By Jose Ma J Fernandez
Are Catholics guilty of "Mary Worship"? Do Catholics love Mary too much? If one were to simply draw conclusions from what he or she were to observe among Marian devotees in various Marian shrines, or in praying the Rosary and practicing some devotion to Mary or other, the answer would be: Too Much!
On the other hand, if we look to the examples of many of the great saints who placed themselves in Mother Mary’s maternal care, or the late Pope John Paul II who had Mary’s mark emblazoned in his coat of arms and adopted the motto “Totus Tuus, Maria” (Totally yours, Mary), or to people like my late mother who affixed “Maria” to all her children’s names and who passed away at the exact time of the start of the procession in Lourdes (she was named Maria Lourdes), the answer would be: Not Enough!
In accusing Catholics of engaging in what they refer to as Mary Worship, “Mariolatry” or the adoration of Mary, our separated Christian (and non-Christian) brethren refuse to accept the point that we Catholics simply have a special way of revering Our Mother.
The cult of Adoration (or Latria) is reserved for God alone, because God is the Creator and Master of all creation, including Mankind. On the other hand, Catholics revere the Saints and hold them up as examples of how we are to live in order to attain heaven. This reverence is called Dulia. Mary, the Gratia Plena or “Full of Grace” (as addressed by the Angel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation) and who was immaculately conceived, is accorded the cult of Hyperdulia, a reverence above that given to the Saints but considerably lower than that of Adoration as rendered only to God.
The Old Testament is full of types of both Jesus and His Mother Mary, buttressing the promise of God of a Messiah who would restore Man back into the favor of God, with hints of how this was to be achieved in the references to his being the Son of Man and a descendant of King David. In fact, Jesus became incarnate through Mary, who, in turn, was descended both from the Davidic line of Kings through her father St Joachim, and the Aaronic line of High Priests through her mother St Anne. Jesus could have appeared suddenly in the heavens on a chariot of fiery horses and come down to save man just like that, but that would have run counter to the plan and Will of God.
Instead, the Christ Child sought the pure and holy womb of Mary as His home during the period of gestation, making Mary the True Ark of the Covenant, since she contained the Godhead itself. When we consider that all the Ark of Moses had inside were fragments of the tablets of the Law, some grains of the Manna eaten in the desert, and the rod of Aaron, the fact that Mary had the Second Person of the Trinity within her already indicates her importance in the divine economy of salvation.
Since the Triune God lives in an eternal present, the Godhead sees everything at a glance. God is complete in Himself and does not need anything to be happy. All of creation was made through His Word for the benefit of the creature meant to be the king of His works: Man. But Man became a murderer and a thief (Man murdered his own soul by committing the Original Sin, and stole the happiness that was to be the legacy of all mankind in Paradise), and order had to be restored somehow. The means to obliterate this fault would have to be both God and Man because the offense was so great that only another one like God himself could compensate for the grave fault; and since Man was the one who committed the crime of trying to become like God, a Man had to make amends for this fault. The conclusion: The Person of the Word accepted the Will of His Father and became both God and Man in one person (Two natures: Divine and Human, in One Person). He became flesh to save the flesh. To achieve this, the Trinity thought from before all time of Mary, and her spirit was said to sit at the foot of the Godhead even before creation began.
Consider what the Psalmist has to say:
The Lord begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago. From of old, I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths, I was brought forth…before the mountains were settled into place, I was brought forth; While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there…Then, I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth, and I found delight in the sons of men. (Ps 8: 22-31).
Many theologians have ascribed these prophetic words to describe Mary in the mind of the Trinity before all time.
When Catholics refer to Mary as the Mother of God, this is because Mary is the mother of the Person of Jesus Christ, who was begotten of her flesh. And since one cannot separate the divinity of Jesus from His humanity in the one person of the Christ, Mary - who is not God – can rightfully be called Mother of God in relation to Jesus, her Son. But since the Trinity is always a Unity – where one Person is, the two others are also – we can infer that the entire Trinity dwells in Mary, she who is full of Grace. This relationship is further strengthened when we consider that Mary is also the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, since it was through the power of the Spirit of God that she was able to conceive. Needless to say, both the Son of Mary and her beloved Spouse, the Holy Spirit, would not take kindly to anything said or done against the very special woman beloved by God.
Earlier, we said that God is complete in Himself. But God in the depths of His Trinitarian mystery is also a Family. God is Father, Son, and Spirit of Love… and this special relationship became manifest here on earth in the Holy Family composed of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But the special Family that is God would seem to be missing something, and this is none other than a Mother! Mary, who is always a loving Mother to all Men, provides the special touch and warmth that her children and wards need. And this is why, no matter the reason or the season, Catholics tend to flock to Mary, who as Mother of all Men, looks after our welfare and even pleads for us before the throne of God.
How many times have we heard stories about Mary interceding at the particular judgment for one of her children who had showed even the least devotion to her while on earth? There is even the joke about Mary letting her wards into heaven through the backdoor, confounding St Peter guarding the front entrance.
The Second Coming of Christ will take place in your lifetime.
According to this book which contains a series of incredible messages and prophecies to an Irish seer, our present generation will witness the Second Coming of Christ.
Click here to read a book review that summarises the key messages of the book.
Get the latest articles straight to your inbox - Free!