July 20, 2014
OSV offers a regular pamphlet series on various Catholic issues/teachings. Check out their website for more info.
Summer blessings, Fr. Brian
We Catholics are often asked tough questions about our Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible. Here are the ten most-asked questions, and the answers that should help you satisfy both your questioner and yourself.
4. Why do you worship Mary?
Catholics do not worship Mary. We venerate her because she is the mother of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Veneration is completely different from the adoration of God. It is the honoring of a person, not the worship of Almighty God, our Creator. Catholics believe that Mary is the highest of God’s creatures because of her exalted role. But of course, like any other human being, she had to be saved by the mercy of God. She herself said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). We believe that God saved Mary by preserving her from the stain of original sin at the moment of her conception (the Immaculate Conception). The very fact that God took on flesh and became man (Jn 1:1, 14) indicates that He wished to involve human beings in His plan of salvation for mankind. Mary was a key person for this purpose, so this is why Catholics honor her so highly.
3. Why do you worship wafers?
A consecrated host or wafer at a Catholic Mass is the true Body and Blood of Christ, not merely bread; so Catholics are worshiping Jesus, not a wafer. In the Gospel of John (6:51-56), Jesus states repeatedly that “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (6:54). He is speaking literally, and He is so firm that many followers object and leave Him (6:52, 60, 66). St. Paul agrees with this interpretation and writes that those taking Communion “in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27 — see also 1 Cor 10:16). We don’t sin against someone’s “body and blood” by destroying a photograph (which is a mere symbol) of the person. Moreover, in the Last Supper passages (Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-20), nothing suggests a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation. The Last Supper was the Jewish feast of Passover. This involved a sacrificial lamb, and Jesus referred to His imminent suffering (Lk 22:15-16, 18, 21-22). John the Baptist had already called Him the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29).