Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 14

I did read the other forum post on this topic, but I still wasn’t convinced.

In the “Hail, Holy Queen “, Mary is called “our life, our sweetness, and our hope”. To a protestant, that
sounds like Mary is receiving titles which would more wisely be reserved for Christ.

It also seems like no one has a unified answer about what these mean- is it terms of endearment, or are
these properties given to her by association with Christ, or because of her participation in Christ’s
incarnation. My problem is, if it’s so hard to explain why that phrase ISN’T blasphemy, why should it be
said at all? If you have to bend over backward to prove that it’s not blasphemy and offer inconsistent
and unconvincing arguments, maybe it is blasphemy.

2 years ago #11985

David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery

It also seems like no one has a unified answer about what these mean- is it terms of endearment, or are
these properties given to her by association with Christ, or because of her participation in Christ’s
incarnation.

Catholic doctrine and thought often do not fit the Protestant “either/or” dialectic, Emily; they are
usually “both/and” instead. Therefore, you should not attempt to force us into a single, narrow
interpretation, because the correct answer is typically “all of the above.”

On one level, the words you object to are simply terms of endearment; this is perfectly natural in many
languages and cultures, even if not so much in English-speaking regions, where Protestants have held
sway for nearly five centuries. On another level, they describe Mary’s function in salvation history: she is
our life and hope because, without her, we would not have her Son, the Christ, through whom comes
our hope of eternal life. On a third level, she is our advocate before the divine Judge, who is her Son,
and in this sense, it is she who obtains for us both hope and life by appealing to him on our behalf.
Furthermore, we have the words of Scripture (1 Peter 1:4) to assure us that, as we grow in holiness, we
“become partakers of the divine nature.” Mary is the most Christ-like figure ever to exist; why not
accept her as our model of godliness? As Blessed (and soon to be saint) Teresa of Calcutta put it, “No
Mary, no Christ; know Mary, know Christ.”

David

2 years ago #11983

David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery

From DedricT:

I do agree with Emily that the language in the Salve Regina, and often even in explanations of modern
apologetics, can be confusing at times.

This is something that will always be with us, because language and culture are constantly changing,
while theology and doctrine remain the same. The result is that, over time and across oceans, they drift
apart.

I frequently have to explain such things as why, in the Apostles’ Creed, it says that after his death, Jesus
“descended into hell.” If he was God incarnate, if he was holy, why do Catholics say he was in hell? The
answer, of course, is that our language has changed. “Hell” originally meant “the realm of the dead” in
English; it was used as a translation for the Hebrew sheol and Greek hades. Over time, the definition
changed through a change in usage, so that now “hell” means “the realm of the reprobate.” Modern
versions of the Apostles’ Creed therefore avoid that word; the current official Catholic Creed states that
“he descended to the dead.”

This resolves the linguistic problem, but it creates another problem with students of doctrine and
theology. One starts to read older, traditional resources, and there is that word again! So there has to be
a constant referring back to the “old ways of speaking” to interpret what we actually believe. This isn’t
so difficult for someone who belongs to a denomination which is only a couple of centuries old, but
when we start looking at antiquity like that of the Catholic Church, it isn’t a trivial matter. So the
question never goes away.

Likewise, Protestantism has been around for 500 years, and being in essence a repudiation of
Catholicism, it has developed its distinctive language and terminology, which is often quite distinct from
its counterpart in the Catholic environment. This, too, causes problems. I often hear Protestants criticize
such-and-such doctrine or practice in the Catholic Church, not realizing that they accept the exact same
doctrine or practice under a different name and in a different environment. (Catholics make similar
mistakes, so it’s not all one-sided.) We need to listen to each other and recognize that differences in
terminology do not necessarily mean differences in belief or worship.

Finally, where doctrines differ, as in the present topic of Mary as “our life, our sweetness and our hope,”
we must at least listen and ponder what the other side is saying so that we can understand our
differences and discuss them intelligently and charitably.

I was very brief in my explanation above, and it may cause some concern that I am either glossing over a
real difficulty or am mystifying the point so as to block further discussion. The crux of most Marian
issues among Protestants is the Catholic doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Early Protestants simply
dismissed this doctrine as “Catholic myth,” while many present-day Protestants have never heard of it
and have no idea what it refers to. However, the fact that reference to it occurs in the Apostles’ Creed,
dating the doctrine to at least the second century and probably earlier, indicates that the very earliest
Christians accepted the doctrine.

Here, with Marian prerogatives supposedly being asserted, there is an additional Catholic doctrine that
Protestants generally affirm but tend neither to utilize nor understand: the priesthood of the faithful. I
spoke about this recently in another thread and in another context (Link). The doctrine, properly
understood, clarifies how not only Mary, but all the saints — including ourselves, if we persevere in
God’s grace — possess these prerogatives. When we bring Christ to someone, we are helping to bring
that person into a new, higher life in God. We become priests, just as the Israelite nation did. And
Mary’s (or another saint’s) advocacy on our behalf is precisely this priesthood at work. Protestants will
object that this places ordinary human beings between us and God; yet this is precisely what they say
they believe when they assert the priesthood of the faithful: that we have the power of intercession and
mediation between God and those around us. St. Paul’s doctrine of the Church as the mystical Body of
Christ is simply a restatement of this doctrine in a different manner: we Christians form not merely a
brotherhood, but a divine organism, enlivened by the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, whose goal it is to
bring us all through this earthly life and into the eternal bliss of heaven. We are “in it together,”
inseparably.

David

2 years ago #11982

EmilyHope

Participant

@EmilyHope

I also had problems with the Regina Cæli, because of the line:

grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary,

we may obtain the joy of everlasting life.

Again, if you use semantics to focus on “through”, it can be explained away by the idea of all grace
passing through Mary on the way to the Church, but the language is that which is typically used when
talking about the mode of our salvation, which is Christ. It also seems like the prayer is attributing the
“joy of everlasting life” to Mary, but she’s neither the source nor the cause of our salvation. We obtain
salvation through Christ, not through Mary.

2 years ago #11981

David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery
Emily, above I’ve given you some general concepts and guidelines for understanding how Catholics
approach these texts that give you pause. It is not a matter of “semantics.” As Dedric and I were
discussing, it’s not words at all, since terminology issues can get anyone tied in a knot. It is instead a
matter of applied theology, most of it straight out of Scripture.

1) Concentrate on the Communion of Saints: what it means, what it does, how it is described. (In the
Catechism, you can look up §686; §956–962; §976; §1055; §1331; §1469; §1474–1479; §1522; §1697;
§2634–2636; §2850 to see how the Church uses the term and where it sees this communion manifest.
Additional help, with emphasis on Scripture, may be found in a book by Catholic apologist Dave
Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for the Communion of Saints. Link.)

2) Add in what I said about the Priesthood of the Faithful, as described in the other thread linked above.
(In the Catechism, you can look up §1140–1144; §1302–1305; §1546–7.)

Further, the Navarre Bible Commentary on Exodus 19:3–9 lists the “basic teachings” of the passage as:

a) The basis of the Covenant is Israel’s deliverance from bondage…: the people are the object of God’s
preferential love; God made them a people by bringing about that deliverance. b) If they keep the
Covenant, they will become a very special kind of people. This offer will take effect the moment they
take on their commitments, but Israel will develop towards its full maturity only to the extent that it
listens to/obeys the will of God. c) What God is offering the people is specified in three complementary
expressions — “My own possession,” “holy nation,” “kingdom of priests.”…

By being God’s possession Israel shares in his holiness, it is a “holy nation,” that is, a people separated
out from among the nations so as to keep a close relationship with God; in other passages we are told
more — that this is the relationship of “a son of God” (cf. 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1).…

In the New Testament (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6; 5:9–10) what happened here will be picked up again
with the very same words, applying it to the new situation of the Christian in the Church, the new
people of God and the true Israel (cf. Galatians 3:29): every Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood
through his incorporation into Christ and is “called to serve God by his activity in the world, because of
the common priesthood of the faithful, which makes him share in some way in the priesthood of Christ.
This priesthood — though essentially distinct from the ministerial priesthood — gives him the capacity
to take part in the worship of the Church and to help other men in their journey to God, with the
witness of his word and his example, through his prayer and work of atonement” (St. Josemaría Escrivá,
Christ Is Passing By, 120).

David

2 years ago #11980

Jennie1964

Moderator

@Jennie1964

I have nothing to say about all the detailed conversations above. I remember being very cagey about
Mary and what I thought Catholics believed about her. It was frightening for me to say the least.

I have found though that it has helped to think of her as a person rather than a theology. Yeah, I know
that sounds a bit too obvious, but hear me out. As a Protestant I was taught all about the Catholic
theology of Mary. I had a tendency to think of her as an idea or an abstract, usually a heretical one. 😛
At some point, having decided that the Catholic Church DID have the authority to define doctrine and
dogma, I chose very deliberately to accept all that the Church said about her whether I understood it or
not. At that point, I didn’t have to get lost in rationalizing all the fiddling details anymore. I shoved them
out of the way and waited for God to grace me with understanding.

I then gained the freedom of just getting to know HER, rather than trying to figure it all out. I understood
that she was the new Eve; that her yes, her consent, allowed the incarnation to happen. No Mary, no
Jesus. She and Joseph had been entrusted to raise, love, comfort and protect God upon this earth. That
was enough for me. I knew that she had given birth to the Church because she had given birth to its
Head. She was indeed the very mother of the Church while being a part of it at the same time; a
profound mystery. She was given to the Church as its Mother and we are all her children, making our
Lord our very brother.

All of a sudden it was about relationship and not theology (at least in my mind). As a mother, she is to us
as she was to our Lord and brother. She is sweetness, life itself because she gave birth to us as the
Church, our hope because without her yes to God, we would have been hopeless. But of course all of
these wonderful things about her are only the vehicles for the incarnation and the birth of the Church.
They do not take away from the incarnation and the Church at all. She was just the door through which
God entered and then transformed us.

I hope that helps somewhat.

2 years ago #11979

EmilyHope

Participant

@EmilyHope

Thanks for your replies, everyone. It took approximately 7 hours of debate with my friend (who serves
basically as my sponsor in the sense that I go to him with every question, but I have no sponsor) and
reading large sections of David Mills’ “Discovering Mary” (I went to my school’s library and hiked up to
the religion books and found the Marian theology section and chose 4 books), but I think I finally made
some headway. Hopefully by explaining how I’ve reconciled it, I can help future people.

With the Regina Caeli, I found out that all of the non-literal translations read:

…Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may
obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the original Latin version, there’s no mention of intercession, yet the fact that every English version of
the prayer I could find used it increased my confidence that it was to be understood that “through the
Virgin Mary” meant “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary”. According to my friend (who’s got a
lot of experience with Catholic music, though no formal education in it), adding “intercession” ruins the
meter of the song, which might be why it was originally omitted and left to be assumed.

As for the “Hail, Holy Queen” calling Mary “our life, our sweetness, and our hope”:
After hours of debate, he eventually said to me “I challenge you to read the whole Salve Regina [Hail,
Holy Queen] and argue that, taken as a whole, it elevates Mary to the same level as God.” His point was
that anything can be misunderstood when removed from context, a trick we see sometimes in the
media, for example. When I looked at the prayer as a whole instead of focusing on the one line, I had to
admit that overall it didn’t seem to put Mary on the same level as God, so that line probably didn’t,
either. It seems unlikely that the author would have fallen into the sin of idolatry for only one line then
immediately ceased.

I would like to note that earlier in the day, he had basically given up because I seemed immovable- I
actually swore that I’d never say either prayer and contemplated the devastating position I would be in
if I had to abandon Catholicism now. So he went to a chapel and prayed for me, because he didn’t know
what else to do at that point (I must’ve really been insufferable because he’s never done that before),
and then I found the book which swayed me on the Regina Caeli, and he finally found the one sentence
which softened my heart to the “Hail, Holy Queen” after he’d tried for hours to explain it, and after all of
you had tried.

Also an even more irrelevant note, but I actually had to ask this friend the other day if saints can hear
you if you talk in your head (when asking for intercession), because I realized I didn’t know, and since
normal people can’t hear you when you talk in your head, I thought maybe saints couldn’t either. Oops!

2 years ago #11978

Jennie1964

Moderator

@Jennie1964

Taking things out of context and not seeing them in the whole is SUCH a Protestant mindset. I still have
to fight against that tendency of nitpicking and proof-texting. I imagine your friend went off and begged
Mother to reveal herself to you a little more, and she, being your Mother, most willingly obliged. 😉
She’s the sweetheart of sweethearts, to be sure!

2 years ago #11977


David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery

Emily, your solution to the difficulties with Marian prayers seems rather different from my conception of
you as a budding intellectual. 🙂 I had expected you to want to delve into the inner workings of Catholic
Marian doctrine, but instead you opted for a simple “contextual” expedient.

What comes to the fore in this is that, as with many persons of Calvinist background (not only Reformed
and Presbyterian, but many forms of Baptist, Non-Denominational and Evangelical) before you, the issue
of Mary seems to be more one of emotional reaction than intellectual difficulty. A negative emotion is
far more difficult to deal with than logic: first, because it fosters avoidance behavior, which places the
person effectively out of reach; second, because the motive is not reason, and reasoning with the
person will have no effect on his position.

Your friend took the right approach when he resorted to prayer. It is more powerful than arguments,
more powerful even than emotion. Your openness to grace, meanwhile, is impressive. Nevertheless, I do
expect this issue of “worship of Mary” to come up again, possibly in a different form, before it is finally
put to rest. This is simply the nature of non-rational objections.

I actually had to ask this friend the other day if saints can hear you if you talk in your head (when asking
for intercession), because I realized I didn’t know, and since normal people can’t hear you when you talk
in your head, I thought maybe saints couldn’t either.

This is another common difficulty for Calvinists. I analyzed the issue a few years ago and came to the
conclusion that Calvin himself was convinced that death removes a person from all contact with this
present life. As a university student, he was impressed with the scientific experiments and discoveries of
his time but understood science to be inalterably opposed to religion and faith. He chose to side with
the postulations of science on a number of crucial points, leading him to break with the traditional
understanding that those of the faithful who have passed on have knowledge — through divine
illumination — of what is happening with persons yet living.
David

2 years ago #11976

EmilyHope

Participant

@EmilyHope

Emily, your solution to the difficulties with Marian prayers seems rather different from my conception of
you as a budding intellectual.

To put your mind at ease, I’ll assure you that my reading list for the next month is extensive. I’ve read
Dave Armstrong’s “A Biblical Defense of Catholicism” in full (though his section on Mary showed signs of
a bit of an Oedipus complex, which was unfortunate) and Scott Hahn’s “Hail, Holy Queen”. I would like
to consider myself at least somewhat familiar with Marian theology, and I’ve never had any particular
issue with the Communion of Saints. It makes sense to me. I’ve been affirming the Apostle’s Creed my
whole life, which mentions the Communion of Saints, even if I was never taught what that phrase meant
(I assumed it had something to do with “Communion/the Eucharist”).

These lines, however, seemed to be implying something more than Mary as the chiefest among the
Saints, more than simply the prime example of discipleship, and more than the Mother of God (among
other things). It seemed to be elevating her above every station which is rightfully hers, and the only
stations above hers are those reserved for God.

And I assure you that the matter won’t rest here. The books I have from the library to read are as listed:

1) Discovering Mary- David Mills

2) Mary: A Catholic/Evangelical Debate- Dwight Longenecker and David Gustafson

3) Mary, Woman of Nazareth- Anne Carr et all

4) Mother of God- Fr. Cyril Bernard Papali O.C.D.


2 years ago #11975

David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery

Emily, on the forum, I often feel and act like a father teaching his children and watching them grow. You
know that I fret over them suffering or stubbing their toe on something needlessly. You will also note, I
hope, that I seldom argue against anything, preferring to explain the positive things that Catholics
believe. I am much more of a catechist and guide than an apologist, and I believe this is the right
approach for the Coming Home Network apostolate.

These lines… seemed to be implying something more than Mary as the chiefest among the Saints, more
than simply the prime example of discipleship, and more than the Mother of God (among other things).
It seemed to be elevating her above every station which is rightfully hers, and the only stations above
hers are those reserved for God.

Yes, I understand this. The thing is, Catholics don’t see it that way at all, because they don’t have the
same theological or linguistic history as Protestants. It is, therefore, a matter of getting past the
emotionally charged reaction to language that differs from one’s own. This is why I spent so much
energy in explaining these things.

Now as to the books: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism was Dave Armstrong’s first book, written shortly
after he became Catholic, and I agree that Mary was probably his weak link at that time. However, his
thought has matured in the nearly 20 years since then. I have edited most of his subsequent books (over
30 of them), so I have an idea which works are his better ones.
Above, I recommended Biblical Evidence for the Communion of Saints, and on Mary specifically, he has
one called The Catholic Mary, which you may find of interest. But the books you have from the library
look good, so if they do the job for you, that’s fine.

Oh — I need to mention that, as you apparently have found out, the Lists function is currently not
working on the forum. We have a ticket in, so it’s mostly a matter of when the tech staff can get to it
and what they can find to fix.

David

1 year, 8 months ago #11974

Secret Garden

Participant

@SecretGarden

Since the four of you were discussing the issues that concerned me, I contented myself as a fly on the
wall! When Jennie mentioned having to simply turn from a Protestant mindset, it did reflect my
approach. I am walking toward Rome. Sometimes I run like a child in the sun but sometimes I stumble
over a large rock and have to rest. Yet nothing so far has caused me to take a single step backward.

1 year, 6 months ago #11973

Roger63

Participant

@Roger63

How does the church teaching that Mary was kept free of original sin (and personal sin) fit with holy
scripture in Romans 3:23 all people have sinned? Isn’t this a contradiction?

1 year, 6 months ago #11972


David W. Emery

Keymaster

@David W. Emery

This is a common Protestant question, Roger. The simple answer seems to be that Jesus himself is an
obvious exception to the verse in Romans, given that he is “like us in every respect except sin.” And if
there is an exception, why should we insist that a generalized “all” does not admit of exceptions? Have
we never heard of exaggeration?

Jesus himself exaggerated all the time to make a point in his preaching. Example from Matthew 5:30: “If
your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your
members than that your whole body go into hell.” Does anyone seriously believe that this statement is
to be taken literally, that Jesus actually wants me to take an axe and cut off my hand?

Then who better for a second exception than the obedient woman who gave us Jesus? For, as St.
Irenaeus of Lyons wrote in the second century, she reversed Eve’s sin. One “reverses” sin by not sinning.
And that is all that Catholics assert concerning Mary: that by a special grace from God, she was able to
— and did — avoid sin altogether.

By the same token, Catholics recognize that Mary received salvation — through that same special grace
— by way of prevention rather than repair. She received salvation all the same; no exception there.

David

1 year, 6 months ago #11971

Secret Garden

Participant

@SecretGarden
Even a perfect (sinless) human being cannot attain the utter holiness of God nor purchase their own
salvation by good works apart from Christ,