Beware the rabbit hole: Mary’s “immaculate conception” and Catholicism’s other man-made traditions

This morning, I was listening to the 12/22/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF – Our Lady of Fatima, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) and moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, were discussing Mary. It was Mary this and Mary that. Don’t get me wrong, Mary is an example to us of a faithful servant of the Lord, but she was also a sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and she would be grief stricken if she were aware of Catholicism’s idolatrous worship (aka “veneration”) of her.

Scripture actually has relatively little to say about Mary (she is not mentioned in the last 170 chapters of the New Testament), so Catholic Mariolaters had to extrapolate their extensive Marian dogmas from thin air in order to justify her elevation to semi-deitifical status. The rationalization often used was, “Since God could and should have done such and such in regards to Mary, then it MUST have happened.” With this type of pushing-a-square-peg-through-a-round-hole thinking, such non-Biblical dogmas as the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary were concocted.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a foundational truth of Christianity. From Scripture, we learn that man’s sin nature is passed down through the human father (see here), but Jesus’s virgin birth uniquely circumvented the transmission of the sin nature to Him. Jesus was conceived without sin within Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Without any Biblical warrant, Mariolaters claim that Mary MUST also have been born without sin, since she was the vessel that bore the sinless Christ. That is un-Scriptural nonsense. Jesus had close relationships with many people during His thirty-three years in Palestine, but His close, physical proximity to them did not require that any of them be sinless as He was. In contrast, God’s Word states several times that there is not a single person who is without sin, no, not even one (see here). No exception is made. Not for Mary, not for Joseph, not for John the Baptist, or anyone else (some Catholic dreamers even go a step further and postulate that Joseph and John the Baptist were also conceived without sin, like Mary).

But let’s follow this anti-Biblical claim of Mary’s sinlessness to its fallacious conclusion. Catholics assert that Mary’s parents were named Anna and Joachim, although there is no Scriptural or verifiable proof of that outside of fanciful post-Biblical traditions. But if Catholics are going to claim that Mary HAD to be sinless because she was the chosen vessel of Jesus Christ, then they must carry their argument to its logical extension. If Mary was conceived without sin, then it follows that Mary’s mother, who Catholics call Anna, was also conceived without sin, since she was the vessel of “sinless” Mary. And if Anna was conceived without sin, then her nameless mother must also have been conceived without sin since she was the vessel of Anna. And likewise Anna’s grandmother, her great grandmother, her great-great grandmother, and deeper and deeper we go down this bottomless rabbit hole!

Christians stand upon God’s Word and the Gospel of salvation by Gods’ grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Catholicism’s traditions and false gospel of sacramental grace and merit are one dangerous rabbit hole after another. Stand on God’s Word alone. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28

Mary: A humble sinner saved by grace or an exalted semi-deity?

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?
By Leonardo De Chirico
Christian Focus Publications, 2017, 106 pages

There’s little doubt that the most important difference between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism is how a person is saved. Christianity proclaims the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone while Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit. But the difference between how each group views Mary is also quite significant. Evangelicals take the Biblical view of Mary as a humble believer who submitted to God’s will, but was still a sinner who needed to trust in Christ by faith alone for her salvation. In contrast, Catholics exalt Mary as Advocate, Mediatrix, and Co-Redemptrix, offices that belong to Jesus Christ alone.

“Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” – quoted from Lumen Gentium, paragraph 62

When Catholics read the New Testament for the first time, they’re amazed by the relatively small amount of emphasis Mary is given in Scripture in comparison to her exalted position in Catholicism, which rivals and sometimes even exceeds that of Jesus Christ (Mary is not mentioned directly in the last 170 chapters of the NT).

How did Mariolatry start? What sustains it? Leonardo De Chirico answers these questions and more in “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?” Don’t let the size of this book fool you. It’s an excellent, well-written, well-researched primer on the origin and development of Mariolatry within Roman Catholicism.

Pastor De Chirico is an expert on the Roman Catholic church. He’s previously written a pocket guide on the papacy (see here), he writes an informative monthly blog about Catholicism (see here), and he leads a ministry, The Reformanda Initiative, which seeks to educate evangelicals regarding Roman Catholicism so that they will continue to reach out to Catholics with the Gospel of grace (see here). Praise God for Dr. De Chirico and I pray the Lord continues to use him to reach out to Roman Catholics.

Order “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?” from Amazon, here.



“Immaculate Mary”: A sad song from my past

Every once in a while, we come across something that triggers a memory from very long ago; a memory that we had completely forgotten about. I’m currently reading through a new book about Roman Catholicism (review to follow in a few days) and in a chapter about Mariology/Mariolatry, the author referenced a hymn from my Catholic past; “Immaculate Mary.” Wow! I had completely forgotten about that song.

I remember that our teachers (both nuns and lay teachers) had us students sing “Immaculate Mary” quite often throughout my nine years (1961-1970) in Catholic grammar school. It’s possible that we may have sung it more than other song. The song was also a staple at Sunday mass. Wikipedia states that “Immaculate Mary” “was composed in 1873 by French priest and seminary director, Jean Gaignet, for pilgrims to the site of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes,” which is why it is sometimes also referred to as the “Lourdes Hymn.”

I thought it would be interesting to examine “Immaculate Mary” from the perspective of forty-seven years later as a follower of Jesus Christ. Below are the song’s lyrics with my commentary in red:

Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing,

Factions within the Catholic church debated for centuries whether Mary was immaculately conceived without sin. Franciscans pushed for the doctrine while Dominicans (including Aquinas and Catherine of Siena) strongly opposed it. Pope Pius IX finally proclaimed Mary’s immaculate conception as infallible dogma in 1854. What is meant by this teaching is that Mary was born without “original sin” and that she never committed a single sin in her entire lifetime. In contrast, the Bible says in several passages that there is not one single human being on Earth without sin (e.g., Romans 3:9-20). Mary herself recognized her need of the Savior in Luke 1:47. Catholics praise Mary as a semi-deity.

Thou reignst now in Heaven with Jesus our King.

Catholics teach that Mary reigns as the Queen of Heaven at the right hand of Jesus Christ, but nowhere in the New Testament does it indicate that Mary would have this position or honor. In fact, the last time Mary is mentioned in the New Testament is Acts 1:14. There’s not a single direct reference to Mary in the following 170 chapters, many of which touch on the most significant aspects of church belief and practice.

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

In Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth and greets her with “Hail,” from the Greek word, “chaire,” which also translates as a simple “Greetings” or “Hello.” In the Latin translation, the word that’s used is “Ave,” which was sometimes used as a formal salutation for an honored personage. When the Roman Caesars appeared at a function, they were greeted with the expression, “Ave Caesar!” We later see this same salutatory obeisance to German dictator, Adolf Hitler, in the use of “Heil (hail) Hitler!” Likewise, Catholics use the term, “Ave,” as a reverential and worshipful salutation to their mother, Mary.

In Heaven the Blessed thy glory proclaim,

In this verse, it is claimed that those who are in Heaven proclaim Mary’s glory. But in God’s Word we find that the saints and angels in Heaven worship God alone (e.g., Revelation 19:5-7). The Bible specifically states that God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).

On earth we thy children invoke thy fair name.

The Catholic church teaches Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces, while God’s Word says that Christ alone is the Mediator between God and mankind (1 Timothy 2:5). Nowhere in the New Testament does a believer pray to anyone other than God.

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

Again, the worshipful salutation.

We pray for our mother, the Church upon earth

In this verse, the Catholic church as mother is entwined with Mother Mary.

And bless, dearest Lady, the land of our birth.

Here, supplicants acknowledge Mary as deity with the powers to bless their native country. Yet the Bible states that God alone has this kind of power (e.g., Psalm 86:10).

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

The song closes with the third and final worshipful salutation to Mary.

Mary was a humble believer who accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior just like every other Christian. If Mary could speak to us today, she would rebuke all of Catholicism’s idolatrous worship of her and plead with everyone to repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

I sang this song many times as a child and (disinterested) teen. I didn’t know Christ as my Savior at that time and neither did any of my Catholic classmates. We were all (somewhat) following a complicated religious system with its many man-made traditions including Mariology/Mariolatry. None of us had come to Jesus as sinners in need of the Savior through faith alone because we were not taught the Gospel. We were taught that salvation had to be merited by receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments. Accept Christ!

For information on an excellent resource on the orchestrated rise of Mariolatry within Catholicism, “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess,” see here.

For a video of the song, “Immaculate Mary,” see here.

What does the Bible say about the virgin Mary?

Catholic Shrines: “Holy” sites or whited sepulchres?

I listen regularly to Catholic talk radio show, “Calling All Catholics,” The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), and one of the priest-hosts is Peter Calabrese who works at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima here in Western New York

Making a pilgrimage to a “holy shrine” used to be a very popular endeavor for Catholics, although I’m sure much of the enthusiasm has faded among the younger generations. The Roman Catholic church teaches that its members can earn indulgences that remit temporal punishment in purgatory by visiting officially sanctioned, “consecrated” shrines.

There are many shrines all over the U.S., but the closest shrine to me is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, NY, around 100-miles west of Rochester. The shrine church was completed in 1965. It’s a glass-domed structure that depicts the Northern Hemisphere. A 13-foot-tall statue of Mary, “Queen of Heaven,” stands atop the dome (see photos).

On the 16-acre grounds are 150 statues of Mary, Jesus, and various saints. Special prominence is given to statues depicting the alleged Marian apparition at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

Imagine the many thousands of souls who have walked the spacious grounds of this shrine over the last 52-years, stopping before the many statues and offering prayers to Mary and the saints, asking for their intercession and help in bringing them to salvation. Most of what is presented at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is un-Biblical and even anti-Biblical. Many would say the shrine buildings and grounds are beautiful and inspiring. The lights. The statues. It’s all meant to appeal to the flesh. But genuine Christians worship the Lord God in spirit and in truth. Salvation does not come by pilgrimages to shrines and other religious exercises. Salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Buildings crumble and fall but Christ is the solid Rock of eternal salvation. Put your faith in Him and nothing else. That is what Mary really desires.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

Just imagine, if you can, the apostle Paul and Barnabas, walking together through Lewiston and coming upon this shrine with its many statues and its focus on the “Queen of Heaven.” They would think they were seeing an idolatrous pagan Roman shrine rather than someplace supposedly associated with Christianity.

Below is a listing of all the Catholic shrines in the USA:

Bas2 BAS1


New book examines Mariolatry

Thanks to Maria at Pilgrim’s Progress revisited – Christiana on the narrow way for making me aware of this forthcoming book devoted to the topic of Mariolatry. “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: the Mother of God?” by evangelical pastor and leader of an outreach ministry to Roman Catholics, Leonardo De Chirico, is due to be published on December 1st. Amazon is currently accepting pre-orders. See here. De Chirico’s previous book, “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy: Its origin and role in the 21st century” (2014), is excellent and is available at Amazon. See here.

The most important difference between Catholics and Bible Christians is their contrasting beliefs on how a person is saved. Catholics believe in salvation by sacramental grace and merit while Bible Christians believe in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Another major difference between the two groups is their opposing views on Mary. Catholics believe Mary was sinless and shares in the offices of Jesus Christ as the Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, and Channel of all Graces. Catholics in error go to her regularly in prayer, asking for her help in their efforts to merit salvation. Bible Christians believe that while Mary was certainly blessed to be chosen as Jesus’s mother, she was still a sinner who needed to accept Christ as her Savior by faith alone. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say sinners must entreat Mary as Catholics do. In contrast, the Bible specifically warns against elevating Mary to a position she certainly would oppose.

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28

In all its theological force and devotional ramifications, Mariology is an inescapable, all-embracing, and fundamental tenet of Roman Catholic theology and practice. Moreover, it is a deeply troubling development because it is impossible to see a linear and coherent connection between this Marian devotion and the more sobering account of what the Bible actually says […]

via Go read! Leonardo De Chirico — Pilgrim’s Progress revisited – Christiana on the narrow way

Postscript: It’s a small point but I must say I’m not a fan of the cover designs for the two books; far too nondescript.

A bullet in the crown of the “Queen of Heaven.”


Catholic talk radio is abuzz with chatter about Fatima. This year, Catholics round the world will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the alleged apparition of Mary to three peasant children at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Fatima on May 12th and 13th when he will declare the three children, Lúcia Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto, as “saints.”

Catholicism ranks Fatima as the most important Marian apparition. Pope John Paul IIFAT was devoted to “Our Lady of Fatima” and was convinced she had saved him from an assassination attempt in 1981. One of the bullets that was removed from John Paul’s body was mounted in the crown placed on the statue of Mary at the sanctuary at Fatima (see photo of crown with bullet protruding under blue globe).

With Fatima we have another example of Mariolatrous pageantry and ceremony, with absolutely no attention given to accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior by faith. Splendid religious ritual and solemnity devoted to Mary have pushed aside simple, saving faith in Christ.

Catholics proclaim that Mary is the Queen of Heaven and that she rules as Mediatrix of All Graces and as Co-Redeemer. But God does not share His glory with another.

“The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.” – Jeremiah 7:18

“But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven rand poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them? Did it not come into his mind? The Lord could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey the voice of the Lord or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.” Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows!” – Jeremiah 44:17–25

Fatimah was the favorite daughter of false prophet, Muhammad. As a consequence, many Muslim girls are given her name. Fatima, Portugal was named after a Moorish princess. Christians would be surprised to learn that Muslims venerate Mary. She is mentioned much more in the Quran than the Bible. Many Muslims make the pilgrimage to Fatima. Could another Marian apparition at Fatima someday be the catalyst for a one-world religion?

See a live webcam of the Marian statue with the bullet crown at the Fatima sanctuary here.

Fatima 2017 – Capitalizing on religious fervor


One of the high points for the Roman Catholic church this year will definitely be when pope Francis visits Fatima, Portugal on May 12th and 13th in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the alleged appearance of Mary to the three children there in 1917. Fatima is widely viewed by Catholics as the most important Marian apparition.

Coincidentally (or rather, strategically), the Vatican has just announced that Francis has officially recognized the miracle attributed to the intercession of two of the Fatima children – “Blesseds” Francisco and Jacinta (photo, middle and right), thus paving their way to sainthood. The third child who witnessed the alleged apparition, Lúcia Santos, has already been green-lighted for canonization. Could Francis declare all three individuals to be “saints” when he visits Fatima in May? That seems to be the case from the story below. Can anyone spell “opportunistic”?

It often takes the Vatican multiple centuries before they declare someone a saint but if a person was extremely popular the church has been known to capitalize on their fame by expediting the process (see pope  John Paul II, mother Teresa, and Fulton Sheen in the very short-term once the dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois stop fighting over his remains).

Catholicism’s non-biblical concept of a “saint” fits their theology. For Catholics, a saint is someone who lived an extraordinarily holy life and is rewarded with a mediatorial presence in Heaven. In contrast, God’s Word says no one is good.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

“Not even one” includes Mary.

The Bible refers to the saints (“hagios” – set apart ones) as all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are reborn spiritually. And what about all those Marian apparitions? Mary is in Heaven worshipping her Savior. These alleged apparitions that point people to the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit can either be attributed to religious hysteria or demonic activity. Evangelicals would be amazed at how much veneration/worship is accorded to Mary by Catholics in comparison to Jesus Christ. Catholics, on the other hand, would be amazed at just how little Mary is mentioned in the New Testament.

Nowhere in the Bible do believers pray to anyone other than God. In contrast, the Scriptures specifically warn against trying to communicate with the dead. Put man-made traditions aside and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area. See here.

Pope Francis to proclaim Fatima visionaries saints during Portugal trip

For more on Catholicism’s unbiblical teachings on “saints,” see here.

For more on Catholic Mariolatry, see here.

The “Hail Mary” pass strikes again!

I used to watch a lot of football in my younger days. On Sundays, I was pretty muchhm glued to the television set from noon until 7 p.m.; it didn’t matter who was playing. But my football- watching days are pretty much behind me at this point.

Yesterday, I felt a little sluggish so I just sat on the couch and watched the Giants-Packers playoff game. The Giants controlled the first twenty-six minutes of the game although they were only ahead, 6-0. Packers QB, Aaron Rogers, then drove downfield and threw a touchdown pass to put Green Bay ahead, 7-6. The Packer’s “D” subsequently smothered the G-Men’s offense, forcing them to punt after a three-and-out. Rogers then took over and with seconds left in the half, threw a 60-yard “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone for another touchdown. The Pack never looked back and won the game handily, 38-13.

But what about the “Hail Mary” pass? How did that term become part of the popular lexicon? I did a little research and found out the phrase got its start in the 1930s at the Catholic University of Notre Dame (“Our Lady”). Members of the football team coined the phrase to denote a “long, low-probability pass attempted at the end of a half when a team is too far from the end zone to execute a more conventional play, implying that it would take divine intervention for the play to succeed.” Divine intervention from Mary? Catholics ascribe many characteristics of deity to Mary and believe she shares with Jesus Christ the offices of Mediator and Redeemer. Many Catholics pray to Mary rather than to God the Father or Jesus Christ because they have been taught she is more sympathetic to their circumstances and will more readily help them merit their salvation.

The phrase was pretty much isolated within Catholic college football but NFL commentators began talking about the “Hail Mary” pass in connection with the Dallas Cowboys’ Roman Catholic quarterback, Roger Staubach, in the 1970s.

Doug Flutie of Boston College (Catholic Jesuit) then became the king of the “Hail Mary” pass with his legendary, game-winning touchdown heave against Miami (FL) in 1984.

So the “Hail Mary” pass has become standard football parlance. You’ll even hear born-again believers in Jesus Christ who are football fans commenting on an unbelievable “Hail Mary” pass they witnessed over the weekend.

Yet, Mary would want everyone to turn from her and turn to Jesus Christ. Mary cannot save anyone. She was a sinner herself. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47

“And there is salvation in no one else (but Jesus Christ), for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

What is the “Hail Mary” that Catholics say so often?

What does the Bible say about the virgin Mary?

Was Mary sinless?

Tomorrow, Thurday, December 8th, marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception ofiv Mary on Catholic calendars. The Catholic church teaches that Mary was conceived without a sin nature and that she did not commit one single sin during her entire life. This teaching defies God’s Word, which says there is not one human being who is without sin. The claim that Mary was sinless began to gain traction in the 4th-century. In 1854, pope Pius IX defined Mary’s immaculate conception as infallible, binding dogma.

Because Mary’s immaculate conception is a binding dogma, Catholics who do not believe it commit mortal sin. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is one of the Catholic church’s “holy days of obligation.” Catholics are obligated to attend mass on Thursday. If they fail to attend mass without a valid reason, they commit mortal sin and are doomed to hell if they do not confess the sin to a priest.

Relatively few Catholics take their church’s rules seriously. Only 35% of U.S. Catholics “always,” “frequently,” or “usually” attend mass on holy days of obligation. The overwhelming majority, 65%, either “seldom” or “never” attend mass on holy days of obligation (see the cara link below).

My heart is saddened for Roman Catholics who venerate/worship Mary and attempt to merit their salvation by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules as they’ve been taught. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and come out of religious legalism. Worship God alone.

Click to access masseucharist.pdf

“I prayed 19,345 prayers this past year but they weren’t prayers to God”

A few days ago I wrote about “good Catholics.” It’s generally agreed among Catholics thatros those who follow the prescribed rules of the church – like going to mass every Sunday and going to confession regularly – are “good” Catholics. There’s a very small percentage of those “good” Catholics who take it even a step further and do things like go to mass daily or say the rosary daily.

Evangelicals know that many Catholic use rosaries but they may not know some of the details involved. The standard rosary is made up of 59 beads. When a Catholic uses the rosary they will say 53 “Hail Mary” prayers and 6 “Our Father” prayers along with some other standard prayers mixed in.

What exactly is said in the “Hail Mary” prayer? Let’s take a look:

“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

The first portion of the Hail Mary prayer comes from excerpts from Luke 1:28 & 42 (see the Catholic Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition). The first line says Mary is “full of grace” but Bible scholars agree the meaning of the Greek text is something closer to “favored one” (NASB and ESV). Yes, Mary was favored and blessed by the Lord to bear Jesus in her womb. But Mary was a sinner as we all are and was trusting in the Lord for her salvation (“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:47)

The second portion of the prayer is a creation of the Catholic church and didn’t appear in print until Savonarola’s “Esposizione sopra l’Ave Maria” in 1495. Mary is not holy. Only God is holy. Mary was given the title, “Mother of God” ( theotokos – God bearer) in the 400s in reaction to heresy which emphasized Christ’s humanity over His divinity. The thinking was that since Jesus is God, then Mary was the mother of God, which eventually led to elevating Mary to a position of semi-deity. Catholics believe that, like God, Mary is omnipresent and able to hear the millions of prayers said to her every day throughout the world. Catholics believe Mary, the sympathetic mother, intercedes and mediates on behalf of their salvation before a harsh and judging God. God may not forgive but soft-hearted Mother Mary does and she will intercede for her followers. Catholics believe that by giving birth to Jesus and witnessing His death on the cross, Mary plays an active role in the redemption of sinners. So, Catholics believe that Mary shares Christ’s intercessory offices of Mediator and Redeemer and that she is also the channel of all of God’s graces. Catholics believe that salvation comes through their church’s sacraments which dispense grace channeled through Mary so that the partaker is able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. Catholics must constantly work at meriting their salvation so they pray to Mary and the saints for assistance in helping them live a good life right up until the “hour of (their) death.”

If you were a devoted Catholic and prayed the rosary every day you would spend 122 hours a year praying to Mary (20 minutes x 365 days = 7300 minutes or 122 hours). In one year you would pray 19,345 prayers to Mary (53 beads x 365 days = 19,345 prayers).

Mary was a sinner who loved the Lord and accepted Christ as her Savior like every believer. Mary is currently in Heaven worshipping her Savior. She is not omnipresent like God. She does not hear prayers. Nowhere in God’s Word does any believer pray to anyone other than God. Salvation does not come by receiving the sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The Law only shows us that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Yes, God is a Holy Judge but He is also loving and merciful. He loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die for our sins. But Jesus rose from the grave, defeating sin and death and offers the free gift of salvation to all who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior.

Mary would be sorely grieved by all the devotion given to her. She would want you to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, just as she did, and to worship God alone.

Mary, Full of Grace, and Luke 1:28

Roman Catholicism, Mary, and Idolatry

When Catholics read the New Testament for the first time, they are surprised by how little Mary is mentioned. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, it syncretized many of the Roman pagan beliefs and practices including worship of the mother goddess. For how Mariolatry evolved see “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” by distinguished British historian, Geoffrey Ashe.