Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Today's Mail

I had a great question in my inbox today, concerning yesterday's posting "I'm a Bad Catholic". So, I'm posting the question and my reply here in case anyone else has the same question. Blessings-

(From Maidei)

"a question: why did you pray to Mary when you spoke to that flight attendant? why didn't you rather pray to the God or the Holy Spirit? Does Mary have the power to do what you asked of her (as she is not God), or is that not something that we should be reserving to God, as he is the source of all grace? I'm a Catholic myself, and I've been grappling with the notion of our relationship with/to the anything you have to say will really be appreciated!


Dear Maidei,

I understand your concern. My first question to a priest (when I was beginning to journey from Evangelical Protestant to Holy Mother Church) had to do with Mary worship. He very clearly and quickly addressed my concern, saying, "We do not worship Mary. We reserve worship for God alone. Mary is not divine." He (and many others) have gone on to explain:

We do, however, ask one another to pray and intercede. I might even ask you to pray for me; I might tell you that I will pray for you. That does not preclude my praying to God. I frequently ask others to pray for a particular situation - to intercede - and I STILL go to God in prayer. It is not either/or. To petition Mary - or any saint - is to seek the intercession of the communion of saints.

In the Creed, we profess that we believe life continues, in that beautiful "the communion of saints". And so we know that the saints in heaven are more alive than they have ever been. Who better to pray for us, to intercede for us, than those who are at the Throne. And, I encourage you to take a deeper look at the role of queen mother in the ancient civilizations - especially in the lives of the Hebrew people.

The queen mother had the ability to go to her son, the King, and place petitions of the people at his throne. She had access to the King's treasure, and she could dispense them to the people.

Our Lady is the Mother of the King of Kings. She is the Lady of Grace. She petitions her Son on our behalf.

Specifically, why did that prayer come to me in that moment. I suppose this prayer was in my heart and on my lips most especially because I was petitioning for this man's return to Mother Church. The "need" fit the "intercessor" perfectly.

A great help in this area is MARY, THE CHURCH AT THE SOURCE and DAUGHTER ZION by Pope Benedict XVI writing as Cardinal Ratzinger. Our Lady is not merely the prefigurement of The Church; she is an archetype of Mother Church - and the Holy Father goes on to say that the Church Fathers "see Mary as the only one person who, without losing her own action within the communion of saints, is therein adequate to, and coincident with, the action of the Church as Christ's 'helpmate'" (141-142).

Pope Benedict XVI speaks of The Church as being The Marian mystery (17) and says, "Only a conversion to the sign of the woman, to the feminine dimension of the Church, rightly understood, will bring about the new opening to the creative power of the Spirit, and so to Christ's taking form in us. . ." (61).

I was reading this book (MARY, THE CHURCH AT THE SOURCE) about this time, and so it felt natural, right to petition Our Lady for the return of this one to Mother Church.

All Marian devotion and petitions do not end with Our Lady. From the moment she gave her Fiat, she has been working to bring Her Son to the world. From the moment she spoke to the disciples at the Wedding in Cana, she has been working to show us and remind us to do all that He tells us. From the moment she embraced her role as mother to St. John (at the cross) she has been working to bring the world to the cross of Christ, her Son.

But, I guess it was even more basic than that for me. In that moment, I saw a young man who needed someone soft and gentle to guide him Home. I was a stranger. I could not go with him into his life and continue to help evangelize and disciple him back to Jesus Christ.

But Our Blessed Mother could - and would.

Marian devotion has many facets - like a kaleidoscope moving and turning.

But, she is a venue to God. She is part of the Communion of Saints. She is Queen Mother to the King of Kings.

She is not God.

She shows us, better than anyone else, how to be pleasing to God, how to be a true disciple, how to evangelize - and how to find our way Home to Mother Church.

Thank you so much for your question. I hope this helps.



  1. Thanks for your very thorough answer Diane! A follow on (if you don't mind!): I've shared similar views to yours on the question of the communion of saints (which I think is a great concept), but then I've started questioning it from a different side and would appreciate your take on it too: the idea of a commununion of saints presupposes that when we die, we are judged instantly, and therefore go to heaven or to hell (the saints going to heaven of course). But what of the contrary view on what happens to us when we die, which is that we all 'go to sleep' and are raised at the end of time for judgment? I think this comes across in some of Paul's writing (can't recall the references offhand). If this second view of what happens to us when we are dead is correct, then surely, there can be no communion of saints as such until we are all raised from the dead and judged? Thus, praying to the communion of saints at present would be of no use...?

    Now, I could be wrong, but there doesn't appear to be any categorical scriptural support for either view... I don't think Jesus said anything to suggest either view particularly strongly. So with that in mind, what is the Biblical justification for the communion of saints as you have described it?

    Secondly, is the notion of a communion of saints consistent with what God has said about communicating with the dead? I'm thinking about Old Testament injunctions against necromancy etc, and wondering whether that does not point to an indication that the dead are meant to be separate from the living?

    Any light you can shed would be awesome!

  2. I'm sorry Denise, I think I called you Diane in my previous post - my apologies!

  3. Dear Maidei,

    Thank you once again for your questions. I began this blog for moments like these.

    I'd like to address this through another post, but I want to share something that comes to mind immediately.

    I have never questioned the Communion of Saints (even as a Protestant - though I didn't ask for their intercession back then).

    Two reasons:

    First, it is part of The Creed. There's something comforting and trustworthy about that.

    Second, I have loved the passage in the Book of Hebrews since I was a child. I paraphrase, Since we are surround by so great a crowd of witness . . . and we are told that they cheer us on in this race. (And so, we know, they are fully engaged in what we do and care very much about whether or not we "run the race" well. Like sitting in the stands at a game. Cheering on the players.)

    I will write more as time permits. It is important, especially as you are Catholic, that you have a full and complete understanding of the Faith. Our Lord's priestly prayer (John 17) spells out the importance of being one in the Faith.

    Father, make them one. . . as we are one. . .so the world will know that you have sent the son.

    The one-ness that exists between the Father and the Son is so complete that, truly, there is no shadow of difference. And that is how we must be - so that the world will know.

    Perhaps you will find the Catechism of help-

    More later, with blessings-