What is prayer? The most straightforward definition of prayer is a discussion with God or talking to the Lord. This discussion can be confession, thanksgiving, adoration, asking questions, conversing and other types of communication. For Christians, praying to God is standard, so they may find the Catholic practice of praying to Mary a bit odd.
Why talk to Jesus’ mother if He’s in the room? So do Catholics pray to Mary, and if so, why? We must understand Mary’s importance within the Catholic Church to understand these questions.
Mary’s importance to the Catholic Church.
Our Lady, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Blessed Mother. These are only a small sampling of Mary’s titles in the Catholic Church. Liturgically and doctrinally speaking, she’s a significant figure in Catholicism. However, an adoration and emotional element in Catholicism is obvious, but a Catholic wouldn’t call this practice worship. A good Catholic wouldn’t say they worship Mary, but she is revered. She is treasured, adored, loved, and held in high esteem, but it doesn’t mean she’s given a place of equal adoration as the Holy Trinity.
But why is Mary so significant? An excellent explanation of Mary’s importance comes from Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College. According to him, Catholics love Mary because they love Jesus. He also believes that Jesus comes to us through Mary. Kreeft says she’s where the most miraculous and important thing ever occurred happened. According to Luke 1:38, all of this happened because Mary said yes to God. Kreeft says, “The greatest thing that ever happened, happened in her and because of her.” If we truly love Jesus, why wouldn’t we respect how He came to us?
Kreeft is trying to help us see Mary as a mediator, a path by which we connect to God. She’s not only a mediator, but apart from Jesus, she’s a well-known mediator. As declared officially in 1964, Mary is the Mother of the Church, a title given by Pope Paul VI. However, it was first used by Ambrose in the fourth century. This title comes from the knowledge of Revelation 12:17 and John 19 when Jesus looked to John and told him, “Here is your mother” while on the cross. Others call Mary the second Eve, the woman who would become the mother of every person who follows Jesus.
There’s no space to talk about another doctrine, but it’s essential to understand the Catholic viewpoint. Mary is believed to be sinless in Catholicism to keep Jesus free from sin. Her conception was immaculate, setting Mary apart as humanity’s most righteous.
Why do Catholics pray to Mary?
For a Protestant to comprehend why Catholics pray to the Saints or Mary, we must realize that when someone is baptized, they become part of Christ’s mystical body from a Catholic viewpoint. This idea means when the Bible demands us to pray for each other, it also includes the departed. When we think about how James 5:16 says, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and greatly affects,” why wouldn’t we go to the most righteous saint we know, the sinless virgin, who will care for, love and pray for us?
According to Denver Catholic, Mary has a special place for those who participate in Jesus’ mediation because God decided to come to us through her and chose her as Mother. As detailed in John 2:5, her job is to lead us to Him. Like us, Mary meditates under Christ’s mediation. When we say Mary negotiates for us, we can’t forget about God. It means that Catholics go to her for prayers, something all Christians do when asking for prayers from fellow believers. Praying to Mary is a way of being brought to Jesus. Like a Protestant will go to their pastor and say, “Pray for me,” assuming that they will guide them to Jesus, a Catholic will pray to Mary, knowing she will guide them toward Jesus Christ. It’s an act of mediation.
A Catholic would say they pray to Mary. However, their definition differs from a Protestant praying to God, though the official Catholic doctrine wouldn’t use that language. Still, the average Catholic would. Christ is the Mediator between humanity and God from a Catholic viewpoint. The Vatican II declared that Mary’s maternal role toward people doesn’t diminish the special mediation of Christ. Instead, it shows the power of mediation in Christ. They believe the “Hail Mary” to be a prayer request.
You may also wonder how long Catholics have been praying to Mary, which has historically been a challenging question. Some opinions about Mary held firmly by Catholics today are somewhat newer in history. Pope John Paull II said, “Many centuries were necessary to arrive a the explicit definition of the revealed truths concerning Mary.” This practice’s elements, then, might be somewhat modern. Still, some intercessory prayers and veneration to Mary are early in the church. The earliest recorded prayer is Beneath Thy Protection or Sub tuum praesidium. However, is praying to Mary biblical?
Is praying to Mary biblical?
Does the Bible say there’s a scale to a prayer’s effectiveness? In other words, do we find that a request is more likely to be answered or heard because it comes from someone holier than someone else? Does the Bible teach that Mary’s prayers are heard more than those of a widow named Mary who lives in the middle of nowhere?
The Bible says that when we are one with Christ, we have access to the throne of grace, according to Hebrews 4:16. It doesn’t reference or mention lines to His throne, nor those who have more access over others. It’s straightforward as we are in Christ, so we have access. Our prayers can be stalled, and a connection with Christ is required for this access. Still, there’s no indication in the Bible that God hears St. Peter more than another child of God. It’s quite the opposite.
Mary is Jesus’ mother and is highly revered in the Catholic faith. Catholics pray to Mary because she is the mediator between them and Jesus. As Jesus’ mother, she should continue to be upheld and respected in every faith.