The Church prohibits worship of anyone or anything than God. Yet, many people have been convinced to believe the canard of Mary worship. Even some Catholics. I used to believe it too. I had fallen into the trap of judging before understanding.
Its so easy to do. All of us are prone to confirmation bias, which is “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses”and to reject information that conflicts with what we believe or feel to be true.
When I first discovered that what I believed about the Catholic faith was based on false evidence I didn’t want it to be true.
The discovery happened when one of the teachers I admired the most, R. C. Sproul, made a claim and I decided to read the original sources to understand more about what he was talking about. I was quite taken back because his claim didn’t match the historical sources. I dug a little deeper and found that his claim contradicted numerous original sources. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I hoped that it was just a one off problem. Surely, I could trust the other things he taught, right?
It was tempting to push the dilemma aside, but I am a researcher and my desire to seek truth, no matter what the cost, won. So, I kept researching. I couldn’t believe how many Protestant sources were passing along false information. One of the sources of misinformation is a book called Roman Catholicism by Lorraine Boettner. It contains made-up dates, made up councils, and outright lies. It doesn’t contain a single footnote or reference to back up his false claims. Yet, I have seen numerous Protestant authors, apologists, pastors and even friends rely on it for their information about Catholicism.
Another one of those sources is Matt Slick, over at the anti-Catholic CARM website. Matt Slick wrote this about the Blessed Mother, Mary. “material from Roman Catholic sources” say Mary is “the all holy one,” is to be prayed to, worshipped, that she “brings us the gifts of eternal life” and she “made atonement for the sins of man” Whoa. If that statement were true, no wonder people would think Catholics worship Mary!
And most people assume he is presenting solid “evidence”. But he isn’t. If you take the time to read the supposed “Roman Catholic sources” for yourself it will become disturbingly clear that Matt Slick ripped those phrases from their context to make them say the OPPOSITE of what they really say.
Take a look at the “quote” that Mr. Slick presents. I put that it quotation marks because this “quote” is edited to distort what was really said:
“Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her divine son for men, made atonement for the sins of man and (de congruon) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In this manner she cooperates in the subjective redemption of mankind.” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ott, page 213) – Matt Slick
Wow, that sounds like it “proves” the Catholics worship Mary doesn’t it?? Most of his readers wouldn’t bother to check Slick’s sources because what he says confirms what they already “know” – that Catholics worship Mary.
But I was on a mission to find the truth so I read the real quote in context. I was stunned. The words in red in the first paragraph give the context and the words clearly expose Matt Slick’s claim as a lie. The words Matt Slick left out are in red in the second Paragraph:
Christ alone truly offered the sacrifice of atonement on the Cross; Mary merely gave him moral support in this action. Thus Mary is not entitled to the title “Priest” (sacerdos). Indeed this is expressly laid down by the Holy Office (1916, 1927). Christ, as the Church teaches, “conquered the enemy of the human race alone (solus)” (D 711); in the same way, He alone acquired the grace of Redemption for the whole human race, including Mary. The words of Luke 1,38: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” imply Mary’s mediate, remote cooperation in the Redemption. St Ambrose expressly teaches: “Christ’s passion did not require any support” (De inst. virg. 7).
In the power of the grace of Redemption merited by Christ, Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her Divine Son for men, made atonement for the sins of men, and (de congruo) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In this manner she co-operates in the subjective redemption of mankind.”
Understanding what De Congruo means sheds even more light on the statement: Pope Pius X explains in the Encylical “Ad diem illum”: The Blessed Virgin merits for us de congruo what Christ merited de condigno) is, as the present tense “promeret” shows, not indeed to be taken as referring to the historical objective Redemption, which occurred once and for all, but to her ever-present, intercessory co-operation in the subjective redemption.*
Indeed this is expressly laid down by the Holy Office (1916, 1927). Christ, as the Church teaches, “conquered the enemy of the human race alone (solus)” (D 711);
“Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from, nor adds anything to, the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.” (underline mine)
Do you see what anti-Catholic Matt Slick did there? The Church clearly states that those terms should NOT be understood the way Matt Slick present them. Slick takes the words out of context to claim the Church says what she herself says she does NOT mean.
Context is everything. Words mean things. Objective and subjective have different meanings.
We Are Co-Laboers With Christ. So was Mary, in a Unique Way.
Let’s now take a look at what Ludwig Ott’s quote was actually referring to: the biblical concept of our participation in Christ’s suffering and co-laboring with Christ.
“Mary was a co-laborer with Christ like we are. For example, we affirm that Jesus is the one High Priest in the new covenant, but the New Testament also calls us to share in that priesthood (Rev. 1:5–6; 1 Pet. 2:5,9).
We share in Christ’s sufferings (Matt. 16:24; 1 Pet. 4:13).Paul calls himself a “co-worker with Christ” (1 Cor. 3:9) who shares in Christ’s sufferings (2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 3:10) 2 Cor. 1:6 says , If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. Rom. 8:17,and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
One verse Protestants often miss is: Eph. 3:13) Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church.
Peter (1 Pet. 4:13). But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed“. –Mary, Mother of Salvation, Catholic Answers
In speaking about Mary’s participation in Christ’s work, the Catechism of The Catholic Church explains how Mary cooperated in bringing Jesus Christ incarnate to us when she said “yes” to the angel. “By pronouncing her “fiat” at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish”. Did you catch that? She was collaborating with the whole work her Son was to Accomplish. How was she collaborating? She carried and birthed the Savior of the World! That is her subjective cooperation in the Incarnation.
So, No, Catholics don’t worship Mary. They honor her just as Jesus honored her. The Catholic Church’s teaching about Mary is completely compatible with scripture. It is Christ honoring. And it is beautiful. We are among the generations that call her blessed.
If you would like to learn more about why Mary matters, check out this video by a former Protestant an discover the biblical and historical evidence for the Catholic teaching. Pax.