Many Protestant Groups say that Catholics will go to hell for having a devotion to Mary. That by having a devotion to the Mother of God is the same as worshipping her, and putting her on a level of a Goddess. However, that is not the case. For one, devotion or prayer is not to be confused with worship, and second, there are many reasons why those who call themselves Christian should have a devotion to our Blessed Mother.
Many non-Catholics confuse Prayer with Worship, and that is not always so. According to Father John A. Hardon, prayer is a “conversation with the invisible world of God, the angels, and the saints”. In addition, The New Oxford American Dictionary states that prayer is “an earnest hope or wish” and can mean “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God”. Therefore, when Catholics say they are going to pray to Mary, they do not mean to worship her but to petition her help. Catholics may pray or show devotion to Mary, but in no way is the prayer or devotion to be confused with adoration. Catholics understand Adoration and Worship is given only to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We should honor Mary the Mother of God, for if the Angel of the Lord, whom was created perfect and without sin, should show her reverence, then we creatures of sin should do no less. An angel appearing to man in the Old Testament was a great event, and whenever an angel appeared to an individual, that individual would show reverence to the angel, not the other way around. The only reason an angel would show reverence to a man is that they exceeded the angel in three respects, by being incorruptible, familiarity with God, and partake most fully of the divine light. If Mary had just met respects, and not exceeded them, the angel would not have greeted her with Hail. Thus, to show to the whole universe just how great Mary was, Gabriel greeted her as such Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women. If Gabriel, who was perfect in every way, would show reverence towards Mary the Mother of God, then we who are imperfect should also show reverence towards her.
However, the angel of the Lord was not the only one who showed Mary honor, but her son Jesus who bestowed upon her the highest honor any son could give his mother, Assumption into Heaven. Now many object to Marys’ Assumption because she was human and therefore must be subjected to remain in the grave. That is wrong on two fronts. The first reason is that if all humans are to suffer the grave because of our human nature, then therefore Elijah would have never been assumed into heaven, for he was born into original sin unlike Mary, who was without sin, and yet Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. Elijah did not die a bodily death nor suffered corruption of the grave. Therefore, if God did this for one of his servants, then it would make sense that Jesus would do the same for his mother. The second reason that Mary should been subjected to remain in the grave is a fallacy that the death came into the world through the sin of Adam, and Mary was conceived and born without original sin and lived a sinless life. Therefore, by being sinless, Mary was not subjected to remain in the grave, but was rather assumed into heaven so that the curse of sin could not touch her.
There are many ways one can honor Mary Mother of God through prayer. The greatest prayer is the Rosary. Our Lady revealed the Rosary to St. Dominic Guzman the founder of the Dominican Order. At this time St. Dominic was fighting the Albigensian heresy, which stated that all matter was created by a bad deity and therefore that the Son of God could not have truly taken on material human nature to redeem humanity. At this time St. Dominic was having trouble converting them back to the true Catholic Faith, and at the behest of Mary, “gathered the people, and preached to them the mysteries of salvation … And what the word of the preacher was unable to do, the sweet prayer of the Hail Mary did for [their] hearts.” The use of the Rosary became the most fruitful form of preaching. (Mark Mirvalle p.132). There are many benefits to praying the rosary; so many that they is no real categorization of them. The only closes thing to a categorization the Catholic Church has for the benefits of praying the Rosary is the 15 Promises of the Rosary given by Mary to St. Dominic and later to Blessed Alan as well. That who so ever prayed the Rosary devoutly would receive special graces, Mary’s protection, to not die without the Sacraments of the Church, deliverance from purgatory, all that asked during the recitation of the rosary will be obtained, and an eternity in Heaven.
Another way one can honor Mary Mother of God is through the Total Consecration created by St. Louise de Montfort. St. Louis de Montfort believed that “more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more consecrated [one is] to Jesus. However, consecration to or becoming a slave of Blessed Virgin Mother Mary actually dates back to the fifth century. St. John Damscene (died 749) often considered himself a slave to the Mother of God, and St Ildefonsus of Toledo (died 669) in De virginitate sanctae Mariae described that by being the servant of the Handmaid of the Lord leads one to the Jesus himself. St. Louise de Montfort is the one that created the guideline that anyone can follow to become a servant to the Mother of the Most High. Total Consecration takes 34 days total with the 34th day being a Feast day of Mary. The first 33 days are for preparation, and the 34th day is the day of consecration. After the first Consecration of one’s life to Mary, one must renew the consecration yearly, and from that point on, frequently recite the Rosary, to attend all Marian Feast days and to maintain a devotion to Mary for the rest of one’s life.
A major reason that Catholics pray to Mary and is highly recommended to, is because Mary is Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces. Mary is Co-redemptrix because she participated with and under her Son in the Redemption of all of humanity all the while being subordinate to her son. Now being Co-redemptrix does not in no way place Mary on the same level of Jesus, rather it demotes her singular and unique sharing in the saving work of the Redemption of humanity with Jesus, her son. Mary shared in the Redemption of the human race when she said yes to the Angel of the Lord and when she was at the cross, as predicted by the prophet Simeon, her soul was pierced with a sword so that she too could suffer with her son during the mission of the Redemption. Mary is also known as Mediatrix of all Graces because of her role as Co-redemptrix. Mary ability to distribute the Graces of the Redemption is essential because she is our Spiritual Mother. Mary became the Mediatrix the moment she said yes to the Angel of the Lord. The Bible records the first time Mary acts as the Mediatrix when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. According to Mark Miravalle, “Mary physically mediates the presence of the unborn Christ to Elizabeth and the unborn John” Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist is sanctified. In the Gospel of John is the most obvious case of Mary acting as Mediatrix, the Wedding in Cana. When Mary went to Jesus on the behalf of the wedding couple, she was acting as intercessor and Mediatrix, and when she said saying Do whatever he tells you, Mary showed to the whole world that yes, she will intercede for humanity, but the one that she intercedes and mediates for must always does as Jesus tells them. Mary always points to Jesus, her son, in all that she is and does.
There are many reasons why Catholics and Christians in general should pray to Mary. One reason is that Mary is always listening to the one who asks for her intersession, and two it is the proper thing to do as she is the Mother of God and at the cross, Jesus gave her to us be to Our Mother as well. And any Mother will listen to the needs of their children and protect them.
Aquinas, St. Thomas, and Ralph Mcinerney. Thomas Aquinas: Selected Works. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998.
Cameron, Fr. Peter John. Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces. Cincinnati, Ohio: Servant Books, 2010.
Catechism of the Catholic Church with Modifications from the Edtio Typica. 2nd ed. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
Consecration Explained. n.d. http://totalconsecration.newevangelizers.com/consecration-explained/ (accessed April 2, 2015).
Good News Bible with Deuterocanonicals/ Apocrypha. New York: American Bible Society, 2003.
Mirvalle, Mark. Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion. Santa Barbara, California: Queenship Pub, 1993.
The Fifteen Promises of Mary Granted to Those Who Recite the Rosary. n.d. http://www.themostholyrosary.com/15promises.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).
Frances Lejeune is a student at Catholic Distance University and is a Theology Major. She is expected to receive her Associates June of 2019. She also writes about day to day life about living with depression, anxiety and loss.