Saturday, June 19, 2010

Meeting the Mother of God, Part III: Defending Mary

By the fall semester of my senior year in college, I decided I was going to be received into the Catholic Church at the Great Vigil of Easter 2009. At the time I still had some qualms about the place of Mary in the Church. Catholics don't worship Mary, but why do they show her so much devotion? If you can pray to Jesus, where's the need to ask Mary for her intercessions?

One weekend, I visited my parents' church. By that time, I already made my decision. I attended the English-speaking service there. While I was listening, the speaker Carl made this claim, "You guys, we have a whole religion of Roman Catholicism that worships Mary." Interesting, I thought. Let's talk to him afterward.

After the service, I asked him about it, and informed him that Catholics don't worship Mary. Carl said, "Oh yes they do. I am a former Catholic." That definitely disoriented me. Huh? Okay, maybe I need to do my research further on the Catholic Church.

We had a little talk, about praying to Mary and he made the claim that prayer is worship, therefore, praying to Mary is worshiping her. We didn't have much time to talk, but he asked for my e-mail address so that we could dialogue further on what Catholics believe.

A couple months later, Carl e-mailed me on Mary, citing Vatican II documents and the Catechism.

I tried replying as charitably as I could. At this point, several e-mails have been exchanged. And I was already received and confirmed in the Catholic Church. I began to suspect that Carl's intention in our e-mail conversations were not to understand what Catholics believe, but to show me that I am in error. I told him, "I don't know if the purpose of your e-mails is to call me back into the Protestant fold or for your own understanding of the Catholic faith. If it is to re-convert me, please do stop. I am firm in my decision, the Catholic Church has been as the source and summit of my walk in Christ through the Holy Communion. I was received into the Church this past Easter. If it is to come to a better understanding of what Catholics believe, I would then be delighted to continue our conversation."

His response was uncharitable as it was ill-informed, "it is my firm conviction to help those who have been deceived by other religions. You talk so highly about the Roman Catholic Church... I am concerned for your soul, not your affiliation with another church over your church... I pray that you are truly saved, but an exaltation of a person or persons to the same degree as Christ will not save. We must worship and follow Jesus the Jew, the Messiah that came and saved us."

As it was explained in previous blogs, Catholics have devotions to the Mother of God, but we do not worship her. We do not give her total homage of who we are.

When we make statements of offense, to break down arguments, it causes the other side to come to the defense of what they consider good, sacred, or true. Carl’s last e-mail placed me on the fast-track to my relationship with the Virgin Mother: by looking up arguments in support of Marian doctrines, by praying with her and through her to the Gate of Life, in meditating upon her role in God’s plan of salvation. And Carl’s e-mail was what pushed me into loving Mary more.

Next week: Marian Devotions

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