See post: Intercession of Mary & the Saints
ERNESTO: No argument, just pure facts, Joe— Mary was and should be known as the mother of Christ, but that was her only role in the Bible.
Actually, Mary is shown to have many roles in Scripture and they emerge as elements of her miraculous motherhood. The Bible has an angel giving Mary homage as “full of grace” (Luke 1:28). She is the “most favored daughter” of our race. She is utterly imbued with the presence of God, the source of her holiness. Prevenient grace will become a factor in our understanding of her as the Immaculate Conception. God prepared her for the role she would play. The All Holy One would enter the world through a pure vessel.
She is the “Virgin” who conceives the Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her maternity will be like no other. Catholicism gives a heightened meaning to her virginity (Matthew 1:22) and speaks of her as belonging wholly to God.
Mary announces that she is the “handmaid of the Lord” totally at the service of God and his providence (Luke 1:38). Notice that she is not “a” handmaid but “the” handmaid. She will play a continuing role like no other woman in human history. Her motherhood is an enduring reality… throughout the life of the historical Christ and even into eternity.
When she visits Elizabeth, she proclaims her Magnificat, saying, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48). She calls God her savior, not that she does not say “he will be” her savior. She has already been touched by the power of Christ’s redemptive Cross. This same paschal mystery touches us forward in time in the sacraments. She also gives us a bit of prophecy, saying that all generations will call her blessed. While Catholics call her the BLESSED Virgin or the BLESSED Mother, you pretty much never hear such an attribute given Mary from the lips of fundamentalists like the critic here.
Speaking of prophecy, Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus says to Mary, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Mary’s immaculate heart will be pierced in that she will hold not just the baby Jesus but the God-Man taken down from the Cross. She will be the Sorrowful Mother who keeps saying YES to God from the Annunciation to Calvary. She was given the living Word as her child. At the Cross, she will surrender her Son back into the embrace of the Father. The reference to the “thoughts of many hearts” has to do with prayer and intercession to her. We open ourselves up to her. Again, prophecy is fulfilled for true believers.
Eve was the mother of all the living and yet Mary is the Mother of all who would have new life in Christ. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. As such, Mary is our Mother. Mary is the New Eve, “the Woman” who sought and found Christ in the Temple (Luke 2:39-52), who interceded at Cana when Christ changed water into wine (John 2:1-11) and at the Cross when Jesus said, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26). Then our Lord formally gives her to the Church through our emissary, John. “‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:27).
You have a very narrow view of Scripture to ignore the importance of all this and so much more.
ERNESTO: There is no record in the Bible of her ascending into heaven or playing a role.
We read in Revelation: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars… She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth” (Revelation 12:1-2, 5). I cite this vision to show evidence of the Mother and Child in the heavens. But my answer goes to a deeper matter. The Gospels give us the life of Christ, and the focus is not directly upon Mary. Catholics have an experience of God that did not end with the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles. There is no reference to a canonical New Testament either because none existed. Such emerged from the bishops of the Church in council. Show me where the books of the New Testament are listed in any of the biblical books! You cannot because such belongs to the realm of Church Tradition and authority. This matter remain so confused at the time of the Reformation that Martin Luther wanted to delete more than seven books of the Old Testament but some of the epistles as well, like the Letter of James. The Bible did not come out of the sky pre-made. Your hermeneutics will not satisfy and no Catholic should limit himself to the fraudulent “sola scriptura” stance.
ERNESTO: I’ve read some of your answers to people, and you have called some people ignorant?!
FATHER JOE: It is worse than that. I am exposing an ignorance that has been bred by bigotry; much like yours appears to be.
ERNESTO: Come on, is that really act when someone is just trying to have a conversation with you?
FATHER JOE: But many do not come for conversation. They come with venom or poison. They are not open to the truth and they want to make sure that no one else has it either.
ERNESTO: Why get up right when they are just sharing their thoughts?
FATHER JOE: Is that what you call it? A genuine ecumenism would share ideas. Anonymous anti-Catholics come to drop their bombs on a priest’s blog, thinking their rehashed arguments will win the argument and salvage the day. When they find there is an actual rebuttal they start using capital letters and exclamation points as if emphasis might still win a debate. But it does nothing more than to show how absolutely closed-minded they are to any Catholic truth. Next they start throwing out slurs. “You Papists are idolaters and cookie-worshipers! You have made Mary into your pagan goddess! You are demon-possessed! Then they will attack the Pope as the antichrist and the Church as the harlot of Babylon. It is tragic and ridiculously ignorant. They repeat the lies of Know Nothings who hated the immigrant Catholics over a century ago. It goes on and on. They only know their religion by contrast to what they oppose in “Romanism.”
ERNESTO: Just read these verses straight out of the a Holy Bible, clearly it shows what the Catholics believe in. There are saints and images of Mary everywhere and people do worship and carry her around in villages in Mexico where my family is from. And I clearly understand that you say Catholicism has been around longer, but his word has been around longer since the book of Genesis to the creation of man till now.
Catholicism is the successor to Judaism. God called a people to himself before there were any Scriptures at all. This pattern in Genesis and the Old Testament is repeated with the Gospels and the New Testament. Our Lord instituted his priesthood and Church before even one word of the New Testament was composed. The first to receive this WORD was the Blessed Virgin Mary. See yesterday’s Mass readings for the Immaculate Conception:
[Luke 1:26-38] Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary received the Word, carried the Word and gave it birth!
The Church is the Mother of the Bible and New Testament. The Holy Spirit protects the Magisterium established by Jesus in interpreting the sources of revelation.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
FATHER JOE: These words are only in reference to the Book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. It was composed at a time when the oral tradition was supreme and there was no New Testament. Indeed, Pope Clement’s letter to the Corinthians is older than this book. And yet, it was not added to the canon. It is a literary device or inclusion that parallels Revelation 1:1-3. It is not a negation of the oral tradition.
ERNESTO: Nowhere in the Holy Bible says that Mary had healing power, or descended to heaven and sits by our Heavenly Father.
FATHER JOE: The word is NOT descended. Jesus “descended” to the dead. Jesus “ascended” into heaven. Mary is “assumed” into heaven. Here is a perfect example of your ignorance to speak about this topic and Catholicism. You cannot even get basic terminology correct. Life goes on, even after the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus ascends into heaven by his own power. Mary is taken into heaven by the power of her Son. Similarly, believers have every reason to hope for a share in Christ’s life. Ours is not a superstitious faith in Mary. We simply trust in the power of her intercession with Christ: two hearts beating harmoniously in love for us.
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
FATHER JOE: This is not even topical to this discussion. Catholics do not worship idols. We do treasure depictions of Mary and the saints. Of course, our nation does as much with the Lincoln Memorial and most people keep photos of loved ones. So does the Church, but we do not worship objects.
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?
FATHER JOE: This reading is also in Catholic bibles. We are not threatened by Scripture or our book. Catholicism views Jesus as Savior, Redeemer and Lord. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the divine pontifex or bridge to the Father and into the kingdom. Nothing about Mary and the communion of the saints negates any element of these truths. Your failure to appreciate this fact, told to you by a Catholic priest, is evidence of both ignorance and bigotry. You would rather accept the skewed facts of prejudiced non-Catholics over the testimony of the Church, herself. This is why this is not a real discussion. You have not come here to dialogue but to pillage and destroy.
ERNESTO: Don’t get me wrong. I do believe she was chosen by God to give birth to Jesus Christ.
FATHER JOE: Is that all motherhood is to you? Such would reduce human motherhood to something akin to incubators for eggs and chickens. Mothers do not stop being mothers at the birth of their children. There is a bond there that remains into eternity. A mother is the mother of the whole person of her child. The only difference with Mary is that she is the Mother of a divine Person, the living Word, Immanuel or God among Us. That is why she is permitted the title Mother of God. Mary is a blessed creature, not divine, but the title defends the unity and divinity in Christ. Jesus is God and man. We can make the distinction but our Lord cannot be dissected.
ERNESTO: Nowhere does it say we need to worship her. In the Ten Commandments it clearly states he is a very jealous God and only wants us to only bow down to him? I am not ignorant like you called the person on an earlier response. Just read the facts he and the apostles left behind.
FATHER JOE: You can profess enlightenment all you want, but you do not even correctly summarize the Catholic teaching, just a straw man view that anti-Catholics can conveniently tear down. Catholics do not give divine worship to Mary or any creature. What is sometimes called worship in her regard is a unique veneration or expression of love. We literally view her as our spiritual mother. Your failure to appreciate speaks to the coldness with which many of your likes show to her. The facts are not what you say they are.
Responding to David J. Hageman’s Comments
DAVID: The woman mentioned in Revelations is the church. (protestant church obviously)
FATHER JOE: There is no Protestant church but rather many Protestant churches. None existed over 500 years ago. The woman with child is an obvious reference to Mary and Christ. Mary is a type for the Church. She signifies what the Church shall become. Catholicism speaks of both Mary and the Church as MOTHER.
DAVID: The catholic church also being a woman… a whore.
FATHER JOE: The Catholic Church was instituted by Christ. When you call the Church “a harlot” you are literally saying that Jesus is a PIMP. How dare you do this? Do you not fear God?
DAVID: Woman = church. Mary = Mary.
FATHER JOE: Mary = Church.
DAVID: As you very well know.
FATHER JOE: I know far better than you do.
DAVID: Mary of roman worship is Sophia or Diana Luciferus.
FATHER JOE: This allegation is absolutely ridiculous… it is slander and false witness. Mary is not a pagan goddess. The Mary of Catholicism is the Mother of Christ in Scripture.
DAVID: serpent Knowledge- Illimunistion.
FATHER JOE: This may be the source for your demonic deceit.
DAVID: For the life of me I cannot fathom why anyone would serve that god. Life is so short, is it worth failing the test of life for a little temporary power?
FATHER JOE: Fools are befuddled by lies and prejudice… that is why you are in the employ of the demons. I suppose you get some glee from feeling you can speak alone for your deity. I am a servant of Christ and his Church. You are merely a messenger of venom for what you regard as private interpretation. You build error upon error… with nothing of charity.
DAVID: And you priets (priests) poking your fingers in the dyke in this apocalypse?
FATHER JOE: Priests participate in the high priesthood of Christ. Our Lord’s power and authority will prevail.
DAVID: The dam has burst, Truth has come forth again.
FATHER JOE: Yes, a dam has burst. But when you open your mouth, it is not grace that emerges but calumny and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Responding to Xian’s Comments on Saints & Intercession
Catholics argue that praying to Mary and the saints is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for us. Let us examine that claim. (1) The Apostle Paul asks other Christians to pray for him in Ephesians 6:19. Many Scriptures describe believers praying for one another (2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:3). The Bible nowhere mentions anyone asking for someone in heaven to pray for him. The Bible nowhere describes anyone in heaven praying for anyone on earth. (2) The Bible gives absolutely no indication that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers. Mary and the saints are not omniscient. Even glorified in heaven, they are still finite beings with limitations. How could they possibly hear the prayers of millions of people? Whenever the Bible mentions praying to or speaking with the dead, it is in the context of sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy, and divination—activities the Bible strongly condemns (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-13). In the one instance when a “saint” is spoken to, Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:7-19, Samuel is not exactly happy to be disturbed. It is clear that praying to Mary or the saints is completely different from asking someone here on earth to pray for us. One has a strong biblical basis; the other has no biblical basis whatsoever.
God does not answer prayers based on who is praying. God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). There is absolutely no basis or need to pray to anyone other than God alone. There is no basis for asking those who are in heaven to pray for us. Only God can hear our prayers. Only God can answer our prayers. No one in heaven has any greater access to God’s throne than we do through prayer (Hebrews 4:16).
The common theme is intercession or praying for others. Obviously, there is a difference in being alive and mortal and being dead and living in eternity. The Book of Revelation describes those before the throne of God presenting our prayers to him (Revelation 5:8).
“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones” (Revelations 5:8).
Therefore the Scriptures are not silent on the subject. Part of the issue here is that in the case of the early Church, most New Testament saints or believers were still living in this world. Of course, after Christ’s descent to the dead, those Jews and righteous Gentiles in the limbo of the fathers would have been translated into heaven.
Further the dead do not sleep. The souls of the dead are alive and conscious. We are not annihilated.
“And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32).
The saints of God live in eternity and are no longer locked in time. Thus there is no issue with many cries for intercession.
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (Revelations 8:3-5).
“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:3-5).
Moses and Elijah seem very aware about what is happening on earth.
As members of the Mystical Body and part of the communion of the saints, Paul teaches us that those who have gone before us into heaven still witness what happens on earth.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
The saints know our lot, pray for us and rejoice when we walk with the Lord. Jesus says as much.
“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, `Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7-10).
Saints can only know our prayers because God allows them to do so by his power. Yes, only God is all-powerful and all-knowing. But we should not underestimate the unity of the saints with the Lord. As members of the Mystical Body we are called to think as Christ thinks and to love as he loves. The saints of heaven hear with Jesus’ ears and intercede in a way that pleases God. The saints want what God wants.