September 21, 2009

Questions about Mary, the Mother of Jesus

I am studying with a person who claims that Mary should have no role in our prayers to God. This person says that we are to pray through Jesus only and that he only is our intercessor to the Lord. He also claims that Mary has no influence to God or Jesus in Heaven. What can I show this person in the Bible that he has been taught falsely?

Hi, thanks for writing!
I don’t think you will be able to prove anything, because he has probably made up his mind, but here is one way to look at it, and a few possible responses.
First, does this person accept that one Christian can pray for another? I’ve heard from people who believe in Jesus but won’t ask anyone else to pray for them, because they will only go to Jesus directly. In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, Melchizedek makes an offering for Abraham, Nathan is asked to pray for Kind David, and the Maccabees prayed for the souls of their dead (this last one is in a book of the Bible removed by Martin Luther). In the New Testament, we have Simon Magus asking Peter to pray for him (Acts 8:24). People used the intercession of St. Paul through objects he had touched (what we call relics now, Acts 19:11-13). In the second chapter of Mark, four friends of a paralyzed man brought him to Jesus, and Jesus, “seeing their faith” healed the man. James 5:14-20 is excellent, too. There are several others: we are told to pray for those who govern and others, too.
Now, if he still won’t acknowledge we can pray for each other, there is no point in continuing.
If he admits we can pray for each other, then does he believe this ends at death? Many believers in Jesus think our prayers for one another end at death, and they can’t be convinced otherwise. Perhaps Hebrews 12:1-2 will help, but maybe not. Again, if he believes the dead cannot pray, there is no point in continuing.
Lastly, if he admits those in Heaven can pray for us, then does he not believe Mary is in Heaven? Some people believe she had no choice in the plan of salvation, and many of these people accept the idea of predestination as meaning that God created some people to be damned and others for glory, certainly not a Catholic idea! Of course, Mary interceded for the bride and groom at Cana (second chapter of John), and she was present through the crucifixion and Pentecost, where she received the Holy Spirit, too. If she was not a believer in her son, why did she receive the Holy Spirit? If this doesn’t establish her credentials, I don’t think you will make much progress with him.
At the same time, remember that the issue is not whether we must ask for Mary’s intercession, but whether we may. The Church does not require us to pray to anyone but God, except in the Penitential Rite at Mass (“I ask … to pray for me to the Lord our God”). Not every Catholic is devoted to Mary, but none can say she doesn’t matter and still be truly Catholic (“universal”).
I hope this helps, please let me know if it does (or not), and remember me in your prayers.

I don’t think I will be able to prove anything to him either. It’s not in the Bible. Yes, he believes that one can pray for another. That is not his point though. He says nowhere in scripture are we instructed to pray “through” Mary.
Finally, he claims that Mary was just another human like you and I. Yes, she was chosen to be the earthly mother of Christ he says, but that does not put her on a higher level than us. He said that she too felt the need for a savior. He gave me this scripture Matthew 6:9-15. He says that this is how we are instructed to pray and there is no mention of Mary only Jesus. Then he showed me in 1 John 2:1 where it says Jesus is the advocate for the Christian and not Mary. He said Jesus is also said to be the mediator between God and man 1 Timothy 2:5, Mary is not mentioned here. There seem to be some kind of problem with my Catholic belief.

Yes, it is difficult. He is right in many respects, though. The Church considers Mary just like you and I in that she is human, not divine. And the Church defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854), which says that Mary needed redemption, too, and that it was provided at her conception through the merits of Jesus (God isn’t limited by time, so Mary could be redeemed before the Sacrifice of Jesus).
Personally, I’d put anybody in the upper room at Pentecost higher than us, and she was there. Mary gave the best advice any human being ever gave, too: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.”
Clearly, Jesus is the mediator, and we approach the Father through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. You will notice this in the prayers at Mass. Still, we ask others to pray for us, and Mary is not exempt from our family of faith.
Some Catholics say foolish things about Mary, and we need to be careful. Mary will do nothing apart from Jesus, and she can only pray for us, not wield some separate power of her own. So when people say, “Jesus won’t grant every prayer, but Mary will”, that is wrong. Some also say Mary “understands” us better than God, which is blasphemy.
I hope this helps. At least this gives us a chance to think about these things, which is a great blessing and chance for fellowship. Please do write anytime!

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