As we continue this blog series, Why I Am Not Catholic Anymore, let’s look at one of the most disputed topics and thing I questioned the most that led me to leave the Catholic Church behind for a true relationship and salvation in Jesus Christ.
One thing that I never quite figured out is that thing about Mary; and to be honest, I still can’t quite figure it out. After I became a Christian I was attending a mass for my goddaughter who was making her first communion and saw something startling. As I looked ahead at the front of the church I saw Jesus hanging on the cross. To the left, there was a statue of Joseph, and on the right, a statue of Mary. I noticed there were flowers at the mass. There were WAY more flowers in front of Mary than there are Jesus and Joseph COMBINED. When I showed this to her dad, all he could say was, “That’s fu@#ed up!” Why is that? Let’s have a look.
Mary Is Worshipped
According to the Roman Catholic Catechism, the church gives special devotion to Mary and is part of their worship, but claim they don’t worship her.
“All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary – CCC 971
So according to the Catholic Church, we are to pray to Mary, and have feasts and holy days to honor her. Also let’s list some of the titles that the Catechism describes Mary and tell me if they don’t seem like worship to you.
- Advocate Bennefactrix, helper, mediatrix (CCC 969).
- The New Eve, Mother of the church (CCC 975).
- Mother of God, Seat of Wisdom (CCC 721).
- Mother of the members of Christ (CCC 963).
- Queen over all things (CCC 966).
Devotion according to Webster’s Dictionary, means:
- The state of being dedicated, consecrated, or solemnly set apart for a particular purpose.
- A solemn attention to the Supreme Being in worship; a yielding of the heart and affections to God, with reverence, faith and piety, in religious duties, particularly in prayer and meditation; devoutness.
- External worship; acts of religion; performance of religious duties.
- I passed by and beheld your devotions. Acts 17.
- Prayer to the Supreme Being. A Christian will be regular in his morning and evening devotions.
- An act of reverence, respect or ceremony.
- Ardent love or affection; attachment manifested by constant attention; as, the duke was distinguished by his devotion to the king, and to the interest of the nation.
- Earnestness; ardor; eagerness.
- Disposal; power of disposing of; state of dependence.
Now, let’s be reasonable about this. If Mary were alive on this earth today, how do you think she would feel about all this attention? The bible states in Mary’s own words, that she was in need of a savior, and realized she was a sinner in the eyes of God. The power was not in herself, but in her God.
“And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.”(Luke 1:46-49 NKJV)
People will call her blessed, not worshipped. The Greek word here for blessed is makarizo which means “fortunate” and “happy”. In this sense I can honestly say that she was blessed; but not to the point of distracting away from the Son of God.
Pope John Paul II was known for his fascination of Mary, and has dedicated his entire life to her. The large “M” on his crest was for Mary. He said that she was the one that saved him in the first assasination attempt, therefore we see many pictures of him worshipping her image. This is not simple honor, but pagan worship, especially when it comes to statues and images.
Mary As Co-Redemptress
Let’s say that you have cancer; a brain tumor, and you need it removed. You call the hospital, and they patch you through to the Oncology department. They go to set up an appointment with one of the doctors, when you tell them that you want to speak with his or her mother. Why would you need to speak with his mother? What can she do, that the doctor can’t do himself? It sounds strange if you put it that way, but then again, this is essentially what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. That Mary helps Jesus save souls by bringing people to Him through her. You cannot get to Jesus on your own — you need the help of His mother.
The RCC says that Mary is co-mediatrix, which salvation is made through Christ and Mary.
“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” – CCC 969
So how does this work? According to the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Catholics pray to Mary for her to pray for them. It also says that from earliest times Christians have sought for her help, but it does not say when this started. If it started from earliest times, this practice would be consistent with the first century church and mentioned in the gospels and, or epistles of the New Testament. But it is not mentioned anywhere in scripture.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 NKJV)
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NKJV)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5 NKJV)
There is no salvation in anyone else but Jesus Christ. Not Mary, the Pope, Saints, nor anyone else holds that title but Jesus Christ. Praise God we don’t have to look for salvation in anyone else, nor look to anyone else to come close to the throne room of God. Just in the work that was already done on the cross.
The Bodily Ascension Of Mary Did Not Happen
In November of 1950, Pope Pius XII declared what is called “The Assumption of Mary”. It was the idea that Mary did not die, but was taken up to heaven bodily and is alive and well as Jesus is. If you look in the previous section in CCC 969 it says Mary was, “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation”. In the award winning volume set, Catholicism, by Catholic Theologian Richard P. McBrian, he indicates that the event never took place, and that it was just an idea that had caught on and believed in the church.
“From the beginning of the sixth century various churches celebrated Mary’s bodily assumption into heaven. The belief originated not from biblical evidence, nor even patristic testimony, but as the conclusion of a so-called argument from convenience or fittingness. It was “fitting” that Jesus should have rescued his mother from the corruption of the flesh, and so he “must have” taken her bodily into heaven.”(McBrien, Vol II, 873)
“Must have” is language of speculation. And he is right. Nowhere in scripture does it mention the bodily ascension of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Before Jesus died on the cross he told the apostle John to take care of His mother.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27 NKJV)
Here John would have been around 18 years old, the youngest of all the apostles and outlived them all. He wrote the Gospel of John, the Epistles of john (I, II, and III), and also the book of Revelation which wasn’t written until 70 years after the crucifixion. If anyone would have known about the bodily assumption of Mary, the mother of Jesus, John would have written about such a glorious event. But he didn’t. Not only that but if Jesus were planning on taking His mother back to heaven, why take the trouble of giving her to John to take care of especially if Jesus had other brothers to do so. Not only does scripture not record the event, nor anywhere else in any historical record, but it just doesn’t make sense.
Mary’s Prayers Don’t Deliver Souls
It is also here in CCC 966 that her prayers deliver souls.
“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death. – CCC 966
The Holy Bible says exactly the opposite, those prayers to the dead, or anyone else but God, is not biblical, and an abomination.
So why all the fuss and emphasis about Mary? I honestly can’t tell you. I have no idea. All I know is that I knew when I was faced with the decision to continue being Catholic, or becoming a bible believing Christian, that the issue of Mary, and the worship and devotion that I have given her over the years would come into play. Though I sympathize with those who are Catholic and maybe looking at the idea of Mary for the first time may be a bit hard to swallow. My prayer is that you would seek yourselves. Look at your bible, and your Catholic Catechism and search them diligently. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.