…I believe that the misconceptions and misinformation out there about Catholicism comes from Catholics too. Yep, us Catholics. We are not as knowledgeable about our faith as we should be. We do not defend the church or give good answers when people ask us about why we do what we do. Example: “Are you a Christian?” Answer: “NO, I’m Catholic.” WHAT??? Come on!! Some of us have no clue. Bad Catechesis throughout the years has contributed to this. Our teachers, whether they be our parents (who should be the main educators about our faith), Catholic school teachers, priests, nuns, lay people who are teaching the faith have not done the best of jobs. But, the good news is I think that it’s getting better and better.
I did not truly know why I did what I did or believed what I believed until I was in my early 30’s. If someone would have asked me a question regarding Catholicism before that time, I would not have been able to answer them intelligently on most topics. Not that I am a “know it all” now. I am definitely not. Believe me. The beautiful thing about Catholicism is that you can learn something new every single day. This awesome Church of ours has such beautiful mystery, history, and such an amazing story (the Holy Scriptures) that we will never ever know it all. But, we need to know the basics. You need to know that yes, Catholics are Christians, we were the first Christians. That is documented history. We believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Know what the true presence is. You get the picture. The basics of the faith must be known and understood. Not just “done.” Know why we do what we do and believe what we believe.
I had a “re-awakening” or some would say a conversion experience in my early 30’s. I know it was the Holy Spirit…a baptism with fire…fire that made me absolutely fall in love with my faith. From that point on, I made it my mission to research and learn everything I could about Catholicism. It took 30+ years for me to be ready to open my heart and mind and figure out why I believed what I believed. I learned it on my own. I sought the information that wasn’t given to me. I listened to podcasts (Catholic Answers Live, Mother Angelica Live, The Journey Home…just to name a few.) I read great books, I asked a lot of questions. I prayed for wisdom and understanding. I prayed the Rosary. I sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament a lot. My love for my church grew and grew. I still have that unquenchable thirst for knowledge and for the Mass. I love the Mass.
Another thing I wanted to add was by no means do I think I’m going to change anyone’s thinking or beliefs about Catholicism in these blogs. If you are against the church, you’ll probably always be against the church. If you are open, then maybe you will read what I write and let it marinate a bit. I simply want to shed light on things. This is not about arguing a point or shoving things down people’s throats.
So, lets talk about today’s topic…
One of my favorite quotes is: “No Mary, No Jesus. Know Mary, Know Jesus.” I just love that because its so true. Think about it. Marian faith always points to Christ. Mary cannot overshadow or be separated from her son.
The topic of the Blessed Virgin Mary is very vast. I’m not going to go into a whole lot here, but I will talk about a few key points and also give you some good solid Catholic resources so that you can do your own reading and research. I know that Marian doctrines are some of the most bothersome of the Catholic Church’s teachings for a lot of people. I am not going to delve into heavy duty church doctrine. It would take forever and one topic leads into another and you can’t discuss one without discussing the other…you get the picture. Plus, I’m not a heavy duty church doctrine kinda gal. If you are curious about Mary (our Mother), definitely get in front of some good solid Catholic resources. Orthodox Catholic resources. Don’t go to a non-Catholic source, because chances are, they are filled with untruths and we are right back where we started. Maybe…if you are game, ask Mary if she could give you a little help with this! Ask her if its all a bunch of sinful, pagan idolatry to ask her to intercede for you. She’ll answer you. She never fails us.
Catholics are constantly accused of worshiping Mary. Let me just say right off the bat, we do not worship her. We love her, we ask for her intercession, we honor her. She is the Mother of our Savior. She’s our Mother. She bore the Word in her womb and the Word became flesh. Don’t you agree that is a big deal? To Catholics, it is.
Question #1 – Why do you pray to Mary? I think the first thing to discuss here is that when the word PRAY is used, people automatically think that it means worship. It does not. Another word for prayer is “supplication.” Asking humbly…an earnest petition. We believe that Mary and the Saints in heaven can hear us. They have God’s ear. Scripture states that those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. Mary intercedes for us. Read Revelation 5:8. Asking someone to pray for you in no way violates the truth that Christ is the one mediator. You ask me to pray for you and I ask people to pray for me all the time. Catholics take it one step further, we ask the Saints in Heaven to pray for us too. Mary is a Saint in Heaven. Some will throw out 1 Timothy 2:5 as a retaliation. This scripture states that Christ is the only mediator. However, they do not include the beginning of chapter 2 – they leave out verses 1-4. Paul says that Christians should intercede: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something “good and pleasing to God,” not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.
Take a look at this tract from Catholic Answers: http://www.catholic.com/library/Praying_to_the_Saints.asp
#2 Why do you have pictures of her and statues of her? Why do you kneel in front of them? Isn’t that worship? – Again, No, it isn’t worship. Why do you have pictures of your deceased family and friends in your home? It’s simply to remember and honor them.
The act of kneeling does not always mean that the person kneeling is performing an act of worship. Catholics kneel in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary to show her respect and honor and to pray for her intercession; they are not kneeling to worship her.
There are many, many other questions about Mary. The truth is out there. Go fish!