Apologetics - Part Two
In our previous issue we covered two of the issues which non-Catholic fundamentalists use in their efforts to demean Catholic teaching; why we call our priest Father, and the infallibility of our Holy Father, the Pope, and the teaching Magisterium of the Church.
Five Joyful Mysteries:
Another issue with which fundamentalists find a problem is our love and respect for Mary, the Mother of God. The problem they have is usually centered on a belief that we ‘adore’ Mary! A study of our devotion to the Blessed Mother, and the many prayers associated with this devotion, would surely reveal to them the error of their beliefs. It is a doctrine of our Faith that Mary was assumed into Heaven and reigns there as Queen of Heaven. She is above all the angels and saints in Heaven, and only below God in status. She was chosen by God to be the mother of His Son, and she freely agreed to His request by saying: “Be it done unto me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38) This total acquiescence to God’s will has earned her the right to be revered by all Christians, not only Catholics, for she agreed to bring the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind, into the world. We revere her and we pray to her for intercession with Jesus for our petitions, but we do not replace God with Mary, nor do we give her equality with God. Those who make this claim are in error, for they obviously have never bothered to learn true Catholic teaching regarding Mary.
Let us examine the prayer devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Hail Mary, which sola scriptura fundamentalists are quick to point out, is not found anywhere in the Bible. Actually the prayer is found in the same Bibles used by all Christians!
”Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) The word hail is not a form of worship; it is simply a greeting. We are not worshipping the king when we say, “All hail the king”; we are simply greeting him.
”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42) These are the words of Elizabeth as recorded in Luke’s gospel. The word Jesus is only added so as to more easily understand exactly to whom Elizabeth was referring.
“Holy Mary”. (Luke 1:48). Because of her crucial role in bringing the long-awaited Savior into the world, this is what Mary realizes about herself: “From now on all ages will call me blessed.” Blessed and holy are synonyms of each other.
“Mother of God”. (Luke 1:43) Elizabeth says to Mary: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord [Greek: Kyrios] should come to me”? Kyrios is used in the New Testament as a title for God the Father. (Luke 1:6, 9, 11) Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ in His entirety. Jesus is fully Divine (1 John 5:20) and is fully human (1 Timothy 2:5)
The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity has always existed (John 1:1-2). The Divine merger of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity with human flesh, however, was accomplished in the course of history (John 1:14). A mother does not give birth to only the body, or only the soul of a child. She gives birth to the whole being, both body and soul. They cannot be divided. Mary, as the mother of Jesus, was also the mother of God, for the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity always has, and always will exist; as we read above in John 1:14: “The Word was made Flesh.”
Early heretics, (yes, we had them in the early days of the Church too!), claimed that Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father, and argued this point by noting Jesus’ origin in time from a human mother. In the fifth-century the Council of Ephesus changed the name of Mary to Theotokus (Mother of God), rather than Christotokus (Christ-bearer), in order to emphasize Jesus’ divinity, and refute this heresy. These early heretics were called Nestorians, after a man named Nestorius.
The name Theotokus is actually a projection of the revealed truth about Jesus; Jesus is one Divine Person with two natures, one Divine and one human, and the two natures are inseparably united in the one Divine Person of Jesus. You can readily see, as in the example of the Council of Epheseus, the truth that authentic Marian doctrine will always protect authentic doctrine about Jesus Christ; Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ!
The sola scriptura Christians either don’t understand, or else do not want to understand, our veneration for Mary, the Mother of God, for to do so they would be admitting that some of their other teachings are in error.
“Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.” This is a prayer of intercession, and this brings up another point in our Catholic religion that is contested by those in other denominations. Fundamentalists claim that we cannot ask the Saints in Heaven to intercede for us, yet they will readily ask us to pray for the healing of one of their loved ones. Since we do not have the power to heal, as Jesus healed, it is obvious that they are admitting that intercessory prayers, by us to God, would be heard by Him. If our prayers of petition can be heard by God, isn’t it logical that the Saints in Heaven would also be able to petition God in our behalf, for aren’t we all part of the Communion of Saints, which is also part of the creed recited by many Protestant denominations?
The recitation of the Rosary is another point on which sola scriptura Christians find fault with Catholic teaching, claiming it is only a “man-made invention”. Even some of our priests and bishops downplay the importance of the Rosary in our spiritual lives. I have even heard the Rosary described as a “quaint practice”.
Actually, the Rosary was created by Christian men, but all of the components of the Rosary come from the Bible. In centuries past the people would pray the Our Father 150 times or the Hail Mary 150 times to emulate the priests and religious who read the Divine Office daily, for most of them could not read the 150 Psalms of the Office. Gradually the practice of meditating on the life of Jesus came into being. In 1569, Pope St. Pius V established the form of the present day Rosary that we recite.
Five Sorrowful Mysteries:
- The Angel Gabriel announces God’s plan of Salvation to Mary. (Luke 1:26-38)
- Mary visits Elizabeth to tell her the good news of her Divine pregnancy. (Luke 1:39-47)
- The birth of Jesus; the Word becomes flesh. (Luke 2:1-7)
- The presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:22-32)
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke:2:41-52)
Five Glorious Mysteries:
- The agony of Jesus in the Garden. (Mark 15:16-20)
- The scourging of Jesus at the pillar. (John 18:28-38; John 19:1)
- Jesus is crowned with thorns. (Mark 15:16-20)
- Jesus carries His cross. (John 19:12-16)
- Jesus is crucified and dies. (Luke 23:33-46)
- The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (Luke 24:50-53)
- The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. (Luke 24:50-53)
- The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)
- The assumption of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven by the power of God. The assumption into Heaven of holy ones is recorded in Gen 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11, Matt 27:52, and Acts 8:39-40. We are dealing here with traditions. Adhering to the taught traditions is mentioned in 1 Cor 11:2, and especially in 2 Thess 2:15. (“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.”)
- Mary crowned Queen of Heaven. (Rev 11:19, Rev 12:5)
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