“Blasphemy and false worship”, so is the Catholic relationship with Mary most commonly described by many non-Catholic Christians.
Not so; the Catholic Catechism states:
II. “HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”
2096 – Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Saviour, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.13
III. “YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME”
2110 – The first commandment forbids honouring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.
The Catholic Church honours Mary not only for her gift of Mothering Jesus, our Saviour, but because she was his first and most loyal disciple and because in the Old Testament she is prefigured as the New Ark of the Covenant and The New Eve.
Here is an excellent video with Biblical support of this assertion: Mary the New Eve
The Holy Spirit has guided the Church throughout its history in the understanding of the faith that has been revealed in Jesus. Therefore, the knowledge of the Christian faith did not come to us in one instalment, but through the deepening of the understanding of God’s Revelation to mankind. In the Bible itself we see how the Apostles, lead by Peter, established the matter of circumcision among believers. As promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit played a crucial role in this process as the Guide for the Truth.
Mother of God – A Pagan title for a Christian Figure?
Title “Son of God” was used by Pagan leaders long before Jesus. History tells us that according to Near Eastern theology of kingship in Pagan Rome, Caesar Augustus and other Caesars declared themselves as Son of Divine Cesar, the Son of God (CF P. W. v. Martitz, TDNT, Vlll, pp. 334-340 esp. p. 336) … This does not take away from Jesus’ True Divine Sonship. Therefore, the protestant objection against Mary’s title falls short of support.
Unfortunately, many protestants don’t realize that the objection against Mary’s title as Mother of God was the very argument of some serious heresies of the 1st centuries of Christianity which denied Jesus “Oness” with God the Father. Because of such heresies, the Church Fathers again, guided by the Holy Spirit, determined that Jesus is not divisible. He is TRUE Man And TRUE God. Therefore, to state that Mary is only Mother of Jesus Man, and not of His entire nature is a heresy in itself.
The mother of the King – A Biblical Perspective
In order to understand Mary’s queenship it is crucial to consider that in the OT the Queen was not the King’s wife, but his mother. Thus Mary’s intercessory influence is prefigured in the persons of the queens of the OT, such as in 1 Kgs 2:19-20:
‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’ (1 kgs 2:19-20)
Still on Mary’s Queenship and her prefiguration in the OT, we have to remember that the Scriptural exegesis of the Church’s Fathers proves that they did realize that the 12 stars on the Woman’s crown takes us to the 12 tribes of Israel. However, they also understood that Our Lord presented himself throughout the Gospels in the light of the O.T, where He had been prefigured in many ways before being fully revealed in the NT. For this reason we should also understand the references used in the Book of revelation, not literally, but as fulfilment of the OT.
Jesus, the New Moses, brought the God of Israel to the world in fulfilment to what had been prophesied in Scriptures, making Israel the light house of the world. Through Jesus’ sacrifice the uncircumcised became adopted children of God. Thus, He established a New Israel, The Bride of the Lamb or His Church on earth.
Furthermore there are 3 points to consider:
The woman in Revelation gave birth to the King of the Israelites (Jesus) – who will rule the nations from Heaven.
The devil is very interested in destroying her but she is safe.
Her *children are all faithful Christians (the Church) who “follow the lamb” (Rev 12:17)
*Many fundamentalist Christians understand the ‘Woman’ in the book of Revelation to be Israel, not Mary. However Rev 12:17 confirms the Catholic understanding that Mary, not the nation of Israel, is the ‘Woman’ and the Mother of the Church.
For Catholics all honour given to Mary has the sole aim of coming closer to Jesus, which is Mary’s own purpose:
“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (2 Jn 1-5)
Catholics also believe that not only Mary, but all the just and Saints departed, are in heaven – and not asleep waiting for the second coming of Jesus – from where they pray for us in a way that we could not do ourselves. St. James tells us that the prayer of the just (the saints) are powerful and effective.
Fundamentalists will argue that no-one has ascended to Heaven except for Jesus (Jn 3:13), so Mary could not be in Heaven as Catholics claim. But in the Gospel of John we see how the good thief on the cross obtained mercy and was promised heaven that day. Therefore, we should not assume that in John 3:13 Jesus was referring to those who lived before as well as after him. Personally, I think Jesus simply meant that no-one had gone or could ever go to heaven by their own means or merit, except he Himself.
As I have discussed on other posts, Catholics believe that Salvation is attained by grace alone, because even the gift of faith comes from God’s grace. Salvation is a “free gift” given by God and only by Him, there is nothing we can do to “earn it”, so to speak. However, those who have already attained the crown of victory never stop interceding on our behalf, so that we too can enter the glory of God. As we see in the Lord’s prayer, ALL those in heaven do the will of God, and it is the will of God that all men shall be saved. The souls in heaven sympathise with our sufferings and trials, such as we are told by St Paul to bear one another suffering and struggles while here on earth. This applies to Mary, who constantly prays for us.