Is Mary worthy of our praises and honour?
As part of our Parish preparation to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we had three days prayer sections. During these days, guest speakers were invited to give talks and I was one of those that gave talks. I spoke on the topic; is Mary worthy of our praises and honour? Very interesting topic and I feel its good you have a share of it. Though the work is summarized here but the main points are still intact. Enjoy your reading.
The question 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, lets look at the words: Worthy, Praise, honnour 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, to express respect, honour or gratitude to God, and it could also means 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 clarifies 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. Yes, because praise is an expression of an approval or admiration for somebody or something, it is an expression of respect, though our Christian faith differentiates this praise from the kind of praise we offer God which is a form of worship. In our various homes and families we praise our parents, 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 and so she deserved to be praised, to be honoured. Yes, even God praised her. When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the first thing he said was “hail Mary”. The word ‘hail’ has different meanings, one of them according to the Oxford advanced Dictionary is “to acknowledge somebody or something enthusiastically as something, 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 the Angel was sent by God. 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 am I not to 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? its not possible. That incident is even an 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 the praise of Mary; 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 in 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.