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The Right Devotion

Someone showed me a video recently of a group of Catholics singing a song to the Blessed Virgin. As I often say, I do not know their hearts, but the example they give in the video is problematic. Apart from the awfully cheap and corny pop-tunes that they were singing, the manner in which they focused on Mother Mary gave me the creeps. I would say that it is hard to believe that their devotion to Mary had not crossed the line; as much as one can understand from a video, their devotion was not moving them toward Christ, but keeping them fixed on Mary -- which the church declares to be a sin.


What is proper devotion to Mary? Is it possible for Catholics to "over-honor" the Blessed Virgin? It is true that we are supposed to give her a greater level of honor than the rest of the Saints; after all, she held a greater place of honor than any other because she brought us the Savior. In addition, she was the one perfect "Saint on Earth", or as some say "Living Saint", so of course we would expect to honor her in a greater fashion. Yet, even this greater honor should never approach, or even appear to mimic, the worship of our One Triune Lord.


Devotion to, and the honoring of, the Blessed Virgin should always and only bring us closer to Christ. If we obsess about the Blessed Virgin and her graces it can cause us to forget that everything she told us was "do whatever [Christ] tells you" (John 2:5), and never did she say "focus on me". In fact, for Mary, who was the most humble person ever, to desire us to focus on her, would be completely contrary to her holiness. That kind of devotion is wrong-headed and does not lead one closer to Christ; rather it is a dishonor to her and a denial of what she is praying about for us.


The reason we are able to say "to Jesus through Mary" is not because she is divine (she is not!). It is because she cooperated with Christ in His salvific work more than other any other person ever, first of all by giving birth to Him, and raising Him to adulthood, and second of all pointing people to Him throughout her life. It is also still true today because she is the perfect example of holiness. Yes, in one way, Jesus is a better example, but Jesus' role is not the sexemplaryame as hers: He is the Messiah and therefore there are things that He does--in perfect holiness of course--that we cannot mimic. He is perfect judge, He knows the heart of every man, He is able to declare someone as condemned, He says to His listeners that He is God; the list could go on.


Mother Mary, on the other hand, can be followed in her example. She is solely human, and desires being Christ-like in holiness. Therefore, she, through her perfect example of saintly behavior, is the ideal pathway to Jesus. The more we know her and how she lived, the more that we will know the way to Christ. This is not worship of Mary, it is right devotion. This is what the Church calls us to.

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