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Catholic Answers to:

Protestant Misunderstandings

Taken from The Catholic Church Has the Answer,
Tan Publishers; available from The Fatima Crusader

Why do Catholics worship Mary as though She were a goddess, when it is clear in Scripture that She was not a supernatural being?

Catholics DO NOT worship Mary, the Mother of Christ — as though She were a deity. Of all the misconceptions about Catholic belief and practice, this one is the most absurd. Catholics are just as aware as Protestants that Mary was a human creature, and therefore not entitled to the honors which are reserved for God alone.

What many non-Catholics mistake for adoration is a very profound love and veneration, nothing more. Mary is not adored, first because God forbids it, and secondly because the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, which is based on Divine Law, forbids it. Canon Law 1255 of the 1918 Codex strictly forbids adoration of anyone other than the Holy Trinity.

However, Catholics do feel Mary is entitled to a great measure of exaltation because, in choosing Her as the Mother of Redemption, God Himself exalted Her — exalted Her more than any other person before or since. Catholics heap tribute and honor on Mary because they earnestly desire to be "followers of God, as most dear children." (Eph. 5:1).

Mary Herself prophesied: "For behold from henceforth all generations shall call Me blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to Me; and holy is His name." (Luke 1:48-49). Catholics know that every bit of the glory that they give to Mary redounds to the glory of Her Divine Son, just as Mary magnified God, not Herself, when Elizabeth blessed Her. (Luke 1:41-55). They know that the closer they draw to Her, the closer they draw to Him who was born of Her.

In the year 434, St. Vincent of Lerins defended Christian devotion to Mary this way: "Therefore, may God forbid that anyone should attempt to defraud Holy Mary of Her privilege of divine grace and Her special glory. For by a unique favor of Our Lord and God, She is confessed to be the most true and most blessed Mother of God." Today 75% of all Christians still hold this same view.

Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints when Sacred Scripture states that there is one mediator between God and man — Christ Jesus? (1 Tim. 2:5)

When Catholics pray to Mary and the other saints in Heaven they are not bypassing Christ, whom they acknowledge as the sole Mediator between God and man. They are going to Christ through Mary and the other saints. They are asking Mary and other saints to intercede for them before the throne of Christ in Heaven. "For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much." (James 5:16). How much more availing is the unceasing prayer of the sinless Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

St. Paul asked his fellow Christians to intercede for him: "Brethren, pray for us." (2 Thess. 3:1). And again: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God ..." (Rom. 15:30).

Christ must particularly approve of our going to Him through Mary, His Blessed Mother, because He chose to come to us through Her. And at Cana, He performed His first miracle after a word from His Mother. (John 2:2-11).

It is clear in Sacred Scripture that the saints in Heaven will intercede for us before the throne of Christ if they are petitioned in prayer (Apoc. 8:3-4), and it is clear in the records of primitive Christianity that the first Christians eagerly sought their intercession. Wrote St. John Chrysostom in the 4th Century: "When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies, but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power." If the saints have such power with God, how much more His own Mother?

Why do Catholics repeat the same prayer over and over again when they pray the Rosary? Is this not the vain repetition condemned by Christ in Matthew 6:7?

Catholics do not just repeat the same prayer over and over again when they pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a progression of many prayers — the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and the Salve Regina — and these prayers are accompanied by many holy meditations. As the Rosary progresses, Catholics meditate on the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries of the life of Christ and His Mother. True, the Hail Mary is repeated many times during the course of the Rosary, and some of the other prayers are repeated several times, but this is not "vain" repetition, certainly not the vain repetition condemned by Our Lord. The vain repetition He condemned is that of people who pray standing "in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men."

No prayer is vain, no matter how often repeated, if it is sincere, for Christ Himself engaged in repetitious prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani (" ... he went again; and he prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word." — Matt. 26:39, 42, 44), and we are informed in the Apocalypse 4:8 that the angels in Heaven never cease repeating, night and day, the canticle: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."

The publican humbly repeated the prayer: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner," and he went away justified; whereas the pharisee went home unjustified after his long-winded extemporaneous prayer. (Lk. 18:9-14)

God was likewise pleased with the repetitious prayer of the three young men in the fiery furnace, whom He preserved miraculously untouched by the flames. (Dan. 3:52-90) Protestants also engage in repetitious prayer: the same prayers at mealtime grace, the same prayers at Protestant prayer services. The time lapse is no factor; it is still repetitious.

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