40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 34 – Mary

Reason # 34 – Mary. We could go on for a long time about Mary the Mother of Jesus and I could spend pages refuting claims that we worship Mary (we do not – that would be a very serious sin!) or that it takes away from honor due to Jesus (It does not since true devotion to Mary leads us to a better relationship with Jesus). On and on we could go.

But here is the essence of what I want to say as a reason to come home: The Scriptures indicate that every generation would call Mary blessed. Luke 1:48 says of Mary: Henceforth every generation will call me blessed, for God who is mighty has done great things for me.”  Now the last time I checked we’re supposed to fulfill Scripture, not ignore it or oppose it. Thus to those who criticise the Church I can only say that we are following what Scripture says when we call Mary blessed and honor her. And then comes my question for my worthy opponent:

“Why aren’t you fulfilling Scripture in this regard? Don’t you think you ought to honor Mary?Scripture calls her “Blessed,” full of grace,” says “the Lord is with her.” Scripture says she is blessed above all women and calls her the “Mother of my Lord.” Shouldn’t a few of these phrases occasionally escape your lips? Isn’t it a good thing to fulfill Scripture and quote Scripture?”

So here is another reason to come home to the Catholic Church: We are fulfilling Scripture in regard to Mother Mary. We are obeying  and repeating what Scripture says. Almost every other denomination outright refuses such fulfillment. But Scripture says we would and should call Mary blessed. Now don’t listen to all that stuff about Catholics worshipping Mary. We do not do that, it would be a terrible sin of idolatry to do so. But we DO honor Mary and we DO fulfill Scripture. Come home, it’s always good to fulfill Scripture isn’t it?

Mary – The New Eve

annunciation

So here w on the feast of the Annunciation. Pay attention now, there are only 9 months till Christmas! Today we celebrate the beginning of the incarnation, that moment when, Mary having accepted God’s plan her, conceives Jesus in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Eve said no to God but Mary said yes.

Mother Mary is more than a Christmas ornament or a sentimental side bar in salvation. She is integral to God’s plan. She is the New Eve, the Woman prophesied in Gen 3:15 when God cursed Satan and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head while you strike at his heal.” Where Eve said no, Mary said yes. We got into trouble through a man (Adam), a woman (Eve) and a tree. But God beats Satan at his own game and rescues us by a Man (Jesus) a Woman (Mary) and the tree of the cross. No wonder Mary is at the foot of the Cross with Jesus, without her the picture would be incomplete. The Latin Fathers of the Church used a word play to illustrate all of this. Eve’s name is Latin is Eva. Well, what is Eva backwards? AVE! The first word Gabriel said to Mary: Ave gratia plena (Hail, full of grace). Mary, by God’s grace reverses Eve’s sinful choice.  She is the new Eve, but a different kind or Eve. Praise the Lord.

The following are not really videos, they are audio recordings with Scott Hahn if you wish to listen to more on this topic

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Some folks who have been away for a while have questions and concerns to express. (Even Catholics who have never been away have many questions!) Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog to ask questions and state concerns. All of us who contribute to this blog are pleased to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your questions will help this blog to get its wings and really fly. Ask and ye shall be answered!

What About Catholics and Mary?

The following came into our question box from a reader:

 

I know the Virgin Mary was the mother of Jesus but why do Catholics pray and honor her?  It sometimes seems she is equal to Jesus.

 Thanks for this question. It is our first!

Catholics often hear questions like this. Sometimes we are even told, much to our  surprise, that we  “worship” Mary and “pray to statues.” The vivid devotion that many Catholics have for Mary should not be construed to mean that we consider her to be equal to Jesus. She is not God and it is the clear Catholic teaching that to ever think of her in this way would be seriously wrong. Our Catholic teaching and belief is clear: to worship Mary would be a serious sin, for worship belongs to God alone. We do ask Mary and all the Saints in heaven to pray for us, but this is no more wrong than if I were to ask you to pray for me. Nor would doing so be a denial of the fact that I can talk directly to God on my own behalf.  

 

So what is the proper way to understand  Catholic reverence and teaching regarding Mary and all the Saints? How can such practices be properly understood and appreciated? Let us consider two things: first, to honor Mary is a very Biblical thing to do, and second, to honor and love Mary is a very Christ-like thing to do.

 

Biblical Basis – In the first place the veneration of Mary is Biblical. The Scriptures themselves describe the honor that will be given Mary. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Lk 1:48-49) Thus each time we call to mind the dignity and blessedness of Mary, we fulfill this biblical prophecy. And when we do this, we also glorify God for he alone is the source of all that is good and holy. The Blessed Mother is surely His masterwork and she herself acknowledges it. Note also that the most common prayer in which we honor Mary and seek her intercession is the Hail Mary. It is also a biblically-based prayer. The entire first half of this prayer is drawn from Scripture. The Angel Gabriel praised Mary: Hail full of grace the Lord is with you! (Lk 1:28-29) Elizabeth also praised her: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Lk 1:48). Thus our Catholic traditions about Mary both echo Scripture and fulfill its prophecies. And while we pray this prayer, we meditate on biblical stories about Jesus.

 

An Imitation of Jesus – We also  imitate Jesus himself when we give honor to Mother Mary. Think first about the way Jesus entrusted himself to Mary’s care. He could have chosen to enter the human scene in ways other than He actually did. Perhaps He could simply have appeared as a full grown man. Yet He did not. When God chose to enter human history He chose to do so through Mary. And not only did Jesus dwell nine months in her womb, He also entrusted himself to her ongoing care. She nursed him, sang to him, comforted him, and clothed him. In time she taught him to walk and to talk. He shared a family resemblance to her. They spoke with the same accent and probably shared many mannerisms. Mary was also present during Jesus’ public ministry and had an important influence in the working of his first miracle at Cana. She was at the foot of the cross as Jesus accomplished His greatest work—our redemption. In all of these ways, God instructs us that Mary’s role is far more than ceremonial. A truly biblical view does not downplay or minimize Mary’s role in God’s plan. Instead we seek to learn the rich meanings of what Jesus said and did in regard to Mary by His word as well as His example.  Hence when Catholics are asked why they  honor Mary a rightful answer may be, “I love Mary, I honor her and entrust myself to her care because Jesus did all these things and I want to be just like Jesus.”  

 

I hope this answer helps to answer your questions. Please feel free to comment.