Catholics are often accused of worshipping Mary, seeing it as idolatry and blasphemous. We are criticized for putting her above God or making Him her equal. But is this true? In this article, let’s talk about who Mary is and whether or not Catholics worship her.
Catholics do not worship Mary as God is the only one we adore and worship. But as the mother of Jesus Christ, we love and honor her – believing that she can lead and help us get closer to her son. We also give Mary special veneration, holding her above all the saints and other creatures of God.
So who exactly is Mary to Catholics, and why do we honor and venerate her? Moreover, what does the Bible say about this practice? Let me answer these questions below and let’s take a look at the Catholic Church’s teachings about Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ himself.
Who is Mary to Catholics?
Before anything else, let’s get one thing straight: Catholics believe that worship and adoration are reserved for God alone. So we do not worship Mary. However, we do pray to her, honor her, and venerate her – which, she rightfully deserves. But why?
Well, firstly because she is the mother of God. This can be found in Luke 1:42-43 wherein Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, greets her right after being blessed with a baby by the Lord. She says: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Secondly, Mary is our spiritual mother just as Jesus made her to be. See, while suffering at the cross, Jesus hands over Mary to John – and to us – to be our spiritual mother. This can be found in John 19:26-27, which says: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”
Finally, Mary is important to God’s plan of salvation. After all, she was the one chosen by God to bring Jesus Christ into the world (Luke 1:31-38). That said, Mary gave us the Redeemer, the Son of God, and the one who saved us from our sins.
So you see, Mary plays a significant role not only in the Catholic Church but also in the whole Christian faith. Considering who she is and how important she is, don’t you agree that it’s only fitting that we honor and love her?
Does the Catholic Bible Say to Worship Mary?
The Bible doesn’t tell us to worship Mary. However, it does encourage us to honor and venerate her. First and foremost, Exodus 20:12 states the 4th Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Because we see Mary as our spiritual mother, it’s only proper that we give her respect and honor just as any child would to his mother.
In Luke 1:42, Mary is described as: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” God also favors Mary, which can be found in Luke 1:30-31, which states: “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”
All these show how Mary is “venerated” by God himself, favoring her over all the other women in the world. And it makes sense because God did choose her to carry His only son. So if God honors her, then we should also give her the highest honor and veneration.
The Catholic Church supports this. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#971): “All generations will call me blessed: ‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.’ The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion.
From the most ancient times, the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God’, to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. This very special devotion differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”
This “very special devotion” is called “hyperdulia” in Roman Catholic theology. It’s a veneration offered to the Virgin Mary alone, honoring her above all the other saints. The other types of practices are latria, which is worship that we give only to God, and Dulia, which is veneration, honoring human people like saints.
Is It OK to Worship Virgin Mary?
It is not OK to worship the Blessed Virgin Mary because only God should be worshipped. But as Catholics, most of us were raised to love, respect, and honor her – which the Church tells us we should do. So contrary to others’ accusations, we don’t see Mary as some sort of a “goddess” or someone higher or equal to God.
For us, we regard her with the most respect because God honored her and because she serves as the perfect example of loving and obeying God. We also honor Mary because she brings us closer to her son, Jesus Christ. St. Louis de Montfort gives the perfect explanation of why Catholics venerate – and not worship – the Virgin Mary.
“It is as if a poor peasant, wishing to win the friendship and favor of the king, were to go the queen and give her an apple – his only possession – for her to offer it to the king. The queen, accepting the peasant’s humble gift, puts it on a beautiful golden dish and presents it to the king on behalf of the peasant. The apple in itself would not be a gift worthy of a king, but presented by the queen in person on a dish of gold, it becomes fit for any king.
Mary presents our good works to Jesus. She does not keep anything we offer for herself, as if she were our last end, but unfailingly gives everything to Jesus. So by the very fact we give anything to her, we are giving it to Jesus.” (True Devotion to Mary 147-148)