Mary and the Living Tradition of the Church

The Immaculate Conception (ca. 1618-19), by Diego Valesquez

The Immaculate Conception (ca. 1618–19), by Diego Valesquez.

[This originated as a response to a comment on my own blog, but I thought it might be worth sharing with everyone.]

Well, even the language you are using exhibits that you are misunderstanding the Church’s teachings about Mary. And I can relate, because these are some of the same misunderstandings and objections I had.

All-Holiness: “Immaculate” is not “Perfect”

You suggest that someone is “making up a whole lot of stuff … until she is not human anymore.” Let’s start there. The Church teaches that Mary was fully, absolutely human, just as human as you or me. And she was in need of a Savior just as much as you or me. There is no teaching was “she was perfect.” Only Jesus was perfect. The Church teaches that she was preserved from sin, both the stain of original sin and the wound of ever committing actual sin — but that’s no reflection on Mary. She was not “perfect.” It’s all about the power of Christ to save. Christ’s power to save is so perfect, so absolute, that He could save His mother from the very moment of her conception, to make her wholly clean and pure in preparation for His coming. That Mary did not sin does not mean that “she was perfect” — it means that Christ’s grace is perfect. It is only by that grace that she was able to resist and avoid sin. And in the same way, we who are saved, who receive that same grace, have the power to resist sin! It does not mean that God is “less able to come all the way down to [the level of imperfect beings]” — it means that, by God coming to every one of us, we all can be made perfect by His grace!

(We say that Mary is “immaculate” — which does not mean “perfect.” “Immaculate” means “without a stain.” “Perfect” means “completely finished.” And we — just as Mary — are only “perfect” when we are “completely finished” works of grace.)

Virgin and Child with Rosary, 1655 (Murillo)

Virgin and Child with Rosary (1655), by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Perpetual Virginity — Mary as a Consecrated Vessel

And the idea that Mary is “anti-sexual” — I had the same objection: that the Church’s teaching on Mary’s perpetual virginity somehow implies that sexuality is “dirty” and that sex would somehow taint her all-holiness. But this is a misunderstanding. Certainly if the Church thought sexuality (especially women’s sexuality) were sinful (as many have in the history of civilization) — and if the Church were free to “make stuff up” — then it would have Jesus being born from a rock or a seashell or coming down from heaven fully-grown or some other such — not coming out of a woman’s gross lady-parts. The very act of Jesus being formed in a human womb and born by a natural human birth intrinsically makes Mary in some sense “sexual” — but the fact is that this is not “dirty.” The fact is that God did come down to her, in a miraculous and wonderful way.

But her perpetual virginity — why did she not have sex after Jesus was born? Does this not say that sex is somehow “dirty” and that for her to have sex would be a sin? No, it means that sex is something worldly — and Mary’s womb, by the very fact that it contained God Himself, is something consecrated, set aside for a higher purpose.

From the earliest Tradition — from apostolic times — the Church has hailed Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant” — the box that contained Christ, the incarnate Word, and bore Him into the world. See, for example, Revelation 11:19–12:1. The chapter break (which was not in the original text but only added later) causes many to overlook it, but here John plainly says, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple…. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun” (Revelation 11:19–12:1) — a woman from whom is born “a male child, one who is to rule all the nations” (Revelation 12:5). Certainly the child represents Jesus, and the mother Mary, and the mother is implied to be connected with the Ark of the Covenant in the heavenly temple! The Ark of the Covenant, a consecrated vessel, the very gate between Heaven and Earth — that is why Mary’s womb is held to be something that no man could touch, not because the sexual act is somehow “dirty.”

There is evidence from Scripture, even, that Mary was intended to be a consecrated virgin — as an early (mid–second century) apocryphal gospel, the Protoevangelium of James, reports. In Luke 1:34, Mary asks the angel Gabriel, “How shall this be, since I know not man” — ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω, present tense, a Greek phrase that translators have been struggling with for centuries. Many translations render it “since I am a virgin,” but that doesn’t quite get it; not does “since I have no husband.” It says Mary was betrothed! Certainly she had every expectation of having a husband, and unless she was not aware of the facts of life, would have fully expected having marital relations with her husband in the near future and conceiving children naturally! Why, then, did she ask this question?

Duccio, Assumption fragment (1311)

Assumption (fragment) (1311), by Duccio.

Mary’s Assumption — A Sure Sign of Hope and Comfort

And regarding the Assumption — again, you are missing the point of the teaching. It is not that Mary is someone special who, “once God truly touches” her, “doesn’t have a place on planet earth anymore” — but that every one of us whom God truly touches doesn’t belong to this earth, but has a place, body and soul, in His eternal kingdom. Look to this post I made about it. Mary is the firstfruits of His inheritance to all, the assurance that every one of us who are in Him have a heavenly reward awaiting. The liturgy of the Mass for the feast of the Assumption puts it better than I ever could:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give You thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For today the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of Your Church’s coming to perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to Your pilgrim people;

rightly You would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb
since from her own body she marvelously brought forth
Your incarnate Son, the Author of all life.

God came down to touch and to save not just one, not just Mary, but every one of us.

St. Luke as iconographer

An early Eastern tradition holds that St. Luke himself was the first iconographer and created the first icon of the Virgin and Child.

Mary In Scripture

You are right that “righteous” and “blameless” don’t mean “perfect” — something that Protestants should be reminded of, since they love to point to Paul’s quotation that “no one is righteous” (Romans 3:10) as evidence that we are all “totally depraved” and incapable of being righteous. But yes, Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous” — even though they sinned (for which Zechariah was stricken dumb, for doubting the angel’s words).

But regarding Mary — you suggest that “one little portion of Scripture led to a million statues.” Really? You think that the Church’s devotion to Mary is the result of a misunderstanding — of someone misinterpreting St. Luke when he says that Mary was “blessed”? Please remember that the Catholic Church is not like Protestant churches. We did not take the Bible and read it from scratch and interpret the Scriptures only for what we thought they meant. We received the Scriptures as part of a living Tradition — not just receiving the texts, but receiving teachings from those who wrote the texts, who taught us how to understand them and who gave us the fullness of revelation.

Go back to the beginning and read these words and try to put yourself in St. Luke’s mind: why did he write that “all generations would call [Mary] blessed”? Or that she was “highly favored” or “full of grace”? Was he just saying nice things about Jesus’s mother, or did he know more about her than he wrote in Scripture? By every indication, Luke knew Mary and talked to her, as one of the “eyewitnesses of the word” (cf. Luke 1:2) — or at least he talked to those who had known her very well. He had very personal and immediate knowledge of the circumstances of Jesus’s Nativity, things only Mary would have had knowledge of. Would Luke say that “all generations would call her blessed” — very high praise indeed — if there were not very good reasons why all generations would call her blessed? — if the generations of the Church were not already calling her blessed in their liturgy?

Fr. Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church

Mary and the Living Tradition

You suppose that the Church’s Marian doctrines are tradition getting out of hand, something added on later as people got carried away; and this is a common Protestant view. But from the very earliest Christian writers, we have testimony to the extraordinary things which the Church believes about Mary — that she was perpetually a virgin, that she did not sin, that she was assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life. The Protestant view supposes that the Church, so careful to preserve intact and uncompromised the faith that had been received from the Apostles, so determined that she would condemn heretics for deviating from that Truth, would, at the same time, “make stuff up” about the mother of Jesus, and “deify” a mere human to a point that entirely departs from that Truth — and that all the same Christians who would persecute heretics for alternate understandings of the divine and human natures of Christ would be entirely okay with this. Think about whether that makes sense.

I think, toward the end of this, you are starting to figure out for yourself where the Marian doctrines might truly be directed: “that maybe we are destined for greater things that we can imagine.” That is absolutely it! We say in the Salve Regina, my favorite Marian hymn, that Mary is “our hope.” Does that mean that we “hope” in Mary for our salvation? No — what it means is that Mary is everything we hope for, everything we hope to be. And everything we can be, by God’s grace.

Mary and the Middle Ages, by Fr. Luigi Gambero

I would highly recommend a book, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, by Fr. Luigi Gambero, a book that made a profound difference in my understanding of the Church’s Marian doctrines. Gambero goes through all the Church Fathers, from the very earliest writings to the medieval age (for which he has a sequel, Mary in the Middle Ages, which I don’t have yet but it’s on my list), and surveys the teachings of each regarding Mary, giving quotations that demonstrate that all the things the Church believes have been believed since the earliest times — that this Tradition isn’t just something “made up,” but something real and received. Mary is not the Gospel — but she is the demonstration of the Gospel, our living witness and assurance that all the promises of the Gospel are true.

39 thoughts on “Mary and the Living Tradition of the Church

  1. Mary deserves a special place in Christianity simply because there is no one else like her—she was totally unique and chosen by God. I think some people (not church’s) take Marianism a bit too far but that’s really a case-by-case basis and depends of the believer. I think the Scripture(s) used to justify the official dogma are a bit shaky but that’s just my opinion; the fact is, there is Scriptural evidence, it’s not just taken from 4th century apocrypha. *yeah, I’m Protestant by the way*

    • The fact is that something doesn’t have to be explicitly spelled out in Scripture for it to have happened. Since it was a rather intimate and personal event, and one not immediately essential to the message of the Gospel, I’m not surprised at all that the Apostles did not find the need to narrate it publicly.

  2. I take no position but merely to offer that those who suggest a normal biological birth feel that such in no way diminishes the life and meaning of Christ or that Mary is not to be revered. Perhaps the virginity lies in that His teachings are not of man but born of God and therein lies the virginity.

  3. I think a lot of the Mary-hating in the Protestant world comes from a misunderstanding of the intercession coupled with the fact that Catholics venerate Mary (as they should).

    • Protestant theology on this matter is based on belief that you do not pray to Mary or the saints as intercession does not exist. One prays to God only. Other than that point there is no such thing as Mary hating and she is revered and appreciated as God’s vessel just as RCC et al. I offer this understanding not to debate the efficacy of intercession but merely to define the Protestant view. That debate has gone on for 600 years and performed by far smarter people than I.

      • Hmmm? Intercession does not exist?

        “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–7)

        If I had known that intercession did not exist, I would not have been asking my loved ones to pray for me all these years.

        • Regarding intercession, there is a difference between one who goes to a friend and one who goes to Mary, namely that one is alive and the other is dead. Therefore, the one who goes to Mary is doing so in way very different from the one going to a friend. Because Mary is dead, asking her for anything is an example of necromancy, which the Bible prohibits (Leviticus 19:31, Isaiah 8:19)

          Furthermore, I don’t agree with Rome elevating Mary to the position of being worthy of veneration. Jesus had the opportunity to affirm veneration for Mary, however, denied it. In Luke, Jesus turns attention away from Mary, which is an outright rejection of Marian veneration.

          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!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28)

          The Holy Bible is the word of God and stands as our authority. I don’t find anything in the Bible that elevates Mary to a position that is held by Vatican. The Vatican has read a lot into scripture when it comes to Mary. Where the Bible does not explicitly teach something, we must be careful not to assert the implicit as fact. We must interpret the implicit in light of the explicit. One has to practice a lot of hermeneutical gymnastics to arrive at the views of Mary held by the Vatican.

          • Hello, and thanks for the comment. I’m sorry for the delay in replying. Your comment got lost in some shuffle.

            Regarding Mary, or any of the saints, being “dead”: Whoever said they were “dead”? Certainly not Jesus: our God is the God of the living, not the dead; all live to Him (Luke 20:38), and we who put our faith in Jesus will never die (John 11:25–26). If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, are you not denying that resurrection by proclaiming that those who trusted in Him are “dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12)?

            Regarding “necromancy”: Leviticus and Isaiah forbid communicating or consulting with the dead for the sake of personal gain, telling the future, influencing worldly events, etc. — practices associated with the occult. To seek the intercession of those who have gone on to their reward in Christ is number one, not communication with “the dead,” and number two, not “consulting” at all. No one expects to hear back; it is a petition offered up to God, in whom all of our departed loved ones are as much a part of the Body of Christ as we are.

            No one has “elevated” Mary to any position with which God did not honor her first. No honor could be higher than being chosen by God to bear His own Son and give Him flesh. In the passage from Luke with you cite, Jesus rejects bestowing honors upon his mother over and apart from her relationship to Him. Certainly her womb and her breasts are blessed by His presence — just as we are all blessed, in our spirits and in our bodies, by His grace to us, by His presence in our lives, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Apart from Him, we are but weak human flesh — as was Mary. Also, I should point out the clear irony of Jesus’s statement in Luke: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Mary certainly was foremost among those who “hear the Word of God and keep it”: more than anything else, she was blesed by her act of selfless obedience in accepting the gift of Jesus, and her “keeping all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19, 51).

            Luke, rather than rejecting the giving of honor to Mary, offers some of the most admiring words of all, in recording the exclamation of Elizabeth: “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!’ ” (Luke 1:41–43).

            If you think someone is “elevating” Mary to an unwarranted position, I think perhaps you may be misunderstanding the Catholic Church’s position.

            His peace be with you!

      • To say Protestants don’t believe in intercession of the Saints isn’t totally accurate. Saintly Intercession is an accepted doctrine in some Anglican and most Lutheran Churches. Luther himself continually referred to Mary as the “Queen of Heaven” in is writings and insisted that the Saints pray for the Church (in general) without us asking.

        While “praying to Mary” as a mediator between God and man would be blasphemous; Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans all believe that Christ is the only mediator and we simply ask the Saints to pray to Christ for us—same as asking your neighbor to pray for you.

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  6. Mary was a vessel used by GOD but as far as reaching and reconnecting with THE FATHER goes she’s out of the question.JOHN 1.john 3:17 ” for God did not send his Son into the world,but to save the world THROUGH HIM.john 6:29″ the work of GOD is this: to believe. in the one he has sent.john 3.16″for God so loved the world that he SENT HIS ONLY SON.THAT whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal lifehe did not send her.he used Mary.the work of Mary in salavtion is important but its exaggerated.john 10.Jesus teaches more about himself.he is the way,the truth and the life,no one can come to the Father Except through Him!.in all I never saw scriptures that said Mary should be worshipped.NEVER!!!.Beloved we are in the most terrible time since creation don’t not be decieved.JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY.THE Gospel is plain and simple but it cost Jesus a lifetime of of showing us the WAY!Romans 1:18-32.please brethen read the scriptures.and open your hearts to know and hear the voice of God through his word.colossians 2:6-23.colossians 3:16-17.I love you,and GOD LOVES YOU MORE!.

    • Hi, thanks for the comment. First of all, Catholics do not worship Mary. We honor her as someone greatly used by God, as I hope you will see if you read the post above. You are right that Jesus is Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only way to God the Father. I believe and agree with everything you’ve stated here. Do you have any questions about what the Catholic Church teaches and believes about Mary?

  7. Greetings Joseph. I have taken the liberty to read through the thread on Mary. I must admit, it is a little hard for me to follow as I think that some of the questions came from a previous thread and actually contains your answers to some of these questions…

    “But her perpetual virginity — why did she not have sex after Jesus was born? Does this not say that sex is somehow “dirty” and that for her to have sex would be a sin? No, it means that sex is something worldly — and Mary’s womb, by the very fact that it contained God Himself, is something consecrated, set aside for a higher purpose.”

    Not sure who made this statement, but does the Catholic church not think Mary and Joseph had children apart from the Christ Child?

    Brother Malachi

    • Hello, Brother Malachi. Thanks for the comment. This post was originally a reply to this comment on this post, if that adds any context.

      That statement was part of my original post (read above). And no, from the most ancient times (the tradition can be documented as early as around A.D. 120) the Church has believed that Mary remained virgin after the birth of Christ, and never bore another child. Opinions have differed about the identity of Jesus’s “brothers and sisters” from Scripture. One early tradition is that they were children of Joseph by a prior marriage. Another view that has come to be widely held in the West is that they were “kinsmen,” in particular cousins — one possible interpretation of the word ἀδελφός, most literally translated brother.

      Here is a bit more light on the tradition of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Here is another post exploring the identity of James, the “brother of the Lord.”

  8. Your kind response and references have enticed my attention with regard to reading material. I have spent ample time reading through the previous threads that had been posted and referenced.

    I did not come to your thread looking for argument, but can liken the thought process of your previous post (articles) to a discussion that I had with a dear Christian friend I used to work with.

    I trusted in Christ in 1985, I was 28 year old and had come out of a drug infested culture. Having been raised in the church until I was 12 year old I had an intellectual understanding of the teaching of the scripture as only one can intellectually have, but clearly never came to a saving knowledge to Christ. I went through all the motions of the religious-rite, as my confession before the church came when I was eleven year old, and was religiously induced by my religious father. It was after my new birth and disciplined study of the word of God that I began to understand the significant danger of religion. Please grant me the right to expound.

    When I trusted in The Christ, my boss and his wife were Catholics and had been since their early childhood. He started to quiz me about my New Birth. I simply told him how I had come to saving faith in Christ. Almost a year later he went through the same experience.

    We were talking about the schism between the Catholic Church and mainline Protestantism. I asked him a very pointed question. “Do you consider yourself a Catholic or a Christian first and foremost”. He answered a ‘Christian’. He thought for a moment and said but my wife does not feel the same…..

    Below are two quotes you made from the ‘Perpetual Virginity of Mary’…

    “I accepted that the Catholic Church was the true Church of Christ and the bearer of Apostolic Tradition, and therefore I would abide by her teachings. But being a lifelong Protestant, I didn’t believe that really, did I?”

    “Over the year or two I’ve been becoming Catholic, though, I have realized that there is scriptural support for Mary’s perpetual virginity. I found another strong indication just last week, and wanted to rush here immediately to share it.”
    Do you share in the same view as my dear Catholic brother’s wife?
    It seems that there is much speculation by the Catholic Church to the clear scriptural teaching to fabricate nothing more than a religious banter.

    “Catholics don’t worship Mary. We honor her; we love her; we venerate her; but we fully acknowledge that she was a human just as we are. We venerate her as we venerate the saints, only more so: she was the first Christian, the first one to believe in Jesus, and as His mother, someone who was very special to our Lord, and so she is special to us. She is the most honored of all the saints.” From your Veneration of Mary- An Introduction to Protestants.

    It seems you are attempting to convert (therein lies your spiritual distinction, if it is in fact a concise distinction) those from Protestantism to Catholicism… One must guard themselves against making one’s converts twofold the devils of hell.

    On Roman Catholic Mariology – Wikipedia
    In the Catholic perspective, Mary has a precise place in the plan of salvation and a special place within tradition and devotion. She is seen as having a singular dignity, and receives a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Roman Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art (where she has been a favorite topic), music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Mariology

    One can most assuredly understand the perceived ‘worship of Mary’, if this is in fact what the Catholic Church believes about Mary.

    There is peace in Yeshua

    brother malachi

    • Brother Malachi,

      I consider myself a Christian first and foremost. I spent more than thirty years growing up and being edified as a Protestant, and I give glory to God for that formation. But as a Catholic, I can now say that I’ve come to the fullness of the God’s truth. I believe that the Protestant Reformation and the 500-year schism it has brought to the Church was a tragic mistake. That’s not to say that God hasn’t done and doesn’t do good work in Protestant churches; but I desire more than anything, as Jesus desired, that we can once again all be one. If I can offer anything to anyone to lead them back to the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church, and to contribute to the restoration of Christian unity, I will not hesitate to do it.

      Catholic teaching is informed by both Scripture and the Tradition received from the Apostles by way of the Early Church and Church Fathers. And the fact is that Scripture isn’t clear on the matter of whether or not Mary had additional children. It nowhere says that the “brothers of the Lord” were the children of Mary. And as I pointed out in the other post, it would make little sense for Jesus to entrust his mother into the care of John if she had other children living. Since we have received teachings and testimony from the earliest Christians that Mary did not bear other children, and since Scripture does not contradict this, and in the case above supports it, that is what the Church teaches. If the Church Fathers have “speculated,” it is only regarding facts that have not been revealed to us, which ultimately aren’t facts that are necessary for our salvation.

      There is a marked distinction between worship that is due only to God, exaltation and adoration and glorification and submission that we can only give to our Maker and Master and Lord — and veneration that is due to Mary and the saints, honor to them for the lives they’ve led, the service they’ve given to God, their faithfulness and charity and virtue. All veneration, ultimately, is praise to God for the work He has done in the lives of these godly men and women. Rightly we see that not one of the saints, not Mary or anyone else, would have any graces if not for the grace of God at work in them.

      And Mary, indeed, has a singular honor even more than all the other saints because God Himself singled her out for a singular honor, to bear His Only Begotten Son into the world, to be His mother and give Him flesh and share a more intimate bond with Him than any other human, that of a mother to her son. Mary is special not because there is anything inherent to her as a human being that makes her special, but because her son is Jesus, our Lord and God.

      God bless you, and may the peace of Christ be with you.

      • Joseph, this shall be my last post to this thread, and one again, thank you for allowing me to share in your thread.

        “I believe that the Protestant Reformation and the 500-year schism it has brought to the Church was a tragic mistake. That’s not to say that God hasn’t done and doesn’t do good work in Protestant churches; but I desire more than anything, as Jesus desired, that we can once again all be one.”

        There is but “one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and in you all.”

        There is no schism in the body of Christ.. it is ONE. It is only religion, and the religious flesh, that divides. One in whom the Spirit of Truth abides, is ONE with others in the body of Christ. This was the prayer of Christ for those that would believe on Him through the apostle’s word… that we (faith in Christ) may be one even as the Father and the Son, Christ in us and God in Christ that we may be made complete in one!

        “And Mary, indeed, has a singular honor even more than all the other saints because God Himself singled her out for a singular honor, to bear His Only Begotten Son into the world, to be His mother and give Him flesh and share a more intimate bond with Him than any other human, that of a mother to her son. Mary is special not because there is anything inherent to her as a human being that makes her special, but because her son is Jesus, our Lord and God.”…

        “-and veneration that is due to Mary and the saints, honor to them for the lives they’ve led, the service they’ve given to God, their faithfulness and charity and virtue”…

        I am not saying that the saints of old should not be respected for their light and testimony in this world of darkness, but I have seen a danger with ‘this spirit of veneration’, it tends to edify the flesh… some were of Paul, another of Apollos, Peter, etc… it is seen in every religion. But one that is born again and endowed with the Spirit of Truth has but One object of veneration.

        To think that “Mary indeed has a singular honor even more than ALL the other saints”… is speculation in its rawest form. This may be the reason that the Lord did not mention her or even the apostles (He did not want to encourage the Body of Christ to esteem those of the flesh more than we should) in the so great a cloud of witnesses mentioned in His word. Just regular folk like you and me who have trusted in Him the same way they did and stand upon His word and His testimony.

        There is peace in Yeshua
        Brother Malachi

        • Thanks, Brother Malachi. You’re welcome to stick around to read and comment. This has been a productive discussion.

          There is no schism in the body of Christ.. it is ONE. It is only religion, and the religious flesh, that divides. One in whom the Spirit of Truth abides, is ONE with others in the body of Christ. This was the prayer of Christ for those that would believe on Him through the apostle’s word… that we (faith in Christ) may be one even as the Father and the Son, Christ in us and God in Christ that we may be made complete in one!

          This is certainly the Protestant interpretation — but it is not at all Jesus’s or Paul’s, and the Body of Christ was never even conceived in this way, as possessing an “invisible” and “mystical” unity despite its disunity, until after the Protestant Reformation, until Protestants sought to justify their schism and assuage their guilty consciences. Jesus prayed that we might be “one as He and the Father are one” (John 17:11) — “perfectly one” (John 17:23) — that is, that we might be a fundamentally indivisible unity, intimately and organically connected on every level, in spirit and mind and heart. Our “unity” today entails that there are appendages of the Body of Christ that will not even speak to each other, that seek to cut themselves and others off from the Body and reject entire branches of Christianity as un-Christian, that agree on absolutely nothing with other Christians than the person of Christ, and some even have disputes regarding that. He prayed that “we might be one, so the world may know that God sent Him” (John 17:23) — visibly one, that we might present a united and emphatic witness — and there is no greater scandal to the world, no greater denial that Christ was from God, than the disunity of Christians. Paul appealed to us, in the face of division even in his time, that “there be no dissensions among us, but that we be united in the same mind and same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10), that we “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) — and this is certainly not the case in the Body of Christ today. To deny that we are in schism is to be in utter denial; to fail to strive toward a greater unity in the Body of Christ is to fail in our greatest call as Christians. If it is “religion” that divides, it was “religion” that brought about the Protestant Reformation, and “religion” that causes our schism to persist. We have a Christian duty, to our Lord and to His Body, to strive to end that schism.

          I am not saying that the saints of old should not be respected for their light and testimony in this world of darkness, but I have seen a danger with ‘this spirit of veneration’, it tends to edify the flesh… some were of Paul, another of Apollos, Peter, etc… it is seen in every religion. But one that is born again and endowed with the Spirit of Truth has but One object of veneration.

          You speak of veneration and the “edification of flesh” in the terms by which Paul described our disunity — and yet it is not the veneration of saints that has led to our disunity, but rather the denial of it. The Christian Church from the earliest times has affirmed a communion of saints, as testified by the Nicaean Creed — that in the Body of Christ, we are members one of another (Romans 12:5, Ephesians 4:25), with every member of the Body of Christ, both those living today and those who have gone to their reward. It is the spirit of “religion” that would seek to cut off that communion. You again seem to be misunderstanding “veneration” as “worship,” something due only to God. But the difference is this: God is the Master Painter, and the saints are His masterpieces, the visible examples of the works of His grace. To admire and honor those masterpieces is to all the greater honor and exalt our Lord; to refuse to honor them and recognize them for what they are and for what He has done for them is to deny our Lord His rightful praise.

          To think that “Mary indeed has a singular honor even more than ALL the other saints”… is speculation in its rawest form. This may be the reason that the Lord did not mention her or even the apostles…

          “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:42–43). “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42–43). “My soul magnifies the Lord, / and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, / for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. / For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; / for he who is mighty has done great things for me, / and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46–49). Is this “speculation in its rawest form,” to read and not deny the words of Scripture? You presume too much to presume that our Lord and His Apostles never spoke of Mary. The very fact that they did is evident in Scripture. Do you think St. Luke, in recording his Gospel, would have spontaneously invented such great praise of the mother of Our Lord, apart from the testimony of the Apostles? Do you suppose such Scripture is “speculation in its rawest form”?

          May the peace of the Lord be with you.

  9. Pingback: Mary and the Living Tradition of the Church | Prayerful Anglican

  10. I am sorry to say this, but you are deceived, Joseph, to believe that the woman in Revelation is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Protestant commentators have long held this passage to refer to the Spiritual Israel, whose Law and Prophets Jesus came to fulfill. Jesus Christ did not come to fulfill his mother’s womb or make her into a demigoddess that you claim her to be.

    • Catholic commentators, since the first or second century, have held the woman in Revelation to be Mary — for a thousand or so years before there was such a thing as a Protestant commentator. Your premise is invalid. 😉

      Seriously, what grounds do you have for saying I am “deceived”? That somebody 1,500 years after the fact reads a text and comes to an interpretation that contradicts everything everyone else has believed for centuries? And yet you have certainty about this? On what vain pretension do you base this?

      What’s happened to you, man? For months you’ve been coming here and have been curious and receptive to the truth of the tradition of the Church. Now all of a sudden you come here and do nothing but condemn, apparently in the false self-assurance of something that has no basis in history or fact. There is nothing in the above that paints Mary as a “demigoddess.” She is as human as you or me — as I explained and stressed repeatedly. Whose camp have you stumbled into?

    • Certainly, though, the symbolism of the Revelation has different layers. An understanding such as the one you present might have some validity. But to condemn someone else’s view, particularly the historic view of the Church, as “deceived,” is the height of hubris. Do you honestly think John, the companion and guardian of Mary, would present a woman, one who “brings forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” and not see in this implications of the mother of Our Lord?

      • Hello Joseph,

        Sorry for the angry outburst the other day. I sincerely apologize for my vulgar and disrespectful language both towards you and towards the Virgin Mary. I asked Lord Jesus to forgive and I hope you can forgive me as well. The reason why I arrived at that conclusion is because the messianic passages in the book of Isaiah seem to strongly support the Israel connection, but I would like to end this debate here. I snap quite often nowadays because of a huge amount of stress and pressure around me, and I believe I am not emotionally fit to continue this discussion. I passionately disagree with Mariology, but let it be between you and God.

    • MarkP… leave them alone, the blind need leaders. the only problem is, the blind can only lead the blind, therein lies the danger of the ditch.

      Peace in the precious name of Yeshua
      brother malachi

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