Blessed art thou among women (Luke 1:28)
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."
As I sat dangling my legs off the church bench at my great-grandmother's funeral, there was something cold, distant and unfeeling in the chanting of these words. This prayer to Mary was a pagan, idolatrous rite; it didn't feel like the Christianity I had known in my short life. Whew, I was safe, warm and comfortable in my Seventh-day Adventist church the next Sabbath. I never really thought about it again for thirty years.....
Mary. There is no word that encapsulates the unbridgeable great divide between Protestants and Catholics as her name. She symbolizes to the Protestant the idolatrous, scripture-rejecting, Jesus-demeaning rituals of the Catholics. She is the first name invoked as a plea to reject Catholicism---Catholics worship Mary.
Why I would even attempt, as a new Catholic, to venture into that deep, dense thicket of theology is madness. But eventually I will have to answer the accusations that I now worship Mary. I don't and neither do Catholics.
So where to start? First I will list the five Marian Dogmas of the church. These are what Catholics believe, any claims outside these are traditions that you may reject.
1. Mary is the Mother of God.
2. Mary was a virgin before, during and after carrying the baby Christ.
3. Mary was immaculately conceived.
4. Mary was assumed into heaven.
5. Mary is the mother of the church.
Three of the five Marian dogmas were decreed in the last century and a half. For 18 centuries they were considered tradition. What these dogmas mean, why were they instituted, the history of Mary and how Marian Dogma are based on scripture will be briefly dealt with.
Let's begin with statement about Mary from the Catholic Catechism (#273):
Only faith can embrace the holy mysterious ways of God's almighty power. This faith glories in its weakness in order to draw to itself to Christ's power. The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that "nothing will be impossible with God" and was able to magnify the Lord, "For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name."