Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Q. In the Scriptures I can not find ANYTHING to support the praise and worship of Mary the Mother of Jesus. At what point did the Catholic’s start praying to her, and where do they get their belief that she ascended into heaven body and soul and didn’t die???

You are correct. There is nothing in the scriptures that elevate Mary to a worship status. As a woman, she was greatly honored to be the earthly mother of Jesus, but we are never told to worship her.

The following quotes from my encyclopedia give the information you requested. I cite the source for this quote.

Marian teachings received considerable impetus at the councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), both of which upheld the title theotokos (“God-bearer,” or Mother of God) as descriptive of Mary. The doctrine of Mary’s bodily assumption into heaven can be traced to apocryphal documents dating from the 4th century, but this doctrine was not officially formulated and defined for Roman Catholics until 1950 (see Assumption of Mary). The doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception was a matter of dispute throughout the Middle Ages. In 1854, however, Pope Pius IX declared that Mary was freed from original sin by a special act of grace the moment she was conceived in the womb of Saint Anne. (Tradition names Saint Anne and Saint Joachim as Mary’s parents.)

Pope Pius XII strongly promoted Marian piety during his reign (1939-58). Because Roman Catholic teaching holds that Mary is deserving of the “highest veneration,” the church observes 17 Marian festivals each year, 5 of which are major: Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8; Purification, Feb. 2; Annunciation, Mar. 25; Assumption, Aug. 15; and Birth, Sept. 8. The rosary contains 50 Ave Marias (“hail Marys”), and devotion to the “immaculate heart” of Mary is popular in some circles.

The Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic doctrine asserting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved from the effects of original sin from the first moment of her conception. The doctrine was defined as a dogma binding on Catholics by Pope Pius IX in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus (1854). The doctrine as defined was debated by theologians during the Middle Ages and was rejected by Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is based on the biblical idea of Mary’s holiness (Luke 1:28), early church teachings on Mary as the “new Eve,” and the belief that Mary is the mother of God (Theotokos, or “God-bearer”), articulated at the Council of Ephesus (431; see Ephesus, Council of). The feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed on Dec. 8.

Harold W. Rast

Bibliography: Ashe, G., The Virgin (1991); Brown, R. E., et al., eds., Mary in the New Testament (1978); Carroll, M. P., The Cult of the Virgin Mary (1986); Jelly, Rev. F. K., Madonna: Mary in the Catholic Tradition (1986); Lappin, P., First Lady of the World: A Popular History of Devotion to Mary (1988); Pelikan, J., Mary Through the Centuries (1996); Pennington, M. B., Mary Today (1987); Ruether, R. R., MaryƑThe Feminine Face of the Church (1977); Stacpoole, A., ed., Mary’s Place in Christian Dialogue (1983); Warner, M., Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976); Zimdars-Swartz, S., Encountering Mary (1991).

Copyright (c) 2001 Grolier Interactive Inc.

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