Catholicism and Orthodoxy misunderstood

Well-meaning Christians often wonder whether we in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions worship Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the God-bearer (according to the Council of Ephesus). Or they often criticize us for doing that.

The answer is simple: we believe that worship properly pertains to God alone. We venerate, i.e., honor the memory, of those who have gone before us in faith because they are an example of what it means to be Christian. But the Virgin Mary deserves veneration in a special way because by saying “Yes” to God, she enabled the plan of salvation to take place. It was her saying yes that led to the Word becoming flesh.

Nevertheless, in the Gospel of John, there is one other thing Mary said to the men at Cana that reminds us of the ultimate point of honoring her: “Do whatever he tells you.” So if some Christians are right to criticize us for Mariolatry, it is because many of us forgot that this was the point. Hence the priority is to promote an idea of the veneration of Mary as founded on Scripture and connected to a life of discipleship.

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