Saturday, June 30, 2007

Who Needs Mary When We Have God?

Here is a question about praying to Mary, from the HCR forum. In my next two posts, I will give my answers to some follow-up questions on the communion of saints.
I read the explenation of why you pray to Mary, but why pray to her instead of praying to God. I pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, as the Holy Siprit guides me. I see the explanation of the qualities of Mary, caring and understanding, but God is the reason we know the qualities, he revealed them to us. So why pray to Mary instead of praying directly to God as nonCatholics do?
Well, there's no "instead of" in the prayer life of the Catholic. We pray to God and to Mary. Note however that this does not mean they are on the same level. A prayer to God is different from a prayer to Mary.

We "pray to" God in the common sense of the phrase. In other words, a prayer to Him is an act of adoration and humility, and an acknowledgement that He alone is God. We "pray to" Mary in the Shakespearean sense of the phrase. In traditional usage, to "pray" can mean to make a request, for example when someone says, "What pray tell is going on?" So, a prayer to Mary is a request that she will pray for us, like when we ask our friends and relatives to pray for us.

As Catholics, we use the phrase without specifying which sense we mean, and our devotional language regarding Mary often makes it appear as though we actually "pray to" Mary in the common sense of the phrase. But, as Catholics, we know what we mean. We pray in ways befitting of our tradition and in line with time-honored ways of speaking and praying. We pray as the saints prayed. I know that this can be confusing to Protestants, but I think this requires explanation by informed Catholics, not a change in how we speak and pray.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

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