The Trinity Is the Center of Our Faith

[Editor's Note: This letter is in response to the article, "Mary as Coredemptrix."]

Hello Mark,

I hope you can help me with my struggle with what some Catholics believe about Mary. I love Mary, and I accept her role as my spiritual mother and as one who is sent by God to pray for me and to bring me closer to Jesus, but I have a problem accepting her as more than that as most Catholics seem to do. They place her on a pedestal, glorify her, magnify her, make her out to be a God. And Jesus our Lord is forgotten – He is rarely exalted in the Catholic Church. We call Him the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, and that's fine and good. I believe in Jesus in the Eucharist, but can't we just call Him who He is, Jesus our Lord and can we put Him on a pedestal, on the throne and praise Him and worship Him and give Mary a little break?

I don't think Mary appreciates it when we magnify her and make so little of Jesus. I've met very few Catholics that are totally in love with Jesus, yet I have met many who are totally enthralled and obsessed with Mary. Mary was a person used by God as the great prophets of the Old Testaments were used to do God's beautiful will. She said it herself that Jesus is her Savior. It can't be any clearer than that. We don't glorify or magnify the prophets; we honor them as we honor Mary right? Mary is special yes, but all the children of God are. I just think we Catholics make so much of Mary, and it just seems it's because we are in some kind of denial of Christ. Anything to keep from coming and giving ourselves to Jesus Christ, and living for Him totally. Catholic Exchange and other Catholic web sites should be filled with articles on how to fall in love with Jesus, how to love Him more, how to live for Him, how to give ourselves to Him, How to give ourselves more to Him, EVERYTHING about Him, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He reveals the Father and He gives us the Holy Spirit. We don't do this because we are not in love with Jesus. Seems we are in love with a way of believing about Jesus.

Come on brother Catholics, let's get with the program and let's begin to exalt Jesus Christ. Mary and all the saints, I know, would prefer to become less and less and that Jesus become more and more in the Catholic Church. I will always pray for the days when Jesus will receive the highest place in the Catholic Church. This is the reason for our woes, failure to place Jesus in our hearts, first above all!

Jeff Suppon from the St. Louis Cardinals is one Catholic who's got it right; He exalts Jesus, and stresses our relationship and love for Him. Let's spread this message.

Pray for me as I will pray for you my brother Mark. That we may proclaim Christ in the Catholic Church, more than ever in the history of Christianity.

With Love in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Abel John Banda

 

Dear Abel:

I agree completely that the center of our faith should be God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and not Mary. However, I don't agree at all that the Church exalts Mary over Jesus or the other persons of the Trinity. The central act of worship is the Mass, at which God the Father is the object of worship, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. True the saints are invoked in the penitential rite ("And I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints, to pray for me to the Lord our God"). But virtually the rest of the Mass is totally focused on the worship of the Trinity.  Just read the Gloria. Not a mention of Mary there. It's all about the Trinity and it summarizes the whole of the Church's central act of worship: the Mass.

A lot of times, when people say "The Church focuses too much on Mary" what they really seem to mean is "My Catholic family and friends seem to me to put more energy into the rosary and Marian artwork in their home than I think is fitting." That may or may not be true. But what people you know may or may not be doing is not the same thing as "What the Church believes and does." I quite agree that some Catholics seem to hold the notion that Mary is somehow nicer than Jesus. But those who think this way are not reflecting the Church's teaching. For the Church's teaching, as you note, is that Mary always points us to Christ and Christ is the source and summit of our faith.

In other words, it appears to me that what you are responding to is a problem in catechesis, not a problem in actual Church doctrine. The Church, in its actual doctrine and liturgical life, does not exalt Mary over God. Much that you emphasize the Church emphasizes as well. However, many Catholics do not know what the Church actually teaches. The solution, then, is not to complain about the Church's teaching, but to understand and spread it. So, for instance, to say, "We call Him the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, and that's fine and good I believe in Jesus in the Eucharsist, but can't we just call Him who He is, Jesus our Lord and can we put Him on a pedestal, on the throne and praise Him and worship Him and give Mary a little break" seems to me to badly confuse things. To speak of the Eucharist as though it's no big deal, and of the Mass as though it is something other than the perfect act of worship given to God is to badly misunderstand the faith. The Church does in fact, worship Christ upon his throne. That's what the Mass is. If people you know, in their private devotions, are not doing this, that means they need to understand the meaning of the Mass more deeply, not simply say, "Yeah, sure. The Mass is nice and all, but it's not where real worship takes place." The Mass is most emphatically where real worship takes place, the worship Jesus offers his Father, the most perfect act of worship in the world. It is where we learn to worship God as well, and Mary is most definitely not at the center of that worship.

So the real issue is to learn what the Church actually teaches and teach it well. The issue is not to tear Mary down. She is the greatest of all God's creatures and it is perfectly fitting to give her high honors. We don't magnify God by ignoring his saints. We magnify God by loving him as his saints do and by clearly teaching the truth about him in love. If that truth is not being taught, it is not the fault of the Church's doctrine, but of us fallible creatures who are tasked with making that teaching accessible to our fellow men and women.

Mark Shea
Senior Content Editor
Catholic Exchange

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  • Guest

    I was at a Christmas Concert at our local Catholic Church the first Sunday of Advent. The MC reminded us several times of Jesus’s presence in the Tabernacle calling us to the proper respect. I think we need more of this.

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