What Catholics Think Of Our Lady

Some people of other religions think we go overboard with Our Lady that we honour her as though she was a God, etc.

That is simply not true.

We venerate Our Lady- we do not adore her. Adoration, by definition, belongs only to God, and so we adore only God. We also venerate other Saints, and I think some other religions also do the same, though not necessarily the same saints. I have not studied other religions, so I cannot make much of a comment on what they do or don't do.
(From Websters Dictionary, venerate means "to look upon with deep respect and reverence, to regard as hallowed" and "adore" means "to honour as a God, or as divine").

But I do know what Catholics think of Our Lady. We venerate her as the Mother of God, the mother of Jesus. Don't ask me to explain the Blessed Trinity I can't. But when I say she is the Mother of God, because Jesus is a part of the Blessed Trinity, He is God, just as the other members are, but Our Lady is not part of the Blessed Trinity- she is not God.

Further, Our Lady is fully a human being, who had a human mother and father (Joachim and Anne). Neither God the Father nor The Holy Spirit can claim to be human, but Jesus was both God and man, and so He can claim to be human. But His Father was a spirit, and His mother a human being, so Our Lady is different to Jesus in that respect as well as the fact that she is not God.

Catholics believe that the Pope is infallible when he makes a particular pronouncement to do with the faith. He is not infallible in such matters as "It's going to rain tomorrow" but only in matters of religion. And there are two reasons that I am aware of for our belief in his infallibility. ( and probably a few more which more learned people know, but I don't) First is that it makes perfect sense for that to be the case. Christ appointed Peter as the first Pope, and to him he would have given this assurance that whatever Peter declared as true would be true not that Peter could simply do what he liked, but that God would not allow him to make a mistake in important matters. Does that make sense to you, too?

Then of course that same facility, or guarantee would have to be passed on to each following Pope, or the whole of Christianity could come crashing down.

My second reason is simply that the Pope does not make a pronouncement just off his own bat. Such things are the result of many studies, perhaps continuing over many years, and the collected wisdom of many people, and the result of much prayer over the time.

It was at one of the very early Church Councils ( similar to the famous Vatican II that we hear so much about) the Council of Ephesus in the year 431(Ephesus is in present day Turkey) that Mary was declared to be "Theotokos" which means "Mother of God".

One of the Bishops of the time preferred the term "TheoChristos" (Mother of Christ), but the Council declared that Mother of God was more correct and more appropriate.

So she is very special, since she is the Mother of God.

There have been various other declarations made by the Catholic Church about her things which are called Articles of Faith, or dogma.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared her to have had an "immaculate conception", and she is the only person ever to have had that privilege from God.

What "Immaculate Conception" means is that she was, from the very moment of Conception in her mother's womb, free for the stain of Original Sin.

The Pope must have been thrilled when less than four years later, Mary appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes, and identified herself as "The Immaculate Conception", confirming his declaration in a wonderful way.

Original sin, is of course, the sin which all mankind inherited as a result of Adam and Eve's sin of disobedience, in the Garden of Eden. In contrast, St John the Baptist was born free from Original Sin, but this freeing came during Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth (John's mother), some three months before John's birth. So for six months his soul was stained by original sin, whereas Mary's never was. And it was Jesus, in his mother's womb, who removed the Original Sin from John, not Mary.

In 1950 the dogma of "The Assumption" was declared. The Assumption refers to the fact of Mary having been taken to Heaven, body and soul, following her earthly death. The story of this is told beautifully in "The City of God" by venerable Mary of Agreda, but there are other stories of her death and nobody knows which are true.

Regardless of where she actually died, the dogma of her "Assumption into Heaven" was declared, and again, thinking about it that also makes common sense. Mary was the Mother of God would it make sense for God to simply let her die, and be buried, and decompose as all other humans do, or would He do something special for her.

Another belief which Catholics have about Our Lady, not yet defined as an Article of Faith, but believed and taught by the Church, is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

She was a virgin before the birth of Christ, at His birth, and forever afterwards.

There are of course those of other religions who believe that there are Bible references to "Brothers" of Jesus, so that Mary and Joseph must have had other children, and that therefore Mary could not be a "Perpetual Virgin". This is answered by the fact that it was common to refer to cousins and other relatives as "brothers", since there was no word in Hebrew or Aramaic for "cousins". And there are numerous other arguments, but it seems to me that it is just plain common sense that Mary would have remained a perpetual virgin.

Her role in life was to be the Mother of God.

Why would He want her to have this role diluted by having to look after brothers of His? But the most telling argument in my mind is the fact that Mary cannot lie- and speaking to Juan Diego at Guadalupe in 1531 she said, "Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God,through whom everything lives,the Lord of all things, near and far, the Master of Heaven and Earth."