Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence
Friday, May 28, 2010
Mary the main focus of Catholic worship?
I found this little statement at the close of an "article" on purgatory:
Most Roman Catholics are not that familiar with Jesus since the Virgin Mary goddess is the main focus of their worship.
This short statement has a lot to unpack. I see three things that need to be addressed:
The claim that Roman Catholics are unfamiliar with Jesus.
The claim that the Virgin Mary is regarded as a goddess.
The claim that Mary is the focus of Catholic worship.
Each one of these could be post unto themselves, but I will handle all three here. To the mind of a Catholic all three of these points defy all reason. I feel compelled to address them, not in order to correct Catholics who are guilty of these, but rather to show that the author of this article really has no knowledge of Catholicism.
Roman Catholics are not familiar with Jesus. At every Sunday Mass and at every Mass that falls on a feast regarded as a solemnity, the Nicene Creed is recited. For those that are unfamiliar with the Creed:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Now as for the Catholic Church not teaching about Jesus Christ, the bold text is essentially the Gospel. This is something that all Catholics profess to be considered Catholic. Of course, if this was all that the Church did with regards to the Savior, then she would be failing in her responsibility to teach the faithful, as commanded at the end of Matthew's Gospel:
And Jesus came and said to them "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt. 28:18-20)
To fulfill this, the Scriptures are read at every Mass, followed by a homily. The last Scriptures read are from one of the four Gospels, and also, because these are accounts from the life of Jesus, particular reverence is given to the Gospel, as the congregation always stands for the reading, and the Gospel is always read by a priest or deacon in the context of the liturgy. Roman Catholics do know about Jesus. They profess faith in Him at Mass, and hear a Gospel reading at all Masses.
The Virgin Mary is regarded as a goddess. Mary is never regarded to be equal with God. Catholics do honor her, and this honor is well deserved, as according to the Scriptures, all generations are to call her blessed (Lk. 1:48). Even that nature of the prayers directed to Mary are not really to her, as much as through her. What Catholics ask from Mary is intercession, which is her proper role as Queen-Mother of the Davidic king. (An example of this type of intercession can be seen in 1 Kings 2). As vague as a statement as this is, not much more can be said, other than I am sure that this topic will be revisited in future posts.
Mary is the focus of Catholic worship.The previous two points do a fairly good job of refuting the last, although some things are to be added. First and foremost, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an offering made to God alone. It is never made to Mary or any other Saint. We also must point out that the holiness of Mary and the Saints are not of their own doing, but are saintly only because God provided them with the grace to be holy. In fact our devotion to Mary and the Saints are devotion to Jesus. We follow Mary's instruction: "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn. 2:5).
It is very clear that the Catholic Church does not teach that Mary is a goddess, neither is Mary the center of our spiritual life. Mary points us to her Son. We worship the Triune God, and not a pantheon of Saints. The Saints are our examples and our intercessors to be sure, but they are not the objects of worship. Dominus Vobiscum!