Q&A

Can you help me resolve my difficulties with Marian doctrines?

By March 18, 2016 10 Comments

Full Question

I am having serious issues with Marian doctrines. I feel the titles the Church gives to her, such as co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and dispenser of all graces, really limit the power of Christ. I fear I am committing idolatry. Am I required to believe Mary is co-redeemer with Christ? Or can I simply not believe that doctrine at all because it isn’t dogma? I fear this issue will force me away from the Church for good.

Answer

It will help if you understand what the Church means by such doctrines and what it does not mean. First, the Church recognizes that Jesus in the ultimate sense is our only redeemer—plain and simple. Only God could make up for an offense against his divinity. When Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man, he used the services of several human beings. he used prophets, the last of whom was his cousin, John the Baptist. He used St. Joseph as his foster father to protect him and to be a father to him in his formative years. Most of all, he used Mary as his mother who gave birth to him, nursed him, and nurtured him as a child. All of these people cooperated with him and his mission of salvation. He alone was the redeemer in the ultimate sense, but they cooperated with him in his work of redemption. In varying degrees they all could be called co-redeemers because of such cooperation. But because of her unique role and the degree of her cooperation, Mary is singled out. In all of humanity, God singled her out for a truly sublime role. Nursing Almighty God at her breast is beyond our ability to fully appreciate. Yet thousands of Christians since the Protestant reformation have completely ignored such sublimity.
What is said of co-redemptrix is also true of mediatrix. Because these terms can be highly misleading, the Church has not infallibly proclaimed them. (See article:www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/ORMARIA2.HTM) Nevertheless, God is the one who singled Mary out for the unique role in salvation that she has. She did not seek out such distinction. It is important to remember the high praise Jesus lavished on St. John the Baptist. Yet his mission was not nearly as exalted as Mary’s. Jesus worked his first miracle at her request. All she needed to say was: “They have no wine.” He understood exactly what she wanted. He could have taken care of the matter on his own. But he chose to have his mother’s intercession be a part of the mix. The miracle wasn’t any less significant because of her part in it. On the contrary, she shows us how accessible he is to our needs. To truly appreciate Mary is to appreciate her Son all the more.

Answered by: Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.

10 Comments

  • Peter Spasic says:

    Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.
    You are extrapolating from scripture. Nowhere does the Bible even suggest she has a partial salvific role in our salvation.
    Please show clearly from scripture.
    Hebrews 4:16 makes it clear to whom we should pray. Millions of Catholic pray TO Mary for help.
    And where does scripture teach that the “saints” have extra merits that can be applied to souls in purgatory.
    And where is purgatory even taught – not 1 Corinthians 3:15 if you read carefully
    Besides invoking Mary and the “saints” intercession, and the idea of purgatory as a final cleansing, all diminish the effectiveness of Christ as a Saviour. Didn’t HE pay the full penalty for our sins?
    To the questioner …
    For the Catholic Church to quibble about words is to be dishonest about what it really believes.
    It still is official that without Mary, there is no salvation. It is wonderful to see you questioning. Note how much more prominence Mary gets than Jesus, in pictures, in statues, and on face book!
    “But he chose to have his mother’s intercession be a part of the mix” – Jesus already knew what was needed and what He would do. To use this as support for Mary’s HEAVENLY intercession is really stretching Bible interpretation and application. If Mary’s role was so important the writers of the New Testament would have told us.
    Ask any priest to show clearly from the Bible that these teachings are in line with scripture. Don’t accept answers that rely on “tradition” if they are not supported by God’s Word.
    Finally, “seek and you will find” Matthew 7:7
    Best wishes on you journey.. (or rather, praying for you…)

    • ed lim says:

      Luke: 1:46-55 (Douay-Rheims Bible Version)
      [46] And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. [47] And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. [48] Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. [49] Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. [50] And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. [51] He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. [52] He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. [53] He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. [54] He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: [55] As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
      The verses above show the graces that God gives out through Mary. Mary said: “My soul doth magnify the Lord”…….

  • Ed Lim says:

    @Peter Spasic: Here is the Bible verse that shows the graces that God gives out through Mary. You have to deeply analyze the messages to understand; Luke 1:46-55 (from the Douay-Rheims Version).
    The Magnificat
    46 And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord,
    47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
    48 Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid;
    for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
    49 Because he that is Mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
    50 And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
    51 He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
    52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble .
    53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
    54 He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:
    55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
    You see from the beginning of the verse, “My (Mary) soul doth magnify the Lord” …… and the graces that flows from God through Mary.

    • Peter Spasic says:

      Ed Lim
      “And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord”
      To magnify the Lord means to extol, praise, make Him known, tell of His glory, etc…
      There are many references to individuals and groups of people magnifying/extolling/etc the Lord
      Mary is not the only one who “magnified” Him
      Zacharias Luke 1:67ff
      Mary magnified Him by recounting the many works God had performed for His people.
      Also verse 47 “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” seems to negate the belief that Mary was born sinless…
      But, HOW DO YOU CONCLUDE FROM THESE VERSES THAT “GRACES FLOW FROM GOD THROUGH MARY”
      What do mean by “deeply analyse”?
      Psalm 96:1-9
      Psalm 29:1-2
      Psalm 118:28
      Psalm 86:12
      Psalm 99:9
      Isaiah 25:1
      Revelation 14:7

      • ed lim says:

        @Peter Spasic: You see, Mary makes God known to many and lead them to her Son Jesus Christ for their salvation. When we receive Jesus in baptism, she becomes our spiritual Mother. Her saying “my Saviour” means she was protected from sin, conceive without sin and lived in the world free from sin. It is the Will of God. As for the “graces”, read on the entirety of her pronouncement and see the power of God that flows through her. If you could not see it, the Holy Spirit is not in you. The sad part though on Verse 51; he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.”

        • Peter Spasic says:

          Ed Lim
          Jude 25 “… to God our saviour …” Jude was not declaring that God has “protected US from sin, conceive without sin and lived in the world free from sin.”
          The writers of scripture often refer to “God our saviour” – but never suggest this meant being born without a sin nature.” So why only for Mary? Just because she prayed “my”…?
          Romans 5:12 “death spread to all men (mankind) because ALL sinned…”
          Romans 3:23 “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
          So where does God’s Word tell us that Mary was “protected from sin, conceive without sin and lived in the world free from sin. It is the Will of God.”?
          And where does scripture teach that “Mary makes God known to many and lead them to her Son Jesus Christ for their salvation.”
          John 6:44 “No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless THE FATHER (God) … draws him…” No mention of Mary drawing anyone.
          Can you provide scriptural support for “she becomes our spiritual Mother”? If John 19:27 is your proof then it should also have been taught by the apostles, if it is so important.
          Can you please explain how the Magnificat teaches that God’s power and “graces” flow through her? I have read through and still don’t “see it”.
          You still have not shown any clear Biblical support from the teaching letters of Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude for these beliefs about Mary’s role in our salvation.
          With all due respect, if you believe the Holy Spirit is not in me, then please address my questions – even if you consider me to be “proud in the conceit of my heart.”

  • Mark Ruiz says:

    I just don’t get it……why do Baptists….Protestants …..and so on have these major hang ups about Mary?…..all this Sola scrip?….when all they have to do is study about The Catholic Church…..be open…and see.
    Come and See.

    • Peter Spasic says:

      Mark, with all due respect, so far no one has offered a clear explanation as to why the vitally important issues of Mary and the ‘saints’ as intercessors, purgatory and praying for the deceased, etc, are not CLEARLY taught and EXPLAINED by the apostles in their letters? The Cana wedding on its own is pretty flimsy as an argument – Hebrews 4:16 could have included a mention of Mary. Romans 3:23 seems to rule out Mary’s sinlessness – surely Paul should have mentioned her as the exception? 1 Corinthians 3:12, 15 – “the day” in verse 12 seems to rule out a purgatorial halfway state between death and heaven. Strange that the Maccabees teaching is not included in the apostles’ letters – maybe Maccabees is not inspired, or were they like those who baptized on behalf of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29?
      Telling us that all we have to do is “study about The Catholic Church…..be open…and see” is not much help. Would you care to share how you would answer the question, or refer us to Magisterial documents that address these issues – and the scriptural (catholic or protestant) basis for them. We all know some of these doctrines evolved over time – but at least all church teachings should be based on, and supported by, the writings/teachings of the apostles, Luke and Mark.

  • Donna Struzzieri says:

    Look in the OT where it tells of the king and his mother sits on his right side. The people that wanted something from the king would be smart to go to his mother The Queen he would never refuse her. Would you refuse your mother?

    • Peter Spasic says:

      “Look in the OT where it tells of the king and his mother sits on his right side. The people that wanted something from the king would be smart to go to his mother The Queen he would never refuse her. Would you refuse your mother?”
      A pretty weak argument…and if this were true why didn’t Peter, Paul, James and Jude NOT include this important doctrine in their teaching letters (see 2 Timothy 3:16)? If it were true but wasn’t ‘revealed’ to the church until much later, then the early Christians sure missed out.
      The Old Testament references to a king’s mother really have to be twisted to justify considering Mary as Queen of Heaven. Again, I ask, why is this teaching absent from the NT authors? Resorting to the book of Revelation also requires a lot of eisogesis (reading into scripture, rather than exegesis – from scripture)

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