A Christian Dilemma
by Oscar E V Fernando
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A Christian Dilemma
All Christians believe in the Bible, and thus, give a special place to the Lord’s Prayer also called the ‘Our Father’, authored by Jesus who is God the Son.
Let us see what some followers of Christ think of the prayer recited by Roman Catholics, named as the ‘Hail Mary’, the first part of which was authored by God the Father, nearly thirty years before Jesus authored the Lord’s Prayer. It was authored by God before Christianity was born, and in fact, when it was yet in the womb of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
According to Luke’s Gospel, God sent an angel to Mary, saluting her thus; “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee”. Taking God as the Principal and the angel as His agent, this message consists of the very words of God. Believed by Christians, to be the Creator of all beings, God, salutes this woman, a creature of His, with the word ‘Hail’, a word used by human beings to salute high personages such as Royalty.
God also attributes to her ‘full of grace’. Grace being defined as the unmerited favor of God. Most Christians would believe that no human being is deemed to be full of grace. But God declares her to be so, and that too in the bible!
This prayer continues with the God inspired words of her cousin Elizabeth who says ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb’ when Mary visits her with child in her womb.
The second part of this prayer was authored by the Catholic Church. And it begins with, ‘Holy Mary Pray for us’. It does not admonish Catholics to ask for Mary’s forgiveness of their sins as in the Lords Prayer, neither to ask for their daily bread direct from her. A human being deemed to be so full of grace while on earth, and who gave God the Son her Flesh and Blood, should be with God by now, as Christians do believe such persons go to Him after their sojourn over here!
Is it not paradoxical that most Christians do honor Jesus’ friends such as Thomas, Luke, Mathew, Paul, John, even naming schools and churches after them, but strangely do not seem to bestow the same, honor to his mother? Some even go to the extent of desecrating her who formed Jesus in her own flesh and blood. The flesh that was pierced and the blood that was poured on Calvary are hundred percent that of Jesus’ Mother Mary’s to those who believe in the Virgin Birth.
A clear distinction must be made between veneration and worship. Veneration is profound respect and reverence to a person, whereas worship is defined as reverent homage or service paid to God. One may pay reverence to the image of one’s deceased parents’ photographs hung in remembrance of them, for our puny human minds need such reminders. Some may even kneel before such pictures but only the person so kneeling will know in his heart whether it is veneration or worship. It is not for another to judge.
So is the external manifestation of a Christian seen kneeling before Mary’s image. Some Christians have an intellectual faith, while some others have simple faith. But in the devotion to Mary as very evident in the second part of the prayer ‘Hail Mary’, Christians are no where admonished to worship Mary.
To a Christian who has followed Mary’s docile conduct described in the Bible with her unique quality of complete surrender to God, even to the extent of taking on a virgin birth in a society that considered seeing Mary Magdalene with Jesus so scandalous, one could imagine that even now when they ask her to plead with God, she would kneel before the Majesty of God the Father, not withstanding the age old controversy of having direct access to God, instead of through a mediator etc, etc.
In this pursuit of devotion to Mary we have left out the beautiful canticles recited by her. Suffice it to say that the above mentioned are taken from the Bible, all Christians believe in, and for some, the sole testament of Christian belief, leaving the canticles to be explained by Christians, more steeped in scripture!
This is only an opinion, for consumption of Christians and to those among them who believe Jesus to be God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. There could be as many opinions as there are human beings, as do the countless number of Christian cults interpreting various opinions from the Bible.
Worth pondering, whether a return to an authoritative ‘canopy’ above Christian spiritual thought, a religion, based in the realm of faith, is a realistic concept for its adherents when we think how the ‘era of free thinking’ has led to materialism, and regrettably though, an apparently chaotic Christendom!
To expand on the realm of faith just a little, without rushing into a whole wide area where angels may fear to tread, most Christians would know how when Augustine, trying to unravel the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, while walking the beach, saw a child attempting to empty the ocean with a seashell, into a pit he had dug on the shore. Without admonishing the child over it, he found right then and there that he was doing the very same thing, and continued with his walk into a world of philosophy avidly pursued by university students, and into sainthood in the Church.
Would this reveal to some, how logic will open one to faith that in turn becomes logical?
This is a small but candid contribution intended for Christian Unity.
Oscar E V Fernando
26thth July 2004
I cannot deny that Mary was made honorable among all women, by God, but in Exodus 33 Moses found grace in God’s eyes also, but as a Christian, I do not pray to Moses.
17So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." Moses was honored even more, by being with Jesus Christ in His transfiguration in front of Peter, James, and John.
I am not sure which Bible translation you are using, but I cannot find one that states that Mary was full of grace. The closest verse I can come up with is: Luke 1
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. I do not mind honoring the mother of Jesus, but the Son of God is whom we are to pray to, because He is the only one that has been given the authority to answer our prayers. We are commanded to ask for everything in the name of Jesus Christ, not the virgin Mary. I have many friends from very differing religious backgrounds and I love them all, but I must state what I believe and stand strong in my faith in our Lord and Savior.
Hi Oscar, I enjoyed reading and respect your article. I believe that all should be praying that God would gather us each one into His bosom and bring us into oneness with Him. We have the apostle Paul as a beautiful example to hold up to God as that hope. Mary holds a unique place in God, given to none other, being the mother of God's Son. Blessings, Sharon
This is a beautiful tribute to Mary, the Mother of our Lord and Savior. She certainly is blessed among women. With out question blessed was the fruit of her womb. I have only one question, asking Mary to pray for us, is that biblical? Blessings, Rita