The Catholic teaching on Mary was for many of us the last hurdle to clear. Venerating a mere woman? Asking her to pray for us? Speaking of her as the ‘Mother of God’? Believing her to have been without sin, assumed into heaven, the ‘Queen of Heaven’? Why does the Catholic Church believe these things about Mary?
This is without doubt the area of Catholic teaching converts from Protestantism have the hardest time with. And it’s not so much that what Catholics believe about Mary contradicts anything clearly taught in the Bible, but that Catholic teaching seems to go so far beyond what could be known from the Bible alone.
Sure, Protestants will say, God could have “saved” the mother of Jesus from the moment of her conception, preserving her from the stain of original sin. Sure, Mary could have remained a virgin all her life and been assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly existence. Sure, it’s possible that Christians can ask Mary to intercede for them in heaven — even as Christians ask friends and family to intercede for them on earth. But where’s the scriptural evidence for these beliefs?
As we answer this question, it’s crucial that we keep in mind that while Catholics take Scripture to be inspired and authoritative, the very “speech of God as it was put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum), we also believe that Apostolic Tradition can shed light on the meaning of Scripture, and also that Christian doctrine develops as the Holy Spirit leads the Church over time to draw out and understand more deeply the implications of what God has revealed in scripture.
There are a great many good resources out there for learning about Mary. Here are some of our favorites.
Recommended Articles & Documents
by Scott Hahn
As Fr. Bertrand de Margerie comments, “It is a remarkable presentation of the biblical texts on Mary. They should be the soul of Catholic Mariology and it should help Protestant readers toward a better understanding of Holy Scripture.” This a wonderful and simply written biblical study of Mary.
by Tim Staples
Using Scripture, the early Church Fathers and the official documents of the Church, in this rich resource Tim Staples, Director of Apologetics for Catholic Answers, gives a beautifully clear presentation and defense of the six major Marian doctrines.
by Gary Michuta
“The world is full of nonsense when it comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary from simple confusion and ignorance to disrespect and blasphemy. Michuta has done us a great service by blowing away the fog and shining the light of clarity on a matter so important to the story of God’s salvation. Drawing from Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Councils and the Fathers of the Church, Gary helps scholars and beginners alike to understand the ABC’s of the person and role of Mary.” Stephen K. Ray, Author of Crossing The Tiber
Hans Urs von Balthasar & Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
At once profound and yet readily accessible, Mary: The Church at the Source offers a theologically balanced and biblically grounded presentation of traditional and contemporary thought on Marian doctrine and spirituality.
edited by Scott Hahn & Leon J. Suprenant, Jr.
This second edition includes over 40 pages of new material from Scott Hahn, including a new chapter on the Luminous Mysteries and a new appendix on the scriptural basis of three Marian dogmas. Catholic for a Reason II will help readers explore the mystery of Mary, the Mother of God, through the personal study and reflection of nine well-known Catholics.
by Fr. Juan Luis Bastero
Fr. Bastero is a professor of theology at the University of Navarre, Spain. Revealing a deep comprehension of Catholic tradition on the subject, Father presents here a clear and comprehensive treatment of the Catholic teaching on Mary — her Divine Motherhood, Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Assumption into heaven and Queenship.