Sunday, 14 December 2008

Catholics Do Not Worship Mother Mary

It is not uncommon for others to refer to catholics as those christians who worship Mother Mary.

Years back as a young catholic, I was baffled by questions on the propriety of worshipping Mother Mary. I was not irritated by the misconception at best, or wrong accusation at worst.

On reflection, I am of the opinion that we, as catholics, could not attribute the wrong impression solely on others.

Many of us were at fault. On entering the homes of catholic families, it is common to find the statue of Mother Mary taking centre-stage on the altar.

The icon of Jesus would probably be to the right or left of Mother Mary.

Worst still, there might be none at all.

With these in mind , I have discussed with my wife on making the necessary adjustments to the altar arrangement (see picture).

Besides, the portrait of Mother Mary has also been taken down from our main door; and replaced by the all-too-familiar crucifix associated with the catholic faith.

To set the orientation right, catholics DO NOT worship Mother Mary. We pray to Mother Mary to intercede for us in her prayer to the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI told the pilgrims at the Marian sanctuaries of Lourdes this year that humble prayer to Mary was a true path to Christ.

The pope said Mary had appeared at Lourdes to invite everyone who suffers, physically or spiritually, to "raise their eyes toward the cross of Jesus" and recognize a love that is stronger than death or sin.

In his sermon, the pope placed himself among the pilgrim population, saying he, too, had come to pray at the feet of Mary, "eager to learn from her alongside little Bernadette".

Bernadette Soubirous was the 14-year-old peasant girl who had 18 apparitions of Our Lady over a six month period in 1858. He noted that Mary's first gesture to St Bernadette was to make the sign of the cross - an initiation into the mysteries of faith in Christ.

In his message on the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, His Grace (Archbishop Nicholas Chia) had said that it was through Mary Our Blessed Mother that Christ, the Word of God came into this world.

Through her humble submission to the will of God, Jesus became incarnate in her womb and was born in Bethlehem. Of all creatures she was closest to Him.

Through her, St Elizabeth and St John the Baptist encountered the Lord. At the Wedding Feast in Cana she introduced the stewards to the Lord: "Do whatever He tells you".

Mary's mission is to bring others to Christ and Christ to others. Mary wants to bring us close to Christ, the Word of God.

There are countless justifications as to why we should pray to Mother Mary.

But, in our zeal to look up to her for help; we must not unwittingly send the wrong message to others that we are worshipping her.

Our focus is still on the Lord Jesus.

Our acts of devotion must be seen to be in line with our focus.

Otherwise, we only have ourselves to be blamed if we grant others the opportunity to portray us as worshippers of Mother Mary !

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