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Catholics, Protestants, and Immaculate Mary
The Catholic Thing ^ | December 8, 2012 | David G. Bonagura, Jr.

Posted on 12/08/2012 2:24:39 PM PST by NYer

Do Catholics worship Mary? This question is as old as the Protestant Reformation itself, and it rests, like other disputed doctrinal points, on a false premise that has been turned into a wedge: the veneration of Mary detracts from the worship of Christ.

This seeming opposition between Mary and Christ is symptomatic of the Protestant tendency, begun by Luther, to view the entirety of Christian life through a dialectical lens – a lens of conflict and division. With the Reformation the integrity of Christianity is broken and its formerly coherent elements are now set in opposition. The Gospel versus the Law. Faith versus Works. Scripture versus Tradition. Authority versus Individuality. Faith versus Reason. Christ versus Mary.

The Catholic tradition rightly sees the mutual complementarity of these elements of the faith, as they all contribute to our ultimate end – living with God now and in eternity. To choose any one of these is to choose them all.

By contrast, to assert that Catholics worship Mary along with or in place of Christ, or that praying to Mary somehow impedes Christ’s role as “the one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim 2:5) is to create a false dichotomy between the Word made flesh and the woman who gave the Word his flesh. No such opposition exists. The one Mediator entrusted his mediation to the will and womb of Mary. She does not impede his mediation – she helps to make it possible.

Within this context we see the ancillary role that the ancilla Domini plays in her divine Son’s mission. Mary’s is not a surrogate womb rented and then forgotten in God’s plan. She is physically connected to Christ and his life, and because of this she is even more deeply connected to him in the order of grace. She is, in fact, “full of grace,” as only one who is redeemed by Christ could be.

The feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception celebrates the very first act of salvation by Christ in the world. Redemption is made possible for all by his precious blood shed on the cross. Yet Mary’s role in the Savior’s life and mission is so critical and so unique that God saw it necessary to wash her in the blood of the Lamb in advance, at the first moment of her conception.

Called (from the series Woman) ©2006 Bruce Herman
  [oil on wood, 65 x 48”; collection of Bjorn and Barbara Iwarsson] For more information visit

This reality could not be more Biblical: the angel greets Mary as “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), which is literally rendered as “already graced” (kecharitōmenē). Following Mary, the Church has “pondered what sort of greeting this might be” for centuries. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, ultimately defined in 1854, is nothing other than a rational expression of the angel’s greeting contained in Scripture: Mary is “already graced” with Christ’s redemption at the very moment of her creation.

Because God called Mary to the unique vocation of serving as the Mother of God, it is not just her soul that is graced, as is the case for us when we receive the sacraments. Mary’s entire being, body and soul, is full of grace so that she may be a worthy ark for the New Covenant. And just as the ark of the old covenant was adorned with gold to be a worthy house for God’s word, Mary is conceived without original sin to be the living and holy house for God’s Word.

Thus Mary is not only conceived immaculately, that is, without stain of sin. She also is the Immaculate Conception. Her entire being was specifically created by God with unique privilege so that she could fulfill her role in God’s plan of salvation. “Free from sin,” both original and personal, is the necessary consequence of being “full of grace.”

Protestants claim that veneration of Mary as it is practiced by Catholics is not biblical. St. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Paul is not holding himself up as the end goal, but as a means to Christ, the true end. And if a person is imitated, he is simultaneously venerated.

If we should imitate Paul, how much more should we imitate Mary, who fulfilled God’s will to the greatest degree a human being could. Throughout her life she humbled herself so that God could be exalted, and because of this, Christ has fulfilled his promise by exalting his lowly mother to the seat closest to him in God’s kingdom.

Mary is the model of humility, charity, and openness to the will of God. She allows a sword to pierce her heart for the sake of the world’s salvation. She shows us the greatness to which we are called: a life free from sin and filled with God’s grace that leads to union with God in Heaven. She is the model disciple, and therefore worthy of imitation and veneration, not as an end in herself, but as the means to the very purpose of her – and our – existence: Christ himself.

God’s lowly handmaiden would not want it any other way.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
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To: CynicalBear
Getting a little personal there annalex?

No, not at all. I respond to all reasonable posts and allow myself to ignore silly ones. I care very little who the poster is.

661 posted on 12/12/2012 5:31:23 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: CynicalBear; boatbums; daniel1212
Wasn’t he out of [Catholic Church]?

Yes he was. That was my point: he was ex-communicated.

662 posted on 12/12/2012 5:32:52 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: daniel1212
As your accusation against Luther - aside from the fantasy about lusting to marry and escaping in barrels to do so, and making that as evil as homo marriage - rests upon the premise that Rome is the supreme authority...

Obviously I cannot know about lusting or not lusting but they did escape in a barrel -- that is no fantasy. The evil is a bit less than homosexuality since heterosexual lust is a natural instinct. The arguments in defense of their fornication are, however, the same, because the crime is the same: people not free to marry attempt to "marry". And yes, Rome is the supreme authority for Christians on earth.

663 posted on 12/12/2012 5:36:59 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
>>because I love and understand the Holy Scripture.<<

No one who understands scripture would align themselves with the RCC. Catholics have been duped and do not study scripture without the influence of the errors of the RCC. It’s the RCC first then scripture. Mark my words. There will come a time when all who align themselves with the RCC will rue the day.

664 posted on 12/12/2012 5:44:52 PM PST by CynicalBear
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To: annalex
>>Yes he was. That was my point: he was ex-communicated.<<

Then he was no longer under the control of the RCC and didn’t have to abide by any vows to it. And don’t try to tell me that his vows were to God. False teachings of the RCC do not put a person under obligation to anyone other then the RCC.

665 posted on 12/12/2012 5:48:19 PM PST by CynicalBear
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To: daniel1212; RnMomof7; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; smvoice; blue-duncan
Not so; a pastor, priest, man or even women can be referred to as presbuteros, but being the latter does not necessarily make them the former, whereas hiereus always means priest.

There are usages in the New Testament where it is impossible to conclude from context that the person was specifically a priest. The best case would be the female form "πρεσβυτερας ως μητερας" (1 Timothy 5:2), but it could simply mean a priest's wife. There are others like "μετεκαλεσατο τους πρεσβυτερους της εκκλησιας" in Acts 20:17, where it demonstrably refers to a company of priests and bishops, as a part of the speech is addressed to only bishops. Lastly, in Acts 2:17, I agree, the usage is most likely "old" as opposed to young, -- but the whole passage is a quote from the Septuagint.

You need to understand that the language of the Church was just forming just as the priesthood was in the process of forming, and the word ordinarily meaning "elder" came to denote "priest". It is also true that "ιερευς", unlike "πρεσβυτερος", was a settled term, so we see no diverse usages. It was not my point that EVERY usage of "πρεσβυτερος" is provably a reference to a sacramental priest, -- certainly not those in the Gospels, -- but that whenever a function is attached to "πρεσβυτερος" is it either sacramental or separate from laity.

666 posted on 12/12/2012 5:54:53 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: boatbums; daniel1212; metmom

You are entitled to your opinion; however, I substantiated mine. I certainly agree that God, not men is the ultimate judge. My point is not so much to impugn Luther as to point out the cultural decline, particularly in sexual morals, traceable to him and a decline that meshes in well with Protestant individualistic theology of Sola Fide and anticlericalism.

667 posted on 12/12/2012 5:58:30 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: RnMomof7; CynicalBear
Did you know that the church teaches that the validity of the eucharist depends on the intention of the priest during the "consecration"

That would be Donatism, a heresy. The opposite is the Catholic teaching.

668 posted on 12/12/2012 5:59:51 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: boatbums
Modernity being what? Electric lights? Indoor plumbing? Are you also against that?

No, of course not. The error of modernity is in the modern view on autonomy of man vis-a-vis God, nurtured by Sola Fide and Prostantism in general. For example, your defense of Luther's fornication is something that would not occur to a man of antiquity or of the Middle Ages; yet it is exactly what every teenager today would say to his parents: "We are in love, sex is a natural instinct, we should be able to marry since we are in love, who are you to judge, I did not mean it when I promised to be chaste, your religion is rules set by men, etc."

He got a death sentence and persecution in return

Not for the 95 Theses; they were fine questions to ask, and the Church did address them amicably. The schism occurred because of his intransigence when he allowed himself to be overrun with anger toward His Holiness. He was an ugly soul, and he produced an ugly schism.

669 posted on 12/12/2012 6:07:52 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: stfassisi
Someone being cured of cancer is NOT a counterfeit miracle.

Thus, these miracles can only be provided by God.

Quite a claim.

Thus, quite a conclusion.

Got any evidence?

670 posted on 12/12/2012 6:09:34 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: metmom; CynicalBear
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

I do have such mind: I love Mary because I love Jesus Who loved her and came to me through her. Re-read the article about false Protestant dialectics.

671 posted on 12/12/2012 6:09:51 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
Like with Elsie I might ignore some of your chatter, but I will respond to anything of substance and not repetitive.

I do tend to chatter Scripture; don't I.

672 posted on 12/12/2012 6:10:33 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: annalex
It did not happen enough; I believe it must continue.


In your humble opinion the CHURCH is not where it should be right now?

673 posted on 12/12/2012 6:11:54 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: annalex
I am Catholic, and vociferously anti-Protestant, because I love and understand the Holy Scripture.


You had ME fooled!

I thought it was 'because' you like the way the CHURCH has interpreted the Scripture.

674 posted on 12/12/2012 6:13:37 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: stfassisi; RnMomof7; metmom; Natural Law

Satan cures cancer. Mary doesn’t. Wonders of Protestant faith on display.

675 posted on 12/12/2012 6:13:37 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
There are usages in the New Testament where it is impossible to conclude from context that the person was specifically a priest.

And others that show that AALL are priests.

(Nice number you got here...)

676 posted on 12/12/2012 6:15:22 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: annalex

By HIS stripes you are healed.

NOT by her prayers.

677 posted on 12/12/2012 6:17:17 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: CynicalBear

You know, I am quite comfortable in my love for Jesus, and for Mary, and for the Scripture, and for my Church, and if you follow my posts around, you will quite possibly learn something about all these things as well.

678 posted on 12/12/2012 6:28:03 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: CynicalBear
Then [Luther] was no longer under the control of the RCC and didn’t have to abide by any vows to it.

Well, yes. It is a bit like saying: since he is convicted of murder we do not have to worry about him cheating when counting change. He sure was not freed from simple decency of respecting the chastity of a woman especially one he probably loved, and she was not free to marry.

679 posted on 12/12/2012 6:30:55 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: RnMomof7; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; smvoice; HarleyD; HossB86; wmfights; ...

The divisions within Catholicism are revealing in what they bring forth, but a touchy issue. And here i am not delving into the issue of sacraments themselves, as that best belongs in a different post, but RC teaching.

(I will say that I do concur that anyone may conditionally baptize in an emergency, but that such things as anointing the sick, which is supposed to be for healing, not a sign of impending death as in the “Last Rites” [Ja. 5:14,15] and that of conferring the Holy Spirit [Acts 9:17; Gal. 3:5] requires true Holy Spirit ministers of faith.)

I do not see the premise that only three things are required for a minister to validly confer a sacrament, matter, form, and intention, refuted by Augustine or Aquinas or RC teaching, as it does not preclude an evil man or otherwise unbeliever from performing baptism (or a bad priest for other sacraments), if he uses an acceptable form, and words and “intends to do what the church does” (which part can get interpretive).

Thus Aquinas states as quoted, “even an unbeliever can confer a true sacrament, provided that the other essentials be there” (one of the essentials being intent).

This is contrary to the Donatists who were rigorists, and held that the church must be a church of practicing “saints,” not “sinners,” and that sacraments, such as baptism, administered by unsaintly were not valid.

But back to your point that the validity of the eucharist or any sacrament for that matter, depends on the intention of the priest, indeed the intent of the minister of the sacrament is part of the criteria for validity, even though one cannot be sure that is the intent of the heart at that time. However, it is basically to be presumed the intent is kosher.

And to teach that intent is not necessary is contrary to RC teaching:

The Catholic Encyclopedia>Intention: The Church teaches very unequivocally that for the valid conferring of the sacraments, the minister must have the intention of doing at least what the Church does. This is laid down with great emphasis by the Council of Trent (sess. VII). The opinion once defended by such theologians as Catharinus and Salmeron that there need only be the intention to perform deliberately the external rite proper to each sacrament, and that, as long as this was true, the interior dissent of the minister from the mind of the Church would not invalidate the sacrament, no longer finds adherents. The common doctrine now is that a real [virtual at least] internal intention to act as a minister of Christ, or to do what Christ instituted the sacraments to effect, in other words, to truly baptize, absolve, etc., is required. (

The Catholic Encyclopedia>Baptism (regarding baptism by “heretics”) states:

“Practically, converts in the United States are almost invariably baptized either absolutely or conditionally, not because the baptism administered by heretics is held to be invalid, but because it is generally impossible to discover whether they had ever been properly baptized. Even in cases where a ceremony had certainly been performed, reasonable doubt of validity will generally remain, on account of either the intention of the administrator or the mode of administration...Still...if the proper matter and form be used and the one conferring the sacrament really “intends to perform what the Church performs” the baptism is undoubtedly valid.”

The minister’s insufficient faith concerning baptism never of itself makes baptism invalid. Sufficient intention in a minister who baptizes is to be presumed, unless there is serious ground for doubting that the minister intended to do what the Church does. (

Thus Can. 869 of the 1983 of canon law teaches,

§2 Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community are not to be baptized conditionally unless there is a serious reason for doubting the validity of their baptism, on the ground of the matter or the form of words used in the baptism, or of the intention of the adult being baptized or of that of the baptizing minister. (

Catholic Encyclopedia>Sacraments”

“To be a minister of the sacraments under and with Christ, a man must act as a man, i.e. as a rational being; hence it is absolutely necessary that he have the intention of doing what the Church does. This was declared by Eugene IV in 1439 (Denzinger-Bannwart, 695) and was solemnly defined in the Council of Trent (Sess.VII, can.II). ..for it is by the intention, says St. Thomas (III:64:8, ad 1) that a man subjects and unites himself to the principal agent (Christ). Moreover, by rationally pronouncing the words of the form, the minister must determine what is not sufficiently determined or expressed by the matter applied, e.g. the significance of pouring water on the head of the child (Summa Theologiæ III.64.8). -

In addition, besides the intent of the minister, RC teachings holds that some intention is necessary, if not attention, for valid reception (except in children who have not yet reached the age of reason, or the insensible. Attention is also needed for licit reception of some sacraments):

“...for the valid reception of any sacrament except the Eucharist, it is necessary that they have the intention of receiving it...”

“By the intention man submits himself to the operation of the sacraments which produce their effects ex opere operato [by the act itself], hence attention is not necessary for the valid reception of the sacraments. One who might be distracted, even voluntarily, during the conferring, e.g. of Baptism, would receive the sacrament validly.”

For Mass or Sacrament to be valid, three things are needed — right matter, right form, right intention. Anyone can baptize, but other Sacraments need in general a Bishop or a Priest. (”Father” William Most, “Validity of Mass and Sacraments;” (

A statement that is attributed to Cardinal Bellarmine but which i found unverifiable, states,

No one can be certain, with the certainty of faith, that he receives a true sacrament, because the sacrament cannot be valid without the intention of the minister, and no man can see another’s intention “ (unverified, attributed to Bellarmine in “Disput. Controv. De Justine.” III. Viii. 5)

Understanding intent also extends to discerning the intent which is made by words, so as to know what level a teaching falls under and what kind of assent is required:

But before being bound to give such an assent [of faith, required for infallible teachings], the believer has a right to be certain that the teaching in question is definitive (since only definitive teaching is infallible); and the means by which the definitive intention, whether of a council or of the pope, may be recognized have been stated above. (Catholic Encyclopedia>Infallibility)

Which can be difficult (but not as much as knowing the heart of a minister), and thus there is no certainty about how many infallible teachings in all there are.

It also extends to marriage:

“A valid marriage requires the proper intention at the time that the vows are exchanged. The parties must intend to make a marriage, which by definition is a life-long communion open to new human life,” (Canon 1096) as entering into a marriage with the intention of never having children is a “grave wrong and more than likely grounds for an annulment.” (McLachlan, P. “Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.”( [except in the case of Mary, contrary to its description by Moses and the Lord: (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6)]

680 posted on 12/12/2012 6:58:56 PM PST by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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