Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tota pulchra es: A Defense of Pope Venerable Pius XII’s “Prayer to the Blessed Virgin, Conceived without Sin” from the Deprecatory Comments of a Modern-day Antidicomarianite

(Ad Jesum, per Mariam)

You are all beautiful, Mary,
And the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun.
You are all beautiful, Mary,
And the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honor to our people.
You are all beautiful, Mary!

~English Translation of a Fourth Century Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary


            In an article entitled A Truly Blasphemous Prayer to Mary by Roman Catholic Pope Pius XII, a modern-day antidicomarianite (a person who denies Mary’s perpetual virginity), Pastor Kenneth Temple, goes for the trifecta of anti-Catholic apologetics. He attacks Catholic Marian beliefs, the papacy, and the Catholic teaching on the Communion of Saints in a single posting by accusing Pope Venerable Pius XII of blasphemy for composing an intercessory prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary used during the Marian year of 1954. Pastor Temple asserts the prayer shows that Catholics engage in idolatrous high worship and adoration of Mary which derogates from the worship due to God alone.

            Pastor Temple is not the first Protestant writer to use this particular prayer to assault Catholic teaching. In the February 1954 edition of the Concordia Theological Monthly, the prayer was used to accuse Bishop Venerable Fulton Sheen of mariolatry (pp. 150-153). John MacArthur, a Calvinist minister from California, gave a talk in 2006 using the prayer to declaim Marian devotion. A search of the internet will find a number of Protestant writers using the prayer to accuse Catholics of idolatry, blasphemy, and other crimes against the Almighty.

            There is a common theme in these critiques of Pius XII’s Marian prayer. All of them claim Catholics give adoration to Mary. Most of them claim that the Catholics engage in deception when they say they do not give adoration to Mary. They all apply a curiously Protestant notion that prayer, worship, and adoration, are always synonymous. None of them discuss what the Catholic Church actually teaches about Marian dogma. None of them discuss why Catholics believe it is acceptable to engage in intercessory prayer to Mary and the saints. None of them discuss how Catholics distinguish between adoration and veneration. For that matter, none of them even discuss how a Catholic would understand the words of the prayer. They indict, but they judge without evidence.

              This paper is my attempt to answer to the charges Pastor Temple against Pope Venerable Pius XII in regards to this prayer.


            Here are Pastor Temple’s words of deprecation in their entirety:

                        This prayer of Pope Pius XII is truly blasphemous.

The worship of Mary and worshiping statues of Mary (and other saints and angels) is obvious in popular Roman Catholicism, even though the RCC officially denies that they give Latria/adoration to Mary, they practically do. Prayers of Popes to Mary in history are full of high worship and adoration and asking her to do things that only God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can do. The distinction between latria and dulia and hyper-dulia is a theological word game and sophistry. They are deceived.

PRAYER OF POPE PIUS XII This prayer, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, was composed by the Pope for the Marian Year (December 8, 1953-December 8, 1954), which was proclaimed to mark the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Enraptured by the splendor of your heavenly beauty, and impelled by the anxieties of the world, we cast ourselves into your arms, 0 Immaculate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart appeasement of our ardent desires, and a safe harbor from the tempests which beset us on every side.

Though degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by infinite misery, we admire and praise the peerless richness of sublime gifts with which God has filled you, above every other mere creature, from the first moment of your conception until the day on which, after your assumption into heaven, He crowned you Queen of the Universe.

O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume! 0 Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

O well-beloved of God, hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart. Bend tenderly over our aching wounds. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity in youth, protect the holy Church, make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, resounding harmoniously in heaven, may they recognize that they are brothers, and that the nations are members of one family, upon which may there shine forth the sun of a universal and sincere peace.

Receive, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications, and above all obtain for us that, one day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which today is sung on earth around your altars: You are all-beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, you are the joy, you are the honor of our people! Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954.

            Pastor Temple then links to a YouTube video entitled Virgin Mary's 7 Steps to Godhood Via Catholic Dogma Exposed by "Bible Answer Man" Walter Martin. The hour long video was filmed by Larry Wessels, the director of Christian Answers of Austin, Texas, who interviewed Robert Zins, the founder of A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism. In this interview, these gentlemen spoke about the prayer attributed to Pope Pius XII which appeared in the third chapter of Dr. Martin’s book, The Roman Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research Institute, Inc., 1960) titled simply, “Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”

            Pastor Temples adds the following addendum:

Rob Zins, at the 14:43 mark on this video, going through Walter Martin's book on Roman Catholicism (no longer in print), walks through the prayer of Pius XII and shows just how unbiblical and blasphemous it is, and asks, "Can you pray a better prayer to Jesus or to God the Father?" (I don't know much about Rob Zins, but I think he really nailed it on this issue.)

At the 34:40 mark, he mentions a pamphlet produced by Roman Catholics with the Imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman (I assume this is Cardinal Francis Spellman, Archbishop of New York - google him. He was not without controversy.) It says that Mary is the ONE mediator between Christ and mankind. Wow. And it takes terms for Jesus and applies them to Mary - "There is one mediator between Christ and men, the Holy Mother Mary. Mary is the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to Jesus except by Mary." Wow. Blasphemous.


            A.        The Prayer Book: Beautiful and Helpful Prayers from Ancient and Modern Sources.

            Pastor Temple attacks one of the many prayers that is found in a book entitled The Prayer Book: Beautiful and Helpful Prayers from Ancient and Modern Sources, [Rev. John P. McConnell and Jex Martin, ed., Chicago: The Catholic Press, Inc. (1954)]. It was a popular devotional work during the 1950's and can still be found at used booksellers. The book contains prayers, sundry devotional material, and depictions of religious art work painted by some of the great masters as well as popular contemporary religious art of the day. The book also offers explanatory material about some of the basic beliefs of Catholics. Pastor Temple’s post first interested me because I happen to own the book and its companion, The Life of Christ: Our Lord's Life with Lessons in His Own Words for Our Life Today, [Rev. John P. McConnell and Jex Martin, ed., Chicago: The Catholic Press, Inc. (1954)].

            Even though Pastor Temple correctly references The Prayer Book: Beautiful and Helpful Prayers from Ancient and Modern Sources as the source for the prayer he quotes in his posting, it is a certainty that he is not aware that Pope Pius XII did not compose the prayer found in the book. It is an edited version of the prayer Pope Pius XII actually gave. Considering that the book contains numerous other prayers to Mary and the saints, including several other prayers attributed to Pope Pius XII, it is surprising that Pastor Temple would not have used them as well in attacking Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

            Anyone who reads the book would find that it was written for teenagers and young adults. It starts out with a brief primer to inform the reader on what prayer is (“a loving conversation between two persons, God and man”), and why we should pray (“the desire that God’s Will be done”). In a later chapter, the book discusses the practice of intercessory prayer to saints:

The Church has never adored anyone but God. But the Church does pay real religious homage to the many thousands of saintly men and women who served and loved God with a full heart and have thereby won their eternal reward. Through the prayers that we direct to them we ask them, not for grace or mercy, which they could not grant of themselves, but for the prayerful assistance of advocates, who stand before God. And we try to imitate the virtue of their saintly lives.

                        [Id. at pg. 240]

            If Pastor Temple had read the book, he would have seen some of Pope Venerable Pius XII’s thought on the purpose of devotional prayer:

But when pious practices not closely linked with sacred liturgy seek only to raise up a man’s activity to our heavenly Father, to move to repentance, and a salutary and holy fear of God, to withdraw him from the attractions of the world and sin and bring him back to the arduous path that leads to perfection-then they are not only most admirable but quite necessary. They reveal the snares that beset us in the spiritual life, they incite us to virtue, and they increase the fervor with which we must dedicate ourselves whole and entire to the service of Jesus Christ.

                        [The Prayer Book, supra. at pg. iii. Taken from Mediator Dei ¶ 32.]

            Pope Venerable Pius XII also offers an explanation why Marian devotion is an important aspect of a Christian’s prayer life:

                        Because of the mission she received from God, her life is most closely linked
with the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and there is no one who has followed in the footsteps of the Incarnate Word more closely and with more merit than she: and no one has more grace and power over the Most Sacred Heart of the Son of God and through Him with the Heavenly Father.

                        [The Prayer Book, supra. at pg. 42]


Among the saints in heaven, the virgin Mary, mother of God, is venerated in a special way . . . She became our mother also when the divine redeemer [Jesus Christ] offered the sacrifice of Himself , and hence by this title also, we are her children. She teaches us all the virtues; she gives us her Son and with Him all the help needed, for God “wished us to have everything [Me: meaning Jesus Christ and the salvation he purchased for us on the Cross and through His resurrection] through Mary.

                        [Id. at pg. 189]

                        [Both passages are taken from Mediator Dei ¶ 169]

             When we link our prayer through Mary to our adoration of Jesus, we are given another way to pray to Our Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary. True devotion to Mary and saints leads us closer to Jesus. True devotion does not in any way impede our focus on Jesus. In fact, it allows us to see the Mystery of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ more fully because we experience it as the saints and His mother experienced it. We do not experience Jesus Christ in isolation. Rather we encounter Him in community, in the “Cloud of Witnesses” who are the saints (Heb. 12:1). See also, Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 1161. What a wonderful way to encounter Him by meditating on the intimacy of the love between the Incarnated Child and His mother? How better to understand His love for us as we pray to Him in the company of Our mother in grace (Jn. 19:26-27) and his friends, the saints?

            One last note before we move onto the next book that Pastor Temple references. In the YouTube video, Messrs. Wessels and Zins pit the unbiblical tradition of man, sola scriptura, against the teaching of the Church which they derisively call “sola ecclesia.” They conflate Rom. 3:23, a passage about personal sinfulness, to attack dogma of the Immaculate Conception which addresses original sin, to claim that Catholics believe that Mary did not need a savior. On the page before where the prayer of Pope Pius XII which is the subject of Pastor Temple’s complaint appears, one will find:

The Blessed Virgin, in the first moment of her conception, by a singular privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and hers, was preserved from all stain of original sin. This age-old belief of the Church was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854 as an article of revealed truth.

Mary was in need of redemption and she was indeed redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner of Mary’s redemption, however, was unique. Instead of being freed from original sin after having contracted it, she was preserved from contracting it. This was a most fitting favor for the Mother of the Redeemer.

                        [The Prayer Book, supra., pg. 88]

            B.        The Roman Catholic Church in History.

            The second book to which Pastor Temple refers is also no longer in print. Dr. Martin’s own website does not reference it nor does his ministry offers it for purchase. It has pretty much disappeared from most public libraries. Occasionally, anti-Catholic writers still make reference to it though. Fortunately, I did find a copy of The Roman Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research Institute, Inc., 1960) in a private college library some 300 miles from home.

            I finally got the opportunity to travel to Cincinnati to peruse Dr. Martin’s book. In Chapter 3 entitled, “Mary, the Mother of Jesus,” the prayer can indeed be found on pp. 45-46. There, Dr. Martin claims that the Mary of the Bible is not the same Mary that Catholics venerate. While he occasionally quotes Scripture to refute the Catholic position, he fails to note how Catholics interpret those same passages (Id. at passim).

            For example, he repeats the tired old argument that Catholic Marian devotion is in fact a deification of her (pp. 44, 53-62). Because Catholics call Mary “Queen of Heaven” and “Mother of God,” titles that pagans used for some of their goddesses, Dr. Martin argues Catholics treat Mary as a goddess.

            This argument is specious. First, similar-sounding titles do not prove identity. Pagans called some of their gods “Father,” too. Yet, no one would mistake Zeus or Odin for the First Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Father. Second, unlike Ashtoreth and Ishtar, the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the mother of Jesus Christ, who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Third, scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) At His name, every knee must bow in heaven, on earth, and in hell and every tongue confess that He is Lord ( Phil. 2:10–11). If Jesus Christ is truly King of heaven as Scripture states, then what does that make Mary, His mother? Because of her relationship to Christ, she is both Queen of heaven and Mother of Our Lord, unlike Ashtoreth or Ishtar, who never did exist.

            Catholics call Mary Queen of Heaven and Mother of God because those titles say something about the nature of God who truly took on flesh and became like us in all ways except sin. We honor Mary with those titles because God chose to fill her with His grace. We call her blessed because God blessed the handmaiden of the Lord (Lk. 1: 27-41).

            Catholics who pray to Mary know she is not a goddess, but a created being like the rest of us. We honor her because God honored her. We offer her veneration, not worship, which God knows because He looks into our hearts and sees our intentions (I Sam. 16:7). Anti-Catholic writers mock the distinction between worship and veneration looking at outward appearances and judge according to their own opinions and prejudices ignoring the words of Jesus, “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly (Jn. 7:24).”

            Dr. Martin also disputes the settled theological dogma of Mary as Theotokos revealing himself to be a foursquare follower of the heretic Nestorius who was condemned at the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. (See, Id. at pg. 53) In challenging this defined belief of the Church, he fails to cite any magisterial authority as to what Catholics believe about Mary as the Mother of God. Dr. Martin evinces little understanding of the meaning of the Incarnation or the significance of Mary’s totally grace-filled, unselfish cooperation on behalf of the whole world by giving her fiat to God taking on flesh through her. He fails to understand that Mary’s action is a call for all of us to bear Christ as members of the Body of Christ to the world.

            Not only does Dr. Martin fail to interact with the Catholic interpretations of Scripture it uses to form its Marian dogmas, he barely cites any magisterial authority either. When he does, he fails to provide the sources for the quotes he uses to make his arguments. He even uses a fictitious speech attributed to Bishop Strossmayer at the First Vatican Council in 1870 as evidence. (p. 58) While some Protestant writers condescendingly claim that he did give the speech, the actual transcript of the First Vatican Council does not show that he gave it and Bishop Strossmeyer himself denied it on numerous occasions.

            Worse, while Dr. Martin boasts of his knowledge of Catholic Marian doctrine (pg. 43), he shows his ignorance of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception misquoting Church fathers and other authorities out of context (a subject for another day). See, pp. 56-58. He even erroneously asserts that the Catholic Church teaches that Mary ascended into heaven the same way Jesus did (pg 47). Of course, there is a huge difference between Jesus' Ascension and Mary's Assumption. Jesus raised Himself. The Assumption of Mary was carried out by Jesus. Jesus lifted Mary up, just like we believe He will raise up each of us on the last day. The dogma of the Ascension shows Jesus was our Savior. The dogma of the Assumption demonstrates that Mary needed a personal Savior, too.

            C.        The Elusive Imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman.

            Pastor Temple references a third writing which he uses to defame Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman (1880-1967). In the third chapter of The Roman Catholic Church in History, Dr. Martin offers as further evidence of Mary’s deification by Catholics the following quote allegedly appearing in a pamphlet to which Cardinal Spellman affixed his imprimatur:

There is one mediator between Christ and men, the Holy Mother Mary. Mary is the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to Jesus except by Mary (See, Id., at pg. 49.

            Unfortunately, neither Dr. Martin nor Pastor Temple informs us of the name of the pamphlet that the quote is taken from. I searched a number of Catholic seminary and university libraries and databases looking for the source of the alleged quote, to no avail. Every single reference to the quote I found lists Dr. Martin’s book as the source of the quote as opposed to anything approved by Cardinal Spellman. In desperation, I even corresponded with Dr. Martin’s daughter who could not provide me the source of the quote. The quote is truly apocryphal. While Pastor Temple calls Cardinal Spellman a controversial individual, I personally find it controversial that a Christian minister, even a Protestant one, would use a potential fictive quote to accuse someone of grievous sin. To borrow Pastor Temple’s words, “Wow! Blasphemous!”

I do acknowledge that if one conducts enough online searches, passages can be found in genuine Catholic works which are similar-sounding to the first part and third part of Dr. Martin’s spurious quotation. For example, in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Octobri Mense, ¶ 4, one finds the following:

“With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother. How great are the goodness and mercy revealed in this design of God!” [Emphasis Added].

            In Catholic teaching, Mary’s role as a mediatrix is clearly secondary to Christ’s salvific mediation. While Protestants try to isolate Mary from Christ, Catholics focus on how Mary leads us to Him. The Servant of God Fr. John Hardon explains it thusly:

                        When we say through Mary, to Jesus, we mean that:

                                    Through Mary’s voluntary consent we have received Jesus.

                                    Through Mary’s example we are better able to imitate Jesus

                                    Through Mary’s intercession we obtain graces from Jesus.

                        See, Father John Hardon’s Through Mary to Jesus (last accessed June 19, 2016).

            Likewise, if one reads Latin, one might find St. Bonaventure stating in his Commentaries on the Four Books of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard, (III/ Sent., d. 3,p.1, a.1, q. 2):

“[E]t ista est Beata Virgo, quae mediatrix est inter nos et Christum, sicum Christus inter nos et Deum.” (“The Blessed Virgin is the mediatrix between us and Christ, just as Christ is between us and God”).

            Pope Saint John Paul II explains the meaning of Mary’s mediation as follows in his masterful encyclical Redemptoris Mater ¶ 21:

“At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one of little importance ("They have no wine"). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ's messianic mission and salvific power. Thus, there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself "in the middle," that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she "has the right" to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary "intercedes" for mankind. And that is not all. As a mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life.

            While one can find similar sounding references to the first part and third parts of Dr. Martin’s quote, I was not able to find anything similar to the second part. I was not able to find a single Catholic writer who has ever said, “Mary is the way and the truth and the life.” I have only found anti-Catholic Protestant writers saying that.

            The two closest Catholic writers that I could find saying anything remotely similar is in St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s treatise The Glories of Mary, another person whom Protestant apologists find controversial, and St. Louis de Montfort in his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. St. Louis de Montfort was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

            There is a verse at Sirach 24:25-26 (Douay-Rheims) which states, “In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.” This verse has been applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary by various saints in history to describe the intercessory nature of her mediation that is applied to us the graces granted her by her Son. As noted by St. Alphonsus at pp. 379-380 of The Glories of Mary:

The second argument which proves that Mary, in the first moment of her life, was more holy than all the saints united, is founded upon the great office which she had from the beginning, of mediatrix of men; for which it was requisite that she should possess a greater treasure of grace than the whole human race together. It is very well known how universally this title of mediatrix is applied by theologians and by the very holy Fathers to Mary, since by her powerful intercession and merits de congruo she has obtained salvation for all, procuring for the ruined world the great blessing of redemption. It is said by merit de congruo, because Jesus Christ alone is our mediator by way of justice, and by merit de condigno, as it is expressed by the schools, he having offered to the eternal Father his merits, which he has accepted for our salvation. Mary, on the contrary, is the mediatrix of grace by way of simple intercession, and of merit de congruo, she having offered to God, as the theologians say with St. Bonaventure, her merits for the salvation of all men; and God, through grace, has accepted them in union with the merits of Jesus Christ. Hence Arnold Carnotensis says: She effected our salvation in common with Christ. And Richard of St. Victor, also: She desired, sought, and obtained the salvation of all; nay, more, the salvation of all was effected through her. So that every blessing and every gift of eternal life which each of the saints has received from God, has been obtained for them by Mary.

And it is this which the holy Church wishes us to understand, when she honors the divine mother by applying to her these passages of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach): In me is all grace of the way and of the truth: "In me gratia omnis vise et veritatis" It is said: Of the way, because through Mary all graces are dispensed to those who are still on the road to heaven; Of the truth, because through Mary is given the light of truth. In me is all hope of life and of virtue: "In me omnes spes vitse et virtutis." Of life, because through Mary we hope to attain the life of grace upon earth, and of glory in heaven; and of virtue, because through Mary virtue is obtained, and especially the theological virtues, which are the principal virtues of the saints.

            For Saint Alphonsus, who is the Life, Virtue, Way and Truth from which the hope and the grace that we receive from Mary’s intercession come from? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Note too how St. Alphonsus, whom Protestants love to malign, clearly states that Mary’s mediation is different in both nature and in power to that of Jesus Christ. It is secondary and intercessory only.

            St. Louis de Montfort says this in the first chapter of his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin:

                        50.       God wishes therefore to reveal Mary, his masterpiece, and make her more known in these latter times:

                                      (1)      Because she kept herself hidden in this world and in her great humility considered herself lower than dust, having obtained from God, his apostles and evangelists the favour of being made known.

                                      (2)      Because, as Mary is not only God's masterpiece of glory in heaven, but also his masterpiece of grace on earth, he wishes to be glorified and praised because of her by those living upon earth.

                                    (3)       Since she is the dawn which precedes and discloses the Sun of Justice Jesus Christ, she must be known and acknowledged so that Jesus may be known and acknowledged.

                                     (4)       As she was the way by which Jesus first came to us, she will again be the way by which he will come to us the second time though not in the same manner.

                                     (5)       Since she is the sure means, the direct and immaculate way to Jesus and the perfect guide to him, it is through her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity must find him. He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. But no one can find Mary who does not look for her. No one can look for her who does not know her, for no one seeks or desires something unknown. Mary then must be better known than ever for the deeper understanding and the greater glory of the Blessed Trinity.

                                      (6)      In these latter times Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power and grace; in mercy, to bring back and welcome lovingly the poor sinners and wanderers who are to be converted and return to the Catholic Church; in power, to combat the enemies of God who will rise up menacingly to seduce and crush by promises and threats all those who oppose them; finally, she must shine forth in grace to inspire and support the valiant soldiers and loyal servants of Jesus Christ who are fighting for his cause.

                                                [Emphasis Added.]

            Pastor Temple may claim that the passages prove Catholics have Mary usurp Jesus’ singular salvific mediation (1 Tim. 2:5). However, he must first account for how Catholics understand her mediation. The Church teaches at Lumen Gentium ¶ 62:

No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

            Whenever we pray, or fast or give alms for a family member or friend we are acting as secondary mediators between God and humanity in the order of spiritual intercession which does not detract from the one mediation of Jesus, but manifests and redounds the power of Jesus Christ, our one Divine Mediator to the Father. Similarly, as to Mary, the term "mediatrix" refers to a secondary and subordinate female mediator who acts on and mirrors the intention of the primary and independent mediator; that is, the reconciliation of individuals to God. By virtue of the graces given her, by virtue of her motherhood, Mary by her intercession participates in the one mediation of Jesus Christ like no other creature, and hence, she more than any other creature deservedly and rightly may be called "Mediatrix" who is cooperating with Jesus in reconciling humanity with God.

            Scripture provides us examples of Mary’s role as Mediatrix in the order of intercession. It was Mary's intercession at the wedding of Cana (Jn 2:1-11) that led to the first miracle of Our Lord and the beginning of his public ministry. At the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, Mary's physical intercession in bringing the unborn Christ to his unborn cousin, John the Baptist, led to John's sanctification in the womb of Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:41). These themes were noticed and highlighted by Saints Irenaeus, Augustine, Ephraem, Anselm, Bonaventure, Bernard and Thomas Aquinas to name a few. Now in modern times, Pope St. John Paul II, perhaps, has offered the best explanation of Mary's secondary mediation:

Mary entered, in a way all her own, into the one mediation "between God and men" which is the mediation of the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). (W)e must say that through this fullness of grace and supernatural life she was especially predisposed to cooperation with Christ, the one Mediator of human salvation. And such cooperation is precisely this mediation subordinated to the mediation of Christ. In Mary's case we have a special and exceptional mediation… (Redemptoris Mater, ¶ 39).


            A.        The Problem of Translation.

            Another problem with Pastor Temple’s use of a secondary source for the prayer he criticizes is that he never considered the possibility that the prayer was not actually given by Pope Pius XII. After all, if one is going to accuse a pope of blasphemy, it might be a good idea to actually quote what the pope said or wrote. Going to the Vatican’s website, I found the actual Prayer of Pope Pius XII in the original Italian as it was given by him in a radio address on November 21, 1953 which is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. The origin of this feast day can be found in the Protoevangelium of James written in the middle of the 2nd century AD, a document which shows the belief of the Early Church in both the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s perpetual virginity.
                        Alla Beata Vergine Maria, concepita senza il peccato originale.

Rapiti dal fulgore della vostra celeste bellezza e sospinti dalle angosce del secolo, ci gettiamo tra le vostre braccia, o Immacolata Madre di Gesù e Madre nostra, Maria, fiduciosi di trovare nel vostro Cuore amantissimo lappagamento delle nostre fervide aspirazioni e il porto sicuro fra le tempeste che da ogni parte ci stringono.

Benché avviliti dalle colpe e sopraffatti da infinite miserie, ammiriamo e cantiamo l’impareggiabile ricchezza di eccelsi doni, di cui Iddio vi ha ricolmata al di sopra di ogni altra pura creatura, dal primo istante del vostro concepimento fino al giorno, in cui, Assunta in cielo, vi ha incoronata Regina dell’universo.

O Fonte limpida di fede, irrorate con le eterne verità le nostre menti! O Giglio fragrante di ogni santità, avvincete I nostri cuori col vostro celestiale profumo! O Trionfatrice del male e della morte, ispirateci profondo orrore al peccato, che rende l’anima detestabile a Dio e schiava dell’inferno!

Ascoltate, o prediletta di Dio, l’ardente grido che da ogni cuore fedele s’innalza in quest’Anno a voi dedicato. Chinatevi sulle doloranti nostre piaghe. Mutate le menti ai malvagi, asciugate le lagrime degli afflitti e degli oppressi, confortate I poveri e gli umili, spegnete gli odi, addolcite gli aspri costumi, custodite il fiore della purezza nei giovani, proteggete la Chiesa santa, fate che gli uomini tutti sentano il fascino della cristiana bontà. Nel vostro nome, che risuona nei cieli armonia, essi si ravvisino fratelli, e le nazioni membri di una sola famiglia, su cui risplenda il sole di una universale e sincera pace.

Accogliete, o Madre dolcissima, le umili nostre suppliche e otteneteci soprattutto che possiamo un giorno ripetere dinanzi al vostro trono, beati con voi, l’inno che si leva oggi sulla terra intorno ai vostri altari: Tutta bella sei, o Maria! Tu gloria, Tu letizia, Tu onore del nostro popolo! Così sia.

                        [See also, Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1953), pg. 757]

My Translation:

The Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin.

Enraptured by the brilliance of your heavenly beauty and driven by the anxieties of the century, we throw ourselves into your arms, O Immaculate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart contentment of our fervent hopes and safe harbor from the storms that shake us on every side.

Though we are degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by endless misery, we admire and sing of the incomparable wealth of sublime gifts with which God filled you over above other pure creatures, from the first moment of your conception until the day of your Assumption to heaven, when you were crowned Queen of the universe.

O clear Font of faith, bedew us with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, enthrall our hearts with your heavenly perfume! O Victrix over evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and hell's slave!

Hear, O beloved of God, the ardent cry that rises from every heart in this Year dedicated to you. Bend over our aching wounds. Change the minds of the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, soften harsh customs, preserve the flower of purity in the young, protect the holy Church, let all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, which resounds in heavenly harmony, they are recognized as brothers, and nations members of one family, on which shines the sun of an universal and sincere peace.

Accept, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications and above all obtain for us, that blessed with you, we one day may repeat before your throne, the hymn that rises today on earth around your altars: “You are all beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, You are the joy, You are the honor of our people!” Amen.

While it certainly true that the prayer attributed to Pope Venerable Pius XII quoted by
Pastor Temple is similar to the prayer he actually uttered over the radio in 1953, it is not the same prayer which the good pope uttered. Since I am defending Pope Pius XII from the charge of blasphemy, I hope the Pastor Temple does not take offense that I will use his actual words as opposed to a prayer found in a devotional prayer book.

            B.        Pastor Temple Invents His Own Word Game.

            Pastor Temple believes that Catholics play word games with the term worship. We don’t. The real problem is Catholics and Protestants understand the concept of worship differently. When Protestants, such as Pastor Temple, use the term “worship,” it is synonymous with adoration which is reserved for God alone. Even if they do not use precise theological language, Catholics differentiate between “worship of adoration” or “worship of veneration.”

            Allow me to share some examples to help clarify my meaning.

            Here is how one Evangelical Protestant minister defines it:

Worship is the humble response of regenerate men to the self-disclosure of the Most High God. It is based upon the work of God. It is achieved through the activity of God. It is directed to God. It is expressed by the lips in praise and by the life in service.

            Here is how another Protestant minister defines it:

What is worship? Let me give you a definition: Worship is "honor paid to a superior being." It means "to give homage, honor, reverence, respect, adoration, praise, or glory to a superior being." In Scripture, the word is used indiscriminately to refer to the homage given to idols, material things, or to the true God. So the word in itself is not a holy word, it only describes honor given to a superior being.

The common New Testament word for worship is proskuneo, which means "to kiss toward, to kiss the hand, to bow down, to prostrate oneself." The idea of worship is that one prostrates himself before a superior being with a sense of respect, awe, reverence, honor, and homage. In a Christian context, we simply apply this to God and prostrate ourselves before Him in respect and honor, paying Him the glory due His superior character.

Essentially, then, worship is giving - giving honor and respect to God. That is why we, as Christians, gather together on Sunday. We don't gather to give respect to the preacher or those in the choir, we gather to give honor to God. The sermon and the music are just to be the stimuli that create the desire in our hearts to honor Him.

            There is much to laud in these gentlemen’s definitions, but their definitions do not fully express what worship means. Catholic theology is a bit more expansive.

            So then what is worship? The textbook definition of worship is the acknowledgment of another's worth, dignity, or superior position. Worshiping starts out as an act of intellectual assent which acknowledges the level of respect that is to be given by virtue of the dignity, status or office of the person, idea or thing which is the object of one’s worship. The decision to offer worship is an act of the will to express that assent. That decision then leads to an external action or response that expresses one’s assent to the worthiness of the person, idea, or thing to which the worship is directed.

            When an external act of worship/honor is directed to God, it is more properly called the worship of adoration, or latria, or in contemporary language simply adoration. We see this understanding reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


                        2096    Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy (Lk. 4:8; Cf. Deut. 6:13).

                        2097    To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the "nothingness of the creature" who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name (Lk. 1:46-49). The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.

and again:

                        2628    Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.

            The Catechism goes on to state that there are three primary ways that created beings offer adoration to Our God. First is through prayer or lifting up of one’s mind toward God. Second is through sacrifice. Third, is through the making of promises and vows, such as those made in connection with the sacraments, doing good works, or dedicating oneself to consecrated religious life or to a vocation. See, Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶¶ 2098-2103.

            In contrast, veneration represented by dulia and hyper-dulia is starkly different from latria. The honor shown to Mary and the saints are not lower degrees of adoration. Rather, dulia and hyper-dulia refer to the honor we pay to creatures BY VIRTUE OF THEIR ASSOCIATION AND RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR CREATOR. Father Hardon again:


Reverence of a disciple for his master or of a servant for his lord. It is the honor given to the angels and saints as friends of God. (Etym. Greek douleia, servitude, subjection.)

The special veneration due to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is substantially less than the cultus latria (adoration), which is due to God alone. But it is higher than the cultus dulia (veneration), due to angels and other saints. As the Church understands the veneration of Mary, it is to be closely associated but subordinated to that of her Son. "The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly loved and glorified and His commandments are observed" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, VII, 66). (Etym. Latin hyperdulia, virtue of deep submission.)

                        VENERATION OF SAINTS.

Honor paid to the saints who, by their intercession and example and in their possession of God, minister to human sanctification, helping the faithful grow in Christian virtue. Venerating the saints does not detract from the glory given to God, since whatever good they possess is a gift from his bounty. They reflect the divine perfections, and their supernatural qualities result from the graces Christ merited for them by the Cross. In the language of the Church’s liturgy, the saints are venerated as sanctuaries of the Trinity, as adopted children of the Father, brethren of Christ, faithful members of his Mystical Body, and temples of the Holy Spirit.

            These definitions are reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well:

                        The Communion of the Church of Heaven and Earth

                        956      The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped." (Lumen Gentium ¶ 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5)

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life. (St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers)

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth. ( St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102)

                        957      Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" (Lumen Gentium ¶ 50; cf., Eph 4:1-6).

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples! ( Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396)

                        971      "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." ( Lk. 1:48; Paul VI, Marialis Cultus ¶ 56.) The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." (Lumen Gentium ¶ 66) The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. ( Paul VI, Marialis Cultus ¶ 42; Sacrosanctum Concilium ¶ 103)

            Like latria, there are three ways dulia and hyper-dulia are shown to the angels and saints. They are honored for their sanctity, we ask them to intercede before the divine Majesty, and we imitate their love and service of God. See, Hardon, John. Modern Catholic Dictionary accessed here on February 25, 2015.

            Even after being informed as to this understanding of Catholic teaching, Protestants still say that as a practical matter Catholics do give adoration to Mary and the saints. Given such a blinkered vision of what worship is, it is quite understandable that they find Catholic expressions of veneration excessive. Catholics have the Mass, which is the highest form of worship/ adoration there is. We have the Liturgy of the Hours, the unceasing prayer of praise for God which is recited and sung by faithful Catholics for almost two thousand years. We have the sacraments which are visible signs of God’s grace operating in our lives. We have devotions, sacramentals, beautiful churches, shrines, basilicas, sacred music, paintings, prayers, relics, rosaries, statues, candles, ritual and rubrics which all orient us towards God. And for the purposes of this discussion, we have Mary and the saints who are poignant reminders of how God is still present in our lives, how He works in our lives, and how we encounter God even in miraculous ways. We know how veneration offered to Mary and the saints serve as an overwhelmingly efficacious conduit of God's grace to us.

            As members of the Communion of Saints, as members of the Body of Christ, the honor we show Mary and the saints by virtue of their status as God's instruments in His salvific plan redounds on us. Worship is not merely a response to the Persons of God, but to the Opus Dei as seen in history, in the world today and in our own relationship with Him as well. It is fitting that we honor the very instruments He uses to effect His work-His angels, the saints, and most especially the Theotokos through whom Jesus Christ entered this world as Our Savior. Veneration of Mary and the saints is part of our loving and grateful response to our experiencing God working in His creation and in our lives. To better honor and love God, we should also honor and love the things of God.

            Contrary to the bald assertions of Pastor Temple, veneration of Mary does not derogate my adoration of God. It magnifies our adoration of God.

            When I stand in awe at the beauty of the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in Saint Meinrad, Indiana, am I not honoring Our Lord who inspired the monks to build it? When I marvel at Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, am I not praising Our Lord who inspired him to compose it? When I am inspired by the beauty of the painting of the Immaculate Conception at the Cleveland Art Museum to cross myself and pray, am I not praising Our Heavenly Father who inspired Murillo to paint it and for that matter for God’s operation of grace in Mary’s life?

             How exactly does veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, or His saints derogate from the One who made them all? Pastor Temple and those who join him in his imprecation of dulia and hyper-dulia never tell us how the honor Catholics show to the beauty of God’s grace working in His creation detracts or diminishes in any way the adoration we show God directly. Frankly, the problem is not that Catholics think too highly of Mary and the saints. The problem is that Pastor Temple and those like him think too little of God.

            C.        Fishing for Red Herrings.

            In the YouTube presentation Pastor Temple links to in his post, anti-Catholic writers, Rob Zins and Larry Wessels, outlined various claims against Pius XII’s prayer to the Blessed Virgin. These claims include:

                        1.         “could anyone pray more convincingly to God as than they are praying
                                    here to Mary?” (at about 20:06).

                        2.         that the prayer makes “no room for God, no room for Jesus” (at about the 21:06).

                        3.         that prayer leaves “nothing left for Jesus Christ or God to do” (21:36).

                        4.          “No one could do a better prayer to God” (22:29).

                        5.         the prayer has her “eclipsing God”(22:31).

At the 25:00 minute mark, Rob Zins challenges Catholic apologists to write a better to
God than the one Pope Pius XII composed to Mary.

            In these expressions of ridicule and incredulity, Ron Zins and Larry Wessels throw around the word “blasphemy” like they were getting a nickel for every time they say it. Not once do these “good theologians” address how Catholics understand the words of the prayer, For example, while these fine worthies claim that the doctrine of the Assumption is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, they fail to inform their listeners of the fact that Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus in which the Church officially defined the dogma of the Assumption, presents in ¶¶ 24-41 of that document the various scripture passages Catholic theologians over the centuries have used in support of the dogma. Now one would think that if these gentlemen were “good” theologians as they present themselves to be, they would have at least made reference to the Apostolic Constitution if for no other reason than to refute the Catholic interpretation of the biblical passages cited therein.

            In their discussion of the prayer, these gentlemen made no other reference to any scripture, or magisterial documents, or even any teaching of Pope Pius XII himself to ascertain the meaning of the words he used in the prayer. They discuss the dogma of Theotokos pronounced at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD without accurately stating what the dogma is. She did not give birth to God or the Trinity as these gentlemen state. Rather, the dogma states that Jesus was one man, divine and human, and not two separate persons. He is completely God and completely man with a rational soul and body. Mary is "Theotokos" because she gave birth not to man but to God who took on flesh as a man. The dogma teaches that the union of theses two natures of Christ took place in such a fashion that one did not disturb the other. The dogma was pronounced to condemn those who attacked His divinity and His humanity. It was pronounced to help Christians understand the ful meaning of the Incarnation and why it was necessary for our salvation. It is not an elevation of Mary to the status of goddess. She does become the fourth member of the Holy Trinity. It does not replace her as a divinity and make God into a created being. These men are not “good” theologians or even “good” liars.

            Indeed, while these men accuse the Catholic Church of sophistry and deception, they engaged in their own brand of deception in the YouTube presentation. For example, it is suggested at the 22:20 minute mark that if you were to substitute God’s name for Mary’s, you could do no better prayer to Him. Of course, if a person were to actually do that, the prayer f Pope Pius XII would make no sense whatsoever because substituting God for Mary would make God a created being rather than the Uncreated One. They do the very thing they accuse Catholics of doing in the dogma of the Theotokos. Messrs. Zins and Wessels’ deceptive practices prey on the anti-Catholic prejudices of their listeners. They do not instruct, they are meant to incite.

            Nor does the prayer “leave nothing for God” as is suggested by these gentlemen. Read the pertinent part of the prayer again:

Though we are degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by endless misery, we admire and sing of the incomparable wealth of sublime gifts with which God filled you over above other pure creatures, from the first moment of your conception until the day of your Assumption to heaven, when you were crowned Queen of the universe.

            Here, Mary is not the creator; she is God’s favored creation. She did not exist before God; she participated in the Son’s Incarnation. She did not formulate the plan of salvation; through her fiat, she was the voluntary instrumentality God used to carry it out. Mary is not the author of grace; she is the recipient of it. We honor her because God honored her with His grace. (Lk. 1:28-31) We honor the Donor of the gifts by honoring the donee. ( Cf., Mt. 10:41; Rom. 13:7; 1 Cor. 12:26; Eph. 6:5; 1 Tim. 5:17, 6:1; 1 Pet. 2:17.)

            These “good” theologians notwithstanding, popular piety and theological teaching demonstrate the honor we give the Mother of God is not adoration, but is clearly subordinate to the honor given to her Son as shown by this ancient Marian hymn still sung today:

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day; Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!

                        Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine; Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!

                        Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread; Mary the stem, Christ the Rose

                        Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood; Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord; Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest; Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son, By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.

            The ubiquitous prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the “Hail Mary” reflects how Marian devotion should be situated in our lives. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

                        In communion with the holy Mother of God

                        2673    In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in his glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus.

                        2674    Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties." Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she "shows the way" (hodigitria), and is herself "the Sign" of the way, according to the traditional iconography of East and West.

                        2675    Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.

                        2676    This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel's greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. "Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . the Lord your God is in your midst." Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God . . . with men." Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel's greeting, we make Elizabeth's greeting our own. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary "blessed." "Blessed is she who believed. . . . " Mary is "blessed among women" because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth. Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the "fruit of thy womb."

                        2677    Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word." By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.


                        2679    Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.

                                    [Footnotes omitted]

            As clearly shown above, when we pray to Mary, we ask her to pray with us. She points us to Her Son. She provides the model of how we are to pray to God. If one does not seek Christ, one should not pray to Mary. Moreover, one cannot claim that Catholics supplant God with Mary or the saints as our prayers do not end with her or the saints, but are joined with their prayers to God.

            I could go on much longer refuting these gentlemen’s specific comments, but I can add little to what others have said already. Unlike Pastor Temple and Messrs. Zins, and Wessels, real Catholic theologians, such as St. Alphonsus de Liguori in his The Glories of Mary and Bl. John Henry Newman in his Letter to Pusey on the occasion of his Eirenicon, as well as many highly-regarded Catholic apologists of the present day such as Father Dwight Longenecker [Distorted Devotions – Do Catholics Honor Mary Too Much?], Father Mateo [Refuting the Attack on Mary: A Defense of Marian Doctrines. El Cajon, California: Catholic Answers, Inc. 1999]; and by my friend, David Armstrong ["The Catholic Mary": Quite Contrary to the Bible? available here, Does St. Alphonsus de Liguori, in "The Glories of Mary", Teach That Mary is "Above God" and Can "Manipulate God"? (vs. Len Lisenbee), and Can We Honor Jesus Christ Through His Mother Mary? (vs. John Cranman)] address their vapid argumentation far better than I. To these worthy refutations of Protestant objections to Marian devotion of the sort peddled by Messrs. Zins and Wessels, I hesitantly offer these few additional comments.

            Given how little any actual theology Messrs. Zins and Wessels actually discuss in their parsing of Pope Pius XII’s prayer, I was not surprised to see them fall back on the use of the fallacious argumentation style called argumentum ad passiones or an argument to emotion to supplement their lack of proof. A species of the red herring fallacy, an argument to emotion is tailored to convince an already sympathetic audience by using their predilections, their prejudices, their fears, or their passions to manipulate them into accepting one’s argument as true even if very little actual proof in support of the argument is offered.

            Your typical beer commercial is the example I use with mock trial students to illustrate argumentum ad passiones. We often see beer commercials use attractive, buxom bikini-clad women to get men to buy a particular brand of beer, as if drinking the brew would cause almost-naked women to flock around the imbiber like starlings at a bird feeder full of corn. After all, if a guy can attract buxom, barely-dressed beauties simply by holding a BLARGH beer in his hand, who cares what it tastes like?

            Messrs. Zins and Wessels use a similar, scantily-clad argument to appeal to their YouTube audience. Rather than talk theology, they talk bullfighter and Latin American exuberance. Rather than discuss what the Church actually teaches, they talk how large statues are and how people kiss rings. They play on stereotypes rather than on actual devotion. And for the purpose of our discussion, they focus on the effusiveness of the words used by Pope Venerable Pius XII in the prayer to discuss from their failure to discuss the Catholic theology upon which those words are grounded. These gentlemen use their audience’s predilection against Catholicism to convince their audience that Catholics give latria/adoration to Mary in the place of God without informing their audience how Catholics understand latria. If they had actually argued like “good” theologians do, the effusive nature of the language used in the prayer in question becomes irrelevant because the prayer by Pope Ven. Pius XII specifically acknowledges that Mary is a created being like the rest of us and is not able to do anything of the things mentioned in the prayer with the direction and help of God.

            The statements of Pope Pius XII’s detractors here are designed to get the listener to focus on the grandiloquence and sentimentality of the words that Pope Pius XII uses as opposed to the theological foundation employed in the composition of the prayer. Rather than directly address the theology of the prayer, these gentlemen use charged language to attack the prayer as if their personal sentiments against the prayer somehow trump the sentimentality expressed by Pope Pius XII in the prayer. They put prose over substance, emotion over intellect, personal taste over theology, misdirecting over meaning.

            Let me be frank. The argumentation employed by Mr. Zins, Mr. Wessels, and Pastor Temple in his post, are all designed to distract the reader from the actual cavil these gentlemen share against Marian prayer. For Calvinists, it doesn’t matter what language Pius XII chose to use in the prayer. It is the fact he engaged in intercessory prayer to Mary at all which they find objectionable. Even if Pope Pius XII had employed the tersest, unimaginative prose possible in his prayer to Mary, the opinion of Pastor Temple and the two gentlemen in the video would have been the same. The prayer to Mary is not acceptable to them because in their minds it is a prayer to a dead person whom they believe can’t even hear intercessory prayers. Their real objection is not the “high” language used by Pius XII in composing his prayer, it is making any sort of intercessory prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary herself to which they object.

            Additionally, these men render all prayer as worship. Unlike “good” theologians, they apply the Protestant understanding of prayer to what Catholics do without informing their listeners that Catholics do not see prayers of petition necessarily as adoration unless such prayers are directed to God.

            As an attorney, I know that the word “pray” has several different meanings. In the law, a petition for relief is called a “prayer.” In the classical literature I enjoy reading, characters address other characters with “I pray thee.” Some versions of the Bible use the word “pray” in conversations between two people. For example, the Protestant King James Bible states:

            1)        And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. (2 Kings 2:2)

Was Elijah giving adoration to Elisha when he prayed to him?

            2)        Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and                        hearken to all my words. (Jb.33:1)

When Elihu prayed to Job, was he worshiping him?

            3)        And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 1:9)

Was God here giving adoration to the people of Israel?

            4.         Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20)

Not only does St. Paul pray to the Corinthians here, he even acts as a mediator between Jesus and men. I wonder why Pastor Temple does not rebuke St. Paul, “Wow. Blasphemous.”

            Obviously, in none of the above situations did the “pray-er” worship the “pray-ee.” So scripturally, praying is not always synonymous with “worship” or “adoration.” If it is directed to God, prayer is worship of adoration. If the object of the prayer is a created being, then the prayer is nothing more than a petition or supplication we make to our fellow Christians for intercessory prayer. No matter highly one may exalt the Mother of Our Lord by one’s choice of language used in fashioning their petitions to her, if the pray-er knows and acknowledges Mary as a created being, words can never turn her into a goddess.

            Lastly, I wanted to answer Mr. Zins’ question about whether one could do a better prayer to God than the one Pope Pius XII wrote to Mary. Personally, I think the example Our Lord Himself gives is such a prayer:

[Jesus] then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
[Lk. 18:9-14 NAB]

            To sum this section up, fallacious argumentation and hyperbole are poor substitutes for actual theology. Since it is the Blessed Virgin Mary and Pope Pius XII that they wrong, I think it appropriate that we pray this particular prayer for Pastor Temple, Rob Zins and Larry Wessels:

Pope Pius XII’s Prayer against Blasphemy

O most August Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Who, though infinitely happy for all eternity in Yourself and by Yourself, deign to accept graciously the homage that rises from universal creation unto Your sublime throne, turn away, we beg You, Your eyes and ears of the unfortunate, or those blinded by passion, or pressured by evil influences, who horribly blaspheme Your name, of the most pure Virgin Mary and of the saints.
Retract, O Lord, the arm of Your justice which could destroy those who dare to be guilty of so much impiety.
Accept the glorious hymn that continually rises from all of nature: from the springs of water that flow clear and quiet to the stars that shine above from heaven and whose orbits are driven by immense love. Accept reparation from the many choruses of praise, as incense before altars, of so many holy souls who walk without deviating from the paths of Your law and try to soothe Your offended justice, through the assiduous efforts of charity and penance; listen to the song of so many noble souls who devote their lives to celebrate Your glory, with the endless praise that the Church addresses to You at all times and under the heavens. And we pray that one day that blasphemous hearts will be converted and all tongues and lips will together sing on earth the hymn echoed endlessly by the choirs of angels: "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of Your glory." Amen.

[English translation of the Italian text found in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1954), p. 501]



Martin said...

Nice article

Jamie Donald said...

Paul, Good to see you writing again.

"... even though the RCC officially denies that they give Latria/adoration to Mary, they practically do ..." When you assert that any statement of your adversary is a lie (as Pastor Temple does here), then you can ignore anything he or she says in his or her defense. In a nutshell, that's where I see the problem to be. (Though I know it's not the first time this community has levied the charge of dishonesty.)

As an aside, I must note the incredible amount of faith he places on "mere men" to have the "truth." He does not have to research nor engage actual Catholic beliefs because he treats the statements of these men as infallible. Ironic, isn't it?

John Collinson said...

There is a common theme in these critiques of Pius XII’s Marian prayer. All of them claim Catholics give adoration to Mary. Most of them claim that the Catholics engage in deception when they say they do not give adoration to Mary ... None of them discuss what the Catholic Church actually teaches about Marian dogma. None of them discuss why Catholics believe it is acceptable to engage in intercessory prayer to Mary and the saints. None of them discuss how Catholics distinguish between adoration and veneration. For that matter, none of them even discuss how a Catholic would understand the words of the prayer. They indict, but they judge without evidence.

This is simply because they are bad-willed. They do not care about understanding our religion; they are not motivated by charity, but by the errors of their forefathers, and by the pride and bitterness of the devil. The Blessed Virgin Mary has always been given highest honour by Christians, and when the Protestants, driven by the devil (whose hatred for Mary is inexpressible), destroyed all the statues of Mary and all things dedicated to her, they cut themselves off from Christ and from Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I am merely a "voice in the wilderness" but I know NOT ONE Catholic ...
(and I was one of them, and I rejected the RCC through a revelation, singularly and independently -- I do not affiliate with any Christian denomination)
... who is comfortable or willing to express that Jesus alone saves or that Jesus alone (without Mary) deserves our prayers. So regardless of myriad arguments of Catholics, in practicality, found in any country -- I have lived abroad my entire adult life -- knows Jesus personally or accepts that His Work on the cross is finished. Also: why is Mary always in the best possible representation in RC churches around the world, but Jesus is always a baby or on the cross? Let's get these explanations of doctrine out there...