Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 9, 2021

A Debt of Honor Is Owed to Mary our Mother

Is this true, or false: “One is not obliged as a Catholic to honor Mary”?  I heard this the first time a few years ago, to my horror.  I had hoped that such a teaching would fade away quickly; it has not.  Hence, in deeper distress I want to try to say again, no!  This teaching profoundly misrepresents the Catholic Faith, which is permeated and infused with true Marian devotion by God’s intention and design.  We are very poorly presented by those groups in the Church, who profess and proclaim this teaching.

Honor is due – is owed – is deserved to men and women in God’s creation, as God has placed them in His plan and design.  To those to whom honor is due, and to the extent that is owed, justice and charity oblige the faithful to give appropriate and deserved honor.  Justice is simple in the secular and the religious world – return what is due: Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Rom 13:7)

True Marian devotion is in decline.  That is my own conclusion, fallible though it is, as I see the Church and the world today: Mary is increasingly marginalized and minimized among Catholics.  God created the church with at least two “dimensions” – a Marian dimension, the righteous feminine side, and a Petrine dimension, the righteous masculine side.  Together they form a Holy Family, the Holy Church.  If one or the other side is suppressed or rejected or minimized, the church suffers a distortion; the mission is wounded perhaps to failure for a time.  

In our time we have lost the righteous balance and unity in Christ; this is a time of distortion in the Church, the evidence: clericalism with all the abuses (sexual abuses and other abuses of power) and spiritual afflictions in which we continue to suffer.  I want to say, we need Mary.

Mary is Mother of the Church:

Catechism 963 – Since the Virgin Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. “The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head.”<LG 53; cf. St. Augustine, De virg. 6: PL 40,399> “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.”<Paul VI, Discourse, November 21,1964>

— If Mary is “clearly the mother of the members of Christ” is she not owed honor from the members?  Is “Honor your father and your mother” God’s will, or not?

Catechism 971 — “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”<Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56> The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion … differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”<LG 66> The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.<Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103>

If Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin is “intrinsic” to our faithful worship, is our honor of her merely optional?  If our honor is not due, what is due?  Our dishonor?  Our indifference?  A smile and a wave to her from a detached distance?  Catholics, is Mary your Blessed Virgin Mother, or not?  If you are in Christ, she is your mother.  Ask your brother John the Beloved Disciple, who was first to hear and receive this Good News from the Cross, from the dying Jesus Himself, saying to him, “Behold your mother.” (Jn 19:27).  And John “took her into his own.”

How important is the completeness and fullness, the whole-heartedness, the maturity of our worship of Holy God?  Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, (Jn 4:22-24):

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Father seeks those who worship Him not as they “choose” or “prefer” or minimize to what “fits” with what we know now or with all we care to know now.  He is calling us to more!  Indeed, He is calling us to the fullness that has been entrusted to this Holy Catholic Church!  How can Catholic teachers seek to dilute the Faith to “fit” better the non-Catholic world, the very world we are sent into as witnesses of all that He has revealed?  The Church was sent (Mt 28:19-20) to teach all that He commanded – Personally by His words and example, and through His Holy Spirit to the Church as well – the whole Truth:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

We owe Him that!  All disciples whom we hope to prepare for Him, deserve to hear and to learn all that He has entrusted to His Church.

Vatican II echoed Marian devotion and honor passed on to us, from ancient times to today in the Catholic Church (Lumen Gentium #52,53):

Joined to Christ the Head and in the unity of fellowship with all His saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory “of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer….. She is “the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head.” Wherefore she is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity. The Catholic Church, taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.

We “must in the first place reverence” her memory but honor is optional? Mary “is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity” – but honoring her is not owed her?  She is not deserving of the honor due to her because of the place given her by God in His Church?  Is she not worthy of honor as our Mother in Christ, she who is “the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head”?

Friends, the fullness of divine revelation given to the Catholic Church is immense!  We cannot teach or share everything in the Faith all at once – the Body of Teachings is too big, too rich, too full.  But we can and we ought not ever dilute to the point of misrepresenting the fullness of the Truth, presenting partial truths in ways that mislead, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  Many today are presenting Mary and her place in the Gospel in ways that seem to me to be intended to ease the acceptance of the Catholic Faith by today’s protestantized, secularized modernists who have become “consumers” in this “discretionary market of weekend religion providers.”  And many “salesmen” are “competing for a decreasing available market share.”  

Yes, I know how cynical that sounds.  But these times demand facing hard realities.  The Catholic Faith is not an optional dessert for people who are already overweight from foods they did not need.  The food the Church is entrusted with is essential, necessary for Life and urgently needed as the night approaches.  A Church seeking to grow, revealing only parts of the Truth to a lost people weak and dazed in the spiritual famine of the modern West, is making poor use of the time – and there is or may be precious little of it left.  We need, today, in this cold and hard world, our Mother Mary!  The modern hard and sterile clerical church (not the Church intended by Christ!) needs her maternal, feminine, motherly and faith-filled gifts today, as perhaps never so urgently before.  The bureaucratic institutional and impersonal church needs a mother – the very mother intended for her from the beginning!  Our Mother Mary deserves the honor, the love, the devotion, the place among us that God intends.  We had better begin to listen to Him, and the sooner the better; the clock is ticking.

Friends, ask your pastors to provide the needed catechesis and spiritual formation that we need in these dark times.  We need to learn to pray, and to read and listen to and hear Holy Scripture.  We need food for the interior life.  We need to become better formed, in other words, into the image and likeness of God our Creator and Redeemer.  

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)

See also:

The Church Needs Mary

Foundations of Marian Devotion in the Early Church


Responses

  1. I think the decrease in devotion to Mary goes along with everything else that is occurring in the Catholic Church. I pray for those that are not devoted to Mary. I do not think Jesus thinks to kindly of that. Why has Jesus been sending his mother to us in apparitions all these years. Several years ago I did the 33 days of Morning Glory concentration to Jesus through Mary and I will tell you my life got better.

  2. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for this blog article, to honor our Mother who has suffered so much, with Jesus! Her heart was being pierced spiritually as His was Pierced by the soldier’s lance — for love of us.

    Often I remember the words — prophetic — when Pope St. John Paul II uttered them in 1982:

    “Where the Mother is, there too is the Son. When one moves away from the Mother, sooner or later he ends up keeping distant from the Son as well. It is no wonder that today, in various sectors of secularized society, we note a widespread crisis of faith in God, preceded by a drop in devotion to the Virgin Mother.”

    Let us love Jesus through and with Mary, Let us obey Jesus as the Beloved disciple John did hearing Jesus, say: “Behold your Mother”. By God’s Grace, may we take Mary into our lives and learn as Mary did to love as Jesus loves!

    • Dear Deborah –

      Those are prophetic words, painfully true and evident today. Modern man hardly knows up from down, or good from evil anymore. Absurdity has become the standard of “truth” today, and any who point out the obvious, is judged insane – an enemy of the people.

      Mt 6:22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;
      Mt 6:23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

  3. Once again a beautifully written blog ….! We definitely need critical reminders such as these, that we keep on crucifying the Good Lord, and keep on hurting our Blessed Mother for all the ungodly and evil ways that our entire society had been behaving lately. May God pardon and bless us all!

  4. Thanks Thomas, for this blog entry. It is so painful to see our Holy Mother of God so mistreated and ignored today. Jesus loved His mother and wanted her to be taken care of after He was gone. Today so many people have forgotten the ten commandments!! The fourth one being to Honor your father and your mother.


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