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Is Mary worthy of our praises and honour?

16 Feb 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei

As part of our Parish preparation to celebrate Our Lady of Lourdes’ feast, we had three days of prayer sections. During these days, guest speakers were invited to give talks, and I gave talks. I spoke on the topic; is Mary worthy of our praises and honour? Fascinating topic, and I feel it’s good you have a share of it. Though the work is summarized here, the main points are still intact. Enjoy your reading.Mary 2

The question of whether the Blessed Virgin Mary is worthy of our praises and honour makes me laugh; it is a question a true Christian shouldn’t ask because the answer is obvious; what do you think? Well, your thinking may differ from mine and the Catholic Church at the moment, but I believe that at the end of this write-up, you will agree with us. For now, let’s look at the words: Worthy, Praise, honor, and worship.

WORTHY: The word worthy means deserving something or to do something, deserving respect or consideration, good enough to be suitable for something.

PRAISES: The word praise means to express approval or admiration for somebody or something, express respect, honour, or gratitude to God, and it could also mean the worship of God.

HONOUR: This word means great respect for somebody, high public regard for somebody, good personal character, a strong sense of what is morally right, a person or thing that brings credit to somebody or thing.

WORSHIP: This means a practice of showing respect for God, admiration, or love felt for somebody or something, to attend a Church service.

These definitions are from the Oxford Advanced learner’s Dictionary; at least, it helps to clarify the meaning of these words. As we try to find out if Mary is worthy of our praises and honour let us take these words as they are and not attached emotions or sentiments to them. Looking at the words again (Worthy, Praise, honour, and worship) from their English definitions, you would observe that they all have the same meaning. However, our Christian faith differentiates worship from the others.

Going back to the question, is Mary worthy of our praises and honour? The answer is yes.Mary Yes, because praise is an expression of approval or admiration for somebody or something, it is an expression of respect. However, our Christian faith differentiates this praise from the kind of praise we offer God, a form of worship. We praise our parents in our various homes and families; we praise our children, friends, and relation when they do something good. If your mother deserved to be praised, then what stops you from praising Mary? Mary did something good; she expressed great faith in God, so she deserved to be praised and honored. Yes, even God praised her. When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the first thing he said was “hail Mary.” According to the Oxford Advanced Dictionary, the word ‘hail’ has different meanings; one of them is “to acknowledge somebody or something enthusiastically, to acclaim somebody or something. That means to praise; the Angel Gabriel praised Mary because she found favour with God. God, in fact, praised Mary because God sent the Angel. For God to chose Mary from amongst all the women in the world to be the mother of Jesus Christ is a great honour done to her; if God honoured her that much, then who would not honour her?

Somebody argued that the incident in the gospel of Lk. 11: 27 -28 is a sign that Jesus did not approve the praise of his mother. Can you imagine Jesus against the praise of his own mother? it’s not possible. That incident is even approval of the praise of Mary. The incident is all about a woman who praised Mary, and Jesus reacted immediately by saying that blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it. This is not a disapproval of Mary’s praise; if those that hear the word of God and keep it are more blessed or receive the higher praise, then Mary should be the first. Mary heard the word of God and kept it; she treasured the word of God in her heart ( Lk. 2 :19. Lk. 2 : 51.)

There is nothing wrong with praising Mary and honouring her but never worship her. Only God is to be worshiped; the praise and honour we offer Mary can never equal the one we offer God. In praising Mary, God takes the glory. Honour her and never worship her.