Ask A Pastor: How To Talk About Mary With A Catholic Friend
I have a Catholic friend and we have been discussing Mary (the mother of Jesus) in the Bible. He holds to her as a Saintly figure, Holy, (and what a would view Mary as). I was looking for some feedback if that’s ok. What would be a good way to explain to them how Mary was viewed in the Bible?
Catholics venerate Mary to the point that they pray the majority of their prayers to her (*though they will say they are praying through Mary, and not to Mary, see more on this below).
What we can agree on:
The Bible says that all generations will called Mary blessed (Luke 1:48; and this because she was the mother of Jesus)
The Bible shows us that Mary is a good example in submitting to the Lord (Luke 1:38)
What we cannot agree on:
All the extra-biblical things Catholics add to Mary, like…
Praying to her (*again, see more below)
Catholics call Mary a “Mediatrix.” We say no—only Jesus is a mediator between us and God. A catholic might respond to you and say: “But we believe Jesus is the only Savior.” Ok, but their Church creeds say this: “(Mary) in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior…” (and more; The Second Vatican Council (Lumen gentium ## 61-62). This is incorrect according to the Bible, and it is idolatry.
Catholics have statues of Mary (see pic above) and kiss her feet, and pray to her (to it) and bow before it. Again, this is idolatry. A catholic will claim that they “only venerate” the statue (Mary), but clearly their veneration is worship. The Bible says that we are to bow before and worship God alone (Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10)
Catholics say Mary had no other children, and remained perpetually a virgin. That goes against biblical testimony that she had other children (and thatJesus had brothers).
We maintain Scripture’s testimony of all people, that Mary too was a sinner saved only by grace through faith. Like every other person in this world she fell short of the glory of God and her only hope was for a righteousness outside of herself to be given to her.
* Catholic prayer:
Catholics say they pray through Mary—that prayers to Mary are just me asking her to pray on my behalf; but if you look at (read) their prayers to her, it is very clearly not the case. The words prayed to Mary go far beyond what is proper and cross into idolatry. You can google “prayers to Mary”, there are thousands and thousands of examples. Added to that, in my personal experience the Catholics I know pray to Mary far more often than they pray to Jesus (if I would guess, something like 10-1, IF that). Something is really wrong with this. It would be good to gently discuss this with your friend if there is an opportunity and ask about his prayers; don’t speak ill of Mary in any way, but look at the prayers prayed and ask if that is not praying to Mary, rather than through Mary
We can (and should!) speak well of Mary, and recognize how wonderful it would have been to be the mother of the Lord Jesus. A real blessing from God. Plus her humble faith is a great example! But she in no way contributed, helped, assisted or added to the work that Jesus did, or continues to do. God alone is Mediator, Savior, and Intercessor. Mary also cannot hear or see us. She is not omnipresent (she cannot hear thousands of people praying to her—or even one!). Plus she is not omnipotent (she has no power to help or aid us in any way). She is part of the redeemed, in heaven, worshipping at the throne of God, waiting for the final resurrection. Many of the things the Roman Catholic Church teaches about Mary are things added to her reputation and not taught in the Bible.