Skip to comments.Hernándo Cortés and Our Lady
Posted on 12/02/2007 7:28:29 AM PST by auraur
Hernándo Cortés and Our Lady December 2, 2007
Hernando Cortés, Spanish conquistador, explorer and Catholic. The latter title is not one that comes readily to mind in today's politically correct atmosphere. Modern historians often portray him as a ruthless brute, annihilating the native people and plundering their treasures.
In reality, Cortés was a great soldier of the Church with a deep devotion to Mary. He landed on the shores of Mexico on Good Friday, April 22, 1519. Many schoolbook historians broad brush the past and attribute Cortés and his men with motives of greed for gold and glory. However, that view fails to reveal what this deeply religious soldier and leader viewed as his true mission upon landing on the shores of what then was truly an evil empire.
Because so much of the written history we rely on today is from an Anglo-Protestant perspective, Spain's role in bringing the Christian faith to the new world is minimized by many early historians. It is important to remember the deep essence of purpose Cortés and many of his soldiers held. Cortés and his men never entered into a march or a major battle without having their confessions heard and Mass said. Cortés carried blessed medals of both St. James the Apostle and Mary close to his heart. Many of the men also carried rosary beads with them. Little did Cortés or his men realize, when they landed in 1519, what large a role Mary would play in birthing a New Spain.
When Cortés and his soldiers first encountered the indigenous people of Mexico, some of the first Aztecs thought Cortés was the god, Quetzalcoatl. In ancient Mayan-Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatl, ironically, was light-skinned with light-hair. Legend held that he had left their lands centuries before to the east but promised to return one day to reclaim his throne and bring back the knowledge of the "one true God" to his people. Cortés never claimed to be Quetzalcoatl but this legend held back the Aztec Emperor Montezuma II from sending warriors and immediately wiping out Cortés and his soldiers when they landed in 1519.
Upon landing, Cortés planted a cross on the eastern shores of what is now Vera Cruz (English translation: True Cross), Mexico. He had Father Olmedo say Mass for his men on the sandy shores. Then a delegation from Montezuma (who was deeply troubled that Cortés/Quetzalcoatl had come on ships described by his spies as "floating islands") welcomed him, gave him presents of silver and gold and promptly asked him to leave immediately. In the banquet prepared for Cortés and the soldiers on board his "floating islands", the Aztecs sprinkled dried human blood on the food, as a test for Cortés. For if he were indeed Quetzalcoatl, perhaps he would be pleased to taste human blood again. Cortés and his men reacted with utter disgust, spit the food from their mouths and ordered Montezuma's envoys off their ships.
The sprinkling of dried human blood was nothing compared to the horrors of what lie ahead over the next two years. The Aztecs practiced human sacrifice on a scale unimaginable to the Spanish. No one will ever know exactly how many men, women and even children were sacrificed across the lands ruled by the Aztecs and the other Mayan-tribes for centuries before that. The law of the Aztecs required a thousand to their god Huitzilopochtli, the god of death, sun and war, in every temple every year. Historians tell us there were 371 temples when Cortés arrived. There were other ritual sacrifices as well to other gods. One Mexican historian estimated that one out of five children were sacrificed. Sometimes entire tribes were exterminated by sacrifice.
Month after month, year after year, in temple after temple, sacrificial victims came down the long roads leading to the pyramids, climbed the steep steps to the top of the platforms, and were bent backwards over convex slabs of stones. An immense knife with a blade of midnight black volcanic glass rose and fell, gutting the victim open. His or her heart was torn out while still beating and held up for all to see, while the ravaged body was kicked over the edge of the temple where it bounced down the steps a hundred feet below. The Aztecs priests who performed these sacrifices then consumed the blood that was collected, especially enjoying the consumption of the victim's heart. Other body parts were saved for other rituals, the dried blood saved to garnish at special ceremonial meal times. It was a culture of blood, death and gore on a scale that was unimaginable to the Spaniards.
Cortés and his men quickly realized the extent of the Satanic society they were up against. They knew their primary mission was to stop the evil practice of human sacrifice and bring souls into the Church. The gold and riches for the Spanish crown was secondary. Some of the soldiers were there for treasure to be sure. But throughout the next two years, it would not be gold or silver that would win the battles against the 25 million indigenous people that Montezuma ruled over. These Spanish soldiers knew that the true treasure to help them survive the battles to come would be the treasures of the Church: Jesus, Mary and the sacraments. Gold and silver was of little value in battle. When fighting for one's life, prayer was key.
Friar Diego de Landa writes in his book Yucatan, Before and After the Conquest in 1566, translated by William Gates: "(Cortés) preached to them the vanity of idols, and persuaded them to adore the cross; this he placed in their temples with an image of Our Lady..."
In fact when Cortés finally did reach Montezuma's capitol city of Tenochtitlan (today Mexico City), he boldly ordered that the top of one of the main human sacrificial pyramids be stripped of its evil idols, the human-blood stained walls be cleansed and that an image of Virgin Mary and a cross be erected in its place. Everywhere Cortés went, Mary and the cross were their companions. The soldiers wore the emblem of the cross on their steel helmets, on their breastplates and carried it on their banners. Mary was carried close to their hearts in medallions and by the recitations of rosaries. And when the Aztecs did capture Spanish soldiers throughout the campaign and drag them away, Cortés and his men knew they might become victims of the very practice they were determined to stop.
As the (Protestant) American historian William writes in his book, History of the Conquest of Mexico, originally published in 1843:
As the long file of (Aztec) priests reached the flat summit of the pyramid, the Spaniards saw the figures of several men stripped to their waists, some of whom, by the whiteness of their skin they recognized their own countrymen. They were going to be victims of sacrifice...what sensations the stupefied Spaniard must have gazing on this horrid spectacle, so near they could almost recognize the persons of their unfortunate friends, see the struggles and writhing of their bodies, their screams of agony.
Human sacrifice as practiced by the Aztecs when Cortés landed, was on a scale we cannot imagine. Or can we? In Aztec society, in Mayan society before that and other American-indigenous societies some of the brightest, most educated, well-trained and respected leaders were standing atop those pyramids in Aztec-Mayan society carrying out the bloody deed of human sacrifice to satisfy the hunger of their evil gods. Today some of our brightest, best educated and well-trained and respected leaders have convinced people in our society that it is a basic human right to sacrifice an innocent child in a Mother's womb. And instead of throwing that baby down the steps of a pyramid for everyone to see, it is quietly taken out with the trash. Satan still desires death. Our society today has passed laws to give him want he wants; convincing many that slaughtering their most innocent citizens in their mother's wombs is a basic human right.
Cortés conquered Aztec society in a bloody conflict. He immediately sought peace afterwards, opening the doors for his Spanish missionaries to convert the millions to the Catholic faith. Language and cultural barriers threatened the peace almost immediately after the battles ended. It took Mary's sudden appearance to St. Juan Diego and her self-portrait left on Diego's tilma (cloak) to convert people en-masse to the Church. Nine million Aztecs asked to be baptized by 1540 and tens of millions more were added within twenty years.
An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Mary because of this image. Yearly, an estimated 20 million visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic Church in the world next to the Vatican. In all, twenty-five popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness, the late John Paul II, visited her sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.
If we want the evil of abortion to end, let us be reminded of how a great devotion to our Blessed Mother has brought down evil societies, transformed peoples' hearts and led nations back to the Church. We always find in Mary the perfect mediator between mankind and God. Nearly 500 years ago, she was there for Hernando Cortés, his soldiers and St. Juan Diego and his people. Surely Our Blessed Mother will help us again if we call upon her intercession.
Cortés died in Spain, 460 years ago on December 2, 1547 at the age of 62 on his way back to Mexico. The historian Bernal Diaz tells us he was still wearing medallions of St. James the Apostle and the Blessed Mother when he passed onto eternity.
Mark Armstrong is the co-author of Amazing Grace for Fathers along with his wife, Patti Armstrong, Jeff Cavins and Matt Pinto. The couple's website is at www.raisingcatholickids.com. » login or register to post comments | email this page
I tremble at the thought that such revisionist history is being written in the name of the Living God.
Was it not Jesus who said (John 18:36) “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
We are not to take up arms to convert men, but our crosses, and if necessary die on them. God would have been better witnessed to by Cortez dying while spreading the Gospel, rather than slaughtering thousands. If anything Cortez and the Spanish rape and pillage of the Americas should be an embarrassment to the Roman Church, not something that is glorified.
Did God still use Cortez? Yes, but as He also used the Assyrians and Babylonians to chasten Israel. They were used and still convicted for their own sins, just as Cortez was. I pray that he was given the grace of repentance in the last of his life.
Really, this sort of stuff makes me think some in the RCC still wish that the Pope still had the power to throw a crusade at the infidel, and that the St. Valentines Massacre is the sort of thing that should happen more often.
So the Aztecs were killing people to sacrifice to their gods...
And along comes Cortes; slaughtering men, women, children and babies so he can steal their gold and prescious metals, for the 'church', of course, and no doubt, plenty for himself...
This guy, thru his butchering, murdering, no doubt raping and obvious pillaging becomes a hero of the Catholic church...
And non-Catholics are derided for putting a negative slant on Cortes' and his church's mission...
We always find in Mary the perfect mediator between mankind and God.
This is a blatant lie, according to the God of Creation...So who would perpetuate such a lie but Satan???
Mediatrix is a proper title for Mary, but we should keep in mind that making Latin nouns masculine (e.g. medaitor —> mediatrix) often provides subtle changes to meaning. Another proper title for Mary is Genetrix (Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix, from both the Angelus and the Rosary). Genetrix comes from the same Latin verb, generare, meaning to beget or bring to life. We see this same verb take on a different noun form in the Latin Creed:
...Et in unum Dominum, Iesum Christum, filium Dei unigenitum...
In this case the unigenitum is Jesus, literally, the only begotten Son. Just as significantly, the genitor, or begetter, is God the Father. And so, genitor (masculine) means begetter or father while genetrix (feminine) has an equivalent meaning in reference to a woman: the one who brings forth, which is to say, mother. These subtleties of semantic expression are often lost in English texts because English rarely uses word inflections (e.g. genitor for father and genetrix for mother) to distinguish such shades of meaning. This is one reason why it can be perilous to draw some conclusions from an English translation of Scripture unless one is aware of the linguistic and cultural norms of the the society in which the Scripture was written (the phrase, James, brother of Jesus, where brother means cousin or other relative, comes directly to mind here).
But back to Mediatrix, a proper title for the Blessed Mother. Mediatrix is certainly the feminine form of Mediator, but Mediatrix does not merely take on the same meaning as Mediator when applied to a woman. Rather, it takes on a specific meaning that is proper for the Mother but distinct from the meaning of the masculine term Mediator, properly applied to the Son. Frankly, my Latin fails me in understanding this subtle difference, but no matter. We can simply turn to John Paul, writing in Redemptoris Mater:
At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one and of little importance (”They have no wine”). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself “in the middle,” that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she “has the right” to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary “intercedes” for mankind. And that is not all. As a mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life (Number 21, emphasis mine).
“She acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother.” Herein lies the difference. Mary is not the Son but she is the Mother our Mother as well as His. And this state of being (i.e. universal Motherhood) is what defines her role as Mediatrix.
Masculine and feminine inflections in language are not merely syntactic devices, put in place to avoid embarrassing each other in speech or writing. Rather, these syntactic devices reflect deeper Truths about who we are as persons and as aggregations of persons - that is to say as peoples or cultures. These meanings can only be understood properly if we do not obscure them, either by explaining away masculine and feminine linguistic distinctions on a superficial level or by hiding the explicit masculinity and femininity in our sacred texts by replacing it with neuter language.
If we are to change the text, I would change “We always find in Mary the perfect mediator of God’s grace to mankind” to “We always find in Mary the perfect mediatrix of God’s grace to mankind,” in order to emphasize Mary’s proper role.
I might note that Cortes was stripped of his rank and sent back to Spain because he was trying to defend the Indians from land-grabbing noblemen who wanted to profit by the total enslavement of the local population.
The consecration of the main Aztec Temple in Tenochtitlan in 1487 (St. Juan Diego was a boy at the time) may have taken the lives of at least 20,000 over a period of four days (estimates range to over 80,000). The Aztecs made lousy neighbors, since most of their victims were not Aztecs. It is no small wonder, then, that the native tribes supported the Conquestators in overthrowing the Aztecs.
Alas, Cortés was human too. But that he ended one of the prime examples of cannibalism in making way for civilization is no small thing.
After all, had such savages as the Aztecs the means of exploration themselves, they would certainly have extended their practices the other way instead.
I have read both Prescott and Bernal Diaz’s accounts and find them facinating.
Cortez lost about 400 men at La Nochie Trstie (sp?) and later returned with thousands of Indian allies who hated the Aztecs with a vengance.
I have a Spanish speaking friend in Los Angeles who said that after the conquest there began a program of genocide against the Indians.
I do know that there were two priests whose accounts difer in this. One says the Indians were treated well, the other claims genocide. Maybe it is six of one and a half dozen of the other.
I think only Al Capone would wish for that.
(Hint: The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre are to totally different events ... well, people were killed at both, but other than that, they're totally different.)
I have to agree with you that that's a pretty questionable thing to say, since it presents Mary's mediation as apparently not merely independent of Christ's (which it isn't) but superior to it (which is inherently impossible, since it is completely dependent upon it).
As to who would perpetuate (did you mean, "perpetrate"?) such a lie ... Catholics who are careless about how they phrase theological propositions.
I don't know of the authors of this piece. (I know who Jeff Cavins is, but he's not credited in the byline.)
And non-Catholics are derided for putting a negative slant on Cortes' and his church's mission...
You would find Aztec paganism preferable to conversion to Catholicism? A religion which killed tens of thousands of victims (by cutting out their hearts without benefit of anesthesia, BTW) just to dedicate a single temple?
A religion whose temples were so steeped in human blood that they literally stank of it?
A religion which had a shrine consisting of thousands of human skulls, each of whom had belonged to a sacrificial victim?
Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the greatest miracles of our modern time. It would be worth your time to check out the scientific microscope that this apparition has been through. Ssome details are in the links above. Some are still happening, or have just happened and have not been reported in the media.
Nope...Meant perpetuate...This is hardly the first instance where it has been printed that Mary is the mediator between God and man...
You blame it on carelessness...So what was the careless part??? Is it that you guys sometimes forget that the real mediator is Jesus??? Seems to me it wouldn't have been printed if the thought wasn't in the person's mind...Perhaps the carlessness is saying what you guys believe in private to a public audience...
Maybe you don't believe Mary is the one mediator between God and man...But I'd say it's pretty clear that many in your religion believe just that...
I don't believe it for a second...The adoration of Mary is something 'perpetrated' by your church...There is nothing Biblical about most of the things you say about and attribute to Mary...
Jesus was very careful not to draw attention to the 'woman, His mother...
Now if folks would see an apparition of Jesus, that might be another story...But Mary, No Way...
You have made a goddess out of Mary and even call her the Queen of Heaven...She has a throne...Just as the goddess Diana, warned about in the N.T...
My advice is to get rid of Mary and focus on Jesus...No man can come to the Father but by Jesus Christ, alone...
I don't really have much of a brief for what "some" or "many" Catholics believe.
I care about what the Church teaches. She's quite clear that Mary mediates with and through her Son, not instead of him or apart from him.
I think the authors of this piece understand that, but are doing a poor job of expressing what they believe.
How many times must you be told that Catholics to not adore or worship Mary. We venerate her as the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, and we ask her to pray for us.
I believe that it is many Protestants such as yourself who choose to “perpetrate” such untruths.
BTW, we, as Catholics, do focus on Jesus along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit — the Blessed Trinity. (I’m sure you are aware of that fact, too.)
Excellent article...and one that can help spread the truth about one of the greatest explorers.
I will definitely pass it around.
Take it up with the writers of the Gospels. Start with St. Luke; he seems to write the most about Mary.
Iscool, St. Paul writes that "all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction in righteousness". If you want us to "get rid of Mary" then clearly you cannot believe that anything written of Mary in Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction in righteousness.
Either that, or you think you're qualified to censor God's word.
Bumping the thread!
“Never apologize for the Blessed Virgin Mary!” ~~Mother Angelica
Because so much of the written history we rely on today is from an Anglo-Protestant perspective, Spain’s role in bringing the Christian faith to the new world is minimized by many early historians.
Welcome to FR!
Worship, revere, or esteem Mary?
In citing Luke 8:21, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it, Iscool (and others) is supporting his position that family ties are less important in the eyes of Jesus than those of obedience to the will of God. If Im reading him right, Iscool is saying that Catholics wrongly put Mary in a position she does not deserve or claim, based upon her position as the biological mother of Jesus. I agree, as does the commentator in my Catholic Bible, that this passage is expressing the importance of seeking Gods will and of obedience to it over those of familial relationships.
Where our views differ is that Catholics hold Mary in high esteem because of her obedience, service to God, and the fact that God CHOSE HER to be His earthly mother. It seems to me that Jesus is not excluding Mary from his family or diminishing her importance in Luke 8:21. Consider that when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary as described in Luke 1:26-38, the angel announced that she is to be the mother of Jesus, even though she is yet a virgin. Confused, but humble and trusting in the Lord, she assents, saying May it be done to me according to your word.
The same holds for my understanding of Iscools other citations from John: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11:28). Mary is the perfect example of someone who heard the word of God and kept it. Mary proclaims, in Luke 1:46-49, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaids lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary does not promote herself. Instead, she humbly praises God for His goodness to her and for the opportunity to serve Him. Imagine if God asked you to become the mother of a child, even though you were not married, in a culture that could stone you for such a sin. Most of us would plead to God to be spared the difficulty of facing ridicule, raising a child that was not our own, etc. This was not easy. But Marys response was a resounding yes to God, even though what He asked of her was difficult.
Ill try to summarize all that. Catholics foster devotion to Mary because:
She was chosen by God for the task of being His earthly mother.
She trusted God completely and said yes to His will, even when it was difficult.
She is an EXAMPLE of holiness, but (and I repeat) NOT the object of worship.
We love Mary because shes the greatest saint.
Mary, a mediator between God and Man?
In asserting that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, Protestants often will quote I Timothy 2:5, For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. They also see problems with the second half of the Hail Mary prayer in which we ask Mary to pray for us sinners. The theological understanding is that Christ is the only bridge between God and humanity because only He was both fully God and fully man. It is only by His incarnation that we are redeemed and saved. I think we agree on that.
Having said that, I point out the verses immediately preceding the quote that they used from I Timothy: First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4) Verses 1 through 4 point out that prayer for others has value in the eyes of God. If your friend is sick and he asks you to pray for him, you will do it, right? You will ask God for his quick recovery. You are interceding for your friend, by prayer, to God. In the same way, we ask Mary in Heaven for her prayers. This pleases God.
Sacraments are required?
As Protestants will point out, the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. (CCC 1129) I understand sacraments of the New Covenant to mean actions performed at the instruction of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. The sacraments help us to live lives in accord with the Gospel. God works through the sacraments the grace bestowed comes from Him (as if grace could come from anywhere else).
Faith Alone vs. Faith and Works
Faith and works are necessary. Read James 2:14-24, What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
But wait this seems to contradict other quotations in the Bible, such as “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight...” Romans 3:20. Because we all believe the Bible cannot contradict itself, we must be misunderstanding something here.
Stolen from www.catholic.com: Paul categorically excludes works from our salvation. But what kind of works is Paul talking about? If we believe the entire Bible, we need to see how Pauls words fit together with Jamess words, because James clearly says that a man is justified by works. If Paul and James mean the same thing by works, then they contradict one another. Since you and I both believe that the Bible cannot contradict itself, we must agree that Paul and James mean two different things by the word works.
For an explanation of this seeming contradiction, I strongly encourage anyone to read the rest of the article I just quoted by visiting the URL below. It is too long to include here.
My point is that the Catholic Church has faith in a God who is active in His people today and in history. There are even a few points in more recent history when something extraordinary happened that could not be explained away and (this is important) which had powerful, positive results, like the Our Lady of Guadalupe apparition.
Faith in Apparitions
Ill end with a discussion of such apparitions. Until I heard Mark Armstrong give a presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe, I did not understand the image. It is plastered all over the seminary. Its on the taxi cabs in Saint Louis, where I am studying. If you go to Mexico or Central America, you probably cant walk ten feet in a city without being able to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is a powerful image for many people in the world.
Before I understood the story of the Guadalupe apparition in its historical context, I rather disliked the image myself. It seemed, as some would see it, far too important to many Catholics. And besides, it looks weird. But after hearing the story, I came to see the Our Lady of Guadalupe apparition as a powerful manifestation of Gods love for all of humanity.
Supposedly, through the power of God, Mary appeared in Mexico. She asked that a Catholic church be constructed (she sent Juan Diego to the Catholic bishop with this request) in her honor. The church was built and in that church God is worshiped, not Mary. This apparition has converted millions of people. It brought them to the Church, where they encountered Christ.
One final footnote to that remark is that belief in such apparitions is not essential to the Catholic faith. The apparitions and miracles that seem to occur are investigated thoroughly and critically by the Vatican before they are deemed acceptable for belief by Catholics. They are judged so if they do not conflict with Christian teaching. If there are no problems, miracles may be approved for belief. Very seldom does this occur.
Acceptance of the miracle by the Vatican, however, does not force anyone to believe the miracles or apparitions occurred. Miracles and apparitions are said to be for those who receive them not necessarily for everyone. I dont have to believe that Our Lady of Guadalupe is real to be a Catholic. It is secondary and truly insignificant to my faith in Christ.
I’ve got much to learn...
I’ve been researching the “faith alone” and “faith with works” debate. Reading several other postings had me a little confused and concerned. But no more. “Faith alone” didn’t make sense to me, but most were supporting it with scripture. The Bible is big and it’s tough to wrap your head around and get the right idea. Thankfully, we’re not the first ones to think about this.
My understanding is the one put forth by the Catholic Church, which has an unchanging understanding of these matters across 2000+ years of history. Both positions can be seemingly supported all day by quoting scripture, discussing the proper translation from Greek, etc, etc.
My point is that these are important issues that deserve serious consideration ... much more than we can get on this blog, unfortunately. I suggest anyone interested in understanding the debate check out these books:
Born Fundamentalist, Reborn Catholic by David B. Currie, especially chapter seven.
Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating, especially chapter thirteen.
Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn
Yes, they present the Catholic view. But the arguments are powerful and much better than anything I could post here. Read them and evaluate their arguments for yourself and think critically about your religion. If reason conflicts with your faith, you’re treading on thin ice.
The Catholic understanding is solidly based on Scripture - even if I cannot articulate it myself (I’m still new at this). The authors above do excellent jobs of explaining the debate in light of scripture.
Get out there and research the issue honestly. Thanks for the catalyst of this blog. It has strengthened my understanding of these issues and excited me for courses in scripture that begin with my theology studies next year.
The village of Fatima was given the Islamic name of the well-loved Princess of the nearby Castle of Ourem. She died at an early age after marrying the Count of Ourem and converting to Catholicism.
As the Moslems swept through Spain in the 8th century, a great religious treasure was buried for safe-keeping in the earth, high in the Estremadura Mountains. It was a much venerated statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus that was a gift of Pope Gregory the Great to Bishop Leander of Seville. After the overthrow of Moorish occupation, the image was uncovered in the year 1326, subsequent to a vision of Our Lady to a humble shepherd by the name of Gil. Our Lady's very special statue was enshrined in a nearby Franciscan Monastery next to the "Wolf River."
The Moslems, during their Spanish occupation, had actually named the river. The Islamic term for Wolf River is "Guadalupe" (Guada = River; Lupe = Wolf). Hence, the famous Catholic image in Spain has been known, since the 14th century, by the Islamic name of "Our Lady of Guadalupe."[snip]
Our Lady appeared to a humble Aztec Indian convert by the name of Juan Diego in 1531.
When asked her name by Juan Diego, at the request of the local bishop, Our Lady's response, in the Aztec language, included the words "te coatlaxopeuh" (pronounced: "te quatlasupe") and meant "one who crushes the head of the stone serpent."
To Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs, this revelation had great meaning, coupled with the miraculous image of Our Lady standing on top of a "crescent," the symbol of this evil serpent god. [snip] To the Bishop's Spanish ears, Our Lady's Aztec name of "Te Quatlasupe" sounded just like the name of the revered Madonna from Spain with the Islamic name, "Guadalupe." Hence, the bishop named the Mexican Madonna "Our Lady of Guadalupe." It is interesting that the "crescent" is also the symbol for Islam and that America's Shrine to Our Lady has an Islamic name.[snip]
On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[snip]
What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory.
Thanks for that link.
A background source I can recommend:
“Conquistadors” a 4-part series hosted by Michael Wood.
(I recommend it even though it is aired on PBS!)
hosted by Michael Woods
(PBS series website)
Michael Wood: Conquistadors DVD
By Michael Wood
(Now for “VOA”’s rambling commentary about “Conquistadors” the series)
The series seems to cover “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of the
Spanish adventures in the Americas. It does include the tale of
one Spaniard that survived a LONG overland march back to Spanish settlement
that seemed to develop some kindness and understanding toward the
AND the final episode details the lengthy debate in Spain that a
priest won in fighting for better treatment of the American Indians.
(Not something you’ll likely hear about in today’s public school
history classes...or university classes!)
Myself, as a non-Catholic did appreciate the depth of the series and
the fairly even-hand given to a band of men that ran the spectrum of
human virtue to vice.
But what impacted me most was seeing a rebroadcast a year or so
Host Michael Wood related how Cortes and his fellow warriors were
taken to the ritual sacrifice chamber atop one of Montezuma’s pyramids.
When Montezuma gave his apologia of how wonderfully their theology worked:
we strip the beating heart out of live victims, our sun-god is pleased
and our crops keep growing...SUPER!
When Wood told of the REVULSION of Cortez and Co. at this...
all I could think is that they were feeling what I felt on 9-11 and
the days, weeks, months, years following.
Revulsion at the theology of grinning people pimping their death cult.
Great post and excellent responses. Hope you will hang around here for a while.
You must be wrong. I'm POSITIVE Al Capone was Catholic, and I'm reasonably certain that the Pope gave him the title of "Duhfenduh of da Fait', know whut I mean?" after the massacre. Valentine's, Schmalentines, as long as it's a stick we can beat Cat'licks widdit.
Can we get the rules straight? Here you are accusing us of dissembling. So is it okay to call each other liars or not?
Really, it's fine if that's what you want to do. But I just want to be clear.
When I learned Latin in my private elementary/;middle school (one of my classmates was Catholic) we learned it with the alleged "classical" pronunciation, rather than that less conjectural "Church Latin" pronunciation. In later years it became apparent to me that this was a consequence of the largely Protestant culture of the WASPish US in which I grew up.
From early studies of US history what we were taught was the the Conquistadors were about "Glory, God, and Gold," and while it was grudgingly acknowledged that they made inroads into the American South and Southwest, of course our history was focused on the Pilgrims and Jamestown -- the English and Protestant settlers. Catholic History is, Pere Marquette and Fr. Hennepin to the contrary notwithstanding, the history of Latin America and, a little, of Canada -- and those degenerates in Louisiana, of course .....
So, even if an unforeseen result of the liberal Protestantism of the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries was that more and more believed less and less, I would still suggest that the influence not just of Protestantism but of strong anti-Catholicism still dominates much of US intellectual life. That many modern intellectuals profess no Christianity at all rather confirms than denies the contention, I think.
Duh, Capone was a pope, right? Mid-14th century, whacked a bunch of wiseguys? (Boy is my face red!)
Thanks for those words of wisdom.
No He didn't...You're reading stuff into it that's just not there...
Jesus never called his Mother, Mother, or Mom, or Mama, or Mother of God, or Queen of Heaven...He called her woman...
Luk 11:27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
Luk 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Jesus went out of his way to let us know that were are not to look on Mary as someone than the average Christian...
Mary is the MOTHER of ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS, be they Catholic, Orthodox, or even Protestant.
Mother in Law, maybe, if we want to get technical...
Would it suprise you that even Protestants are discovering or rediscovering Mary, thanks to the movies The Passion Of The Christ and The Nativity?
Doesn't surprise me at all...Those Protestants never wandered too far from Rome to begin with...
This is a good thing because it will with the help of the Holy Spirit bring the Christian believers into greater unity.
I'm for unity...I support unity 100%...We should all unite as long as we leave the pope, priests and Eucharist in Rome and NOT in our united church...
And she can:
Hear prayers, provide special intercession as the Mother of the Son of God, that she is the Mother of God, that she is the mother of the church, that she is the Queen of Heaven, that she was immaculately conceived, that she was ever virgin, the dispenser of all grace, that she gave birth while keeping a hymen intact, or that she is our co-redeemer, that she appears to people with messages, that she performs miracles from heaven,
Apart from the very little that the bible says about her, she is an invention. That makes "Our lady" an apt name.
And, on the other hand, they seem to fall out naturally from the little that is in Scripture. I know we'll never settle this, but if Jesus is God and she is Jesus's Mother, what are the logical conclusions? If she was given grace to offer herself in obedience to God and consequently had Love itself grow within her and brought Love Himself into the world, then, in some way, as my daughter is a gift from my wife to me, so similarly Jesus is Mary's gift to us.
I don't the the intact hymen is de fide, and I'm an agnostic on it.
And why shouldn't she appear to people with messages? And as for any miracles - is it the opinion of most protestants that there are no more miracles? If so, I'd say it's a wonderful example of faith overrcoming experience. I've seen docs and nurses with their jaws dangling around their chests when a fatal tumor disappeared - just flat disappeared. And it did so in response to prayer, or, to be all Humean and Kantian and everything, after many prayers were made.
Now to say prayers made it happen, or that the people praying made it happen is as wrong as a beggar would be if he said his pleas caused the generosity of his benefactors.
And yet while, it seems some beggars are better at begging than others are, when we say Mary "performs" miracles, it seems to me that our offishul and liturgicaal texts take pains to say that she "performs" them largely by asking for them, and so GOD actually "performs" them.
In general I would say that I could, had I a mind to (had I a mind at all, but that's another problem), characterize the opinions of neo-orthodox Calvinism in a disparaging way, and string them together in a list, and so present them as outrageous AND as flying in the face of Scripture.
But what would be the point?
Holy Mother of God;
Most honored of virgins;
Chosen daughter of the Father
Mother of Christ;
Glory of the Holy Spirit
Virgin daughter of Zion,
Virgin poor and humble,
Virgin gentle and obedient,
Handmaid of the Lord,
Mother of the Lord,
Helper of the Redeemed,
Full of grace,
Fountain of beauty,
Model of virtue,
Finest fruit of the redemption,
Perfect disciple of Christ,
Untarnished image of the Church,
Woman clothed with the sun,
Woman crowned with stars,
Joy of Israel,
Splendor of the Church,
Pride of the human race,
Advocate of grace,
Minister of holiness,
Champion of Gods people,
Queen of love,
Queen of mercy,
Queen of peace,
Queen of angels,
Queen of patriarchs and prophets,
Queen of apostles and martyrs,
Queen of confessors and virgins,
Queen of all saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of all earth,
Queen of heaven,
Queen of the universe (pp. 190,191)
From the Litany of Loreto
Mother of the Church,
Mother of Divine grace,
Mother most pure;
Mother of chaste love;
Mother and virgin,
Dearest of Mothers,
Model of motherhood,
Mother of good counsel;
Mother of our Creator;
Mother of our Savior;
Virgin most wise;
Virgin rightly praised;
Virgin rightly renowned;
Virgin most powerful;
Virgin gentle in mercy;
Mirror of justice;
Throne of wisdom;
Cause of our joy;
Shrine of the Spirit;
Glory of Israel,
Vessel of selfless devotion;
Tower of David;
Tower of ivory;
House of gold;
Ark of the covenant;
Gate of heaven;
Health of the sick;
Refuge of sinners;
Comfort of the troubled;
Help of Christians;
Queen of the rosary;
The RCC seems to want a female to worship and they have found one in Mary.
Scot McKnight and Jon Sweeny who wrote two books, the former, who wrote the book, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace The Mother Of Jesus, and the latter, The Lure Of Saints: A Protestant Experence Of Catholic Tradition. Even Martin Luther had good things to say about Mary. This rediscovery by Protestants is good because she is shown to be what a follower of her son ought to be.
I can't imagine two more people having anything to add to what is already taught by your group about Mary...
Veneration of Mary and dead people, statues, images, etc. is anti-biblical...
Ovbiously this veneration has a place in religion, but it has no place in biblical Christianity...
I will never bow to anyone or anything outside the Trinity of God...I will never pray to anyone or anything outside the Trinity of God...
The Apostle Paul, the Apostle who was commissioned by God to reveal and start the Gentile Christian Church, never so much as mentioned Mary's name in his Epistles...
The veneration of ANYONE or ANYTHING other than the Trinity of God has no place in Christianity...OR, the Apostle Paul was a liar...
But what would be the point?
There is a point. If you see someone that you think is a brother but you see his faith clouded by untruth, you want to be a light to that person. I don't say that in denial of my own many spiritual weaknesses because I have many. I have been unfaithful to fellowship at my church and have not impressed upon my oldest kids the importance of going to church. So now that they are older they all have jobs on Sundays and seem to be drifting away.
I DO get the point about disagreement in faith and love. But - and I fear I am flogging a dead horse here -- what seems to happen far too often is that ONE point is put up, and when an attempt is made to explore it, a host of other points are brought up before the first point is dealt with usefully. Earlier this fall (no, not THAT fall - I'm still in that one, or would be if it were not for the surpassing grace of God in Jesus - I mean the seasonal one ;-) ) Someone put up the argument, "Why not go straight to IHS?" and when the beginning of a response was attempted, he went directly to, "We shouldn't pray to dead people." And, of course, the result is that NEITHER point gets the attention it deserves.
As for your other remarks, any Christian parent or clergydude who thinks he's done a good enough job is in serious peril. A friend of mine once said, "God, has no grandchildren," and we can pray that God, being a whole bunch smarter than we, knows how to approach our children and teach them His love.
But you're also right that the log in my eye, while it clearly needs attention, does not toally blind me, and obstructed though my vision may be, still I may be able to see something wrong out there.
So I'm not disagreeing with the idea of discussion or of the articulation of disagreement. What I do have a problem with is the presentation of points of disagreement as a kind of artillery rather than as things we might look at together.
And it's a general complaint, not one levelled at you in pertiklar.
Have you ever heard that joke about the prisoners that have been locked up together so long that they all know each others jokes. So what they do at night before bed is simply call out a number which corresponds to one of the jokes and they all laugh at it. That is a little of what we have here on the RC vs P forum. I believe we all know the issues we have with each other. So now, rather than calling out a number and agreeing to disagree, we look for new ways to present the same old arguments.
This argument is summed up in "P's think RC's are way way to involved with Mary and that some go well into the idolatry zone". You know we think that and we know you know.
In presenting the barage(sp) I try to very quickly make the point that this is not just honor it is worship. As such it is idolatry and is a big problem for your faith and doctrine.
No sale. In fact I'm going to print up that stuff and stash it with my prayer materials.
Formally I would say the difference between worship and veneration, honor, whatever is not one of degree but of kind. And I'll grant you the APPARENT excessiveness of the language. It took me a while before I could call Mary, "vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra," without wanting to add in a kind of precatory legalese,"... always provided that the above language is not intended or understood to be intended to present to Mary any honorific or any other appellation (or Appalachian or any other massif) or sentiment not otherwise understood as pertaining to the Most Holy Trinity hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part or maybe first three parts, depending on whether we're counting persons or substances.......)
Here, let me hand you a knife to stab me with: On the one hand, over here: Jesus is my savior. He is the perfect revelation of God, and in Him, who is God's Word, that Word finds the fruitfulness of which Isaiah spoke.[and so on and so forth for pages and pages.] Yet, on the other hand I have said,"Mary saved my butt." I just said it a couple of nights ago at our RCIA anticipatory Christmas party (held now because most of the RCIA gang are university students and they have exams and then vacation and we won't see 'em again until January.)
Now, so to speak, schematically I want to avoid saying that Mary mediates in an strict sense between me and Jesus, because IHS is THE mediator, and any instance of true mediation happens by Him, with Him, through Him and so forth through preposition after preposition. He is the entirely sufficient Mediator, no other need apply.
Somewhere C.S.Lewis points out that in a way a photograph is more "like" its subject than an oil painting. And we might say that a portrait artist painting in oils "captures" his subject and portrays the truth of the subject more richly and completely than a photograph does or could do.
And yet no one, I think, would mistake the portrait for its subject. So my friends, teachers, and counselors have presented to me some of the reality of who IHS is, and in their doing so, IHS Himself was using them as adjuncts to and agents of his mediatory activity.
I am grateful to these people. I love them. (And the ones I'm thinking of are all Protestants, btw.) But I know they aren't God, however much I may sometimes gush about them. And I don't hesitate to say that they brought me to Christ or brought me closer to Christ.
Now if I had to say that every time I engaged in a Marian devotion, id be even further behind on my household chores than I currently am. So I just work and pray in confidence that God knows what I mean, and that my Protestant brothers will occasionally tolerate me even if they bridle at my lengthy attempts to explain.
as always, seeking more to explain or describe than to persuade.
So for an individual it may seem that the work done by the messenger that gave us the gospel is just as important as what Mary did and Paul did in writing about it and even as what Jesus did on the Cross. Without any of those links it SEEMS that my own salvation wouldn't have been possible. It is only natural to start crediting man for these things. It is also very scriptural to point out not to credit man for these things.
Teaching your children about Mary, the mother of Jesus and our Blessed Mother, gives a maternal dimension to our faith. Jesus chose Mary for His mother from all eternity. She was an integral part of Gods plan for our salvation. The annunciation was the time of fulfillment of Gods promise to send a Messiah. Mary consented to Gods plan for mans salvation He laid before her. The Holy Spirit was sent to sanctify Marys virginal womb causing her to conceive the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. His human nature is from her human nature.
Mary is the one responsible for His first miracle and the one whom He gave to us as our own mother at the foot of the cross. Her earthly existence centered around bringing Jesus to us and and now, if we go to her, She brings us closer to Him.
God could have sent His Son any way He chose. He chose to go through Mary to come to us. If Mary is good enough for God to go through to get closer to us, then she is good enough for us to go through to get closer to Him. When we pray to Mary, we go to God with His chosen daughter, His virgin spouse and His mother. When we honor her, we do as Jesus did when He followed the fourth commandment and honored His mother. If God is our Father and Jesus is our Brother, then only Mary could complete the family as our Mother.
My own devotion to Mary began when I read about famous Church-endorsed apparitions of Mary such as those at Lourdes and Fatima. It grew as I learned that many of our great saints turned to her as their mother in heaven. I started saying the rosary regularly and went to an occasional Catholic conference where there was usually at least one speaker who explained and elevated the Churchs tradition of honoring Mary.
As my own love for Mary grew, I became increasingly aware of the mixture of emotions she evokes: everything from love and devotion to aloofness and even discomfort. Ive heard converted Catholics admit that in their former church, Mary was avoided. Mothers Day sermons might include every other woman in the Bible; Ruth, Sarah, Elizabeth, but nary of word of Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior. I once heard a speaker tell of witnessing another speaker kick a statue of Mary to demonstrate that she had no place in our relationship with God. Granted, this is an extreme example, but outside the Catholic Church there is a lot of discomfort when it comes to having a relationship with Mary, the Blessed Mother.
Many non-Catholics feel praying to Mary borders on idolatry. People say she is a mere human and should not be elevated in any way. They think it is preposterous to claim she was conceived without original sin, remained a virgin, is the Mother of God, and ascended into heaven in body and soul. Even some Catholics make a point of avoiding any sort of Marian devotion. Instead, they consider Mary non-essential to religion. They fail to see that Mary illuminates faith in Christ.
If we want our children to find comfort and heavenly aid through the Blessed Mother, we should help them understand the basis for the Catholic tradition of honoring Mary as the Mother of our Savior. There are several arguments against a devotion to Mary. I will list them here and then tackle each individually. First, some denominations believe that we simply cannot communicate with Mary, or any of the saints for that matter. And, even if we could communicate with her, some say the Bible speaks against using her, or the saints as intermediaries. Those that avoid Mary say there is no evidence that Mary was conceived without sin (known as the Immaculate Conception) or ever virgin or assumed into heaven (The Assumption) body and soul. And lastly, even if all the above were true, many non-Catholic Christian denominations hold that there is no Biblical basis for a devotion to Mary.
Let us begin by asking, how can we know Mary hears us if we pray to her? Some people believe that those in heaven are praying for us, but we cannot communicate personally with them. This belief contends that contact between those who have gone before us and those still on Earth is not possible. Consider the logic here. Some of the same people that believe that the devil influences our lives through temptation are saying that God would give the devil the ability to communicate through the spiritual realm, but not his own mother.
Catholics do believe that as one body in Christ, there is no separation between us and those in heaven and that they can hear our prayers to them. For a Biblical example, look at the Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36) when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus before Peter, James, and John. This passage offers Biblical evidence that there is not an impenetrable wall between heaven and earth.
As long as we are considering this example, also note that Peter suggested erecting tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, right there in the desert. He wanted to honor them. Moses and Elijah were special people with special relationships with God. Honoring them was not idolatry, it was a natural reaction, honoring holy ones who have gone before us. By honoring them, we honor God. All that is worth honoring is only that which reflects the greatness of God. Mary especially reflects this because she was Gods chosen instrument to bring about Salvation through His Son.
Now let us ask the next question: Even if Mary can hear us, doesnt the Bible teach against going to God through anyone but Jesus?
According to 1 Timothy 2:5, there is only one mediator between God and man—Jesus. People use Timothy to claim there is no mediator but Jesus, so we cannot go through Mary. Yet, these same people do believe our friends here on earth can pray for us. If the prayers of our friends help, what better friend and helper could we have than the Mother of Jesus? Timothy made it clear that prayers can be said for others:
First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior... (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
...as you help us with prayer, so that thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the gift granted us through the prayers of many (1 Cor. 1:11).
When we go to Mary, we ask her to help us with her prayers. The Bible reflects the influence she has with her Son. A good word put in by Mary proved to be quite effective at the wedding at Canan:
When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. (And) Jesus said to her, Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servers, Do whatever he tells you (John 2:3-5).
I heard a priest once point out that he had been to a lot of weddings but hed never been to one where the guests drank all the wine. This wasnt even a good miracle, he claimed. To top it off, Jesus plainly said it was not His time. Yet, His mothers intervention moved Him to perform His first recorded miracle. As the priest explained, He did it for one reason—His mother asked Him.
A Protestant friend once argued with me, But it was His time or He would not have done it. I prefer to take Jesus at His word and He plainly said it was not His time. He made it His time in order to respond to his mother and it was recorded in the Bible as such. Surely there was a divine plan Jesus followed from the start, and there must have been a reason his first miracle was performed at the request of His mother. The miracle clearly shows the power of Marys intervention. It was her intervention that began His public ministry and it is her words that lead us to her Son, Do whatever he tells you.
The dispute against Mary being ever virgin uses the Bible to claim she had other children. One argument says that in Matthew 1:25, Jesus is described as the first born and so, there must have been at least a second born. First born was a ceremonial title given to the firstborn male child who inherited a unique birthright from his father (Gen. 25:33) and even only children held this title.
Also, the passage, He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus (Matt. 1:25) is misinterpreted. Some focus on the word until to mean the same as we tend to use it in English as in: it was this way until some other other event happened. Just look a little further in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 15:25 where it says Christ must reign until He has put all enemies beneath his feet. That doesnt mean His reign will cease then. Then look back in 2 Samuel 6:23. King Davids wife is said to have no children until the day of her death. The word until does not mean that after her death, things changed.
And finally, a third argument using Scripture is the one where Matthew 13:55 lists Jesus brothers as James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, which is proof I have been told, that Mary was not ever-virgin. Consider that the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, Christs languages of choice, did not have separate words for brothers, cousins and near-relatives. Luke 6:15-16 reveals that James and Joseph, though elsewhere called the brothers of Jesus, are shown to be the sons of Alphaeus. No one else, but Jesus, including those referred to as brethren, are ever referred to as sons of Mary. In Mark 6:3, Jesus is called, the son of Mary, not one of the sons of Mary.
The other difficult points for those that have an aversion to honoring Mary are the Catholic beliefs that Mary was conceived without original sin on her soul (known as the Immaculate Conception) and the belief that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven (The Assumption).
Remember, Jesus chose His own Mother. Would he have given her a soul stained with sin? All sin stems from Satan. Would God have chosen to have His only Begotten Son, become flesh in a body that had been under the subjugation of Satan? How could Jesus have grown in a womb which bore the stain of original sin?
Be ye clean ye that carry the vessels of the Lord (Isaiah 3:2). Vessels used in church services were set apart by special consecration, how much more would Mary be set apart, the chosen vessel of our Lord?
Some reject this teaching because they reason that if Mary was born without original sin, she would not need a savior. The Catholic teaching is Mary was indeed saved by Christ. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior(Luke 1 :47). Mary was preserved from original sin at conception. She was saved ahead of time by the grace of God.
Also, Romans 3:23 seems to indite Mary as a sinner like the rest of us: All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. We must be careful not to take one word, all and misconstrue the point St. Paul is making. He is stressing the universal aspect of sin, stating that this includes both Jews and Gentiles alike. He is speaking to the general masses. Babies have never personally sinned, so wouldnt they be an exception? St. Paul is giving a sweeping statement, not mentioning exceptions. Mary is not part of the humanity to whom St. Paul is directing his point.
It is surprising and without logic that so many people who believe Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven, refuse to believe that Jesus did the same for His own mother:
Then Enoch walked with God and he was no longer here, for God took him (Gen. 5:24).
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was found no more because God had taken him (Heb. 11:5).
As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).
During the early years of the Church, the bones of saints were kept and highly regarded as relics. No church ever claimed the bones of Mary. Certainly if Mary had not been assumed into heaven, members of the Church would have treasured and guarded her bones. We also rely on the Apostolic Tradition which held this belief from earliest times.
Remember, the sacred vessels of the church were set aside for special consecration. Consider the impossibility that Mary, the first tabernacle of Christ, with a womb that held God, would have been allowed to rot and decay in the ground.
Accusations have been made that the Catholic Church simply made these two teachings up in modern times. This is a misunderstanding of the fact that the Catholic Church officially defined the already existing doctrines of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption in 1950. At certain times the Church chooses to codify a belief that has always existed either because the Popes sees a benefit to the Church by infallibly defining and proclaiming a preexisting belief, or because there arises a need to defend it against confusion or attack. Both these beliefs existed since the early Church and were not made up in modern times. As infallibly defined dogmas of faith, faith in these two teachings are required by Catholics. The Protestant belief in sola scriptura prevents many from accepting these two teachings on Mary, but nowhere does scripture refute them.
Even if you could convince someone of the possibility that Mary remained a virgin, was conceived without sin, and was assumed body and soul into heaven they might still insist that there is still no Biblical basis for the Catholic Church to elevate Mary above the rest of mankind. That argument used to trouble me. I could counter that it was a historically Christian thing to do because the early Church practiced devotion to Mary. She was, of course, present on all the important occasions: Jesus birth, Presentation, first miracle, Crucifixion, Ascension and with the apostles on Pentecost Sunday. And it is likely that her input provided the information for the beginning of the Gospels of John and Luke, so she was certainly an important person to the Church.
But, if you have ever had a debate with a show me where it says that in the Bible, kind of person, your only hope of making points is to actually find it in the Bible. So, I was so pleased when I discovered that the Catholic custom of honoring Mary is completely Biblical. The queenship of Mary and the tradition of honoring and going to the queen for intercession, is a tradition rooted in the Old Testament. Im going to borrow heavily from a magazine article that says it far better than I could:
In the monarch of King David, as well as in other ancient kingdoms of the Near East, the mother of the ruling king held an important office in the royal court and played a key part in the process of dynastic succession. In fact the kings mother ruled as queen, not his wife. (Remember back then the kings often had many wives, making their queen ship next to impossible.)
A number of Old Testament passages reflect the important role of the queen mother in the Davidic kingdom. For example, almost every time the
narrative of 1 and 2 Kings introduces a new monarch in Judah, it mentions the kings mother as well, showing the mothers intimate involvement in her royal sons reign...
Her royal office is also described by the prophet Jeremiah, who tells how the queen mother possessed a throne and a crown, symbolic of her position of authority in the kingdom... (Jer. 13:18,20)...
Probably the clearest example of the queen mothers role is that of Bathsheba, wife of David and mother of Solomon...after her son Solomon
assumed the throne and she became queen mother, Bathsheba receives a glorious reception upon meeting with her royal son.
So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the kings mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me. And the king said to her, Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you. (1 Kgs. 2:19-20). 1
In the Bible, the right hand is the place of ultimate honor, ( e.g. Psalm 110, Heb.. 1:13), so the queen sitting at the kings right hand symbolizes sharing in the kings authority and illustrates that she is second only to the king himself. Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:1-2, is one of the Old Testament prophecies that links the kingship of David with with the future messianic king. Also, Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also. Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel. (Isa. 7:13-14) Then in the New Testament, Matthew 1:23 refers to this prophecy as being fulfilled in Jesus.
Since the oracle is addressed specifically to the Davidic household and concerns the continuation of the dynasty, the young woman bearing forth the royal son would be understood as a queen mother. This has implications for our understanding of Mary. Since the mother of the king always ruled as queen mother, we should expect to find the mother of the messianic king playing the role of the true queen mother in the everlasting Kingdom of God.
...Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the Son of David, who is the true King of the Jews establishing the Kingdom of Heaven. With all this kingly imagery, it should not be surprising to find queen mother themes as well.
...Just as the queen mother was constantly mentioned alongside the Judean kings in 1 and 2 Kings, so Mary is frequently mentioned alongside her royal son, Jesus in Matthews infancy narrative, (Mat. 1:18; 2:11; 13, 14, 20, 21).2
Lukes Gospel also links the kingdom of David very strongly. For instance, the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin betrothed to a man, of the house of David.(1:27) Again in Luke 1 :31-33, the angel tells Mary her son will be great, called Son of the Most High, And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Marys royal office is made even more explicit in Lukes account of the Visitation. Elizabeth greets Mary with the title the mother of my Lord (Luke 1:43). This title is charged with great queenly significance. In the royal court language of the ancient Near East, the title Mother of my lord was used to address the queen mother of the reigning king (who himself was addressed as my lord; cf., 2 Sam. 24:21) Thus with this title Elizabeth is recognizing the great dignity of Marys role as the royal mother of the king, Jesus.
Finally, Marys queen ship can be seen in the great vision described in Revelation 12: And a great portend 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 (Rev 12:1-2) Who is this newborn child? He is described as the messianic king exercising his dominion. In verse 5, the author of Revelation chose the messianic Psalm 2 to describe how this child will rule all the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 12:5, Ps. 2:9) This royal son is taken up to heaven to sit on a throne (Rev. 12:5) and he ushers in the kingdom of God by defeating the devil; Now the kingdom of our God has come, for the accuser has been thrown down (12:10). certainly, this newborn child is the royal Messiah, King Jesus. 3
The argument offered in Sris article may be too complicated for children, but since Marys queenship is so often attacked as unbiblical, I wanted to include a full explanation for parents. However, I explained it to my children quite simply: During the time of David, the queen mother played an important role and was honored along with her son. It was to the queen mother whom the people went with their petitions to be brought to her son, the king. Therefore, keeping in mind that Jesus descended from the house of David and the Bible repeatedly brings out the strong connection, Catholics are merely following the tradition already established and clearly laid out in the Bible.
A lot of Catholic practices relating to Mary, are also Biblically based, for instance, the Hail Mary. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you
(Luke 1:28), Blessed art though among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (v.42). The next part, Holy Mary comes from, you have found favor with God (v. 30) and Mother of God comes from mother of my Lord (v.43). The rest, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen, is a request to Mary to pray for us.
Surprisingly, devotion to Mary was once very acceptable for Protestant. Anyone reviewing the writings of the biggest fathers of the Reformation can clearly see that, in spite of major disagreement with the Catholic teachings, they shared a very strong devotion to Mary. You may be surprise by the affirmation of some very Catholic beliefs about Mary being put forth by leaders in the Reformation:
Luther, Calvin, and Zwinglini, the three fathers of the Reformation, each affirmed the Catholic doctrines that Mary is the Mother of God and a Perpetual Virgin.
Mary as Mother of God:
Martin Luther: In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such Good things were given her that no one can grasp them...Not only was Mary the mother of Him who is born (in Bethlehem), but of Him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time at the same time man and God. (Weimer, The Works of Luther, English transl. by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v.7, p.572)
John Calvin: It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor...Elizabeth calls Mary, Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God. (Calvin Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, pp.348, 35)
Ulrich Zwingli: It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God. (Zwingli Opera Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., v.6,I,p. 639
Mary as Perpetual Virgin
Luther: It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin....Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact. Works of Luther, v. 11, pp. 319-320; v. 6, p.510)
Calvin: There have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mat 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Josephs obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company....And besides this Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second. (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)
Zwingli: I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin. (Zwinglil Opera, v. 1, p. 424.)4
Catholics continue the devotion to Mary that was present at the time of the Reformation. By honoring Mary, Catholics fulfill Luke 1: 48-49, All generations will call me blessed. We unabashedly call Mary our Blessed Mother. It was not Catholics who began a devotion to Mary. God is the one who heaped unequal honor on a mere human being by inviting her to be the mother of God. We are redeemed by the blood of her Son. Jesus became flesh and blood of her flesh and blood. Our earthly mother gives us life, while Mary, our heavenly mother gave us supernatural life by consenting to the plan God laid before her, to give birth to our Savior and in turn bring Him to us. She gave birth to Jesus for our salvation.
Jesus, our brother, told us to follow Him. If God has so honored Mary as the daughter of God the Father, mother of God the Son, and spouse of God the Holy Spirit, how could we do otherwise? We are following Him by honoring Mary.
We look with reverence on everyone and everything associated with Jesus Christ. People make trips to the Holy Land in droves for this very reason; to walk on the same land Jesus once walked. If lifeless soil is such an attraction, how much more should we hold in esteem the living souls of those closely associated with Jesus? And who could have been closer to Him than His own mother? She carried Him in her womb, nursed and clothed Him, guided his first steps and cared for him into adulthood. The highest amount
of holiness would be required.
We build monuments to great people of much lesser stature than Mary (i.e., the Washington monument, the Lincoln Memorial, schools, streets, holidays, etc.). By honoring a great American, do we dishonor God? Of course not. Anyone with qualms about honoring Mary should consider these inconsistencies. Remember, we honor Mary, we do not worship her. Her goodness is only a reflection of Gods greatness.
One last aspect regarding the Blessed Mother that has not been brought up thus far, are the many apparitions and messages of the Blessed Mother that has been reported throughout the history of the Church. I do not include this in the main argument because it is not required of Catholics to believe in any apparition of Mary. The Church itself is very slow and conservative about giving a nod of approval to any claim of Mary appearing on earth. After much investigation, the Church does sometimes acknowledge that such a supernatural event has occurred. Many miracles and conversions often result through these apparitions and many sites have been visited by hundreds of thousands of Pilgrims such as those at Fatima, Portugal, and Lourdes, France.
Pope Urban VIII stated his opinion that, In cases like this, it is better to believe than not to believe, for if you believe and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed because Our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true. However, in cases where the visions contradict Church teaching and are condemned by the Church as false, and not from God, they should clearly be avoided.
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