselves to her care because Jesus did all these things and we want to be just like Jesus. Consider that the very Son of God, dwelled in Mary’s womb, nursed at her breasts, was held in her arms, sat on her lap and entrusted himself to her care. Our Lord could have chosen to enter our world in other ways. Perhaps He could simply have entered the world as a full grown man. The fact is that He freely chose Mary to be his mother and he was truly her Son. As her son he loved and honored her as any good son must and as her son he entrusted himself to her care. All of this serves to highlight Mary’s dignity and to show us how devotion to her is in perfect imitation of Jesus himself.
What more need we say: Jesus our Lord and God honors and loves Mary, and his very scriptures sing her praises; so too His Angel Gabriel and countless saints. When we honor Mary we imitate the very Son of God and fulfill Holy Scripture. Certainly our Lord is pleased that we love and honor his mother.
Here’s a little viseo I recently put together. The Music is from the Daughters of St Paul, “I Am Thine” from the Handmaiden of the Lord Album:
13 Replies to “Why Don’t You honor Mary?”
Perfect! Thank you Msgr. Pope. i have used this only twice, but both times it did provoke a good deal of thought and brought about warmer relations between us. I also explain with a mea culpa attitude, that there are indeed too many Catholics who are in serious error who do go beyond reverence and honour into worship. Yet, i ask them, don’t you have similar issues with people and Scripture? 🙂
I recommend The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus.
I like the idea of asking the question, instead of always answering.
I don’t know exactly why, but I often forget mary. I’ve barely assisted to sermons devoted to Her. Quite strange, here in Spain…
Mary, I mean.
Praise be to God for leading me onto this webpage…not by accident but the desire to know more about our Blessed Mother…a very good explanation and very thought provoking…
Neat video you made, Monsignor.
Monsignor, I will try to remember to ask Protestants that. One thing I started saying to them is this: Mary magnifies the Lord. Her soul does that. The bible says so.
Also, I posted that awesome video about Our Lady of Guadalupe you posted where Protestants can see it.
One thing I recently said to Protestants is this: You are the new judaizers. Just as the judaizers wanted the early Christians to be circumcised, you guys (the Protestants) want today’s Christians to read a circumcised bible.
Then I post the link to this video that I consider to be awesome, also: Catholic Bible vs. Protestant Bible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjvXbotd9Lw&list=PLkXuWrnfGXFUwqTlrrv5kXNiSuooqq-Bd&index=24
Maybe I am going to far in saying that. Not sure.
And the silence is thundering.
That’s my fault, I was flying back from Mexico today and I could monitor and approve comments and could reach any one at the diocese to fill in.
A few months ago, I was on a plane ride next to a lovely girl who is in love with the Lord. She was returning home from an overseas trip spanning three continents. She told me how sad she was in Europe where people prayed to statues. It’s like they’d forgotten about Jesus. I told her Catholics are asking the saints in heaven to pray for us, just like I would ask a friend here on earth to pray. It made sense to her … but Mary was a stumbling block. I wish I’d thought of asking her, why wouldn’t she want to honor the Mother of God? We had an interesting discussion and I still think about her and pray for her. On the next leg, I sat next to an Anglican priest. He reminded me much of my uncle. It was a most interesting journey as I was going to a writing conference about sharing our Christian hope.
When my protestant friends go into their Mary attack mode, I gently say something an old Marianist priest once told me: “On that day when I stand before the Lord, I don’t think I want to be the guy who trashed his mom.” You will be surprised at how the tone of the conversation changes.
I have to take issue with Candida’s mea culpa attitude about Catholics she thinks go too far. I would not presume to judge how much love of one’s mother is too much. Besides, it’s impossible to “worship” Mary because she will not let you do that. She ALWAYS leads us and points us to Jesus. So don’t worry about going overboard.
The fact that Catholics routinely and belligerantly refer to themselves as Catholics (not Christians) and despise true Christians as Bible is quite telling. Also, eye-opening is the clandestine manner in which many Catholics find kinship with Muslims. This shows that the idea that Muslims who worship the moon god, Baal appreciate the worship of a mother god as well, i.e. Ashtoreth that many Roman Catholics also appreciate.
Comments are closed.