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Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary: controversial?

22 May 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei

The Virgin Mary is undoubtedly a key figure in the New Testament, a woman whose cult influenced the world so much. I recently wrote an article where I stated clearly that I am so much in love with this woman, the Virgin Mary. I referred to her as an amazing Virgin and Mother. The Catholic Church’s pride, the queen of all hearts, the Mother of her own saviour, and the Mother of her own redeemer. She is Our Lady of Fatima, the most beautiful, a perfect wife and Mother, a Virgin, the most blessed amongst women, the most favoured human being that ever lived on earth. She is the most humble yet very powerful. She is a woman like no other, the sorrowful Mother that caused our joy, the great portent that appeared in heaven, the woman clothed with the sun, the woman with the moon under her feet, the woman with the crown of twelve stars, the woman with the child, and the woman the dragon could not overcome (Rev.12).

As Catholics, we talk about the Virgin Mary with a great sense of pride. Still, for so many none Catholics however, the talk about Mary and her devotion remains one of the most controversial in Christendom. “The Qur’an or the Holy Book of Islam honors Mary in more ways than the Bible. She is honored as the only woman in the book that has a whole chapter titled after her. The chapter “Maryam” refers to the Virgin Mary, where she is singularly distinguished. What is even more interesting, Mary is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than in the New Testament.” The Muslims have so much respect for this woman, yet, some Christians still feel that the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is controversial.

I have met some persons who were not Catholics by birth but became one through marriage, and we talked. I discovered that many of them were misled, brainwashed, and taught to hate anything Catholic, especially when it has to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were taught to believe that in the Catholic Church, images are worshiped, Catholics are prayerless, and don’t read the bible. These converts to Catholicism have discovered that all of those were lies, just hate speech.

The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be controversial to many none Catholics, but for us Catholics, it is not; we know what we are doing. Many make a mistake to think that the immediate response to what we do not understand should be criticism and outright rejection, no; it should rather be to seek more understanding. Some Christians are so fast to criticize and reject anything that has to do with Mary while they profess undying love for her Son Jesus. Funny! Really funny.

Some time ago, I came across a write up by one who tried to be neutral in the so-called controversies surrounding Marian devotion; the person argued that both Catholics and the Protestants are wrong and right. He argued that the Protestants are wrong because they reject the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in all its forms while they are right by not accepting the level to which the Catholics have taken the devotion.

On the other hand, he argued that the Catholics are right by honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary but wrong by exaggerating it. This argument may appear to be very comfortable for so many people, but I want to ask; what are those things that the Catholic Church exaggerates about our devotion to Mary? We have repeatedly told the world that we do not worship Mary, but we are not afraid or ashamed to tell the world that we honour her so much. We hold her in high esteem because God himself has honoured her and lifted her so high. God pulled down the proud and lifted the humble Mary to a height no human being has ever attained and will never attain. They wonder why we call this woman the Mother of God, a mere mortal. But that is who she is, Mother of God. It is not the Catholic Church that made her the Mother of God; she was made so by God himself. Any woman who conceives and bears a child is a mother, and if her child becomes a lawyer, then she becomes the mother of a lawyer; if her child becomes a priest, she becomes the mother of a priest, and if her child is God, she becomes the mother of God. Mary conceived Jesus in her womb and gave birth to him. This Jesus is God, and therefore Mary is the mother of God. To deny this fact is to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Some other Catholic doctrines about the Virgin Mary, like the perpetual virginity, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, and other Catholic devotions, are controversial by none Catholics. They keep asking; is it in the bible? Show us where it is in the bible? I wonder if these people actually read the bible or even believe the bible; if they do, they would have known that it is written in the bible, that not everything is written down (Jn. 21:25), and that the bible its self supports Sacred Tradition (2Thess. 2:15) which the Church holds so dear. We are not confused about our devotion to Mary; the Catholic Church is not a confused Church but the Church built upon the apostles’ faith. Our devotion to this wonderful woman is unshakable; in it, we express our faith and love for God who loves the world so much that he came in flesh and blood through flesh and blood. We thank God for his blessings and proudly call on Mary, the handmaid of God, to intercede for us.

However, we must remember that in our devotion, we are challenged to live the kind of life she lived; to emulate her faith, she trusted the word of God, she surrendered to the will of God.

  • Christine M Hebert Reply

    What a beautiful image of our Lady. I hope it is ok that I use it on a private page for our Catholic Homeschool group.

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