The Virgin Mary is a constant topic for problematic discussion between Protestants and Catholics. I myself have been involved in several of these conversations lately. Normally, I am familiar with all of the points argued, and I am able to explain the truth to them without too much strife. But the other day, the person I was speaking with implied that Catholics are hypocrites by insisting, "I know you say you don't worship Mary, but actions speak louder than words..." Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by this, but I hadn't expected this from the person I was speaking with; she is a nice person for whom I have much respect.
Now, this is not the first time a Protestant has tried to explain to me, a Catholic, what Catholics believe. In their confusion, some of our Protestant brothers and sisters have developed the misconception that they understand the Catholic faith better than devout Catholics do. Unfortunately, this is no fault of their own. Too many Catholics are ignorant about what the Church teaches, and therefore are not capable of holding an intelligent debate with a Bible-smart Protestant. But, I must remind you all of some very important facts. The Catholics have been here for 2000 years! The Catholics put together and preserved the Bible many Protestants cling to as their sole source of religious authority (though Protestant Bibles are missing a few books...). Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit, held the Savior of the World in her perfect womb- for a sinful body could not hold the Redeemer. It was Mary who prompted Jesus to perform his first miracle, it was Mary who raised Jesus in holiness, it was Mary who said "yes" despite the suffering she would have to endure, it was Mary who stayed by Jesus throughout all of his ministry, it was Mary who remained below the cross with John, it was Mary who Jesus entrusted his followers to at the foot of the cross, it was Mary who Jesus loved and protected. It was MARY, acting through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit within her, and according to God the Father's will.
Why diminish the honor and glory of such a pure and beautiful woman? Why insult the Mother of God by disrespecting her and showing her less respect than God Himself did? Why not love Mary, Jesus did! Why not cherish Mary, the apostles did! Why not uphold Mary, God did! Why, God made Mary the Queen of Heaven and assumed her into Heaven body and soul! Why not strive to imitate her humility, kindness, charity, obedience, love, patience, and virtue? Yes, we have great affection for Mary- and look to her with the loving eyes that children turn upon their parents. And if there is a poor soul whose parents are no longer with them, Mary is standing with her arms open wide for them to come to her. But no, this is NOT worship!
The woman I was speaking to said actions speak louder than words. And they do. If you doubt that God is center of Catholic life, go to a Catholic Mass, witness the Consecration and all of the bent knees and bowed heads before the Presence of God in the Eucharist! After seeing that this miracle is the center of our most holy Mass, be consoled knowing that our Heavenly Father is still being put in His rightful place- above all the Saints and Angels. After witnessing such reverence reserved for Christ, present to us in a way more powerful then our Protestant brothers and sisters will ever acknowledge, I would be surprised if one could still think we exult anyone else.
I will put links to some great Apologetics websites under the "Links" tab for all of those who would like more information.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Picture courtesty of http://www.ourcatholicfaith.org/gallery/picmary.html.