My life is very much filled with noise. All I really need to do is walk through the halls of my high school in the mornings to realize it.
But today at school, something was different. At least, I’d like to think so. Amid the chaos wrought by the obnoxious jeers coming from the varsity football team, the high pitched squeals of the drama queens, and the lockers slamming back and forth in a disarrayed rhythm - I recognized my need for silence.
- Me: So how'd you like World Youth Day?
- C: I can't even describe it. It was amazing.
- Me: Weren't there protesters?
- C: Yup, but It wasn't that big of a deal.
- Me: But I saw pictures of it online and it looked pretty bad.
- C: Honestly bro, there were only about maybe 200 of them going up against 1.5 million Catholics AND the police.
- Me: And you had God on your side.
- C: Oh yeah. They definitely had no chance.
“Not my glory, but Yours.”
I found myself constantly repeating the same words as I shared my reflections on the Eucharist to my parish today. You can read a written version of it here.
It might surprise you if I said that what I realized today was how easy it is to give into temptation. And I say this with all honesty, because I remember that there were times after I shared my reflection where my thoughts would somehow shift - from wanting God’s glory, to seeking mine instead.
The Holy Mass is something that we sometimes take for granted, because we tend to forget the significance of what is made present before our very eyes, when the priest consecrates the bread and the wine, into the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Padre Pio tells us, “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun, than to do so without the Holy Mass.”
Even though I’ve been going to daily Mass since I was in Kindergarten, I never quite understood the true value of the Mass until recently. There would be timeswhen my mom or my dad would tell me that it was time to go to Mass, and there would be the initial reaction to groan and ask, “But do I really have to?”
This summer, I started to reflect more deeply upon the Holy Eucharist. The moment when the priest raises up the host and the chalice and says the words, “This IS my Body. This IS my blood… Do THIS in memory of me…”, Jesus becomes truly present at the altar - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. At that moment, an indescribable feeling of peace and joy washes over me, and I realize that there is no other place that I would rather be, than to be with my Lord and my God who died for me.
I’ve been struggling with my pride. And vanity. I really have.
Pride and vanity.
It feels really good just thinking about being considered beautiful, admired, famous… and it’s really scary because it’s sort of eating me alive.
My priorities shift, my faith falters, my heart is lost. It’s as if I’m willing to do anything, regardless, just to reach my goal (you can insert anything here that is brimming with pride and vanity). Anything.
I refrain from prayer—especially the Rosary—because I know that if I do, I’d have to give up my plans, my dreams. No, I don’t have to, but I know Papa God will give me the grace I need to give up my worldly aspirations—it’s just that I don’t want to let go of them.
Mama Mary is holding on, otherwise, I would’ve thrown it all away already.
“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary; either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary.” —Bishop Hugh Doyle
I sorely need to pray the Rosary.
Whenever I think of what others my age consider vocations to be, I usually visualize a bunch of turned off high school students thinking about old, wrinkly people in robes of assorted colors who would rather spend their weekends praying countless rosaries instead of going to a party. Well.. obviously there’s more to vocations than just that.
The fact of the matter is that in the very materialistic and self-seeking society we live in today, many high school students like myself have become surrounded with many misconceptions of what a vocation is. Because of these misconceptions, we might become annoyed, discouraged, or maybe even indifferent to the very idea of what we think a vocation is. Most of us would like to think that vocations are only meant for those who want to be priests, deacons, or religious - but that’s hardly ever the case.
Sì, io posso. Ma devo finire il saggio per la mia classe. E poi, ho bisogno di dormire perché sono molto stanco. Uffa.
That other awkward moment when you want everyone around you to love God as much as you do, but it’s not something you can just explain.
To answer your question, I hope it’s okay if I just compiled a list of various sources online that explain why we pray to Mary (as well as the saints, for that matter). But first, my thoughts on the matter:
There’s no doubt that Catholics love and take Mary into our homes as our own mother (as John did, per Jesus’ command to “behold thy mother”)
However, let me make one point clear before anything else: we do not worship Mary. That, in itself, would be a heresy. Catholics honor Mary in such a special way - as the New Eve, as the Ark of the New Covenant, as the greatest saint to ever live, as Queen of Heaven and of Earth - in such a way that we go through her to God. Even Martin Luther agreed that we should honor Mary, and go to her for her loving intercession. The following quotes are taken from his own sermons:
There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know. And since the Holy Spirit has told us nothing about it, we can make of it no article of faith … It is enough to know that she lives in Christ. The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart. (Sermon, September 1, 1522). [She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ … She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures. (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).
No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity. (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537).
One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace … Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ … Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521).
Whoever possesses a good (firm) faith, says the Hail Mary without danger! Whoever is weak in faith can utter no Hail Mary without danger to his salvation. (Sermon, March 11, 1523).
Our prayer should include the Mother of God.. .What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen!” You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor.. .We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her…He who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary. (Personal Prayer Book, 1522).
With all that aside, let the scriptural evidence begin:
When Catholics pray to Mary and the other saints in Heaven they are not bypassing Christ, whom they acknowledge as the sole Mediator between God and man. They are going to Christ through Mary and the other saints. They are asking Mary and other saints to intercede for them before the throne of Christ in heaven.
“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:16) How much more availing is the unceasing prayer of the sinless Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
St. Paul asked his fellow Christians to intercede for him: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2) And again: “I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.” (Romans 15:30-32)
Christ must particularly approve of our going to Him through Mary, His Blessed Mother, because He chose to come to us through her. And at Cana, He performed His first miracle after a word from His Mother. (John 2:2-11) It is clear in Sacred Scripture that the saints in Heaven will intercede for us before the throne of Christ if they are petitioned in prayer (Revelations 8:3-4), and it is clear in the records of primitive Christianity that the first Christians eagerly sought their intercession. Wrote St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century: “When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies, but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power.”
If the saints have such power with God, how much more his own Mother.
Furthermore, in the New Testament, we notice that Mary is present at almost every major event in the life of Jesus.
- His conception (Luke 1:2)
- His development in the womb, including the fetal development of John the Baptist (Lk 1:43)
- His birth (Lk 2:7)
- Offering Him to God (Lk 2:22)
- Early childhood (Lk 2:22-38)
- His confirmation at 12 years old (Lk 2:49)
- His start in public ministry and the first of his miracles, which she instigated. (Wedding at Cana Jn 2:3)
- His death on Calvary (Jn 19:26)
- The birth of the Church at the Pentecost (Acts 1:14)
From these verses, we can see that Mary certainly played an important role in the life of Jesus. Here is a specific example how:
Mary said “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you to do.” (Jn:2:3) She is the first person in history to say this about Jesus. Adrian Rogers, the famous Evangelical pastor, said “This is the best advice that anyone has ever given anyone!” (Apr. 13, 2009 Radio show) That is quite a complement, to say that no other advice given by anyone in Scripture, or in all of history, is better than Mary’s advice. It was such great advice that Jesus went ahead and turned the water into wine even though a minute earlier, he said “what has that to do with me.”
Praying to Mary does not take our focus off of Jesus. If we go to the Bible, Mary clearly spells out her role in eternity:
My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. (Lk 1:46-49)
The Bible says Jesus is magnified by Mary’s soul. A soul is not limited by life on earth. Mary reinforces her eternal ministry by saying “all generations will call me blessed.” If the Bible intended Mary’s ministry to end with the birth of Jesus, or at Jesus’ death, or even at Mary’s death, I don’t think it would use that language.
A magnifying glass increases the object it is focused on, so being in relation to Mary’s eternal soul does not draw focus away from Jesus, it does the opposite. It magnifies him. This is the Bible’s word to the people of God.
One last thing:
Many Evangelicals think the word “pray” means “worship.” So it makes sense that they think Catholics who “pray” to Mary actually “worship” her. Let’s look up the word “pray” in the dictionary.
(1) To utter petition to God … (2) To make a fervent request: PLEAD (3) To beseech: implore (4) to make a devout or earnest request for.
The first thing to notice is that the word “worship” is not included in the definition of “pray.” It does not mean “worship.” A prayer to Mary is clearly not a petition to God. Mary is not God, and there is not one faithful Catholic since the apostles who has said she is. So clearly it is not the first meaning.
Catholics think Mary is a prayer warrior. That’s her job. We think she was given a full-time 24/7 prayer ministry. She said “all generations will call me Blessed” and “my soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46). Catholics think this is significant. Martin Luther said “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” (Sermon, September 1, 1522).
Whew! I really hope that this helped. I tried to make my answer as comprehensive as possible (complete with many helpful sources) so that I could address any other concerns that any of my followers might have with what Catholics believe about Mary.
May God bless you!
No, I honestly didn’t know! In fact, when I decided to change my blog name (from “Fa di me uno strumento della tua pace), I was almost certain that I wouldn’t be the only one who had “Dei Gratia” as their blog name; it means “by the grace of God” in Latin. (:
As I sat alone in my school chapel early morning, all of a sudden, everything just hit me.
“Wow. My high school years are quickly coming to an end.. And now, I’m almost certain that God is calling me to be a priest.”
Of course, that’s not to say that my desire to enter the seminary has been met with approval. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with two of my friends to catch up with them and let them know how I’m doing.
Of course, when they asked me what I wanted to do in college, they were surprised to hear that I wasn’t really planning on going to college - I wanted to go straight to the seminary. They tried to sound as supportive as they could, but it was apparent that they were trying their best to talk me out of it.
“But.. You’re too young. And you still have many years to think about this. Why do you want to be a priest? There’s just so much in this world to see, and you’re going to miss out on so much if you make that kind of decision. Have fun and live life.”
But it’s funny.. Many thought St. Therese of Lisieux was too young to enter the convent. St. Rose of Lima was ridiculed, even by her own family, because they couldn’t understand her ways. Even St. Clare of Assisi had to escape from her own home to pursue her vocation.
One thing that frustrates me to no end and I always feel a duty to pray for those who are like that. I see too much of it. I’m sick of modern society’s morally relative culture. It’s horrible. I see too many Catholics picking and choosing from which teachings of the Church they should follow. I see it too much. I see it at my parish, at school, and in my own home.
Our Lady Queen of Angels, pray for us.
St. Monica, pray for us.
I especially need to learn how to maintain a spirit of humility when it comes to these things - because the Enemy often tries to tempt me to think that I am better than all of the lukewarm Catholics I see everyday at school - but I know that I’m not. We must pray for ourselves and for our generation that we may find our way in Christ.
I’m not so sure I understand your question.. If you were referring to my answer regarding Iglesia Ni Cristo, I remember saying that I believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ. What did you mean by “true religion”?
I really wish there was a Perpetual Adoration Chapel within walking distance of my house so I can visit Jesus. He must be feeling lonely tonight, and He’s been on my mind the whole day.
Again, I still stand by the belief that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ. If you’d like me to explain why INC is not what Felix Manalo claims it to be (the reestablishment of the first church established by Jesus Christ), well, here you go.
I’ll try to divide this answer into four parts.
The first: Most of INC’s doctrines depend on its teaching that Christ’s Church “apostatized” in its early years. INC believes in “the complete disappearance of the first-century Church of Christ and the emergence of the Catholic Church” (Pasugo, July-August 1979, 8). However, Jesus promised that his Church would never apostatize. He even told Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). If His Church had apostatized, then by theory, the gates of hell would have prevailed against it, which would make the case that Jesus was a liar. But I’m sure that we could both agree that he wasn’t. Manalo’s claim that the early Church apostatized implies that INC believes that Christ was a liar because they ignore what Christ promised, and their “doctrine” contradicts scripture.
The second: Iglesia claims that Jesus is not God, and denies his divinity. Yet we find many verses in the Bible that contradicts this claim. See:
- John 1:14
- Deut 10:17
- 1 Tim 6:15
- Phil 2:6
- Rev 17:14
- Rev 19:13-16
Particularly, in John 5:18, we read that Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus because “he had not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.”
Thirdly, Manalo’s claim to be “God’s messenger” chosen to reestablish the true Church is impossible to believe. In 1914, Manalo started his own church. But in 1919, he leaves the Philippines and goes to America to study with Protestants - whom INC would later declare to be apostates. Why would Manalo choose to go to the US to learn from apostates if he really believed to be God’s “last messenger”? And if he really was the “last messenger” why would he only choose to use the messenger doctrine until 1922 when he in fact started INC in 1914?
One last point:
Catholic Answers rejects the Iglesia ni Cristo’s interpretation of certain Bible verses and and use of some translations to support its doctrines. For example, INC quotes Isaiah 43:5 from an inexact paraphrase by Protestant Bible scholar James Moffatt that reads, “From the far east will I bring your offspring” to support the INC belief that its emergence in the Philippines was prophesied in the Bible. Catholic Answers argue that in the Tagalog (Filipino) translation, as well as in the original Hebrew, the words “far” and “east” are not even found in the same verse, yet the Iglesia recklessly combine the two verses to translate “far east.”. They also criticized INC’s use of the George Lamsa translation of Acts 20:28 as proof that the true church is called “Church of Christ”. They argue that it is not based on the original Greek. In Greek, the phrase is “the church of God” (tan ekklasian tou Theou) not “the church of Christ” (tan ekklasian tou Christou). They also said the phrase “Church of Christ” never once appears in the Bible.
Hope this helps. God bless!
Thanks so much for the message. (: Lately, I’ve been getting messages like these, but I think this one’s a little bit different because I’m pretty sure we’ve been following each other for a long time. And you might have noticed how for the last two months, I dramatically changed the way I used my blog. I remember losing almost half of the followers I used to have (not that it mattered much to me anyway), but rarely any of my long time followers understood why I started to focus more on living out my faith because of my love for God. While I don’t regret the “mini conversion” I had in my faith this summer, it’s great to know that there are people out there like you who appreciate my blog because I really want to reach out to other Christians in the Tumblr community. May God bless you too! (:
see a girl who you find attractive and want to be friends with
become the definition of socially awkward penguin.
It was one of those nights, folks. One of those nights.
I can relate. So much. Especially if she’s passionately Catholic? Oh geez..