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Prayer, Plain and Simple


Virgin-Maria-Auxiliatrix-Picture.jpgThe title “Virgin Maria Auxiliatrix” caught my eye this morning. I was reviewing the morning news when I saw this at the top of Google’s Hot Trends list. I’m not Catholic, but I pray, and I want to encourage and help others connect with God. So I was fascinated by the planet’s sudden (and in Google’s terms) “Volcanic” interest in this spiritual theme. I decided to learn more.

My crash course understanding is that “Virgin Maria Auxiliatrix” is a kind of prayer – “Virgin Mary, Help.” Catholic Christians believe that Saints living in heaven – Mary chief among them – have close access to God. They say that while all Christians are invited to talk directly with God through Jesus, our prayers can be expedited by asking Christian saints to intercede on our behalf. Catholics don’t so much pray to Mary as ask for her assistance in boosting our prayers toward God.

Let me say again… I’m not Catholic. I’ve never yet directed a request to Mary or another deceased saint to intercede for me to God. I believe I have simple and direct access to God through Jesus and am invited to ask for help myself. I do this all the time and I believe I get answers all the time.

But… I can see the point made by my Catholic brothers and sisters. Protestants sometimes accuse Catholics of “worshipping” Mary. Nothing could be further from truth. Catholics revere Mary, as the one human chose to bear the Son of God. That makes her very special by any Christian standard. By extension, if we do believe in heaven and that those who’ve gone ahead of us are, as the writer of Hebrews says, “Witnesses” watching our lives on earth, would it be possible to ask them to pray for us? After all, I ask friends to pray for me frequently, not because I don’t think God hears my own requests but because I figure the more prayers of agreement, the better. Why not include friends in heaven as well? As long as we recognize it’s God who delivers the help, shouldn’t anyone’s prayers to move him be welcome!

I’m thinking out loud here… I’m not converting my form of Christianity and I’m not ready to make a daily practice of beseeching saints. I am working past presumed prejudices, admitting – here in public – that I can appreciate how my Catholic siblings have come to their beliefs and practices.

So, while I’m may not be ready to go there myself, if any Catholics reading this want to send up the request today – “Virgin Maria Auxiliatrix” – on my behalf, I’m more than willing to join you with, “Amen!” I can use all the help from God I can get!

Do you seek intercession from Mary? What’s been your experience. Tell us.

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