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Our readers asked:

Do Catholics pray to Mary? Do they consider her a Deity?

Fr. Joe Answers:

Devotion to Mary goes back a long way in the Catholic church. But Catholics do not believe that Mary is divine and we don’t pray to Mary. God, made flesh in Jesus and present in the Holy Spirit, is the only One to whom we pray.

We do believe that Mary holds a special place among the saints of the church, and that the saints are part of a community of faith and love that doesn’t end with death. This “communion of saints” includes both the living and dead. We don’t “pray to” the saints either, but we believe that we can ask those who now live with God to pray for us, just as we pray for persons who have died.

Catholics don’t worship Mary; rather, we honor her. We honor Mary as the mother of God, as the first disciple of Jesus, and as the mother of the church. All three of these titles have their origins in the fact that in Mary’s life the Word of God became flesh and blood and that is the vocation to which every Christian is called — to live in such a way that God’s generous compassion becomes alive in our flesh and blood, in in our words and actions.

We look to Mary as a model in whom we can trust, and as a mother who supports and nurtures our own journeys of faith. Turning to her as the first of Christians, we ask her to pray for us.

The Author : Fr. Joe
Fr. Joe Scott, CSP, has been a campus minister, pastor and editor as a Paulist priest.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • suebaley

    How is it that you don’t pray to Mary, YET “Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners….”? You deceive yourselves…
    Exodus 20:
    “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

    “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

    Yes, Mary was the mother of Jesus, but not God. God is eternal. She was the vessel chosen for the fleshly nature of Jesus. She is not the mother or GOD, but she is of Jesus. She is NOT Co Redemptrix, mediatrix or advocate. Yes, she deserves honor, but not to be prayed to, which you absolutely do! In the rosary, how many times do you pray to Mary versus to God? How did Jesus teach us to pray? Talking to, honoring, and praising God, is prayer, which is worship.You like to use words such as venerate, and honor, but the truth is, you worship her in prayer. Prayer is worship. This has been going on for so long, you no longer recognize the slight turn off the path. It’s so sad, but that is how the evil one works… very deceptive, not too blatant- at first. So, the wolf in sheep’s skin continues to this very day… Jesus and the apostles warned all of us about this kind of deception. Instead of reading your canon and magisterium, take time and study the Bible – the Word of God.

  • dracula

    Fool God has no mother for you people to honour…….lairs n deceiver God will cast you people and the devil into the lake of fire.if you people thinks wat u r saying is true why didn’t u quote any Bible text to support ur lies. Ure only worshiping Asterot ,Aphrodite da queen of harlots

  • Batman

    I was baptized as an infant in the RCC but just recently intend to start practicing my Catholic Christian faith. A co-worker and I were having a conversation about my daughter attending Catholic school. I told her something, and then she responded, “Ok, well just pray to Mary and…” Hmmm…I just rolled my eyes. I’ve had many Catholics immediately bring up Mary when I mentioned something to them. This is really unnerving for me. I’m going to my Lord Jesus Christ first. Everyone else comes after him. He is my Lord and my God. And, yeah, the fact that she told me to **pray to** Mary is unbiblical. Catholics should not be praying to saints. We can only pray to God. That’s a fact. We can only ask saints, whether on earth or in heaven, to pray to God for us. Read those words closely.

    • Myron Gainez

      So you admit you got ass-raped in the altar room? And you call Muslims filth? Go kill some liberal kids, that’s all you filth are good at doing like your boy Breivik.

  • Blue Moonripple

    Oh thank you, people keep asking me the same question and I keep saying the same thing. We honor her we do not pray for her. Also I would like to know why we need ask her to pray for us? I heard it’s because they are closer to God their prayers are stronger. Is that true? or is there another reason?

  • stephen

    I shall be thankful for more comments about the miracles to have happened in the Shrine of Mary at Velankanni S.India

  • Dave Hinterlong

    Why do we need to ask Mary or a saint to pray for us? And only God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. How can Mary hear all those prayers at once, or at all, anyway? The Word of God clearly states Jesus is our mediator. Are we trying to trick God by going through Mary? It makes no sense.

  • Luis avalos

    My question is I am a catholic just barely doing my confirmation. I want to know if it is al right to pray to the holy Mary and were is it in the bible that clarifies that. I believe in God greatly, I just want to know more detail dealing with the catholic religion.

    • Batman

      No, you may only pray to God. You may, however, ask a saint to **pray to God** — **for you**. Saints are powerless to accomplish anything on their own authority. For that reason, we pray only to God who alone has the power to bring things to pass.

  • servant and friend

    If people will only follow the life and teaching of the Lord we will have common sense because of the common source.

    Only God can hear prayers coz HE is the only Omnis. And it is taught only in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    Mother of God? Are you not ashamed with that title? God is the Alpha and Omega, besides that is why the Lord never call her Mother because God knows that it would be use to deceive many.

    Jer 7:18, 44:17-19, 25 is where you can find that God is very angry with the so called “Queen of heaven”.

    The real blessed Mary is already there with Abraham’s bosom and not on any throne.

    I declare salvation, deliverance and restoration, in Jesus name Amen and Amen!

    • Blue Moonripple

      It’s in the bible sweetie. You can find it in the new testament
      “Hail Mary full of grace the lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb Jesus” ;)
      You’re welcome and God Bless ^-^

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    Hi Nicole! Yes I am aware of where to find ‘Hail Mary’ in the Bible along with the mysteries. I was merely acknowledging that the rosary itself and the procedure for it’s use is not directly recorded in scripture. My point is that it doesn’t need to follow that the rosary is ‘unbiblical’ for this reason. I apologize if that wasn’t clear. No Google needed.

  • Nicole Henry

    sorry for the typo…HAIL Mary full of grace…

  • Nicole Henry

    um…Stuart…actually you do find the rosary in the Bible…in fact….Hailly Mary, full of grace…the Lord is with thee is a dirct bible quote…not to mention the mysteries….sciptural rosary anyone? (Google it)

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    George. As to your primary criticism, I have yet to concoct a statement that is truly strong enough to express how ludicrous, uncharitable and obtuse the proposition is that Catholics are not Christians. Simply saying that it is so does not suffice as an argument.

    Secondly, Jesus did not rebuke Mary. For him to do so would be to break the 4th commandment to honour thy father and mother. Our Lord honoured his mother, and as in all other things we should follow his perfect example.

    In praying the rosary we are drawn to meditate on the various mysteries of the life and death of Christ, allowing us to experience and reflect more deeply on the suffering and sacrifice that he offered so freely. In these mysteries too we can consider those moments that made us the Easter people we are today-waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord. While you may not find the rosary in the bible-it is utterly biblical to the core.

  • George Blakeley

    Mike first and formost Catholics are not Christians! Lets get that straight. Second, in the scripture refered to by Ginny, Look at what Jesus says to his mother. You could say that he rebuked her for asking him to do the favor. Catholics do worship Mary and that is that. Read your bible for yourself abd youwill clearly see that Catholics are far from Jesus teachings. Read Matthew Ch 6. This alone will show you how to pray. There is no memtion of any Hail Mary’s or Rosary or a Priest! Read an then get back to me on what you find.
    I am not talking semantics just the facts.

  • Ginny Kubitz Moyer

    Going along with Mike’s comment, there is a biblical precedent to Mary as intercessor. We see this in the Wedding Feast at Cana, when she brings the needs of the young couple before Jesus and advocates on their behalf.

  • Mike Hayes

    Thanks for the comments here. It seems we are splitting hairs here and using semantics.

    Catholics like all Christians (and Catholics ARE Christians) indeed pray to God. However, several holy people are sometimes asked to INTERCEDE for us in our prayers to God.

    So we pray to a saint or to Mary not because we are praying to them as a form of worship to them, but as a means of praying to God. We essentially are asking them to pray for us because we believe they are close to God–or at least closer than we are.

    So Catholics may SAY that they pray TO Mary…but they are not saying that they worship Mary when they say that. They are simply asking for Jesus’ mother to tap her son on the shoulder and ask for Him to hear our prayers. Catholics believe that Mary is a great intercessor in her role as the Mother of God.

    • Sara s

      How can Saints or Mary be any closer to God than you are? If you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. God sent Jesus to be the pathway to Him. How much more of a direct path to God do you need? Jesus is our only interceder in heaven.

      And by saying, “They are simply asking for Jesus’ mother to tap her son on the shoulder and ask for Him to hear our prayers”. You are somehow implying that Jesus isn’t heeding our prayers when we directly pray to Him. Trust me, Jesus hears your prayers, your thoughts, he knows everything about you. He will hear your prayers and answer them if it is His will.

      You are also giving Mary and the Saints attributes of God. They cannot hear everyone’s prayers at once, they are not omnipresent. There is also no Biblical bases behind asking Saints to intercede on our behalf. Just a misinterpretation of Revelations 8:4.

  • zinto

    With respect, the dictionary definition of praying is a form of worship. You only pray TO the diety to be worshipped. Therefore, despite what anyone says ( vatican or any one else ) to whom you pray to whom you are worshipping – prayer IS worship. I find the whole catholic use of misleading terms like latria, dulia etc to be just playing with words in the hope the average parishioner isnt smart enough to actually use a dictionary and look up what praying actually means.
    I find I love catholics – but I find the misleading lies taught by the catholic church to be worthy of Gods wrath, which will come upon it because of how many it has lead to a false christ and rank pagan worship.

    If you bow before a wafer at Mass, you are breaking the 2nd commandment of not bowing before or serving any idol. Why is the 2nd Commandment about idols at Exodus 20:4-17 routinely removed from Catechism teachings? Becasue the catholic church ROUTINELY teaches idiolatry by bowing before statues, by worshipping people other than God by asking people to pray ( and so worship ) Mary & saints.

    “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
    You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”
    ( Ex 20:4-5 )

    Did you know Purgatory is NOT in the Bible anywhere? Thats right – and we cannot pay for someone elses sin – we cant pray people into heaven, we can get pray them out of purgatory, and, as Jesus’s sacrifice was a ONCE ONLY offering for sin “It is finsihed” John 19:30, we do not need to keep offering christ up on the altar at Mass every day . It is finished – this means no more offerings for sin are needed. No wonder the church hates evangelicals – we blow the whole catholic false religious system wide open , as we love ctaholic senough to tell them the truth.

    Ask your priest –

    Where is puragtory in the Bible? It is not found anywhere. It doesnt exist.

    Can I remove another mans sin ? No you cant
    “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9) Note – ALL sin. Not some.
    Also note that WE cannot payt for our sin – Christs sacrifice is the ONLY offering for sin that can purge away sin – so this makes purgatory INVALID.

    If Christ offered himslef as the perfect sacrifice ONCE for sins and said “It is finsihed” – why does the church keep offering christ on the altar every mass?
    ( John 19:30 )

    Turn away from the false hope the church offers and come to Christ before its too late.


  • Pastor Todd

    What is prayer, if it is not talking, asking, and honoring? Saying “we don’t pray to Mary”, and “We don‚Äôt ‚Äúpray to‚Äù the saints either” is a re-definition of the word “pray”. Pray is defined as making entreaty or suplication, and that is exactly what you described above, “we believe that we can ask those who now live with God…” That is prayer. So you pray Mary and to other saints who live with God.

    Likewise, what is worship? Defined as “deference, honor, tribute, homage”, it is what you give to Mary. Humans are worshippers, and we will worship no matter our beliefs. I mean that we worship our friends new baby when we say, “How precious. She’s so beautiful.”. We worship our food when we say, “This dessert is to-die-for.” We worship our children when we make sacrifices for them. But there are differences in the level of our worship. Let me explain.

    One who believes in God “worships” all of these temporal things as a king of “sub-worship” of God. We recognize that our children are gifts from God, and that He has placed them in our care. Therefore when we sacrifice for our children, we honor the child as part of a greater worship of God. When we appreciate the dessert, we are thankful to God and recognize that every good gift is from Him.

    It seems that the worship of Mary (and other saints) is distinct from this type of sub-worship in that the worshipper seeks to receive some benefit from Mary or from the saint. I would never pray to my child, and certainly not to my cheesecake. I heartily acknowledge Mary and the entire host of Christians who have gone before us as a gift from God and as being used by Him for the benefit of His church. I do not, however, ascribe to elevating these gifts to the point of prayer and worship. This is the indictment from Romans 1. They worshipped the creation rather than the creator, and that is what you do if you pray to and worship Mary or any other than the Great Three In One.

    • william denham

      I don’t understand how can can you claim you don’t worship Mary and the saints when your asking them to pray for you. Now there is only one intercessor between God and man and that’s Jesus plus Jesus said I am the way the truth and the LIFE no one comes to the father but by me get it key word life. And Mary and the saint so called saints are dead so how can a dead person pray for the living angels can’t even pray for us so answer that question

  • Christian Bulacan

    Look, I see many lies here and do not be deceived. They DON”T pray to Mary? Well check this out:
    Hail Mary, full of grace ….. lalala…. Amen.

    That is called prayer
    Repent and be born again

    • Blue Moonripple

      It’s in the bible honeycakes :)
      “Hail Mary full of grace, the lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.” This is what the angel said when Mary was conceived by the holy spirit. In the New Testament ;)

  • Alison

    It’s actually okay to say we “pray to” Mary or the other Saints. Praying is just a supernatural form of communication… conversing with someone that’s outside of the natural world, Saints or God. Praying just comes from the Latin word “to ask,” it doesn’t mean “to worship.” As you’ve properly said, we don’t worship the Saints. Worship is reserved only for God.

    • Rissa

      I am tired of hearing people say that we “don’t pray to Mary, we pray with her.” That is just not true. We DO pray to Mary and the Saints. Rather than denying it, we need to teach people what it actually means to pray to them. It does not mean that we worship them. Prayer is a petition. We certainly do petition the Saints when we pray to them, even if our petition is simply a request to ask them to pray on our behalf. Not all prayers are worship, although some of them are. The ones that are worshipful prayers are for God alone. The Saints are honored, but not worshipped. We pray to God and the Saints, but we pray to them in very different ways. That is what we need to help people understand.

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