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Mary and the Saints in Catholicism
In the following email exchanges, the emailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.
Thanks for taking the time to look at my email. I have found your site and have a question for you. Let me explain my situation a little. I was brought up Baptist and am a Christian, my boyfriend (whom I love very much) is a very devout Catholic.<
Be sure to read the email exchange on my site about a Catholic and a Protestant Dating.
> I am trying to understand and get to know the Catholic religion and may even convert if it "calls" to me. I know that Catholicism is a very traditional and ritualistic religion and there are still soooo many things I have to learn and understand about it. Anyway, here is my question(s): Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints?<
The idea is supposed to be that one is asking Mary and the saints to prayer for you to God in the same way you would ask a friend to pray for you. However, in actual practice, most Catholics are actually asking Mary to answer the prayer directly.
This problem was seen on a recent episode of "That's Life" where the father of a woman with breast cancer directly asked Mary to heal her. He said he was asking Mary as God was too unapproachable. This common attitude ignores everything the Bible teaches about Christ having become human so that we could approach God without fear (Heb 4:14-16).
The other problem is, how can Mary or a saint hear and understand the millions of people who are praying to them at once? To be able to do so would require Mary and the saints to be omniscient.
> and is Mary revered as a divine entity by the Catholic church? I mean, is she held on the same level as our Lord?<
The official teaching is that Jesus is worshiped while Mary is only venerated. And the RCC very carefully tries to distinguish between the two. However, again, in actual practice this distinction is often ignored.
For instance, I remember seeing a news report of a celebration in some Latin American country on Assumption Sunday (the day the RCC says Mary was "assumed" bodily into heaven without dying). A group of men were carrying a stature of Mary through the streets on on a platform on their backs. The people were lining up the streets and prostrating themselves on their faces as the stature passed by, throwing flowers before the stature, etc. It all looked very much like the worship of an idol to me.
Now again, the RCC itself would deny that Mary deserves to be worshipped, and would probably disavow such actions. Then again, I do believe there were priests looking on who did nothing to stop the "parade." And more to the point, it's easy to see how a common person could take the type of accolades the RCC does officially give to Mary as being an encouragement to worship her.
>I'm sorry, I know that's more than one question, but I have so many questions. You're site has given me a lot of answers, it has been very helpful. Thank you!! and thank you in advance if you answer this email. I know you get a lot of emails. Hope you're feeling well.
I hope the above is helpful.
>Subject: Catholic Idolatry
Praise the Lord for your website and your ministry! I have been reading through some of the correspondence you have with Catholics. I really liked the comments by one lady who said she doesn't understand the Catholic Church having statues when the Bible states that we are not to worship idols. Your response was really wonderful.
[Note: My response was as follows: Again, I would agree the practice is wrong. What the RCC says is that you're not really praying to the stature, but you asking the person it represents (who now assumedly is in heaven) to pray to God for you, the same as you would ask someone on earth. But this distinction is often loss on the masses. Moreover, the problem with this is, how can a "saint" in heaven hear all of the people praying to him/ her at once. Has the saint now become omniscient? I don't think so.]
One thought that I'd like to add, that occurred to me a couple of years back when my Catholic parents threw that old argument at me that they don't pray to the statue, but to the person behind it, is that while I know that is the official Catholic teaching, in so doing they have made an idol out of that person! They stopped saying that to me when the subject came up after that -- they couldn't handle it because those words had placed them under deep conviction. This is why I thought I'd share them with you, for I truly believe that the Holy Spirit inspired me to say that. And every time I say them to a Catholic, deep conviction is always reaped, so they are very powerful, as most Catholics have never thought of it that way before (I know, because I was raised as one myself).
It took me a few more years to get them convinced that what I was saying is true, but Dad converted shortly before his death and was gloriously saved -- praise the Lord! Mother is living with us now, and fully understands, and hopefully will convert soon herself. Her name is Joan, and your prayers for her would be greatly appreciated.
In His Love, Mercy & Grace,
Thank you for the email. Good observation. And PTL for you father's salvation. And I'll keep your mother in prayer.
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Catholicism - Mary and the Saints
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