Catholic Controversies · Sexual politics

Catholics don’t pray to Mary, and why it matters

I asked all my readers to say the Rosary every day, in the last Ruth Institute newsletter of 2016. (You are not a subscriber? Easily corrected.) I gave my non-Catholic readers a non-Rosary suggestion for stepping up their prayer lives.

mary-at-st-matthews
Statue of the Mother of God at St. Matthews Cathedral in DC. She reaches out to the viewer, pointing us toward her divine Son in heaven.

 

 

 

 

I got one very charming note from a non-Catholic who was very concerned that I was praying to Mary. I would like to clarify this bit of Catholic teaching.

We do not pray to Mary or any saint. We ask dead people to pray for us, just as we ask living people to pray for us. That is all.

If it is coherent to ask a friend to pray for me (and of course, it is) it is perfectly ok to ask a deceased friend to pray for me.

We do not worship Mary. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #971.) We do not worship the saints. (CCC #956). We do not worship statues. (CCC# 1670). We never have.

This is important, whether you are Catholic or not because it illustrates how factual errors, constantly promoted, can take on lives of their own. I do not know who started these rumors about Catholic belief. I do know that they took on political and economic importance around the time of the Reformation. Ambitious people had an incentive to spread these rumors, promote these rumors, feed these rumors. No matter how many times we say, “we do not worship Mary or the saints or the statues,” they kept insisting that we did. This has been going on for at least 500 years.

No doubt someone will write to me and tell me I am mistaken and that in fact I do worship Mary. I issue this challenge: if you can find me any definitive magisterial statement by a competent Church authority to the contrary, I will listen to what you have to say. But I don’t think you can find such a statement.

Today, we have ambitious people promoting flat out lies about the human condition, such as: Kids don’t need their own parents. All differences between men and women are socially constructed. A fetus is not a person. Bruce Jenner is a woman. And so on.

Just because these statements are false does not mean that they will die out. The people who benefit from them will keep promoting them, no matter how many times we correct the record.

We have to call this out for what it is: lying. It won’t go away on its own. It could go on for 500 years. I, for one, am not going to sit by quietly while such a thing gets started.

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