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Atte von Wright wrote:

Hi, guys —

As an introduction, I am a conservative Finnish Lutheran. As for many others of my kind, the veneration of Virgin Mary is a stumbling block. While I think I understand the differences between:

  • latreia
  • dulia, and
  • hyperdulia

and I do not have any fixed negative stand regarding the possibility that departed saints might pray for us, while some of the language associated with the veneration of St. Mary sounds — well, extravagant.

  • I feel that when you have heaped all these honors to Her what more can you say to Her Son?
  • How do you greet Him, praise Him, thank Him from all your heart as He is due, when you have exhausted all your limited eloquence, love, and veneration on His mother?

The other day I happened to read a quotation from Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, if I understand what your Church believes correctly, sounding like this:

  • If thy (St Mary's) heart is thus far moved, it cannot do otherwise than protect me; and if thou protects me, what can I fear?

No, I fear nothing, I do not fear my sins, for thou can provide a remedy; I do not fear devils, for thou art more powerful than the whole of Hell; I do not even fear thy Son, though justly irritated against me, for at a word of thine He will be appeased. I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to thee, and thus be lost.

To me, thinking that St. Mary could be:

  • more merciful
  • more loving
  • more eager to save a sinner than her rather irascible and terrible Son (according to Alphonsus)

implies that Jesus is not really a Sinner's friend (This is a very comforting Finnish expression we often use of Him) and that His mother is more perfect, at least in love, than He is.

Please, respond.

Atte

  { Haven't some of your saints gone way, way overboard on Mary? }

Mike replied:

Hi Atte,

Thanks for the very good questions.

There are a couple of current postings that answer them pretty well and if they don't, just return and ask us any follow-up questions. I found them in the FAQ section of our web site under the Consecration and Total Consecration to Mary section.

Both of the postings below have other postings, within them, that address similar questions you made have, so make sure you read all the associated postings as well.

Mary Ann's reply to several postings address your specific questions, especially this one:

One of my colleagues John brought up the following good point:

If someone doesn't first have a real relationship with the Lord, whether they are a:

• non-Catholic
• poorly catechized Catholic, or
• un-evangelized Catholic:

they can have a dangerous and incorrect understanding of what the Total Consecration to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort is all about. Because they lack a true relationship with the Lord, Jesus, their Marian devotion can lead to an idolatry: one that develops inside spiritually and may manifest itself publicly.

A Catholic Christian that does not have a true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, can develop an attitude that:

They go to Mary, because Jesus wouldn't do what they want for them anyway.

This is heresy.

The Vatican web site tells us St. Louis de Montfort, himself, proposed to the faithful consecration to Jesus through Mary, as an effective way of living out their baptismal commitment.

Vatican web site: Marian consecration and entrustment, item 204

On the personal side, I vaguely remember making my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, and agree, at times it did come across extravagant or very devotional. This is why John's point is so important.

You said:

  • I feel that when you have heaped all these honors to Her what more can you say to Her Son?
  • How do you greet Him, praise Him, thank Him from all your heart as He is due, when you have exhausted all your limited eloquence, love, and veneration on His mother?

We greet Him, praise Him, and thank Him from all our heart every time we renew our covenant with Him, in worship, at Sunday Mass. Holy Mass is offered to [God-Jesus] alone.

No Catholic ever offers any Mass to a saint, but may honor a saint in his worship of the Lord.
This is why we have various feast days honoring saints throughout the Church calendar.

You said:
To me, thinking that St. Mary could be:

  • more merciful
  • more loving
  • more eager to save a sinner than her rather irascible and terrible Son (according to Alphonsus)

implies that Jesus is not really a Sinner's friend (This is a very comforting Finnish expression we often use of Him) and that His mother is more perfect, at least in love, than He is.

This is a complete misunderstanding of Catholic teaching. Any mercy Mary has comes from Her Son!

We refer to Mary as the Mother of Mercy, because it was God, the Father's, and Jesus' choice to redeem mankind through the Incarnation. Through the Incarnation, God became flesh and bones for the salvation of mankind. He couldn't have done this, with their chosen plan, without Mary's, Yes, recorded in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel.

Because we see Mary as the Tabernacle of the Lord, and as the foreshadowed Ark of the Convent which held the Law (the Ten Commandments), we see her as the Mother of Mercy: (Jesus, not Mary, being the Mercy.) Remember Catholics believe Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity and God incarnate.

We do not believe Mary is the mother of God, the Father.

Jesus is, and always will be, a sinner's friend.

That's one of the main reasons I'm Catholic. Because I know, with confidence, that I can meet Him in the Sacraments of the Church, especially in Confession! ... and the Eucharist!

I hope this helps,

Mike

Atte replied:

Dear all,

Thank you for the answers. I must say I felt relieved, when I read John's response.

Living in a country where you can count the number of Roman Catholics with your fingers and toes, there is seldom a possibility to ask these types of questions directly, and I do not have any idea what the understanding is of an average Catholic on these doctrinal fine points, whether they are from Germany, the Philippines, or Brazil.

  • While I perfectly agree that my knowledge of Catholicism is superficial and colored by my Protestant background, I am still inclined to ask, whether it would be prudent to somewhat moderate the language of Marian devotion, just to prevent misunderstandings?

To me, an outsider, this quotation of Liguori:

"I do not even fear thy Son, though justly irritated against me, for at a word of thine He will be appeased. I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to thee, and thus be lost."

certainly implies that the mercy obtained by Mary comes from Her and not from Christ, and that Mary is more sympathetic and easier to approach than her Son, Jesus.

I am glad from the bottom of my heart if this is not the official Catholic viewpoint.

Atte

Mike replied:

Hi Atte,

You said:
Living in a country where you can count the number of Roman Catholics with your fingers and toes, there is seldom a possibility to ask these types of questions directly, and I do not have any idea what the understanding is of an average Catholic is on these doctrinal fine points, whether they are from Germany, the Philippines, or Brazil.

As an outsider, I have to honestly tell you that one of the weakness' in the Church today is that many of the faithful have been poorly catechized. If you do converse with another Catholic, make sure [he/she] is:

  • faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and
  • knows the teachings of the Church well.

You said:
I am glad from the bottom of my heart if this is not the official Catholic viewpoint:

  • The mercy obtained by Mary comes from Her and not from Christ.

It is not! though you may find this book by Scott Hahn a real eye-opener:

Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn

I should have added if you ever want to find the basics of Catholic teaching the best source is the on-line version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I like this version:

If there are questions the Catechism doesn't answer, you can search our knowledge base or use this shortcut:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch

or ask us here:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/AskUs

Mike

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