St. Pope John Paul II wrote, “The history of Christian piety teaches that Mary is the way which leads to Christ and that filial devotion to her takes nothing from intimacy with Jesus; indeed, it increases it and leads to the highest levels of perfection.”
Contrary to what is widely believed by non-Catholics, the Virgin Mary is not worshipped nor given adoration by the Catholic Church—after all, adoration and worship are due to God alone. However, the veneration of the Blessed Mother of God is unique to Catholicism. (Read: Meet the 4 Madonnas in Lolo Kiko’s Life)
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “This very special devotion [to the Virgin Mary] differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit” (CCC 971).
My Pope lists three ways how Catholics give honor and devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Catholics venerate Mary—as written in the Scriptures.
If one will closely study the Sacred Scriptures, the devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be understood by the consideration of the similarities between the Fall of Man and the Redemption of Man.
In the Book of Genesis, it is said that Adam and Eve fell into original sin through the temptation of Satan, in the form of a serpent. Eve was tempted first and then offered the forbidden fruit to Adam. Thus, the two of them were punished and were marked with the original sin. However, God promised to send a Redeemer. (Look: Christ the Redeemer in Brazil lights up with images that pay tribute to COVID-19 frontliners)
“And the Lord God said to the serpent… I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Genesis 3:13-15).
In the Old Testament, it was Adam who brought about the Fall of Mankind with Eve. The two were tempted by a fallen angel to disobey the command of God. Meanwhile, in the New Testament, It was Jesus Christ brought about redemption with the cooperation of the Virgin Mary. She humbly submitted to the will of God after another angel, the Angel Gabriel, came to send her the message.
In the Gospel of Luke, the Angel Gabriel addressed Mary as: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women!” (Read: Prayers of the Rosary)
Catholics pray to Mary to seek her intercession.
Catholics honor the Virgin Mary because, as the Mother of God, she was so intimately connected with Jesus Christ. Yes, there is only one Mediator with the Father—Jesus Christ. But oftentimes, Catholics would also pray to Mary that she may intercede for them with her Divine Son.
Just as when we make our friends, family members, and pastors as mediators by asking them to pray for us to God, Catholics also ask Mary and the saints to intercede for them. (Read: The miraculous intercessions of saints that will turn even the most stubborn of skeptics into believers)
The Gospel of St. John relates two significant accounts that relate to Mary—the wedding feast of Cana (wherein Jesus Christ performed his first public miracle at the request of his mother) and the Crucifixion (wherein Mary stood at the foot of the cross, full of anguish and sorrow, as her Son suffered and died).
Through the Virgin Mary’s special place and her unique relationship to Christ, she is a powerful intercessor indeed. (Read: 3 Miraculous Events in History That Are Attributed to Mama Mary)
Catholics honor Mary as the first person to believe in Christ.
Lastly, Catholics give honor, love, and veneration to Mama Mary because they acknowledge that she was fully human—like the rest of us The honor given to her is not only because she is the Mother of God, but also because she was the first Christian, the first person to believe in Jesus Christ. Mary is special to our Lord, and so she is special to us and therefore rightfully given veneration and honor by the Church.