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Virgin Mary

How do you explain to someone when asked about our Virgin Mary statue so she will fully understand with a question such as Do you pray to the statues?

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April 14, 2011 12:14PM

Roman Catholic Answer

Catholics do not pray to statues, good grief! Ask any Catholic. Catholics use to statues to bring to mind those whom they are asking to pray for them. We use statues not unlike people use pictures of family members who do not live with them, or have died, so that we can remember them and bring them to mind. As far as praying to the saints and asking, for instance, Mary's intercession for us:

Catholics pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary because Jesus gave her to all of us as our mother when he hung on the cross through the disciple, John. The "type" of the Blessed Virgin Mary was foreshadowed in the Old Testament in the "Queen Mother". Read 1 Kings 1:19. The Queen in the Kingdom of Israel was always mother of the King. She petitioned him for intervention and he acceded to her requests. Everything in the New Testament is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. We see this played out at Jesus' first miracle which was done at the request of His mother.

from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, English translation 1994

969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (Lumen Gentium 62)

970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it." (Lumen Gentium 60) "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source." (Lumen Gentium 62)

975 "We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ" (Paul VI, Credo of the People of God § 15).

from Radio Replies, by Fathers Rumble and Carty, 1942

1408 Why pray to Mary at all?

Because God wills that we should do so, and because such prayers to her are of the utmost value. God often wills to give certain favors only on condition that we go to some secondary agent. Sodom was to be spared through the intercession of Abraham; Naaman, the leper, was to be cured only through the waters of the Jordan. Now Mary is, and must ever remain, the mother of Christ. She still has a mother's rights and privileges, and is able to obtain for us many graces. But let us view things reasonably. If I desire to pray, I can certainly pray to God directly. Yet would you blame me, if, at times, I were to ask my own earthly mother to pray for me also? Such a request is really a prayer to her that she may intercede for me with God. Certainly, if I met the mother of Christ on earth, I would ask her to pray for me, and she would do so. And in her more perfect state with Christ in heaven she is not less able to help me.

1411. It is unscriptural to attribute power to Mary.

That is a very unscriptural statement. At His mother's request Jesus changed water into wine at Cana, though He had said, "My time is not yet come." St. James tells us that the "prayer of a just man availeth much. (James V., 16) How much more the prayer of Mary!

1412. Does the Bible sanction such prayers to Mary?

Yes. All through the Bible you will find God conferring favors through the prayers of others. In the Old Testament we read of the prayers of Abraham, Moses, and of the various prophets. In the New Testament, St. James tells us to "pray for one another," in the text I have just quoted. If we must always pray directly to God and may not ask the prayers of others, why did St. Paul write to the Thessalonians, "Pray for us that we may be delivered from importunate and evil men?" (2 Thess. III,., 2.) Why did he not ask that directly of God, instead of asking the prayers of the Thessalonians? Or would you be more scriptural than the New Testament itself?