Anthony and Kathy Craddock wrote:

Dear AskACatholic.com/CPATS.ORG Apologists,

Do you know of an answer to give to this person. A Protestant friend said:

The problem with the Roman Catholic concept of Mary has to do with their continued insistence, which is getting more widespread, that she somehow had a role in our salvation — that belongs to Jesus alone. Nevertheless, they say now she is Co-Redemptrix. (Even the Pope is leaning that way, seeing he has given his pontificate to Mary — not Jesus!) She was just a woman. We should think of her more as a gestational mother — seeing cloning and artificial insemination is something our modern world is aware of and something that is not foreign to us. She was not born sinless and is not on a par with Jesus.

We are thankful for your site and we hope to get people's intuitive juices flowing and show them that some things, that we just take for granted, are flawed ideas that are grandfathered to us by our family and culture.

Mother Mary is a very dangerous myth that needs to be dispelled before people act on her being an equal with Jesus Christ.  The idea has already been floating around for years and it's just a matter of time before her role as Co-redeemer becomes Roman Catholic dogma.

Anthony and Kathy

  { Seeing we tend to agree with our Protestant friend on Mary, can you tell us how to reply to him? }

Bob replied:

Dear friends,

You are getting very bad information from the Protestant source quoted.

First, Mary is a person, not an incubator as our friend would suggest. God is about relationships:

Honor your Father and Mother — not your Father and incubator.

Mary was called Blessed among women because of her relationship to Jesus, who is God, His Mother. And He, more than any other, fulfilled the commandment by honoring (and the Hebrew word actually means to bring glory upon) His Mother, more than any other. We imitate Jesus when we honor Mary.

She was God's chosen ark.  Have your friend write down all the attributes of the first ark, and then realize that the second ark must have these attributes even more fully, because the second ark, Mary, holds the True Bread from Heaven, the Good Shepherd, and the Word of God. To show Mary is the ark use common sense:

  • Wouldn't God create something more spectacular than the first Eve to bear his own Son?
    cf. Revelation 11:19 and then chapter 12:1.

  • Who is the woman, who is the ark?

Lastly, Paul said that we make up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ with our suffering.
(Colossians 1:24)

  • Can we possibly add to the efficiency of Christ's salvific work?

The answer is Yes, if it is Christ working in us. God has chosen to make all of us part of his salvific plan. It doesn't take away from what He did, rather, it brings Him greater joy to have His children participate in His saving work. Therefore, Mary also participated, in a singular way, because God could only have one mother.

That's right God, Jesus, has a mom. She raised Him, loved Him, taught Him, and suffered with Him. He didn't need an incubator.

Mother's rock!

Peace,

Bob K.

Eric replied:

Anthony and Kathy —

Sounds like these folks, who want to see Mary as a mere gestational mother, are falling into the Nestorian heresy: denying that we can call Mary the Mother of God. This might be a fruitful point to carry on the discussion. Here are a few suggested points:

  • Mary was the mother of Jesus, who is true God and true man, in exactly the same fashion as your mother was the mother of you. Just as your mother was not the origin of your soul, so Mary's motherhood does not imply that she was the origin of Jesus' soul. At the same time, motherhood is a relationship to a person, and just as you wouldn't say your mother was the mother of your human nature, it would be wrong to say that Mary was merely the mother of Jesus' human nature, and it would be right to affirm that she is the mother of the Second Person of the Trinity. Again, not in the sense that she originated the Second Person of the Trinity, but in the sense that she gave birth to Him, nursed Him, and changed His diaper. And since Jesus is fully God, it is right to call her Mother of God — which in fact says more about Jesus than it does about Mary.  For example, is says that He was God from the moment of His conception, i.e. not from any point later in his life, and that He is true God and true man, and many other principles fundamental to orthodox Christianity.

  • The word co- in co-redemptrix and in other terms means "with" (from Latin "cum").
    It implies a subordinate role, not an equal role. We as Catholics believe that all believers are co-redeemers with Christ (Colossians 1:24). Mary is just co-redemptrix par excellence. All of us are "co-workers with God" (2 Corinthians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 3:9), and so we have a role in the salvation of others. Heck, that's what evangelism is all about: participating in the saving work of Christ by bringing people to the fount of salvation. The concept of
    co-redemption is not new to Evangelicals, it's just language they aren't familiar with.

  • Everything that we apply to Mary we apply to the Church as well, and in a sense, to all believers. By exalting Mary, we are really acknowledging the lofty position Christ has raised us up to, more than we are making her more than human or distinguishing her from us.

Hope this helps,

Eric

Anthony and Kathy replied:

Hi, guys —

Mother Mary is a very dangerous myth that needs to be dispelled before people act on her being an equal with Jesus Christ.

Anthony and Kathy

Eric replied:

First of all, this would be contrary to the teaching of the Church.

"No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer" (Lumen Gentium #62).

Moreover,

"The Church does not hesitate to profess [the] subordinate role of Mary, which it constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer" (Ibid.). "We meditate on the very lofty dignity conferred upon a creature, but not put at the same level as the Divine Persons."

(John Paul II, Wednesday Audience, October 22, 1997).

If people put Mary on the level of Christ, it is due to their own ignorance more than anything.

Second, Mary is our Mother according to Scripture in two ways:

  1. one, since Christ is our brother, Mary is therefore our mother, and

  2. two, in Revelation 12, it portrays Mary as the woman clothed with the sun, and it says that her children are those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).

Hope this gives you some ideas on addressing these issues with your correspondent.

Yours in Christ,

Eric Ewanco

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