Monday, May 7, 2012

Answering Common Objections About Mary

In response to this post on what the Magnificat tells us about Marian veneration, a Protestant reader raised a number of objections that I think other readers may be struggling with:
Lorenzo Costa, The Holy Family (c. 1500)
My soul magnifies (exaults) the Lord. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior (saved her from what?) For He has regarded the lowly state of his handmaiden; for behold, all generations will call me blessed.
Mary doesn't day that all people will call her blessed but "all generations." And I think we can say with confidence, all generations have called her blessed and will continue to do so. I've never met a Protestant who would say that Mary was not blessed.

What Mary did not say, and neither did the apostles nor the Protestants, was she would be called the Mother of God or the queen of heaven or the queen of the apostles. She also did not say people would worship her or pray to her or ask her to intercede for them. She also did not say she would perpetually be a virgin or she was born without sin or she would be bodily assumed to heaven.

The last time we read about Mary in the New Testament is Acts 1: 14. She was in the upper room with the disciples and the brothers of the Lord. There's not another mention of her after this. In Revelation we read of the consumation of all things and a new heaven and a new earth, but there's no mention of Mary.

Since neither the apostles nor the apostolic fathers, as far as I know, said a word about Mary, is it your position that they had a  Mary problem.
There's a lot to address here, but let me address the basics:

    Sixth Century Icon of Mary and Jesus
  1. God saved Mary from sin. In the same way, if I catch a vase before it breaks, I'm saving it from being broken.  Or in the same way that God saves us from all of those sins that we would commit without His grace.  So, yes, Mary is saved.

  2. I agree, Mary says “all generations,” not “all people.” My point is that the only people honoring Mary for countless generations prior to the Reformation were indisputably Catholic or Orthodox, and took a view of Mary that many Protestants (including this reader) would apparently consider idolatrous. If these generations are to be condemned for their treatment of Mary, why are they praised in Scripture for their treatment of Mary?

  3. True, Scripture doesn't say “Mother of God,” just as it doesn't say “Trinity.”  But both doctrines are still true.  That Mary is the Mother of God is obvious, in that (a) Jesus is God [John 20:26-28], and (b) Mary is His Mother [Luke 2:51]. She was declared Theotokos, meaning Mother of God (or literally, "God-bearer") at the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which all generations of Christians between 431 and the Reformation accepted.

  4. Catholics don't worship Mary.  I understand that it can seem that way to people who don't understand Catholicism and/or worship, but trust me. We don't... and we would know if we did, presumably?

  5. Contrary to the reader's claim, I'd argue that Mary is mentioned in Revelation. See Revelation 12, where the Mother of Jesus is depicted as battling against Satan, and being supernaturally preserved from evil.

  6. Mary did claim to be a perpetual Virgin, in response to the angel Gabriel's Annunciation [Luke 1:34]. This is why she's baffled at how she can become the Mother of God. The phrase that she knows not man only makes sense in the context of perpetual virginity, since she was already married.  Again, Mary's perpetual Virginity was affirmed for numerous generations amongst the pre-Reformation Church, and even re-affirmed by Martin Luther and Zwingli, as did the early Anglicans and John Wesley (and Calvin wasn't opposed to the idea).

  7. Damián Forment, Our Lady of the Chorus (1515)
  8. The Marian doctrines are described very early on. For example, St. Justin Martyr (c. 160 A.D),  Irenaeus (180 A.D.) and Tertullian (160-220 A.D.) each describe  Jesus and Mary as the parallel to Adam and Eve. Irenaeus captures this succinctly, in referring to “the back-reference from Mary to Eve,” that “the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.”  By way of comparison, the first known use of the word  “Trinity” was by Theophilus of Antioch in 181 A.D... after Justin and Irenaeus wrote on Mary as the New Eve.  So it won't do to pretend that this is some late innovation.

  9. Finally, what to make of the claim that the apostles never said a word about “Mary”?  Read the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of John. Mary is repeatedly mentioned.  For starters, read Matthew 1-2, John 2:1-11, and John 19:26-27. She also gets an in-depth treatment in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke, which appear to describe the Nativity and Childhood of Christ through her eyes.  I recognize that some Protestant communities emphasize Acts and the Pauline Epistles over the actual Gospels (for whatever reason), but if you read the Gospels, she's definitely in there.
So given all of this, I don't think it's Catholics who have a Mary problem.  We're consistent with the faith of the Apostles and the faith of historic Christianity.  And given that the Magnificat points to historic Christianity's treatment of Mary in a positive way, that's exactly where we need to be.

46 comments:

  1. Man, that Irenaeus guy is so Catholic.

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    1. The early Church Fathers all sound Catholic, because they were.

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  2. Ok, I'm not trying to challenge you here... I'm legitimately interested in your answer. Is your take on Revelation 12, to your knowledge, a typical Catholic interpretation? I've been curious about that passage for years. As with much of Revelation, it's hard to tell which bits are referring to the past and which are focused on the future. I think many passages are more historical than some of my Protestant brothers and sisters would like to admit. Anyway, I'm curious if there's a consensus here.

    Also, I think the reader's original statement about Mary not being mentioned in Acts, etc. was mostly meant to point out that Mary isn't mentioned in "theological discourses" throughout the New Testament like she is in the narratives. I may have misunderstood the comments, though.

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful responses!

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    1. Matt,

      No worries! I wouldn't be upset even if you were trying to challenge me. As for Revelation 12, Taylor's right. Revelation is chock full of layers of meaning, so it's not inappropriate to see the Woman as Mary, Israel, and the Church, just like it's not inappropriate to see the twelve stars as a reference to both the Twelve Tribes and the Twelve Apostles, or the journey into the desert as a reference to the Exodus, the flight into Egypt, and the persecution of the Church.

      These three images are often overlaid in Scripture, since Israel is the prefigurement of the Church, and Mary is an image (or "type") of the Church. More on that here. Good question!

      As for the theological discourses, you're probably right that this is what is meant. But I think that it too casually disregards the narrative portions of the Gospels. They're just as rich in theology, but more subtly.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    2. Thanks, Joe (and Taylor)! I suspected there was a lot of discourse on this topic. And you're right. Revelation seems to overlay multiple meanings throughout the entire book. I'm always amazed by the idea of the "ecclesia," whether it's referring to the church or the assembly of Israel or both!

      I also agree that we're too quick to ignore the theological richness of narratives, especially the Gospels. Any true interpretation of the New Testament (in my mind) ought to take the Gospels as its foundation and see the Epistles as a fleshing out of the ideas that are opened up by that story.

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

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    3. No problem -- I'm glad you jumped in!

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    4. For a good online Catholic study Bible to help explore such issues, let me recommend the Haydock study Bible at http://haydock1859.tripod.com/index.html. It's a bit old, but I prefer the older commentaries.

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  3. Matt: From what I've understood, there are many Catholic interpretations to Revelation 12, each with equal weight but with different depths of meaning. It does mean Our Lady, but it can also mean the Church (who is our Mother), for example. On the face though it is definitely Our Lady.

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    1. One issue with the woman being the church is that the church didn't bring us (give birth to) Jesus. Rather Jesus gave us the church. So who did give us Jesus? Mary, his mother.

      Also the bible was written and compiled without verse numbers. So if you read it continuously, the woman is the ark of the covenant, who is also Mary as John so beautifully shows is in John 1 with the visitation in reference to 2 Samuel 6.

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  4. Hello! New reader to your blog and recent convert from Protestantism. Thank you for your posts. I'm learning a lot.

    Mary is one of those "secondary" issues that I did struggle with on my journey to the Church. At the time of my official conversion I'd decided that with time, I'd more fully comprehend Marian doctrine. Posts like this one have helped my understanding quite a bit and cleared up some misconceptions for me.

    If I may, I'd like to leave a link to a Youtube video I stumbled upon last week. It's eleven minutes long but wow - it really opened my eyes in a powerful way. I think I'm finally ready to say my first rosary with conviction! Here is the link and I'd love to hear your thoughts:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUdYeYy3NQA&feature=player_embedded#!

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  5. "Catholics don't worship Mary..." Simply put: We CAN'T worship her.

    For one simple reason: Worship without sacrifice is meaningless.

    Throughout the Old Testament, in order to worship God, what happened? A Sacrifice of some sort is made. Abraham and Isaac. Blood from sacrificed lambs on the doors of the Israelites in Egypt. Before David is chosen by God, what is his family doing? About to make a sacrifice.

    If any group of Catholics tried to offer up a sacrifice to Mary, you can bet the farm that the Church would come down hard on them.

    The Church presents the Sacrifice of Calvary again at each Mass. God is both the priest who offers the sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice itself (A totally revolutionary idea that has lost its luster in our modern, secular world, sad to say.)

    We don't offer up any sacrifice up to Mary, hence we don't worship her.

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  6. Mary is mentioned by God in Genesis 3:15 (proto-evangelium) as part of the serpent's punishment. "I will put enmity between you and the Woman and between your offspring and hers..." Protestants usually gloss over that thinking only of Christ and forgetting about the Woman. The Woman has a significant role given by God(not equal to Jesus but still a significant role), this was not something that was made up by the Church. John the beloved disciple and the only apostle who followed Christ to the cross wrote his Gospel reminding us of the Genesis connection not only with his prologue "In the beginning..." but also by Jesus referring to Mary as "Woman." Jesus refers to her first at Cana as she encourages Him to begin his mission, and secondly at the end of His mission on the cross when he entrusts the beloved disciple to her and her to him. Thus showing us that she is 'the woman' that God gave us back in Genesis; however, she is only understood properly in the context of her Son and our Lord. If you have any logic in your brain you will know that John also wrote the book of Revelation and thus this theme of the Woman and her offspring continue in its 12th Chapter. In reading this chapter we find a direct parallel to the 3rd chapter of Genesis, except this time it's a different result. The characters Adam, Eve and the serpent, are now: the Woman(the New Eve), her offspring (Jesus--the New Adam) and the dragon(who we are told is the ancient serpent who deceived the whole world). The dragon fails this time, not only in destroying the Christ child, but also in conquering the woman or even touching her in any way. In fact, the punishment the devil is told about has come to fruition, he is utterly humiliated by a woman he can't touch because she is protected by God. He corrupted our world by deceiving Eve, but now the New Eve is off limits to him, thus he is enraged and at the end of the chapter (v.13-17) we find out that since he can't touch the woman he goes to make war on the rest of her offspring, "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus". The 12th chapter like all scripture is to be interpreted in the light of all the scriptures, thus the connections are much easier to make, and they have the 'ring of truth'. These things were obvious to the early church fathers. Only protestantism beginning a few generations after the reformation and modern liberal catholic theologians have reinterpreted this passage to water down it's true meaning. Mary's role was precious and important from the beginning, and most protestants can't admit that so they look for any excuse to discount her, but in doing so they misunderstand the 4th Commandment. We are to honor our Father and Mother. Jesus fulfilled the 10 commandments perfectly, thus He logically had to honor his Father and Mother. The question that we should ask ourselves is how did Jesus perfectly honor his mother? And then if we are to imitate Jesus Christ, then how are we to honor His mother Mary? Is she to receive only a bare minimum of honor?

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  7. Catholics don't have a Mary problem, but Popes do. Our Lady is the one big obstacle for ecumenism and modernism. Every Pope since 1960, has had to do the balancing act of ignoring Her message at Fatima while appearing not to.

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    1. Private revelations (like Fatima) don't trump the magisterial teaching of our Church or the authority of the Popes. It always distresses me to see (presumably) good Catholics start to develop a "More Catholic than the Pope" mentality. You seem to be implying the Pope's since 1960 deviated from the true doctrine of the Faith by teaching modernism and focusing on ecumenism. To follow this road to it's logical conclusion is to end up Protestant (rejecting the magisterium for private interpretation of the Faith, the true heart of all forms of Protestantism). Be careful.

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    2. Private revelations (like Fatima), you have absorbed the modernist, cult of man mentality. Will you accept PPVI's own words from V2: "The religion of the God who became man has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God. And what happened? Was there a clash, a battle, a condemnation? There could have been, but there was none." http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P6TOLAST.HTM And if you're really brave enough to get a sense of what's been going on since 1960, give this link a try>http://www.crc-internet.org/1316-fatima-profaned.html Why did Cardinal Ratzinger try to discredit Fatima by saying this, "The concluding part of the “secret” uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith." http://www.ewtn.com/fatima/apparitions/third_secret/fatima.htm The key request Our Lady made at Fatima, was to state that God wishes devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary established throughout the world. Our Lady promised to save the world by this means. Every Pope since 1960 has denied God's request. Now they pay the price as God lets them walk in darkness.

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    3. Sue, the fact that Lucia herself disagrees with you should tell you something. If one of the *actual seers* of Fatima remained in joyful obedience to the Church until her death, who are you to claim that the message of Fatima supersedes that of the Church itself?

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    4. The humility of a real Saint is an example for us all. It was not part of Sister Lucia's vocation to contradict the Pope. And yet, Our Lord told us we would know them by their fruits! So it is possible for Sister Lucia to live her saintly life of heroic humility. At the same time, if I really care to take an interest and pay close attention to events as they unfold over decades, I can. Just me, no credentials, no high office required, that's who.

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    5. It was not part of Sister Lucia's vocation to contradict the Pope.

      But it is yours? By what authority? How do you know these "insights" of yours are of God?

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    6. One way to "know" is by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. When the Catholic Church is strong spiritually, the Muslims are held in check, as they were in the years of Pope St Pius V right up to our time. Another way to "know" is by the ever increasing scourge of homosexuality in the world. Lucifer perverts the spiritual and natural order. In other words, Lucifer has free reign in the world because the Church is NOT doing what it should do to contain him. Another measure is legalized abortion, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. -St Matthew 5:13

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    7. You misunderstand me, Sue. How do you, personally, know that you are receiving authentic Truth? Why does the Holy Spirit guide you to truth, and not the Pope?

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    8. Easy, by adhereing to the unchanging Catholic Faith and rejecting the novelties introduced since 1960.

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    9. That doesn't answer my question.

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    10. Correlation is not causation, Sue. We're not living in unusual times, unfortunately. Anybody who knows a lot about the history of the Church would see the present times for what they are: one more battle in the long, horrible war against sin and infidelity.

      Do you really believe Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to "discredit" Fatima? After reading that quote you posted in context, it seems to me that he was simply trying to connect the messages of Fatima to the larger Catholic Tradition: "long-standing intuitions of faith." He's not arguing that Sr. Lucia invented the visions from devotional books.

      Anyways, Pope Benedict XVI is doing great, in my opinion. He's focusing on the reform of the liturgy, and the internal reform of the Church in general. You talk of "novelties"? Well, he's fighting them.

      God bless,
      Tele

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    11. "if I really care to take an interest and pay close attention to events as they unfold over decades, I can. Just me, no credentials, no high office required, that's who."

      And I'm supposed to be the modernist? Christ founded His Holy Church on the Rock of Peter, which he instituted as an office, not on anyone "paying close attention." As I mentioned above, private revelations (such as Fatima) do not trump the Magisterial teaching of Mother Church (see CCC 67). Modernism, in all its varieties, claims the INDIVIDUAL ("apart from high office") is the final authority on the Faith. This clearly flies in the face of 2,000 yrs of Church teachings and has its roots in Luther's thought.

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    12. Christ founded His Holy Church on the Rock of Peter, and yet, Our Lady of the Rosary leaked the first sentence of the Third Secret in 1941, because that one sentence says it all: "In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc." The etc could say something like, by a faithful remnant, but where is Rome in that promise? Don't you think Christ can found His Church on the Rock of Peter and still chastise that rock 20 centuries later when "that rock" fails to follow the simple, Catholic plan which He sent by way of His holy Mother as a last resort to melt the rock like modernist heart beating in the chests of those who held the office of "that rock" since 1960? You better go and read 2 Thessalonians 2. It tells all about the Son of Perdition, the Son of Ruin! When the Third Secret of Fatima Vision was finally released in 2000, it talked of the "Big City half in ruins". That Big City was the Church circa 1978 and not the worn torn cities of Asia that Cardinals Ratzinger and Sodano thought you were dumb enough to accept as the explanation. You quote the CCC and you are naive to think that it is not sprinkled with modernism. Go get yourself a Pius X Catechism if you want one that is error free. I leave you with a quote from St Vincent of Lerins (AD 434) who lived through the Arian Heresy and wrote an exhaustive treatise on how to avoid it in the future: What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/the-commonitory-of-st-vincent-of-lerins/

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    13. Sue,

      Fatima and the other Marian apparitions are private revelation. They’re not binding on anyone other than the seers. That’s not “the Modernist, cult of man mentality.” That’s “Catholicism.”  Jude 1:3 describes the Deposit of Faith as “once for all handed down to the Saints” in the Apostolic Age.  This public (or universal) revelation is binding on all believers.  Anything else, even if it is from God, is binding only on the person who receives it.  That's why we don't have to worry about a Newer Testament, a la the Book of Mormon. So the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia  said on the subject:

      “There are two kinds of revelations: (1) universal revelations, which are contained in the Bible or in the depositum of Apostolic tradition transmitted by the Church. These ended with the preaching of the Apostles and must be believed by all; (2) particular or private revelations which are constantly occurring among Christians (see CONTEMPLATION). When the Church approves private revelations, she declares only that there is nothing in them contrary faith or good morals, and that they may be read without danger or even with profit; no obligation is thereby imposed on the faithful to believe them. Speaking of such revelations as (e.g.) those of St. Hildegard (approved in part by Eugenius III), St. Bridget (by Boniface IX), and St. Catherine of Siena (by Gregory XI) Benedict XIV says: "It is not obligatory nor even possible to give them the assent of Catholic faith, but only of human faith, in conformity with the dictates of prudence, which presents them to us as probable and worthy of pius belief)" (De canon., III, liii, xxii, II).”

      In other words, every Catholic is free to believe or disbelieve in Fatima.  The Church goes no further than saying that the message of Fatima is not contrary to the Catholic faith.  But if you're upset that the Church isn't run by the pope doing whatever prophetic seers tell him to do, you're just mistaken about the way that Catholicism works.   Finally, you properly noted “the humility of a real Saint is an example for us all. It was not part of Sister Lucia's vocation to contradict the Pope.”  Amen!  But if I may ask you bluntly, why aren't you following that example, instead of attacking the foundations of the Catholic religion?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. If you think that I am wrong, show me any binding Catholic source (from before or after 1960, I don't care) that says that private revelation is binding on others, or that private revelation can force the pope to act in a certain manner.

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    14. Joe, I agree with you one hundred percent. The Popes are free to disregard Fatima, as the past ninety-five years have proven, but they do so at their own peril. If you recall, the French Kings had a similar offer from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They could choose to perform a public consecration of France and formally join an unprecedented alliance with God to, in the words of the Sacred Heart, fight the enemies of the Church together. Exactly one hundred years to the day the offer was made, the French Monarchy was dissolved, the King was put in the dungeon (eventually beheaded) and the French Revolution hit its stride. Our Lady of the Rosary clearly stated at Fatima, "If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. If not..." Well, we have experienced first hand the "if not". Firstly as a material chastisement through wars, persecutions and martyrdom. The final phase is the worldwide apostasy from the Catholic Faith. The Popes have had the remedy all along. Establish the devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world. Or not.

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    15. Post Script: If you think the message of the Sacred Heart to the Kings of France via St Margaret Mary Alcoque and Fatima are not related, listen to Jesus complain to Sister Lucia just two years after Our Lady delivered the formal request for the consecration of Russia by the Holy Father in union with the Bishops of the world in 1929, "Make it known to My ministers, that given they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, like him, they will follow him into misfortune."

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  8. Its funny to me that Protestants are so worried about what we do. Yet when we talk about Protestants we are usually praying for them.
    Maybe one day they will stop trying to disprove our beliefs and return the favor.

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  9. "Catholics don't worship Mary."

    You should see the Filipinos down at the local chapel! There is undoubtedly a lot of de facto Marian idolatry in Catholic devotion, which needs to be confessed and repented.

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    1. How do you know the hearts and minds of the Filipinos down at the local chapel? Are you omniscient?

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    2. If it looks like idolatry, sounds like idolatry . . . De facto Marian idolatry is NOT furthering proper Marian devotion; the very opposite in fact.

      Ignoring it won't make it go away.

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    3. What does idolatry look/sound like?

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    4. I've found many Evangelicals confuse "veneration", which is technically called "dulia", and which is proper to the saints and to Mary, with true "worship" i.e. "latria" (due to God alone). "Latira (worship)" as understood by the Old Testament and the Catholic Church (as well as all religions in the Mediterranean and Europe before the Reformation) requires a SACRIFICE. Thus, singing hymns and praying to someone (even God) is NOT worship (latria) but "dulia" (veneration). This confusion leads to false charges of idolatry against Catholics. Unless the local Filipinos are offering sacrifices to Mary they are NOT worshiping her, regardless of how much honor, love, prayers, hymns, or attention they shower upon her.

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    5. What does idolatry sound or look like? You're really determined to be obtuse about this, aren't you?

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    6. Dr. Evangelicus,

      Instead of being snarky, I'd also like to know more concretely what you're talking about. You've made what appears to be a pretty sweeping stereotypes about a group of Filipino Catholics, and I'm sure a lot of people would like to know what you're basing this off of. We haven't seen "the Filipinos down at the local chapel." What do they say or do that makes you think that they're worshiping Mary? Have any of them told you that they do worship her? Is it possible that you're just misreading the situation?

      Also, out of curiosity, what is your own denominational affiliation? And how do you approach Mary, personally?

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    7. I'm not trying to be obtuse, Dr. Evangelicus. I'd like to know what you perceive to be "worship," because it's possible what you perceive to be worship isn't what Catholics perceive to be worship.

      In other words, what Joe said.

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    8. I'm not the one being snarky, Joe.

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  10. \\True, Scripture doesn't say “Mother of God,” just as it doesn't say “Trinity.” \\

    As a matter of fact, St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, called the Virgin "Mother of my Lord". And who is Lord but God? In effect, she was calling her "Mother of YHVH." Luke 1:41-43

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  11. Hey Joe, great post again, as usual. I just had to say that when I read the quote from your Protestant, I laughed out loud at how incredible what he said was. lol Really, it's regularly astounding to me the basic historical facts that many Protestants very confidently have wrong. The one that got me the most: "Since neither the apostles nor the apostolic fathers, as far as I know, said a word about Mary, is it your position that they had a “Mary problem.”" Stunning

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  12. Idolatry: "excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc."

    Time to stop being in denial. It's not doing Mother Mary any favors.

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  13. Dr. Evangelicus said-
    "Idolatry: "excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc."

    That is a modern interpretation of what idolatry is. It is not in continuity with the early Church. I am devoted to my wife, but that does not make me an idolater. I hold my wife in reverence, but that does not make me an idolater. I call some protestant priests reverend (because they are thought worthy of reverence), but that does not make me an idolater. And idolater adores graven images. An idolater worships graven images. Not all prayer is worship. Not all prayer is adoration. Mary is not adored. Mary is not worshiped. She is petitioned. She is revered. She is worthy of devotion. She is blessed.

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    1. I was asked for a definition, so I gave one. Now it's not the right definition.

      Talk about moving the goalposts!

      I guess the obvious idolatry of Mary doesn't exist simply because it's been defined away.

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    2. I happen to be modern, and it's not an "interpretation" it's a dictionary definition. And it's EXCESSIVE devotion, not mere devotion.

      Time to stop looking for pernickety get-outs and admit that an obvious problem exists. The Church will survive!

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  14. I would like to weigh in with somE comments about Mary. The topic is vast, so I can only give an outline here. As I am sure many already know, in the Gospel of John, both at Cana (Jn 2:4) and again at the cross, Jesus addresses his mother with the title “woman” (Jn 19:26). Although he uses this term also with other women in normal circumstances, it was not normal for anyone to address his own mother with this term. The answer as to why Jesus said this is very similar to Jesus changing the name of Simon to Kephas (rock). It indicated a role that Kephas was going to have in the Church (Mt 16:18) that Jesus was creating. In the case of Mary, Jesus is not giving her a new title, he is recognizing a role that she already had when God created her. The idea that Mary is a parallel, but victorious opposite, of Eve is an idea that we find written already in second century Christianity. I say “written” because there were many truths of faith that were not written, as St. Paul tells us (2 Thess 2:15); nevertheless, this idea finally was written down by St. Justin (who dies in 165) and Iranaeus (who dies in 202). As these men worked in both in the west and east, we can say the idea was universally accepted (we do not find contemporaries rejecting this position). Just as Adam (Gn 2:23) recognized in the first woman his helpmate (and called her “woman”), Jesus, the new Adam, recognizes in Mary his helpmate and calls her “woman,” and at her request, Jesus gives the sign (wine from water) of the new creation: Jn 2:11. The new creation, merited by the obedience of Jesus the God-man, was already being formed throughout salvation history and comes to a climax in Mary’s yes to the will of the Father, but it was prepared for by the very fact that she, like the first “woman,” was created by God immaculate due to the merits of Christ crucified who dominates human history from the very beginning as the omnipresent son of God. Since sin is the cause of death in Genesis, Mary, the new Woman, is exempt from the corruption of death as the new “woman” created perfect and without stain (immaculate) by God who does all things well. The words of the psalmist which St. Peter applies to Jesus “you will not allow your just one to experience decay” (Acts 2:25) also apply to Mary. This is where we find another biblical seed of the doctrine of the assumption. That is why, as a parallel to Eve, Mary is called “woman” in John’s Apocalypse as well. As the new creation, we see her with the cosmic signs of the original creation (sun, moon, stars). However, her travail at the “birth” clearly does not regard the physical birth of Jesus (since he is immediately saved from Satan the murderer), rather it regards his rebirth from death (his, so to speak, “baptism”) and immediate entrance into the presence of God the Father as the victorious obedient son of a mother who shares in his struggle and victory (as was predicted by Simeon, e.g. Lk 2:35). I would add a thought here. The term “New Eve” is often used to indicate Mary’s parallel role as mother of those reborn in Christ (Rev 12:17). However, the title which the Bible specifically gives her as the new “woman” shows better her immaculate origin and her assumption (Rev 12:14) in which she is saved both spiritually and physically from the powers of Satan, the adversary predicted in Genesis. In fact, it is after the sin of the first woman that Adam gives his wife a new name “Eve”(Gn 3:20) since her role has been limited after sin. No longer was Eve immaculate and exempt from death, though her limited role as mother continued. Mary has all the fullness of womanhood as she passed the test as the helpmate of her divine Son who preserved her always by his grace from the bonds of Satan which would have trapped her too, were she not saved by the Savior’s grace from Satan’s touch.

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