Mary as Co-Redemptrix

Nov 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

On this first day of Advent, we are reminded to anticipate Christ’s second coming, as we prepare to celebrate His first coming. A woman heavy with Child will soon give birth to the King of kings. In doing so, she will begin another phase in her pilgrimage of faith, one which culminates at the cross, where her Son is offered to the Father for the sins of the world. By bringing Christ into the world, raising Him from infancy, and offering Him up to the Father at the foot of the cross, Mary participates uniquely in Christ’s salvation of the world, on account of which the Church titles her ‘Co-Redemptrix.’ As a Protestant, this was one of the Catholic terms that most disturbed me, not only because it seemed to imply that Mary was equal to Jesus, but also because it seemed to detract from the work of Christ, as though His work was neither sufficient nor unique. I later came to see that properly understood, not only does the doctrine do neither of those things, in fact it exalts Christ and His work more than I had even imagined.


Our Lady of Sorrows

According to the Catholic Church, all of us who have been united to Christ by faith are called to participate in Christ’s redemption of the world, by prayer, obedience, taking up our cross, and sharing in His sufferings. Through His work of redemption, Christ graciously gives us active, contributing roles in His redemptive work, thereby allowing us to “fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col 1:24) What is lacking is not anything in the suffering of Christ as Head, but in the participation of the Body in the suffering of Christ the Head. And it is in this respect that Mary is the greatest example to us of participation in Christ’s redemption, because she did so in the deepest and most beautiful way.

Mary uniquely participates in Christ’s redemption as the second Eve. The first Eve took the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave it to the first Adam who ate and died. To effect restoration, God arranged for the second Eve to undo what the first Eve had done in taking the forbidden fruit, by granting to the second Eve the grace of being the source of the saving fruit, and immolating her fruit on a tree. While the first Eve plucked the forbidden fruit with her hand, the second Eve did not pluck her fruit with her hand. Rather, by her obedient assent to God, it was given to her by God to bring forth her fruit from her own womb, and thus the second Adam (i.e. Christ) is the fruit of her womb [ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου]. (Luke 1:42) The first Eve plucked from a tree the fruit which is death, and gave it to all mankind as sin. The second Eve bore from her womb the fruit that is Life, which at Calvary she offered on a tree to the Father on behalf of the sins of all mankind, and now extends to all mankind the grace that comes from the fruit of her womb. The first Eve was taken from the first Adam, as flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones. The second Adam was taken from the second Eve, as flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bones. This second Adam said to us, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6:53-54) Thus unless a man eats the fruit of Mary’s womb, he has no life in him, but if he eats the fruit of her womb, he has eternal life. To receive the Eucharist is to receive not only Christ’s self-offering, but is also to receive what the second Eve is giving to us, namely, the perfect fruit of her womb. This is one example, among others, in which Mary is an unmatched participant in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Recently Dr. Lawrence Feingold of the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Ave Maria University, gave a lecture on Mary as co-remptrix, as part of a longer teaching series on Mariology for the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The audio of the lecture is available immediately below, followed by the audio for the question & answer session which immediately followed. Below I have sketched out some notes from the lecture, which may be of use as one listens to the audio.

Mary as Co-Redemptrix
 

Question and Answer
 

The audio files can be downloaded as mp3s here.

At the wedding at Cana, Mary helps begin Jesus’s public ministry by asking for the first miracle, and in that way hastening His hour, which was Calvary. But Calvary was not only Christ’s hour; Calvary was also that to which Mary’s whole life had been directed, since the prophecy of St. Simeon. (Luke 2:35) Her intercession at Cana, then, is a type of her intercession for all of humanity, culminating at the foot of the cross, where from the cross Jesus says to her: “Woman, behold your son.” These are very important words, because they are His last testament. They refer not only to Mary and John, but to all humanity. He speaks of her as “woman” not out of a lack of filial affection, but to show that He is tied to her not principally by blood (i.e. as her physical offspring), but in the union of the woman and her Son in the crushing of the serpent’s head, as foretold in Genesis 3. By calling her ‘woman’ he is referring to her as the associate of the Second Adam, as “the woman.” She is the woman who recapitulates her sex, and thereby plays a part in restoring the sons and daughters of Eve, undoing what was done by the first Eve. Jesus here, on the Cross, just before saying “It is finished,” enlarges Mary’s maternity, by entrusting His “beloved disciple,” i.e. all who “keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17) to her, such that through union with Christ they are made “the rest of her offspring.” (Rev 12:17) Because all men are called to be disciples of Jesus, therefore through His last act, Jesus entrusted all mankind to Mary.

Consider Mary’s faith at the foot of the cross. In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), Pope John Paul II shows that Mary is the model of faith. Her role is not to substitute for Jesus or take away from Jesus, but to show the perfect response to Jesus, because her entire role is to be the perfect disciple, and thus the one who most perfectly lives by faith. She is the most perfect model of walking by faith, that is, of believing what she could not see, despite contrary evidence to her senses. In this way she goes beyond Abraham’s faith in his example of the sacrifice of Isaac, because her sacrifice was not substituted, and because the victim was God Himself, and therefore infinitely more lovable. Hence her sacrifice of her Son was a far greater sacrifice than that of Abraham. Describing her life as a pilgrimage of the “obedience of faith” aimed toward the cross, Pope John Paul II writes:

Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying. For “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”: precisely on Golgotha “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self- emptying. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened. On Golgotha, Jesus through the Cross definitively confirmed that he was the “sign of contradiction” foretold by Simeon. At the same time, there were also fulfilled on Golgotha the words which Simeon had addressed to Mary: “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” (Redemptoris Mater, 18)

The merit of faith comes from assenting to God’s word without seeing for oneself, or despite contrary appearances. At the foot of the cross, Mary shared, by faith, in the self-emptying of Christ on the cross. Christ did it without faith, since nothing was unseen for Him, because He is God. But Mary, being a creature, did it by faith. At the foot of the cross, her faith that her Son is the Son of God, was more meritorious, because everything humanly speaking implied the very opposite. This was the supreme trial of faith, for her, at the foot of the cross.

Abraham did not end up making the sacrifice of Isaac, but at the foot of the cross, Mary did truly offer her Son to God the Father, in faith. In offering up her Son to the Father, who accepted this sacrifice (not as in the case of Abraham), her offering of faith merited a benefit from God, because her offering of her Son participated in the merit by which Christ merited our redemption. By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice, through her trial of faith at the foot of the cross, her merit undid the demerit of Eve. According to Pope John Paul II, “Blessed is she who believed” is the key that unlocks the innermost reality of Mary. “Through faith she becomes a sharer of the mystery in every extension of her earthly journey; she fulfills her role through the perfection of her faith, and that faith reaches its climax when she sees everything the opposite of what she believes.”1

At the moment of the Annunciation, the Church began. Calvary was the beginning of the birth of the Church, because from our Lord’s side there came forth water and blood, and the Church is born from the sacraments, as the first Eve was made from the side of the first Adam. But the Church was born in full on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Apostles, as the Holy Spirit had overshadowed Mary at the Annunciation. The Mystical Body was born on Pentecost, as a recapitulation of the way in which Christ’s physical body was conceived in the womb of Mary. She interceded in the upper room on the day of Pentecost for the birth of the Church, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit with which she was uniquely endowed. Her maternal mediation always continues in the Church, and in this way the Church is more Marian than it is Petrine.

At the Annunciation she became the mother not only of her Son, but of the mystical Body of her Son, i.e. of the Church. Mary’s last testament is “Do whatever He tells you.” Her faith made possible the incarnation, and participated in the offering of the immolation of the Messiah. Her faith brought to culmination what the faith of Abraham began. Abraham’s faith made him the father of the chosen people; through God’s gift, Mary’s faith made her the mother of all the living, even all mankind because all the world is called to union with Christ and thus she is given as mother to all the world.

Regarding Mary’s co-redemption, the “co” means ‘with,’ i.e. cooperation, but not an equal cooperation. It does not mean equality; it means participation. This participation is not something novel made up by the early Church; it was announced in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:15, when God promised to put enmity between the serpent and the Woman, and through her Seed to crush the serpent’s head, which was to take place at Calvary.

We need to make a distinction between two kinds of cooperation: one sort in the objective redemption of mankind, and another in the subjective redemption of mankind. At the cross Mary was cooperating in the objective redemption of mankind. But the merits of Christ, which He won by His Passion and death, have to be applied to us individually, through the grace we receive in the sacraments. That is what we call subjective redemption. Mary is involved in both of these aspects of redemption, both the objective redemption and the subjective redemption. In both senses, Christ is the one Redeemer of mankind, but she is a subordinate associate in both ways. Her title of “co-redemptrix” refers to her participation in Christ’s objective redemption, in the meritorious act by which Christ redeemed the world; Her title of “mediatrix” refers to her participation in Christ’s subjective redemption, the fruit of Christ’s objective redemption, that is, the distribution of the graces which Christ merited on the cross.

Dr. Feingold then discussed St. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15. He explained that although Christ is principally the one who crushes the head of the serpent, nevertheless it is true that Mary, by her participation in the work of Christ, also crushed the head of the serpent, by her faith and obedience throughout her life, culminating in giving her consent at the foot of the cross, offering her Son up to the Father. Both claims are true, and are not mutually exclusive, because each crushes the serpent in a different way. Mary does so through her Immaculate Conception, her assent at the Annunciation, and at the foot of the cross, where she consented to her Son’s immolation. And that latter consent is the way in which she offers Christ the Victim to God the Father. According to the Church Fathers, Mary was used by God not merely in a passive way, but also in an active way, through faith and obedience. They explain that what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, Mary loosed through her faith and obedience.

Dr. Feingold quotes from Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus issued on December 8, 1854.

That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.

Here Pope Pius IX teaches that Mary, through her union with Christ, participated in the crushing of the serpent’s head. He then quotes from Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus issued on November 1, 1950, in which he defined the dogma of Mary’s Assumption. There Pope Pius XII wrote:

We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Pope Pius XII teaches that Mary is the new Eve, and as such she “is most intimately associated with [Christ] in that struggle against the infernal foe.” It is this intimate association with Christ in the struggle against the devil, by which Mary is called the ‘Co-Redemptrix.’

He then quotes from paragraph 56 of Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium:

Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her “the Mother of the living,” and still more often they say: “death through Eve, life through Mary.” (see the original for footnotes)

He explains that Mary’s hour, at the cross, would have been her principle subject of prayer, the hour she anticipated in prayer all her life.

Next he draws from St. Bernard’s meditation regarding Mary standing at the foot of the Cross, in relation to St. Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her soul. (Luke 2:35) Whose soul was pierced by the lance? Not Christ’s, because His soul was no longer present, because He had already died. This is why, according to St. Bernard, it was Mary’s soul that was pierced when the lance pierced Christ’s side, making her more than a martyr, because she suffered Christ’s death, in her heart.

In a sermon St. Bernard writes:

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!

Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.2

Next, Dr. Feingold refers to Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, an encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on February 2, 1904, the fiftieth anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX. Pope Pius X writes:

Moreover it was not only the prerogative of the Most Holy Mother to have furnished the material of His flesh to the Only Son of God, Who was to be born with human members, of which material should be prepared the Victim for the salvation of men; but hers was also the office of tending and nourishing that Victim, and at the appointed time presenting Him for the sacrifice. Hence that uninterrupted community of life and labors of the Son and the Mother, so that of both might have been uttered the words of the Psalmist, “My life is consumed in sorrow and my years in groans” (Ps xxx., 11). When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the Cross of Jesus there stood Mary His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her Only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind, and so entirely participating in His Passion, that if it had been possible she would have gladly borne all the torments that her Son bore. And from this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that Our Savior purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood.

Pope Pius X explains that not only did Mary through her fiat (in response to the angel Gabriel) provide the divine Victim with His flesh, but it was given to her to raise and nourish this Victim, as one would a sheep to be slaughtered. Finally it belonged to her as well to present the Victim to be slaughtered, and this she did at the foot of the cross, offering up her only Son to the Father for the salvation of mankind, and in this way participating in His Passion. Through this most proximate participation to which she had been divinely appointed, she merited to become Christ’s associate not only in His objective work of salvation by which redemption was accomplished, but also in His subjective work of applying the grace wrought by this redemption to men.

Pope Benedict XV, in his Apostolic Letter Inter Sodalicia, released on March 22, 1918, wrote:

For with her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death. She gave up her Mother’s rights over her Son to procure the salvation of mankind, and to appease the divine justice, she, as much as she could, immolated her Son, so that one can truly affirm that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race. But if for this reason, every kind of grace we receive from the treasury of the redemption is ministered as it were through the hands of the same Sorrowful Virgin, everyone can see that a holy death should be expected from her, since it is precisely by this gift that the work of the Redemption is effectively and permanently completed in each one.

To procure our salvation, Mary gave up to God her motherly rights over her Son, immolating her Son by her consent to God’s plan. Because she was without original sin, death had no right over her or her Son. But she consented freely to God, and in that respect, by her participation such that Christ could be handed over to death, “she has redeemed the human race.”

Pope Pius XI, in his “Prayer of the Solemn Closing of the Redemption Jubilee,” April 28, 1933, wrote:

O Mother of love and mercy who, when thy sweetest Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, did stand next to Him, suffering with Him as a Co-redemptrix… preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day the precious fruit of His Redemption and the compassion of His Mother.”

Dr. Feingold explains here that the reason he is going through what the popes have taught about this doctrine is because the doctrine of Mary as co-redemptrix has not been infallibly defined by the Church. For that reason, some people think it is unimportant or optional. But, it has been taught by pope after pope, in a strong way, and the response required of Catholics is the religious submission of will and intellect.

In his encyclical on reparations to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI writes:

And now lastly may the most benign Virgin Mother of God smile on this purpose and on these desires of ours; for since she brought forth for us Jesus our Redeemer, and nourished Him, and offered Him as a victim by the Cross, by her mystic union with Christ and His very special grace she likewise became and is piously called a reparatress. Trusting in her intercession with Christ, who whereas He is the “one mediator of God and men” (1 Timothy ii, 5), chose to make His Mother the advocate of sinners, and the minister and mediatress of grace, ….

Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, published on October 14, 1954, he writes:

… Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God’s design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of “recapitulation,” in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ “in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race”; and if, in truth, “it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall,” …

Mary loved us also on Calvary, by sacrificing there on our behalf what was most dear to her, namely, her beloved and only Son. Her consent on Calvary was a consent to His immolation, for our salvation, as the Second Vatican Council made clear in Lumen Gentium 58, writing:

After this manner the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth.

Such a consent, to the immolation of the perfect fruit of her womb, is not natural. It would have been sinful for her to consent, had it not been God’s plan that He come into the world to die. And so her consent was in that respect like Abraham’s consent to sacrifice Isaac, and yet so much greater, as explained above.

In his Apostolic Letter on suffering, Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II explains that Mary at the foot of the cross has a central place. He draws from Colossians 1:24, and explains how this passage shows us the place of co-redemption in the Church.

She loved us, at the cross, by offering Christ (in her heart) to the Father for us, that is, for our salvation. In this way she participated in Christ’s redemptive work, much as St. Paul describes his own suffering as a participation in Christ’s affliction in Colossians 1:24: “I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church” This is a key text in the concept of co-redemption. What is lacking is the participation of the Body in the suffering of the Head. But Mary did so in a complete and perfect way at the foot of the cross, because no one could approach her love for her Son, and her total involvement in His life. Her participation at the foot of the cross was an interior participation in Christ’s sufferings, not a physical suffering but a suffering within her soul. We too are called to participate in Christ’s redemption, by joining our suffering with His. In this way, Mary serves as the perfect example to us, of a mere creature perfectly participating in the suffering of Christ, through faith and love.

Pope John Paul II writes:

[A]t the side of Christ, in the first and most exalted place, there is always his Mother through the exemplary testimony that she bears by her whole life to this particular Gospel of suffering. In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakeable faith but also a contribution to the redemption of all. In reality, from the time of her secret conversation with the angel, she began to see in her mission as a mother her “destiny” to share, in a singular and unrepeatable way, in the very mission of her Son. And she very soon received a confirmation of this in the events that accompanied the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and in the solemn words of the aged Simeon, when he spoke of a sharp sword that would pierce her heart. Yet a further confirmation was in the anxieties and privations of the hurried flight into Egypt, caused by the cruel decision of Herod.

And again, after the events of her Son’s hidden and public life, events which she must have shared with acute sensitivity, it was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. And the words which she heard from his lips were a kind of solemn handing-over of this Gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the whole community of believers.

As a witness to her Son’s Passion by her presence, and as a sharer in it by her compassion, Mary offered a unique contribution to the Gospel of suffering, by embodying in anticipation the expression of Saint Paul which was quoted at the beginning. She truly has a special title to be able to claim that she “completes in her flesh”—as already in her heart—”what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Salvifici Doloris, 25)

In this way, Mary is a perfect exemplar of the Church, of what we are called to do, namely, to be sharers in His suffering, and in that sense co-redeemers with Christ. Mary’s example as co-redeemer with Christ is shown in the famous medieval hymn Stabat Mater, wherein we are invited to imitate her perfect participation in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Stabat Mater

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae moerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

When my body dies,
let my soul be granted
the glory of Paradise. Amen.

  1. Cf. Redemptoris Mater, 19 []
  2. This excerpt is from Sermo in dom. infra oct. Assumptionis, 14-15: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 5 [1968}, 273-274. []
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  1. Bryan,

    I’ve made a blog post or two on this title of the Virgin Mary. What do you say to the fact that Pope Benedict (as Cardinal Ratzinger in an interview with Peter Seewald) thought that this title was problematic:

    ” I do not think there will be any compliance with this demand…what is signified by this [title] is already better expressed in other titles of Mary, while the formula “Co-redemptrix” departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings.

    Because Mary is the prototype of the Church as such and is, so to say, the Church in person, this being “with” must not lead us to forget the “first” of Christ: Everything comes from Him, as the Letter to the Ephesians and the Letter to the Colossians tell us; Mary, too, is everything she is through Him.

    The word “Co-redemptrix” would obscure this origin. A correct intention is being expressed in the wrong way. For matters of faith, continuity of terminology with the language of Scripture and that of the Fathers is itself an essential element; it is improper simply to manipulate language.” –Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World

    It seems your explanation here is focusing on the “correct intention” but Cardinal Ratzinger says that the title itself is problematic, if for no other reason than it sounds confusing, as if Mary is equal to Christ in His redemptive work. How would you respond to this fact?

  2. Hello Devin,

    There Cardinal Ratzinger is responding to a question about whether the Church should infallibly define this doctrine, by way of this term “Co-Redemptrix.” The doctrine explained (in the post) is already a doctrine of the Church, as the documents listed above show, though it has not been infallibly defined. Cardinal Ratzinger’s concern in his reply in that interview is not with the doctrine of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, but with the implications of defining the doctrine according to that title, which when taken by itself, can mislead those who do not understand the doctrine to think that Mary is equal to Christ. That’s not what the doctrine says or implies. But the term can be misunderstood in this way, and that was Cardinal Ratzinger’s reason for saying he did not think that the Church would infallibly define the doctrine by way of this title. This concern could also be raised by other titles such as “Mother of God” and “Queen of Heaven” and “Immaculate Conception,” but these were seen as necessary in order to explain and defend the true doctrines concerning Mary. The Church has to make prudential decisions regarding how to present the truth without unnecessarily lending herself to misunderstanding; that’s a pastoral concern, and I think Cardinal Ratzinger is showing that pastoral concern in his reply to the interviewer’s question.

    His other reason has to do with the language of Scripture, but I think that this is a subordinate reason for him, because as history shows, when it is necessary to explain or define a doctrine in contradistinction to heresy, the Church can be aided by the use of terms that are not found directly in Scripture or the Fathers, even if the concepts are there. And the concept of Mary’s supreme and perfect cooperation with Christ in His work of objective redemption is found in the Fathers, as the documents cited above show. My point here, in this post, is not to advocate that the Church infallibly define the doctrine by way of this title, but simply to explain the doctrine that the Church has referred to through her use of this title.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  3. Great article. The language of co-redemption is already part of Catholic vocabulary.

    Moreover, her title as Mediatrix of All Graces (yes, even sacramental graces) has been approved. In fact there used to be an official Mass for Our Lady under this title for May 31.

    As St Bernard says, (quoting Sirach 24), our sweet Immaculate Lady is the “aquaduct” of grace.

    Good job, Bryan,

    Taylor

    PS: Bryan, I’d love to chat one of these days on the Mariological reading of Sirach 24. It’s absolutely fascinating.

  4. By the way, I’m in favor of a dogmatic infallible declaration of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces.

    The fact is, Catholics believe this and the Church also teaches it. Why try to hide it? The truth will set you free.

    I true and proper understanding of Mary’s role does not obscure Christ, but magnifies the Lord.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  5. I tell my 6th-graders:

    Mary is co-redemptrix as parents are co-creators: they play a subordinate, but indispensable role.

  6. As most Protestants are, I was well trained in the art of attacking any Catholic devotion to Mary. Mary was a stumbling block for me when I was considering the Catholic claims. However, the more I studied the Catholic doctrines on Mary (in an attempt to find an excuse not to become Catholic) the more I came to realize that Marian doctrines and dogmas are actually Christological. It literally blew my mind when I began to use my ability to reason and use logic that without these dogmas, chinks are laid bare for those who want to attack the Divinity of Christ (crafty atheist zealots who come from a Christian tradition). The dogmas, therefore, magnify Christ’s Divinity and seal up any holes that intelligent anti-Christians can have when arguing against it.

    Once I came to that conclusion, I realized the necessity to honor the Blessed Mother as she points to Christ greater than any other Saint, for reasons that no other Saint could.

  7. Likewise:

    Adam = Peccator
    Eve = Co-Peccatrix

    Adam was responsible for it all, but Eve sure did play a part in it, didn’t she?

    Jesus = Redemptor
    Mary = Co-Redemptrix

    Jesus was responsible for it all, but Mary sure did play a part in it, didn’t she?

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  8. I must clarify what I said earlier as well. Mary was a stumbling block, but the Church’s doctrines/dogmas regarding her were not the major stumbling block. Once I had the separation of Protestants and Catholics narrowed down to the question of authority and the nature of the Church, I had come to the conclusion that “if the Catholic Church’s claims are true, and the Apostles and their successors had authentic sacramental authority granted by Christ, then I would have to submit to that authority regardless of what I thought in order to be authentically Christian” and that Catholicism meant humbling oneself instead of placing one’s opinion of matters on a pedestal, I began to take the approach of reading Church teaching from the eyes of a Catholic, so-to-speak (lending some level of trust to it). Not because I was submitting to the authority of the Church at that time, but only because I realized that unless I tried on the Catholic glasses, I’d never be able to understand it from a Catholic point-of-view. It was only by God’s Grace and by giving the Catholic view a chance, that I began to see how necessary, beautiful, and Christological the Marian doctrines and dogmas are.

    Also, from a historical standpoint, there is no doubt that these doctrines and dogmas were represented in various devotions, writings, and quotes from the Early Fathers. So, aside from my conclusion on the importance of the authority question that led me to seek an understanding of Marian doctrines, I also came to realize that the anti-Marian Protestant position I had been raised to hold did not gel with historical Christianity at all, but was a rather new development.

    I found St. Jerome’s “Against Helvidius” an excellent defense of the dogma of Marian’s Perpetual Virginity at that time because the arguments levelled by Helvidius were almost exactly the same as the ones I was used to leveling.

    Once again, though, I such a wonderful surprise when the light went on for the Christology that exists in the Marian dogmas. This light didn’t totally come on until I was one month away from my Confirmation, by the way. But I nearly wanted to shout with joy, “I’m Catholic!!!”.

  9. Joe,

    Your “clarification” of your earlier comment was excellent, and I hope you don’t mind if I post some of your comment at quotecatholic.wordpress.com. I think it is very helpful, and as a convert from the Reformed tradition I can very much identify with what you so effectively communicated. Thanks. KB

  10. I true and proper understanding of Mary’s role does not obscure Christ, but magnifies the Lord.

    From Ubi Primum, 1849:

    From our earliest years nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary. Always have We endeavored to do everything that would redound to the greater glory of the Blessed Virgin, promote her honor, and encourage devotion to her. Accordingly, from the very beginning of Our supreme pontificate We have most fervently directed Our energies and Our thoughts to this matter of such great importance. Nor have We failed, through humble and fervent prayers, to beg almighty God to enlighten Our mind with the light of His grace in order that We might know what We should do in this matter.

    Great indeed is Our trust in Mary. The resplendent glory of her merits, far exceeding all the choirs of angels, elevates her to the very steps of the throne of God. Her foot has crushed the head of Satan. Set up between Christ and His Church, Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.

    And likewise in our own day, Mary, with the ever merciful affection so characteristic of her maternal heart, wishes, through her efficacious intercession with God, to deliver her children from the sad and grief-laden troubles, from the tribulations, the anxiety, the difficulties, and the punishments of God’s anger which afflict the world because of the sins of men. Wishing to restrain and to dispel the violent hurricane of evils which, as We lament from the bottom of Our heart, are everywhere afflicting the Church, Mary desires to transform Our sadness into joy. The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.

    I guess Pope Pius didn’t get the memo.

  11. Steve G.,

    What are you wanting to convey here? I’m sure we all know what you are implying, that is, that Pope Pius believed something contrary to a “proper understanding of Mary’s role [that] does not obscure Christ, but magnifies the Lord”. But what exactly does this accomplish in the discussion from your end? Additionally, as a Catholic, I read this quote from Ubi Primum and see only Christological and intrinsically Incarnational wording and nothing that obscures Christ. Let me know where you’re coming from and I will let you know where I’m coming from.

    In Christ,
    Sh’muel

  12. Great article Bryan. Devin, you took the words out of my mouth with your comment, and Bryan’s response was interesting. I understand the truth of this doctrine, but can see how it is misunderstood by Protestants. But then again, I remembered a debate with James White (with Robert Fastiggi I think) where White even went so far as to attack the ancient title “Mother of God”! That shocked me. I thought only the most reactionary fundamentalist would misunderstand that title. So perhaps “Co-Redemptrix” should be used in the definition of this beautiful doctrine. Perhaps it would be helpful to define in the same paragraph the title “Co-Pecatrix” (nice one Taylor) for Eve so as to clarify the intent in a sound byte, easy to remember way.

    Peace,
    David Meyer

  13. My Uncle, an Evangelical Protestant, attacked the title “Mother of God” with me once when we were debating Catholicism. I retorted, “So, I guess since you don’t like that title, you have just decided to become a Mormon”. He looked at me confused, so I clarified, “well, Jesus Christ is God, right? So, if He is God, and Mary gave birth to Him when He took flesh, then she is…?”.

    He mulled over it a bit then took back the attack on the title. :)

  14. As a Reformed Presbyterian who has, for the past 8-10 years, been slowly and cautiously swimming the Tiber, I read this article with great interest. This subject has been a real stumbling block for me and many other Potestants. I am reassured by the comment from Cardinal Ratzinger quoted by Devin, but repulsed by the quote from Urbi Primum. I don’t understand how the language used by Pope Pius can be considered Christocentric. Help!

  15. Gentlemen,

    It’s probably worth noting that Ubi Primum was, in fact, an encyclical about Mary. Wikipedia, as usual, has a quick run down that’s perhaps worth reading for context.
    I’m hesitant to say that this encyclical isn’t Christocentric (since I imagine an orthodox Catholic would say that all which the church does is Christocentric,) but we also have to pay attention to what the purpose of this encyclical was. Its purpose was to “sound out” the bishops for their feelings on a dogmatic pronouncement on the immaculate conception. Given that purpose, it’s perhaps not surprising that the encyclical talks a lot about Mary, and talks about her in particularly strong terms. Picking one encyclical which speaks strongly of Mary is fine, but of course there are any number of encyclicals, bulls, and other pronouncements speaking in stronger terms about Christ’s work. One must, I suspect, have a proper perspective about such things…
    It’s also perhaps worth noting that Ubi Primum lead directly to Ineffabilis Deus, another papal pronouncement. Although it too speaks highly of Mary, it starts off by saying…

    God ineffable — whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom “reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly” — having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

    This excerpt speaks strongly of Mary too, but to my ears, puts it in a better [read: more Christocentric] perspective. That perspective seems more accurate, or at least a more complete picture of the truth.

    Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

  16. On Ubi Primum, am I right that “Our” and “We” is the “royal” usage, such that the Holy Father is speaking of himself? Or does “Our” refer to the Church?

  17. If Jesus is not Who He is, we most probably would not know about Mary. While her function is known from Genesis on, and is spelled out progressively in the Old Testament, and brilliantly noted in the New, she is properly overshadowed by her Son. He is rightly the focus, however she brings a quality to what is occurring that is necessary for a contrast that was noted by the early Church fathers.

    Those worthies saw her as the new Eve and contrasted her with the original Eve. The original Eve was not the cause of the fall, but she was a major contributor. The new Eve did not repair the effects of the fall, but she was a major contributor in her collaboration with her Son. Where the original Eve said no to God, the new Eve said yes. Where the original Eve saw the apple, ate it and passed it to her husband for him to eat, the new Eve saw her Son was made as the Passover Sacrifice and did not ask Him to avoid it or to protect her from suffering in His passion. Scripture sees her as being alerted to the fact that her Son would suffer and die, and that she would suffer as well. She bore that suffering, and noting that she did not say a word during that time, she was the true opposite of the original Eve who spoke and then sinned.

    I would plead a note here in that my mother died when I was nine. I saw this mother and her love for her Son and it has in fact always had an emotional appeal for me, because my own mother was very good, sweet and tender and has been sorely missed.

    Even as a Protestant I did not have a problem with Mary, the mother of God. Later, when I learned the titles she was given, I had no problem. Her response to grace is the reason that she has been given those honors, and in fact those titles very often sound very much like Elizabeth sounded when she greeted Mary.

    I did have a problem with the Anabaptist idea that any woman would do. Quite in fact, no other woman would do. This particular woman was made for God and no one else, and even so she is my mother as she is the mother of all the redeemed.

    What a gift to a son who needed a mother. What a gift to the Church.

  18. Jesse,

    Yes, you are right about the “royal we.”

  19. As a Reformed Presbyterian who has, for the past 8-10 years, been slowly and cautiously swimming the Tiber, I read this article with great interest. This subject has been a real stumbling block for me and many other Potestants. I am reassured by the comment from Cardinal Ratzinger quoted by Devin, but repulsed by the quote from Urbi Primum. I don’t understand how the language used by Pope Pius can be considered Christocentric. Help!

    Christocentric does not mean we never talk about anything else. So the faith as a whole will be Christocentric but not every document will be. A document might talk about scripture. Is that Christocentric? Scripture is about Christ so in that sense it is. But the document itself centers on scripture and not on Christ. Same thing with Mary. A document centering on MAry can be part of a Christocentric church. Mary is interesting because she brings us Christ. Paul or David or Moses or Elijah might be interesting because of their own talents an abilities. Mary is not. She is only revealed to us as the Mother of God.

    The other thing we need to get over is that praise for a saint does not take away from God. It is not a zero sum game. God is in the business of making saints. If we point out a great saint who has blessed us that proclaims God’s greatness much more powerfully than saying “Praise The Lord” 1000 times. When we say the saint has bless us we understand the blessing has come from God through that saint. It is the same thing as saying a pastor has blessed you.

    What if a certain pastor seems to have his prayers for healing answered more often? If you need healing do you go and ask for his prayer? He is a mediator of that grace. We might talk in a way that makes it sound like the pastor healed somebody. But we know it is all God.

    The only thing with Mary is she mediates all graces. God has allowed her to be a more powerful saint. But the principle is the same. There is also the matter of her being in heaven while evangelical mediators are always on earth. But that really is no objection if you believe in eternal life.

    But the key stumbling block is the language. When Catholics talk about Mary they don’t keep repeating that she is the handmaid of the Lord and that everything she offers us is from God through Christ. It is understood and made clear in Catholic theology. But not all the Marian prayers say that explicitly. It is implicit in all of them. That is just a matter of trust. Trusting the church that she is not trying to hook you into some idolatry. Trusting Mary that she really is going to bring you closer to Jesus.

  20. “Trusting the church that she is not trying to hook you into some idolatry.”

    Randy, I think you have something crystallized right there. It’s a very real fear for many Protestants. I know it was for me.

  21. Randy,

    Thank you for your helpful remarks. This puts the matter in a new light for me. If attending mass as a Protestant is something like going to a foreign country, then encountering Marian piety is like traveling to a foreign planet. Thanks again for the insights.

  22. I agree that the doctrine of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, when properly understood, is true. I also agree with then-Cardinal Ratzinger that it should not be dogmatized. Doing that would be like painting a bullseye on a target board. Catholic apologists have enough to contend with already.

    Until the 19th century, doctrines were formally dogmatized only when disagreement about the issues involved threatened the unity of the Church. I understand and appreciate the mystical reasons why the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption were dogmatized, and defining MCR would be an act in a similar vein. But if only for the sake of ecumenism with the Orthodox, popes should probably refrain from piling it on. It seems that the Pope agrees.

  23. Dear Dr. Liccione,

    You write:

    I agree that the doctrine of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, when properly understood, is true.

    This is precisely why it should be dogmatized. For example there is a way of interpreting the title “Mother of God” in a heretical way (e.g. that she is the Mother of the Divine Substance). However, the Church has dogmatized the title and definitively described its meaning: Mary is the Mother of Christ, Christ is a Divine Person, ergo she is the Mother of God.

    The truth is that the Catholic Church endorses the titles “Coredemptrix and Mediatrix” for our Lady, but these titles haven’t been fully explained and defined. If the Church were to do so, then we would all unanimously echo your correct assessment: “when properly understood, is true.”

    To not define the teaching for fear of Protestants or the Orthodox is to assume that they are either too stupid to understand or that they are not people of good will.

    Further, a proper articulation of “co-redemption” would help Protestants understand the role of synergy and also the doctrine of redemptive suffering. It would force the issue.

    all for the Immaculate,
    Taylor Marshall

  24. Taylor,

    You are forgetting one thing. That is how bad the Catholic church has been at explaining Catholicism to protestants and Catholics. I think Pope Benedict’s fears of the doctrine being misunderstood are well founded. If we know many people will take one word and run with it and run in uncharitable directions then we should at least choose that word carefully.

    Dialogue on Mary is slowly opening with protestants. We are not yet at a point where many protestants are going to read a book about Mary written by a Catholic. In fact, most protestants are completely unaware of anything written by a Catholic that is not the pope. Like I said, that is changing but changing slowly. I think 2050 might be the right time to proclaim a dogma such as this. We have a pattern going of one Marian dogma every 100 years. We may as well keep that up.

  25. What are you wanting to convey here? I’m sure we all know what you are implying, that is, that Pope Pius believed something contrary to a “proper understanding of Mary’s role [that] does not obscure Christ, but magnifies the Lord”. But what exactly does this accomplish in the discussion from your end? Additionally, as a Catholic, I read this quote from Ubi Primum and see only Christological and intrinsically Incarnational wording and nothing that obscures Christ. Let me know where you’re coming from and I will let you know where I’m coming from.

    Ok, let’s look at what the pope said in more detail:

    . . .nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary

    Really? NOTHING has been closer to his heart than devotion to Mary? What happened to Christ? Shouldn’t his devotion to Christ be higher?

    Her foot has crushed the head of Satan

    In his desire to praise Mary, the pope attributes to Mary the work of Christ. Genesis says “HE will crush your head”, not “SHE”.

    . . . Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.

    Really? Mary delivers us from our greatest calamities and the snares/assaults of our enemies? How can she do this? She’s not omnipotent. How exactly does she accomplish all this? Again, where’s Christ? Puttering around while his mother does all the work?

    The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Mary is the source of ALL of our confidence? Again, I hate to be obvious, but what about Christ? Got any room in there for Him?

    For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.

    Through Mary is obtained EVERY hope, grace and ALL salvation? But scripture says there is NO other name than Jesus under heaven by which we are saved. And we obtain EVERYTHING from Mary? Again, what about Christ?

    The claim was that a proper understanding of Mary does not obscure Christ. From a Protestant point of view, there would be nothing wrong with what the Pope said if he had used Christ in place of Mary above. Yet almost every time Mary is mentioned in the pope’s writing, Christ should have been used. What he has done is replace Christ with Mary, attributing to her things that only Christ has accomplished and can and will do. Mary’s been made into a demi-god with both many of the attributes and work of Christ attributed to her.

  26. I don’t know if any of the CTCers are still following this thread, but I would love to see some response to Steve G.’s latest comment. As a protestant who is open to Catholicism and has a new appreciation for Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant and the new Eve, I still find Steve’s reading and interpretation of the Pope Pius quote to be compelling. Marian doctrine is labeled as Christocentric, but the practical piety and language used in reference to her role in salvation seems otherwise. Specifically, how does the notion that all grace comes through Mary draw one closer the Jesus? I can see the direct connection from the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to Christology, but her mediating role seems to minimize rather than magnify the Lord.

  27. Steve G (re: #25)

    You are reading Pope Pius IX in a way that misconstrues what he is saying. When he wrote, ” . . .nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary,” you responded:

    Really? NOTHING has been closer to his heart than devotion to Mary? What happened to Christ? Shouldn’t his devotion to Christ be higher?

    He is not saying that Mary is closer to his heart than is Jesus, or that Mary is more deserving of devotion than is Jesus. If you prayed the Rosary, you would know what he means. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” To be with Mary, is to be with Jesus, because the Lord is with her. For this reason, the closer one is to Mary, the closer one is to Christ, because of their union. You are reading into his statement that devotion to Christ is absent, or inferior to his devotion to Mary. But only someone who does not understand the union of Mary and Jesus could so misunderstand his meaning.

    When he wrote, “Her foot has crushed the head of Satan,” you responded,

    In his desire to praise Mary, the pope attributes to Mary the work of Christ. Genesis says “HE will crush your head”, not “SHE”.

    In the Vulgate, Jerome translated this as she. And we do not view that as something merely accidental; it is part of the Tradition that Mary, by her cooperation in Christ’s redemptive work, also crushed the serpent’s head. The enmity is between Satan and “the Woman” (i.e. Mary), as we see in Genesis 3, and clarified more fully in Revelation 12.

    Pope Pius IX wrote, ” . . . Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.” You replied:

    Really? Mary delivers us from our greatest calamities and the snares/assaults of our enemies? How can she do this? She’s not omnipotent. How exactly does she accomplish all this? Again, where’s Christ? Puttering around while his mother does all the work?

    Of course she is not omnipotent. She delivers us precisely in the way I described in the article, by her participation as the Second Eve, in the redemptive work of Christ, the Second Adam. By asking “Where is Christ?” you are reading into his statement an absence of Christ, when in fact, in Pope Pius IX’s doctrine, Christ is not absent at all, and Mary could do nothing if it were not for Christ. What Mary does, and who she is, and why she is significant, is all because of and in relation to Christ. In other words, you are reading Pope Pius IX’s statements in a way that makes him out to be saying what he is not saying at all. You’re not reading him charitably, and with an understanding of where he is coming from theologically.

    He writes, “The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary.” You respond:

    Mary is the source of ALL of our confidence? Again, I hate to be obvious, but what about Christ? Got any room in there for Him?

    If you read the context, you’ll see that he is talking about Mary’s role as dispensatrix of graces, for immediately he writes, “For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” In other words, all our confidence (which comes ultimately from Christ) comes to us through Mary, because all the grace Christ merited for us, comes to us, by God’s gracious design, through Mary. I’ll be posting on this in the near future.

    Pope Pius IX writes, “For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” You replied:

    Through Mary is obtained EVERY hope, grace and ALL salvation? But scripture says there is NO other name than Jesus under heaven by which we are saved. And we obtain EVERYTHING from Mary? Again, what about Christ?

    You’re misunderstanding, by not recognizing the distinction between Christ as source of all graces by merit, and Mary as the source of all these same graces as dispensatrix. There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved; but that does not mean that this grace merited by Christ cannot come to us through men as conduits or ministers of the grace of God. St. Paul himself was a minister of the grace of God, and his ministerial role did not compete with or detract from Christ’s mediatorial role; rather, it complemented it. So likewise with Mary’s role as dispensatrix of the graces Christ merited for us.

    From a Protestant point of view, there would be nothing wrong with what the Pope said if he had used Christ in place of Mary above. Yet almost every time Mary is mentioned in the pope’s writing, Christ should have been used. What he has done is replace Christ with Mary, attributing to her things that only Christ has accomplished and can and will do.

    No, what you have done is just show that you don’t understand Catholic theology, by construing the description of Mary’s role as dispensatrix as though it competes with or takes the place of Christ’s saving work. Participation in is not competition with. When St. Paul filled up his flesh what was lacking in Christ’s sufferings, he was not competing with or detracting from Christ. He was, by the grace Christ merited for Him, participating in the work of Christ as a minister of the work of Christ, to the world.

    Mary’s been made into a demi-god with both many of the attributes and work of Christ attributed to her.

    That’s what heaven is all about, the fullness of partaking of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). Mary is a creature, but by the grace of God she participates in the life of Christ more perfectly than any other creature ever has or ever will.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  28. “You are reading into his statement that devotion to Christ is absent, or inferior to his devotion to Mary. But only someone who does not understand the union of Mary and Jesus could so misunderstand his meaning.”

    In other words, only someone who does not understand the Incarnation could so misunderstand his meaning.

    Without the Incarnation, there is no Salvation. To become Incarnate, God chose to be born of the Virgin Mary. He took her flesh, she is His mother. Today and for the rest of eternity, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, has a glorified body, a body that originated with the flesh of Mary. This is the way in which God chose the Saviour to be brought into the world, through Mary. He chose to take her flesh and make Himself manifest through her. Without Christ, none of us can receive salvific Grace, without Mary His Mother, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity would not become flesh. In that way, it can be logically seen that “through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation.” Christ is all hope, the only source of Grace, and the only way to salvation. But He chose to give us Himself through Mary.

    That does not mean that Mary is greater than God, nor that she is equal to God, nor that she is divine in any way.

  29. Burton (and Steve),

    There are several issues where I do not understand where Protestants are coming from – this isn’t one of those issues. I do understand where you are coming from quite well. If you’re anything like I was, a mere set of arguments, however sound, would not be able to convince you that Mary was not an obstacle to Christ in the Catholic faith.

    Even after I came to realize that I did not have sound arguments against what the “Mary worshipers” were saying about her, I still could not accept that she did not detract from Christ. Two things convinced me. 1. Going to mass for a year and seeing the utter Christo-centricity and the complete lack of foundation for my Marian fears. 2. Praying to Mary; that is, asking Mary to pray for me.

    I know that isn’t much help. But anyway, I’m just letting you know from a guy on the other side who, as far as I can tell, has been pretty near where you are now re: Mary, I get you.

  30. Burton and Steve,

    Like Tim, Marian devotion was a stumbling block to me as well… and I’m sure this testimony doesn’t mean anything to you guys. As a youth raised in a very anti-Catholic setting, I helped a friend convert from Catholicism to “Christianity” by convincing him that he was engaging in Mary-worship, just to illustrate how opposed to Mariology I was growing up. So, like Tim, I can totally understand where you are coming from.

    I hope in my last comment I showed how Christocentric the selected quote from the encyclical in question actually was. Obviously, to me (as a former Mariology hater), it only magnifies the glory of Our Lord. Not only that, it adds one more block to the ramparts against the anti-Christian apologists… because it’s just so logical. Mariology doesn’t stand on its own, it is supported by and supports Christology (sort of an allusion to Bryan’s comment on the unity of Mary and Christ).

  31. One more thing, and I’m not an expert on this by any means, from what I’ve understood of Genesis 3:15

    “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel (translated in the Douay Rheims).”

    The Hebrew could mean “it” (a prophecy of the woman’s seed and an implied prophecy of Christ), “he” (a direct prophecy of Christ), or “she” (a prophecy of Mary). Outside of fundamentalist circles, that demand the Protestant English translation of “he” being strictly adhered to, I don’t think that the objection posted by Steve carries much weight.

    And I’m not quite understanding what is so controversial about using “she”. Adam, by disobedience, fell and took all of humanity with him, Eve the mother of all mankind said “no” to God and “yes” to the idea that she could and should become “like a god” herself by her own power. Christ, the new Adam, by obedience, saved mankind from its destiny under Adam curse. Mary, the new Eve, by her humility and obedience (fiat) brought Christ, the salvation of Man into the world. So, yes, how was her “be it done unto me according to they word” instantly followed by the Incarnation in her womb not the crushing blow to the serpent’s head? Did she not utter those words and did she not bear God in her womb, bring Him to birth, feed Him from her breasts, raise Him, accompany Him at His manifestation, on His missions, and stand by Him at the Cross? Once again, refer to my earlier comment. God chose to make Himself Incarnate and manifest, to bring his salvation to man through Mary. That’s what He chose to do. Completely denying Mary’s role in the crushing of the serpent’s head is basically a flat out denial of the Incarnation itself.

  32. Hello-
    Since the Mass is the Source and Summit of the Catholic Faith, in which we are made participants in the very Body and Blood of Our Lord, all Catholic teaching should be considered in its light. Only in consideration of the infinite value of the Mass might a person begin to understand the role of Mary, Christ’s Mother.

    Considered in isolation, the Church’s teachings concerning Our Lady are certainly hard to swallow. However, through a thorough study of the Church’s teaching concerning the Communion of Saints, a more complete theology of Christ’s Incarnation may develop. And after a paradigm shift or two (more may be necessary!), Mary’s titles may begin to find their proper context.

    Does a father burn with jealousy when his kids call for their mother’s arms? Does a mother resent her husband while he cuddles them and reads them a bedtime story? Within families, where love reigns, persons aren’t rightly understood as being in jealous competition with one another.

    Also, when one accepts the conclusion that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is indeed the Spirit-led Teaching Authority speaking on behalf of Christ, one cannot hand select from among Catholic teachings those which best conform to our philosophical sensitivities. If the Catholic Magisterium is indeed living out the charge recorded in Luke 10:16, what the Magisterium teaches is what Christ teaches.

    Finally, as I considered these issues before being received into the Church (Easter 2008), one thing that helped me to begin synthesizing all of this stuff concerning the Blessed Virgin was through study of figures such as St. Maximillian Kolbe. Learning of the devotion that so many Christians have had for Our Lady and seeing how they lived their lives so convincingly for Christ expresses far more than a thousand essays on the topic.
    thank you! herbert vanderlugt

  33. Steve G –

    I just returned from mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

    We sing the Gloria which says:

    Glory to God in the highest
    And peace to His people on earth
    Lord God, Heavenly King, Almighty God and Father
    We worship You
    We give You thanks
    We praise You for Your glory

    Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father
    Lord God, Lamb of God
    You take away the sins of the world
    Lord, have mercy on us
    You are seated at the right hand of the Father
    Receive our prayer

    For You alone are the Holy One
    For You alone are the Lord
    For You alone are the Most High

    Jesus Christ
    With the Holy Spirit
    In the glory of God the Father

    Amen

    This is sung in masses all over the world. I was reminded of your concern about Mary taking the place of Jesus while singing this today.

  34. Steve G. (re: #25),

    Regarding who crushes the serpent’s head, see also Taylor’s post titled “Who Crushes Satan’s Head in Genesis 3:15? (Mary or Jesus?).” He gives evidence to draw this conclusion:

    Why are the Hebrew manuscripts that we have today different from these ancient Jewish witnesses. The answer is that the Masoretic manuscript tradition has been corrupted – something claimed by the both the Eastern and Western Fathers throughout the centuries.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  35. A most interesting and enlightening main post. Thank you. I also enjoyed and learnt much from reading the comments and reactions of everyone.

    I entered the RCC last year at Easter after 65 years as a Reformed Christian. Such a decision is not taken overnight and I have had my share of Protestant indocrination regarding Mary, believe me. It always seemed over the top to me – I am a woman – but I swallowed it wholesale.

    My 5 years period of personal study of Catholic dogma and the history ( NB!) of the development of doctrinal development, going right back to Jesus, St Paul (et al) and the Early Church Fathers, brought me to the point that I could no longer ignore what had been staring me in the eye for many years. I am not going to repeat what thousands of converts before me witnessed in this regard, but I can underscore that for a Protestant the main hurdle at first is the tradition of Catholic “language” used in the formulation of certain doctrines.

    I saw red when I read about “co-redemptrix”. Naturally. I had no frickin’ idea what it meant in theological terms. Fortunately I have had the good luck to read 30 books written by Joseph Ratzinger who in my opinion is the perfect starting point for a Reformed Christian who had lost her faith in the divinity of Christ in a stumbling liberal church (this was me!). Ratzinger, and Catholic theologians such as Von Balthasar, cleared up the “problem” of Mary and opened up for me, for the very first time, the Christological riches contained in Mariology. (Well, Ratzinger brought much more! His “Introduction to Christianity” saved my life.)

    Getting back to “co-redemptrix”: I agree with Ratzinger/Benedict XVI that now is not the time to proclaim this view as infallible. We are living in a soundbyte era and if a patient, open minded researcher (like me, LOL) could became angry just by reading this term, can you imagine the effect on millions of other non-Catholics “out there”? I may be wrong, but this is how I feel at the present moment; and because I am also studying the present confusion in Protestantism, I do think the very last thing to do is trumpeting out this conviction. Protestants who are losing their faith – and there are thousands of them at present – need to first reach Christ as divine again, and in their case “Mary as co-redemptrix” will achieve the exact opposite. Of that I am quite sure, speaking of own and others’ experiences.

    This is a lovely site. Thank you for all the enlightening and thoughtful posts here. I will visit regularly starting from today.

  36. Excellent article Bryan!

    This article got me thinking about a lot of things, and here is one thing that I have been pondering after reading this article: I believe that the doctrine of Mary as Co-Redemptrix is related to the Church’s doctrine that all the faithful members of the Catholic Church are consecrated priests (i.e. “the common priesthood of the faithful” – CCC 1547):

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    The one priesthood of Christ

    1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. …

    Two participations in the one priesthood of Christ

    1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood.”

    At Calvary, Christ is both the holy sacrifice being offered to the Father for the redemption of mankind, and the high priest that offers the atoning sacrifice. Mary was also at Calvary, and she was also acting as a priest in her offering of the Son to the Father:

    … at the foot of the cross, Mary did truly offer her Son to God the Father, in faith. In offering up her Son to the Father, who accepted this sacrifice …, her offering of faith merited a benefit from God, because her offering of her Son participated in the merit by which Christ merited our redemption.

    Offering the Son to the Father at Calvary – what could be more priestly than that?

    The Church teaches that I am consecrated by the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation into the priesthood of Christ. But how do I exercise my priesthood? More specifically, at the sacrifice of the Mass, how do I participate in the representation of the sacrificial offering of the Son to the Father? At the Mass, a nation of priests is called together for the worship of God. It is hard for me to express what I am trying to say, but I see the way that Mary participated in Christ’s priesthood at Calvary as a model for me for how I participate in Christ’s priesthood in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice at the Mass.

    Mary is a perfect exemplar of the Church, of what we are called to do, namely, to be sharers in His suffering, and in that sense co-redeemers with Christ.

    I also note that in the Chaplet of Divine is contained a priestly prayer. In fact, the Chaplet of Divine mercy contains the essence of the Eucharistic prayer said during the Mass:

    “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity
    of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

    Mary as model of the Church and Mary as Co-Redemptrix – the common priesthood of the faithful – the priestly prayers of the Chaplet of Divine mercy – I can see that all these things are all interrelated. I just wish I could articulate my thoughts on this better!

  37. On the surface this all seems so reverential and righteous and therefore harmless and maybe even Christocentric…yet, I remain stuck, if you will, on many of the statements herein and their consequent implications (i.e. as found in such things as the CC practice of Mariology in general), and when you (Brian) say things like the following my non-Catholic sensibilities make my hair stand on end (and we all know I am not alone in such reactions as the comments to this post and some of your other writings make readily apparent to all readers):

    “In offering up her Son to the Father, who accepted this sacrifice (not as in the case of Abraham), her offering of faith merited a benefit from God, because her offering of her Son participated in the merit by which Christ merited our redemption. By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice, through her trial of faith at the foot of the cross, her merit undid the demerit of Eve.”

    And, then you C wonder why non-C have such a hard time comprehending and accepting (living under) the rulings of the Pope and his/the church Magisterium (another rough issue for non-C, as you well know…but a topic for another post).

    1) you say above “her offering of faith” and “her offering of her Son” – whoa nelly! She did not, as Abraham did, offer anything. Jesus was unjustly convicted, and while she knew and understood her role and that Jesus was God-Incarnate, she did NOT “offer” anyone. She was as much an innocent bystander as you or I.

    2) “merited a benefit from God” – this reaks of salavation by works AND undermines central teaching of the Apostle Paul, to mention one, that any and all sentient beings (mankind) do not “merit” anything prior to or after the system of sacrifices was ended/fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb. Even those sacrifices, we learned by His first coming, did not erase sin or the consequences therefrom and any so-called “favor” ended with His “it is finished” — once and for all, perfect sacrifice, of Himself. Any “favor” or “benefit” was henceforth granted to all those who henceforth would place their trust/belief/faith in our Lord and therefore gave Mary no separate “powers” as mediatrix or any other such special or “deity-like” position. Justification by faith alone in Christ alone.

    3) “By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice” – she only, save her natural love as a Mother, participated as all believers do, both present at that time and ever since — vicariously. Period.

    4) “through her trial of faith” – actually, Mary had to exercise less faith and therefore her co-called “trial” or feelings of desparation, were very much mitigated. She was visited by an Angel of the Lord and was told she would bear Him, she raised Him knowing what others did not know and certainly could not appreciate about Him. She, after all, knew He was God Incarnate. It is therefore both “fair” and “reasonable” to say that she actually – due to her experiencial knowledge, first-hand experiences, etc. – could very much objectively view what was happening with less confusion and doubt and far more confidence and understanding. Her assurances were simply being grafically depicted before her eyes…much in the same way that we can watch the Passion of the Christ in a modern accounting of that act. So, for her, there was really no “trial of faith”…but instead a first row seat under the “playwrighter” Himself (the mystery fulfilled in 3-D right before her adoring eyes). The Apostles were more confused than she and even still doubting what had been revealed to her.

    5) “her merit undid the demerit of Eve” – while I do like and appreciate the typeological narative and implied meanings here…I do believe the CC is, once again, over-reaching here. She did not do anything, as if she could, to merit anything more than any other sinner. She was not perfect, as I know you do not contend – it was Christ’s act alone, his submission, his sinlessness, from which she and all believers since get any and all imputed righteousness. It is ALL His Doing, not hers or ours or anyone else’s either.

    Again, as I stated over on the Anders topic page posts (“How John Calvin Made Me A Catholic”)…what the CC has concocted in Mariology seems to go well beyond what Christ Himself taught, or that is taught by our Lord in the OT as well. Nowhere is the kind of devotion and worship of Mary instructed or implied. Certainly, praying to her for gifts or favors or any redemptive grace whatsoever, seems obviously out of sync with Scripture.

    It ‘s these very kinds of incongruities and perceived “fabrications” that require the CC to explain itself in easy to understand ways on what the differences are between the CC and Protestants and others (non-denominational believers) beliefs and practices (and, contrary to statements by many here and other similar forums, there is far greater unity amongst non-C over the fundamental/foundational beliefs of the Christian faith then not)…and why one should take (believe in) the CC position. Pounding your chests that you are THE CHURCH of God Almighty, the worlds final Word until His 2nd Coming…flies in the face of what other bodies of believers find self-evident in a natural read of Scripture, namely, that the what the actual True Church really is…is:

    “…the Body of Christ, began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1 21, 38 47) and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 18). That the church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born again believers in this present age (Ephesians 2:11 3:6).”

    Now, one further point, in David Pell’s posts on the other Anders forum noted herein, he stated the following, which I assume you likewise mostly, if not entirely, also agree with regarding non-C, Dr. Norman Geisler:

    “Geisler, on the other hand, seems to be making the Protestant side look as “good” as possible and the Catholic side look as “bad” as possible. Not once does he quote from the Catechism. He finishes off each little “gotcha” against Catholics with scriptural quotations for Protestant positions while failing to indicate that Catholics also believe that their positions are scriptural. He throws out little tidbits like that we rely on “non-canonical books” to establish the doctrine of Purgatory when the status of the scriptural canon is itself one of the most important differences between us; Geisler just takes it for granted that you have the right canon, and seems to be preying on the fact that Protestants generally (in my experience, at least) just accept the bible as it’s handed to them by their friend or pastor without realizing that the table of contents was decided on by a group of men at some point in history. ”

    Pell’s criticisims of Geisler seem way off to me, and they fail, in rather dramtic ways, to recognize this man’s rather highly respected scholarly acumen and standing in non-C circles (body of believers, analogous to His Church)…in addition to him being one of the world’s most respected and sought-out Apologetists. On the matter of what is and what is not Scripture, why should non-C accept books like the Apocraphia, writings in the Catechism or other clearly non-inspired, non-cannonical books? I quote the following in support of this statement from a colaborative book by Geisler & Ravi Zacharias titled “Who Made God?”:

    “Jesus confirmed the closure of the Old Testament canon in several ways. In his numerous use of the OT he never cited any book other than one of the 24 (39) cannonical books of the Jewish OT. What’s more, he cited from every major section of the OT–both Law and Prophets, as well as the later division of the Prophets known as “Writings.” But he never quoted any books known as the Apocrypha. Further, Jesus in Matthew 23:35 defined the limits of the OT canon as ending in 2 Chronicles (the book listed last in the Jewish OT) by the phrase “from the blood of righteous Abel [Gen 4] to the blood of Zechariah [2 Cron 24:20-22].” The phrase was a Jewish equivalent of the Christian phrase “from Genesis to Revelation,” indicating a complete Jewish canon of Scripture. Furthermore, phrases like “Law or the Prophets” (Matt 5:17) and “Moses and all the Prophets” (Luke 24:27) are used by Jesus to indicate the complete canon of Jewish Scripture. Indeed, Jesus used the phrase in parallel with the phrase “all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Being a faithful Jew, Jesus, who came “not to abolish the Law or the Prophets” (Matt 5:17), accepted the same closed Jewish canon as did Judaism, which has always been the same books as the 39 books of the Protestant OT.”

    So, your side needs to stop mis-stating these kinds of rather clear statements and meanings by “Protestant leaders/authorities”, as well as the kind of character assasination and “unreliable authority” characterizations and attacks by C that are plainly and simply just unfounded, and really quite disengenuous.

    So, now we are handling two subjects or topics, if not three; namely, Mariology, What is Canon and What is Not (The Church/Authority of the Pope, et al) and why the CC holds itself out as the ONLY VICAR OF TRUTH…but…let’s try to hold your responses to Mariology (deification and worship of Mother Mary) and why you unfairly lambast any non-C scholar/authority (or other Biblicly declared “saints” (believers)) as less than what they are (saints as you are a saint — not by your merit but by His Grace) reliable and downright degradable by the CC and C).

    Paul

  38. Paul,

    Two quick comments (I’ll defer to Bryan for a complete response):

    1) As a former evangelical/Pentecostal, the first time I starting reading about Mary as “co-redemptrix” I about blew a gasket myself. I had a about a 3-day period when I was a “little Luther”, railing against the Church. However, what “cleared the way” for my understanding of Mary was two-fold: (1) “co” in Latin means “with”; this doesn’t imply equality but implies participation (okay, that’s not so bad) but (2) I had to ask myself the question, “On what epistemic grounds did I know Mary wasn’t what the Catholic Church claimed she could be?” We can say that certain Catholic doctrines are not the logical clear ends of robust, clear statements in the Bible. However, to say a doctrine is unbiblical is saying something quite less, right? (as you said, it seems SO Christo-centric…because it is and is in fact Biblical) Paul, the doctrine of original sin, the Trinity, the nature of Christ are not clear-cut logical ends of robust, clear statements of the Bible. Nevertheless, we hold them because Mother Church teaches them. We accept them prima facie because we inherited those beliefs in our Protestant traditions who received them from the CC. So, if Mother Church is the “ground and pillar of truth” as St. Paul teaches in his letter to Timothy, then I am better off believing “Mary is Co-redemptrix” than stamping my feet like a spoiled child in disbelief (or rather as if I am the ground and pillar of truth. If I choose the later, all I am left with is a faith grounded squarely between my ears (or rather my will). I recommending reading Bryan’s post here about St. Thomas on the Relation of Faith and the Church.

    2)Lastly, we do not “lambast” any non-C authority, because there is no such authority only what I described above. One can act authoritatively but not be an authority.

    Through the Immaculate Conception

  39. Paul, (re: #37)

    Thanks for your note. Did you already go through all the material I referred to in my previous note? If not, then you seem to be responding critically before having examined carefully all the evidence to which I directed you. I’m more than willing to reason together about the evidence, but I have no interest in debating someone who merely wants to criticize what he is not willing to understand.

    I understand how your “non-Catholic sensibilities” can, in view of Catholic doctrine, make your hair stand on end. All of us who were Protestant and became Catholic, experienced that same thing. Keep in mind that these “non-Catholic sensibilities” are just that, “non-Catholic”, and were formed over many years by repeated reinforcement of non-Catholic notions. So, because of that non-Catholic formation, you should expect to find in yourself some emotional and ‘gutteral’ repulsion to uniquely Catholic notions and practices. They remain long after your head comes to believe otherwise. C.S. Lewis describes this difference between the head and the chest in his book The Abolition of Man. But, we must follow the truth. If our sensibilities were formed within an heretical sect, then those sensibilities are not trustworthy, and must be re-formed, under the guidance and repetition of orthodox practices and sensibilities.

    But let’s take this one thing at a time.

    I wrote:

    In offering up her Son to the Father, who accepted this sacrifice (not as in the case of Abraham), her offering of faith merited a benefit from God, because her offering of her Son participated in the merit by which Christ merited our redemption. By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice, through her trial of faith at the foot of the cross, her merit undid the demerit of Eve.”

    You wrote:

    1) you say above “her offering of faith” and “her offering of her Son” – whoa nelly! She did not, as Abraham did, offer anything. Jesus was unjustly convicted, and while she knew and understood her role and that Jesus was God-Incarnate, she did NOT “offer” anyone. She was as much an innocent bystander as you or I.

    You assert that Mary did not offer anything to the Father, and was merely an innocent bystander at the crucifixion. But you don’t offer any evidence for your claim. You merely assert it. We already know that Mary had done this when Jesus was an infant, for the Scripture says, “they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22) Mary’s relation to God is characterized by her words at the Annunciation: “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word,” and at the wedding at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.” She had known something of Jesus’ violent death, since His infancy, because she had been pondering in her heart the prophecy of Symeon, who told her that a sword would pierce her own heart (Luke 2:35). At the foot of the cross, she did not exemplify to her Son an indifference to the Father’s will. She, who knew who He was, and knew His mission, though in the deepest internal pain and suffering upon seeing her innocent divine Son treated in such a cruel way, continued to say to the Father what she had said at the Annunciation: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.” Everything we know (from Scripture) about her character (in addition to what we know about her from the teaching of the Church) shows that internally she consented to the Father, to the sacrifice of her Son. This is why the words of Symeon were fulfilled as she stood at the foot of the cross. Christ’s suffering was external (bodily) and internal (carrying the sins of the whole world), but hers was internal — her heart was so closely united to His, that His suffering was also her suffering, and the lance that pierced His heart was as a sword to her own heart.

    We should not think that if she consented to the Father that her Son be sacrificed, that therefore she herself would not suffer, as though Abraham was not internally weeping on his way to Moriah. On the contrary, her love for her Son, her own flesh and blood, who had never disobeyed or dishonored her once in His whole life, but had always perfectly loved her, was (and is) greater than that of any mother for her child. That is why consenting to the Father’s will was the greatest sacrifice of love any mere creature has ever made, and will ever make. Any parent can consent to the Father taking one’s child away. But Mary consented to God the Son, who was truly her own child, being taken away from her, and no sin either by Him or by her had destroyed the bond between them, or the right of a parent not to be cut off by death from her own flesh and blood. So her sacrifice, at the foot of the cross, was a much greater sacrifice than that of Abraham. She knew His time had come, the future time He had spoken of at the wedding at Cana, and in John (John 12:27). There is no middle ground here in relation to the Father: if she had not consented internally, then internally she would have been shaking her fist at God, cursing him as Job’s wife, for this travesty of injustice. But no man can serve two masters. She could not be loving her Son to the end, and simultaneously be shaking her fist at God, because her Son is God. Jesus said that He is in the Father and that the Father is in Him. (John 14:11) That is why necessarily, the person who hates Jesus also hates the Father (John 15:23), and the person who loves Jesus, loves the Father, and is loved by the Father (John 14:21). In loving her Son, therefore, Mary loved the Father. And she was therefore not indifferent at Jesus’ death, for Jesus said that if we love Him, we would rejoice that He goes to the Father. (John 14:28) That kind of rejoicing, over the will of the Father, is what Mary did at the foot of the cross, while at the same time, suffering in her heart more than any mere creature who had ever lived, and will ever live. She loved the Father at this moment not fundamentally by an emotion, but by the choice to give her most beloved and precious Son to the Father, in loving obedience to the Father’s will.

    You wrote:

    2) “merited a benefit from God” – this reaks of salavation by works AND undermines central teaching of the Apostle Paul, to mention one, that any and all sentient beings (mankind) do not “merit” anything prior to or after the system of sacrifices was ended/fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb.

    To fit everything into your man-made theological system, you make Jesus to be of lesser value than a cup of water. Jesus Himself said, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mt. 10:42, cf. Mk. 9:41) If giving even a cup of cold water to someone, for the sake of Christ, gains a reward in heaven, who would have the audacity to say that giving Christ Himself to the Father, merits no benefit from God? Why, for the sake of your man-made tradition, do you make the Son of God to be of lesser value than a cup of cold water? Surely you know that Christ is of infinitely greater value than a cup of cold water. So let us not belittle Him, by imagining that giving a cup of cold water to someone on account of Christ merits a greater reward than giving Christ Himself as one’s own true Child, to the Father. If what makes the giving of the cup of cold water meritorous before the Father is that it is done for the sake of Christ, then how much more meritorious is the giving of Christ Himself, the infinite and supreme gift of God’s own eternally begotten Son, to the Father? How could He for whose sake the cup of cold water becomes meritorious be of no worth as an offering to the Father? Do you not see what you have done? You have destroyed the salvation of the world. If the Son is of no value to the Father, then neither is the Son’s gift of Himself on the cross an expiation for our sins, and then we are all still dead in our sins, with no hope of resurrection or eternal life. But if the Son is of supreme value to the Father, then just as the gift of cold water in His name to one of the least of these merits a reward from God, then a fortiori Mary’s offering up of her Son to the Father merited a benefit from God, by which, as the Scripture says, all generations will call her blessed. (Lk 1:48)

    You wrote:

    3) “By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice” – she only, save her natural love as a Mother, participated as all believers do, both present at that time and ever since — vicariously. Period.

    Perhaps no other use of the word “save” has ever carried so much weight. You wouldn’t even speak of your own mother’s role as a mother, in this way. Whose flesh and blood was on that cross? It was hers, because He is flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bone, for He was taken out of her. (Gen 2:23) And no mother ever loved a child as Mary loved Jesus, who is God. Her participation was her whole life, carrying Him in her womb, on a donkey to Bethlehem, presenting Him at the Temple, fleeing to Egypt with Him, and raising Him in Nazareth, taking Him to the Temple, teaching him the Law. Her participation was not merely external and functional, but also spiritual as well, because she prepared Him mentally and spiritually as well, as His mother. Her relationship with Him was deeper and more intimate than that of any other mother-son relation, ever, for not only is He God, but there was no sin between them, and hence no nakedness (of soul) to hide. You can’t understand the nature of her participation, until you understand her mission as the Second Eve, which is explained in the post above.

    4) “through her trial of faith” – actually, Mary had to exercise less faith and therefore her co-called “trial” or feelings of desparation, were very much mitigated. She was visited by an Angel of the Lord and was told she would bear Him, she raised Him knowing what others did not know and certainly could not appreciate about Him. She, after all, knew He was God Incarnate. It is therefore both “fair” and “reasonable” to say that she actually – due to her experiencial knowledge, first-hand experiences, etc. – could very much objectively view what was happening with less confusion and doubt and far more confidence and understanding. Her assurances were simply being grafically depicted before her eyes…much in the same way that we can watch the Passion of the Christ in a modern accounting of that act. So, for her, there was really no “trial of faith”…but instead a first row seat under the “playwrighter” Himself (the mystery fulfilled in 3-D right before her adoring eyes). The Apostles were more confused than she and even still doubting what had been revealed to her.

    I’m dumbfounded by your notion that losing a child is no trial of faith, so long as one knows that it is God’s will. The claim is to me self-evidently self-refuting, and I see no reason to say more about it.

    5) “her merit undid the demerit of Eve” – while I do like and appreciate the typeological narative and implied meanings here…I do believe the CC is, once again, over-reaching here. She did not do anything, as if she could, to merit anything more than any other sinner. She was not perfect, as I know you do not contend – it was Christ’s act alone, his submission, his sinlessness, from which she and all believers since get any and all imputed righteousness. It is ALL His Doing, not hers or ours or anyone else’s either.

    If she didn’t do anything, then she did not give birth, and then Docetism is true. (Now I’m wondering if you have ever witnessed a childbirth, or would ever say to your wife, if you have a wife and children, that in giving birth, she did not “do” anything.) Nor was Mary merely a nine-month incubator. This is the way in which monergism falls into Nestorianism. She is truly His mother, not a surrogate mother, or merely a rented womb. If you have children, would you tell your wife that the only thing she did was give them birth? Surely not, or else you have never had children, and don’t know the labor and sacrifice and effort that goes into mothering children from birth until their death. Come then, let us not insult or belittle our beloved Lord’s mother. As His mother, she supported Him in all that He did. She initiated His ministry, by her intercession bringing about His first miracle at the wedding at Cana. She participated in this way in the entire life of her precious Son, and most especially in His suffering, at the foot of the cross, for which, Christ, speaking from the cross in His agony, gave to her as a reward the Church as her offspring, and made her to be our mother.

    As for your other comments about the other topics, again, I recommend that we stick to one thing at a time, if you are serious about truly investigating them to find the truth about these matters, and not merely wanting to hand-wave or debate for the sake of the crowd.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  40. Paul,
    Perhaps if I may assist in easing in the Mariology and discussions of merit. I’ll try to take this point by point.

    1) Perhaps it is not within the Protestant system to say that Mary had a participation in the offering of Christ to the Father, but within the Catholic system participation in the offering of Christ is not something unheard of at all. In fact the entire Eucharistic Mass is foundational upon the principle of Catholics participating in the sacrifice of Calvary by worshiping, adoring, and consuming the Eucharist as a means of uniting our hearts and our souls entirely to the crucified Christ. If you look at Mateo’s reply in comment number 36 you will get a feel for this. One might begin to see how Catholics see the Eucharist as participating in the Body of Christ and partaking in the offering of the Crucified Christ within various places in Scripture.

    To begin with perhaps is the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians where he discusses that Christians partake in the Body of Christ when they consume the Eucharist.

    1 Corinthians 10:16
    16 The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?

    1 Corinthians 11:27-29
    27 Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. 29 For he that eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

    In this sense, one can begin to see that there is supposed to be a partaking of the Body of the Lord within the Eucharist as chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians points out and in chapter 11 we see that a person who partakes of the Eucharist unworthily is guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord and so is called into judgment because they did not discern the Body of the Lord, that is they did not have reverence for Christ in the Eucharist as they should have.

    The Eucharist is supposed to be a commemoration of Christ’s death, and for Catholics it is the making present again of the one holy sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary.

    As for one offering Christ to the Father, we know from Hebrews that Christ continually offers His sacrifice before the Father as high priest because Christ’s priesthood lasts forever.

    Hebrews 7:24
    24 But this, for that he continues for ever, has an everlasting priesthood: 25 Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.

    In this sense, if Christ is truly made present in the Eucharist then by virtue of His high priesthood He would be offering His whole self to the Father for those present and especially those who partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. In this sense, Christ is offered on our behalf, and we can say that we too participate in the offering because we are part of the mystical Body of Christ and we hence participate in His Passion, which the Eucharist is supposed to especially commemorate (see 1 Cor 11:26). Thus we participate in the offering of Christ to the Father because the Eucharist is our commemoration of His sacrifice and hence our participation in the offering of Christ to the Father. In this sense, I think it is perhaps easier to see why Mary can participate in the offering of Christ to the Father, without drawing away from the sense that Christ’s sacrifice is His willful submission. By becoming part of His Mystical Body (which includes Mary and all the saints) we come to participate in all the intimate details of His life, including the offering of Christ to the Father in the Passion.

    I hope I’ve properly addressed point 1, there’s far more to be said about the Eucharist and I think some Old Testament Typology as well as a look at the Last Supper and some of St. Paul’s words in Hebrews can help clarify how Christ’s sacrifice is specifically tied in to the Eucharist. I’ll address that if you should ask.

    2) I would not say that the concept of merit and demerit is absent at all from the Scriptures either, nor does it seem that works do not play a role in salvation.

    James 2:21-26
    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Do you see that faith did cooperate with his works and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. 24 Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only? 25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers and sending them out another way? 26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead.

    2 Corinthians 5:10
    10 For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he has done, whether it be good or evil.

    Matthew 7:21-23
    21 Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and done many miracles in your name? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

    Matthew 25:31-46
    31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, you blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you: thirsty and gave you drink? 38 Or when did we see you a stranger and took you in? Or naked and covered you? 39 Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you? 40 And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. 41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you took me not in: naked and you covered me not: sick and in prison and you did not visit me. 44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you? 45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen: I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. 46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

    There is a conception of merit that runs within St. Paul’s writings, as well as the words of Christ from the Gospel, and the other words of the Apostles, or so it seems to me.

    In response to what you said:

    “…to mention one, that any and all sentient beings (mankind) do not “merit” anything prior to or after the system of sacrifices was ended/fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb. Even those sacrifices, we learned by His first coming, did not erase sin or the consequences therefrom and any so-called “favor” ended with His “it is finished” — once and for all, perfect sacrifice, of Himself. Any “favor” or “benefit” was henceforth granted to all those who henceforth would place their trust/belief/faith in our Lord and therefore gave Mary no separate “powers” as mediatrix or any other such special or “deity-like” position. Justification by faith alone in Christ alone.”

    Within the Catholic understanding of the sacrifice of Christ and merit, it is understood that Christ’s sacrifice’s effect transcends time and has an effect on all sinners becoming saints, prior to, during, and after Christ’s sacrifice. I’m not quite sure what you mean by giving Mary separate powers as mediatrix or other such things, but perhaps you are misunderstanding what is meant by mediatrix or the Catholic conception of merit. Perhaps you will find this article by Bryan Cross more helpful:
    Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Communion of Saints . The comments by Bryan Cross following that article may be very helpful too. It is true that Christ merits all the grace for sinners to be reconciled to God by virtue of His cross, but it is also true that Christians can accrue merit according to their good works, but this is by being in a sense in union with Christ and the merit is in a sense a participation in the merit of Christ’s cross. I don’t think I’m being very precise, but Bryan’s comment #6 on that article is pretty helpful. In this sense Mary become a mediatrix in the sense that she intercedes on our behalf so that we can be reconciled with God, but this is only in virtue of Christ’s work on the cross which incorporates her into the Body of Christ and hence allows her to intercede for others. The same is true of anybody who intercedes on our behalf, and so my friend who assisted me in coming into a fuller communion with the Church sometimes jokes and calls himself my co-redeemer (or in this sense perhaps my co-mediator) in that he worked with me and assisted in bringing me into the Church, and he was able to do this by the Holy Spirit working in him, but the Holy Spirit could only work in him via the work of Christ’s crucifixion. If there is anything “deifying” perhaps in this term of using co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix it is only in recognizing the due honor and thanks to those who help us to come closer to Christ.

    I hope not to put down any of your sources, and I probably couldn’t because I don’t know any of them, but I’d disagree with your interpretation of the Church, but that is probably a topic that should be discussed in the article Christ founded a Visible Church ( http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/christ-founded-a-visible-church/ ).

    I’m not as top-notch as the other writers on this page so I hope you will forgive me if I have spoken poorly and I hope others will correct me if I’ve mis-spoken. Hope this helps

    God bless,
    -Steven Reyes

  41. to Paul re 37 on Mary.

    Coming from an evangelical background, perhaps the use of scripture might be more easily grasped than the information that has gone before.

    Genesis 3:14. I will make you enemies of each other; you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.” Who crushes Satan? The offspring of the woman. Mary is so important that she is identified in Genesis immediately after the fall.

    1st Kings 2:19. So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah. The king rose to meet her and bowed before her, then he sat down on this throne. A seat was brought for the mother of the king, and she sat down at his right hand. The practice of the king’s mother being queen (not the king’s wife as occurs later in European history) starts here for Israel. The queen gets a throne, has some authority, and has the ear of her son, the king. She is supposed to represent the needs and wants of Israel to her son, and to solve some of the lesser issues operating under his authority.

    Jesus is the King of the Jews per the proclamation nailed to His first throne, and Mary is His mother.
    She fulfills the role created by Solomon and maintained throughout 1st and 2nd Kings (something worth underlining since it will reinforce this idea). In the gospels we read about the wedding feast at Cana where the mother of the King tells her son, “They have no wine.” The mother of the King has the King’s ear and brings Him the needs of His people. A perfect Son, and the Author of the command-ment to honor one’s father and mother, He works His first miracle at her behest – thereby honoring His mother. (Of special note: the young married couple is the beneficiary of the miracle, but it is due to His mother’s intervention that they gain that benefit. It is a form of intercessory prayer.)

    Isaiah 7:14. And the Lord Himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will name Emmanuel.

    The rest of this will follow a pattern. First, the Anabaptist idea that “any woman would do” was an offense to me as an evangelical because when we encounter Mary in the gospels and Acts, it does not appear that “any woman would do.” It actually appears that only this woman will do.

    Luke 1:29. The archangel speaks. “Hail full of grace. The Lord is with you.”
    Luke 1:31. The archangel continues. “Mary, do not be afraid. You have won the Lord’s favor.”
    Luke 1:42. Elizabeth is speaking. “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”
    Luke 1:43. Elizabeth continuing. “Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
    Luke 1:48 Mary speaking. “Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, [why?] because the Almighty has done great things for me.”

    Luke 2:35 Simeon prophesying: “- and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” This prophecy involves Jesus and His fate, and involves His mother in that fate.

    John 19:25. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “Behold your mother.” And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

    That is me now. I am the disciple who made a place for the mother of God in my home. It is also a Catholic position that I did not have as an evangelical.

    Acts 1: 14. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus.

    She is so important that she is one of those full of grace and once something is full, there is room for nother else. She rates description in the Old Testament, and is recognized in the New Testament. She wants what is best for us. She represents us to her Son. She is given to us as our mother.

    If you read the Apocalypse, chapter 10, you will see her there as well.

    Should you make it to the early Church Fathers, they recognize Mary as the new Eve, the mother of the redeemed.

    There is more, but this should be sufficient for a start.

    dt

  42. Brothers,

    I really do appreciate the quality and depth of your responses but we still come back to the fact that there is no explicit teachings, in the canon (OT & NT – – no other “texts or sources” allowed here) regarding Mariology. Does that make it wrong, perhaps not…but it also does not make it wrong for “Protestants” to not accord the same worship and status to this as does the CC. I am not convinced by anything any of you have stated that I will not be saved, or sanctified, if I don’t pray to and worship Mother Mary. More importantly, based upon what Scripture says.

    Grant you…there is beauty in the Mariology of the CC…but that is all as I believe everything else is the outworking of the Holy Spirit who will complete a work started by our Lord in me and who has assured me of my salvation, justified me already, and who holds me accountable for running the race according to the depth and sincerity of my belief in Him (Sola Fide). I have believed Him and therfore understand (know) His Grace is sufficient for my salvation as scripture too is – see 2 Tim 3:16.

    Clearly, you folks have the calling and time to delve into great detail and amounts of stufy of these nuances and differences between Protestant and CC beliefs and practices than the average layperson such as I; however, I will continue exploring from CC sources, these topics we have been discussing, in hopes of gaining a clearer and perhaps better understanding of such matters. At this point, however, I see no reason to change my allegiances or the following of the excellent scholars and teachers I think understand and practice their faith in most commendable ways. My faith has only been strengthened as I continue being guided by His Holy Spirit.

  43. Paul, (re: #42)

    Thanks for your reply, which does help us make some headway, by identifying where are the more fundamental (underlying) points of disagreement.

    You wrote:

    we still come back to the fact that there is no explicit teachings, in the canon (OT & NT – – no other “texts or sources” allowed here) regarding Mariology. Does that make it wrong, perhaps not…but it also does not make it wrong for “Protestants” to not accord the same worship and status to this as does the CC.

    This shows that the Protestant-Catholic disagreement concerning Mary is based on a more fundamental disagreement, namely, whether the entirety of the deposit of faith is contained formally in Scripture, and particularly in the Protestant canon of Scripture. So, in order to resolve our disagreement, we would need to back up, as it were, and examine that more fundamental question. To see the Catholic teaching on this question, see the Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures in Session IV of the Council of Trent, Chapter 2 of Session 3 of the First Vatican Council, and Chapter 2 (about five paragraphs or so) in Dei Verbum.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  44. Paul,

    It would also be helpful to not say we “worship” Mary. We do not worship her, but give her the due honor she deserves–the highest proper any human being. As Bryan has pointed out, most Protestants afford their own mother more honor than Our Savior’s Mother. The Lord convicted me of this 1 year before I even considered the claims of the Catholic Church. You don’t need to be RC to see that in the Protestant “world”, we do not afford her any unique affection despite holding the apostles or even our local pastor with high regard.

    When Elisabeth greets Mary, she declares, “How has it come to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” She did not worship Mary or give Jesus disrespect by rejoicing at the presence of Mary. What inspired this reaction of honor to Mary? We know from scripture because just a moment before, Mary greeted Elizabeth and she was “filled with the Holy Spirit” saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Paul as you are guided by the Holy Spirit, allow him to introduce you to His Spouse, Mary and open your heart to honor her as the ark of the new covenant, the abode of God, your Mother, the first Christian, the finest of all creatures. In praising her beauty, holiness, and virtue you give God glory for you declare how great His Son is. She is incapable of leading you away from him, for her words at Cana are her eternal words to her children, “Do whatever he tells you”.

    Ave Maria

  45. Brent, with all due respect the CC does indeed worship Mother Mary in both art and in prayer and worship, etc. The very existence of a Rosary enshrines this. Again, where in the Canon is this taught by our Lord Jesus Christ? It is not whatsoever!

    Now you folks keep trying to establish the authority as only in THE CC, and I have pointed out problems with this that you have not addressed forthrightly in my estimation. I paste herein below Dr. Norman Geislers and Ravi Zacharias points on what is and what is NOT CANON. You can keep denying this and bringing in books like the Apocrphyia, but this is not an honest response. I am asking you to prove in the NT where Christ taught Mariology or anything close to such rituals…and you can not because it does not exist. Then all of you want me to read what is authority as declared by the CC denigrating everything else, while you folks use “writings” and “traditions” of the early CC and The Fathers to round out an argument without basis…at least…in relation to the Canon as Geisler, Zacharias and other “Protestants” hold and define it.

    I quote the following in support of this statement from a colaborative book by Geisler & Ravi Zacharias titled “Who Made God?”:

    “Jesus confirmed the closure of the Old Testament canon in several ways. In his numerous use of the OT he never cited any book other than one of the 24 (39) cannonical books of the Jewish OT. What’s more, he cited from every major section of the OT–both Law and Prophets, as well as the later division of the Prophets known as “Writings.” But he never quoted any books known as the Apocrypha. Further, Jesus in Matthew 23:35 defined the limits of the OT canon as ending in 2 Chronicles (the book listed last in the Jewish OT) by the phrase “from the blood of righteous Abel [Gen 4] to the blood of Zechariah [2 Cron 24:20-22].” The phrase was a Jewish equivalent of the Christian phrase “from Genesis to Revelation,” indicating a complete Jewish canon of Scripture. Furthermore, phrases like “Law or the Prophets” (Matt 5:17) and “Moses and all the Prophets” (Luke 24:27) are used by Jesus to indicate the complete canon of Jewish Scripture. Indeed, Jesus used the phrase in parallel with the phrase “all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Being a faithful Jew, Jesus, who came “not to abolish the Law or the Prophets” (Matt 5:17), accepted the same closed Jewish canon as did Judaism, which has always been the same books as the 39 books of the Protestant OT.”

    I simply cannot accept your premise and repeated statements that no “authority” exists outside of the CC/CCC so there is no way you can be denigrating anyone I cite as an authority because in your way of thinking they are anathema and don’t, for all practical purposes, even exist.

    The absurdity in such circular arguments / discussions makes it impossible for us to meet. There is no place of agreement, even on the most fundamental truths of our shared faith.

    I read all of the links that on Trent 4, Vatican 1 and on Divine Revelation…and one of the main problems I see is the “politics of religion” being played out in a grand way … which history has unfortunately shown us as faulty and highly dangerous when man props up a CHURCH of his own making (not of God and certainly not as exemplified as such at times horrific acts of apostasy) and it gets into nonesense actions like selling of Papal Indulgences, and the like, making nothing short of a mockery of our Lord and His Word. Kind of reminds us of the Pharisees and old Israel, the old Jewish Temple and its “rulers” (similar to the CC Vicars and/or Pope of that desolate Temple) where in Revelation (17:1-5) John writes the Lord’s declaration about her as – “Mystery Babylon – The Great – The Mother of Prostitutes And Of The Abominations Of The Earth.”

    Now I also know that the Holy Spirit is said to guide, teach and comfort from the time He entered the world and the hearts of believers…and as such…He continues to help ALL BELIEVERS, not just those in the CC or Protestants, but ALL Believers to better comprehend His Word and to reaffirm it. Now, with this in mind, it is just nonesensical for you to claim the CC as the only repository of truth and revelation when our Lord, as I have stated before, ended the eartly “Temple/Church” kind of orientation and control and administration in favor of indwelling believers instead and teaching them by requiring them to chose belief over the condemnation of the Law and “institutions” (the CC/Temple) as His dwelling place and residence anylonger. He now lives in and among us and has entered into the most personal and eternal relationships He created us for and for us to have with Him. So, again, the body of believers is what is meant by and that makes up the Universal Church of God, not the CC, or for that matter, any Protestant Church either.

    Believers are “all one in Christ” see Galatians 3: 1-29: 23 Before the coming of this faith,[j] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Now, I know you accept this Book of the Canon (Bible for us “Protestants”- of which I am not one as I am a universal believer and affiliate with a non-denominational body of fellow believers), which clearly states oneness in Christ Jesus – all heirs according to the promise. Again, it does not take a Pope or Magisterium or Mariology rituals or concocted sacramental rites, etc., for HS filled believer authorities, and other believers, to property and in a Spirit filled manner exegite such truths and magnify them, in context and in ways that are entirely true so that laypersons, simple mankind, can better understand, accept, believe in and follow Christ.

    I feel fully confident and comfortable that persons like Dr. Norman Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Gary Habermas, JP Moreland and so many others, who are personna-non-grata to the CC, are wonderful, faithful brothers of Christ who teach nothing but inerrancy and the truths of Scripture in a way that not only honors our Lord and His Word, but that helps in making His truths more clear for all.

    For eschatological matters I also very much like the works of JP Holdings at http://www.tektonics.org who teaches us, through proper exgesis of Christ’s Olivet Discourse, that around the time of His asscension, within the generation to who He was speaking, Christ’s greatest prophecy was fulfilled (around 70 AD with the total destruction of the Jewish Temple and around the years of the Jewish Wars, where over 1.1 million Israelites were murdered and over 100,000 were imprisoned in what we know as “The Great Tribulation”). Christ now rules as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, having then defeated Satan and bound him since and for the duration of Christ’s current “Millennial Reign” until His 2nd Coming, the Resurrection and Final Judgment.

    I know that the CC does not believe this and, ironically, shares often errant Protestant eschatological interpretations, which is something I think our Lord is so offended by that I would be a very worried believer if I held such views. As he defeated Satan and proved His divinity, and through His Resurrection He conquered over death, fulfilling His last departure prophecy so that the rulers of His time would know that His judgment metaphor of “coming on clouds” actually happened in their lifetime…meaning to them that He was vindicated and proven Superior to the Law and to man and ultimately correct. HE now rules as King as then rot in their graves having conquered over nothing.

    So, as noted above, the CC is not the omnicient authority or body that it tries to claim…in fact, that claim appears totally and dangerously misplaced from the body of believers to a man-made construction full of error and errant behaviors and interpretations of the very Scripture it claims to be The Shephard.

    My intent has not been to throw stones at the CC, but instead to open minds to the above realities, show error where many think it persists in the CC – all supported in the Bible – and hope we could get somewhere better. I can see that this is not likely to happen and the divide is, perhaps, simply to great to bridge. We must leave all of that to Him I am happy to say.

    God Bless, Paul

  46. Paul,

    It appears the wheels have fallen off the cart of this discussion. I’ll defer to Bryan to see if he can get them back on. Regarding our “worship of Mary”, I would recommend you remove all pictures and artwork from your home so as to not coax yourself to worship them. Regarding the holy Rosary, it is the summation of the entire Gospel; the way in which we meditate on the entire life of JESUS. So, don’t be ignorant and make that comment again or you will not be taken seriously by one Catholic in the world. It is an entirely superficial judgment. The first half of the rosary are words right out of Elizabeth’s mouth, filled with the Holy Spirit. To come against at least half of it is to come against the direct words of the Holy Spirit.

    Yes Paul, the Holy Spirit is interested in all believers. But, as you know, he is not interested in all churches. His providential hand is only on the Church he established on his Apostles and by the seat of St. Peter. The winds and waves of time have swept away or are sweeping away all others because they are not built upon the Rock. If you reject it, you reject Him. I understand that at this point your conversion through your sect, your years of training, your evangelistic zeal which caused you to come here to this forum have likely prejudiced your mind from being able to see the trees from the forrest. However, I ask that at the least you pray about this because if you are wrong, if all you have done is regurgitate nonsense dreamt up to keep your narrative workable, then you are seriously wrong. If the difference between your “certainty” of salvation and God’s knowledge of your salvation is in anyway different, than we are talking about possibly an eternal mistake.

    So, don’t be so cavalier with your accusations. It’s your small church up and against 2,000 years of history, 1.2 billion people (majority of Christians), the Angelic Doctor, Seraphic Doctor…

    As I have said and offered before, I would be more than happy to carry on a dialogue off-line so as to not make this a “crowd” event whereby we can “show each other up”. That accomplishes nothing. Again, my email is: blessedsacrament2010@gmail.com

  47. Brent,

    I think what Paul is pointing out is that there is a pretty big distinction at times between the official teaching of the Catholic Church and what we see observed by ignorant nominal Catholic practitioners. While I too have been recently convicted that Jesus is probably pretty proud of His mom and wants her honored, when we see a statue of Mary as a grown woman holding a scepter, wearing a crown, and holding a still infant Jesus, it can be pretty hard to swallow this, ESPECIALLY in light of Jesus’ deflected adoration away from His mom and towards those who are obedient to His Father. (“…blessed rather are those…”)

    I personally have found that once I get into the technical details of what the CC teaches it always lines up with the Scripture and it is always very deep. The orthodoxy is incredibly awesome. (I know I know, by what epistemic do I say that yada yada yada). The thing that seems hardest to many is the completely screwed up orthopraxy…ESPECIALLY on this particular topic.

    And yes, I fully grant that a short you tube odyssey on charismatic or pentecostal “stuff” will lead to the same conclusion in that direction….we ALL have our embarrassing uncles who we wish wouldn’t come to the family reunion….

    I’m bringing this up in an attempt to really hear out Paul’s heart more than the logic. The heart logic has to be addressed as powerfully or more so than the head logic.

  48. Jeremiah,

    True, but that is also the case amongst ordinary nominal believers in all Christian groups. We happened to have the largest by group by a landslide so if only 25% of our members were hypocrites it would be equal to EVERY person in America being a Catholic hypocrite. That would make world headlines: Catholic Church Full of Whores and Sinners (never mind that has already happened)

    As Bryan has said, the images of Mary holding a scepter, crowned in heaven, above her Son, etc. do rub against non-Catholic sensibilities. Hoever, one scripture verse doesn’t negate the rest of the Bible nor the teachings of the Church. There is no way Christ is throwing off his mother at that moment.

    All I can say to you and Paul is that inside the Church the devotions make sense. Outside they don’t. It would be like coming over to my house, seeing a picture of Great-Grandma on the table, watching us all gather around and reflect about her, maybe play a game about her, even pull out a cake in her honor, and you say, “What’s up with this, I mean its like you idolize her or something.” Of course we don’t, but you have spent your entire life showing her no affection and we’ve spent our entire life loving her. The same with the Church. The CC’s love of Mary comes from her 2,000 years of growing in love with her. As the Body of Christ, she has become, more and more, our Mother. For those alienated form their Mother’s love, she has become more and more the Mother you’ve never known.

    Have you every watched an adopted child be re-united with their mother after 40 years of alienation? Awkward moment, right? Kind of like a Protestant and Mary, right?

    I became convinced along my journey that Mary was the Arc of the New Covenant, displayed in heaven (as John says in Revelation). So, I thought, wouldn’t it be a bummer to get to heaven and say, “who is she?”

    Peace to you on your journey.

  49. Paul, (re: #45)

    As I said earlier, I think the best way to approach a resolution to our disagreements is mentally to discipline ourselves to take on only one point of disagreement at a time. Otherwise, a combox just turns into a place for each person to vent while pounding his chest, and there is no possibility for careful, deliberate, step-wise reasoning, to resolve the disagreement. And we at CTC have comboxes under our posts and articles not for mere venting, but only for careful and respectful reasoning together.

    A basic principle of courtesy and respect in ecumenical dialogue is to allow each party to define what it believes. It is an expression of the Golden Rule, since, for example, you wouldn’t want a Catholic to assert that you believe or do x, after you have claimed that you do not believe or do x. So, we do not worship Mary in the sense of giving her adoration or sacrifice, that is, giving to her what is due to God alone. We seek to give to Mary and the saints the honor they are due as creatures (heroic through grace), just as we seek to give our parents the honor they are due, and our political leaders the honor they are due. You seem to be assuming that if Mary is depicted in Catholic art as holding Christ or as wearing a crown, then Catholics are giving Mary something that is due to God alone. But that conclusion does not follow, nor is it true. We believe that Mary is in heaven, and that Christ has given to her the honor that is due to her as His mother, and as the perfect saint that she was on earth, through His grace. Such a notion of heavenly rewards is part of the Christian faith.

    In my previous comment (#43), I pointed out that it seems that your disagreement with the Catholic Church’s teachings on Mary depends (at least in part) on a more fundamental disagreement concerning whether Scripture contains formally the entirety of the deposit of faith. So I referred you to some Catholic documents that present the Catholic position regarding the relation of Scripture and Tradition. You replied:

    I read all of the links that on Trent 4, Vatican 1 and on Divine Revelation…and one of the main problems I see is the “politics of religion” being played out in a grand way … which history has unfortunately shown us as faulty and highly dangerous when man props up a CHURCH of his own making (not of God and certainly not as exemplified as such at times horrific acts of apostasy) and it gets into nonesense actions like selling of Papal Indulgences, and the like, making nothing short of a mockery of our Lord and His Word. Kind of reminds us of the Pharisees and old Israel, the old Jewish Temple and its “rulers” (similar to the CC Vicars and/or Pope of that desolate Temple) where in Revelation (17:1-5) John writes the Lord’s declaration about her as – “Mystery Babylon – The Great – The Mother of Prostitutes And Of The Abominations Of The Earth.”

    I don’t see any “politics of religion” in the three documents to which I referred you on the relation of Scripture and Tradition. Nor does the “politics of religion” seem relevant to the question of the Tradition and whether the deposit of faith is fully and formally contained in Scripture. Nor does it seem to me that the issue of indulgences is pertinent to this question. (See “Myths About Indulgences” or my “Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Communion of the Saints.”) And the implication that the Catholic Church is the “whore of Babylon” is just question-begging rhetoric. Could we focus on the question at hand?

    How can we resolve the following question: Is the deposit of faith fully and formally contained in Scripture, or has it also been handed down in the oral Tradition from the Apostles, and in the writings of the Church Fathers?

    Here are thoughts to consider regarding that question. The notion that nothing is to be admitted as belonging to the deposit of faith unless it is formally contained in the Scriptures is itself an unwritten tradition that was first introduced among the Protestant sects in the sixteenth century. But notice how this notion contradicts itself. It claims that nothing is to be admitted unless it is formally contained in the Scriptures, and yet it itself is not formally contained in the Scriptures, and yet it seeks not only to make itself admitted to the rule of faith, but to insinuate itself to be the very law by which to determine what is and is not to be admitted. But, because it itself it not formally contained in Scripture, it does not pass its own test, and is in that respect self-refuting.

    By contrast, St. Paul praises the Corinthians for “holding firmly to the traditions” (1 Cor 11:2), and exhorts the Thessalonians, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess 2:15) The evidence in Scripture thus testifies that the Apostolic Tradition was handed down not only in writing, but also orally, and that the believers were to hold fast not only to that which was written in Scripture, but also to that which was handed down orally.

    In addition, the canon of Scripture is itself part of the unwritten Tradition; the content of the canon is not contained formally in Scripture itself (modern publishers added the table of contents). So to claim that what belongs to the deposit of faith is only what is fully and formally contained in Scripture undermines the possibility of knowing what truly is (and isn’t) Scripture, unless one appeals to verification-by-bosom-burning for each book.

    In addition, let’s consider a few pieces of evidence from the early Church Fathers.

    In the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch (died about AD 107), we find clear teaching regarding the episcopacy (as distinct from mere-presbyters, and the deaconate) and the duty of believers to submit to their bishop. (See “St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Church.”) St. Ignatius teaches this as part of the Apostolic Tradition he has received, and this three-fold distinction in Holy Orders, and apostolic succession, are accepted and practiced throughout the whole Catholic Church in the second century, without any word of protest from any group of Christians claiming that this was not what the Apostles had passed down. The only plausible explanation for this is that this was in fact handed down by the Apostles, wherever they preached and established Churches.

    St. Irenaeus, around AD 180, writes the following:

    Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Hereies, III.3)

    We can see in this excerpt one belief that belonged to the Tradition that was handed down by the Apostles, namely, the episcopacy itself, and the practice of apostolic succession. The very fact that the episcopacy and apostolic succession are disputed by Protestants shows that it is not *formally* contained in Scripture, and yet for St. Irenaeus, it is part of the Tradition received from the Apostles. Part of the very Tradition is that the Tradition itself “is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches” (Against Heresies, III.2)

    Another truth belonging to this Tradition is that believers are to obey only those having succession from the Apostles. St. Irenaeus writes:

    Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. (Against Heresies IV.26)

    There is no evidence that the deposit of faith is fully and formally contained in Scripture. But there is good evidence that the deposit of faith has been handed down not only in the Scriptures, but also in the oral Tradition from the Apostles.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  50. Bryan (#49):

    Your comment is also quite pertinent to the thread on “Tradition I and Sola Fide.” I hope somebody else notices that. Thanks.

    Best,
    Mike

  51. Bryan…I intend to take you up on contacting you by email directly and will likely not post much more here beyond this, although I do want to see your response to the following.

    I do want to say, in response to your Post #49, that as Jeremaih #47 implies, you seem to be totally in the dark about how non-C see Mariology. I call your attention to the following link on the Rosary and all that it entails…as anyone can easily see from this link, Mariology, nearly every representation and aspect of it, is perceived as way over the top in the CC. From outside looking in, and that’s what I am referring to (and that “outside” includes millions of fellow believers and millions more non-believers), this looks like a legalistic rule book guided practice and a ritual (very idol-worship-like) that again, just is not emulated in nor directly condoned in the NT or OT for that matter either:

    LINK: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/rosary.php

    Christ, during His first Incarnation, also never demonstrated or taught such practices or actions…rather He called for the Apostles to share in the one truth and to serve and “wash the feet” of other saints. Respecting and admiring “leaders” of the faith is certainly acceptable, Mariology, from any objective perspective, is simply not. It IS way, way over the top, and many believe also non-Biblical and therefore should never have grown into what Mariology clearly represents in the CC and to outsiders.

    On the points about oral Traditions…I don’t see those as exclusively or even primarily ONLY or PRIMARILY those of the CC. In fact, as I have been saying here and under Dr. Anders article in C2C, is that there any many thousands of believer teachers since Christ, who in fact do carry over the most important of all Traditions – the Great Commission. And their writings (remember that Traditions were largely “oral” because people back then did not have access to or could not afford the “paper and pens” that we now take for granted and that are so readily available today in our throw away modern cultures) are helpful to sharing in the one faith given to all. It is disengenuous of you to suggest otherwise, or to say that they are not only not “authorities” but that they never could or can be since they are not part of the CC – The Fathers – or The Oral Traditions, etc.

    And, as I have been trying to point out from all of my posts, while we do want to delve deeply into the truths of His Bible, it does little good in saving the lost (most of mankind) if few can understand such depths of Theology. I believe that is why Christ so often spoke in parables that used simple examples like “sheep” to make His points. In sales there is an acronym “KISS” = “Keep It Simple Stupid”…and as we all know sheep are the dumbest animals in the pen, and they by nature are followers of their Shephard, who’s voice they know. Christ made it clear that we all needed to be sheep of the Right Shephard, The Truth…so that we quite naturally, nearly without any thought (theology) will follow His voice = KISS!

    So, I have come to the conclusion that this forum is really not a place for laypersons…but then, I wonder why not! All of our talking and introspection must have a purpose of serving as a useful instrument (being a part) of fulfilling His Great Commission. There is and can be no greater service to Him our King, Lord and Savior. You must be careful of not seeing the trees through the forest, and missing the greater matter at hand. Your efforts need to produce the kind of fruit of which He speaks…not communications that few can readily appreciate or see the practical relevancy of.

    Paul

  52. Hello Paul, (re: #51)

    You wrote:

    I do want to say, in response to your Post #49, that as Jeremaih #47 implies, you seem to be totally in the dark about how non-C see Mariology.

    Well, whether or not I am “totally in the dark” about how Protestants view Mariology (never mind that I lived almost forty years as a Protestant), that in no way detracts from the truth of the Catholic Church’s teaching about Mary. That is, my alleged ignorance of how you see Catholic Mariology, is no refutation of Catholic Mariology.

    I call your attention to the following link on the Rosary and all that it entails…as anyone can easily see from this link, Mariology, nearly every representation and aspect of it, is perceived as way over the top in the CC. From outside looking in, and that’s what I am referring to (and that “outside” includes millions of fellow believers and millions more non-believers), this looks like a legalistic rule book guided practice and a ritual (very idol-worship-like) that again, just is not emulated in nor directly condoned in the NT or OT for that matter either:

    LINK: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/rosary.php

    The material at that link does not speak of anyone’s perception of that material, nor does it say or imply anything being “over the top.” Those are your words, and your perception. You see step-wise instructions for praying the Rosary as a “legalistic rule book.” But it is not legalistic at all; it simply lays out the steps for praying the Rosary. You also claim that the Rosary is “very idol-worship-like.” But there is no worship of any idol, when praying the Rosary. In the Rosary we pray to God, and ask for Mary to pray for us. (Also, at the beginning and end of the Rosary, we kiss the figure of Christ on the crucifix, as an expression of love and affection for our Lord Jesus.)

    You also seem to be saying that praying the Rosary is wrong because it is not directly condoned in the NT or OT. Again, that pushes us back to the question I raised in comment #49: “Is the deposit of faith fully and formally contained in Scripture, or has it also been handed down in the oral Tradition from the Apostles, and in the writings of the Church Fathers?” So, to criticize the Rosary for not being “directly condoned in the NT or OT” simply begs the question, by assuming precisely what is in dispute between us, namely, that the deposit of faith is fully and formally contained in Scripture.

    Respecting and admiring “leaders” of the faith is certainly acceptable, Mariology, from any objective perspective, is simply not. It IS way, way over the top, and many believe also non-Biblical and therefore should never have grown into what Mariology clearly represents in the CC and to outsiders.

    Mere assertions do not establish or show anything. I could just assert the Catholic doctrines, and we would be left trading assertions, and not getting any closer to discovering the truth or resolving our disagreement. So, for example, if you want merely to assert (as if you have papal authority) that “Mariology, from any objective perspective, is simply not [acceptable]”, then I could just assert right back, “Failing to honor our Lord’s mother, from any objective perspective, is simply not acceptable.” And then we would be at an impasse, because we would be resorting to trading assertions, instead of examining the evidence together, and showing what is wrong with the position or claim we think is false.

    You claim that Catholic Mariology is “way, way, over the top”. Way way over the top of what? What is the standard to which you are appealing? If the standard to which you are appealing is what is formally and explicitly stated in Scripture, then I agree that the Marian dogmas and prayers to the saints go beyond that standard. But that again, just pushes us back to the more underlying question I directed us to in question #49. When you say that Catholic Mariology “should never have grown into what Mariology clearly represents in the CC” you again are merely asserting this, without showing why it shouldn’t have so grown. We (Catholics) believe that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church into the truth concerning the Marian dogmas. So you need to show why it shouldn’t have grown this way, and how you know that this growth could not have been through the Holy Spirit. You seem to be using your own interpretation of Scripture as the standard to which the Catholic Church must conform. But, who made you and your interpretation an authority to which the Catholic Church must conform? We conform our interpretation and understanding of Scripture to the teaching of those having the authority from Christ through the Apostles, to give the authoritative interpretation of Scripture and to define authoritatively what is orthodox and what is heresy.

    On the points about oral Traditions…I don’t see those as exclusively or even primarily ONLY or PRIMARILY those of the CC. In fact, as I have been saying here and under Dr. Anders article in C2C, is that there any many thousands of believer teachers since Christ, who in fact do carry over the most important of all Traditions – the Great Commission. And their writings (remember that Traditions were largely “oral” because people back then did not have access to or could not afford the “paper and pens” that we now take for granted and that are so readily available today in our throw away modern cultures) are helpful to sharing in the one faith given to all. It is disengenuous of you to suggest otherwise, or to say that they are not only not “authorities” but that they never could or can be since they are not part of the CC – The Fathers – or The Oral Traditions, etc.

    I didn’t claim that all the oral Tradition belonged exclusively to the Catholic Church. But it is all found in the Catholic Church. As I explained in #49, apostolic succession is part of the Tradition we see in the early Church Fathers, and was accepted universally wherever Christianity went, without any opposition from any other Christians. Is the congregation you attend under the authority of a bishop having valid Orders in succession from the Apostles? If not, why not? That is, why has this congregation not retained that important element of the Apostolic Tradition accepted by all Christians for fifteen hundred years after Christ?

    And, as I have been trying to point out from all of my posts, while we do want to delve deeply into the truths of His Bible, it does little good in saving the lost (most of mankind) if few can understand such depths of Theology. I believe that is why Christ so often spoke in parables that used simple examples like “sheep” to make His points. In sales there is an acronym “KISS” = “Keep It Simple Stupid”…and as we all know sheep are the dumbest animals in the pen, and they by nature are followers of their Shephard, who’s voice they know. Christ made it clear that we all needed to be sheep of the Right Shephard, The Truth…so that we quite naturally, nearly without any thought (theology) will follow His voice = KISS!

    That’s one important reason why Christ gave authority to the Apostles, and they to their successors, and they to their successors, so that the sheep wouldn’t have to figure out all the theology on their own (like sheep without a shepherd), but could with child-like faith in Christ, follow the Church. Without Magisterial authority, you are left having to figure out for yourself just how simple or complex theology should be, and make sure you are not over-simplifying.

    So, I have come to the conclusion that this forum is really not a place for laypersons…

    I’m a layperson, and no one has kicked me out of here yet!

    but then, I wonder why not! All of our talking and introspection must have a purpose of serving as a useful instrument (being a part) of fulfilling His Great Commission. There is and can be no greater service to Him our King, Lord and Savior. You must be careful of not seeing the trees through the forest, and missing the greater matter at hand. Your efforts need to produce the kind of fruit of which He speaks…not communications that few can readily appreciate or see the practical relevancy of.

    Part of the Great Commission is leading people into the Church that Christ founded, the ark of the New Covenant. It is not just getting persons to say a sinner’s prayer. It includes “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” And it includes the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” and all the sacraments therein. If you lead persons to a message about Christ, or even to a personal relation with Christ, but do not lead them to the Body of Christ, but only to a heresy or to a schism, then they have not yet received the fullness of Christ’s gospel, because to be fully incorporated into Christ requires being fully incorporated into His Body, the Church. And those in heresy, or in schism from the Church, are for that reason deprived of the fullness of Christ and His Gospel.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  53. Bryan…you said Mariology is not worship, and implied it is merely adoration and respect, etc.; however, if you read the Rosary “rules” at the link I provided, and see what it requires, its “steps”…it is so much like a formula to achieve blessings or intercessory benefits, that one simply cannot miss the idolatry and worship that it represents. That IS why so many non-C see it exactly that way as Jeremiah also acknowledges; hence, my reason for stating that you appear blind.

    On the matters of “Mother Church” and “CC Authority” I have copied in my post from the other forum of C2C on Calvin here:

    [link to comment]

    (Inserted link to comment. – Ed.)

  54. Paul (re: #53),

    I did not claim or imply that Mariology is “merely adoration.” It is not adoration. I have read the instructions (at the link you provided) for praying the Rosary, and I see there no idolatry or worship-as-adoration. So your statement that “one simply cannot miss the idolatry and worship that it represents” is not true; I’m living proof. The saints in heaven are mighty intercessors, for the reasons I explained in “Heroes of the New Covenant,” and among created beings, Mary is the greatest intercessor. That is what is reflected in the Rosary; in no way does praying the Rosary give the adoration that is due to God alone, to Mary or any other creature. I think that you are not familiar with the Catholic understanding of the greatness of the saints in heaven, and the honor they are due, and what it looks like to request their intercession. So you are mistaking requests for their intercession, and giving them honor, as adoration and idolatry. I think that if you were more familiar with the distinction between veneration and adoration, you would not conflate the two, or assume that requesting the intercession of the saints, and veneration of the saints is idolatry and adoration.

    In the rest of your comment, which is what you posted in the other thread, you raise the question of ecclesiology. But, as I have mentioned a few times now, the best way to resolve our disagreement, is to be disciplined to stay focused on only one question at a time, and not try to tackle many points of disagreement simultaneously. So before moving on to ecclesiology, we should make sure we have resolved the disagreement concerning Mariology.

    When you do wish to discuss the ecclesiology question, then I recommend discussing that at the “Branches or Schisms?” post.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  55. Bryan, the more I read link after link within your various C2C articles and postings…the deeper my understanding and, I must admit, my appreciation of the CC teachings. Like the following that you wrote in response to a reader:

    Not only do the saints in heaven see God (as I explained above), but they retain a relation to their body. It is an ontological relation (i.e. a relation of being — this body does not merely belong to that saint, as he might have possessed a book or a cloak; this body is that saint, not the entirety of the saint, of course, but nonetheless his bodily component). The relation of the saints in heaven to their bodies is also an eschatological relation. They wait patiently to be reunited to their bodies, at the resurrection. To stand before the body of a saint is to stand before a part of someone who is presently enjoying the Beatific Vision, and is presently related (by an ontological relation of identity and an eschatological relation) to this body; it is to stand before something that we know (by the authority of the Church) will be in heaven forever. (We do not know that, with the same certainty, about any other material object, including our own bodies, because “that I [insert your own name] will persevere in faith until death” is not part of the deposit of faith.)

    To ask for the intercession of a saint, in the presence of his or her body, is to do two things: (1) to honor that saint, by implicitly recognizing his heroic virtue and present glory, and (2) to draw near to that saint. If that saint’s body had no relation to the saint’s soul, then drawing near to his body would not in any way draw us near to the saint. But because of the body-soul relation, both ontological and eschatological, to draw near to his body is to draw near to the saint. We are not gnostics, who believe that we are all spirits trapped in bodies. A human soul is the form of a body — this particular body. (This is why reincarnation is metaphysically impossible.) The soul is incomplete in itself, as is the body. They are complete only when united as one substance, i.e. the body-soul composite. That is why human death is not natural, but contrary to nature, because the soul is made to remain the animating principle of this body. All this is why coming into the physical presence of the body of a saint, is to come into the presence of that saint who, at that very moment, is in heaven beholding the face of God. So, that is why the early Christians honored the relics of the saints, because they understood Christian anthropology, the communion of the saints, and the implications of the doctrine of the resurrection.

    Lastly,

    Are their prayers more effective than the living?

    Yes. St. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16) But the saints in heaven are perfectly righteous, while even the most holy saint on earth still sins venially. Hence the prayers of the saints in heaven are more effective than the prayers of those on earth.

    WOW…this is really deep and wonderful in so many ways. However, I have a problem…the body of works by the CC are so great over so very many thousands of years, that it is a great bit overwhelming. So, I return to an original request that, from what I can recall was not addressed; namely, can you please recommend a few books that clearly cover the differences in CC beliefs vs. Protestants vs. Anglicans vs. non-denominational believers that contain within them the Bibilical justifications for the positions held by the CC over all others. Preferably, one that is in laypersons language, a reasonably easy to follow without compromising the rich depth of CC teachings? HELP PLEASE…quite obvious to me the Holy Spirit is calling me and leading me in this direction, and it is a calling I seem unable to ignore, nor do I want to.

    Thank you, Paul

  56. Paul,

    I am sure that Bryan will respond when he is able. In the meantime, may I suggest that you prayerfully consider reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism does not go to any lengths to distinguish Catholic doctrine from other forms of doctrine (Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, etc.), but it is rich with Scripture references. In addition to Scripture, the Catechism contains numerous quotations of and allusions to the Ecumenical Councils and Church Fathers and great Medieval theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas. It is a wonderful “compression” of two thousand years of teaching and practice, but it also features the “rich depth” that you desire. Thanks for the comments, and happy reading!

    In Christ,

    Andrew

    P.S., Most of the online versions that I have come across are pretty difficult to read, because of the electronic layout (wide margins or dense background or other eye-numbing effects). The Catechism is relatively inexpensive in book form, and can be found here, for instance.

    I know that catechisms can seem rather cold and impersonal, little more than didactic manuals, but give this one a chance. It is worthwhile. There are, of course, many popular books comparing and contrasting Catholicism and conservative/evangelical Protestantism. I will try to remember some of the ones that I like most.

  57. Paul,

    I agree with Andrew P. Also, if you want to read about people’s reasons for becoming Catholic who were evangelical/protestant who wrestled with many of the questions you have had (condenses it in their story):
    Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie

    By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers the Catholic Tradition by Mark Shea

    Evangelical is not Enough by Thomas Howard

    Surprised By the Truth is a collection of conversion stories, but each story covers one or two topics of Catholic theology with some scripture, Church teaching, and personal anecdote.

    You are in my prayers.

    God bless you brother.

    Brent

  58. Paul,
    Every Catholic Church I have been in has an “adoration chapel”. Also it is common for Catholics to talk about “going to spend an hour in adoration”. These chapels have the Blessed Sacrament displayed in them, which Catholics undestand is Christ present in His Body, Blood, Soul and divinity. They bow before Jesus and adore Him as God. I am a recent convert so believe me my “radar” or “gut instinct” still is on sometimes when it comes to marian devotion. But what I have found is a clear distinction between adoration of God and devotion to Mary among Catholics. To them they are just puzzled at how Protestants think they worship, or adore Mary. When I pray the rosary, I am asking a human queen, who is a creature just like me, to pray for me and grant graces from God. It is really hard to confuse a creature with the creator of that creature, so far I have had no trouble seeing the distinction, and I have been surprised how great it is to have such powerful prayer partners as the Saints. My family’s prayer life has truly flowered since becomming Catholic.

    Bless you,

    -David

  59. Paul,

    I will be in prayer for you as you navigate these waters. If I may recommend Mark Shea’s three volume series, Mary, Mother of the Son, if you want to read about the doctrines concerning Mary. Shea writes well, is clear and his audience is the layman.

    I also echo Brent’s recommendations and Andrew’s as well. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, as far as Catechisms go, is enjoyable reading, at least for me, especially when compared with other catechisms.

  60. Thank you brothers all (Bryan, Tom, Brent and Andrew) for the love and care you have shown throughout. I will take your recommendations to heart and have already.

    I did pray to the Lord and to Mother Mary to help me appreciate and see the truth and I believe She may just be leading me to you all despite my own self. Who knows. I continue pursing my faith. I only want the truth and a clear way of discerning it.

    Today, I have begun a reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and just was reading the following quite interesting and wonderful statement:

    35 Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.(so) the proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

    I will get through this before moving on to other writers…but I am on the “road” and thank each of you for your patience and help!

    Grace and peace to you in Him,
    Paul

  61. Brothers,

    I have been absent from this forum for additional study and reflection. In particular, I have continued my read of the C Catechism, as requested of certain of you, but I have also continued to seek out additional scholarly input from the other side of such matters and have noted the following via CRI: “RETURNING TO ROME: SHOULD EVANGELICALS ABANDON THE REFORMATION?, by H. Wayne House”…and I quote:

    “The Catholic Church has not modified its position on those doctrines that separate Protestantism from Catholicism. Both Trent and Vatican II hold to an enlarged Canon,25 that the interpretation of Scripture must not be contrary to Church teaching,26 and that tradition is as authoritative as Scripture.27 In regard to sacraments, both Trent and Vatican II teach that water baptism removes original sin,28 absolution is received by confessing sins to priests,29 and the elements of the Lord’s Supper change into the body and blood of Christ.30 Doctrines in the Council of Trent pertaining to Mary that Protestants find unacceptable, such as Mary’s perpetual
    sinlessness, remain intact.31 Even though Catholics and Protestants have attempted a rapprochement to ease the rift that started with the Reformation,32 the Council of Trent was not undone by Vatican I or II in any significant way, and the Unum Sanctum (the 1302 papal bull [e.g., official document] by Pope Boniface VIII asserting papal authority over the state as well as the church) is still in force.”

    Now, it appears to me that here and on another C2C forum (Why Calvin Made Me A Catholic), that while I raised these very dividing issues, seekingthe CC response to them (i.e. pros and cons of the CC position as opposed to other believers positions), none of you – that I can recall in either forum – made me or other readers aware of these matters…and therefore that some ground work had been covered in these areas that could have served as a starting or focal point in addressing and giving meaningful context to the points of concern that I raised.

    In light of this I humbly request that you read this scholars article and respond in the most constuctive ways possible so that increased discernment will be the result for us all:

    The Link to CRI and the article: http://www.equip.org/PDF/JAC165.pdf

    Grace to you, Paul

  62. Hello Paul (re: #61)

    As I mentioned before, the best way to address the points of disagreement is by focusing on one at a time. The shot gun approach is rarely fruitful in resolving any disagreement, and that is no less true in ecumenical dialogue. That’s why we moved the conversation here to this thread, to discuss the question of Mariology. If you wish to move on from the question of Mariology, that’s fine, but let’s stay disciplined and continue to focus on only one question at a time. So, from the article you just cited, is there one question or point that you would like to discuss?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  63. Dear Paul,

    To reinforce what Bryan has said (and possibly help), MacKenzie asserts three reasons why evangelicals convert to the CC (antiquity, tradition, and beauty), but none of them are the raison d’etre of any of the aforementioned converts conversions. These do seem to me to be natural conjectures from an evangelical looking from the “outside in” who may have not given each converts story that much focus. However, he does bring up the 4th issue of the authority of the Catholic Church and proceeds to give his interpretation of history and Scripture “to defeat” the Catholic position and make conversion less tenable. I’m sure Bryan or another can point us to a thread about Church authority if this article has raised that issue for you. Or is it something else?

    Good to hear from you and know that you’ve been in my prayers.

  64. As your moderator will attest, the link I posted in my last post was not accepted by the system and so this was the 4th rewrite I had to submit, through him, for it to finally make its way into this forum.

    I do appreciate Bryan’s point, so, yes, we could focus on at least 2 parts of the article; namely, CC/Papal Authority first, Justification (forensic or not) second… and Mariology third. The problem with this is all of this is so intricately connected and mixed that for all practical purposes it is next to impossible to break them apart. But, please do your best.

    Paul

  65. Paul,

    I think your ordering of the issues is wise and sensible. The nature of the Church and authority were the two issues that, for me at least, everything else depended on when I was in the process of converting.

    Yours in Christ,
    David

  66. Paul:

    I second what David just said. Hence I refer you once again to my article Mathison’s Reply to Cross and Judisch: A Largely Philosophical Critique.

    Best,
    Mike

  67. I think the articles on Sola Scriptura, The Canon Question, Ecclesial Deism, and the Visible Church would be excellent places to start, as well.

  68. Paul, (re: #64),

    If you wish to discuss the subject of “papal authority,” then I think it would be best to discuss that on a thread devoted to that subject, such as “The Chair of St. Peter.” As I mentioned to Curt recently, if you want to read the patristic evidence concerning papal authority, see Adrian Fortescue’s The Early Papacy, and Dom John Chapman’s Studies on the Early Papacy. Also, Steve Ray provides an accessible and ordered examination of the biblical and patristic evidence in his book Upon This Rock, as do Butler, Dahlgren and Hess in Jesus, Peter & the Keys.

    I’ll respond to some of the claims in the first part of the article you linked, by H. Wayne House. It is important to be aware of the philosophical and theological assumptions that persons bring to the evidence of history when they make their case. House tips his hand right away. On page 2, he writes,

    The early post-New Testament church did not fully adhere to apostolic teaching in its doctrinal formulations. The earliest fathers already had begun to deviate from the apostles’ practices and teachings.

    Instead of allowing the teachings and practices of the Church Fathers to reveal what the Apostles practiced and taught and how Scripture is to be interpreted, House uses his own interpretation of Scripture as the standard by which to judge that the early Church Fathers deviated from the Apostles’ teachings and practice. So, House is importing ecclesial deism into his evaluation of the teachings and practices of the early Church Fathers. He does not defend this assumption; he simply starts with it, as a working assumption. But it is not a theologically neutral assumption; it is a highly loaded assumption. So his approach is already question-begging, from the start, because it starts from a stance of doubt concerning God’s preservation of the Church visible, rather than a stance of faith. And that stance of doubt, rather than faith, does not allow him to see the Patristic evidence is an authoritative corrective to his own understanding of Scripture.

    Next he writes:

    Although the Roman Catholic Church emerged from ancient Christianity, it is not the same thing as ancient Christianity, the ecclesiastical bodies of which comprised both a Western and an Eastern church. The Roman church is only an expression of earlier Christianity; it does not reflect all of the components found within the Christianity of the first century.

    These are mere assertions; he is not giving any evidence here. Moreover, Christ did not found an abstraction called “Christianity;” He founded a Church, which St. Matthew speaks of in Matthew 16 and Matthew 18. This Church is universal, or catholic. That is, it is not by its nature limited to a particular ethnicity or race or region or time. It extends to every nation, every tribe, every language, every culture, every ethnicity (Jews and Gentiles), every place, and throughout all time, until Christ returns. The Church was born on the day of Pentecost. And its catholicity can be seen in the miracle by which the Apostles spoke in all different languages, showing how the Church is the supernatural means by which God reverses the confusion of languages that were divided men at the Tower of Babel. (See “Pentecost, Babel and the Ecumenical Imperative.”)

    When House uses the term “Roman church,” he does not clearly distinguish between the particular Church of Rome on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the universal Church, i.e. the Catholic Church consisting of particular Churches in communion with the bishop of the particular Church at Rome. Perhaps I should say more about that distinction. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

    The phrase “particular Church,” which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession. These particular Churches “are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists.”(CCC 833)

    There are many particular Churches. We can see this already in Scripture. For example, we see the particular Church at Antioch (Acts 13:1), the particular Church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), and the seven particular Churches discussed in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. But there is only one universal or catholic Church, the one Christ refers to in Matthew 16 when He says, “Upon this rock I will build My Church.”

    The particular Church at Rome is not itself the Catholic Church. If we are speaking of the particular Church at Rome, we say, “the Church at Rome.” But if we are speaking of the universal Church, we ordinarily refer to it as the “Catholic Church.”

    I’ve encountered a number of Protestants whose reasoning goes like this: Since the Church at Rome is not the universal Church, and since no particular Church can be the universal Church, therefore the universal Church is the set of all particular Christians, congregations and denominations, and includes anyone who believes in Christ. In other words, since the Church at Rome cannot be the universal Church, therefore the universal Church is an invisible unity having visible members who are visibly divided. (See my “Why Protestantism has no ‘visible catholic Church’“.)

    That line of reasoning is a non sequitur, because it does not see a third possibility, which is stated in the very next paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome “which presides in charity.” “For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord.” Indeed, “from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her. (CCC 834)

    The Catholic Church is not just any set of persons who happen to call themselves Christian, or any set of communions (that would include all those in schism from the Church), or all those who call their doctrine “apostolic” (all heretical sects do that), on the authority of their own interpretation of Scripture, according to their own determination of whichever books belong to Scripture. To be in full communion with the Catholic Church, one must be in full communion with the successor of the Apostle to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom (Mt 16), the rock upon which Christ built His Church, and against which the gates of hell will not prevail. In that respect, the particular Church at Rome serves as the basis or touchstone for determining which persons are in full communion with the Catholic Church, and which are in schism from the Catholic Church.

    So when House says, “ancient Christianity, the ecclesiastical bodies of which comprised both a Western and an Eastern church,” he is treating what was one (i.e. the Catholic Church) as though it were two distinct things (i.e. a Western church and an Eastern church). Although there were differences between the culture, language, and even certain liturgical practices between particular Churches in the West, and the particular Churches in the East, nevertheless, the bishops of all these particular Churches believed and confessed that they belonged to the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” and spoke for her. This “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” was no invisible Church; it was (and is) a visible Church, governed by bishops in full communion with one another and with the bishop of Rome.

    The Roman church is only an expression of earlier Christianity; it does not reflect all of the components found within the Christianity of the first century. The church fathers were not monolithic in their views.

    Here he again uses the term “Roman church,” not clarifying whether he means the particular Church at Rome, or the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in consisting of all the particular Churches in full communion with the bishop of Rome. The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is not merely “an expression of earlier Christianity.” The very concept of Christianity was preceded by the Church, which was born on Pentecost. The concept of Christianity arose after believers were called Christians, and that didn’t take place until some years after Pentecost. For that reason, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is not an expression of an earlier Christianity. Of course Pentecost did not take place in Rome. But the Catholic Church has a Roman principle only because it has a Petrine principle, and Peter was there at Pentecost in Jerusalem, bearing the keys of the Kingdom, giving the first sermon. And when he poured out his blood upon the ground in Rome, he established perpetually (see here) that the bishop occupying the apostolic chair at Rome would be the holder of those keys.

    House writes:

    The Eastern church, with its various branches, differed at several points with the church that governed from Rome.

    Here he refers to the Filioque. But, it is important to point out that the Filioque was not explicitly taught by a council at least until the Synod of Toledo in 447. So, House offers no evidence for his implied suggestion that for the first four-hundred years of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, the Church at Rome differed theologically from the “Eastern church” (which is nothing other than the particular Churches in the East). Not only that, but the Filioque did not become a point of contention until the ninth century. So, the Filioque does not support House’s notion that “the Eastern church … differed at several points with the church that governed from Rome.” In other words, the ninth century disagreement about the Filioque cannot be used to justify a branch theory of the Church from the beginning, as House seemingly tries to do. The branch-theory conception of the Church (to describe Churches and sects not in communion with one another) did not arise until at least the sixteenth century in Protestantism.

    The Roman Catholic Church does have historic continuity with the first-century Christian church, but it has at many points deviated from the teachings of the Lord and of the apostles, including its claim to have received from them a gift of infallibility.

    House does not mention that the Orthodox also believe in ecclesial infallibility. So, ecclesial infallibility is something that, like apostolic succession, the Church has always believed, not something invented by Rome in the second millennium. The promise of Christ to be with the Church to the end of the age is not a promise to be merely spatially co-present; it is a promise to protect her from losing the faith, because her purpose is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15) to the whole world. If the Church were to lose the faith, then the divinely established means by which the gospel is to all the world, would be lost. This is why Christ has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. This is not the result of the power or strength of men, but of the promise of Christ. By that divine promise, the Church can never succumb to heresy. When the Magisterium of the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals, it is not merely the opinion of men, but the Spirit Himself, guiding the Church into all truth. (Acts 15:28, John 16:13) Jesus’ prayer for Peter, that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32), is a prayer that encompasses Peter’s successors, through whom Peter still speaks.

    Once the lack of support for that claim is recognized, then its other claims and teachings can be put to a fair test as to their biblical fidelity; if that lack of support is not recognized, however, then we must blindly accept the Catholic Church’s claim to apostolic fidelity, no matter how far from Scripture the teachings appear to wander.

    House poses a dilemma: either we test the teaching of the Catholic Church against our own interpretation of Scripture, or we blindly accept the Catholic Church’s teaching. But that is a false dilemma, as can be shown by replacing the term “the Catholic Church” with “Jesus.” It is not “blind” trust to accept the teaching of the Catholic Church, for the same reason it is not “blind” trust to accept Christ’s teaching: if we know a teacher to have divine authority, then it is not “blind” to trust its teaching. (See my comments #12 and #23 in the Son of a tu quoque thread.)

    In works by a number of the church fathers, the term is used for the faithful throughout the known world. Only in the period after Nicaea did the word “Catholic” begin to be identified with the church at Rome.

    The Church Fathers did use the term “Catholic Church” for the faithful throughout the world, but the schismatics were not among “the faithful,” and the schismatics were those who had either separated from their bishop (who was himself in communion with the bishops in communion with the bishop of the Church at Rome), or, as in the case of the Novatians, had placed themselves under a bishop who had broken fellowship with the bishops in communion with the bishop of the Church at Rome. So, House just pushes back the question when defining the Catholic Church in terms of the ‘faithful,’ since who counts as the faithful was itself determined by way of communion with the Catholic bishops. As for House’s claim regarding the word “Catholic” being identified with the “church at Rome,” that statement still confuses the particular “church at Rome” with the Catholic Church consisting of particular Churches in communion with the Church at Rome. The particular Church at Rome is not the Catholic Church; the particular Church at Rome is a part of the Catholic Church. Of course the particular Church at Rome is a unique part of the Catholic Church, because union with the bishop of the particular Church at Rome (and thus with all others in full communion with the bishop of the particular Church at Rome) is essential for full communion in the Catholic Church. But the particular Church at Rome is not the Catholic Church; it is a particular Church, and it is Catholic because it essentially belongs to the Catholic Church, on account of the unique authority of its bishop as the successor of St. Peter. At the end of the second century, St. Irenaeus wrote:

    “We do put to confusion all those who … assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every [particular] Church should agree with this Church [i.e. the particular Church of Rome], on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”(Against Heresies III.3)

    See also the section on the third century to see how House’s claim is inaccurate, because a recognition of the authority of the successor of St. Peter is clearly seen in the writings of St. Cyprian, in the middle of the third century, sixty years before Constantine.

    Then House quotes Pope Benedict, as seemingly supporting House’s thesis:

    Even Pope Benedict XVI admits that “we are fairly certain today that, while the Fathers were not Roman Catholics as the thirteenth or nineteenth century world would have understood the term, they were, nonetheless, ‘Catholic,’ and their Catholicism extended to the very canon of the New Testament itself.

    If you read the quotation in its original context, Pope Benedict (as Cardinal Ratzinger) is not saying that the Church Fathers were not in full communion with the Church of Rome, or were not members of the Catholic Church. Nor is he saying that present day Catholics are members of another universal Church than were the Church Fathers. He is merely pointing out that the term “Roman Catholic” has a different meaning than it would have had in the first centuries after Christ. At that time it would have referred to Christians in the particular Church at Rome, while terms like “Milanese Catholics” or “Venetian Catholics” would have referred to Christians in the particular Churches of Milan and Venice, respectively. Later, the term “Roman Catholic” would have been understood to refer the Latin Rite Church. But Protestants used the term “Roman Catholic” to refer to the Catholic Church in communion with the pope. So Pope Benedict is simply pointing out that the meaning of the term “Roman Catholic” changed over time; he is not claiming that the Catholic Church consisting of particular Church in communion with the pope is merely a branch of the Catholic Church to which the early Church Fathers belonged. The Catholic Church to which the early Church Fathers belonged is the same Catholic Church led by Pope Benedict XVI. So, House is misusing the quotation from Pope Benedict, in order to make him seem to say something that he is not at all saying.

    House then writes:

    There is no evidence either in Scripture or in the writings of the first century of the church that Peter was either the founder of the Roman church or the first bishop.

    It is true that Scripture does not say that St. Peter founded the Church at Rome, or was its first bishop. This is something we know from Tradition, and the absence of evidence in Scripture should not be construed as evidence of absence. Likewise, the absence of any first century writings stating that St. Peter founded the Church at Rome, or was its first bishop, shouldn’t surprise us at all, given the fact that there are only a few patristic texts that survive from the first century. In his footnote, House notes:

    Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3:3:2) says that Peter and Paul laid the foundation for the church at Rome. The church, however, as indicated in the text above, began many years before Paul wrote to the church, or before both of them, by tradition, were put to death there. Irenaeus was surely aware that Paul said in the book of Romans that he had never come to Rome, and so probably did not mean by foundation that he, or Peter, began the church.

    When St. Irenaeus says that St. Peter and St. Paul laid the foundation for the particular Church at Rome, he doesn’t mean that they were the first Christians there, or that only when Sts. Peter and Paul arrived did the Christians meet together. Only persons who didn’t believe in (or know about) apostolic succession would think that’s what St. Irenaeus meant. He means, of course, establishing the Church at Rome as an apostolic Church, and thus having bishops ordained by an Apostle. It could not be a Church until either an Apostle was present, or a bishop was established there by an Apostle, or by bishops having succession from the Apostles.

    House writes:

    In 1 Peter 5:1, Peter calls himself a fellow-elder (a term used synonymously in the New Testament with bishop; see, e.g., 1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:5, 7), not the chief elder.

    Apostles are elders, but not all elders are Apostles or bishops. So House shouldn’t make hay out of St. Peter calling himself a fellow elders. Yes, St. Peter does not call himself the “chief elder,” but to try to use that to show that St. Peter was not the chief elder would be to commit the fallacy of arguing from silence.

    House next writes:

    Being in the capital of the Roman Empire, the church in Rome naturally did gain greater influence and eventually greater power than those exercised by the other patriarchal centers.

    The only window for this was between 311 and about 330, from the time of Constantine’s conversion, to the time when Constantine shifted the capital of the empire to Constantinople, and Rome had weakened to the point of being sacked by Alaric in 410. So there is relatively little time for the bishop of Rome to gain some kind of canonical or juridical authority from being in the capital of the Empire. What we see instead, in all the writings of the popes and their legates, is that the continual basis for the popes’ claim to authority was the keys given to Peter by Christ; see the texts I listed at the beginning of this comment.

    House writes:

    Only in the late sixth century AD, when John the Faster, bishop of Constantinople, sought to assert his authority over the entire church, did Gregory I, bishop of Rome, gain ascendancy with the help of the Roman emperor.

    It is not true that St. Gregory the Great gained any authority not had by previous popes, or that the Roman emperor gave any authority to St. Gregory. Read about the incident with John the Faster here.

    Then House quotes Norman Geisler:

    Philosopher and theologian Norman Geisler describes the development of the church of Rome from its origin to its current status as the Roman Catholic Church. He argues that in AD 1215 we reached the point at which “one can see the beginning of Roman Catholicism as it is subsequently known….For it is here that the seeds of what distinguishes Roman Catholicism are first pronounced as dogma. The doctrine of transubstantiation, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and seven sacraments are pronounced. Many consider this a key turning point in the development of Roman Catholicism in distinction from non-Catholic forms of Christianity.”

    The primacy of the bishop of Rome was recognized all along. The doctrine of the Eucharist was not defined for eight hundred years, until Ratramnus, because there was no significant dispute about it within the Church during those eight hundred years. And the Catholic teaching on transubstantiation in the thirteenth century is (like the use of ‘homoousious‘ in the fourth century) the use of a precise term to define what the Church Fathers had been teaching all along concerning the Eucharist, as Tim showed in “The Church Fathers on Transubstantiation.” See also James O’Connor’s The Hidden Manna. Likewise, the number of sacraments was clarified at this time, by distinguishing between sacraments established by Christ through the Apostles, and sacred signs or ceremonies practiced in the Church, but not instituted by Christ through the Apostles (which sort of things we now call sacramentals).

    House writes:

    It is natural that components of the earliest Christianity of the first two centuries would be retained in some manner by Christians of later centuries, while other elements would go by the wayside.

    He does not describe which doctrines he thinks went “by the wayside,” so it is impossible to evaluate his claim.

    The first hundred years of the Christian church (AD 30–130) reveals a more simple, and more Jewish, community of believers than the predominantly Gentile Eastern and Western church we observe in the ensuing centuries.

    True. But the Church is a living Body, and therefore it grows not only in size, but also in its “expression” (to use House’s term), the way an oak grows from an acorn, though always retaining the essence of what was handed down from the Apostles.

    . Jesus and the apostles used the Hebrew Scriptures, and the method of apostolic interpretation was a form of rabbinic interpretation.

    The Apostles and the early Churches used the Septuagint, because their reading and preaching in the early Churches was to Greeks and Greek-speaking Jews.

    The early apostolic church patterned itself after the Jewish synagogue. This included local rule by elders, unlike the rule of one bishop along with the elders by the early second century, and the rule of geographical areas by bishops that developed more than two centuries later. During the first hundred years of its existence the church followed a congregational structure, with elders and deacons. Even the strong emphasis on the bishop by Ignatius was not beyond the authority of the local church and its ruling elders.

    As for the claim of multiple bishops, see “Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood.” Regarding St. Ignatius, see “St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Church.”

    House writes:

    Certain nonapostolic doctrines developed in the ensuing centuries, such as baptismal regeneration, the number and nature of the sacraments, and the person of Mary, mother of Jesus.

    Again, this is ecclesial deism. Instead of allowing the teaching of the Church Fathers on baptismal regeneration to show how Scripture is to be interpreted regarding the nature of baptism, he chooses to use his own interpretation of Scripture to judge the Church Fathers to have fallen into “nonapostolic doctrines.” His claim about the “number and nature of the sacraments” presupposes the formal sufficiency of Scripture, and denies the role of Tradition to provide information concerning the nature and number of the sacraments; in that respect, his claim is question-begging, by presupposing a Protestant position regarding Scripture and Tradition, in order to argue for a Protestant conclusion.

    If by “nonapostolic” he means that the Catholic Marian dogmas are not explicit in the teaching and preaching of the Apostles (so far as we can determine), that’s fully compatible with the Catholic understanding of development of doctrine. But if by “nonapostolic” he means that the Catholic Marian dogmas are not in any way part of the Apostolic deposit, then I recommend reading Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and reading the posts (and listening to the lectures) at comment #542 in the “How John Calvin made me Catholic” thread.

    Other doctrines that constituted proper refinement and exposition of biblical teaching, however, such as the Trinity, the person of Christ, the sinfulness of humanity, and justification by faith were generally held by the church throughout the empire.

    On the one hand, he claims that the Church fell into the “nonapostolic” doctrine of baptismal regeneration. On the other hand, he claims that “justification by faith” was “generally held by the church throughout the empire.” He can’t have it both ways, without connecting baptism and faith — something he doesn’t do. Baptism is the sacrament of faith, by which faith is given to us as a virtue, and not merely an act.

    Finally, he claims:

    Forensic justification and individual access to God (and Scripture) also are supported in the New Testament and implicit within the writings of the Fathers.

    The Catholic Church has never denied “individual access to God”. Jesus Himself teaches that when we pray, we are to go into our room and close the door. The gift of the ministerial priesthood and the sacraments should never be conceived as implying that our individual prayers to God are blocked or inefficacious or worthless. And the study of Scripture is also a great good, so long as we do it under the guidance of the divinely-established shepherds Christ has place in His Church, and do not place our own interpretation of Scripture above that of those to whom Christ gave the authority to provide the authoritative teaching concerning the deposit of faith, and the holy Scriptures.

    By “forensic justification,” House means the nominalist conception of forensic justification, and that, as such, is taught nowhere in Scripture, because God cannot lie. I’ll explain.

    In Catholic doctrine, our justification is not fundamentally an accounting act, but an inner transformation, from not having sanctifying grace and agape within us, to having them within us. Any person having sanctifying grace and agape in his soul is justified; any person not having them is not justified. Sanctifying grace and agape come to us through Christ, i.e. through what He did on the cross, and through His interceding for us right now (Rom 8:34). By His sacrifice, He merited for us sanctifying grace and agape. And we receive these through the sacraments He established, baptism being the first and gateway to the others.

    Let’s take the book of Romans, as an example. In Romans St. Paul speaks of receiving grace through Christ: “through whom we have received grace” (Rom 1:5). He also says that we are justified “as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24) This gift of grace comes to us through Christ’s redemption. Through faith, we have access to this grace (Rom 5:2).

    When we get to Rom 5:15, in the Catholic tradition this is not as an extra nos (nominalistic) imputation. St. Paul says, “much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:15). The gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ is the sanctifying grace and agape that is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) at baptism, as he explains in Romans 6. Through baptism, we are joined to Christ both as a spouse (hence the water that flowed from His side after His death points to the formation of Eve from the first Adam’s side), and as a member of His Body (Rom 12:5). Through baptism our sins are washed away. (Acts 22:16) Through baptism, we are joined to Him (Rom 7:4) united with Him (Rom 6:5), buried with Him and raised with Him. (Rom 6:4) St. Paul explains that the purpose of baptism is so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4) So we are given new life in baptism, and this is what sanctifying grace is, a share [participation] in the life of God. Christ condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled in us (Rom 8:4). But the requirement of the law can be fulfilled in us only if we have agape, because agape is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14). So if the purpose of baptism is that we might walk in newness of life, and we can walk in newness of life only if we have agape, then not only sanctifying grace but also agape must be poured out in our hearts by the Spirit (Rom 5:5) at baptism.

    If righteousness were only imputed extra nos, it wouldn’t make our spirit alive, but St. Paul says, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the [human] spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10) Similarly, if grace is mere divine favor, then what St. Paul says in Rom 6:14 wouldn’t make sense: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” That would make slavery to sin a mere deficiency of knowledge; all we would need, to escape from the mastery of sin, is to know about God’s favor toward us. Only if grace is [also] something in us, animating us and empowering us toward God in loving obedience, does it make sense that under grace sin shall not be master over us.

    So in Rom 5:17, when St. Paul writes, “those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness,” he isn’t talking about an accounting swap, but about the sanctifying grace and agape that were merited for us by the sacrifice of Christ, and are received in baptism. Likewise, in Rom 5:18, it does not mean that just as all of Adam’s descendants were brought under condemnation by his transgression, so by Christ’s obedience everyone is ipso facto justified. He uses the past tense in verse 18, but it is not the case that everyone is already justified, or even that everyone who will be justified is already justified. Rather, in verse 18 he means that by the merit of Christ’s just act of obedience unto death, even death on a cross, justification of life [i.e. justification unto life, by receiving new life] is made available to all men. This is made clearer in verse 19, because in verse 19 he switches to the future tense in speaking of the effect of Christ’s work, in order to clarify what he wrote in verse 18. Through the obedience of the One, the many will be made just — by ‘many’ he means all who will be saved, even those who have not yet been born. Some are yet to be justified, because they are yet to have faith and be baptized.

    The key point is that the “one act of righteousness” (vs. 18) and “obedience of the One” (vs. 19) should not be construed as justifying us by an extra nos imputation, but should be understood as meriting the sanctifying grace and agape we receive in baptism and by which we are truly made righteous, and counted righteous by the God of Truth only because we have truly been made righteous. (See “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”)

    If you want to see what it looks like to try to find the Protestant gospel [of justification by faith alone, by extra nos imputation] in the Church Fathers, see Ligon Duncan’s “Did the Fathers know the Gospel?”. See also “St. Augustine on Law and Grace.” What you will see is that the Reformed gospel is nowhere to be found in the Fathers. So Protestant defenders of justification by extra nos imputation must either appeal to development of doctrine (while denying that development of doctrine is possible for, say, the Marian dogmas), or they must embrace ecclesial deism (i.e. claim that the Church Fathers didn’t know the gospel, and that the gospel wasn’t re-discovered for 1500 years). However, when all the Fathers taught justification by infused grace through baptism, then a sixteenth century conception of forensic justification that denies justification by infusion cannot be a development of doctrine, but can be nothing other than a contradiction of the Apostolic deposit of faith.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  69. Paul, (re: #64)

    In addition to what I said in #68, here are some additional thoughts in reply to H. Wayne House’s article titled “Returning to Rome: Should Evangelicals Abandon the Reformation.”

    In this first section of his article (on page 2), House draws from Ralph MacKenzie to claim that there are four primary reasons for the “Evangelical exodus to Rome.” First, Catholicism is older. Second, evangelicalism lacks tradition. Third, the liturgy has an aesthetic appeal. And fourth, people find security in the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church.

    These four reasons are quite similar to those given by Scot McKnight in a 2002 JETS article titled “From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic.” In that article, McKnight lists the following reasons: (1) a desire for certainty, (2) a desire for history, (3) a desire for unity, and (4) a desire for authority.

    As I argued in “Becoming Catholic: Deconstruction of a Deconstruction,” this list of reasons overlooks the only ultimate and fundamentally right reason to become Catholic, namely, that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded. Yes, Catholicism is older than evangelicalism. Yes evangelicalism lacks Tradition. Yes, there is an aesthetic appeal to Catholic liturgy. Yes there is security in magisterial authority. But those are neither individually nor jointly sufficient reasons for becoming Catholic, for if there were some other Church that was in fact the Church Christ founded, then in spite of those four reasons, it would be the case that no one should become Catholic.

    The determinative, ultimate, and individually sufficient reason for becoming Catholic is that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, and is therefore the Church that He has promised to be with until the end of the age, that He will guide into all truth, over which the gates of hell shall not prevail, and into which He calls all men of all places, languages, and races. If the Catholic Church were not the Church Christ founded, it would be just another denomination, and one could enter or leave for reasons of personal taste, aesthetics, history, security etc. In that case, the Catholic would be no less an ecclesial consumerist than the evangelical. But if the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, then Catholic Magisterial authority is not merely a source of subjective security, but is the divinely established ecclesial authority to which all men should submit as they would to Christ Himself. In that case, remaining in separation from the Catholic Church is not ecclesiologically neutral (as would be entailed by a branch theory of the Church — see “Branches or Schisms?“), but is remaining in a state of schism from Christ’s Church.

    House writes on page 3:

    As noted earlier, one reason for returning to Rome is that Catholicism is older and more closely connected historically to the apostles (i.e., Catholic bishops are believed to have apostolic authority to represent Christ’s teachings accurately because they are believed to be in a direct line of succession from the apostles). One evangelical states that his reading of the fathers of the church was a major reason for his conversion to Romanism because he concluded that Catholicism and the early fathers were doctrinally connected. This is a poor rationale, however, because patristic or early church theology only finds unique agreement with Roman dogma at certain points. When similarities to Catholicism are noted, they are just as likely to be similar to what is found within Protestantism. At other times, the likeness may be superficial, with different meaning in the fathers than is found in the development of the dogma of the Roman Church.

    The Catholic claim is not merely that there is a doctrinal connection between the early Church Fathers and the Catholic Church of the 21st century. Any heretical sect can claim “doctrinal connection” with the Church Fathers, by finding some common ground between itself and the Church Fathers. The Catholic claim, by contrast, is that the Church Fathers were members of the same Catholic Church that has existed for nearly two thousand years. House claims that there is parity between Catholics and Protestants with respect to agreement with the Fathers, but that is simply not true, as Baptist David Cloud readily acknowledges. Cloud, in his “The Church Fathers: A Door to Rome,” writes, “The fact is that the “early Fathers” were mostly heretics!” Such a claim, while honest, raises the following question: At what point does one’s disagreement with the early Church Fathers become evidence against one’s own position, rather than an indication that the early Church Fathers were “mostly heretics”? House’s claim that there is parity between the Catholic Church and Protestantism with respect to agreement with the Fathers, depends on the reader not having read the Church Fathers. Recall his earlier claim on page 2:

    The early post-New Testament church did not fully adhere to apostolic teaching in its doctrinal formulations. The earliest fathers already had begun to deviate from the apostles’ practices and teachings.

    He is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he is taking the ecclesial deism position, and asserting that the earliest Fathers were deviating from the Apostles’ practices and teachings. On the other hand, he is claiming that evangelicalism is just as much in agreement with the Fathers as is the Catholic Church. But he can’t have it both ways.

    Concerning the reason of security, House writes:

    One final reason is that, for Christians who struggle with the fact that Protestantism is quite diverse doctrinally, the fact that the Catholic Church is guided by a single authority provides a sense of security. On further examination, however, one finds that within Roman Catholicism many disagreements exist, and certain doctrines held as dogma by the church of Rome were never held with such certainty by the earliest fathers of the church or by the clear reading of Scripture. Furthermore, within the Roman church the various orders (Marists, Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, Augustinians, etc.), like Protestants, have a wide-ranging diversity of thought and emphasis, though it is to be admitted that Romanism provides for finality in certain doctrines to which all Catholics and orders of the Church must adhere.

    There are disagreements among Catholics. But there they are not of the same sort as the disagreements within Protestantism. Protestantism has no objective way of determining or defining anything as dogma or heresy, and no way of definitively distinguishing the set of doctrines that are essential from those that are not. But the Catholic Magisterium is capable of defining something as dogma or as heresy. And when that happens, then any Catholic who subsequently disagrees with what the Church has authoritatively declared, separates himself from the faith of the Church; he doesn’t simply become an alternative voice in a sea of voices, as within Protestantism. He becomes a heretic. Of course there are many things the Church has not taught or defined, and on these questions Catholics may disagree, and remain in full communion with the Church. And those are the sorts of theological disagreements one can find to some degree between the various religious orders House mentions, even though those religious orders all assent to the whole of Catholic dogma. That sort of disagreement is very different from the disagreements among Protestants, because the disagreements among Protestants do not allow them to remain united with each other in full communion, but are the source of division upon division.

    House continues:

    The Roman Catholic security blanket is thin cover for the Christian seeking certainty in doctrine. True doctrinal security is in the words of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and the apostles of the Greek Scriptures. The Apostle Paul says that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:1617), and local elders of a church are to discharge their responsibilities in view of the nature and purpose of Scripture (2 Tim. 4:1–5). Believers, moreover, are to give diligence to a study of Scripture so as to be approved before God (2 Tim. 2:15). No bishop or pope alleviates our responsibility to become knowledgeable of the Word of God and to enact its guidance in our lives and the lives of our churches.

    Of course Catholics agree that no bishop or pope “alleviates” our responsibility to become knowledgeable of Scripture. But there are two fundamentally different paradigms here, and House is using the Protestant paradigm to critique the Catholic paradigm, and in that respect is begging the question. In the Catholic paradigm, Christ established a Magisterial authority in His Church in order to provide the faithful with a divinely authorized determination of orthodoxy and heresy. We are to interpret Scripture under the guidance of the Church’s teaching and interpretive authority. In the Protestant paradigm, Christ did not establish a Magisterial authority in His Church, but left only Scripture as the norm by which the Church is to be governed. In this paradigm, no one’s interpretation of Scripture has any more authority than does anyone else’s, and therefore to submit to another person’s interpretation is to abrogate one’s own responsibility to “become knowledgeable of the Word of God and to enact its guidance in our lives and the lives of our churches.” By claiming that we must not “alleviate” such a responsibility, House is presupposing that Christ did not establish a Magisterial authority to which all the faithful ought to submit. (Regarding the notion that the Protestant paradigm entails that each person is his own ultimate interpretive authority, see Keith Mathison’s objection to “solo scriptura,” as explained here.)

    House seems to think that “true doctrinal security” comes from trusting one’s own interpretation of Scripture. But such an epistemic condition is anything but secure, because different persons interpret Scripture in so many different ways, and it would be foolish to pretend either that everyone else interprets Scripture exactly as one does, or that anyone who disagrees with one’s own interpretation is wrong. The very fact of such widespread interpretive diversity and resulting division indicates that the interpretation of Scripture even regarding essentials is neither simple nor self-evident. Without a divinely established interpretive authority, we are left with the hermeneutical chaos evident throughout the history of Protestantism. And this undermines the alleged security of leaning on one’s own understanding in the interpretation of Scripture.

    House’s claim that “The Roman Catholic security blanket is thin cover for the Christian seeking certainty in doctrine” is entirely question-begging. If the Catholic Church is not the Church Christ founded, then it can provide no security at all regarding the truth of its teaching. But if the Catholic Magisterium does truly have authority from Christ, and is being guided by the Holy Spirit, then we can have utmost confidence in its doctrinal definitions, infinitely more than the confidence we have in the power of our own human reason (or subjective hunch of what could be the Holy Spirit burning in our bosom) to determine the correct interpretation of Scripture. In that case, trusting in the Church is a way of exercising faith in Christ. And refusing to trust the Church, is a way of refusing to trust Christ. This is a continuation of the truth of our relation to the Apostolic authority that has been handed down for almost two thousand years in the Magisterium of the Church, as Jesus taught to the Apostles: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  70. Hi Bryan,

    I very much appreciate you not leaving these matters on “authority” hanging, as well your providing this more detailed response. I am humbled by your excellent and always thorough responses. Towards the end of your last post you stated what is undeniable for those who are not a part of the CC:

    “(Cross) Without a divinely established interpretive authority, we are left with the hermeneutical chaos evident throughout the history of Protestantism. And this undermines the alleged security of leaning on one’s own understanding in the interpretation of Scripture.

    House’s claim that “The Roman Catholic security blanket is thin cover for the Christian seeking certainty in doctrine” is entirely question-begging. If the Catholic Church is not the Church Christ founded, then it can provide no security at all regarding the truth of its teaching. But if the Catholic Magisterium does truly have authority from Christ, and is being guided by the Holy Spirit, then we can have utmost confidence in its doctrinal definitions, infinitely more than the confidence we have in the power of our own human reason (or subjective hunch of what could be the Holy Spirit burning in our bosom) to determine the correct interpretation of Scripture. In that case, trusting in the Church is a way of exercising faith in Christ. And refusing to trust the Church, is a way of refusing to trust Christ. This is a continuation of the truth of our relation to the Apostolic authority that has been handed down for almost two thousand years in the Magisterium of the Church, as Jesus taught to the Apostles: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16) ”

    I guess what keeps me from fully committing to the authority of the CC is its rather soiled history as it begs the very kinds of questions you accuse House of doing. I don’t want to be part of that, but I also don’t want to be outside what is arguably the “right” house to be in either! Hence, the dilemma for so many believers.

    You, and C2C are helping in showing the better alternative, despite these realities…and I just have to keep studying these matters and not getting sidetracked. I would like to be able to speak with you directly or via personal email. If you can arrange that, through your webmaster, and contact me that would be much appreciated.

    His grace and peace to you,
    Paul

  71. Paul,

    We would need to consider together the “rather soiled history” to which you are referring, and how that relates to the Church’s teaching authority. We can do that here, or if you wish to write me privately, use the “Contact” tab at the top of this page, and then scroll down to my name.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  72. […] Mary as Co-Redemptrix (Bryan Cross) […]

  73. In the article is states, “To procure our salvation, Mary gave up to God her motherly rights over her Son, immolating her Son by her consent to God’s plan. Because she was without original sin, death had no right over her or her Son. But she consented freely to God, and in that respect, by her participation such that Christ could be handed over to death, “she has redeemed the human race.”

    As I’ve studied scripture, I’ve read to procure our salvation it is God the Father who gave up His only begotten Son for our salvation, and this was the greater sacrifice. I do understand that Mary was in the unique position of giving birth to Christ and her great faith is honorable. The bible does use the term New Adam but never uses the term New Eve. Also no where in scripture does it indicate she was sinless. This is to make her equal to Christ as only He was sinless. It took a sinless person to die for our sins. If Mary was sinless, then she could’ve done it. Scripture says ALL fall short of the glory of God, thus all sin. It didn’t say, except Jesus AND Mary.
    I guess Anabaptists say it could have been any woman in the sense that sin is passed down from the man’s seed (sin entered in through one man) and since all people, EXCEPT Christ, has a mother AND father, we all inherit that natural tendency to sin. That is why Christ had to be conceived without a human father. This does not mean Mary herself was sinless. Although her sacrifice is great and she is due honor and respect for this, I guess non-Catholics see it as a problem to take it further than that – to the extreme that an actual doctrine is created around her. Also God has corrected me on praying to anyone other than Him as the scripture is clear in Ecclesiastes 9 that the dead know nothing. It is therefore impossible to speak to the them, nor can they hear us, let alone mediate. Yes, scripture says Christ is the mediator but when I was a new Christian, coming from such a confusing background, I had to learn to pray to the Father, through Christ, and no one else. Since then, I’ve had my prayers answered.

    In comment #46 it says, “Yes Paul, the Holy Spirit is interested in all believers. But, as you know, he is not interested in all churches. His providential hand is only on the Church he established on his Apostles and by the seat of St. Peter. The winds and waves of time have swept away or are sweeping away all others because they are not built upon the Rock. If you reject it, you reject Him.”

    I may be misunderstanding, but it sounds like it’s saying if you’re not Catholic, you can’t be saved, know Christ, go to heaven, etc. If you reject Catholicism (to many, just a denomination of Christianity) you reject Christ Himself, which for many would be blasphemy. I know for a fact that is not true as I know many saved persons, including myself, who are not Catholic.

    Briefly, I was raised in a Baptist family, went to Catholic school from K through 12, looked at Mormonism briefly and became a Jehovah’s Witness for 5 years. I found out the hard way that the “power” was in none of that. Not until I went to a non-denominational church, because I prayed earnestly where to go and that God would lead me, that I began to understand what true relationship with God is. It’s been 15 years and God has led me nowhere else. He speaks to me regularly (as His sheep will hear His voice), I’ve had answered prayers, communion and fellowship with Him like never before and even had healings, even though I didn’t believe in such things. The relationship I have now is so much more richer than anything I had prior. I know for a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I know God and am saved, as many in my church are. No church is perfect and for a person to claim only theirs is the way really reminds of the mistake I made with joining JW’s (jehovah’s witnesses). It turns out they are very cult-like and their main tenet is that they only have the truth and no one else. They made us scared to even enter a church as they indoctrinate us to believe churches are of Satan.

    Of course, most religions believe they have the true faith and no one else but the big thing with JWs is the mentality. They had us so wrapped up in their authority (what they call the Governing Body) that everything we do and believe must be handed down from this “authority.” Nothing else was true, whether it was strictly biblical or not. They were “infallible”, even though the teachings changed over many years as their organization evolved. Of course, that was dead wrong and that’s the mentality I see a lot of.

    The gospel, growing and maturing in Christ, bearing fruit, factual doctrine, etc. are not the focus but more, “this is the only true church and no one else has it” mentality seems to be paramount and I think this is where we can stray. Especially since it’s very true you can be saved without being Catholic and if you don’t believe that, I would simply ask you to prayerfully go to God for an answer, not what you historically believe or have been taught, but to Him directly. This is how I’ve learned some of the most critical things inherent to my faith. Christ died for us to be able to have relationship/communion with God and receive answers through his Holy Spirit. All Christians have this through Christ, not just priests or the papacy. I’ve learned to take advantage of it to my great growth and gain.

    It would seem that many people who went from Protestant to Catholic seem to do it because it’s older, not because they consulted God (which I did as I didn’t want to make such a serious mistake again like with JW’s), or because it is theologically sound and correct in every way. I guess the idea that Catholics believe their church is the one founded by Peter (which I guess somehow has to be a requirement or else you can’t get saved/is the most important thing ever, even more important than correct doctrine?), seems to intimate the belief that it cannot stray, decay, degrade or apostasize as mentioned in 2 Thess. 2 and that is the problem many see. I know for a fact I’m saved but am not Catholic. So that automatically makes me discount anything else a Catholic would say if they said to me “I can only be saved through Catholicism” since I know that’s not true, and using the bible alone, they cannot show that to me.

    But even beyond this is my own personal experience with God, which does line up with scripture. Upon questioning God about the behavior of many so-called Christians, which makes us look bad and makes people want to throw Christ out with the Christians, I got a response from Him in a dream which I had not expected and had taught me 2 things which I had not known. First off, I’ve been having these dreams, and rarely visions, for over 6 years now. Yes, one has to differentiate between ones from God (Job 33:15-16), the enemy and the ones you have because you had to much pizza the night before. As the bible says, interpretation is from God only but sometimes He is very direct and clear in these dreams.

    These dreams have alerted me to health problems, saved myself and family through warnings and so much more with an amazing (and sometimes scary) accuracy. The first vision I had is one when I was 7-years-old and saved my life. I would’ve been kidnapped and killed by a pedophile in our neighborhood had it not been for this vision. I didn’t tell anyone, even my parents, for 20 years as I didn’t think people would believe me. I only share this so that you understand I am not “crazy,” don’t take drugs, hallucinate and am quite sane. There is no way I could’ve known these many things without God speaking to me. God has often spoke through my pastor as well, to exhort, encourage and comfort (not add to scripture), also with an astonishing and shocking accuracy. Scripture says you can tell a false prophet simply by waiting to see if what they said comes to pass (which also is good common sense).

    Nevertheless, what I want to share is what the dream conveyed to me. Mostly it was about evangelism and bringing people to Christ but the 2 things I won’t ever forget is that God called many denominations “decayed Christianity” and among them listed was Catholicism. I’ll be honest, what I learned here is that Catholics were INDEED really Christians. I believed Catholics were not Christians after the so many falsehoods, particularly pertaining to salvation, I was taught in Catholic school. When I read the bible for myself, I realized most of what I was taught was false. So I assumed they weren’t Christian. God corrected me. I’m not ashamed to say this because all Christians should be open to God correcting their beliefs. The second thing I learned is that He listed Pentecostal (didn’t even know what that was) as being “closest” to His “heart.” Actual words.

    So then I had to find out what a Pentecostal was. Of course, I don’t believe all Pentecostal churches are perfect and I personally attend a non-denominational church, as mentioned. After reading it, I thought to myself, “Well God, many consider these people to be nuts.” Again, what I had thought to be true was questioned. I, of all people, should know not to lean on my own judgment. I guess all that I’m saying is that Christians need to remain open and not be close-minded and prideful that “their way” is the “only way”, especially when dealing with fallible humans. Scripture says ALL fall short of the glory of God, meaning ALL makes mistakes and the things of God are foolishness to the carnal mind and must be spiritually discerned (not with an intellectual mind only) – 2 Cor. 2:14. Allow God Himself to guide you. Anything He says will not be contrary to scripture, although it may be contrary to our historical belief system.

    I’m reminded of James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” as well as Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – which you can imagine is one of my favorite scriptures by now. I’ve learned the hard way not to be close-minded to anything but my own brand of Christanity, especially when the most important thing (the gospel and the salvation of many) is at stake.

    Be blessed.

    I’m sorry but I won’t be responding to any more comments as I won’t be visiting this site again. I was only trying to figure out what Calvinism was and your site came up in the search.

  74. Carrie, (re: #73)

    Welcome to Called To Communion. You say a great many things here, and I cannot give a full response to them all. But I would like to address some of your comments. You wrote:

    As I’ve studied scripture, I’ve read to procure our salvation it is God the Father who gave up His only begotten Son for our salvation,

    True, but Jesus is also Mary’s Son. So the fact that God the Father gave over His Son for our salvation is fully compatible with it also being the case that Mary gave up her Son to God, for our salvation. The two truths are not mutually exclusive.

    I do understand that Mary was in the unique position of giving birth to Christ and her great faith is honorable. The bible does use the term New Adam but never uses the term New Eve.

    True. But, from the very beginning of the Church, the Apostolic deposit was not believed to be limited to what was explicitly written in Scripture. That Apostolic Tradition was handed down along with the sacred texts. That’s why the truth of Mary being the New Eve does not depend on Scripture making that statement explicitly. Before we set out to resolve disagreements concerning doctrines such as whether Mary is the New Eve, we must resolve our disagreements concerning how such theological disagreements are to be resolved; otherwise, we are simply talking past each other, each presupposing our own paradigm in criticism of the other’s paradigm.

    Also no where in scripture does it indicate she was sinless. This is to make her equal to Christ as only He was sinless.

    Adam and Eve were sinless, before they fell. But they were not “equal to Christ,” because there are mere humans, whereas Christ is the Son of God. For the same reason, Mary’s sinlessness does not make her “equal to Christ,” because she is a mere creature, and He is God. Regarding her sinlessness, this follows from her being full of grace (Luke 1:28), in fulfillment of the divine prophecy that God would put enmity between Satan and “the woman” (Gen 3:15). St. Thomas quotes St. Jerome, writing:

    The angel said to her: “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28); which words Jerome expounds as follows, in a sermon on the Assumption (cf. Ep. ad Paul. et Eustoch.): “Full indeed of grace: for to others it is given in portions; whereas on Mary the fulness of grace was showered all at once.”

    I answer that, In every genus, the nearer a thing is to the principle, the greater the part which it has in the effect of that principle, whence Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. iv) that angels, being nearer to God, have a greater share than men, in the effects of the Divine goodness. Now Christ is the principle of grace, authoritatively as to His Godhead, instrumentally as to His humanity: whence (John 1:17) it is written: “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” But the Blessed Virgin Mary was nearest to Christ in His humanity: because He received His human nature from her. Therefore it was due to her to receive a greater fulness of grace than others. (Summa Theologica III Q.27 a.5)

    This great grace that she received, by which she was full of grace, is perfect sanctification, which even all the saints in heaven received upon their death. See “Mary’s Immaculate Conception.”

    It took a sinless person to die for our sins. If Mary was sinless, then she could’ve done it.

    No, the sinlessness of a mere creature would not have been enough. St. Thomas explains:

    Satisfaction may be said to be sufficient in two ways–first, perfectly, inasmuch as it is condign, being adequate to make good the fault committed, and in this way the satisfaction of a mere man cannot be sufficient for sin, both because the whole of human nature has been corrupted by sin, whereas the goodness of any person or persons could not be made up adequately for the harm done to the whole of the nature; and also because a sin committed against God has a kind of infinity from the infinity of the Divine majesty, because the greater the person we offend, the more grievous the offense. Hence for condign satisfaction it was necessary that the act of the one satisfying should have an infinite efficiency, as being of God and man. Secondly, man’s satisfaction may be termed sufficient, imperfectly–i.e. in the acceptation of him who is content with it, even though it is not condign, and in this way the satisfaction of a mere man is sufficient. And forasmuch as every imperfect presupposes some perfect thing, by which it is sustained, hence it is that satisfaction of every mere man has its efficiency from the satisfaction of Christ. (Summa Theologica III Q.1 a.2)

    No mere man, says St. Thomas, could have made condign satisfaction for sin (i.e. an offering truly outweighing in its goodness the demerit of sin). That is because if a mere man were to offer satisfaction, it would not satisfy for the sins of the whole human race, and the harm done to the whole of human nature. The just penalty for sin against God (i.e. mortal sin) is an infinite penalty, because it is an offense against He who is infinite majesty. So the satisfaction had to have an infinite value, and the satisfaction offered by a mere man, or a group of mere men, would have only a finite value. To make a sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, the one making such a satisfaction must therefore be divine.

    Similarly, because Jesus is both God and man, He is the Mediator of God and men. A mere man could not be a proper mediator, as St. Thomas explains:

    We may consider two things in a mediator: first, that he is a mean; secondly, that he unites others. Now it is of the nature of a mean to be distant from each extreme: while it unites by communicating to one that which belongs to the other. Now neither of these can be applied to Christ as God, but only as man. For, as God, He does not differ from the Father and the Holy Ghost in nature and power of dominion: nor have the Father and the Holy Ghost anything that the Son has not, so that He be able to communicate to others something belonging to the Father or the Holy Ghost, as though it were belonging to others than Himself. But both can be applied to Him as man. Because, as man, He is distant both from God, by nature, and from man by dignity of both grace and glory. Again, it belongs to Him, as man, to unite men to God, by communicating to men both precepts and gifts, and by offering satisfaction and prayers to God for men. And therefore He is most truly called Mediator, as man. (Summa Theologica III Q.26 a.2)

    A mediator is ‘distant’ from each extreme, and unites both by communicating to one what belongs to the other. Christ does this through His incarnation, because each of His two natures is distant from the other, and yet they are united in His Person through His incarnation, such that in Him God is man, and man is God. A mere man could not do that. We are united to God through this hypostatic union, through our union with the Body of Christ — both in the Eucharist and in the Church, which is His Mystical Body. But if there were no hypostatic union, then we could not be united to God through it. So this too is another reason why no mere man could unite us to God.

    You wrote:

    Scripture says ALL fall short of the glory of God, thus all sin. It didn’t say, except Jesus AND Mary.

    It doesn’t say “except Jesus” either. You bring that qualification to your interpretation of the verse, from other revelation. And likewise, from other revelation the Catholic Church understands the ‘all’ as not intending to include Mary.

    Also God has corrected me on praying to anyone other than Him as the scripture is clear in Ecclesiastes 9 that the dead know nothing. It is therefore impossible to speak to the them, nor can they hear us, let alone mediate.

    The passage does not mean that the dead lose all knowledge; it refers to those either in hell or in Abraham’s bosom, and their not knowing what is occurring on the earth. After the coming of Christ, and the opening of heaven (and Christ leading those in Abraham’s bosom into heaven — see “The Harrowing of Hell.”) the saints in heaven see God, and through the beatific vision of God, they see all that pertains to themselves, including the prayers of those who ask for their intercession. This is the meaning of the “communion of the saints,” that through our union with Christ, who is The Resurrection and the Life, and over whom death has no power, we retain communion even with the saints who now enjoy perfect communion with God.

    I may be misunderstanding, but it sounds like it’s saying if you’re not Catholic, you can’t be saved, know Christ, go to heaven, etc.

    No, that’s not what the Catholic Church believes or teaches. But Christ did found a Church, and the gates of hell will never prevail against it. And that Church is the Catholic Church. A person who knows that this is the Church Christ founded as necessary for salvation, and yet who refuses to enter it, cannot be saved. But this does not mean that those who do not know this are necessarily lost. See Tom Brown’s post titled “VanDrunen on Catholic Inclusivity and Change.”

    No church is perfect and for a person to claim only theirs is the way really reminds of the mistake I made with joining JW’s (jehovah’s witnesses).

    Of course the Catholic claim will remind you of the JW claim, but that doesn’t mean that the Catholic claim must therefore be untrue. The JW organization began in the nineteenth century. The Catholic Church began in AD 33. From the fact that there are imitations it does not follow that no presently existing Church is the Church Christ founded.

    This is how I’ve learned some of the most critical things inherent to my faith. Christ died for us to be able to have relationship/communion with God and receive answers through his Holy Spirit. All Christians have this through Christ, not just priests or the papacy. I’ve learned to take advantage of it to my great growth and gain.

    This is true. But the fact that so many Christians attempting to follow the Holy Spirit come to conclusions and interpretations quite different from yours shows that this is not a reliable method for determining doctrine. This is the same method the Mormons use, namely, an appeal to an internal light, or “burning in the bosom.” The same idea was practiced by the Montanist sect at the end of the second century. Christ set up His Church to be led and guided by the leaders whom He appointed (as He led and guided the people of Israel in the Old Testament through prophets, priests, and kings), not only through a bosom-burning in each person’s heart.

    It would seem that many people who went from Protestant to Catholic seem to do it because it’s older, not because they consulted God

    That’s not a charitable assumption on your part, nor is it true. I haven’t met a person who became Catholic without asking God to help him find the truth.

    I guess the idea that Catholics believe their church is the one founded by Peter … seems to intimate the belief that it cannot stray, decay, degrade or apostasize as mentioned in 2 Thess. 2 and that is the problem many see.

    Particular Churches (e.g. the Church at Antioch, the Church at Ephesus, etc.,) can decay and apostatize, but the gates of hell will never prevail over the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church Christ founded, that is, the Catholic Church consisting of all the bishops in communion with the successor of the Apostle Peter, and all the persons under their care.

    As for your dream, we must “test the spirits,” which does not just mean testing them against our own interpretation of Scripture, but includes subordinating them to the teaching of the Church Christ founded. On that basis, the source of your dream was not God. Remember, the deceiver disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  75. I agree that the Virgin Mary is the “Second Eve,” the “Theotokos” (as affirmed in the Council of Chalcedon) and the many other things that the Scriptures and the best of the Church Fathers described her as. That said, one of my greatest concerns and something I wish that many more people would stand up against is the borderline/outright idolatrous practices towards the Virgin Mary which are often tolerated or even approved of by much of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m afraid distinctions between latria and hyperdulia can’t bail prayers like the following out of the prima facie adoration/worship category. There is certainly no time in Scripture where the honor given to a creature is virtually or completely indistinguishable from the honor given to God Almighty (prayers like this certainly do not honor the Virgin Mary—and they give to a creature (blessed as she is) what is due to God alone). .

    OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
    O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.
    O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name: let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.
    Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/perpet3.htm#ixzz1zEKHzurz

    MEMORARE
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
    Amen.
    Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/Memorare.htm#ixzz1zEPpRVJW\

    I’m sure no one would think that the Apostles were talking like this to the Virgin Mary while she was still alive—and certainly they give no indication in any of their New Testament writings that they spoke like this to the Virgin Mary after she had gone to glory.

    God Bless,
    WA Scott

    p.s. Also, based on an honest reading of Scripture I have to affirm with great Catholic Fathers of the Church such as St. Basil the Great, St. Chrysostom, and St.Cyril of Alexandria that Christ alone was without sin.

    p.p.s. Of course, I would also long to hear a condemnation of such things as the blasphemous reworking of the Book of Psalms in St. Bonaventure’s Psalter to the Virgin Mary (although, sadly, I won’t be surprised if I hear it defended rather than soundly condemned)
    http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/ap/bona/PSALTER.htm

    Just one Example: The actual words of Sacred Scripture (Psalm 119:161-171–Douay-Rheims Version):
    Ps 119:161 Princes have persecuted me without cause: and my heart hath been in awe of thy words.
    162 I will rejoice at thy words, as one that hath found great spoil.
    163 I have hated and abhorred iniquity; but I have loved thy law.
    164 Seven times a day I have given praise to thee, for the judgments of thy justice.
    165 Much peace have they that love thy law, and to them there is no stumbling. block.
    166 I looked for thy salvation, O Lord: and I loved thy commandments.
    167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies and hath loved them exceedingly.
    168 I have kept thy commandments and thy testimonies: because all my ways are in thy sight.
    169 Let my supplication, O Lord, come near in thy sight: give me understanding according to thy word.
    170 Let my request come in before thee; deliver thou me according to thy word.
    171 My lips shall utter a hymn, when thou shalt teach me thy justifications.

    St. Bonaventure’s Reworking of the Psalm (Psalm 118J):
    Princes have persecuted me without cause: and the wicked spirit fears the invocation of thy name.
    There is much peace to them that keep thy name, O Mother of God: and to them there is no stumbling-block.
    At the seven hours I have sung praises to thee, O Lady: according to thy word give me understanding.
    Let my prayer come into thy sight, that I may not forsake thee, O Lady, all the days of my life[FN9]: for thy ways are mercy and truth.
    I will long forever to praise thee, O Lady: when thou shalt have taught me thy justifications.
    Glory be to the Father, etc

  76. William,

    I am going to ask you to read 1st Kings 19 and 20. If you will be so good, continue on through both books of Kings and when you find a place where the next king is listed, if his mother is listed, underline that item. I believe you’ll find more than two dozen (I think 27 but don’t want to count them now) references to the king and his mother.

    Of import, some translations of the scripture find Solomon providing his mother a chair, others a throne.

    The title given to the mother of the king of the Jews is Gebirah. A look up of the meaning of this title is instructive.

    We know that the wise men came seeking the new king of the Jews. We know who His mother is.

    Applying the function of the Gebirah to Mary, leads to a fascinating exchange in John 2. Mary tells her Son that the young married couple has no wine. The everlasting King of the Jews responds to His mother’s statement by displaying the real meaning of Ex 20:21. He honors (glorifies) His mother by fulfilling her request, to the very real benefit of the newly married.

    When Catholics approach Mary, they approach her for very much the same reason that children often go through their mother to make a request. Per John 2, the perfect Son who is the King listens to His mother. She is free to approach Him with the concerns she has for His subjects.

    Luke 16:31 notes that “they will not be convinced even if someone is raised from the dead.” That did not stop our Lord from doing exactly that. One might read the histories of Fatima, Lourdes and Guadalupe for some insight. He sent His mother to call us or call us back to Him. The woman who said “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2) came to us to tell us “do whatever He tells you.”

    If you see her as the Queen who serves her Son by noting the needs of His people and has the responsibility for training them, it may make take much of the sting out of your perception of how Mary is being addressed.

    Cordially,

    dt

  77. Hello Donald Todd, and thank you for your response. I’m entirely familiar with this argument. I’m just saddened that it seems not a single Roman Catholic is willing to admit the problem even with St. Bonaventure’s alteration of the Book of Psalms. Will you also defend the following from the Fatima website?

    “The Franciscan Chronicles relate that a certain Brother Leo saw in a vision two ladders, the one red, the other white. On the upper end of the red ladder stood Jesus and on the other stood His holy Mother. The Brother saw that some tried to climb the red ladder; but scarcely had they mounted some rungs when they fell back, they tried again but with no better success. Then they were advised to try the white ladder and to their surprise they succeeded, for the Blessed Virgin stretched out Her hand and with Her aid they reached Heaven.44

    NOTE: This apparition is by no means incredible; nor is it right to say that it makes the power of Mary superior to that of Christ. The symbolic significance of the vision must be borne in mind. The idea has been expressed repeatedly in the words of St. Bernard, and more recently by Popes Leo XIII and Benedict XV: “As we have no access to the Father except through the Son, so no one can come to the Son except by the Mother. As the Son is all-powerful by nature, the Mother is all-powerful in so far that by the merciful disposition of God She is our mediatrix of graces with Christ. Therefore says Eadmer: “Frequently our petitions are heeded sooner when we address ourselves to Mary the Queen of Mercy and Compassion than when we go directly to Jesus Who as King of Justice is our Judge.”45
    http://www.fatimacrusader.com/cr61/cr61pg20.asp

  78. Hi William Scott,

    I must say what you probably already know. That “public revelation “ ended with the death of the last Apostle. That all “private revelation” such as Fatima, Lourdes etc. are not required to be believed by the Catholic Church. I would also say that in certain cases Pius people can sometimes get carried away with themselves when it comes to Marian devotions. I have been a life long Catholic and have heard the quotes that you have given from time to time. I am sure that to a Protestant these quotes are very grating to their ears but to a Catholic who knows about the veneration of Mary there is no thought of Mary being above Jesus. Jesus is God, Mary is fully human. That Mary can pray for us is a given. That Mary has saved us is not.

    Blessings
    NHU

  79. Thank you Nelson. I agree that these are private revelations and therefore not authoritative. I also agree that none of the people who wrote or approved of the quotes I just gave would say that the Virgin Mary is anything but human and never to receive latria. The problem is that the honor being given to her in these quotes (and in many other Roman Catholic prayers and commentaries) is prima facie indistinguishable from the infinitely greater honor that is to be given to the Triune God (I mean–she’s even a better (Co-)Mediator than Christ Himself, it’s a surer way to Salvation to go directly to Mary than to Jesus, and her name can be freely inserted in place of Almighty God’s Name in the Book of Psalms). In some ways–such attributions to the Virgin are even more blasphemous in light of the fact that she’s acknowledged to be merely human.

    I’m familiar with the devout titles given to the Virgin by the Church Fathers. Statements like those I have quoted, however, are far beyond grating. How can there be no strong public outcry and condemnation from the Church for statements like these? The heresy of the Christian Judiazers condemned by St. Paul pale in comparison to these statements.

    In Christ,
    WA Scott

  80. William,

    Defend those statements? I actually believe them. Mary is not sent to keep us from heaven. She brought us her Son Who redeemed us. She is not a hindrance, she is a wondrous help. She has access not only to her Son, but to her Father and, if I understood Luke correctly, she traveled with the Holy Spirit Whose presence caused Elizabeth to recognize Mary’s wonder in the scope of history.

    When I was an evangelical, the common phrase was that “any woman would do” in reference to Jesus’ mother. When one believes the scripture without regard to one’s denominational position, this particular woman is prophesied in Genesis, in 1st and 2d Kings, in Isaiah, and displayed in the Gospels and in early Acts. Even Paul recognizes her noting that Jesus was “born of a woman.”

    Any woman would do is a lie, a flat lie.

    You display some familiarity with the early Church Fathers. Good. They aided the Church in coming to Its decisions about Jesus’ divine humanity at a time when both His divinity and His humanity were being questioned. Mary has a part in that.

    Could the woman who was trusted to mother the Second Person of God and to be the queen of her Son’s Kingdom be trusted with more? More responsibility? More authority? I believe the answers are yes. The woman who said Yes to God is still saying Yes to God every time He asks her. She is His creature who offers herself to Him willingly and unremittingly.

    Does Her Son is still listen to her when she brings the needs of His people to Him. I believe that to be true. If our Lord’s Kingship is eternal, then I believe the Gebirah is not just a temporal thing, it is eternal as well.

    Does Jesus act directly? Scripture indicated that He did. Did He act in response to His mother? Yes again. Is He limited to working through His mother? Nope.

    We are told we’ll be judging angels. Mary has a much higher calling and it gives me joy to recognize that fact.

    You have a questions about Mary. You already have the scriptural clues. You have the title Gebirah. Look them up and then ask her Son. Tell Jesus that He must make it plain to you because it is very important, then when He does tell you, you must act on it.

    Son, behold your mother. Mother, behold your son. I am now one of Mary’s sons.

    Cordially,

    dt

  81. Hi William Scott

    In your# 79. Thank you for answering me. Do you think that might be a little bit of “hyperbole” in your last questions? Yes some have used the Virgin Mother in inappropriate ways I will grant you that. Some of the ancient prayers of the Church can reflect a great ardour for our mother there is no doubt. But,, and I say again.. But, She is our mother. If we are brothers in Christ we have the same mother. All Christians belong to the family of God. All should honour their mother even as God has honoured His mother. As a Christian we cannot give her more honour than God Himself has.

    Mary is human not God. But she is honoured above all other humans born, or to be born. Even so we should not equate her with God . There are many that feel the prayers of the mother will be answered by her Son. I am sure that has happened more times than not. She is on a pedestal that God Himself has placed her on.

    As far as co-redemtrix and co-mediator is concerned . It only means co-operating in redemption and co-operating in mediation. Which is no more than the Church says of all of us. We co-operate in redemption every time we spread the word about Christ our saviour. We co-operate in mediation every time we pray for a brother Christian. Would you say that Mary is incapable of less?

    Mary is a part of salvation history Like Adam and Eve, the new Adam and Eve fit together. She did co-operate in redeeming us. She is our heavenly mediator. Without Mary Jesus would not have been born. Without Jesus Mary ( et al) would not have been saved. It does require some pondering.

    Blessings
    NHU

  82. William,

    You say that you are “afraid” that the distinction between latria and hyperdulia cannot “bail out” prayers to Mary. But, in fact, the honor we give to a creature is essentially distinct from the adoration we give to God, even if in certain prayers, you don’t see the difference. Because *you* don’t see the difference, you assume that they are the same, and that therefore the honor we give the saints is idolatry. But that line of reasoning is based on your [false] assumption that we are giving to creatures what God alone is due, when in fact we are giving to creatures only what creatures (and especially saints) are truly due, and to God what God is due from man, through Jesus Christ. So your line of criticism begs the question, by presupposing that there is no distinction between latria and hyperdulia. But in the Catholic paradigm, there is such a distinction.

    None of the lines of St. Bonaventure’s Marian psalter equate Mary with Jesus, or give to Mary what is due only to God. If you disagree, then you need to point to the particular line in question, and explain why you think it gives to Mary what is due to God alone.

    You write:

    The problem is that the honor being given to her in these quotes (and in many other Roman Catholic prayers and commentaries) is prima facie indistinguishable from the infinitely greater honor that is to be given to the Triune God

    You assert that this is a problem, but do not explain why it is a problem. Why exactly, is it a problem if honor rightly given to a creature is in certain cases prima facie (from the point of view of an an outsider) indistinguishable from the infinitely greater honor given to God?

    (I mean–she’s even a better (Co-)Mediator than Christ Himself, it’s a surer way to Salvation to go directly to Mary than to Jesus,

    That’s not what it means. It means that those who embrace Jesus through Mary, embrace Him more truly than those who attempt to embrace Jesus-while-spurning-His-mother. It is an extension of the principle underlying the importance of confessing Mary as Theotokos, against the Nestorians.

    and her name can be freely inserted in place of Almighty God’s Name in the Book of Psalms).

    Not freely; only in ways that do not give latria to her.

    I’m familiar with the devout titles given to the Virgin by the Church Fathers. Statements like those I have quoted, however, are far beyond grating. How can there be no strong public outcry and condemnation from the Church for statements like these?

    Because you are misunderstanding them, and inferring from them what does not follow from them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  83. I believe that the Virgin Mary is the New Eve, our Mother in Christ and the Mother of the Church, the Mother of God, that she has been given an exalted status above all other humans, that the belief among some evangelicals that “any woman would do” is false, etc.

    That said, although I’m not really surprised I am saddened and amazed that anyone would defend let alone agree with the clear insertion of Mary’s name in the place of God’s Name in the Psalter or the assertions quoted on the Fatima website.

    I agree that it’s a great privilege to be able to be a son of Mary in Christ–but I’m so thankful the Apostles were straight forward and didn’t muddy the waters with statements that we need to go through Jesus’ Mother in order to get to Jesus in order to get to the Father. They say simply and unambiguously that we need to go through Jesus and Him alone to get to the Father.

    In Christ,
    WA Scott

  84. Gentlemen, my wife and I will be out praying in front of the one local abortion clinics this Sunday morning (it should be a heavy abortion day–and sadly (with a city chock full of Christians) except for our presence there is usually no one praying at this busy abortion mill). Please be praying for God’s blessing on the endeavor and that he would save lives from this physical holocaust and save souls from the even greater spiritual holocaust raging in our nation (by bringing these women and the abortion doctors and staff to a saving knowledge of our Lord).

    In Christ,
    WA Scott

  85. Would it be correct to say, what seems to me to be the case, that the difference between latreia and hyperdoulia is one of kind, not merely of degree? So that the highest degree of hyperdoulia offered to Mary cannot cause it to infringe on the latreia offered to God? The gap between the two is infinite. Start with any number, however large, and double it, and double that again. You can keep on going that way forever, but will never be any nearer to infinity.

    Don’t know if this makes sense; it helped me in becoming a Catholic.

    There are differences in style, to be sure. Newman found the flowery Italianate prayers not comfortable to his English ears – but he knew the difference. The difference is in the intention, is it not?

    jj

  86. Hi JJ.

    I think your explanation is quite correct. I would just add this from Williams statement that we all must go through Mary to get to Christ and to the Farther. This is not the case. The Church has never taught that. But the Church has taught that prayer from a righteous person can avail a lot. Mary is the *most* righteous person in heaven next to her Son.(The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16)

    Therefore we pray to Mary that we might be blessed.

    Blessings
    NHU

  87. Sorry, I remembered that I hadn’t provided proper attribution to the comparison between the actual Book of Psalms and the Marian Psalter.

    It came from the following link (note I can’t vouch for anything else on this link–I came across it in a google search and thought it was dead-on for this particular issue):
    turretinfan.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/mariolatry-exemplified/

    As for the distinction between latria and hyperdulia–I am fully aware of it. The problem is that it can be easily used (and is used) to justify virtually any prayer or action as long as the Virgin Mary is not called “God” and as long as the honor given her is not called “latria” (seriously, is there any action that is forbidden as long as it doesn’t self-classify itself as latria? If a parodying of the Psalms is ok where Mary’s name is inserted in the place of Y-W-H what isn’t ok?).

    Another example from the Marian Psalter :
    Psalm 148 (Douay Rheims)
    [1] Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places. [2] Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. [3] Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light. [4] Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens [5] Praise the name of the Lord.

    PSALM 148 (Delete Y-W-H insert Mary)
    Let us praise Our Lady in the heavens: glorify her in the highest. Praise her, all ye men and beasts: birds of the air, and fishes of the sea. Praise her, sun and moon: stars, and the orbs of the planets. Praise her, Cherubim and Seraphim: thrones and dominations and powers. Praise her, all ye legions of angels: praise her all order of heavenly dwellers. Glory be to the Father, etc.
    http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/ap/bona/PSALTER2.htm

    I have to agree with the statements from the first link I provided in this post:
    I. High Level Comparison
    Here are a few things to note: the psalter numbers the “psalms” 1-150, including multiple parts for the number corresponding to Psalm 119, as well as additional “canticles” designed to imitate various extra-psalter songs in Scripture. Not content with parodying (that’s not really the right word, is it) Scripture, the “psalter” even comes up with a Marian version of the “Te Deum” (an ancient song attributed to Ambrose) and a Marian “creed” imitative of the Athanasian creed. It is not too extreme to say that if you wanted to worship Mary in the same way you worship God, this is how you would go about it.

    God Bless,
    WA Scott

  88. William,

    You asked: “seriously, is there any action that is forbidden as long as it doesn’t self-classify itself as latria?”

    Yes. Sacrifice is the one exterior act that is reserved entirely to the expression of latria. To my knowledge, the first step-by-step, explicit working out of this is in Book 10 of St Augustine’s City of God. All other exterior acts may correspond to an interior act of latria or dulia (or, as the case may be, hyperdulia), though custom should be attended to as well.

    best,
    John

  89. William,

    When the two-and-half tribes built an altar in direct violation of the letter of the Law they escaped being slaughtered by virtue of the fact that their intent was not to worship at that altar but that it serve as a sign of their union with the rest of Israel (see Joshua 22). When Naaman bowed to Rimmon in Rimmon’s temple, he was not worshiping the idol (2 Kings 5).

    If you were Naaman’s master leaning on his arm, would you have thought Naaman was worshiping Rimmon? Would any of Naaman’s fellows watching him thought that he was? These are absurd questions because the answer is obvious: of course they would have thought so. Yet Naaman was blessed by Elisha when Naaman told him that this was his plan of action.

    So when you observe this:

    It is not too extreme to say that if you wanted to worship Mary in the same way you worship God, this is how you would go about it.

    We might well rephrase slightly, “It is not too extreme to say that if you wanted to worship Rimmon in the same way you worship God, this is how you would go about it.”

    The point is one that no Reformed Christian would ever deny: worship is a matter of the heart. How then is it that Reformed Christians happily charge Catholics with “Mariolatry” even when we both deny the claim and express what is our actual intent? If worship is a matter of the heart, and if no one knows the heart except God, how is it that Reformed folk ignore what we say about our intent and draw their own conclusions about it? Would it not be more charitable to take us at our word?

    Peace,

    Fred

  90. I appreciate the response Fred.

    First off–I want to apologize for any confusion I caused as to my own theological beliefs. Unless the term is used broadly, I’m not “reformed” in my beliefs (I realize quoting as I did from a reformed site indicated that I was). I disagree with many of the statements made by reformed regarding Roman Catholic beliefs and practices.

    [It must not have been clear in my post–but the quote you cited “It is not too extreme to say that if you wanted to worship Mary in the same way you worship God, this is how you would go about it” is from the link I provided–they are not my own words, although it is a reasonable observation. Likewise as the Anglo-Catholic Pusey noted, the natives of southern India and Ceylon in the 19th century called Protestant churches “Jesus churches” and the RC Churches “Mary Churches.” And although I certainly would not base my opinion on that historic fact (and neither did Pusey)–I would venture to say that this was not an unreasonable observation of the people based on outward practices].

    While my experience is somewhat limited I’m not a complete stranger to Roman Catholic practice. I have close Roman Catholic family members who are excellent Christians–and my wife* and I have often attended masses with our family members (don’t worry–we’re not partaking in the Eucharist ;-) ). And I’m glad to report that in the vast majority of my experiences with the RC far more time has been spent directly praising and praying to Christ than to the BVM.

    *(Note: My wife was a cradle catholic but she came to a saving knowledge of Christ and His Gospel in college through the witness of some Protestant students performing on-campus evangelization)

    Further, as I noted previously in this thread: I believe that Mary is the Mother of all in Christ, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of God, the New Eve, the Ark of our Lord, and that she may rightly be called “Queen of Heaven” (as the Mother of our Great King).

    All that said, the fact that people seek to defend rather than condemn things like what I’ve quoted above from the Marian Psalter is very disappointing.

    I’m not claiming to know what goes on in an individual’s heart when they replace Y-W-H with Mary in the Psalms (or approve of this replacement). Although I assume the best that does not mean that I won’t condemn in the strongest terms something that I know is extremely dishonoring to the Blessed Virgin Mary and (far more importantly) to the Triune God.

    You mentioned Naaman–he is an excellent example. He certainly was committed to worshiping God in his heart when he helped his master in the temple of Rimmon* (where worship was offered that openly dishonored the God Whom he worshiped in his heart). Likewise, my assumption is that the same thing occurs inwardly when Roman Catholics participate in prayers and praise to Mary that are set apart in Scripture for Almighty God (e.g. the Hymns of Praise to God in the Book of Psalms). But in both cases the inward state by no means justifies the outward forms (nor does it mitigate the spiritual danger of participating in such a flawed outward form).

    *[There is no indication that Naaman went to the Temple of Rimmon in order to perform his worship to the True God–rather, it appears that he went to the Temple in order to assist his master. Also, Naaman asked for forgiveness from God for his sin of outward participation. Elisha’s words “Go in Peace” indicates that the forgiveness Naaman sought from God for his sin of going into the Temple of Rimmon was received–not that outwardly participating was not sinful (though clearly given the words of Elisha it does not appear to be mortal sin in Naaman’s case).]

    More modern day examples of inherently flawed outward forms of worship may be used–the clown mass in the Episcopal Church. It’s possible that many who participated in this may have been truly worshiping God in their heart–but that can by no means justify the outward form of worship.

    In addition (as per the reference to the two and half tribes), you don’t have to be Episcopalian to know that the clown mass was more than a little off-base. Likewise, I don’t have to be RC in order to know that replacing the name of Y-W-H with Mary in Sacred Scripture’s hymns of praise to Y-W-H is more than a little off-base.

    God Bless,
    WA Scott

    p.s. I should note that the concerns I have with RC’s on this matter also goes for EO (there are many examples from EO just as radical and dishonoring of the BVM and Almighty God as those given from the Marian Psalter (btw, they also have a Theotokos Psalter–although I haven’t read it myself)). Needless to say, I find the complaints by some EO of Mariolatry in the RC a little hypocritical.

    p.p.s. Although David noted earlier that some Evangelicals have gone too far in their reaction to common RC beliefs and practices regarding the Virgin Mary–I have never come across any Evangelical that would not confess the blessedness of Mary nor have I ever come across any statements of Evangelicals that would come close to shaming the Virgin Mary as much as the Marian Psalter (and similar devotions).

  91. William,

    Sorry, but I guess I’m (at least partly) misunderstanding your most recent comment (#90).

    In #87 you approvingly referenced a blog post titled “Mariolatry Exemplified,” in which Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin is denounced as blasphemy and in which the author denies the distinction between that veneration and worship of God. My response in #89 was to observe that Scripture shows that worship consists in an act of the heart, that Reformed Christians affirm this, and that their claims that we have made an idol of Mary—despite our declarations of our intentions to the contrary—are inconsistent with that affirmation.

    If I understand you correctly, you insist that you do not necessarily consider us to be idolaters because of our veneration of Mary, and I’m very grateful to hear that, but you did link to a site which does consider Catholic veneration of Mary to be idolatry. So I’m confused. Do you repudiate that author’s claim that we worship Mary? If not, then it seems that my initial reply stands.

    If on the other hand you do repudiate that author’s claim: I’m not sure what more I can say than what you have probably already heard (given the autobiographical glimpse you offered). People praise other people for their virtues all the time, and the Blessed Virgin is unique in ways that make her uniquely worthy both of our commendation and of unique commendations. These facts in no way diminish the distinction between her as a creature and our Creator who possesses all goodness in infinite measure. There can be no comparison. We know this at all times.

    The only other thing I can think to propose to you is that the page you linked addresses the author’s objections to poetry, not prose. So I think that unless the poet has declared that he worships Mary, it seems more charitable to presume that his language is figurative and should be interpreted accordingly.

    Peace,

    Fred

  92. Hello Fred,

    I can see how some confusion arose–my disclaimer when I linked to the site was not clear enough. I don’t deny a distinction between veneration and adoration (many of my brothers and sisters in Protestant churches clearly venerate in word and deed Luther, Calvin, Augustine, and other prominent figures in the Church). Also, I certainly don’t make any sweeping claims that if someone is RC then they offer adoration to Mary.

    You must remember that Protestants frequently emphasize the Scriptural doctrine that covetousness itself is a form of idolatry–even though no one self-consciously offers latria to the earthly things that they covet. Idolatry is a matter first and foremost of the heart (as you noted above) and therefore it is not only possible but according to Scripture extremely common for people to practice idolatry (through placing excess love, trust, etc) on created things even where there is not the slightest trace of any outward or self-conscious acts of latria. Thus, in the context of the broad definition of idolatry given in Scripture that Protestants regularly emphasize (e.g. Calvin rightly noted that every human heart is an idol factory) I believe statements regarding concerns of idolatry towards the BVM in the Roman Catholic Church (despite the RCC forbidding actual latria) are more understandable.

    I am aware of and grateful for the official denouncing of adoration toward the BVM in the RCC. Likewise I am aware that no well informed RC would advocate the adoration of the BVM. However, that does not automatically justify writings or practices that don’t explicitly violate the official doctrine.

    Despite getting swept up in the moment I seriously doubt that the Apostle John intended to give adoration (versus proper honor and veneration) to the angel in Revelations (he offered “proskuneo” in the Greek–which does not exclusively refer to adoration). Yet, the Angel rebukes St. John’s act of veneration and tells him to offer “proskuneo” to God (Rev 22:8,9). I don’t believe this incident is recorded in Sacred Scripture simply because it is interesting or that it is merely speaking to someone intentionally performing acts of adoration to a creature.

    As for poetry vs prose–this can be no excuse for the Marian Psalter. The Psalms themselves are poetry as well as many other passages of Scripture (and yet they are very precise statements of divine teaching). Poetry has never been a license in Christianity for saying something or doing something that would be otherwise sinful or contrary to true doctrine (note, for instance, the precise doctrinal nature of the Church’s hymns (Protestant and Catholic)). That said, I highly doubt that the author of the Marian Psalter intended to adore Mary–just as I highly doubt that the Apostle John intended to adore the Angel in Revelations. However, in both cases the action should receive a swift rebuke.

    It cannot be denied that the Marian Psalter (as noted in post 87) has clearly replaced the Name of Y-W-H with the name of our Lady in the Psalms and has thereby turned Divinely inspired praise for Almighty God into praise for our Lady.

    If there can be no comparison between our Lady and Almighty God as you noted in your post–then the devotions of the Church should clearly reflect rather than obscure this truth (and replacing Y-W-H with the BVM in the Psalms definitely obscures this truth). This is particularly a concern given that, as noted above, Scripture clearly establishes (e.g. covetousness is idolatry passages) that idolatry frequently (or even most often) occurs in the absence of self-conscious or intentional latria towards creatures.

    Fortunately, other devout Catholics that I know condemn the blasphemy of the Marian Psalter and the heretical sentiments of the Fatima crusader website…I would be very encouraged to hear a similar affirmation from my brothers in Christ on this website.

    Have a blessed Lord’s Day,
    WA Scott

    p.s. I may not have time to really contribute for at least another week or two.

  93. William Scott, though I am quite late to the conversation, I agree with you. I identify as Catholic, but I thoroughly understand and share your concerns. I think your point about idolatry being a matter of the heart is particularly pertinent:

    ***”You must remember that Protestants frequently emphasize the Scriptural doctrine that covetousness itself is a form of idolatry–even though no one self-consciously offers latria to the earthly things that they covet. Idolatry is a matter first and foremost of the heart (as you noted above) and therefore it is not only possible but according to Scripture extremely common for people to practice idolatry (through placing excess love, trust, etc) on created things even where there is not the slightest trace of any outward or self-conscious acts of latria. Thus, in the context of the broad definition of idolatry given in Scripture that Protestants regularly emphasize (e.g. Calvin rightly noted that every human heart is an idol factory) I believe statements regarding concerns of idolatry towards the BVM in the Roman Catholic Church (despite the RCC forbidding actual latria) are more understandable.”***

    I cannot add much to what was stated above, as it is so clear. I would note for fellow Catholics that the Marian dogmas do not actually require any particular kind of devotional practice. Because I know that, I can remain Catholic. But Catholic custom and culture have developed in ways that the Church has accepted certain prayers and praises and actions as unquestionably OK, and seemingly without really challenging anyone to examine their heart regarding the matter, although we know it is so wickedly deceitful.

    In defending what most non-Catholics would see as “over the top” devotion to Mary, many Catholics give examples of how it is important to honor one’s mother and that if one only believed about her what the Church teaches, then one would see and understand that these practices are the innocent manifestation of filial love. But surely we all know that it is quite possible to idolize a person without consciously attempting to do so, even one’s own mother.

    Catholic apologists tend to defend the underlying concept of veneration itself when non-Catholics are actually targeting something slightly different–not veneration in principle, but the primacy given in practice; for the way certain practices orient the *heart*, not merely the intellectual justifications for why they technically can be classified as dulia rather than latria.

    Catholics may rightly take offense at being assumed to be idolaters. But I think that something more is required in these discussions. Why, I find myself asking, is the Church unconcerned about any radicalness in Marian devotion? Is the belief truly that it is impossible to honor her too much? But she is finite; only our love for and only devotion for God can be so limitless.

    So, I appreciate Pope Benedict’s pastoral instincts in discouraging hopes of the title Co-Redemptrix becoming dogma. He is at least honoring the truth that there are indeed ways of misleading the flock, both Catholic and non-Catholic, even if there is some mystical truth at play.

  94. Denise (re:#93),

    I read your comment with great interest, as a former Protestant and a Catholic “revert” who once thought (very incorrectly), when I was a Protestant, that the Church goes far too far in Marian devotion– to the point of idolatrous worship. You write:

    Why, I find myself asking, is the Church unconcerned about any radicalness in Marian devotion? Is the belief truly that it is impossible to honor her too much?

    The truth is that, historically speaking (and up to the present day), the Church *has* condemned Marian beliefs and practices which have gone too far. I wish that I could find the name of the particular group at this time (and if someone else can find it, please help me– thanks in advance!), but many centuries ago, there was an heretical sect which literally did *worship* Mary, and they were unequivocally condemned by the Church.

    The Saints of the Church who have had the most *intense devotion* to Mary, such as Saint Alphonsus Liguori, have been emphatic that Catholic devotion to Mary *only* exists because of, and in the context of, the *worship* of Christ as God Incarnate.

    In the last fifty years, the teaching authority of the Church has spoken again and again about proper and improper understandings of Marian devotion and practice.

    For example, from 1964, there is chapter 8 of “Lumen Gentium,” which deals very carefully with Mary’s relationship to Christ and to the Church: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

    From 1974, there is Pope Paul VI’s “Marialis Cultus,” especially “Section Two: Four Guidelines for Devotion to the Blessed Virgin: Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical and Anthropological.” http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19740202_marialis-cultus_en.html

    There is Blessed Pope John Paul II’s 1987 encyclical on Mary, which is very clear about the right, Christological understanding and role of Marian devotion in the Church: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031987_redemptoris-mater_en.html

    Now, if one has read the writings of the Saints of the Church (such as St. Alphonsus Liguori), and of the more recent Popes, on the subject of Mary, and one *still* thinks that the Church has not spoken out sufficiently about “improper” Marian devotion, the question arises: if Christ founded the Church, and the Holy Spirit guides the Pope and the Magisterium, in teaching on matters of faith and morals, should we not trust the Holy Spirit, working through the Pope and Magisterium, on Marian teaching? The alternative would seem to be to trust in our own understanding, and Scripture obviously teaches against that idea (Proverbs 3:5).

  95. Christopher,

    The sect you have in mind is the Kollyridians. St Epiphanius of Salamis discusses them in Panarion 79.

    best,
    John

  96. I don’t have a lot to add to this discussion. I see one verse that discusses having a part of Christ, and one that tells us that Mary gave birth to the Lord Christ. Everything else is quoting this man or that man, with no scriptural warrant for the path this argument takes. I mean, how much credence should I really give this Pius XI character, signer of the Reichskonkordat among other things?

    It would seem to me that an assertion as bold and as far-out that a human shares in the work of redemption would have a smidgeon of Scriptural backing. All I see is a non sequitur argument that seems to assume far, far more than Scripture would indicate.

    The idea that a mere human, no matter how blessed by God, actually shares in Christ’s work of redemption, is simple and pure blasphemy.

  97. Justin, (re: #96)

    You seem to be approaching the question as though Scripture alone is the authoritative source for the Church’s doctrine. But in the Catholic paradigm, not only Scripture but Tradition as well is authoritative. So is the Church. See David Anders’s recent post on the subject of Tradition. See also sections 7-10 of Dei Verbum. From the Protestant perspective, Pope Pius XI is just another man with mere opinions like everyone else. But from the perspective of the Catholic paradigm, Pope Pius XI was a successor of St. Peter, and a steward of the keys of the Kingdom which Christ gave to St. Peter. As the Vicar of Christ we are to give religious assent to his teaching, because Christ guides and teaches the Church through him.

    Regarding sharing in the work of redemption, St. Paul says as much in Colossians, when he writes that in his flesh he does his share on behalf of Christ’s body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. (Col. 1:24) And that isn’t blasphemy; it is part of the generosity of Christ, that we are given the opportunity to share in His sufferings, and thereby participate in His redemption of the world. The whole Old Testament is a preparation by God for the coming of the Messiah, and in this way all the righteous figures of the Old Testament participate in Christ’s work of redemption. Mary especially participates, by being the very mother of the Savior, giving to Him His very flesh, the flesh that would be nailed to a cross. If participation in Christ’s redemption were blasphemy, there would have been no Old Testament, no Jewish people, and no Mary. Instead, Christ would have come down from heaven with a body made ex nihilo, with no lineage, into no special people, with no expectation of His coming. Nor would there be a Great Commission by which the work of redemption is continued throughout the whole world by Christ’s followers, until He returns.

    You say there is some non sequitur argument. To which argument are you referring?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  98. Justin (re: 96),

    As I consider your comment I think of 1st Corinthians 3:9 in which we are identified as co-laborers, adjutors, assistants in God’s work. What is God’s work? Our salvation and redemption, of course.

    My understanding of this graced participation (as a Catholic) is certainly different from the understanding I once held as a Baptist/Biblicist. Once, however, that I saw that Biblicism is itself unBiblical, I was able to realize that the Catholic paradigm was the truly Biblical paradigm, completely necessary for differentiating between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, exercising Church discipline and maintaining order in God’s household (common Government, Sacraments, Doctrine). Thanks.

  99. John S. (re:#95),

    Thanks so much for the name of that heretical Mary-worshiping sect which was condemned by the Church. I knew that someone here could find that info for me! :-)

  100. Justin (re:#96),

    Thanks for your comment, and welcome to CTC. Bryan and Herbert have responded to you here, from Scripture, and I would add, for now (with elaboration below), that Mary is *not* understood by the Church to be a *literal, salvific* Co-Redemptrix with Christ, as the Church clearly teaches that He is alone is our one, salvific Redeemer and Mediator between God and man.

    Again, in the Catholic understanding, which is fully consistent with Scripture, Mary does not redeem and save us in a literally salvific sense. Christ alone can and does redeem and save in a literally salvific sense. Mary is a “Co-Redemptrix” in the *very specific* sense(s) that she said “Yes” to the Holy Spirit in carrying the Incarnate Redeemer in her very womb, and in that she raised Him, taught Him, and loved Him, from His miraculous conception within her (and for all of His earthly life), unto the Cross and the Resurrection. Some Protestants can tend to speak of Mary as if she simply “happened to be the woman God used” to bring Jesus into the world and raise Him. This is a serious misunderstanding and devaluing of Mary’s role in redemption history.

    In obedience to the Holy Spirit, Mary brought Jesus to us. Really think about that seriously. She brought our Lord, Redeemer, and Savior to us! In a certain sense, if there had been no Mary, there would have been no Incarnation. Jesus is God, and He is Our Redeemer, but it is also true, and it should be carefully pondered by any Christians who have not done so, that God did *not* simply “use” Mary as if she were a dispensable object. That is not the God revealed to us in Scripture.

    Through Mary, our salvific Redeemer came to us. That is the sense in which she is sometimes spoken of in the Catholic Church as “Co-Redemptrix” (although it is not currently a dogmatic title for Mary in the Church, and Pope Benedict XVI has expressed a reticence about it becoming so at this time, which I, personally, think is ecumenically wise).

  101. Hello, I was referred to this site by a colleague of mine. Hoping to help answer some of my questions about Catholicism. I consider myself a fair person, but I do have a lot of hang ups with Catholics.

    On Marian devotion, I’m sure many of you have watched the video with James white and dr. Fastiggi.

    Not a fan of White in general, but his readings of Alphonsus Liguori are pretty hard to swallow. Has anyone here addressed this? Are his readings accurate. I specifically remember something about appealing to Mary because, Jesus is fierce towards us? Not trying to be antagonistic, just haven’t found any good rebuttal for it yet. (Admittedly, haven’t searched to long though)

    Zeke

  102. Zeke,

    Welcome to Called to Communion. :-)

    Sorry, but I am unfamiliar with any videos done by White. Quite honestly I do not consider him to be a particularly good representative of Protestant objections to the Catholic Church, because of his needlessly uncharitable attitude and starting point. Likewise I am unfamiliar with his criticisms of St. Alphonsus, so I am sorry I can’t be of more direct help to you. My guess is that his take on St. Alphonsus is needlessly hostile.

    We have a number of articles on Mary which you can find here. Perhaps one of them will help you with your specific questions.

    I am unfamiliar with the notion of Jesus being “fierce” towards us, but there are good reasons to appeal to Mary for intercession regardless of whatever that is supposed to mean. In the first place she is the Queen Mother, a role of unique intercessory influence with the King. In the second place, St. James says that “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (5:16). The saints in heaven are righteous beyond the measure of mortals, and so it only makes sense that their intercession with the Lord on our behalf would have “great power.” This obviously includes the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin.

    Peace,

    Fred

  103. Fred,

    Thanks for writing. I can accept the communion of saints, and petitions to Mary for intercession. By all the explanations I have heard they seem reasonable to me and don’t warrant further criticism. However, explanations given to me is one thing, experience and witnessing things much more extreme is another. I do cringe a bit to use James White as an example, I do view him as uncharitable and quite brash in his approach. I would not put it past him to have misread or misrepresented St. Alphonsus. However, White seems to be quoting straight from Alphonsus writing. I will do my best to try and find the source he is reading from, admittedly it is hard to find on the internet.

    This may be a different question than I seem to be pursuing? Maybe is it possible if Alphonsus did write these things that, A, I am not understanding him properly, or B, that he took it too far and should be corrected?

    Is it hard for me to understand. So many people I know, love and speak of Jesus with such passion, and so many Catholics speak of Mary more than Jesus, and tell me Mary is supposed to help lead me to follow Jesus. Again, not necessarily criticizing the doctrine, but the practice.

    I remember hearing William lane Craig answer a question on Catholic view of Mary. He answered with what I would in his place. Something along the lines of, “I understand the teaching, but in practice it is taken too far.” Btw, that is not an exact quote.

    Zeke

  104. Hello Zeke,

    You wrote (#103):

    I would not put it past him to have misread or misrepresented St. Alphonsus. However, White seems to be quoting straight from Alphonsus writing. I will do my best to try and find the source he is reading from, admittedly it is hard to find on the internet.

    That would be helpful. Obviously I can’t help with the specific source, but here are a couple sites that might help you with locating it:

    This may be a different question than I seem to be pursuing? Maybe is it possible if Alphonsus did write these things that, A, I am not understanding him properly, or B, that he took it too far and should be corrected?

    As you know I of course can’t say, given the absence of specifics. However, I think that a couple general observations might not be out of place, even if it turns out that I am entirely off-base as to what you are concerned with. Many Protestants are troubled by Catholic and Orthodox expressions of veneration toward Mary. I think that in at least some cases these concerns arise from modern sensibilities: we do not kneel before kings, princes, or anyone else in our day. The limits of the external displays of respect we generally offer to those in authority go no further than a handshake, perhaps a nod, and in some rare instances even to something of a bow. But our contemporary expressions of respect and deference are obviously not normative for other cultures and certainly not for the past. It is common knowledge that kings and emperors, princes and other dignitaries, received expressions of respect and veneration that included not merely kneeling but outright prostration. And while it is true that in some cases monarchs were honored as deities, not all of them were, and their subjects did not intend to worship them.

    This being the case, I hope it is obvious that the mere fact that Catholics and Orthodox offer expressions of respect and veneration to Mary and the saints which are foreign to the sensibilities of Protestants does not in any way imply that these expressions are ipso facto either excessive or idolatrous. Just as kneeling or prostation before human kings does not imply that a man worships his ruler, so too it is the Catholic or Orthodox’s intent that establishes whether his actions are idolatrous. If the two and a half tribes could build an explicitly forbidden altar without censure (once its intent was known; cf. Joshua 22), and if Naaman the Syrian could bow in the temple of Rimmon with Elisha’s blessing (once his intent was known; cf. 2 Kings 5), then it seems clear to me that the Protestant must not content himself merely with looking at what Catholics and Orthodox do vis a vis the saints but rather must acknowledge our intent. We do not intend to worship them or venerate them in the way that we do our Lord, and so it seems obvious (to me, at any rate) that Protestants should respect the fact of our intentions even if the expressions thereof make them uncomfortable.

    We do not worship Mary or the saints. I promise. :-) But if I have missed the mark of your objection, I apologize.

    Peace,

    Fred

  105. Zeke,

    Sorry, one other thing. I would also like to refer you to my recent post on the Rosary, where I show that this Marian devotion is Christ-centered and briefly discuss the fact that praying the Rosary has brought me closer to God than I could have ever imagined possible.

    I hope this might help with your concern,

    Fred

  106. Zeke,

    I would like to share a very beautiful testimony with you if the moderators of this blog will allow this. You spoke about James White . Did you know his sister converted to Catholicism back in 2001? She has a very lengthily testimony of her conversion from the reformed faith to Catholicism. I found it to be captivating especially because of her relationship to James. She also goes into the subject of Mary. She has been on the Journey Home move than once. Here is her written testimony. I hope the link works since it is a pdf file : http://www.askacatholic.com/_webPostings/Answers/attachments/Conversion_of_PattyPatrickBonds.pdf

  107. Fred and others,

    Sorry it has been awhile. Never a dull moment in life.

    First, I admit that I have some further reading to do in actual church documents. But I had finally gone through one of those sources of St. Alphonsus Liguori, and as far as St Liguori, he has some writings that I cannot get how this is explainable. There is quite a bit to go through and some of it more problematic than others, so will just get to the meat of what is written, the real problematic stuff for me.

    Some of these seem to be St. Alphonsus quoting St. Bernard, Anselm, ect.

    Mary is our Hope:

    “The King of Heaven, because He is Infinite Goodness, Desires-to Enrich us with His Graces. But, in-order-to Increase our Confidence, He has given us His own Mother, for our Mother and Advocate, and has given her all Power, to Aid us. He, therefore, Wishes us to Place-in her, all our Hopes-of Salvation and Blessing. Those who Place all their Hope in Creatures, without Dependence-upon God, as Sinners do, are certainly Cursed by God, as Jeremiah says. But, those who Hope-in Mary, as Mother of God, Powerful to Obtain for them, Graces and Life Eternal, are Blessed and Pleasing to God. Hence, we Rightly call Mary, “Our Hope”, Hoping to Obtain-by her Intercession, what we could not Obtain by our Prayers alone. We Pray to her, says Saint Anselm, so that the Dignity of the Intercessor will make-up-for our own Deficiencies. Therefore, he adds, to seek Mary’s Help with such Hope, is not to Distrust the Mercy of God, but only to Fear our own Unworthiness.

    Mary is our advocate:

    There is no-doubt, says Saint Bernard, that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and Man; the God-Man, on-account-of His Merits, ‘Can’, and according-to His Promises ‘Will’, Obtain-for us Pardon and Divine Grace. But because Men ‘Recognize’ and Fear the Divine Majesty which Dwells-in Him, as God, it was Necessary that there be another Advocate, to whom we could have-Recourse, with less Fear and more Confidence. This is Mary, and we can find no other Advocate so Powerful with the Givine Majesty and so Compassionate toward us. We would Greatly Wrong the Mercy of Mary, if we should Fear to-Cast ourselves at the Feet-of this Most Sweet Advocate, who is in all things, Kind, Lovely, and Compassionate. Read as-much-as you will, all the History found-in the Gospels, and if you find any Act-of Austerity in Mary, then Fear to-approach her. But you will never find any. Go, then, Joyfully to her, for she will Save you by her Intercession.

    Saint Thomas of Villanova prays:

    Take Heart, you Sinners. This Great Virgin, who is the Mother of your Judge and God, is the Advocate-of the Human Race; Powerful and able-to Obtain whatever she Wishes from God; Most Wise, for she Knows every Method of Appeasing Him; Universal, for she Welcomes All and Refuses none.

    Mary is Mercy itself:

    So Compassionate and Kind is this Queen, when a Sinner Recommends himself to her Mercy, that she does not Begin-to Examine his Merits, and to Judge whether he is Worthy-of being Heard, but she Graciously ‘Hears’ all and ‘Helps’ them. Hence, Mary is called “Beautiful as the Moon” (Song 6:10), because as the Moon Illuminates the smallest Bodies upon the Earth, so Mary Enlightens and Helps the Most Unworthy Sinners. If because of our Sins, we Fear to Draw near-to God because He is an Infinite (∞) Majesty that we have Offended, we should not Hesitate-to have Recourse-to Mary, because in her we shall find nothing to Alarm us. She is indeed Holy, Immaculate, Queen-of the World, and Mother of God; but she is of our Flesh and a Child-of-Adam, like ourselves. In a word, says Saint Bernard, whatever Pertains-to Mary, is Full-of Grace and Mercy. For she, as Mother-of-Mercy, has become All Things to all — Just and Sinners alike — and Opens Wide the Doors-to her Compassion, that All may Share it. As the Devil Prowls-about “like a Roaring Lion, looking for someone to Devour” (1Peter 5:8), so, on-the-contrary, Mary goes-about, Seeking those to-whom she can give Life and Salvation.

    Then goes on to write:

    But to become Mother-of God, it was Necessary-that the Holy Virgin should be ‘Exalted’-to a certain Equality-with the Divine Persons, by an Infinity (∞) of Graces. Therefore, if God ‘Dwells’-in Creatures, in different-Ways, He ‘Dwelt’-in Mary in a Unique Way, making Himself One (1) with her.

    I do apologize for the lengthy post. Honestly believe me, I don’t write this to be pushy or demand answers, but I am doing my best to try and answer these questions that I have regarding Catholicism. I want to be open to wherever God leads me, but stuff like this is really difficult for me to overcome.

    Thanks for your help,

    Zeke

  108. Hello Zeke,

    You wrote (#107):

    > Sorry it has been awhile.

    No worries :-) In the future it would be helpful if you could provide references for the quotations you offer. Please and thanks. :-)

    With respect to your first quotation from St. Alphonsus, it seems to me that the response to the part you put in bold is addressed towards the end of the quotation:

    > Hence, we Rightly call Mary, “Our Hope”, *Hoping to Obtain-by her Intercession, what we could not Obtain by our Prayers alone.* We Pray to her, says Saint Anselm, *so that the Dignity of the Intercessor will make-up-for our own Deficiencies.* Therefore, he adds, **to seek Mary’s Help with such Hope, is not to Distrust the Mercy of God, but only to Fear our own Unworthiness.**

    [emphasis added]

    An analogy: in my last job there was a certain policy which I disliked. It was made by a manager two levels above mine, and I was relatively new on the job. What are the odds, do you think, that a manager that high up will listen to the grumping of a virtual newbie in the company about an established policy? So close to zero that the only difference is a rounding error. On the other hand, what if one of his trusted lieutenants makes the same suggestion? Will he not be more likely to listen? Of course he would. Coming from me, why should he bother to listen? I am not worthy of his time.

    So too with Mary’s intercession (and that of the other saints): the issue is our unworthiness. This is why St. James makes the distinction about the effectiveness of the prayers of the righteous compared to others’. This sort of thing is why Elisha said he would have ignored Jehoram’s inquiries if not for the fact that he had regard for Jehoshaphat (2Ki. 3).

    With respect to the second quote, from St. Bernard (where he calls her *another* advocate and not merely an advocate; thus in keeping with the first sentence of the quotation he does not intend to suggest that she supplants Jesus): I am afraid I do not understand the nature of your problem with this quotation, nor with the part you emphasized. Can you clarify?

    With respect to the quote from St. Thomas of Villanova: as far as I can tell this is nothing but an amplification of what was said in your first quotation (from St. Alphonsus). It also reminds me greatly of the strong role played by the queen mother throughout all of Israel & Judah’s monarchies as an intercessor with the king.

    With respect to the last two quotations (whoever it/they is/are): the fourth seems to me to be saying much the same as the first quotation from St. Alphonsus. If you are objecting in the very last quotation to the idea of Mary allegedly possessing an infinity of graces: I seriously doubt the author (whoever it was) intended such an expression literally, since no Catholic claims that any creature possesses an infinity of anything, that being beyond our powers as created beings. My opinion is that he is resorting to the literary figure of hyperbole. On the other hand if you are concerned about the statement that Mary may have been exalted to “a certain equality” with God, my opinion is that he means nothing more than Scripture says when it says we shall be like Him.

    I hope this helps.

    Fred

  109. Ave Maria!
    Zeke, as (another) convert, I can understand where you are coming from. It seems, at first, that these conversations go like this (I use adore instead of worship to maintain the distinction between “worship given to God alone” and “worship [i.e. honoring] which is relative to God,” that is, worship being used in a more inclusive sense which includes highly honoring another):
    Protestant: Catholics adore Mary
    Catholic: No we don’t. Latria vs Dulia and Hyper-Dulia. We highly honor Mary, but do not adore her.
    Protestant: Okay, that sounds better. Thanks!
    ***Protestant comes across examples of Catholics and Catholic prayers which seem to adore her***
    Protestant: ????
    Catholic: That’s Hyper-dulia
    Protestant: Is there a difference????????????

    I will admit that the distinctions seems to be more theoretical than actual. I would ask you to consider a few things though:
    1. Such comments must be understood within their cultural background. Writing for Catholic about Marian devotion is different than explaining Marian devotion to (rightfully) skeptical Protestants. This reminds me of Chesterton’s comment from Orthodoxy:

    Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. … We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.

    When we live the distinction between God and Mary, while, yes, exalting Mary as the greatest masterpiece created by God, we can feel free to shout and sing about the greatness of Our Lady, and providing we don’t try to climb the theological walls, we are safe. This “Marian Maximalism” which is disconcerting to Protestants comes from not having the “walls” and, without the proper understandings, failing to see the sometimes subtle, but crucial, distinctions.
    2. I think St. Maximilan Kolbe is a great place to understand Marian devotion. In the Koble Reader there are two excellent letters showing how Marian Maximalism doesn’t detract from Our Lord, but rather glorifies Him. I don’t have the book here at this friary, but will be able to look at it this weekend. Essential, all comes from and returns to the Father.
    More later–another brother needs my computer!

    In Cordibus Jesu atque Mariae
    fra Charles FI

  110. Ave Maria!
    As promised, this comes from a letter written by St. Kolbe while he was in Japan back to the friary he had founded in Poland (Niepokalanow).

    Some brothers at Niepokalanow have asked me various questions about devotion to the Immaculate in relation with other devotions. On the same theme I got a letter not long ago from a clerical student (not from Niepokalanow) in which he asked me how one can, in practice, combine the thought of the loving presence of God in us with the thought of the Immaculate.
    Doubtless our fancy tends to imagine God the Father, Jesus, the Immaculate, and so on, as distinct objects of so many various devotions, as though they were all on the same level, instead of considering them as links in a single chain, each depending on the next, or as so many means leading to a single end: God, who is one in the most Holy Trinity.
    I shall answer him that the more someone belongs to the Immaculate, the more freely and openly can he draw near to the wounds of our Savior, to the Holy Eucharist, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to God our Father. Further I shall tell him that it is not at all necessary that the thought of the Immaculate should occur to his mind at that particular moment; for the essence of our union with her does not consist in thought, memory or sentiment, but in our will. Sometimes when reading I grow irritated because the author takes such special pains to stress that our Lady is our whole hope “after Jesus.” Evidently this can be understood in a correct sense.
    However, the exaggerated scruple not to omit that “saving clause” no doubt out of veneration for Jesus-is something I consider rather offensive to him.
    Let’s argue from an example. When the flatbed presses proved insufficient, we got a rotary press; and we can rightly affirm that to print the Knight on time we put all our hope in the rotary press. But if every time someone were to add immediately, as though he were worried about it, “Yes, but only after the company that built it,” he would thereby show his belief that the machine might fail, and that we might need to have recourse to the firm [as our “hope”]. All this would show that the company had not built the machine as solidly as it ought to have done; and this would hardly be a compliment to the manufacturers.
    How little is the Immaculate known even now, in theory and still less in everyday life! How many prejudices, incomprehensions and doubts still linger in the minds of some people! May the Immaculate permit her Niepokalanow to dispel these shadows, to dissipate these cold fogs, to revivify and enkindle the fire of love towards her without any limitations, in full liberty, without those vain fears which constrict and chill hearts. So may people seek the King not next to his palace, but within it, inside it, in its innermost chambers [in Mary].
    I am running out of paper and time is flying, so I shall close now, asking for many, many prayers.

    Also, there is letter, to long to post here (I think, what do the admins say?) from St. Maximilian to a Brother having troubles reconciling devotion to Mary and union with Jesus. It is Letter Number 643, and can be found on page 141 of the Kolbe Reader.

    In Jesus and Mary,
    fra Charles

  111. @Christopher Lake: “Now, if one has read the writings of the Saints of the Church (such as St. Alphonsus Liguori), and of the more recent Popes, on the subject of Mary, and one *still* thinks that the Church has not spoken out sufficiently about “improper” Marian devotion, the question arises: if Christ founded the Church, and the Holy Spirit guides the Pope and the Magisterium, in teaching on matters of faith and morals, should we not trust the Holy Spirit, working through the Pope and Magisterium, on Marian teaching? The alternative would seem to be to trust in our own understanding, and Scripture obviously teaches against that idea (Proverbs 3:5).”

    I am a year behind, but this issue continues to stick in my craw. Regarding the formal teachings of the Church, I don’t see those to be the issue. Even when I was away from the Church I defended its orthodoxy. What I question is not the orthodoxy of official teachings and statements, but rather congregational orthopraxy. The conversation moves in circles a bit because the distinction between worship and veneration remains theoretical. Someone says, “But I saw someone doing/saying X, and that looks like worship to me.” And the response is, “No, it’s not worship because we distinguish between worship and veneration, and here are all the statements showing that we distinguish between worship and veneration.” Surely we all understand that theoretical classifications may not accurately reflect what is actually happening in practice.

    To make my point clearer, I’d point to friar Charles’ comment at #109 showing the dialogue between a Protestant and Catholic:

    Protestant: Catholics adore Mary
    Catholic: No we don’t. Latria vs Dulia and Hyper-Dulia. We highly honor Mary, but do not adore her.
    Protestant: Okay, that sounds better. Thanks!
    ***Protestant comes across examples of Catholics and Catholic prayers which seem to adore her***
    Protestant: ????
    Catholic: That’s Hyper-dulia
    Protestant: Is there a difference????????????

    The reason the Protestant can’t accept the theoretical distinction as being real is that our words and actions both do and ought to be different depending on the *type* of thing we are expressing. And it seems that oftentimes with Marian devotion, one cannot discern any difference between what is offered to Mary and what would be offered to God. For instance, one Catholic apologist I’ve come across said, “Well, if you say you love your grandma, how do you know that it’s a family love and not a romantic love? You know within yourself that there’s a difference. In the same way, we know within ourselves the difference between dulia and latria.” And my thought is, “Okay, true.” However, that difference in types of love is not only an internal knowledge; the difference also manifests itself through external actions. That means that the familial love I have for grandma results in different words and physical affections than the romantic love I have for a spouse. Sometimes they overlap, but the nature of the love produces distinct actions and words appropriate to it. If I someone were to act and speak toward grandma with the actions and words typically reserved for the love of a spouse, others would be highly offended and would think there was something very wrong with that person. I really think this is how Protestants see Marian devotion. It’s seen as giving something to a creature, no matter how great, that is deemed to be appropriate for God alone.

    So the question is, in our veneration of Mary, what is held back? What is reserved in our *words and actions* for latria alone? Is it only sacrifice?

  112. One initial answer is that all veneration of the Saints and the Angels are in relation to God and only God can be the object of a non-referential honoring. That is, I honor, highly honor, Mary because of Her relation to the Trinity as “Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit”. I honor St. Joan of Arc because of her fidelity to her, um, unique vocation, but not because she was a great general. I honor St. Charles Garnier (my namesake) because of his selfless zeal for the Gospel, and not because of any excellence of his own. Like St. Francis said, “What a man is in the eyes of God, so much he is, and no more.”

    So one answer is that any veneration of Mary and the Saints is in reference to the work of God in them and their response, but not due to anything of their own. In fact, that is the glory of the Saints, they had nothing that “was their own” but everything was in relation to God. St. Therese is an excellent example of this. Universally loved and venerated, she did nothing worth note of in her 24 years, except completely giving over to the Love of God, which is much more than many others accomplish in many years.

    This may at times seem theoretical, but I would advise Protestants to look closely, and see if, even implicit, a particular devotion is in relation to God, which it should be, or if it stops at that saint alone.

    Also, is it in reference to the Will of God, or does it go against it? For example forms of “false devotion” that St. Louis de Montfort criticizes in paragraphs 90-103 of True Devotion to Mary (https://www.ewtn.com/library/Montfort/TRUEDEVO.HTM). You could also point to the examples of, say, bandits who pray for success in crime, or the syncretic expropriation of the images of saints for use in voodoo rituals (I grant this is not what Protestant critiques are directed towards).

    My final advice would be to read the prayers before reacting negatively. Are they speaking in a qualified sense, are they praising Mary in reference to the work of God in her and through her, etc.

  113. @friar Charles, “So one answer is that any veneration of Mary and the Saints is in reference to the work of God in them and their response, but not due to anything of their own. In fact, that is the glory of the Saints, they had nothing that “was their own” but everything was in relation to God.”

    — This is a helpful perspective. In reading de Montfort, it is clear that he maintains the proper order of Mary in relation to God. I’m beginning to think that there are a lot of underlying theological concepts, or an intricate theological framework, upon which Marian devotion depends, and which without, such devotion makes no sense.

  114. That is very true, there are deep differences in the way that Catholics and Protestants look at (1) the Mission of Jesus, (2) the Mission of the Church, and (3) the difference in the Spiritual life it entails.

    1. The difference between the substitutionary atonement model, in which Jesus leads the way and we pick up our crosses and follow him, or penal substitutionary atonement, wherein we cannot do anything but have faith that Jesus took the punishment for our sins, and that his righteousness is imputed to us.

    2. The idea of being united to Jesus through His Mystical Body, the Church, by means of the sacraments, and the Church being the continuing presence of the Incarnation present in the world leads us to look at the Church as not just the collection of those redeemed, but as a family with the Father as our Father, Mary as our Mother, Jesus as the first-born of many (adopted) brothers, and the saints as our older brothers and sisters. If you listen to Scott Hahn at all, he speaks of this idea of the Church as the “Extended Family of God”

    3. For one, understanding that we are called to participate in the loving obedience of Jesus on the Cross changes the way we approach the spiritual life. Asceticism, mortification, and suffering have a central place in traditional Catholic spirituality, and this is puzzling to the Protestant looking into the Church for the first time. Again, we need to understand that in this life, while we do already live in union with the Resurrected Lord, we are primarily united to Jesus by the Cross.

    This is the main answer I would encourage you to look into. The question “What did Jesus do on the Cross?” is a very good starting point to being to understand Catholic spirituality. If it was the Father punishing the sins of mankind in the person of His Son, then we cannot participate in that, but only receive the results. However, if it was a self-sacrifice of loving obedience, and we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice, then the Coredemption of Mary, the Mass as the Unbloody Representation of Sacrifice of Calvary, the Communion of Saints, penitential practices, etc. can be made sense of.

    In Christ,
    fra Charles

  115. Friar Charles,
    Where in Scripture do you get the idea that “we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice” of Christ?

  116. Pat, (#115) Start with Romans 6:

    4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin

    And move to Romans 12:1

    I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service

    .

    That should get you started.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank La Rocca

  117. Frank,
    What does “we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice” of Christ” have to do with Romans 6 and 12? Our being united to Christ is not something we do to make happen but what God does.

  118. Pat (117)

    Ah – I think I now see where the emphasis was in your earlier question: on uniting ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice as if, in some quasi-Pelagian way, we could be the cause of our own salvation. Is that your objection to what Friar Charles said in #114? If not, could you explain a little better the nature of your objection?

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  119. Frank,
    I object to this statement: ” However, if it was a self-sacrifice of loving obedience, and we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice, then the Coredemption of Mary, the Mass as the Unbloody Representation of Sacrifice of Calvary, the Communion of Saints, penitential practices, etc. can be made sense of.”
    I don’t see anything like this in Scripture.

  120. Pat (119)

    I’m sorry but that really doesn’t answer my question, unless your objection is that that entire statement is not found verbatim in Scripture – and I doubt that’s what you mean. Could you read my question in 118 again, and respond to the question I asked there about the statement you originally objected to in 114:

    Where in Scripture do you get the idea that “we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice” of Christ?

    I think you object to the idea that this uniting is something wedo (based on your 117). Could you confirm that I am reading your 117 correctly?

    Thanks.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  121. Once a visitor was having lunch at our friary, and the question when to theological topics. He was asked, “How many wills did Jesus have.” He answered, “One, I think.” This anecdote has been embellished by having the room fall into dead silence. The visitor, now aware of a mistake, proclaims, in a grave voice, “I recant,” and conversation resumes.

    In a similar manner, I will recant of the statement “we are saved by uniting ourselves to that self-sacrifice…” and restate it as thus:
    “We are saved by the unmerited grace of God, being put to death in baptism and raised to new life in Christ Jesus, being united to Him and being made members of His Mystical Body, the Church, for whom He died, offering His life to the Father as an act of supreme love and obedience which more than outweighs the offense given to God by sin. And we, being made anew in Christ Jesus, participate in this self-offering of His when we, out of the agape love that we receive without merit, unite ourselves to that same sacrifice on Calvary. ”

    Mary, His Mother, participated in a unique way in the objective redemption by offering Her Son, which She had received from the Father, back to the Father, and, by suffering in union with Jesus, She is Coremptrix, suffering with Jesus for the salvation of mankind, but completely dependent on Him.

    The Mass as the Representation of the Sacrifice on Calvary is representing the obedience and love of Jesus’ self-offering, not, as penal substitution would have, the outpouring of the Father’s wrath on the Son.

    Penitential practices are uniting our sacrifices and sufferings to Christ on the Cross, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24)” This helps make sense of what, in penal substitutionary, seems to be efforts at butting into the atonement, and a denial of the finished work of Christ. When you read the life of saints like St. Veronica Giuliani, St. Rose of Lime, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, etc., and see the penances they performed, it is off-putting for Protestants. Also, the emphasis on suffering in devotional works is indecipherable without the understanding that we are participators in His sacrifice of love and obedience which, because of sin, takes the form of suffering.

    I was not trying to give a defense from scripture, but was commenting, feebly, on some of the foundational concepts that are necessary to grasp in order to make heads or tails out of Catholic Doctrine and Spirituality. At least, the distinction between participation and reception is, I think, rooted in the question, “What was Jesus doing.” And seeing this distinction is necessary for seeing how the Mass, Mary, Penance, etc. is even possible.

    Once we unearth these questions, we can start to discuss them, but without “following the river back to its source” we will just continue to butt heads and not make any progress.

    That was my point, but I expressed it poorly to begin with, and I think you were right to object to the phrase “we are saved by uniting ourselves” with its Pelagian overtones.

  122. Friar Charles,
    Still have some problems with what you are saying. Specifically with this: “Mary, His Mother, participated in a unique way in the objective redemption by offering Her Son, which She had received from the Father, back to the Father, and, by suffering in union with Jesus, She is Coremptrix, suffering with Jesus for the salvation of mankind, but completely dependent on Him.”

    There is nothing in Scripture that comes close to this kind of thing. Mary did not offer Christ.

  123. Frank,
    My point is that Mary has nothing to do with our redemption and we don’t either in the sense that we pay the price for our sins. Christ paid the price in full for our sins (Col 2:13-14). We had nothing to do with that.

  124. Pat (123):

    “Be it done unto me according to your word.” Mary obeyed the will of God – by the free choice of her will – and thus was our Savior conceived in her womb. I would say this clearly entails participation on Mary’s part, because by her “fiat” and through the power of God – through both of these things – the Incarnate Word was brought into this world.

    Christ most certainly saves us from our sins, and Christ alone is our Savior. No one is saying Mary (or any human) can forgive sin – so I’m not sure why you brought that up. But Mary participated in the plan of salvation through her “fiat.” That’s a simple Scriptural fact.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  125. Frank,
    Do you think Mary could have said no given that Isaiah 7:14 prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin?

    Are we in agreement that Mary did not offer up Jesus to the Father?

  126. Hello Pat,

    In #125 you ask:

    Do you think Mary could have said no given that Isaiah 7:14 prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin?

    No OT Jew would have interpreted that verse as referring to a virgin, but rather to a young woman. Subsequent history shows that God meant something else by it than they could have imagined (which, btw, makes this verse a textbook example of what Catholics mean by Scripture having multiple meanings).

    Mary could have said no, because she had free will just like everyone else does.

    Are we in agreement that Mary did not offer up Jesus to the Father?

    I do not know what you mean by that, so I can’t answer the question (and yes, I know I am horning in on your conversation with Frank; tell me to butt out and I will do so without taking offense. Honest.)

    Peace,

    Fred

  127. Pat(#125)

    Fred’s answer is substantially the same as what I would have said. I will add that any particular prophesy does not compel action on the part of someone, it instead foresees that action. For example, when Jesus prophesies that He will be betrayed this does not compel Judas to betray Him. Judas acts out of his free will in betraying Jesus – if he did not, how would it be just for him to be punished for his betrayal?

    Mary does offer up Jesus to the Father in Luke 2. She also offers Him in the sense that she did nothing to interfere with Jesus’ Passion, but instead suffered in silent obedience as her precious child was tortured to death before her very eyes, because her God – her son – told her that He must suffer and die.

    Frank

  128. Pat (#125)

    Since your reply here simply asks for a further clarification as to whether Mary could have said no, I assume you do not dispute that Mary participated by her “yes” in God’s plan of salvation.

    The plain meaning of scripture and ordinary logic argue for this conclusion. You’re either going to have to interpret “be it done unto me according to your word” to mean something other than “yes” – or you’re going to have to show that a prophecy negates free will in the subject of the prophecy. That’s going to get you into deep theological trouble when it comes to the prophecies regarding the Passion and Crucifixion.

    Frank

  129. Ave Maria,
    I think this is somewhat showing my point. Before we can talk about if and how Mary participated in the all-sufficient and superabundant satisfaction of our only Redeemer and sole Mediator Jesus Christ, we need to ask how that satisfaction was accomplished. Penal substitutionary atonement (which I assume you [Pat] would, at least substantially, agree with) by its very nature excludes any participation on our parts in the work of Redemption. If the work of satisfaction for sin was Jesus (more properly, God the Son) receiving the wrath of the Father in the place of the elect, that is, receiving the punishment due for each of their sins, then to posit human participation in this would be blasphemy.

    We can all agree that:
    Jesus is the sole mediator between mankind and the Father.
    He is the all-sufficient savior who made more than sufficient atonement for the sins of mankind.

    The next question is “How did He make atonement.” This leads to the question of whether we participate in the Redemption, and then, whether, by God’s free decree, Mary has a unique role in that.

    It is essential to understand that anything which claims to be Marian teaching or devotion, but which either (1) undermines, in fact and not at first appearance, the glory of Jesus or (2) leads souls away from Jesus. Conversely, true Marian doctrine and devotion will always (1) glorify Jesus more (the great Marian Saint, St. Maximilian Kolbe, was fond of the phrase “Ad Maximum Dei Gloriam”, which could be interesting to compare to “Soli Dei Gloria”).

    I think it is essential for a Protestant, rightfully concerned with what seems to be an encroachment on the person of Jesus, to understand that any promotion of Mary assumes promotion of Jesus .

  130. If the admins will let me “resource bomb” I will suggest these links:
    A talk by Scott Hahn on the Coredemption:
    http://airmaria.com/2007/12/05/video-coredemption-conference-dr-scott-hahn/

    A show between the beloved Mother Angelica and Fr. Peter Fehlner FI:
    http://airmaria.com/2009/12/10/video-mother-angelica-coredemptrix-mediatrix-and-advocate/

    The resource page for the organization advocating the proclamation of the Coredeption as dogma:
    http://www.fifthmariandogma.com/books-and-articles/

    An article from the founder of my religious order on St. Maximilian Koble and the Coredeption:
    http://www.fifthmariandogma.com/co-redemptrix-fifth-marian-dogma/marian-coredemption-and-st-maximilian-mary-kolbe/

    A brief article from Fr. Dwight Longenecker (a convert from Evangelicalism) on the Coredeption and Evangelicals:
    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/mary-mother-of-salvation

    There are many more talks on the coredeption on that website (airmaria.com).

    Ave Maria
    fra Charles FI

  131. Pat-Fred,
    Where in Luke 2 makes you think Mary offered Jesus to the Father? Verse 22 says they “presented” Him to the Lord. This is not about offering Him to the Father. Mary had no influence on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

    Man’s freewill cannot stop something that God has decreed. It was decreed by God that the Christ would be born of a virgin. It was decreed that someone would betray Christ.

  132. Pat, you wrote in #131:

    Pat-Fred,
    Where in Luke 2 makes you think Mary offered Jesus to the Father? Verse 22 says they “presented” Him to the Lord. This is not about offering Him to the Father.

    I am not sure who “Pat-Fred” is supposed to be, because I doubt you are being intentionally self-referential. :-) However, since you did mention my name…

    With respect to the above, see Ex. 13:2 just for one example: “Consecrate to me every firstborn male…” This is why Mary and Joseph went to the Temple for the Presentation: because God said that all the firstborn belong to Him. This rule is presented repeatedly in the OT.

    Mary had no influence on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

    If Mary had not agreed to be His mother, there would have been no death or resurrection at all, so to say she had nothing at all to do with it is incomprehensible to me.

    Man’s freewill cannot stop something that God has decreed. It was decreed by God that the Christ would be born of a virgin. It was decreed that someone would betray Christ.

    As long as you are saying that Mary did in fact have a free choice, we are not far from agreement on this point. But Judas also had free will, or he could not justly be punished for the sin of betraying Christ. The greatness of God’s power and providence includes the fact that He does not violate the nature of creatures in the execution of His own will. So God’s decrees with respect to Mary were certain, but they were fulfilled through her free choice. Grace fulfills nature, and God’s providence doesn’t trample on nature. Man has free will as part of being a rational creature created in God’s image, so God will not compel us to fulfill Providence. We do so freely, without even knowing it (usually!).

    Peace,

    Fred

  133. Fred,
    The salvation of mankind did not depend on the approval of a human being. As I said, when God decrees something it must happen. Man’s “freewill” cannot thwart the decreed will of God. Mary said yes because she had a heart that desired to please God.

    Consecrating a child to the Lord is not the same as offering a child to the Lord.

    Was Jonah’s freewill violated when God sent Him to Nineveh?

  134. Pat (#131)

    I am happy to share our dialogue with Fred, but please do try to notice when it is I and not Fred who has posted a particular comment. Otherwise questions and comments may go unanswered, such as those I wrote to you in #128.

    In regard to #128 – the trouble I said awaited is this: if Jesus in his human will was not able to freely obey the Father (who had, as you put it, “decreed” that he should be crucified), then His obedience to the Father is worthless. Obedience is meritorious only when it is also possible not to obey. Jesus, according to your view, had no choice and the whole Garden of Gesthemane scene is therefore a sham. Is that really what you believe? Because that is the inescapable conclusion of your view of the relationship of God’s decrees and free will.

    Frank

  135. Hello Pat,

    You said, in #133:

    The salvation of mankind did not depend on the approval of a human being.

    But the condemnation of mankind most certainly did depend upon the actions of a single human being. So I fail to see why you think that Mary’s consent would have been ignored (or, worse, that God just simply compelled her to do what He wanted). Or is her fiat recorded just for show?

    As I said, when God decrees something it must happen.

    And I agreed with you.

    Man’s “freewill” cannot thwart the decreed will of God. Mary said yes because she had a heart that desired to please God.

    I did not say that our free will can thwart God’s will. I said that God does not compel us against our will in the administration of His Providence. To do so would be to destroy human nature, which necessarily includes free will. It would also eliminate guilt before the justice of God (as well as merit), because puppets on strings are not worthy of either. Right? :-)

    Consecrating a child to the Lord is not the same as offering a child to the Lord.

    for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.” (Numbers 3:13; emphasis added).

    Was Jonah’s freewill violated when God sent Him to Nineveh?

    Nope. Because the very first thing he did was to go 180º the other direction. He was then punished for that disobedience until he repented, at which point he became fish vomit. :-) Free will does not imply an absence of consequences; we must live with the outcomes of our choices. So did Jonah, who obviously had a wonderful time in the digestive juices.

    Peace,

    Fred

  136. Friends,

    My health is taking a bit of a turn for the worse this morning, so my wife has insisted that my time here today is done. I could exercise my free will and ignore her, but the consequences would be too terrible to imagine. :-)

    God bless you in this Easter season,

    Fred

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