Americans honor Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy, etc. We have monuments to them. We visit their tombs. We prize, we even donate to the Smithsonian, things that they wore, touched, owned. We visit the gifts shops associated with visits to places important to them or their lives and buy items, souvenirs, mementos, pictures of them. We tell stories of our trips of doing so with pride. We leave flowers and candles there, or put our souvenirs out in our homes that remind us of them for all to see. We even leave cards, teddy bears, flowers, balloons, and candles at sites of tragedy, to express our sympathy, or we send them to others for the same reason, or to express joy or gratitude, or maybe just to win their favor.
Granted the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints are a little better connected, politically. So, we might ask their help with the Big Guy, seeing as it’s all about relationships, and, as I said, they are pretty well connected. We ask our friends and neighbors to pray for us, or they offer to in times of challenge. So, why not those even better connected than they, assumedly. That’s IT!!!! The rest is just artwork.
Those who accuse Catholics of worshipping anything other than God are hypocrites, obviously. Did ‘I’ say that? 🙂
-by Kathy Schiffer
“Repeat after me: Catholics do not worship Mary.
Catholics do not worship Mary.
Catholics do not worship Mary.
I mention this because that scurrilous claim has turned up several times recently in my comment boxes. The accusation has shown up in response to various posts, tossed in by some well-meaning, God-fearing Christian who wants to protect society from the Catholic Church.
In his or her mind, prayer to the Mother of God is the ultimate evidence of apostasy: The Bible clearly says that we should have no false gods, and by gosh (he thinks), praying to Mary is just off-the-charts idolatry. Why, doesn’t Exodus 34:14 mean ANYTHING to you?
Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Exodus 34:14 (NIV)
So let’s talk about it.
The Catholic Church teaches that God alone is worthy of worship. However, there are those among us who, because of their heroic virtue, are deserving of acclaim and honor.
This is true in everyday society. A best-selling author, an actor, an athlete, a favorite teacher–all, by virtue of their excellence in a field of endeavor, earn your acclaim and respect.
So, too, in the spiritual realm: We hold in high regard those who, by their virtuous lives, have demonstrated how to better love God and our fellow man. We call those virtuous people whose lives we admire, and who are now in heaven with Christ, “saints.” And Mary, Jesus’ mother, is even more deserving of our admiration and praise.
The Church teaches that there are three types of honor which are due to those who are holy:
Dulia. This is the honor and recognition which we accord to the saints. Perhaps they died as martyrs rather than deny God; or they worked great miracles, since their friendship with God meant that He granted their prayers for healing or restoration; or they simply, as Therese of Lisieux, lived holiness in their own “little way.”
Hyperdulia. This is, to put it simply, lots and lots of dulia. This is the very special honor we accord to Mary, the Mother of God. Latria. This is true worship, and is given only to God.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, writing in his Summa Theologiae (II-II, q. 103, a. 4; III, q. 25, a. 5), explained:
“In more technical terms used by the Tradition to draw this important distinction, devotion to Mary belongs to the veneration of dulia, or the homage and honor owed to the saints, both angelic and human in heaven, and not to latria, or the adoration and worship that can be given only to the Triune God and the Son incarnate. Because of her unique relationship to Christ in salvation history, however, the special degree of devotion due to Mary has traditionally been called hyperdulia. While latria is owed to her Son by reason of unity of His divine and human natures in the Person of the Word made flesh, hyperdulia is due to Mary as truly His Mother.”
One of Catholicism’s most frequently uttered prayers is the Hail Mary. But is this idolatry? No–it’s Scripture.
The words are drawn from the greeting in Luke 1:28, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God:
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
And from Luke 1:42, the words spoken by Mary’s cousin Elizabeth:
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…
So no, Catholics don’t worship Mary. In our prayer, we ask Mary to intercede for us with her Son. And He will listen because, as James 5:16 tells us,
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
But did you ever meet someone who really doesn’t understand the important difference in how we pray to God and how we pray to Mary and the saints?
If some Catholics fail to follow the Church’s teaching on these matters it certainly doesn’t impinge on the teaching of the Church. (Ed. For instance, a Catholic-esque heresy which has arisen lately, they do with some frequency, as do all other heresies, or they make a comeback, is Santa Muerte. The Catholic Church does EVERYTHING in its power to dissuade and condemn this false and evil icon.} It merely means that some in the Church are uncatechized and not understanding or practicing what the Church teaches.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”