Defending the Glory of God
5.1 We are to pray to God. Arenít you Catholics putting Mary in Godís place ?
NO, praying to Mary and the other Saints in Heaven does not put them in Godís place or on the same level as God.
It must be restated that we worship, adore, and we offer sacrifice to God and only to God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. And only God is our Creator, Redeemer, and Savoir. Salvation is only made possible by the merits that were won for us by Jesus Christ. God is the source of all that is good.
All of the good things that Godís holy people have done and are doing are the manifestations of the glorious working of God in their lives and only made possible by their co-operation with His grace. We believe that God has chosen to manifest His glory through their lives. Because He has chosen to honor them so should we. We ask them to pray with us to Jesus because we believe God has been faithful to His promise of giving them eternal life, a sharing to be in union in His love. [Genesis 27:29 and John 11:24-26]
Perhaps one reason for some confusion and misunderstanding of Catholicism is the following; Protestants pray only to God and they worship only God. For them the two verbs, to pray and to worship, are almost synonymous, meaning the same thing. Not so for Catholics. We worship only God. However, we define "to pray" to mean to talk to or to ask for the assistance from someone in heaven.
Also, the only from of worship that Protestant's have is to pray. Again these words, worship and prayer, can take on synonymous meanings for them. Catholics worship our Heavenly Father, not only by praying, but we also worship the Father by taking part in that perpetual offering of that one Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Life, Death, and Resurrection, to our Heavenly Father. The verbs to pray and to worship do not mean the same thing for a Catholic.
Just as we honor our parents or others here on earth, we also honor those whom God has taken to heaven. God does manifest His Glory as He works through His creatures, the angels and the saints. They are vessels of His Grace.
5.2 Doesnít the idea of praying to the Saints in heaven and Mary's Immaculate Conception take away from the unique characteristics of God, and therefore place the Saints on the same level as God ?
This in no way takes away from the unique characteristics of God. It is only because the Saintís prayers - just as the prayers of our neighbors and loved ones here on earth - are done in Christ that they have value.
Mary was saved from sin from the first moment of her conception. However, this in no way takes away from the unique characteristic of Jesus.
Some Christians inaccurately state that it is because Jesus was without sin that He redeemed Mankind. It is true that Jesus was without sin. He is the perfect and unblemished Sacrifice. However, if another person, a simple human being for example, lived his life without sin and he was sacrificed for others that would not merit heaven for himself, let alone the rest of humanity. While such a person would not be deserving of hell that doesnít mean that even he himself would have merited the everlasting joy of being united with God in heaven.
For example, a baby who is sacrificed in the womb through abortion before he has the chance to commit any personal sins does not thereby redeem mankind. Our sins are infinitely great because the One whom they offend, God, is infinitely great. Therefore, our salvation requires infinite grace. Jesus was able to do that and bridge the chasm between God and sinful man because he is not only Man, but also God. Therefore, his sacrifice has infinite merit so that it not only saves man from the just punishment of hell, but also wins for him the gift of heaven.
Read why our salvation required a God-Man (Jesus.)
Mary was saved from sin from the moment of her conception by the grace of God. This points to how we will also be completely freed from all sin when we enter heaven. See Revelations 21:27. Mary would not have been saved from sin had not the saving work of Jesus Christ been applied to her. Her Immaculate Conception points to the Glory of God and His Power.
Jesus is unique among humans because He is alone is God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. His goodness is based on Himself whereas our goodness is completely dependent on Him. It is His gift to us. See the God-Man (Jesus.)
5.3 Arenít you Catholics placing Mary to high ?
The particular gifts that God has given to Mary do not place Mary to high, rather they point to two realities. They point to the power of God. And they point to the spiritual realities that will be made manifest in the rest of the church when we go to Heaven.
Donít Rob God of His Glory.
One reason Catholics extol Mary so highly is that the One who has molded her and works through her in none other than her Son, Jesus Christ, who is God. To deny how great He has made her is to rob Him of the recognition that He deserves for His greatest work. He is the Artist and she is His masterpiece. Ironically, some misguided Christians in their zeal to give the glory to God do rob him of the recognition that He deserves by denying that His greatest work in her was ever done.
Why was Mary blessed more than other Christians?
Sometimes we are more open to Godís grace than we are at other times. In the course of their lives some people are more open to Godís grace than are other Christians. God is omniscient. He knows everything. He even knows our future. He is the One who created Time and Space and so He is outside of it and is not restricted by it.
were possible to take a movie of our lives and then to place the
frames of that movie onto a wall, then a person could see it
from the beginning to the end. God is outside of Time, outside
of the movie in a sense, so He knows how our lives will turn
out. God knows how open each of us will be to His grace.
So, He chose that individual whom He knew would be most open to
His grace to be His mother. And that person is Mary.
Luke 1: 41-42
Mary receives a crown, but so do all Christians. See 2 Timothy 4:8, and 1 Peter 5:4. And these crowns are in fact the crowning of Godís greatest work, His new creation in us. Godís love is made manifest when our hearts and souls are transformed by His grace into a loving and holy family, His people, Godís family. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17
The following terms apply to God and yet they also apply in some way to members in the church; foundation, light, teacher, apostle, father, shepherd, and rock.
See ONE MEDIATOR
5.4 To say that Mary could hear thousands of Catholics who are all praying at the same time and asking her to pray with them to Jesus would be to give to Mary infinite and Divine like qualities and hence make her a goddess.
As clearly stated in section 2 and repeated in section 5.1 above Catholics clearly state that there is only One God, of which there are Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mary is a creature and clearly not Divine.
Eventually the end of the world will come, and after which no more human beings will be created. Therefore, the number of humans that could be praying to Mary at a given point in time is a finite and not an infinite number. And so Mary would not require infinite powers to hear them.
God is Eternal. That is, He existed - and will always exist - in heaven before he created space and time. [Please note: Certain words like the word Ďbeforeí are inherently based upon the concept of time so it is somewhat inappropriate to use this word to express a concept Ďbeforeí time was created, but our earthly experience and our human language leaves us at a disadvantage when speaking about the things of heaven.]
Anyway, Heaven does not limit a person in regards to time and space because it exits outside of time and space and always will.
God has given us many gifts including the ability to hear and to speak. When we use Godís gifts here on earth it does not make us Divine. And when we get to heaven we will be blessed with even greater gifts. Using them then will not make us Divine either. When Mary hears and responds to all those who pray to her does not require Godís Divinity, and so the argument above in 5.3 has no basis.
Does it make sense for a Christian to limit capability of God and His power to bestow whatever gifts He desires to those who are with Him in heaven ?
The Protestant may counter, ďBut there is no need for God to give the saints in heaven the power to offer prayers, in Christ and through and by the merits of Christ, on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Christ on earth.Ē
In the strictest sense, it is true that there is no need for God to do anything. He is perfect and complete in Himself. However, He chooses to manifest His Glory by asking us to go to our brother in Christ here on earth and ask for their intercession even though Christ does not NEED to do that. However, it pleases Him to manifest His glory and love within those of us on earth to ask for prayers of others on earth and to offer up holy prayers for others including those who ask for them. Our prayers for them are holy and good because of Godís grace working within us, for He would not ask us to do that if it was not a good thing to do since God is perfect in everything He asks of us. So, it is pleasing to God and good that we ask for others on earth to pray for us, and it is good that they offer those prayers.
Likewise, when a person goes to heaven it pleases God to manifest His grace through their prayers for us, not because He needs to, but because it pleases Him.
See more Scriptural support for the Saints intercession in section 9.