The Catholic church likes to present itself as the holy repository and guardian of God’s UNCHANGING truths, totally united under the apostolic authority of the pope, but even a casual study of the church’s history will quickly burst that bubble. In my previous blog I discussed the cult of Mary so let’s travel down that same road a bit farther to illustrate how “unchanging” Catholic truths have evolved.
God’s Word makes only minor mention of Mary so how did devotion to her within Catholicism grow to match and, at times, even eclipse the devotion offered to Jesus Christ? In the early years of Christianity, fringe, heretical groups (e.g., the Collyridians) adapted elements of pagan mother-goddess worship into the worship of Mary. Beginning in the late-300s, aspects of this Mariolatry began to creep into the mainstream church. Because Marian worship had no explicit support in the Bible or in the writings of the early church “fathers,” Marianists spawned their dogmatic extrapolations with the syllogistic argument that since it was possible for God to do thus-and-thus regarding Mary then He “must have.” Biblical texts were manipulated and reinterpreted (e.g., Mary as the new Eve, Mary as a type of Elijah, Mary as Wisdom, Mary as the ark, Mary as God’s beloved spouse, etc.) to support the new Mary-goddess ideology. The common folk eagerly embraced Mother Mary as the “Christian” alternative to their former, beloved pagan mother goddesses. Click here for information on historian Geoffrey Ashe’s book, “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess,” regarding the pagan roots of Mariolatry.
Marian devotion continued to grow within Catholicism and was flourishing by the Middle-Ages. Constantly pushing the envelope, her enthusiastic followers began to claim that Mary was born without sin, just as Christ was. Religious orders routinely opposed each other on a wide variety of doctrinal issues and this growing belief in the “immaculate conception” of Mary was no exception. The Franciscans strongly supported Mary’s immaculate conception while the Dominicans strongly opposed it. Dominicans Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, who were both eventually canonized as “saints,” denied the belief as did fellow Dominican, “Saint” Catherine of Siena. Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Catherine claimed to have been visited by Christ many times and the church readily acknowledges those visits as authentic and credentials of her sainthood. But in 1377 Catherine asserted Christ had personally informed her Mary was NOT conceived without sin as the Franciscans and the others claimed! Click here for more information.
Over the centuries, opposition faded and popular demand for the official recognition of the doctrine of the immaculate conception reached a feverish pitch and was finally defined as binding dogma by pope Pius IX in 1854. As an official dogma of the church, Catholics are bound to believe Mary was born without sin. Disbelief in the dogma is “mortal” sin and incurs eternal hell fire. Although Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists certainly don’t believe in the immaculate conception, they are okay according to CURRENT church teaching, as long as they are “seeking the true God given the light they have received.”
But I would like to know from a Catholic, who is right about the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception? Is pope Pius IX correct or is the jesus who visited “Saint” Catherine in 1377 correct? If Catherine’s jesus was wrong about this issue, what else was he wrong about? The church canonized Catherine in 1461 although she did not believe in the dogma of the immaculate conception. So did God send her to hell in 1854 when the doctrine was officially defined? And whatever happened to the jesus who appeared to Catherine in 1377 and told her Mary was not immaculately conceived? Did he appear to other saintly mystics and give them erroneous information, too? Or was that jesus actually right about the immaculate conception and the pope wrong?
Here’s a few more questions for my Catholic friends that we would like answers to:
Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the immaculate conception on December 8, 1854. Suppose a Catholic woman who did not believe in the immaculate conception had died on December 8 without having the opportunity to hear about the pope’s declaration. Did God still hold her responsible and send her to hell? Let’s imagine there was a Catholic man who did not believe in the immaculate conception but had heard about the pope’s proclamation that very same day and was mulling it over but died at 9 p.m. before changing his mind. Did God send him to hell or did He give Catholics until 11:59:59 p.m., Rome time, before making their denial of the dogma a “mortal” sin? Oh, this Catholic rigmarole is so SADLY comical.
My Catholic friend, come out of man-made tradition, legalism, and superstition and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.
“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47
“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9