Dear Theologika,

Why do Catholics worship the Virgin Mary?


Dear Wondering,

This is a common misunderstanding of the devotion Catholics have for Mary the Mother of God. Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary. Catholics, like other Christians, only worship the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St. Mary is unique among all of the saints and for this reason we venerate (honor) her. According to Holy Scripture, Mary freely chose to be the mother of the savior and that is why we call her the Blessed Mother. Mary was God’s choice to be the woman who would give birth to the truly divine and truly human man, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#969-972) tells us that Mary’s importance is due to her relationship with God in the Divine work of salvation. Throughout her life Mary grappled with understanding God’s promise in the midst of the life of her son Jesus. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) This is why Catholics and other ancient churches see Mary as the model of faith and charity. She is the first disciple and the model for all of the rest of us, since she is completely human. We see in her the model of the complete acceptance of God’s love and grace. As the mother of God, Mary is also the mother of all the faithful. She is the mother of the Church.

Mary prayed with the men and women in the upper room after her son’s ascension and received once again the Holy Spirit with them. Her example of faithful prayer in the midst of a mother’s concern for her son, and her anguish and grief at his public torture and death, is a model for all of us dealing with pain, suffering, and grief in our lives. The resurrection and ascension of her son was also mystifying for this Jewish woman who believed the promise of God brought to her by the Angel Gabriel and who freely accepted the Word of God made flesh within her by the Holy Spirit.

We know that Mary has not ceased her prayer. Caught up with all of the saints in the glory of God, Mary has a special place in God’s heart. As her children, we know that we can come to her and she can help us by her love and prayers to walk with her son on His journey of salvation for all of us.



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