Mary, Mother of our L-rd, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of our L-rd, pray for us.

To present the case that the Catholic Church of Rome does not deify or worship the Blessed Virgin Mary, all must understand the theology behind the doctrine, Communion of Saints. This doctrine, when formulated by the Church Fathers, was not founded on a preconceived notion, which needed its authors to scramble for scriptural evidence to find its proof. In fact, the fullness of this doctrine could never have existed without the word of G-d.

Though the phrase, “communion of saints,” does not exist in the Holy Scriptures, its essence does. For example, even though the word “Trinity” cannot be found explicitly in the Bible, it does exist implicitly in description and prophetic exegeses. The same is applied to the theological terms, “rapture” and “original sin”. The Communion of Saints expresses the spiritual harmony between the saints on Earth and the saints in Heaven as the one body of Christ. The two are no longer separated by death since death has no sting; it has been defeated entirely in the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore, those who die, “no longer die, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36).

Now, since those who dwell in the presence of the Almighty are no longer separated from us pilgrims on earth by that great divorce called death, we are able to present our prayers to them so that they can support us – by interceding before the Father on our behalf. In order to understand this facet of the doctrine, we must develop a scenario of that very same act of intercession taking place on Earth. Think of the holiest example of a person in your life… the person, whom you believe, has a greater harmony with the Most High than you do or anyone else in your community. Now, let us say that a tragedy has affected you. Common biblical knowledge of dealing with anything tragic directs us to present our cases to the people who are spiritually supportive of us… those designated to be our holiest examples. How much holier are our examples in heaven, who have paved the road before us and have attained the truest harmony with Almighty G-d through the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Also, how much more should we ask them to pray for us?  For, “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).

Now that we have established a fundamental understanding of this foundational doctrine, let us turn our gaze towards the blessed lady. Nowhere in Catholic teaching, doctrine, dogma, or catechism is it found that Mary should ever be worshipped as G-d is worshipped nor is she ever seen as attaining divine institution – being made a god (the same goes for the saints in heaven). If any member of the Church ever expresses otherwise, that member is acting outside of what the Church upholds as truth. Our interacting with Mary being seen as worship is a common misconception. To the outsider, our relationship with Mary as the Communion of Saints directs us, can look like worship; just as the Lord’s Supper looks like cannibalism, anti-gay marriage sentiment looks like civil depravity, and the Bible looks like a flawed document made corrupt and un-synoptic by human hands. In these cases, we are called as ambassadors of truth to explain in order that we may cause understanding…

As Catholics, we do not worship Mary or the saints and angels in Heaven, we venerate them. To venerate is to, “regard somebody with profound respect,” or “to honor something or somebody as sacred or special” (Webster’s Dictionary Definition). This is done when a soldier salutes his commanding officer or when an employee signs a letter off with the word “regards” to his employer, yet these are not forms of worship… they are forms of honor. This is exactly what Catholic Christians do and have done as early as the last quarter of the first century, when they call Mary “blessed” or when they depict her visually as such.

Just as the doctrine, “Communion of Saints,” cannot exist without scripture, even so: our devotion to Mary. For this, we first look to the most Marian of the gospels, the Gospel According to Luke, chapter 1 verses 39-56:

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:

“ My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name.

50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him

From generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

And exalted the lowly.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.

54 He has helped His servant Israel,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

In this passage of scripture we readily see that when she was filled with the Holy Spirit, (which inspires the word of G-d forth from the lips of men and causes them to utter truths) Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Also, when we read the second half of verse 48, Mary prophesies saying, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” So, it is by prophetic fulfillment enacted by the Holy Spirit that we are obligated to call Mary blessed amongst women; venerating her in word, speech, and depiction for the most special work done in her. Thus, making her our holiest example and intercessor under Christ.

There is way more to Mary than this post… for further reading check out Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn.