Monday, September 04, 2006

The Catholic Church and Mary - Valerian D'Souza, Bishop of Poona


by Bishop Valerian D'Souza, Poona

Almost all our parishes are buzzing with activity during the Novena to Our Lady of Vailankanny. In order to have clear ideas about Our Lady's role in the Church and in our own lives we have explained below in question answer form our true devotion to Mary.

1. How do we adore Mary?

Adoration is reserved to God alone. Mary is only human and we do not adore her. We never offer any sacrifice to her. Rather on her feasts the main focus is the Mass which commemorates the Sacrifice of Jesus.

2. What do we call our devotion to Mary?

We can call it profound love, honour and veneration of Mary. Actually the Father has exalted her more than any other human person or all of human kind can ever honour her.

3. If Mary is human she should have had original sin.

Then how do we claim she was conceived without sin? As a human being, Mary should have had original sin. But the merits of Jesus which wash away our original sin in Baptism were anticipated by the Father and applied to Mary right from her conception.

4. Did Mary need redemption?

The answer to the previous question shows that Mary like us was redeemed by Christ. In her case, it was from the first moment of her existence. She is the most excellent fruit of God’s redemption.

5. Why do we honour Mary?

It is the Father who honoured Mary by choosing her from billions and billions of women of all ages to be the Mother of Jesus His Son who took on a human nature. We know that Mary does not keep us for herself but leads us to Jesus. As disciples of Jesus we want to imitate Jesus. Well, Jesus loved, honoured and revered Mary. We must do the same.

6. How can Mary be called the Mother of God?

The Father, Son and Spirit live from all eternity. There is only one divine nature but three persons. In the case of Jesus there is only one person but two natures (divine and human). His human nature was conceived in time by Mary, but belongs to the person who is the Son of God. This is how we understand the title "Mother of God." Paul and Luke confess the same, "God sent His son, born of a woman." (Gal. 4:4). "Therefore the child to be born will be holy and will be called Son of God." (Lk 1:35) "In His body lives the fullness of divinity." (Col. 2:9)

7. What is Mary's place in the history of salvation?

Mary was the Mother of our Redeemer. She freely co-operated in faith and obedience with the Father in realizing His plan for redemption. She was most intimately united with Jesus from the time of his conception to His death.

8. How can we call Mary the Mediatrix of Grace?

The Church teaches that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man/woman. Mary intercedes for us constantly in heaven. She mediates between Jesus and us. This neither detracts nor adds anything to the dignity and worth of Christ our sole mediator.

9. Why do some Catholic theologians speak of Mary as the Co-redemptrix?

The title co-redemptrix does not imply in any way that Jesus is not our sole Redeemer. It means that as Jesus redeemed us by offering the Father the sacrifice of His life, Mary His Mother united herself with Him in His offering to the Father. The unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a multi-form cooperation. The priesthood of Jesus is shared in different ways by both ministers and faithful.

10. Do Catholics honour Mary more than they honour Jesus?

No creature can ever be considered equal, let alone greater than Jesus. But among creatures Mary surpasses all both in heaven and on earth. In heaven her place is only after Jesus.

11. Why do we need Mary when we can go directly to Jesus?

We are encouraged to go directly to Jesus in prayer. We go to Mary in the same way that we ask others to intecede for us by prayer. Paul asks for prayers. "Brethren, pray for us" (2 Thess. 3:1) "Help me in your prayers for me before God." (Rom. 15:30) Why did Paul not go directly to Jesus? James too advises "Pray for one another that you may be healed." (5:16) Healing comes only from Jesus, yet James does not say "Go directly to Jesus." If we sinful people can intercede for others how much more powerful must the prayers of Mary be. Moreover, the Father who could have sent Jesus to us directly in many ways, chose the way of Mary. Who are we to tell the heavenly Father that we are wiser than He is. "You needed Mary to give us Jesus. But we do not need her to come to you through Jesus."

12. Is the title "Queen of the Universe" not highly exaggerated?

When Bathsheba, the wife of King David went to the new king Solomon her son, Solomon treated her with unusual respect. "The king rose to meet her and bowed before her; he then sat down on his throne, a seat was brought for the mother of the king, and she sat down at his right hand."(1 Kings 2:19) This seat was a seat of high distinction and honour. It was a throne. To sit at the right hand of the king was a sign of power and authority. The Queen Mother had a special place in the history of Israel. Mary was the highest of all Queen Mothers. Jesus outdid Solomon in honouring and respecting her.

Rt. Rev. Valerian D'Souza
Bishop of Poona

Taken from the Bishop's Editorial in the September 2006 issue of "LIFE", the Poona Diocesan Newsletter

Posted by Mina F

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