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  Why is the Blessed Virgin Mary so important in the Catholic faith? 

  Many  Catholics are stumped when they hear Evangelical Protestants say things like this:  "Catholics make Mary too important.  You even worship Mary, which the First Commandment clearly forbids, for we must no worship anyone other than God.  According to the Bible, salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone."

  Mary is far more than just a set of doctrines to believe in: She is also the model of all faithful Christian discipleship, and our true spiritual mother in Heaven.

  As for "worshipping" Mary as a god or as God, of course Catholics are not allowed to do such a thing.  To "worship" someone or something implies that one recognizes in the object of worship the source of all worth and goodness.  But the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is certainly not the source of all worth and goodness in the universe; she is just a creature, a human being who freely surrendered herself to be a channel and vessel of God's grace.  We call her "Holy Mary" in somewhat the same way that all Christians speak of the "Holy Bible", because the Bible, too, is a vessel, a channel of God's grace to us.  As St. Ambrose once wrote:  "Mary is the Temple of God, not the God of the Temple."

  In technical, theological language, we say that we offer "worship" to God alone; what we offer to any created excellence fashioned by God is either merely "veneration" or "honor" such as the honor we give to the saints, or "highest honor" the veneration Catholics offer to Mary. 


  Honoring Mary and the saints no more distracts us from the true worship of God than delighting in and praising an artist's best work distracts us from proper appreciation of the artist himself.  Clearly, the honor given to the excellence of the artwork passes on and glorifies the artist, and the artist's best work gives us all the more reason to appreciate and praise him.  In a similar way, God is the artist of all souls, by the Holy Spirit.  God has fashioned no greater masterpiece in all of creation than the Mother of the Son of God, Mary of Nazareth.

  This means that when Catholics gaze on Mary, we always see, shining in and through her, the light of her Son; she is the pure reflection of His merciful and compassionate Heart.  Here, then, is the first reason why the Blessed Virgin Mary is so important to Catholics: because she is like a window into Heaven, a true icon for us of the merciful love of God, who created and sanctified her.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen summed it up best in his book The World's First Love:  "God, who made the sun, also made the moon.  The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun.  The moon would only be a burnt-out cinder floating in the immensity of space were it not for the sun.  All its light is reflected from the sun.  The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him she is nothing.  With Him, she is the Mother of Men.  On dark nights we are grateful for the moon; when we see it shining, we know there must be a sun.  So in this dark night of the world, when men turn their backs on Him who is the Light of the World, we look to Mary to guide their feet while we await the sunrise."

  A family is incomplete without a loving mother. 


  All the Scriptures ... all creation, and our deepest human needs tell us that no family should be that way -- and certainly not the covenant family of God.  God's covenant family is perfect, lacking nothing.  The Church looks to God as Father, Jesus as Brother, and to heaven as home.  What is missing then?


  In truth, nothing.  Every family needs a Mother; only Christ could choose His own, and He chose providentially for His entire covenant family.  Now everything He has He shares with us.  His divine life is ours (e.g., II Pet 1:4); His home is our home (Jn 14:1-4); His father is our Father (Mt 6:9); His brothers are our brothers (Mk 3:35), and His mother is our mother, too (Jn 19:25-27).


  The apostles knew this, and that is why they were gathered with Mary in Jerusalem at Pentecost.  The early generations of Christians knew this, and that is why they painted her image in their catacombs and dedicated their churches to her.

PRAYER:  O Blessed Virgin Mary, I humbly beseech thee ... through thy pure heart, to take full possession of my heart.  Give it completely to thy divine Son, and beg Him to banish from it all sin and to establish in it forever the perfect reign of His divine love  (St. John Eudes).

​SOURCE:  Mary - Who She is and Why She Matters, by Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD




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