The first and second of the Ten Commandments prohibit having any other gods or making and worshiping images of anything, even if it supposedly represents God. They specifically forbid bowing down to and serving anything or anyone except God. But even though the breaking of these two commandments is perhaps the most serious and offensive of all sins,[1] they are disregarded in the Catholic (and Orthodox) worship of the Virgin Mary.

Catholics officially claim that they do not actually worship Mary, but only “venerate” or honor her for her exalted role as the mother of Jesus. But the fact is that Catholic teaching and practice is nothing short of worship. Several of the most important church holidays are in her honor, liturgies are performed and prayers are directed to her[2] and miraculous answers to prayers are attributed to her. Countless churches, shrines and altars are dedicated to her— “These shrines, which as time went on multiplied beyond calculation in every part of Europe, nearly always owed their celebrity to the temporal and spiritual favors which it was believed the Blessed Virgin granted to those who invoked her in these favored spots. The gratitude of pilgrims often enriched them with the most costly gifts; crowns of gold and precious gems, embroidered garments, and rich hangings meet us at every turn in the record of such sanctuaries….The special vogue of a particular shrine was due to some miraculous manifestation which was believed to have occurred there. Blood was said to have flowed from certain statues and pictures of Our Lady which had suffered outrage. Others had wept or exuded moisture. In other cases, the head had bowed or the hand been raised in benediction”.[3]

Although it is admitted that much of this popular devotion is nothing but superstition, the church has done nothing to stop it, but instead has encouraged it because it is a vast source of income, and has even gone so far as to defend it as an aid to personal piety. “That popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin was often attended with extravagance and abuse, it is impossible to deny. Nevertheless we may believe that the simple faith and devotion of the people was often rewarded in proportion to their honest intention of paying respect to the Mother of God”.[4]

The scriptures have even been altered to give Mary a divine role in the salvation of mankind! The first promise of a Redeemer is found in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This has been changed to read, “She shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise Her heel”, with “she” and “her” referring to Mary. The church admits that they have changed the scripture but defends the change because it agrees with their exaltation of Mary.[5] And the clearest of scriptural teachings (“There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5) is nullified with the titles “Mediatrix” and “Co-redemptress.”[6]

For centuries the Church has insisted on the use of the blasphemous title “mother of God.” For example, the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “Jesus is the Word made flesh, the Word Who assumed human nature in the womb of Mary. As Mary was truly the mother of Jesus, and as Jesus was truly God from the first moment of His conception, Mary is truly the mother of God.”[7] In line with this is the Catholic teaching that Mary was sinless—“She is conceived without the stain of original sin...When there is question of sin, Mary must always be excepted. Mary's complete exemption from actual sin is confirmed by the Council of Trent”.[8] In contrast, the scriptures are clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God—there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:23,10). Mary herself exclaimed, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”[9] a clear statement that she was a sinner in need of salvation.

This is the real tragedy of the worship of Mary, as well as the other doctrines and practices of pagan origin which are so prominent in the Roman Catholic religion. In true Bible Christianity, the life, death, resurrection, mediation and return of Jesus Christ are central to every doctrine and practice, and the one great object in life is to enter into and maintain a saving relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But in the Catholic religion the focus is on what the church does, what the priests, bishops and popes do, what the saints do, what the Virgin Mary does and what I do for the salvation of my soul. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, although getting lip service, are to a great extent left out of the picture. In remembering and honoring those who are connected to God, He Himself is all too often forgotten.

To put the matter into everyday terms, if you were sick, why would you go to the mother or friend of the doctor instead of to the doctor? If your house were on fire, why would you call the mother or friend of the fireman instead of the fireman himself? The only reason would be that at some level you believed that the doctor or fireman was not really willing to help you, or that he was too busy with other things, and that he needed to be persuaded by his mother or friends who love you more than he does. But God demonstrated on the Cross that He loves you more than His own life, and would do anything for you; He doesn’t need someone to convince Him to help you, and more than anything He just wants you to come to Him.

Continue to next section: THE HARLOT AND HER DAUGHTERS

[1] The most serious warnings and threatenings in both the Old and New Testament have to do with the worship of other Gods. “He who sacrifices to any god except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed” Exodus 22:20, “If anyone worships the beast and his image...he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation” Revelation 14:9,10.

[2] In the Rosary, which is the most popular Catholic prayer, the “Hail Mary” is said 53 times, while the Lord’s prayer is only said 6 times!

[3] Herbert Thurston, "Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary", The Catholic Encyclopedia (accessed Sept. 22, 2014).

[4] Ibid

[5] The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts, “The second point of difference between the Hebrew text and our version concerns the agent who is to inflict the mortal wound on the serpent: our version agrees with the present Vulgate text in reading "she" (ipsa) which refers to the woman, while the Hebrew text reads “He” (autos, ipse) which refers to the seed of the woman. According to our version, and the Vulgate reading, the woman herself will win the victory; according to the Hebrew text, she will be victorious through her seed. In this sense does the Bull "Ineffabilis" ascribe the victory to Our Blessed Lady. The reading "she" (ipsa) is neither an intentional corruption of the original text, nor is it an accidental error; it is rather an explanatory version expressing explicitly the fact of Our Lady's part in the victory over the serpent, which is contained implicitly in the Hebrew original. The strength of the Christian tradition as to Mary's share in this victory may be inferred from the retention of "she" in St. Jerome's version in spite of his acquaintance with the original text and with the reading "he" (ipse) in the old Latin version.” Anthony Maas, "The Blessed Virgin Mary" The Catholic Encyclopedia, (accessed Sept. 22, 2014).

[6] “The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and, therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven. Now, this merciful office of hers, perhaps, appears in no other form of prayer so manifestly as it does in the Rosary. For in the Rosary all the part that Mary took as our co-Redemptress comes to us”. “On the Rosary”, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, September 8, 1894, le13is.htm

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Luke 1:47.