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The Mother of the Son: The Case for Marian Devotion
Catholic Exchange ^ | May 11, 2005 | Mark Shea

Posted on 05/11/2005 10:04:08 AM PDT by NYer

It has to be one of the strangest things in the world: So many Christians who love Jesus with all their hearts recoil in fear at the mention of His mother's name, while many who do love her find themselves tongue-tied when asked to explain why.

Most of the issues people have with Mary are really issues about something else. "Where is the Assumption of Mary in the Bible?" isn't really a question about Mary. It's a question about the validity of Sacred Tradition and the authority of the Church. "Why should I pray to Mary?" isn't really about Mary, either. It's actually a question about the relationship of the living and the dead in Christ. "Do Catholics worship Mary?" isn't a question about Mary. It's concerned more with whether or not Catholics countenance idolatry and what the word "honor" means. And curiously enough, all these and many more objections both pay homage to and completely overlook the central truth about Mary that the Catholic Church labors to help us see: that her life, in its entirety, is a referred life.

Mary would, after all, be of absolutely no consequence to us if not for her Son. It is because she is the mother of Jesus Christ that she matters to the world at all. If He hadn't been born, you never would have heard of her. John, with characteristic economy of expression, captures this referred life in her own words: "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). And, of course, if this were all the Church had to say about her, Evangelicals would be more than happy to let her refer us to Jesus and be done with it. What baffles so many non-Catholics is the Church's tendency to keep referring us to her. "Ad Iesum per Mariam!" we say, to which many non-Catholics nervously respond, "Isn't Christianity supposed be about a relationship with Jesus Christ? Why do Catholics honor Mary so much?"

Sublime Neglect

That question sounded reasonable — right up until another question began to bother me: If Catholics honor Mary too much, exactly how do we Evangelicals honor her "just enough"? For the reality was that my native evangelicalism recoiled from any and all mention of Mary.

This was odd. After all, Evangelicals could talk all day about Paul and never feel we were "worshipping" him or giving him "too much honor." We rightly understood that God's Word comes to us through St. Paul, and there's no conflict between the two (even though Paul exhibits more character flaws than Mary).

Yet the slightest mention of Mary by a Catholic immediately brought a flood of warnings, hesitations, scrutinies of her lack of faith (allegedly demonstrated in Mark 3:21), and even assertions that Jesus was less pleased with her than he was with His disciples (because he called her "Woman," not "Mom"; and because He commended His own disciples as "my brother and sister and mother" (Mk 3:35)). And all this was despite the fact that not just God's word (e.g. the Magnificat), but God's Word, came to us through Mary (Jn 1:14). As Evangelicals we could say, "If not for Paul, the Gospel would never have reached the Gentiles." But we froze up if somebody argued that, "If not for Mary, the Gospel would never have reached the earth." Suddenly, a flurry of highly speculative claims about how "God would simply have chosen somebody else!" would fill the air, as though Mary was a mere incubation unit, completely interchangeable with any other woman on earth. "No Paul, no Gospel for the Gentiles" made perfect sense. But "No Mary, no incarnation, no death, no resurrection, no salvation for the world" was just too extreme.

Indeed, from evangelical piety and preaching as it is actually practiced, one could be forgiven for getting the sense that Jesus didn't really even like His mother (like a teenager irritated because Mom just doesn't understand him). Having "Mary is No Big Deal" hammered home whenever her name was raised tended to give you the feeling that — after her brief photo-op for the Hallmark Christmas card industry — Jesus was glad to spend time away from the family, in the Temple discussing higher things. The position in evangelicalism was more or less that we should do likewise and not lavish any attention on the mother who was too dim to understand Who He was, and whom He "rebuked" by saying, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

And so, our claims to honor her "just enough" effectively boiled down to paying no shred of positive attention to her beyond singing "round yon Virgin, mother and child" each Christmas. The rest of the time it was either complete neglect or jittery assurances of her unimportance and dark warnings not to over-emphasize the woman of whom inspired Scripture said, "From this day all generations will call me blessed."

It was a startling paradigm shift to realize we treated her so allergically — and one which, I have since noticed, isn't unusual for converts. Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, told me once that when he was still hanging back from the Church because of Mary, a blunt priest he knew asked him, "Do you believe her soul magnifies the Lord? It's right there in Scripture." Ahlquist reflexively answered back, "Of course I do! I know the Bible!" But even as he replied he was thinking to himself, "I never really thought of that before." It can be a disorienting experience.

But, in fact, it is right there in the Bible. Her soul magnifies the Lord, and from that day to this all generations have called her blessed. So why, when we Evangelicals looked at Jesus, did we never look at Him through the divinely appointed magnifying glass? Why were we so edgy about calling her "blessed" and giving her any honor? That realization was my first clue that it was, perhaps, Catholics who were simply being normal and human in honoring Mary, while we Evangelicals were more like teetotalers fretting that far too much wine was being drunk at the wedding in Cana.

The Cultural Obstacles

Part of the problem, I came to realize, was that evangelical fears about Mary are visceral and not entirely theological. Indeed, much of the conflict between Catholics and Evangelicals is cultural, not theological. Evangelical culture (whether you're a man or a woman) is overwhelmingly masculine, while Catholic culture (again, whether you're a man or a woman) is powerfully feminine. And the two groups often mistake their cultural differences for theological ones.

The Catholic approach tends to be body-centered, Eucharistic, and contemplative. Prayer, in Catholic culture, is primarily for seeking union with God. Evangelical approaches to God tend to be centered on Scripture, verbal articulation of belief, mission, and on the Spirit working in power. Prayer, in such a culture, is primarily for getting things done. Both are legitimate Christian ways of approaching the Gospel. Indeed, they should both be part of the Catholic approach to the Gospel. But because of these unconscious differences Evangelicals and Catholics often clash about culture while they think they're debating theology. The feminine spirituality of the Catholic can regard the masculine evangelical approach as shallow, noisy, and utilitarian, lacking an interior life. Meanwhile, Catholic piety can be seen by Evangelicals as a cold, dead, ritualistic, biblically ignorant, and cut off from real life. Thus, Evangelicals frequently criticize the Catholic life as a retreat from reality into rituals and rote prayers.

Not surprisingly, the heroes of the two camps are (for Evangelicals) the Great Human Dynamo of Apostolic Energy, St. Paul; and (for Catholics) the great icon of Contemplative Prayer Issuing in Incarnation, the Blessed Virgin Mary. As an Evangelical, I found Paul much easier to appreciate, since he was "biblical" — he wrote much of the New Testament, after all. You could talk about Paul since he'd left such a significant paper trail. Not so with Mary. Apart from the Magnificat and a couple remarks here and there — plus, of course, the infancy narratives — she didn't appear to occupy nearly as much psychic space for the authors of the New Testament as she did for Catholics. Marian devotion looked like a mountain of piety built on a molehill of Scripture.

Looks, however, can be deceiving. For as I got to know the Bible better, it became obvious to me that the authors of Scripture were not nearly as jittery about Mary as my native evangelicalism. Furthermore, they accorded to her honors which looked a great deal more Catholic than evangelical.

Luke, for instance, likens her to the Ark of the Covenant in recording that the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" her. The same word in Greek is used to describe the way the Shekinah (glory of God) overshadowed the tabernacle in Luke 1:35. Likewise, John makes the same connection between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant when he announces in Revelation 11:19-12:2:

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
The chapter goes on to describe the woman as giving birth to a male child who rules the nations with an iron scepter and who is almost devoured by a great red dragon.

As an Evangelical, my own tradition found it remarkably easy to detect bar codes, Soviet helicopters, the European Common Market, and the Beatles encoded into the narrative of Revelation. But when Catholics suggested that the woman of Revelation might have something to do with the Blessed Virgin occupying a place of cosmic importance in the grand scheme of things, this was dismissed as incredible. Everyone knew that the woman of Revelation was really the symbolic Virgin Daughter of Zion giving birth to the Church. A Jewish girl who stood at the pinnacle of the Old Covenant, summed up the entirety of Israel's mission and gave flesh to the Head of the Church saying, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" — what could she possibly have to do with those images? Why, that would suggest that she was the Virgin Daughter of Zion and the Flower of her People, the Model Disciple, the Icon of the Church, the Mother of Jesus and of all those who are united with Him by faith and...

Come to think of it, Scripture was looking rather Catholic after all.

The Heart of Marian Doctrine

That was the revolutionary thought that made it possible for me to press on, as a new Catholic, to find out what the Church was trying to get at with her Marian teaching. In coming to understand this, it seemed to me, I'd come a long way toward understanding why Mary figures so prominently, not merely in the heads, but in the hearts of Catholics.

The first question that arises, of course, is, "Why Marian dogma at all?" Why not just dogmas about Christ and let Catholics think what they like about Mary? Why bind consciences here?

The answer is that Catholics do think what they like — not only about Mary, but about lots of things. And sometimes they think deeply erroneous things. When they do, and that thought imperils some revealed truth to the point it threatens the integrity of the Church's witness, the Church will, from time to time, define its doctrine more precisely. This is a process that's already at work in the New Testament (cf. Acts 15), and it continues until the return of Christ.

So, for instance, in the fifth century there arose (yet again) the question of just who Jesus is. It was a question repeated throughout antiquity and, in this case, an answer to the question was proposed by the Nestorians. They argued that the mortal man Jesus and the Logos, or Second Person of the Trinity, were more or less two persons occupying the same head. For this reason, they insisted that Mary could not be acclaimed (as she had been popularly acclaimed for a very long time) as Theotokos, or God-bearer. Instead, she should only be called Christotokos, or Christ-bearer. She was, they insisted, the Mother of Jesus, not of God.

The problem with this was that it threatened the very witness of the Church and could even lead logically to the notion that there were two Sons of God, the man Jesus and the Logos who was sharing a room with Him in His head. In short, it was a doorway to theological chaos over one of the most basic truths of the Faith: that the Word became flesh, died, and rose for our sins.

So the Church formulated its response. First, Jesus Christ is not two persons occupying the same head. He is one person possessing two natures, human and divine, joined in a hypostatic union. Second, it was appropriate to therefore call Mary Theotokos because she's the Mother of the God-Man. When the God-Man had His friends over for lunch, He didn't introduce Mary saying, "This is the mother of my human nature." He said, "This is my mother."

Why did the Church do this? Because, once again, Mary points to Jesus. The dogma of the Theotokos is a commentary on Jesus, a sort of "hedge" around the truth about Jesus articulated by the Church. Just as Nestorianism had tried to attack the orthodox teaching of Christ through Mary (by forbidding the veneration of her as Theotokos), now the Church protected that teaching about Christ by making Theotokos a dogma. That is a vital key to understanding Marian dogmas: They're always about some vital truth concerning Jesus, the nature of the Church, or the nature of the human person.

This is evident, for instance, in the definition of Mary as a Perpetual Virgin (promulgated in 553 at the Council of Constantinople). This tradition isn't so much explicitly attested as reflected in the biblical narrative. Yes, we must grant that the biblical narrative is ambiguous in that it speaks of Jesus's "brothers" (but does it mean "siblings" or merely "relatives"?). However, other aspects of the biblical narrative strongly suggest she remained a virgin.

For instance, Mary reacts with astonishment at the news that she, a woman betrothed, will bear a son. If you are at a wedding shower and tell the bride-to-be, "You're going to have cute kids" and she responds "How can that be?" you can only conclude one of two things: she either doesn't know about the birds and the bees or she's taken a vow of virginity. In short, the promise of a child is an odd thing for a betrothed woman to be amazed about... unless, of course, she'd already decided to remain a virgin even after marriage.

Likewise, Joseph reacts with fear at the thought of taking Mary as a wife. Why fear? Modernity assumes it was because he thought her guilty of adultery, but the typical view in antiquity understood the text to mean he was afraid of her sanctity — as a pious Jew would be afraid to touch the Ark of the Covenant. After all, think of what Mary told him about the angel's words: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."

I'm not even a pious Jew, but with words like that echoing in my ears about my wife, I'd find it easy to believe that Joseph, knowing what he did about his wife, would have chosen celibacy.

"But nothing is sure, based on the text alone. It's still ambiguous," says the critic. Right. The biblical text alone doesn't supply an unambiguous answer to this or a myriad of other questions, including "Is the Holy Spirit God?," "How do you contract a valid marriage?," and "Can you be a polygamist?" But the Tradition of the Church in union with the biblical text does supply an answer: Mary had no other children, a fact so commonly known throughout the early Church that when Jerome attacks Helvidius for suggesting otherwise, nobody makes a peep. In a Church quite capable of tearing itself to pieces over distinctions between homoousious and homoiousious, you hear the sound of crickets in response to Jerome, punctuated with the sound of other Fathers singing hymns to "Mary, Ever-Virgin." The early Church took it for granted and thought Helvidius as credible as Dan Brown.

But why a dogma about it? Because, again, Mary's life is a referred life. Her virginity, like Christ's, speaks of her total consecration to God and of our call as Christians to be totally consecrated as well. Her virginity is not a stunt or a magic trick to make the arrival of Messiah extra strange. It is, rather, a sign to the Church and of the Church. And that matters for precisely the reason I'd thought it did not matter when I was an Evangelical: because Christianity is indeed supposed be about a relationship with Jesus Christ. But a relationship necessarily involves more than one person.

It comes down to is this: Jesus can do a world of wonderful things, but there is something even Jesus cannot do: He cannot model for us what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus. Only a disciple of Jesus can do that. And the first and best model of the disciple of Jesus is the one who said and lived "Yes!" to God, spontaneously and without even the benefit of years of training or the necessity of being knocked off a horse and blinded. And she continues to do so right through the agony of watching her Son die and the ecstasy of knowing Him raised again.

This is why the Church, like the Gospels, has always called Mary our Mother: because Mom is the best model for training children. The command to call her "Mother" comes, of course, from Jesus Himself. John doesn't record the words "Behold your mother" (Jn 19:27) because he thought his readers might be curious about domestic arrangements for childless Jewish widows. Rather, as with everything else John writes, "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31). In other words, he doesn't record everything about Jesus, only those things that have a significant theological meaning. This includes Christ's words to the Beloved Disciple. For the Beloved Disciple is you and not merely John. Mary is your mother and you are her child. And so we are to look to her as mother and imitate her as she imitates Christ.

Defeating Destructive Ideologies

This brings us to the last two (and intimately related) Marian dogmas. Given that Marian dogma is always a commentary on Christ and His Church, what is the Church saying in its dogmatic teaching that 1) Mary was preserved at the moment of her conception from the stain of all sin, both original and actual; and 2) Mary was assumed bodily into heaven at the end of her earthly existence?

The great crisis that faced the Church in the 19th century (when the Holy Spirit, doing His job of leading the Church into all truth, led the Church to promulgate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception) was the rise of several ideologies — still very much with us — that called into question the origins and dignity of the human person. Darwin said the human person was an unusually clever piece of meat whose origins were as accidental as a pig's nose. Marx said humans were mere ingredients in a vast economic historical process. Laissez-faire capitalism saw people as natural resources to be exploited and thrown away when they lost their value. Eugenics said human dignity rested on "fitness." Much of Protestantism declared humans "totally depraved," while much of the Enlightenment held up the myth of human innocence, the "noble savage," and the notion of human perfectibility through reason. Racial theory advanced the notion that the key to human dignity was the shape of your skull, the color of your skin, and your membership in the Aryan or Teutonic tribe. Freud announced that your illusion of human dignity was just a veil over fathomless depths of unconscious processes largely centering in the groin or emerging out of issues with Mom and Dad.

All these ideologies - and many others - had in common the degrading rejection of human beings as creatures made in the image of God and intended for union with God (and the consequent subjection of the human person to some sort of creature). In contrast to them all, the Church, in holding up the icon of Mary Immaculate, held up an icon of both our true origin and our true dignity. That she was sinless was a teaching as old as the hills in the Church, which had hailed her as Kecharitomene, or "full of grace," since the time of Luke, and saluted her as Panagia, or all-holy, since the early centuries of the Church. So then why did the Holy Spirit move the Church to develop and focus this immemorial teaching more clearly?

Because what needed to be said loud and clear was that we were made in the image of God and that our fallenness, though very real, does not name or define us: Jesus Christ does. We are not mere animals, statistical averages, cogs in a machine, sophisticated primordial ooze, or a jangling set of complexes, appetites, tribal totems, Aryan supermen, naturally virtuous savages, or totally depraved Mr. Hydes. We were made by God, for God. Therefore sin, though normal, is not natural and doesn't constitute our humanity. And the proof of it was Mary, who was preserved from sin and yet was more human than the lot of us. She wasn't autonomously innocent, as though she could make it without God. She was the biggest recipient of grace in the universe, a grace that made her, in a famous phrase, "younger than sin." Because of it, she was free to be what Irenaeus described as "the glory of God": a human being fully alive. And as she is, so can the grace of Christ make us.

The 19th-century ideologies didn't, however, remain in libraries and classrooms. In the 20th century, they were enacted by the powers of state, science, business, entertainment, education, and the military into programs that bore abundant fruit in such enterprises as global and regional wars, the Holocaust, the great famines, the killing fields, the "great leap forward," the sexual revolution, and the culture of death, which is still reaping a rich bounty of spiritual and physical destruction. In short, as the 19th-century philosophies assaulted the dignity and origin of the human person, so the working out of those philosophies on the ground in the 20th century assaulted the dignity and destiny of the human person.

So what did the Holy Spirit do? Once again, in 1950, in the middle of a century that witnessed the biggest assault on the human person and on the family that the world has ever seen, the Church again held up Mary as an icon of who we really are and who we are meant to become by promulgating the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. Just as the Immaculate Conception held Mary up as the icon of the divine dignity of our origins, so the Church, in teaching "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory" was now holding her up as the icon of the divine dignity of our destiny.

The Church is repeating, in effect, that the God Who loves the world does not will that our fate be the oven, the mass grave, the abortuary, the anonymity of the factory, the brothel, the cubicle, or the street. The proper end of our life is supposed to be for us, as it already is for her, the ecstatic glory of complete union with the Triune God in eternity. Once again, God shows us something vital about our relationship to Himself through her, His greatest saint.

And that, in the end, is the point of Marian devotion and theology. Through our Lady, we see Jesus Christ reflected in the eyes of His greatest saint. But we also see "what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe, according to the working of His great might" (Eph 1:18-19). For what He has already done for her, He will one day do also in us.




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Theotokos

1 posted on 05/11/2005 10:04:08 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

The Magnificat [Latin: magnifies], also called the Canticle of Mary, is recorded in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55). It is the Virgin Mary's joyous prayer in response to the Angel Gabriel's annunciation to her that she will become the mother of the Son of God. This great hymn forms part of the Church's prayer in the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours). When it is recited as part of the Divine Office, it is followed by the Gloria Patri ("Glory be"). The traditional sung Magnificat is Latin plainchant. One of the hymn's most glorious musical renditions is the version of the Magnificat by J.S. Bach.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Magnificat as "the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church" [CCC 2619], and explains this prayer's significance:

Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the Incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, His Body. In the faith of His humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance He had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word". "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly Gods' because He is wholly ours. [CCC 2617]

The Magnificat appears below both in English and in Latin.


My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Scripture text: Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition


Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus,
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam brachio suo;
Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes.
Sucepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semeni ejus in saecula.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

2 posted on 05/11/2005 10:06:37 AM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: biblewonk

I saw the title and read the first sentence.

For some reason, your name came to mind.

Ping.


3 posted on 05/11/2005 10:33:06 AM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: NYer
I expect the "Jack Chick" will shortly inform us how we "worship" Mary and this is not Biblical and etc.

It was a startling paradigm shift to realize we treated her so allergically — and one which, I have since noticed, isn't unusual for converts. Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, told me once that when he was still hanging back from the Church because of Mary, a blunt priest he knew asked him, "Do you believe her soul magnifies the Lord? It's right there in Scripture." Ahlquist reflexively answered back, "Of course I do! I know the Bible!" But even as he replied he was thinking to himself, "I never really thought of that before." It can be a disorienting experience.

Magnify in the Magnificat means to glorify, so basically Mary is saying her soul glorifies God. This is very significant, because she does not say her lifestyle or actions glorify the Lord (i.e. "lead a life pleasing to God"). If Mary had simply said, "My life magnifies/glorifies the Lord," it would not have been significant at all, many people can honestly make this claim, in fact this is what all Christians strive for. However, Mary spoke of her soul, a person cannot do anything to make their soul pleasing to God, our souls are tainted with Original Sin, until our souls are cleansed by God's forgiveness it is impossible for them to magnify/glorify the Lord because they are intrinsicly displeasing to God. Yet Mary's soul does magnify/glorify the Lord -- and there can only be one possible explanation for this, Mary's soul had to be free from the stain of sin for her to make this statement.

Prior to the Magnificat, Elizabeth gave the following greeting to Mary, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" If Mary is blessed among women, that has to mean that Mary is the most blessed of ALL women ever. Eve was not created in a state of sin, Eve was created free from sin; therefore, Mary's conception had to be as pure as Eve's creation. For this statement to be correct, we must logically conclude that the Mother of God is superior in all ways to the mother of Cain, and it would have to mean that Mary never committed sin as Eve did.

4 posted on 05/11/2005 10:47:58 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NYer
Great article.

A minor remark.

her lack of faith (allegedly demonstrated in Mark 3:21)

Never heard of this one.

20 And they come to a house, and the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21 And when his friends had heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him. For they said: He is become mad.

22 And the scribes who were come down from Jerusalem, said: He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils he casteth out devils.

(Mark 3:20-22)

Clearly, the "friends" in Verse 21 is not His Mother because she and His "brothers" arrive at the scene later in Verse 31 and are properly identified as family members:
31 And his mother and his brethren came; and standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

5 posted on 05/11/2005 10:48:25 AM PDT by annalex
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To: wagglebee

Yeah, I read the title and winced 'cause I, like you, know what is coming.


6 posted on 05/11/2005 11:03:13 AM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: NYer

Sorry but none of this sounds like objections "evangelicals" have with Mary. Relying on what the Catholic Church says is not an objective analysis of scriptural text.

Mr. Shea may try to pass himself off as an "evangelical" but a little searching on his web page says otherwise.


7 posted on 05/11/2005 11:04:22 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: FormerLib; NYer

I've often wondered why none of them can give a good explanation to the following statement made by Martin Luther: "It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." (This was from a sermon Luther gave in 1527, years after he had completely broken with Rome, and more than three centuries BEFORE the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by the Pope.) If Catholics "invented" the Immaculate Conception in the 19th century, how is it that Luther was preaching about it in the 16th century?
http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ95.HTM
John Calvin also had the following to say about Mary's perpetual virginity: "[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation." But obviously Calvin, like Luther lacked the Biblical scholarship of Jack Chick's comic books, otherwise they never would have said any of this./biting sarcasm is intentional
http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ460.HTM


8 posted on 05/11/2005 11:18:27 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NYer
As Evangelicals we could say, "If not for Paul, the Gospel would never have reached the Gentiles."

This is nonsense. That any evangelical would ascribe to our soveriegn God an inability to reach the Gentiles, except through Paul, is Catholic nonsense.

Just one example of the strawmen in this piece that could fill a barn.

9 posted on 05/11/2005 11:22:29 AM PDT by Freakazoid (God is sovereign)
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To: wagglebee
I've often wondered why none of them can give a good explanation to the following statement made by Martin Luther: "It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin;...

How about he was a human being and therefore not immune from error.

10 posted on 05/11/2005 11:26:17 AM PDT by Freakazoid (God is sovereign)
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To: wagglebee; Freakazoid

We most likely will not hear what Martin Luther or John Calvin had to say about the Pope or the Catholic Church. I'm sure you won't agree with them on these topics.


11 posted on 05/11/2005 11:29:58 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: NYer

I have never understood why it is considered sin to have sex with my spouse and conceive a child. Can anyone enlighten me cause I just don't get it.


12 posted on 05/11/2005 11:43:08 AM PDT by redlocks322
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To: NYer

****So many Christians who love Jesus with all their hearts recoil in fear at the mention of His mother's name,****

Not at the real Mary of the Bible, but at the demi-savior mother figure created out of mostly theological speculation.

We have been repeatedly warned in the Scripture about not accepting substitutes.


13 posted on 05/11/2005 11:43:32 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: NYer; biblewonk; newgeezer

14 posted on 05/11/2005 11:44:37 AM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: Freakazoid
How about he was a human being and therefore not immune from error.

Oh yeah, how quickly I forget.
If any respected or notable Protestant makes a statement with which evangelicals disagree, he is "human and not immune from error." However, if a Catholic makes a statement with which evangelicals disagree, he is "following false and unbiblical teachings." But what interests me most is that the only possible conclusion one can make is that evangelicals ALONE are always correct (presumably because evangelicals KNOW how to read and interpret scripture, they are somehow immune to error).

15 posted on 05/11/2005 11:45:07 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: PetroniusMaximus
We have been repeatedly warned in the Scripture about not accepting substitutes.


16 posted on 05/11/2005 11:48:15 AM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: ksen

Do you believe this? Or are you just posting this to show the Catholic belief on this subject?


17 posted on 05/11/2005 11:49:34 AM PDT by jkl1122
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To: jkl1122

No, I don't believe it. I'm just trying to help my Catholic friends show how deep their devotion to Mary is.


18 posted on 05/11/2005 11:55:45 AM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: redlocks322
I have never understood why it is considered sin to have sex with my spouse and conceive a child.

Who told you that?

19 posted on 05/11/2005 11:57:19 AM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: redlocks322
I have never understood why it is considered sin to have sex with my spouse and conceive a child.

Hunh?

20 posted on 05/11/2005 11:58:08 AM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: PetroniusMaximus

See post #4.


21 posted on 05/11/2005 12:00:29 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: ksen

Just because a person is a saint doesn't mean the Church accepts their writings 100%.


22 posted on 05/11/2005 12:03:17 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: NYer

23 posted on 05/11/2005 12:04:43 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: Pyro7480
Just because a person is a saint doesn't mean the Church accepts their writings 100%

I believe you. But the sheer volume of similar quotes is kind of hard to overlook.

Page 1 of quotes from Catholic divines about Mary

I believe the above site is run by a Traditionalist Catholic.

24 posted on 05/11/2005 12:07:20 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: Pyro7480

So, a person can teach false things and still be considered a saint?


25 posted on 05/11/2005 12:07:26 PM PDT by jkl1122
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To: ksen
>>>>>>>No, I don't believe it. I'm just trying to help my Catholic friends show how deep their devotion to Mary is.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with deep devotion to Mary. After all, Jesus was deeply devoted to His Mother. And the world just mourned the passing of a remarkable Christian, whose motto, "Totus Tuus" ("All yours"), was a reference to his devotion to Mary.

26 posted on 05/11/2005 12:12:38 PM PDT by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: Pyro7480
Just because a person is a saint doesn't mean the Church accepts their writings 100%.

What about a Pope's writings? Isn't it true that a Pope CANNOT err when it comes to faith and morals?

Would what constitutes the means of salvation fall in the "faith" category?

27 posted on 05/11/2005 12:12:57 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: jkl1122

Neither of those statements are false on their face. However, they can blow out of proportion, like several Protestant websites/sources have done.


28 posted on 05/11/2005 12:13:23 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: NYer; newgeezer

I just learned that the Mormons have a Heavenly Mother! How very similar Heavenly Mother ~ Queen of Heaven ~ Mother of God. What's really noticable is that they call this doctrine "sacred" to the point of not really wanting to talk about it. You have to pry to learn they even hold such doctrines. Also, it's totally apart from the bible, just like Marianism. And what's also funny is they can hold this and still complain about the trinity and say "Where in the bible is the mention of trinity". What similarities you all have, and how frustrating to me.


29 posted on 05/11/2005 12:13:40 PM PDT by biblewonk (Socialism isn't all bad.)
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To: ksen
Isn't it true that a Pope CANNOT err when it comes to faith and morals?

When teaching authoritatively, the Pope is infallible in manners of faith and morals. This has been done only a handful of times in Church history.

30 posted on 05/11/2005 12:14:32 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: Thorin
There is absolutely nothing wrong with deep devotion to Mary.

How deep are you willing to go?


31 posted on 05/11/2005 12:14:49 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: Pyro7480
"Mary desired, sought, and obtained the salvation of everyone; nay, she even effected the salvation of everyone!

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori"

Either you accept this as true, or you don't. There is no blowing it out of proportion.
32 posted on 05/11/2005 12:16:21 PM PDT by jkl1122
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To: Pyro7480
When teaching authoritatively, the Pope is infallible in manners of faith and morals.

How do you know when the Pope is teaching "authoritatively" and when he is not?

This has been done only a handful of times in Church history.

Ok, can you point me to those times?

33 posted on 05/11/2005 12:16:49 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: jkl1122

She obtained the salvation of everyone by indirect means. She accepted God's wishes to be His Mother. Jesus achieved our salvation by His Life, Death, and Resurrection.


34 posted on 05/11/2005 12:18:54 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: ksen
How do you know when the Pope is teaching "authoritatively" and when he is not?

It is a matter of formulation. For example, the declaration during Pope John Paul II's papacy that stated that men can only become priests made it clear that this teaching was infallible. Other examples of the Pope using this authority was the declaration of Mary's Immaculate Conception in 1854, and the declaration of Mary's Assumption, body and soul, into heaven during Pope Pius XII's papacy.

35 posted on 05/11/2005 12:21:47 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: ksen; biblewonk
It is impossible to save one's soul without devotion to Mary and without her protection. St. Anselm

How come you guys seem to have a better list of marion quotes than most average joe Catholics do?Between you and biblewonk, my awareness of the scope of marion devotion throughout the history of the Church is ever enriched. Thanks!

36 posted on 05/11/2005 12:24:24 PM PDT by conservonator (Lord, bless Your servant Benedict XVI)
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To: Pyro7480

Thanks for the info Pyro7480!

Is there a list somewhere of the actual documents that are authoritative? (And please don't say "Catechism" ;^) )


37 posted on 05/11/2005 12:25:46 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: ksen; Pyro7480
Papal infallibility is completely misunderstood. When speaking ex cathedra the Pope will not speak in error on matters of faith and morals, it doesn't mean that the Pope himself is free from error or that he has any more faith or is any more moral than we are. Many evangelicals (though they seldom admit it) speak and act as if they to are inerrent when speaking about faith and morals.

Peter (and for purposes of this discussion it is irrelevant if he was Pope, as we can all agree he was an Apostle and wrote portions of the Bible) said the following about Holy Scripture and made particular mention of Paul's writings:
15: And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:15-16 (Quoted from the KJV so as to avoid any questions about this being a "Catholic" viewpoint)

38 posted on 05/11/2005 12:27:39 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: biblewonk; newgeezer; wagglebee
The Mormons are neither Protestants nor Catholics. Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder, taught the doctrine of a "plurality of gods"—polytheism—as the bedrock belief of his church.

According to Mormon teaching, at one point in the eternities past, this man-become-God, or "Heavenly Father," begat the spirit body of his first son. Together with his heavenly wife, the Father raised his son in the council of the gods.

Before the creation of this world, Jesus Christ presented to his father a plan of salvation which would enable the billions of future human beings the opportunity of passing through mortality and returning to heaven, there to become gods of their own worlds. At the same time, another son of the Heavenly Father and brother of Christ offered a competing plan. When Christ’s was chosen, the rejected Lucifer led a rebellion of one-third of the population of the heavens and was cast out.

In time, Mormons believe, the Heavenly Father came to earth and had physical, sexual intercourse with the Virgin Mary. Rejecting both the testimony of Scripture (Luke 1:34-35) and the constant teaching of the Christian Church, Mormons believe Christ was conceived by the Father, and not by the Holy Spirit. (Journal of Discourses 2:268.)

Moreover, Mormons teach that Christ is a secondary, inferior god. He does not exist from all eternity. (Nor, for that matter, does his Father.) He was first made by a union of his heavenly parents. After having been reared and taught in the heavens, he achieved a certain divine stature. Through carnal relations with her Heavenly Father, the Virgin became pregnant with this lesser god.

There is no comparison whatsoever ...

39 posted on 05/11/2005 12:29:29 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: conservonator; biblewonk
How come you guys seem to have a better list of marion quotes than most average joe Catholics do?

I got 'em as part of my initiation ceremony into the Baptist church I joined. ;^)

Between you and biblewonk, my awareness of the scope of marion devotion throughout the history of the Church is ever enriched. Thanks!

You're welcome conservonator. Don't forget to check the link in post #24. There must be over 500 similar quotes on that website.

These quotes have greatly increased MY awareness as well.


40 posted on 05/11/2005 12:30:48 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: ksen

I am willing to go as deep as Christians belonging to churches founded by Christ's apostles (ie, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) have traditionally done. I have yet to see any evidence that any one has become a worse person or a bigger sinner on account of their devotion to Mary. On the other hand, I am aware of much saintly conduct inspired by devotion to Mary.


41 posted on 05/11/2005 12:32:42 PM PDT by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: ksen
Immaculate Conception: Ineffabilis Deus (Blessed Pius IX)
Assumption: Munificentissimus Deus (Pope Pius XII)
42 posted on 05/11/2005 12:32:46 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: wagglebee; Pyro7480; biblewonk
Thanks wagglebee! So how do you know when a Pope is speaking ex cathedra and when he is not? Pyro7480 said it had to do with the formulation.

What is the ex cathedra formulation that must be followed?

43 posted on 05/11/2005 12:32:51 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: Pyro7480

I appreciate the time you are taking to help me out Pyro7480.


44 posted on 05/11/2005 12:34:01 PM PDT by ksen ("He that knows nothing will believe anything." - Thomas Fuller)
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To: NYer; biblewonk

I'm still totally confused how it is the Mormons even entered into this discussion. What the Mormons believe is no more relevant than what the Muslims or Hindus believe. American Indians talk about "mother earth", are we somehow to infer that their beliefs are somehow similar to Catholicism's?


45 posted on 05/11/2005 12:38:19 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: ksen
From Munificentissimus Deus :

This "outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful," affirming that the bodily Assumption of God's Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church's ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.

On the issue of only ordaining men, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (the teaching body of the Church) released a statement November 18 (1996) saying the Church's traditional ban on women priest "requires definitive assent...(and) has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium."

Notice the similarity of language.

46 posted on 05/11/2005 12:39:27 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: biblewonk

You are easily confused.


47 posted on 05/11/2005 12:40:53 PM PDT by Old Mountain man (Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!)
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To: ksen

***However great a sinner may have been, if he shows himself devout to Mary he will never perish.***

This is EXACTLY what I am talking about. With all due respect, who the heck cares what Hilary of Poitiers thinks when we have the words of the Apostles on the matter.

Are you trusting in the name of Mary to save you? If so it will not.

John wrote us...

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

We are to put or trust in the name of the Son of God - not Mary.


And Peter...

"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

How could it be more clear????






"...no other name..."


48 posted on 05/11/2005 12:44:11 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: NYer
The Thread is a bit long, I will have to get back to it latter so forgive me if I mention something already in the article. The point for this recovering Episcopalian was the Prophecy of Simon at the Presentation at the Temple.

A clear reference to Mary's role in separating the faithful from the doubtful.
49 posted on 05/11/2005 12:46:28 PM PDT by Mark in the Old South (Sister Lucia of Fatima pray for us)
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To: conservonator; ksen
How come you guys seem to have a better list of marion quotes than most average joe Catholics do?Between you and biblewonk, my awareness of the scope of marion devotion throughout the history of the Church is ever enriched. Thanks!

That's just plain cruel! ;-D

50 posted on 05/11/2005 12:46:51 PM PDT by biblewonk (Socialism isn't all bad.)
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