As a Traditional Roman Catholic, I have often heard the accusation that we ‘worship Mary’. I have to chuckle everytime I hear such slander because I realize that the person making the accusation does not understand the Traditional Catholic Faith nor are they capable of nonliteral thinking. This laughable attack on Catholics and on the Holy Mother of God is usually made by former Catholics who never understood their faith and who walked away out of ignorance and who are now freewheeling it with the ‘born again’ crowd and their ‘sola scriptura’ injunction.
But before I continue, let me hereby declare that what follows is simply my thoughts put down on the aforementioned slur. If I leave anything relevant out and if I make an error, then allow me to apologize ahead of time.
Let me declare for all the world to hear once and for all: Traditional Catholics venerate the Holy Mother of God and do not worship her. Catholics have never nor will we ever worship Mary as a god. Such an idea is absurd, foolish and quite abhorrent to a Catholic and the accusation is an insult based on extreme ignorance. Every true Catholic knows that God alone is deserving of worship and Jesus is the incarnation of God. Therefore, Jesus is our only pathway to salvation and is our Lord and Savior. To clarify, according to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, the word veneration means, “the act of showing a lot of respect for somebody/something, especially somebody/something that is considered to be holy or very important. This definition exemplifies how Traditional Roman Catholics treat the Holy Mother of God. Catholics show their respect for Mary in myriad ways. I know my fellow Catholics understand these ways but outsiders often incorrectly interpret our behaviors and hurl slanders towards us.
Now, let’s make it also clear that those who point the finger at Catholics with their ‘superior fingers’ do not think Mary is important, nor do they think of her as holy. I would like to assert that according to Scripture, Mary was considered to be both important and holy. And that those who continually disrespect her by ignoring her and accusing Catholics of something we do not do are violating Scripture. And I would like to go as far as to say that the abuse hurled upon Mary by this group of one dimensional thinkers who feel they know better is nothing short of demonic. Yes, I am saying that the ‘Bible- thumper’s’ disregard for the Mother of Our Lord is DEMONIC in inspiration and that those who engage in such behavior are demonized. How else do you explain the palpable anger and hatred I have sensed by these ‘Bible-thumpers’ when talking of Mary? How anyone could abuse the mother of their Savior is beyond me!
Before I go into the Scriptural foundation for the veneration of the Holy Mother of God, let me say that there is a common sense dimension to this issue. Firstly, it seems obvious to me that if someone disrespected a member of my family, especially my mother, I would find it highly offensive and would most likely cut off ties with that individual. Therefore, I often wonder how Jesus feels when those ‘holier than thou’ finger pointers disrespect Mary, his very own mother. I wonder how Jesus feels when they treat his mother like a thing or an object that was used by God to bring Jesus forth into the material world and then discarded. I wonder how Jesus feels when those who love his mother are abused by the ‘Bible-thumpers’. I wonder how Jesus feels when these ‘holy rollers’ ignore the fact that God Himself called Mary blessed and exalted above other women. I wonder how Jesus feels when others ignore a woman who said yes to the Divine Plan and allowed God’s Will to be done through her. I wonder how Jesus feels when the ‘holy rollers’ ignore the declaration by the Angel Gabriel that the Holy Spirit would come upon his mother because she was carrying him, the very Son of God. Guess that isn’t special enough for some people. I also wonder how Jesus feels when the same crowd ignores St. Joseph, St. Anne and St. Joachim, his immediate family. Afterall, it seems obvious that these blessed people should be thanked for participating in the Divine Plan to save us from spiritual death. But the ‘Bible-thumpers’ who use scripture as a weapon do not even say a word of thanks to those who saved Jesus from Herod or those who gave birth to Mary because they do not see them as important. What ingratitude!
Another dimension in our relationship towards Mary is the fact that we as Traditional Roman Catholics ask her to pray for us and to intercede for us before her Holy Son. I find it ironic that the ‘Bible-thumpers’ have no need for saints yet they will ask their church members or the minister in house to pray for them when there is an issue of some kind at hand. Well, last time I looked, it said in Luke 20 that God was the God of the living and not the dead. Jesus himself affirmed this truth. Therefore all who have died are in fact living. Now, if I can ask my fellow Catholic to pray for me or the ‘Bible-thumper’ can ask their fellow ‘born again’ to pray for them then most certainly I can ask a holy person who has died, that we call a saint, to pray for me. Unless the ‘finger pointers’ do not believe that the dead are alive and that God is not the God of the living afterall. But maybe they will just shoot out another Bible verse like machine gun bullets to find some excuse not to follow common sense and justify their ego driven assertions.
A ‘born again’ once told me that ‘we’ do not put Mary on a pedestal or find her special in any way, she was just another woman. I reminded this individual that the Bible says otherwise about Mary and that ‘sola scriptura’ was being ignored in this instance. In Luke chapter 1:28 it says, “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” If we look deeply one discovers that Saint Luke used the Greek word kecharitomene to describe how the Angel Gabriel addressed Mary. This Greek word is a perfect, passive participle that literally means “having been graced,” which is from the active indicative verb, caritovw (charitoo), which means “to grace, to favor, to exalt.” This address is used by the Holy Angel Gabriel, who is simply relaying a message from God and not giving his personal opinion, as a title for Mary after the word hail. Therefore, her title clearly demonstrates that she has been given grace by God himself and has been exalted above other women. If God exalted and favored Mary then why are the ‘Bible-thumpers’ ignoring her and even abusing her?
The Holy Angel Gabriel also calls Mary blessed. In Greek, the verb eulogemene means, according to Strong, “From a compound of G2095 and G3056; to speak well of, that is, (religiously) to bless (thank or invoke a benediction upon, prosper): - bless, praise.” Traditional Catholics love our Holy Mother and speak well of her because God himself loved her and spoke well of her. Yet, the ‘Bible-thumpers’ do not speak well of her and certainly do not love her and therefore contradict the very actions of God. What astounds me is that these ‘Bible-thumpers’ use Scripture as a weapon but seem to ignore the obvious when it comes to the Mother of Jesus. They seem to ignore anything that contradicts their preconceived notions or ideas.
In Luke 1:35, it says, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke uses the Greek word pneum to describe what will come into Mary and which according to Strong is a noun meaning the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, Luke uses the Greek nouns huious theou to describe what shall be born to Mary and according to Strong, huious means son and theou means God, the Supreme Godhead. So, according to our Holy Scripture, Mary was to give birth to the Son of God. Not special? I beg to differ! How many women do you know that have been blessed to give birth to the Son of God?
In Luke 1:43 even Saint Elizabeth called Mary the ‘Mother of her Lord’. Mary is here declared to be the Mother of God and that is the way I like to think of her because that is what she most certainly is to me. In Greek it says, meter tou Kyriou. According to Strong, the word meter means ‘mother’. Tou means ‘the’. Kyriou means ‘Lord or Master’. Once again, the Catholics have it right according to Scripture.
I would like to ask the ‘finger pointers’ if we as Christians should imitate Jesus? I am being rhetorical here because the answer is obvious. Well, if you recall in John 2:1-12, Jesus, his mother and his disciples were at a wedding in Cana. As the wedding feast progressed, his dear mother asked him to solve the problem of a lack of wine. Seems like a mundane issue to me but Jesus turned it into a lesson for us. Jesus seemed reluctant to help because he felt that his open ministry had not yet arrived. However, despite this, he obeyed his dear mother and changed water into wine and it was hailed as the best tasting wine at the feast. Jesus showed respect and granted his mother’s request despite his reluctance. Should we not show respect for Mary just as Jesus showed respect for her? And isn’t it wise to ask a woman to intercede for us whom Jesus cannot seem to refuse as demonstrated in Scripture?
Also, in John 19:25-27 we see Jesus dying on the cross and wracked with pain in untold agony, yet remembering to take care of his mother by giving her to John to care for. Imagine a man dying in massive pain yet he loves his mother so much that he remembers to take care of her and fulfill his cultural duty because he knew he would not be there to care for her himself. How many people do you know that would do this? If you cannot see the incredible love Jesus showed for his mother through this episode, then you are truly blind.
I think that if anyone examines this issue closely enough, then it becomes obvious that Jesus loved and respected his mother. She obviously had favor with her son according to Scripture. She was exalted above other women by God himself and we were told this through the Angel Gabriel. She was filled with holiness by carrying Jesus in her womb for nine months. She endured untold sufferings as her son was murdered before her very eyes. And in the modern world she has endured slanders and disrespect by the ‘Bible-thumpers’ who do not understand this issue because they do not seem to possess the courage or humility to examine it closely and admit their grave errors. The Holy Mother of God is the Mother of Jesus and for that reason alone, anyone with common sense must declare that she deserves veneration and love. I would never wish to disrespect My Lord by insulting his very own mother. Would you?