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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Praying to Mary

bvm_028QUESTION:  Why do you have to ask Mary to take your prayers to Jesus? Can’t you just go straight to Jesus?

Of course, one can and should address Jesus directly in prayer; however, this does not negate Mary’s role. The question is a good one and possesses some complexity. All of the attributes of mercy and love attributed to Mary find their ultimate source in the Lord. The unity between the Mother and her divine Son is very intimate and unbreakable. Even when we address our prayers to Jesus or show him homage, we are also honoring his Mother and invoking her assistance. Mary rejoices when we come to her Son, no matter what the path. The Dominican priest, Fr. Jelly wrote that in this sense, even the most fundamentalist of Protestants are showing their respect to Mary in their devotion to Christ. Conversely, God is honored when we honor Mary. God loves us to honor Mary as a Father is pleased when his daughter is honored.  Every honor we give to Mary is reflected back to God since we honor her for what He has done for her, with her, and through her. When we honor her, we honor Him. When Catholics address Mary, it is because there is something about her maternal qualities which soothe our souls and remind us of the great company of heaven— the home to which we hope one day to enter. Even in human families, the love and help of parents could just as well come from one parent or the other; but sometimes we want the strength of our fathers and at other times the feminine touch of our mothers. Mary is a creature, not God like her Son, and yet her abiding proximity and union to Christ makes her a fitting figure for our prayers. We reverence her, as we do all the saints, but true worship is addressed to God alone. Otherwise, we would fall into idolatry. Christ is our only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5-6) with the Father, but Mary can intercede (pray for us) with her Son Jesus. Jesus worked his first miracle at her request (Jn. 2:1-12). Just as we can ask other members of the Church on earth to pray for us (1 Tim. 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:3; Phil. 4:22), so too, can we ask members of the Church in heaven to pray for us (Rv. 5:8; 6:9-11; 7:10-12; 8:2-6; Mt. 22:31, 32).

We are also called to imitation of Christ. Did Jesus follow the commandments? Sure. Including the fourth commandment? Yes. Then if Jesus honored Mary his Mother and took her direction seriously, would this commandment be abrogated in heaven? Further, if Mary is given to us as our Spiritual Mother, are we not to pay the same respect to her as he did– imitating Christ even in this? Yes. The honor we give Mary our Spiritual Mother in no way subtracts from the worship we give to God any more than honoring our earthly mother does. In fact, it conforms to God’s holy will, and we who are adopted sons of God honor her whom the Son honored.