Monday, December 22, 2008

Follow Mary to Christ

Certain of those who engage in Marian devotion, insist that Mary leads them to Christ. Allow me to suggest that Mary's example is better followed than anything else, if one wishes to be led by Mary to Christ. One thing seems fairly certain: Mary never prayed the Rosary. On the other hand, do you suppose she prayed the Lord's prayer?

If so, she admitted her lack of sinlessness. As the church father Tertullian explained:
Having considered God's generosity, we pray next for His indulgence. For, of what benefit is food if, in reality, we are bent on it like a bull on his victim? Our Lord knew that He alone was without sin. Therefore, He taught us to say in prayer: 'Forgive us our trespasses.' A prayer for pardon is an acknowledgment of sin, since one who asks for pardon confesses his guilt. Thus, too, repentance is shown to be acceptable to God, because God wills this rather than the death of the sinner.
Tertullian, On Prayer, Chapter 7

And Tertullian is right: no one was without sin, save God alone. Mary never prayed the Rosary (the very idea of her praying to herself is absurd), but we have no reason to suppose that she did not pray the Lord's prayer, or prayed it incompletely. Indeed, Mary acknowledged that she needed a saviour:

Luke 1:46-47
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

So, by all means, do follow the greatly blessed mother of our Lord, to the Lord. Repent of your sins and place all your trust for eternal life in him alone, and you will be saved.



natamllc said...


amen to those Marian "Words" of Scripture.

I have been pondering the phenomenon of Marian devotion and signs of Mary coming up everywhere over the years and want to post these verses pointing away from her:::>

Luk 11:27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!"
Luk 11:28 But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
Luk 11:29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
Luk 11:30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

Jesus says nothing in there about "Marian devotion" even though there is a clear unequivocal reference to her!

Mike Burgess said...

You're stretching a wee bit. Obviously, it's anachronistic to believe the Rosary existed in the New Testament era, so asking if she prayed it (or the Hail Mary or the Gloria Patri or the Apostle's Creed) is what's absurd.

That she was personally preserved from sin by her prevenient salvation comports with her words in the Magnificat you cited. Of course she had (and needed to have) a Saviour, the one and only Lord. He saved her by keeping her from sinning. He preserved her graciously. Hers is a gracious sinlessness, showing the fulness of the gratuitous theosis given to us by the Lord, who calls us and prepares our works for us to walk in, and is at work in us both to will and to do, according to His good pleasure.

Your speculation about Mary praying a complete version of the Lord's prayer is no more problematic than our Lord praying and reciting the Psalms in the liturgy of the intertestamental synagogue and Temple. The Lord was quoting Psalm 22 on His cross. Do you suppose He believed the Father had abandoned Him? Or that He was included in the salvation? He did not even need gratuitous prevenience, since He possessed sinlessness by nature.

Speaking of the complete version of the Lord's prayer, why do you add words to it by appending the doxological ending "for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever"? (This is part of the prayer in all of the Presbyterian versions, so far as I know.) So often, we're chided for supposedly adding traditions of men and so forth that your ironic example here begs to be pointed out.

At any rate, we should imitate our Lady, as she said at Cana: "Do whatever He tells you." We should imitate St. Paul, as he said in 1 Corinthians and elsewhere. We should follow them to Jesus. We come to faith by hearing; by living as they and other saints did, we shall come to Him. This is what Scripture tells us to do. Participating in the liturgical life of the Church, and in so doing receiving sacramental grace in both the sacraments and the use of sacramentals such as the Rosary, is an essential part of imitating or following the example of Mary and Jesus. He, ultimately, showed us that even the Lord participated in the liturgy of the Church, and so we should, too. I'm sure I don't need to remind you of official teaching on sacramentals, their attachment to sacraments, the necessity of the sacraments for the life of the Church, the necessity of the communion of saints in liturgy (service) to the Lord, and so forth. I'm not convinced all of your readers share the level of knowledge you consistently profess about Catholic teaching. Proper reflection on these matters would seem to have prevented you from posting this piece.

Turretinfan said...


I've responded to part of your comments in a new post (link).


Turretinfan said...

Mr. Burgess,

I have responded to the bulk of your comment in a new post (link).

As to: "I'm not convinced all of your readers share the level of knowledge you consistently profess about [Roman] Catholic teaching."

Undoubtedly, as with any blog, the readership varies from folks that think they know it all and consider me ignorant, to folks who know next to nothing.

"Proper reflection on these matters would seem to have prevented you from posting this piece."

With respect, no.