Mary

 Confusion of Many Protestants

Too often well-meaning Protestants get confused and accuse of things that are outright nonsense if not lies. It is usually because they never take the time to really understand what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices.

Below is a good example of a kind and well-meaning Protestant pastor who wrote to me earlier today. He is obviously a good man and thinks he understands but his use of the same-old, same-old, worn out and misrepresentative arguments show that he has not done his homework and is parroting things some other parrot taught him.

Let’s look at what he says. First, his letter was posted in my Combox under a blog post “Do Catholics Worship Mary?” in which I give a long explanation. I think our good pastor failed to read the whole article or he wouldn’t have written what he did.

He starts by saying, “I believe the confusion comes because the Church chose to remain theologically in the Old Testament – using priests – when Jesus has become our High Priest.  I am a pastor, and I pray for my people, but I am NOT their ‘priestly mediator’ – Jesus is!  

Though I could write a book on this topic alone, and it has been done by others, it is sad to see people still have such a basic misunderstanding of the priesthood of Jesus and the priesthood of believers.

My answer can be as simple as this: We are all priests! We are priests but it does not keep us in the Old Testament, nor does it mean we are trying to undermine the priesthood of Jesus.

St. Peter tells us, “1 Peter 2:5, 9  “And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” See also Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6.

Not only are we priests, but we also offer sacrifices. My, that sounds awful Old Testament doesn’t it? Yet it is the reality of the New Covenant.

Levites minister with the High Priest

In the Old Testament there was a 1) High Priest (Aaron and his sons), 2) a ministerial priesthood (Levites) and 3) the general priesthood of all the people (Ex 19:6).

The Church is the new Israel. Should we expect it to have a different structure? Of course not. In the Church we still have three levels of priesthood: 1) Jesus is our new High Priest, 2) the ordained priesthood, called by the early Christians “Levites” and 3) the general priesthood of all believers like in the Old Testament. This is exactly what the Catholic Church has and exactly what the Protestant churches have abandoned.

No priest today thinks he has replaced Jesus Christ. They work with him just like the Levites worked with and for Aaron. The Catholic Church is biblical and certainly not stuck in the Old Testament. In fact, we could say the Protestant churches have gone the way of Korah. As we read in Jude 8,

Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.” Jude 11.

What was Korah’s rebellion? None ordained, non-Levitical priests claimed that they too were holy and could offer the sacrifices relegated to the priesthood. When they protested and said they could do what the priests do the earth opened up and swallowed them. Jude is not writing to Jews but to Christians and warns them not to claim what is not allowed to them. The priesthood is the priesthood.

We are all priestly mediators! Every time we pray for someone we are in the middle between them and God. If this pastor says he is praying for his people then he is putting himself in the middle between them and God and acting as a mediator, an intercessor.

I remember my father saying “We have only one meditator between God and man, and it is the man Christ Jesus!” I responded, “Don’t EVER ask me to pray for you again.” Why? Because it puts me in the middle and makes me a mediator.

Mediator between heaven and earth

Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant which only he could establish, but he then asks us to share in his mediatorship by praying for others and acting on their behalf. And he asks the ordained priests to share in his priesthood, working as the Levites to serve him in the sacramental duties of the Church.

The pastor then writes, “The Bible is clear that we MUST NOT try to communicate with the dead – and Mary and the apostles are dead!  Lev 19:31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.  Lev 20:6  “‘I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

He is assuming here, and quite wrongly, that the Catholic and age-old teaching of the “Communion of the Saints” is equal to occultism. It is certainly not. In one of our oldest creeds, recited by most Protestants too, we hear, “We believe in the Communion of Saints…”

What is this? It is the fact that saints are not dead but alive and with Our Lord in heaven. We are all still one family and in communion with one another. Death does not divide the body of Christ. The body of Christ is one whole including those on earth and those who are with the Lord in heaven.

We ask one another on earth to pray for us (making them mediators) and knowing that the saints are alive in heaven, we also ask them to pray for us.

 Now our pastor friend makes a bold statement, “Mary and the apostles are dead.” Really? Has he read the New Testament lately? He sounds more like a Sadducee than a Christian. The Sadducees denied life after death. They said that the dead were dead.

But Jesus refutes the Sadducees and our Protestant pastor when he said, “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” Luke 20:37–38

When someone asks, “Where does the Bible say we should pray to dead saints?” The Catholic should answer, “Where does the Bible say saints are dead?”

If we want to see Mary alive in heaven all we have to do is read Revelation 12:1.

In the Old Testament the Israelites were chastised for following spiritist and mediums and abandoning God. Saul certainly did this when he refused to wait for God and decided to go to a witch instead of God. We Catholics also condemn occultism and divination. The pastor should know this. It is clearly stated in our Catechism,

CCC 2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

CCC 2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others—even if this were for the sake of restoring their health—are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

We do not consider asking the saints who are alive in heaven to pray for us a violation of Old Testament or New Testament law. The confusion lies with the pastor who accuses Catholics without knowing of what he speaks.

One needs only look at the Transfiguration to understand a bit more about the spiritual world and its interconnection to believers on earth. Jesus is talking to whom on the mountain? A dead guy? Moses had died and been buried over a thousand years earlier yet he is very much alive and talking to Jesus.

And notice, Moses is aware of what is going on on the earth because he came to talk to Jesus about what is soon to take place in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). They were discussing the real world. They were dead, but not dead. They were very much alive. They did not appear as spirits or ghosts. Luke specifically said “the two men.”

There was more that the pastor wrote but only to repeat what we’ve already responded to. I suggest he study the Catholic teaching and the teaching of the very first Christians and come back to the fullness of the Faith. And if he wants to quote the Bible he ought to study his Bible a little more carefully too.

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A Southern Baptist writes:

I am a Southern  Baptist who has a lot of respect for the Catholic faith. The Immaculate Conception is a hard concept for me. Does it also include the belief that Mary never sinned? How does that pass muster with Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God?” It seems like Paul would have noted the one exception here in Mary if that were the case.

 From my limited studies, I think Catholics have a very good argument for their position regarding the Eucharist. But wasn’t it several centuries before this concept of Mary arose in the Church?

 Dear Friend: yours is a good question. From the early centuries, Mary was considered the All Holy One and considered as without sin. Rom 3:23 is a general statement but does not mention exceptions to the rule. For example, Jesus was a man without sin, therefore an exception.

 The New Adam (Jesus) is without sin. From the 1st century Mary has been viewed as the New Eve. It would be appropriate, actually proper, that the New Eve be without sin also.

Those who die before the age of reason, or who are mentally deficient are also exceptions. Job could even be called an exception if you take God’s report of him literally (Job 1:8).

Romans is also discussing that it is not only the Gentiles that have sinned but also the Jews. All can be a collective of peoples. “You Jews think you are righteous because you are of Abraham? You think only the Gentiles are in sin. No, all have sinned, Gentile and Jew alike”

This is born out in Psalm 14 from where Rom 3:9 (parallel passage to Rom 3:23) is quoted. Here is says, Psalm 14:2–3 “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one.”

Yet immediately following we find that God has his righteous. Psalm 14:5–6 “There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge.”

As a Baptist I used to use the Bible often for proof-texts and sound bites. Scripture is much more subtle than that. It is our tradition, whether Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, etc., that guides us in our approach to Scripture. The real question is, which tradition will you allow to direct your interpretation and study? I chose the tradition that was practiced from the first century until today – which is Catholic.

Wish I had more time. I warn you (tongue in cheek) that if you want to stay Baptist you are asking dangerous questions and dancing very close to the fire :-)

You will find helpful writings on this matter here, especially the short explanation on the radio of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption.

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Mary’s Sorrows: Known and Unknown

by Steve Ray on September 12, 2019

27c7fb2767cca3bfb8b2c2865c71a7a3Mary’s Sorrows,  September 15 (Our Lady of Sorrows)

I did several radio shows on the sorrows of Mary this week, mentioning the Seven Sorrows of the popular devotion, but also some sorrows that are unknown. From times in the land of Israel meditating on her life, I pondered other sorrows she suffered. You can read my notes here (not a developed document, just my radio notes for now.)

https://www.catholicconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/Marys-Sorrows.pdf

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Birth of Mary in the Protoevangelium of James

September 8, 2019

In the early 2nd century the early Church held a document in very high regard. From this document we learn about the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her own birth. Since today is the Feast Day of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, I thought I would provide a link to the Protoevangelium […]

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Two Questions from an Unhappy Listener

September 3, 2019

After a recent radio show, a man wrote to challenge me. The e-mail contained two questions — the questioner’srs words are in blue. I have removed his name out of respect for his privacy. Dear friend, you wrote:   >> I found it rather interesting you had all those questions for Bible Christians. I am a Protestant convert that had […]

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Mary Saw Mercy… so real and visible and close it may have splashed on her face.

August 27, 2019

Since we are visiting the convent of St. Maria Faustina, I thought I would share this meditation on the Divine Mercy of God. Mary knew mercy. Mary saw mercy. The mercy was so real and visible and close it may have splashed on her face. Sister Faustina’s Divine Mercy shows the blood and water springing […]

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Mary, Assumed into Heaven as the Queen

August 12, 2019

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne on his right hand to reign as Queen of the Kingdom. The man arguing with me […]

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Joachim & Anna: Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2019

The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating. I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The […]

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Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts – Feast Days are Upon Us!

June 27, 2019

Since Friday, June 28 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am reposting this. A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?” Here is my […]

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Mary a Mediatrix? Isn’t there just One Mediator?

June 12, 2019

The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? […]

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My Hero John Henry Cardinal Newman on “The Assumpion of Mary”

June 9, 2019

Cardinal John Henry Newman converted to the Catholic faith. He played a big part in my own converseion. He has a unique and beautiful understanding of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  You can read it below or at Aletia here. Why the Assumption made perfect sense to Newman, and what it meant for him […]

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Visitation and Responding to Protestant Objections to Mary, Ark of the New Covenant

May 29, 2019

A while ago I wrote a somewhat comprehensive article on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant and then a follow up with Quotes from the Fathers of the Church. Recently a Protestant seminarian wrote an email with objections to my article. My good friend Gary Michuta, a class act apologist, did me the […]

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Mary, Ark of the New Covenant & the Visitation to Elizabeth

May 1, 2019

Read my article about Mary, typology and reading the Bible with the Fathers of the Church and the Visitation. It was published in 2005 in Catholic Answers Magazine but is as relevant today as then, as relevant now as in the 1st century.. Click HERE for the whole article. Click HERE for the full article.

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Catholic Doctrines in Scripture by Topic. Save or print 87- page Resource

February 8, 2019

Catholic Doctrines in Scripture, Compiled by Greg Oatis            Click here for document Introduction                                                          3 Preface                                                                 4 Church Authority and Papal Infallibility                     5 Peter as First Pope                                                 8 Apostolic Succession                                               11 Ordination and Priesthood                                       12 Salvation Not By Faith Alone/Not Assured                  14 Doctrines                                                              21 Free Will                                                              21 Abortion                                                               23  Contraception                                                        24 Homosexuality                                                       […]

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Christmas – when even Protestants put up Statues!

December 20, 2018

Christmas is that magical time of year when Protestants don’t have a problem with statues of Jesus, Mary, Saints and Angels! Isn’t that lovely (and inconsistent)?

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Joachim & Anna: The Birth and Presentation of Our Lady, from a 2nd Century Document

September 8, 2018

Join us next year on one of our pilgrimages to see Germany and Passion Play in Oberammergau, Saints & Scholars of England, St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise.  Visit http://www.FootprintsOfGod.com ************************* FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR BLESSED VIRGIN MARY November 21 “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or […]

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