A common misconception regarding the Catholic faith is our view of the Blessed Mother. A lot of folks mistake our veneration for worship. Protestants get super angry, because our prayers to the Blessed Mother seem like a smack in the face to Jesus.
On the contrary, we give glory to Jesus by offering our prayers to the Blessed Mother.
Now I understand this might sound a little counter-intuitive. I promise it's not, though! If we accept Jesus as God, we accept everything He did as the perfect example on how we should live and act. Our treatment of the Blessed Mother echoes, less perfectly, of course, the treatment she received by her Son, Jesus. He followed the 4th Commandment perfectly. We know the 4th Commandment to be Honor thy father and mother, but what we all may not be aware of is that the Hebrew word for "honor" is "kabad" which also means "glorify." It also means "to burden / make heavy."
We must stop and meditate on these seemingly different definitions. At first glance, they seem to be at odds with one another. How can you glorify something you are burdening down? How can you honor something by making it heavy? Again, Jesus patiently explains His Divine point of view through example. His perfect, perfect example.
He bestowed upon His Blessed Mother a variety of burdens. First, He came to her through the Incarnation before she had "consummated her marriage" to St. Joseph. He ensured that through this great humility (being obviously conceived before consummation w/ St. Joseph), even the first moments life His Life would be sacrificial. He burdened the Blessed Mother (who willingly trusted these mortifications as part of God's Plan) with untold sufferings. Life on-the-run in Egypt, losing Christ in Jerusalem at the Temple, allowing Him to leave her - lonely - as He began His missionary work - all these were sacrifices He asked of her for the glory of God's Name. Even to the foot of the Cross, he burdened her with such untold suffering - such untold, unfathomable pain - all for God's glory. Only through this suffering could the glory of Salvation be sealed.
So here we see unmistakably united concepts of burden and glory. Jesus again establishes this through offering mankind to the Blessed Mother through John the Apostle when He said, "Woman, behold thy son. Son, behold thy Mother."
Not only does He offer the maternal bosom of the most perfect creature ever in existence, He asks her to provide a source of comfort and peace to her spiritual children. Again, as always, the Blessed Mother accepts this sacrificial role. She takes on the troubles, sufferings, and fear of the Church and places them before God, forever pleading her children's case at the Feet of the Father.
THIS is why we revere the Blessed Mother. THIS is why Catholics bow their heads in prayer to this most perfect of all creatures. Through her, Christ came to the world, and through her, He sheds His Mercy. Thanks to her unshakable "Fiat" to the Will of God, she is eternally glorified in Heaven and on Earth by the sufferings which weigh so heavily on her Immaculate Heart. She is our Mother, given to us by God Himself, as our fiercest intercessor.
Many still disregard the idea of an intercessor as being anti-biblical (I'm looking at you, Protestants!). However, Jesus gives us multiple examples throughout the Bible of the power of intercession. The most powerful, however, is the example we're given at the Wedding Feast of Cana - the point where Jesus first "outs" Himself and begins His ministry.
You may remember the story. Jesus and His Blessed Mother attended a wedding ceremony. Everything was going great until the family ran out of wine for their guests. The potential embarrassment and upheavel this would have caused distressed the Blessed Mother. So, knowing her Son was God and could fix this problem promptly, she relayed the problem. Jesus' response always threw me for a loop. When He replied, "Woman, what does this have to do with us? My hour has not yet come" I shook my head in disbelief!
When I was a kid, I used to remember thinking, Wow, that's really kinda mean for Jesus to say that to His Mom. She was only trying to help.
Now I realize that He said this specifically so we could understand the powerful intercessor we find in Mary. She was able to solicit His help anyway, and quickly. As soon as she instructed the servants to "Do whatever He says," Jesus graciously turned water into wine. Or, in Alexander Pope's beautiful words, "The conscious water saw its Master and blushed."
Jesus cannot deny His most perfect creature anything. The perfection which faithfully says "Yes" to His Will, even at such impossible personal suffering, will never be greeted with "No." She is so full of Grace and holiness that her intercession is more powerful than comprehension. Catholics understand this and we venerate her for this selfless glorification in the Name of her Father, Son and Spouse.
So again, we Catholics do not worship the Blessed Mother. We revere her for her gifts to humanity, we praise her for her faithful Fiat, we love her for her constant guidance and protection, and we pray to her, asking for her immensely powerful intercession. All of these things give glory to God, because in appreciating all that she is, we appreciate all that God can do for us. She is the mirror which reflects the Love of God in a way that is both gentle and visible enough for humans to feel without becoming lost within Its fire.
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