Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why Do We Ask "Favors" of Mary?

This question, “Why do you ask favors of God through mary” came in the comment box for my brief “Merry Christmas” post last week. There are a few things I’ll say regarding it.

First, Mary should be capitalized, just as we would with the proper name of anything. I know I sound like a smart-aleck pointing this out, but I’ll make an important point with it in a bit.

The second thing worth mentioning is that the phrase “ask favors” seems to suggest the kind of misinterpretation of what we, as Catholics, actually believe. We don’t ask favors of God. I’ve never asked him to pick up my mail while I was out of town, and I’ve never asked him to lend me his weed-trimmer.

We ask for God’s graces, and both Protestants and Catholics alike do this. Most Protestants will refer to these graces as his “blessings”. They have a very specific definition of the word “grace”, but in this instance, we’re talking about the same thing. It’s just semantics.

We don’t ask for favors through Mary. We ask for her to pray for us and to pray with us. We ask her (and the other saints) to join our prayer circle.

Really, I’ve never understood why Protestants have such a difficult time with this. All Protestant groups are just fine with asking their pastors, family members, friends, hairdressers, co-workers, neighbors, and random strangers to pray for them.

So why not Mary? Why not all the saints, for that matter? Is there some reason we can ask our second-cousin, twice removed, a plumber from Arkansas to pray for us, but we can’t ask the mother of God? Would Christ be less likely to listen to the prayers of his mom than, say, our Uncle Dave?

After all, Paul tells us that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. And who is more righteous than those who have already been sanctified so perfectly as to enter Heaven?

And if we need more reasons to ask for Mary’s prayers, here they are:

-The Bible tells us to
-Christians have done it for 2,000 years (including most of the reformers)
-The church built by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to
-The miracles that have come from Mary’s intercession testify to the power of such prayers
-The body of Christ is built up when we join our prayers to one another (including with those members of the body who are in Heaven.

I apologize for my curt tone in the beginning of this post, and I'm sure that the person who asked the question did not intentionally omit capitalization in Mary's name. However, that was my tongue-in-cheek way of suggesting, however, that what so many non-Catholic Christians have done is to "lower case" Mary's role in their own lives, exluding her from the same dignity of "prayer partner" that we would ask of any friend or relative. So, considering all this, I think it’s about time that Catholics stopped having to explain why we do ask for Mary’s prayers and intercession, and about time for non-Catholics to explain why they don’t.

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