Why Do Catholics Pray To Mary?
The question of why Catholics pray to Mary is often asked rhetorically among Protestants. The question is seldom asked seriously among Catholics and more rarely asked of Catholics by Protestants. In fact, many Catholics who do hear this question struggle to find a satisfactory answer.
So, why do Catholics pray to Mary?
The Hail Mary Is Based in Scripture
The basis for why Catholics pray to Mary is, of course, found in the Bible. In fact, much of that most Catholic Prayer “The Hail Mary” is found in the opening chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
In Luke 1:28, the Angel Gabriel greets Mary “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Revised Standard Translation).
In that same chapter, Mary goes to stay with her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth is “filled with the holy spirit” and greets Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (1:42).
The rest of the prayer (“Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,”) is not so directly found in scripture.
Catholic Tradition Elevates Mary
It is unclear when the Hail Mary prayer in its modern entirety was first composed and used. However, church historians do know that stories and legends about Mary became popular in the early twelfth century.
We have older records of the mass but because the Hail Mary is not a part of the mass it was likely a later development. We just don’t know how late.
The Hail Mary as a prayer probably developed between the early twelfth century and the sixteenth century. That’s when prayer to saints reached its height.
Catholic tradition also includes a number of other attributes to Mary that have been lost or discarded by Protestant groups. These include Mary’s remaining a virgin after Jesus’s birth, Mary’s having been born without sin, and Mary’s assumption into heaven.
Catholics Ask Mary for Intercession
Catholics also pray to Mary in the same way that they pray to other saints – another tradition discarded by Protestant organizations.
Many protestants claim that venerating and praying to saints violate the commandments to not have false gods and to pray to none other that God the Father.
Catholics do not put saints on the same level as God the Father, and do not pray to them in the same way. Catholics pray to the saints, including Mary, for intercession. This is the same as when we ask our friends, family, or faith communities to pray for us in times of need.
Prayer to saints is still commonly done by Catholics, though it is not as common as it once was. With the exception of Mary, most saints today are seen more as role models than as divine messengers.
Mary Is Easy to Pray to
In both the scriptures and in Catholic tradition, Mary is an easy figure for most people to relate to.
She is humble and obedient towards God. In the scriptures, she deals with situations that any Mother today does like losing her son (Luke 2:41 – 51) and even dealing with disobedience from him (John 2:1-12).
In all of these ways and for all of these reasons, Catholics see Mary as like themselves only closer to God.
Article written by Johnathan Jaehnig with Christian Catholic Media
Jon Jaehnig is a professional freelance writer and journalist, specializing in technology and health. He is a practicing Catholic and active Knight of Columbus living in upper Michigan, USA.