How Do Catholics Honor Mary?

05-19-2019Why do we do that?

The way we honor important people in our lives is a lot like the way Catholics honor Mary.

As we show respect for our ancestors and other public figures by erecting buildings in their name and fashioning statues in their likeness, so we name churches and pictures of Mary our beloved mother.

In doing this we do not adore or worship Mary. God alone is the object of worship. Mary is a child of God, a creature, and a servant of God.

We consider Mary to be a powerful intercessor with God because of her closeness to God. We, therefore, invoke or call upon Mary to pray to God for us. Is it necessary to do this? No, for we believe that God is Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us,” that in Jesus especially we have access to God. We pray directly to God. By calling upon Mary, however, we share in her holiness and have someone praying for us who is very close to Jesus.

Does Devotion to Mary Replace Dedication to God?

No. Mary sees herself as the servant of the Lord. She tells the waiters as Cana to do whatever Jesus tells them, and this should be our attitude, too. Mary, like John the Baptist, points us to Jesus Christ who is alone the Savior and Redeemer.

Jesus and Mary are not in competition. Catholics believe that all power, all love, all healing, all graces, come from God alone. Thus, we pray in the Hail Mary, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We simply ask that Mary present our prayers, our needs, to God. This does not mean or imply that Mary has any special power apart from the saving power of God. In praising Mary, we are praising and thanking God for the power and love God shows to Mary.

Among the different ways of honoring Mary is the praying of the rosary, a form of devotion dating back to the ninth century. At that time, the clergy prayed some of the 150 psalms as their daily prayer to God. Later 150 Hail Mary’s were substituted for the Psalms. As we pray the rosary, we recall events especially from the birth and death of Jesus, events that remind us of Mary’s key role in the process of redemption.

Let us honor Mary during this month of May by invoking her intercession, and more importantly by imitating her virtues.

Mary mother of God, Pray for us, amen!