Responding to falsehoods about the Virgin Mary and the Rosary

Catholics need to become better spokespersons for Marian devotion, both in their understanding of its scriptural basis and in their articulation of the same.

(Anuja Mary/Unsplash.com)

Editor’s note: The following homily was preached by the Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Bronx, New York, on the occasion of their patronal feast, October 6, 2019. It was originally posted at CWR on October 7, 2019.

“Do Catholics worship Mary and the other saints?” Catholics are often insulted by this question and frequently refuse to answer it on that account. A non-response, however, is not helpful for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it is an extremely important question – the answer to which determines whether or not one is a Christian.

The relationship between Catholics and Mary mystifies so many non-Catholic Christians, and we are equally mystified by their strange silence about her – a silence which is awkward and uncomfortable, a silence which is usually broken only once a year at Christmastime because ancient carols force believers to acknowledge and sing of the Virgin who became the Mother of the Messiah. Of course, not all non-Catholic Christians fall into this category: Eastern Orthodox devotion to the Mother of God is very strong; many Anglicans and Lutherans share our convictions about the Blessed Virgin, and one of the best books on the rosary was written by a Methodist minister.1 By and large, though, Protestants have not followed the example of John the Beloved Disciple by making room in their homes for the Mother of Our Lord (cf. Jn 19:27).

Catholics need to become better spokespersons for Marian devotion, both in their understanding of its scriptural basis and in their articulation of the same. In many circumstances, an honest dialogue brings to light that the problem of many non-Catholics with Mary is not so much Mary herself as the way she is presented. Such people need to be challenged forthrightly and charitably to think about the Virgin of Nazareth and to reflect on their usual silence (if not also their not-so-unusual hostility) in her regard. Our goal should not be to rouse their sensibilities to the heights of Marian devotion, but to raise their consciousness to an appreciation of the role of the Blessed Virgin in her Son’s work of salvation.

The teaching of the Scriptures and the Church is clear: Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tm 2:5). No other person in Heaven or on earth can take His place. The role of Mary or any other saint is to lead the believer to Christ. This subordinate form of mediation derives its meaning and effectiveness from the Lord Himself and is not something the saints possess on their own. Where, then, does Mary fit into the picture?

Catholics look on Mary, above all, as a model and guide. By her “yes” to the will of the Father at the Annunciation, Mary became the first and best Christian ever to live. Her life is a testimony to the wonderful things that can happen when the human person cooperates with the divine plan. In agreeing to be the human vessel which brought the Messiah into the world, the Blessed Mother played an essential part in Christ’s salvific mission. She manifested Christian humility and obedience when she responded to God’s will: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Her faith in God and her response to His will mark Mary as the first human being to accept Christ, body and soul. as she welcomed Him into her very self. The Church ever since echoes the words of Mary’s kinswoman Elizabeth. as she proclaims: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). Indeed, we count it our special privilege and obligation to fulfill Our Lady’s prophetic utterance in her canticle of praise, the Magnificat: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 2:48).

Beyond that, we see the beginning and end of the Lord’s public ministry recorded by St. John as uniquely revelatory of the role and mission of Mary in the life of the Christian. The “woman” who launches her divine Son on His mission of miraculous works in chapter 2 is the “woman” given to the Beloved Disciple and his spiritual heirs as our “mother” in chapter 19. Her intercession at Cana on behalf of the beleaguered newly-weds is extended on Calvary to all her Son’s brothers and sisters in the Church.

In the First Book of Kings, we come upon a charming scene:

So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.” (2:19-20)

Cardinal Newman waxes poetic as he describes this encounter between Solomon and his mother, immediately applying it to Jesus and Mary:

Let her “receive the king’s diadem upon her head,” as the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of all living, the Health of the weak, the Refuge of sinners, the Comforter of the afflicted. And “let the first amongst the king’s princes walk before her,” let angels and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and all saints, kiss the hem of her garment and rejoice under the shadow of her throne. Thus is it that King Solomon has risen up to meet his mother, and bowed himself unto her, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother, and she sits on his right hand. We should be prepared then, my brethren, to believe that the Mother of God is full of grace and glory, from the very fitness of such a dispensation.2

Interestingly, this practice is well ensconced not only in biblical tradition but in contemporary Jewish life as well. An Orthodox rabbi explains: “We Jews believe that if someone is suffering and we invoke his mother’s name in prayer, then God will be more merciful in granting your intercession for that person.” The rationale is simple: “The Church reveres and invokes the Blessed Mother because it inherited the Jewish custom of showing profound reverence for the spiritual role of the mother of a family.”3

With the stage thus set, we can move forward in our reflection. It is probably no exaggeration to suggest that when non-Catholics are asked to identify a specific form of prayer they associate with Catholics, it is the Rosary, which not infrequently even accompanies the Catholic into eternity as his hands are wrapped in the beads in his coffin. The Popes of every age have recommended this form of prayer, with Leo XIII penning eleven encyclicals on the Holy Rosary. Traditionally, the month of October is devoted in a special way to the recitation of the Rosary as the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, originally called Our Lady of Victory because of the totally unexpected and stunning victory of the greatly outnumbered Christian forces over those of the Muslims at the 1571 Battle of Lepanto – a victory the Dominican, Pope St. Pius V, attributed to the fervent praying of the Rosary by all of Christendom.

The Rosary is a meditative form of prayer, combining elements of formulaic prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) and reflection on the mysteries of redemption. It was originally intended to be the poor and illiterate man’s Psalter as the 150 Hail Mary’s parallel the 150 psalms. Some non-Catholics condemn the praying of the Rosary by referring to Matthew 6:7, but Catholics do not see in the Rosary the “vain repetition of words” which those folks see because we are not seeking to “win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words.” On the contrary, the stress is not on the words but on the attitude and atmosphere of prayer which is created, allowing the believer to become lost in reflection on the divine and enabling God to speak rather than oneself.

Sometimes one hears uninformed individuals attack the recitation of the Rosary as “Mariolatry.” What must be understood is that the Rosary is, at root, a Christological prayer far more than a Marian one. Catholics pray to Our Lady and with her for the grace to meditate on the mysteries of our salvation with the same fervor as did she (cf. Lk 2:51). Wisely and insightfully, Pope Paul VI in Marialis Cultus described the Rosary as “the epitome of the whole Gospel.”

Blessed John Henry Newman, in one of his sermons on the titles of Our Lady in the Litany of Loreto, had this to say about the Rosary devotion:

Our glorious Queen, since her Assumption on high, has been the minister of numberless services to the elect people of God upon earth, and to His Holy Church. This title of “Help of Christians” relates to those services of which the Divine Office, while recording and referring to the occasion on which it was given her, recounts five, connecting them more or less with the Rosary.

The first was on the first institution of the devotion of the Rosary by St. Dominic, when, with the aid of the Blessed Virgin, he succeeded in arresting and overthrowing the formidable heresy of the Albigenses in the South of France.

The second was the great victory gained by the Christian fleet over the powerful

Turkish Sultan, in answer to the intercession of Pope St. Pius V, and the prayers

of the associations of the Rosary all over the Christian world. . . .

The third was, in the words of the Divine Office, “the glorious victory won at Vienna, under the guardianship of the Blessed Virgin, over the most savage Sultan of the Turks, who was trampling on the necks of the Christians; in perpetual memory of which benefit Pope Innocent XI. . . . dedicated the Sunday in the Octave of her Nativity as the feast of her august Name.”

The fourth instance of her aid was the victory over the innumerable force of the same Turks in Hungary on the Feast of St. Mary ad Nives, in answer to the solemn supplication of the confraternities of the Rosary.

And the fifth was her restoration of the Pope’s temporal power, at the beginning of this century [19th], after Napoleon the First, Emperor of the French, had taken it from the Holy See; on which occasion Pope Pius VII. set apart May 24, the day of this mercy, as the Feast of the Help of Christians, for a perpetual thanksgiving.4

If you paid close attention to this list of Marian victories wrought through the Holy Rosary, you should have noticed that three of the five have to do with Islam.

In fact, a little bit more background on the third “victory” of Our Lady noted might prove very interesting. There Cardinal Newman is alluding to the liturgical commemoration of the Holy Name of Mary, which had been dropped from the calendar after Vatican II but was reinserted by Pope John Paul II into the Missale Romanum of 2002. The feast was established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683 in thanksgiving for the deliverance of Vienna, obtained through the intercession of Our Lady, when the city was besieged by the Turks in 1683. An army of 550,000 invaders had reached the city walls and was threatening all of Europe. Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, came with a much smaller army to assist the besieged city during the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and made preparations for a great battle – the first part of which was engaging in a vigil of prayer and fasting on the night of September 11. Yes, you heard right, September 11. After receiving Holy Communion with his troops on the morning of the 12th, he cried out: “Let us march with confidence under the protection of Heaven and with the aid of the Most Holy Virgin!” Inexplicably, the Muslim Turks were struck with a sudden panic and fled in chaos.

An old adage teaches us that “history repeats itself.” And the ancient Roman statesman and orator Cicero is often credited with warning us that “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” Once again, we are facing a crisis with the Islamic world, but this time around what is regrettably the former Christian West is weak, a largely dissipated anti-culture, barely able to reproduce itself. Will peace between Islam and the West be achieved only because it is the peace of the grave, so that we or our grandchildren will simply wake up some day living under sharia? Is this inevitable? Is there any possible solution? I believe there is a solution, and it will come through taking seriously some insights of Archbishop Fulton Sheen – amazingly prescient since written in his 1952 book, The World’s First Love, wherein we discover a chapter, entitled, “Mary and the Moslems.”5

Very objectively, the Archbishop presents the historical record:

The Christian European West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Muslims. At one point they were stopped near Tours and at another point, later on in time, outside the gates of Vienna. The Church throughout northern Africa was practically destroyed by Muslim power, and at the present hour, the Moslems are beginning to rise again.

He goes on, and don’t forget he is writing in 1952:

At the present time, the hatred of the Muslim countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return, and with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Muslim writers say, “When the locust swarms darken countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words: We are God’s host, each of us has ninety-nine eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should lay waste the world, with all that is in it.”

He then asks: “How shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg?” Through the conversion of Muslims to Christianity – not through the direct teachings of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Muslims to a veneration of the Mother of God.

Finally, the Archbishop launches into a detailed analysis of Islamic respect, even devotion, for the Mother of Jesus, highlighting the fact that the Koran teaches the doctrines of her Immaculate Conception and perpetual virginity. Most surprising to most non-Muslims is that the Koran actually has more verses about Our Lady than the New Testament! We even possess a writing of Mohammed, addressed to his daughter Fatima, in which he says to her after her death: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all women in Paradise, after Mary.” And Fatima herself says, “I surpass all women, except Mary.” Which leads us to Archbishop Sheen’s connecting of the dots between Islam and Our Lady of Fatima:

. . . the Muslims occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Muslim chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Muslims left, but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.

He continues:

The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Muslims is the enthusiastic reception which the Muslims in Africa, India, and elsewhere gave to the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Muslims attended the church services in honor of Our Lady, they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique, the Muslims who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.

It seems that Sheen’s analysis may have been on-target for, most interestingly, as recently as 2007, Australian Muslims built a mosque and dedicated it to Our Lady!6

Archbishop Sheen concludes by noting that missionaries to the Muslims will see more successes when they preach Our Lady of Fatima, for Mary brings Christ to people before Christ Himself is born. In this endeavor, it is best to start with what the Muslims already accept. Because there is an existing devotion to Mary, missionaries need to build upon this devotion, with the understanding that Our Lady will carry the Muslims to her divine Son. She never accepts devotion merely for herself, but always leads her devotees to her Son. Just as those who lose Marian devotion lose belief in Christ’s divinity, so also those who strengthen their devotion to her, in time acquire the correct belief concerning her Son.

I would add one more element to the goal of Muslim conversions: We Christians – and the nations we inhabit – must be vibrant witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the United States is perceived – and often is – the international promoter and purveyor of abortion, pornography, illicit sexual lifestyles, family disintegration and conspicuous consumption, it is no wonder that honest and dishonest Muslims alike can point an accusing finger at us as “The Great Satan.” If we hope for peace and reconciliation, let alone conversions, we Christians must live and look like true disciples of Jesus Christ. And the best way we can do that is by being true children of Mary – the perfect disciple.

As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught us, the Queen Mother continues to exercise her maternal mission on our behalf:

This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to Heaven, she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62).

The instrument, indeed the “weapon,” which has most often brought victory is the Holy Rosary. In 2002, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he announced a “Year of the Rosary” for 2002-2003, what he deemed a fitting homage to the Blessed Virgin as he embarked on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election as the Successor of Peter. He ended his letter with these touching words: “A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community. . . . Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives. May this appeal of mine not go unheard!” From eternity, the late Holy Father renews that appeal. May it “not go unheard.”

Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!

Endnotes:

1J. Neville Ward, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy.

2Discourse 18, “On the Fitness of the Glories of Mary.”

3Taylor Marshall, “My Canterbury Trail to Rome,” Coming Home Network Newsletter, September 2010, p. 7.

4“Auxilium Christianorum” (May 29), PVD, pp. 174-175.

5Mary and the Moslems,” The World’s First Love (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1952), pp. 204-209 passim.

6John Samaha, “Mary, Fatima and Islam,” The Catholic Response, May/June 2010, p. 34.


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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 250 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas founded The Catholic Answer in 1987 and The Catholic Response in 2004, as well as the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, a clerical association of the faithful, committed to Catholic education, liturgical renewal and the new evangelization. Father Stravinskas is also the President of the Catholic Education Foundation, an organization, which serves as a resource for heightening the Catholic identity of Catholic schools.

60 Comments

  1. Mary has always been in our hearts and minds. However, I believe that praying “to” any saint may detract one from praying to the Supreme Being. This article, although well written and accurate, the depth and history is somewhat overwhelming for the religious novice.

    I don’t cotton to repetitive prayers. The Rosary is just that. That being said, my devotion to the Blessed Mother will survive.

    • That’s a bit like saying that having good friends and conversations with them will probably distract you from paying any attention or talking to your spouse. Hmmm. Nope.

      • Carl: But if you spend all your free time with your friends and mostly communicate with your spouse by sending messages through your friends, you might have a relationship problem.

        I have a deep love for Mary and the Saints (and the rosary), but I think for some our prayer life can become a touch crowded where Jesus is just one holy person among many. I also think for some Catholics certain saints and devotions can start to take priority over the Holy Trinity. I know all of the apologetic/catechism arguments but we must also be on guard from obscuring our relationship with the Holy Trinity or devolving into superstition (i.e. burying St. Joseph statues to sell your house). I think if we are being honest there are some maximalist types of Marian theology/devotion that come very close to the line in terms of obscuring a direct relationship with Christ. Vatican 2 also recognized the problem of some maximal Marian theology/devotions. However, I think in some Catholic circles maximal devotion to Our Lady and the Saints becomes a litmus test…as though devotion to Jesus ain’t enough. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a Catholic “dialling back” on the devotions to Our Lady and the Saints to focus more of the Holy Trinity.

        • Andrew: I don’t disagree with at all with your points here; my point (from three years ago, I see) was to address the notion that praying to Mary and the saints logically distracts from Christ. It doesn’t. But, yes, there can be an imbalance. Personally, I’ve found that the Divine Liturgy presents a deep and balanced approach to worship of God and devotion to the Theotokos. In it, prayers to Mary and the saints are always within the context of the Kingdom of God, the worship of the Trinity, the saving sacrifice of Christ, and the divine empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Ironically, I’ve had Roman rite friends who found the many references to the Theotokos to be disconcerting and overwhelming; my sense is that they didn’t yet see the relational and hierarchical proportions expressed therein.

          • Carl: You make a very good point that the Eastern liturgy incorporates devotion to Our Lady and the Saints in a very organic and natural way. We can learn much from the Eastern churches. I’ve sometimes wondered if some Western approaches to Marian devotion/theology are over compensating for what we lack in terms
            of honouring the Theotokos and the Saints in our liturgy (particularly the Novus Ordo).

        • Don’t debate this to confound and to confuse yourself :The Holy Rosary is more about God than about Mary, His most faithful servant and Mother. It begins with God (I believe in God the Father ALMIGHTY….) and ends with God. (O God whose only Begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life…). Mary is intercessorily asked to pray for us, by virtue of her special grace and proximity to her Son and his Father, God. Intercessory prayer is the cornerstone of prayer, even in the Bible. You marshall more potent forces to seek your answers. Jesus said “He that receives whom I have sent receives Me”. On the Most Holy Rosary, we address Jesus directly too (O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell…) and praise and glorify God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit emphatically after every mystery (Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…). We also pray the special prayer Jesus Himself taught us (Our Father….). Mary Herself prophesied that generations shall call her Blessed (Luke Chapter 1).The Catholic Church did not invent that. The Holy Rosary is built upon deep spiritual meditation and revelation, not on some human nor academic interpretation and analysis. Pray for the Holy Spirit to journey with you, and to teach you all its mysteries. And to that I say: Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with you, and blessed are you amongst women ; Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit : as it was in the beginning, it is NOW and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!

        • ” Vatican 2 also recognized the problem of some maximal Marian theology/devotions.”

          And after that they started telling priests in the seminaries to stop praying the Rosary because it was “too rigid” and “too medieval.” Oh well, they still had the Folk Mass.

        • I did not say not to honor the Virgin, Leslie. I tell my beautiful wife that I love her and my children. I am not as religious, but I am spiritual in all I do and say.

          I take no umbrage for those who disagree with me. However, allow me to voice my opinion. “due process”.

          • Ah, the ever-popular “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”

            Let’s see what Peter Kreeft has to say about that.

            “So what does it mean, especially when used by those who say they are ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religions’? Theological, it is a heresy: Gnosticism. Psychologically, it is egotistic and narcissistic. For ‘religion’ means ‘relationship,’ i.e., with God. Spirituality turns inward, religion turns outward.” https://cal-catholic.com/what-i-shall-do-with-atheism-is-to-refute-it%E2%80%A8/

            “I did not say not to honor the Virgin, Leslie.” Did I say that you did?

            ““due process”.”

            “Definition of due process
            1 : a course of formal proceedings (such as legal proceedings) carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and principles
            — called also procedural due process
            2 : a judicial requirement that enacted laws may not contain provisions that result in the unfair, arbitrary, or unreasonable treatment of an individual
            — called also substantive due process” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/due%20process

            What does due process have to do with this discussion?

          • First tell us the difference between being “religious” vs being “spiritual.” (This is NOT a trick question.)

      • mrscracker,
        You stated the other day that there were numerous scriptures (besides your Maccabees reference, which FYI is not authentic scripture to Christians, just Catholics), but haven’t seen them yet. Can you please send all those references?

          • Dear Gary:

            Hope you won’t mind if a different Brian responds to your query. A few verses to ponder:

            John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—

            2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

            Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

            2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

            1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.

            John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

            Isaiah 8:20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

            God bless you as you strive to serve the Lord.

            Brian Young

    • I don’t cotton to repetitive prayers.

      You’d likely chastise Christ for His repetitive prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani, Morgan.

  2. Christ shows up (favorably) in the Koran 22 times (complete extracts in Rev. James Robson, Christ in Islam, Glasgow University/London, 1929), and Mary (favorably) 13 times, four in the Meccan period and nine in the later and warlike Medina period (Lebanese priest Rev. Nilo Geagea, Mary of the Koran: Meeting Point between Christianity and Islam, Philosophical Library, 1984).

    In either case, by far the most interesting line, noted by Geagea, is K 43:81 where Mohammed within a year or two of his death is quoted: “If the Merciful had a son, I would be the first to adore him.”

    One of the many major hang-ups was Mohammed’s inability to see “sonship” in any terms other than the carnal terms of pagan worship. Many reasons for this, including the influence in early Arabia of Nestorian Christianity. Geagea even proposes that Mohammed did not actually reject the incarnate Christ so much as he never really accurately of Him.

    In the Koran the Trinity is understood, instead, in carnal terms as the Father, the Son, and Mary. Where Christ, in the Bible, points to the coming of the “Paraclete” (Greek: Holy Spirit), Islam substitutes the term “Pariclyte,” the Greek form of Ahmad or Mohammed (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary [Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1983]). Christ is rendered a prophet pointing to Mohammed as the final prophet. Worse, the Bible is less read than simply viewed from afar through the Koran as the only correct text.

    So, there is much untangling to be done here, and Mary—-“the undoer of knots”—-is just the one to undo, or do it.

    • Dear Peter:

      Your remarks on Islam are insightful and appreciated. At the end of your precis you mention “Mary—-“the undoer of knots””. Would you share a scriptural reference or a nod to tradition that might offer vision and guidance?

      Thank you for your ongoing comments at CWR, they are respected.

      Brian

    • In the Koran Christians are referred to as “accursed.” Jesus is viewed as, simply, a prophet, but not the greatest. That title is reserved for Muhammad himself.

  3. The Rosary.

    The peace it brings. Even in sorrow and when what is asked is not granted, the strength and serenity she asks of Christ on your behalf is transcendent.

    Try it – for real – sometime.

    • I agree, but (and I don’t think you’re saying this) we shouldn’t judge other Catholics who don’t find the Rosary helpful. You imply this a bit with your “for real” comment; as though everyone will love the Rosary if they pray it “for real”. Of course, that’s not true. Some people can pray it “for real” and still not find it as inspiring as you do.

      This “pray the rosary or you’re not on the team” mentality is silly and untrue. For example, I’ve always found great benefit and solace in praying the Liturgy of the Hours and invoking Our Lady and the Saint of the day at the end of the Office. I’m sporadic in my Rosary. I don’t think I’m on the B Team or not even “on the team” for praying the Divine Office and not the Rosary. What about Eastern Catholics who have a strong devotion to Our Lady but do not pray the Roman Rosary…are they not “on the team”? (yes, I know some do). The Rosary is beautiful and powerful, but it is one instrument among many in our Catholic toolbox. I think every Catholic is free to find the prayer style that works for them (within the bounds of orthodoxy). I also think Catholics are free to find the level of Marian and Saint devotion (within the bounds of orthodoxy) that they are comfortable with.

  4. This sermon sounds strange to me. Think of:

    “Catholics need to become better spokespersons for Marian devotion, both in their understanding of its scriptural basis and in their articulation of the same. In many circumstances, an honest dialogue brings to light that the problem of many non-Catholics with Mary is not so much Mary herself as the way she is presented.”

    This is plain wrong. To be to keep it short: (1) Marian devotions does not have a “scriptural basis”. They are just devotions of persons, events, principles, and so on. Failing to recognize this leads just to superficial, ever-changing “extended rosaries”. (2) As of persons, events and principles: Rosary is devotion of person of Virgin Mary and her merits. It is also devotion of events, the most notably – incarnation of God. Non-Catholics Christians, as well as unbaptised inhabitants of our postmodern era and of course all gnosis-inclined Catholics, does not agree with principles underlying these persons and events. Not just “the way she is presented”. I give one example, Luther’s manichaeism: If you declare something like: “sive peccavi sive bene faci, idem est” you are not just disagreeing with the way of presentation of Vigrin Mary – you have to abolish whole Mary’s person (and, of course, indulgences and so on).

    • No Scriptural basis? How about, “”I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”? [Genesis 3:15]

  5. I have no doubt many will interpret my comment as mean and small minded, even though in my heart I bear no malice at all. I just have immense difficulty with taking a benign view of Islam. So the Koran mentions the mother of Christ more frequently than the NT. If you listen to shows on the TV they frequently mention the name of Christ, in a very meaningless way. Islam does not believe in the Incarnation, it does not believe Christ died on the cross. It does however persecute Christians in a whole host of countries, and it tends to take a dim view of people wanting to leave its tent.

    • Hi Mary Ann,

      I for one am in agreement with you. It is impossible to take a benign view of Islam knowing what we know of it. The more faithful a Muslim is, the more likely he is to follow the awful things the Koran teaches. Many of the terrorists were just your ordinary run of the mill Muslim until they became devout.

      The problem with the Koran is that the benign teachings are earlier in the texts and the more horrible ones are when Muhammad had power and since they believe in the doctrine of abrogation then the terrible ones cancel out the benign ones.

      • Excellent point! The tests of the Koran, indeed, become more violent as Muhammad gains increasing power with time and becomes more personally violent.

    • “I just have immense difficulty with taking a benign view of Islam.”

      Given its history of brutality, rejecting a benign view of Islam is both appropriate and necessary.

    • In the Koran Christians are referred to as “accursed.” In Islam, Jesus is simply a prophet, but not the greatest. That title belongs to Muhammed.

    • Where is it mentioned in all of the New Testament epistles that everything has to be in a New Testament epistle?

      Answer: It isn’t.

      • God speaks to our questions to provide us faith and confidence in His word.

        2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

        Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

        Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

        2 Peter 1:19-21 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.Mark 12:24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?

        Blessings.

  6. is the picture used in the article titled “Responding to falsehoods about the Virgin Mary and the Rosary” subject to copyright? My daughter would like to use it for a banner at Church.

  7. “ “Do Catholics worship Mary and the other saints?” Catholics are often insulted by this question and frequently refuse to answer it on that account.”

    1. Ignoring the question is no evidence that it is not perfectly justified.

    2. A perfectly honest answer to the question in the quotation, would have to include – without being restricted to – an admission that Catholics do sometimes go too far. That many Catholics do not have the first idea that such things have happened, does not in the slightest mean that they have not happened. What is important, is, not that the Catholic Church should be cleared of all appearance of blame in this matter, but that the unvarnished and unbiased truth of the matter should be told. Whether it is in accord with what Catholics would like to hear, or not.

    Telling the truth, whether comfortable to the church or not, glorifies God, Who is far more important than any Church.

    Catholics who are incapable of being honest about abuses in Christian devotion, make themselves incapable of guarding against the very evils that others see are present in the life of the Church. If idolatry and heresy and exaggerations among Catholics cannot possibly be admitted to exist, it becomes impossible to guard against those evils. The result is, to weaken the ability of the Church to bear witness to Christ.

  8. Yes, the Koran mentions both Jesus (Issa) and Mary (Maryam). It proclaims the Virgin Birth and (implicitly) the Immaculate Conception. The Koran’s account of the Annunciation appears to be modeled on an apocryphal text known as THE QUESTIONS OF BARTHOLOMEW. But the Koran emphatically denies that Jesus was Divine and claims that he wasn’t even crucified! At the End of the World, the Prophet Issa will return and set mankind straight on that point and break all existing crosses. Neither did he work miracles or teach as Jesus taught. Let’s not overdo the ecumenical outreach, eh what?

    Regardless of what St. John Newman said, St. Dominic did not receive the Rosary from the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary! The Rosary–and even the full text of the Hail Mary–is a later development.

    • Newman didn’t say what you allege he said. He carefully attributes Dominic’s successful campaign against the Albigensians to Our Lady and to his promotion of the Rosary (which is beyond dispute).

  9. We don’t worship Mary or any of the saints, rather we pray TO them and ask them to intercede for us, as in “pray for us sinners now and at the hour or our death.”

    To me it’s as simple as that and there is no need to complicate it.

  10. Hopefully at the very least you call Mary blessed?

    After all the New Testament says that all generations will call her blessed.

    Mary is the first and quintessential disciple. The closer we get to her we learn what Christ means by discipleship – hearing the Word and keeping it.

    When a woman told Jesus the woman who bore Him and suckled Him was blessed, Jesus was quick to point out that blessed is the one who does the will of the Father and Mary did that to perfection.

    I myself am not what you would call a Marian devotee. I don’t do many of the things that Marian devotees do but that is more a lack than a strength.

    What better human being to emulate and be devoted to than she who is Mother of God.

    If we believe that our own prayers of intercession count, what more she who bore and suckled He who Is.

    • Dear Cory:

      John in his gospel, describes Mary Magdalene as the first apostle. Did Mary do all things to perfection? Scripture suggests she did less than her beloved son Jesus Christ.

      Revelation 19:10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

      Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

      Luke 1:47-48 And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

      Luke 2:51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

      Luke 1:30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.

      Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him.

      Mark 6;3 would speak to one of the standpoints of Brant Pitri.e

      Please know I do not disparage Mary in Any way, she is the mother of our Lord and saviour. If we try to elevate her to a status that goes beyond Holy Scripture we may fall short. I would like your scriptural counterpoint if you would care to!

      The Lord continue to bless you,

      Brian

  11. Is it not ironic that the author of this trash states that he writes against hate crimes and yet that is exactly what he has done. Nevertheless he has helped, according to Catholic websites to make more people interested in the prayer! Our Mother never stops amazing us and I do hope that the author of this piece becomes Catholic!

  12. There is great discord within the Church (Household of God) as many follow their own agendas which can create separate houses ..v..

    “My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: Individuals among you are saying, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?….. Or Mary

    ‘An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in our lives. It is anything — an object, idea, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, or person (Saint) — that is your primary concern, or that to any degree decreases your faith, trust and loyalty to God’ alone which leads us to

    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”

    A recent divisive statement by Pope Francis our spiritual leader.“We are not orphans; we have a Mother in Heaven.” Sure, of this, we can never fall into the sin of despair, a sin which has a powerful pull today.

    Which is a direct attack (Undermining) of this given teaching by Jesus Christ.

    “I will not leave you behind as orphans, I will come to you” as “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”

    Many Catholic theologians have rightly pointed out in recent decades that Mary often takes the place of the Holy Spirit, for example as “Advocate” and “Comforter”

    While we can reflect on these Words
    “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, (Holy Spirit) living in me, who is doing his work

    So, if we trust in His teachings our promise is that the Holy Spirit (God Himself) The Divine Presence will dwell within us also. This is true for/of all His Saints including His exulted Mother. As His earthly creatures, we are always the container never the contents. Yes, we are taught that we can pray (request) that the saints intercede on our behalf but ultimately that intercession must glorify God alone and we do this when we ‘Trust’ in Him alone

    We ‘Trust’ in the authority of the Son. We ask in His Name ‘only’ for the gift of the Holy Spirit. And in doing so we hold true to these words given by The Holy Spirit to His esteemed mother

    “Do whatever He tells you”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • My brother:

      You have been studding and it is a blessing to the reader. What a joy to plumb the scriptures finding confidence in Him, together with wisdom and peace.

      Hard journeys in our lives can be a blessing to others that God places along our path. To aid someone is the outworking of our faith and that brings happiness.

      Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

      James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

      Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

      Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

      1 John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

      Blessings,

      Brian

      • Thank you, Brian, my brother for your many scriptural blessings which are always ones of encouragement for myself and others.
        Proverbs 11:25-26 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.>

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

    • Kevin. Your posts are always so spiritually fulfilling. I read one that you said that you don’t read much, you don’t need to. Though I was so pleased you read Flannery. Did you know she was close friends with the Fitzgerald family and said she disciplined Benedict as a kid. He became a co writer with Mel Gibson on The Passion. Isn’t that wonderful? I think so. God be with you Kevin.

      • Thank you, Catherine, for another supportive comment while saying ”I was so pleased you read Flannery” To be fair I have only read the preface to her novel “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and a short biography of her life and writings. Until now I had no knowledge of the Fitzgerald family or Benedict. Being dyslexic my knowledge of authors and their writings is very limited indeed. So sadly, I cannot truly share your joy in relation to the Fitzgerald family.

        Quote O’Connor frequently used bird imagery within her fiction.
        When she was six, O’Connor experienced her first brush with celebrity status. Pathé News filmed “Little Mary O’Connor” with her trained chicken and showed the film around the country. She said: “When I was six, I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathé News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been an anticlimax.

        You have to laugh. While I identify with the chicken that walked backward, as in trying to recapture that which was taken from me as a toddler by agents of the Ice Queen, who separated my heart from my intellect which I believe I shared with you Catherine (Cassy ?) via the link some time ago

        https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/03/10/gods-law-of-love-a-spirituality-of-the-ten-commandments-part-3/#comment-250059

        Sincerely
        kevin your brother
        In Christ

  13. “Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother (named his mother under the Cross) into our homes, for she becomes the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.” (CCC 2679) “Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.” (CCC2682). Harvard professor Roy Schoenman converted because the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Heaven, appeared to him in all her glory and she said to him: “I am the beloved daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Bride of the Holy Spirit.” Who was in the center of the Upper Room praying with the Apostles for the Holy Spirit to come? Mary is the great gift of God to humanity. Europe is filled with Marian shrines and in those shrines are hundreds and thousands of reports of miraculous cures and rescues. History shows miraculous victories of wars and battles. Who was sitting at the right hand of King David: his mother! “Mary goes before us in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the Bride without spot or wrinkle.” This is why the Marian dimension of the Church precedes the ‘Petrine.” (CCC 772-972). Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to San Diego on the Tepeyac Hill saying “Am I not your mother?” Jesus has made and chosen his mother; He loved and obeyed her. Mary is inseparable from Jesus in the Incarnation and the Redemption of the Son of God. He gives us His Mother by mercy and grace. From the Immaculate Virgin He took on flesh by His holy will, Son of Man, Son of Mary Mother of God. “To separate Christ from His Mother in our piety, is to divide Christ; it is to lose sight of the essential mission of His Sacred Humanity in the distribution of Divine grace. Where the Mother is left out, the Son is no longer understood….How can we love Him truly, how can we resemble Him perfectly, without having a special devotion to her from whom He took this human nature.” Christ also died for His Mother, to pay for her privileges and in turn proclaim her also our mother under the cross to make us eligible for even more mercy and grace, Mater divinae gratiae. “She is the greatest glory of CHRIST because she has received the most from Him.” “If we want to love Christ, if we want Him to be everything to us, we must have a very special love for His Mother.” (Christ the life of the soul, chapter XII The Mother of the Incarnate Word, Abbot Columba Marmion) “Mary thou alone has ravished the Heart of thy God”, pray for us.

  14. For Mary to hear the prayers from all over the world, she would need attributes that only God possesses. There is no scripture reference that this can ever happen. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man…..1 Timothy 2:5.
    It amazes us Christians that from Genesis to Revelation, the focus is on God redeeming man from sin through His Son, yet Catholics can take a few words about a woman in the New Testament and write volumes of false narratives. Very sad.

    • Your protestant views have been refuted comprehensively. There are too many good Catholic apologetics books which amply and thoroughly refute your position.

  15. That is true. In 1989 we were never more than just 5 or 6 still praying collective daily rosary in a seminary of 120 students and a staff of around 15. It was everyday before lunch, before a beautiful statue outside chapel. No members of staff.
    That shocking truth is part and parcel of the Apostasy of Post-Conciliarism.
    His Still Holiness closed the place down 20 years later. God draws good from evil: Post-Conciliarism has been definitively exposed for the Anti-Catholic hoax it truly is since 13.03.2013.

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