This is one of the most common questions and/or accusations against Catholics. I’m glad I got a chance to address it.
Full question by anonymous:
Why do Catholics worship Mary?
Catholics do not worship Mary.
Catholics worship God alone, revealed to us a Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To God alone do we direct worship and praise, God alone is the One we adore. It is by the power and will of God that the universe came into existence, and it’s by His will and love that it is sustained.
Catholics honor Saints (Holy men and women from throughout Church history) the first among these is the Blessed Virgin Mary. By calling Mary “blessed” we are only following the instructions of the Holy Spirit, as voiced through Mary herself in her Magnificat, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48b)
The Hail Mary, the penultimate Marian prayer, is itself based on scripture. The first half being almost direct qoutes, and the second half being a petition for the Blessed Mother’s prayers on our behalf;
The first half:
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.” Based on Luke 1:28
“Blessed art Thou among womenAnd Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.” Based on Luke 1:42
Then follows the petition:
“Holy Mary, Mother of God Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
Like all other Catholic doctrines, Marian devotion is intertwined with other doctrines, especially The Communion of Saints, as can be seen by our petitions for Mary to pray for us. Any assistance or aid rendered by the intercession of Mary, on our behalf, is done so through the will and power of God.
The reverence shown by Catholics to God, Mary and the saints, can be divided into two categories, with the second being divided into two more:
1. Latria: This is adoration and worship that is directed towards God. Only God is to be worshiped and adored.
2a. Dulia: This is veneration and honor due to those holy men and women who served God during their lifetime, and now enjoy the beatific vision of God in heaven. This often includes prayers and petitions for these saints to pray for us to God. (See Communion of Saints)
2b. Hyperdulia: This is the same as dulia, but to a higher degree. Catholics revere Mary as the greatest of all God’s creatures, because by her saying yes to God’s plan, was born the Savior of the world.
As much as were revere, respect, honor, and venerate Mary, for her trust and faith in God, and for her suffering that she endured at the foot of the Cross, we do not worship her. To worship a created being over the creator would be blasphemous and condemned by the Church in paragraph 2113 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.”
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