Sometimes I am asked by non-Catholics, ‘Why do Catholics worship Mary?’ When asked this question I normally allow a short pause, which allows for a natural way to prepare to answer and, hopefully, let the Holy Spirit prepare the one asking for a new way of thinking about the Virgin Mary. My reply normally includes something such this: ‘Catholics do not worship Mary, rather we honor her because she is the Mother of Jesus, who is God, our Lord and Savior’. Helping someone understand what we know about the relationship between Jesus and Mary can be challenging. It is true that Mary is a human person like you and me (albeit, without any guilt for original sin or personal sin). It is also true that Jesus is God and the one through whom all things have been created. Jesus is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and in union with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, He created you and me. Yet Jesus willing chose to unite to His Divine Nature our created human nature so that grace of forgiveness of our sins could be offered to us. Given the singular importance of the mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ, it is possible to grow in understanding the great importance of the role of the Virgin Mary in God’s plan to save us.
The Virgin Mary is often called the ‘New Eve’. We know that sin entered the human family through a free decision made by the first Eve and Adam. Then, at the right time, the grace of salvation entered into our world through the free decision of the Virgin Mary, the ‘New Eve’ at the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. Jesus is sometime called the ‘New Adam’ for a similar reason. Sin and death entered the human family through the free will decision of Adam. Sin and death was conquered through the obedience of the ‘New Adam’, Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, we honor Mary because there could only be one Mother of Jesus. She was the one chosen by God for this unique purpose and God gave her the unique graces she needed to perfectly fulfill her role as the Mother of our Divine Savior.
We also honor Mary because of the role she continues to fulfill from her place in Heaven. We know, as taught by the Catholic Church, that she is honored in Heaven as Queen and the Mother of God. If Jesus, the King and Redeemer of the human family honored her with these titles, should we not imitate Him is showing her what honor and reverence that would be her due as Queen and the Mother of God in Heaven? What we do to honor the Virgin Mary is very, very little in comparison to the honor and blessing that the Holy Trinity has already given her. In fact, we honor God by honoring Mary, for she is His perfect creation and in honoring her we imitate His own decision to show her profound love and favor. Another great joy we can have in honoring Mary is that she will help us in great and wonderful ways in this life. Our devotion to her is pleasing to the Holy Trinity as it is a sign of true humility and acceptance of God’s plan to offer Salvation, Jesus Christ, to the world.
Let us all never be afraid to explain why we honor the Virgin Mary. Let us be ready at any time to explain and promote true devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. Above all, let us give our hearts to her each day because in doing so we will easily find and experience not only her motherly love, but also the love of Jesus, who loves His Mother and each one of us and answers her prayers offered for us!
Through the intercession of Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God bless you, your families and our parishes!