July 25, 2024
Reflections By Rev. Fr. David Okolie

IF CATHOLICS DO NOT WORSHIP THE VIRGIN MARY AND THE SAINTS, WHAT THEN DO THEY DO?

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Rev. Fr. David Okolie

Dearest friends, it is no longer news that many, if not all, of our Separated Brethren (i.e the Non-Catholic Christians) believe that the Catholics Worship the Virgin Mary and the Saints. But, is that really true?

Well, to prove to you that Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary as these persons think, I wish to let you know this:

In the Catholic Theology, there is a clear understanding of the place of GOD, the VIRGIN MARY and the SAINTS in the lives of the faithful. Thus, the Church clearly makes a distinction in our relationship with them thus:

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผLATRIA: It is the Adoration/Worship which we render to GOD alone.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผHYPERDULIA: It is the Honour/Veneration which we render to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos) and the Queen of Angels and Saints.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผPROTODULIA: It is the Honour/Veneration which we render to St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus Christ and the first among the Saints.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผDULIA: It is the Honour/Veneration which we render to the Saints as special friends of God.

Please, kindly notice in the above the distinction between WORSHIP and HONOUR/VENERATION.

So, since the above distinctions are part of Catholic Theology, is that not enough evidence to make it clear that the Catholics Worship and Adore GOD ALONE but Honour and Venerate the Virgin Mary, St Joseph, and the other Saints?

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผNow, whatever posture a Catholic faithful adopts during prayer does not, in any way, suggest any of the above. It is something of the mind. For example, a faithful who is kneeling and praying before the grotto of the Virgin Mary or any of the Saints is understood in the Catholic Theology that he/she is simply Honouring and not Worshipping her. Just as a person who prostrates before the Traditional Ruler (king) of his place is not really worshipping him but simply Honouring him. But when a faithful kneels before the tabernacle, he/she is actually WORSHIPPING and ADORING God.

Also, for those who say that God forbade the making of images, I wish to let you know that what he really forbade is the WORSHIP of images which would amount to having another god besides him (cf. Exod 20:5, Deut 5:9). Let me quickly ask then: do Non-Catholics not have the pictures of their loved ones in their homes? Does it mean that they are disobeying God?

Well, the best way to understand that what God really forbade is the WORSHIP of images is when you recall the instruction of God to Moses to make a Bronze Serpentย and hang it on a pole such that all who were bitten by the live serpent looked at the Bronze Serpent and got healed (cf. Num 21:8-9). It is also important to note in the above Biblical account that it was not the Bronze Serpent that healed those who were bitten but God healed them. However, he chose to heal them by making them fix their eyes on what they can see. In the same way, it is God who answers the prayers of the Catholics when they pray before the Holy Images of the Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผAs Catholics, when you get any of these images/statues, make sure that it is blessed by a priest so that God can now work through it.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผFinally, as Catholics, do not get worried when you hear the contrary and erroneous assumption about the above teaching from our Separated Brethren (i.e Non-Catholic Christians), instead try and enlighten them on what we do and believe. But do not forget that even some of them also honour the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Second Vatican Council Fathers recognised that when they said this:

It gives great joy and comfort to this sacred synod that among the SEPARATED BRETHREN too there are those who give due honour to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour… (cf. Lumen Gentium [LG] n. 69).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary always support us with her powerful intercession. Amen๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Remain blessed๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

contributor
Rev. Fr. David Okolie is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, Imo State, Nigeria. He is a prolific writer, retreat preacher and social media evangelizer.

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