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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

Return to Mary, Our Mother Section

The Blessed Virgin

Do Catholics Worship Mary?


Non-Catholics are often under the mistaken assumption that Catholics commit idolatry in the "worship" of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They may point to quotes such as:

"We sing unto thee, we praise thee, we worship thee, O God-bearer; for thou has brought forth the one Son and God of the undivided Trinity, and hast opened to us on earth the heavens." (St. Andrew of Crete) 

~ or ~

"[The] Virgin Mary...alone crushes all heresies, and is Our greatest reliance and the whole reason for Our hope." (Pope Gregory XVI)

as "proof" of their position that Catholics are idolatrous. However, what such assertions really "prove" is their mistaken understanding of Catholics' veneration for the Blessed Virgin. For example:

  • While faithful Catholics give the highest veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, they never put her above God, put her as equal to God, put her in opposition to God, or confuse her with God. 

  • The term "worship" as used with regard to the Blessed Virgin should not to be confused with the worship paid to God alone. Rather, it refers to the highest degree of veneration due a creature. As expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas, "Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of latria is not due to her, but only that of dulia: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of dulia is due to her, but hyperdulia."

  • Certain expressions used by Catholics - such as Mary being the "whole reason for our hope" - do not imply that our hope is independent of Christ. Rather, they acknowledge the fact that Christ made his coming to earth dependent upon the fiat of Mary - that, by the will of God, redemption would not be possible without the Virgin's consent.

  • While faithful Catholics have trust in Mary's great intercessory power and her dispensing of graces, they do not believe Mary has any power on her own.

  • While faithful Catholics acknowledge the Blessed Virgin Mary as the greatest creature in all of God's creation, they admit an infinite difference between her and God.

To imply differently than the above is to misrepresent the orthodox Catholic position regarding the Blessed Virgin. In fact, should a Catholic actually "worship" Mary in an idolatrous sense, that person's actions would be condemned by the Church as a mortal sin (and worthy of eternal punishment if unrepented).

On the other hand, orthodox Catholics do recognize with regard to the Blessed Virgin that:

  • By God's design, salvation depended upon her fiat.

  • She is the closest of all creatures to Christ and gave flesh to our God.

  • She has a unique relationship with the Blessed Trinity (Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of the Son).

  • That she is entirely sinless - the holiest creature ever - and is worthy of the highest honor that may be paid to a creature.

  • That she is the "mortal enemy" of the devil and a powerful protectress against evil spirits.

  • As has been clearly demonstrated throughout history (and even at the wedding at Cana), she is a powerful intercessor with her Son, Jesus. As Sacred Scripture states, "the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful" (see Jms. 5:16).

  • That, by the will of God, she dispenses graces.

  • That our prayers will be more efficacious if offered through her.

  • That she is the Queen of heaven and earth, reigning with her Son Jesus, body & soul, in heaven.

  • That by honoring her, we are honoring God. ["Who could honestly assert that honor paid to one's mother harmed one's own honor? On the contrary, it increases it!"]

  • That a true devotion to her is the surest means of reaching Christ.

  • That Mary never leads anyone away from God.

  • That countless saints and popes have recommended devotion to Mary. 

  • That true devotion to Mary may be a "sign of predestination." ["...devotion to the Virgin Mother of God [is] a sign of 'predestination' according to the opinion of holy men" (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947) & "...it is an infallible mark of predestination to be entirely and truly devoted to her." (St. Louis Marie de Montfort)]

  • That Mary is our mother, and that by loving and honoring her we are following in the footsteps of Jesus (surely Jesus obeyed the 4th Commandment!) and we are fulfilling the Biblical commandment to honor our mother.

  • That we are indebted to her for - and grateful for her role in - our redemption. 

  • That she is the most powerful advocate we can have at our judgment. ["Wouldn't you be overjoyed if she was to receive you at the hour of your death and present you to her Son as her friend? Would you honestly want Mary to look upon you and say that she does not know you?"]

  • That our honoring Mary fulfills her own prediction that all ages would call her blessed (see Lk. 1:48) and imitates the Archangel who called her "full of grace" and St. Elizabeth who called her "most blessed among women" and "mother of my Lord".

Considering the above, are you really unwilling to follow in the footsteps of the Archangel, St. Elizabeth, and Christ in honoring Mary?

Also See...

Some Reasons to Honor the Blessed Virgin Mary

Some Thoughts on the Blessed Virgin Mary

Praise of Mary (Reflections)

Mary's Virtues (Reflections)

The Blessed Virgin's Intercession (Reflections)

Mary as Mediatrix / Co-Redemptrix (Reflections)

Mary & Grace / Graces (Reflections)

Mary's Maternity (Reflections)

Jesus & Mary (Reflections)

Immaculate Conception / Sinlessness (Reflections)

Annunciation / Incarnation (Reflections)

The Queenship of Mary (Reflections)

Devotion to Mary / Devotion to Mary is Recommended (Reflections)

We Should Imitate Mary / Mary is Our Model (Reflections)

More 'Mary, Our Mother' Reflections

Marian Facts

Marian Scriptural References


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* Catholic Apologetics (Topic Page)

* Blessed Virgin Mary (Topic Page)

 

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