More on Devotion to Mary and the Saints

Author: Fr. William Most

1. Worship of Mary and the Saints?

Do Catholics worship Mary and the Saints? Protestants often claim that. But let us examine the command of Our Lord: "Judge Not". We must distinguish two things:

a) the objective rating of an action, e.g., murder is gravely sinful. We can say this independently of the interior dispositions of anyone who does it. If I see someone put a gun to another's head and pull the trigger, it is not "judging" to say I saw murder.

b) The interior dispositions of the sinner--here we must not judge, for at least in general, we cannot know much if anything of the interior. It is to this that the Gospel command applies.

Therefore, as to Marian devotion:

a) the forms it takes, such asking her to intercede with her Son, lighting candles, etc.--these are not in themselves worship. What of the eternal flame at the grave of President Kennedy?

b) The interior attitudes of Catholics: to insist they mean it to be worship, i.e, the kind of honor due to God alone--this is simply rash judgment, and is forbidden by "Judge not." So those who make the charge are violating the Gospel precept. The same holds true, of course for devotion to all the saints.

2. Honor in general

Jesus obeyed the fourth commandment to honor Father and Mother, for He went down to Nazareth and was even subject to them. If He honored her, we can and should imitate Him. God Himself has honored her so greatly. For anyone to say: I reject her, will not honor her, would be an affront to His judgment.

Similarly, we should honor and imitate those men and women who were outstanding in serving God during their earthly lives, just as God now honors them in heaven.

3. Only One Mediator?

Sometimes it is claimed that devotion to Mary and the Saints violates 1 Tim 2:5 by setting up other mediators between God and man besides Jesus Christ.

That there is only one mediator is true in three senses: a) There is only one who is by nature a mediator, having both divine and human natures; b) there is only one whose mediation is strictly needed; c) there is only one who can mediate by His own power. Every other mediation is really only a sharing in the one mediation of Jesus Christ.

Others, including Our Lady and the Saints, can act only by His power. So to say they do it does not detract from Him, but rather shows the greatness of His power in that He can even make creatures capable of doing something, not of course the same as what He does, as we have said.

4. Need?

In itself, She and the Saints would not be needed at all. But Our Father loves good order. He likes to have one thing in place to serve as the reason or title for doing the second (cf. St. Thomas, Summa I. 19. 5. c) Thus though He could grant prayers simply, He preferred to bind Himself by the promise, "Ask and you shall receive."

So, if those holy men and women who already see Him face to face pray to him for us, how much better off will be be than if we are left to our own feeble prayers!

Abridged from the file "Devotion to Our Lady and the Saints" by Fr. William G. Most