WHO IS MARY?
MY CHILDHOOD WITH MARY…AND MY DISILLUSIONMENT
Growing up in the Catholic Church, Mary was the one to whom I fervently prayed. When I went to church I knelt before a beautiful, majestic statue of the Madonna and humbly and ardently laid out my needs whenever I could. She was real to me; her face was so sweet and beautiful, her eyes so caring. I was told often by the priests that Jesus would listen to the intercessions of His mother, therefore, I should pray to her to intercede with Him for me. Every day I prayed the rosary which consisted of 53 intercessory prayers to Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.
It wasn’t until after I was saved that I realized that while the first portion of this prayer is Biblical, the second portion is not. Mary was not the mother of God; she was the mother of the human child, Jesus. She cannot pray for sinners either now or at the time of our death because she herself is dead. 1Timothy 2:5 (NKJV) states:
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
Yet this was not the only falsehood I believed about Mary. As I read my Bible, more and more inconsistencies were brought out into the open between what I was taught as a child and what Scripture taught as truth.
In my childhood I honored Mary by wearing special medals to commemorate her and by attending Mass on the Holy Days of Obligation dedicated to her. These included The Assumption which denotes the supposed bodily taking up of Mary into Heaven without her dying. But where was that in the Bible? Secondly, Mary is considered to have been immaculately conceived – meaning she was born without sin just as Jesus was. Yet, the idea of Mary’s immaculate conception is refuted by Mary herself in the Magnificat where she proclaims her need of a Savior, thus admitting she was a sinner:
Luke 1:46 – 47 (NKJV) And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Isn’t it interesting how this entire declaration by Mary emphasizes and exalts Jesus? This humble servant of the Lord wasn’t thinking about herself and any honor placed on her. All she was thinking about was Jesus and His glory.
When I received my Confirmation, a sacrament of the RCC wherein you receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I was told to choose a middle name to always remember that special day. I chose Mary. My next door neighbor had a life-size statue of Mary in her front yard. You may think all this was unusual. Sadly, it was not. I cannot speak for the rest of the world, but I was brought up in New York and this was not unusual at all. The hold of “Mary” over the people in the Catholic Church is incredibly strong, so strong that when I accepted Jesus into my heart, I actually felt that I had to verbally come against this “Mary” to be free of her and worship Jesus alone. The more I read the Bible and truly studied it, the more I knew that the “Mary” of the RCC is not the sweet, humble handmaiden of the Lord.
I had a choice to make when I came out of the Catholic Church that was very heart-wrenching to me as a Polish Catholic. I had to make not only a religious break but a cultural and family break as well. There were many rituals, feasts, etc. I could no longer attend with my family. My parents were convinced I had joined a cult. Thankfully, this choice was not just one of my heart and spirit, it was supported by a truth the Lord, in His faithfulness, allowed me to discover in His Word. Read closely the following:
These are the Catholic Ten Commandments: (from Catholic Bible)
- I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve. 2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. 4. Honor your father and your mother. 5. You shall not kill. 6. You shall not commit adultery. 7. You shall not steal. 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. 10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
These are the Biblical Ten Commandments:
1.Do not have any other god before God. 2. Do not make yourself an idol. 3. Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. 4. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. 5. Honor your mother and father. 6. Do not murder. 7. Do not commit adultery. 8.Do not steal. 9. Do not testify or fear false witness against your neighbor. 10. Do not covet.
Did you notice that, starting with the second commandment, the list is different? In the Biblical second commandment it states that you are not to make yourself an idol. That commandment is in no way referenced in the Catholic Commandments; it is eliminated. The tenth commandment of the Catholic commandment concerning coveting is split into two to substitute for the missing second. Why is this omission so significant? Because of what the second commandment is: “do not make yourself an idol.” Yet, all those years I prayed to that magnificent statue of Mary in my Catholic Church. There was my choice: to continue praying to the idol named Mary thereby sinning against my Savior or to completely give her up and glorify and love Jesus with all my heart. His Word made my choice clear.
JESUS & MARY AS SAVIOR, REDEEMER AND MEDIATOR
The Roman Catholic Church: the edicts of Pope Leo XIII (which are said to be infallible) stated that Mary is the “instrument and guardian of our salvation” (edicts 362-363) from The Gospel of Rome by James G. McCarthy.
In contrast, the Bible states that salvation is exclusively through Jesus and His shed blood. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6) and Hebrews 10:19-20 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh…
The RCC teaches that Mary is the sinless co-Redeemer. Mary was proclaimed co-Redeemer with Jesus by Pope Benedict XV not by the laws of the Bible. “Without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and work of her son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with Him…being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race” (494). He went on to say that “[O]ne can justly say that with Christ, she herself redeemed mankind” (Encyclical Intersodalici, 1918) (The Berean Call, April 2019).
The Bible says nothing about Mary being involved in salvation. It affirms only the precious blood of Jesus as the basis of our redemption: For you know it was not with perishable things…that you are redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pe 1: 17-18).
The RCC teaches that Mary “did not lay aside her saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. She is Advocate…and Mediatrix” (969). To such an extent is Mary considered the chief intercessor and means of salvation that when Pope John Paul II was shot he repeatedly cried out to “Mary, my mother.” After recovering he publicly gave Mary the praise for saving his life and went to the shrine at Fatima to give her glory.
The Bible says: God is one, one also is the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Ti 2:5)
When the Norte Dame Cathedral was on fire in Paris on April 15, 2019, intercession was made to spare the iconic building. But the intercession was not to Jesus; it was to Mary (ironically Norte Dame is French for Our Lady):
U.S. Cardinal Dolan, [Archbishop of New York], tweeted: “I just went next door to our own beloved Cathedral, Saint Patrick’s, to ask the intercession of Notre Dame, Our Lady, for the Cathedral at the heart of Paris, and of civilization, now in flames! God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze.” https://www.foxnews.com/world/massive-fire-breaks-out-in-notre-dame-cathedral-in-paris
To suggest Mary has a part in salvation, redemption and intercession implies she is a part of the Trinity. By its very definition the Holy Trinity is composed of three people in one Godhead – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Mary is not a fourth person in the Trinity, neither is she part of the Godhead. Therefore, she cannot be co-savior, co-redeemer, nor co-intercessor.
Annotated bracketed references to Catholic doctrine were obtained from the current official Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Austin Flannery edition of Vatican Council II: The Concilar and Post Concilar Documents.
McCarthy, James G. The Gospel According to Rome. Harvest House, 2007.