Brenda wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Could you please tell me just what exactly consecration to Mary is?

Also, I am a Lutheran, considering converting to the Catholic Church.

  • Just what kind of relationship am I supposed to have with her?

I know I'm supposed to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. In a certain prayer
(I can't remember which one), it says (I'm paraphrasing here):

"I give my whole body, life, soul, and home to you (meaning the Virgin Mary)."

  • What does this mean?
  • Also, I've heard of becoming a slave to Mary?
  • What in the heck is that all about?
  • What exactly does devotion to the saints mean?
  • Are there any Protestant saints?
  • Are the souls in Purgatory considered saints?
  • Does the Church teach that canonized saints go directly to Heaven?
  • If so, how would they know who is in Heaven and who is not?
  • Could you please tell me if Martin Luther believed in Purgatory?
    You would think I'd know that, but I don't.
  • Does God love the canonized saints more than the rest of us?

Let's face it, I absolutely love Jesus, and try to follow His teachings, but I'm definitely not a saint. Knowing that I have to live up to someone like the Apostles or Saint Jerome, I mean yikes!!! On the last day, is God going to say something like:

"You spent X amount of time in Purgatory as opposed to say, Larry, so, he's one of the elect, and you're not."

  • Are there ranks among the saints?

I understand the concept of indulgences, but, honestly, they sound a bit like magic. Let's just say a prayer, be detached from sin (no easy task), and Whammo! Grandma is set free from Purgatory.

  • Can I say a prayer or do some other pious act for my loved ones?
  • I'm not Catholic; is God going to accept my offerings?

My grandparents were very devout Lutherans, weren't anti-Catholic, and honestly didn't understand some of the Church's teachings.

I can only pray to God that they're not in Hell. But, if God is all-merciful, I'm hoping He will understand, and show them compassion. I was baptized when I was three days old.

  • Am I considered part of "the Church"?
  • If Mary points the way to Christ, why did she tell the children at Fatima to say the Rosary to her?
  • Wasn't she a humble girl who didn't want to attract attention to herself?
  • What about the promises she made, saying she would save anyone who wore a specific scapular?

Sorry if I've caused you to commit any sins (mortal or venial) because of the length of this.
I'm just really confused. Please help me!

P.S. Also, please pray that my Lutheran church, and the Roman Catholic church may be reconciled.

Thanks,

Your Sister in Christ,

Brenda

  { Can you help a Lutheran who is considering joining the Church but has a number of questions? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Brenda,

You said:

  • Could you please tell me just what exactly consecration to Mary is?

Our Christian consecration happens at Baptism. It is something God does. Consecration means the act of setting apart as holy, as belonging to God. We do not have the power to consecrate ourselves. When we use this language with Mary, we are acting out of our Christian consecration, which makes us sons of God in the Son, with the "right" then to offer the prayer of Christ which He graciously makes us participate in by the power of the Spirit.

Consecration to Mary is an expression of our will or desire to be set aside for Mary's service; to belong to her, so to speak, as Jesus did as a child, subject to her. It is a devotional practice, not a dogmatic teaching or requirement.

You said:
Also, I am a Lutheran, considering converting to the Catholic Church.

  • Just what kind of relationship am I supposed to have with her?

The relationship one is supposed to have with Mary, other than that of imitation as the perfect disciple, is described in Scripture. We are to accept her motherly role and take her into our home, as the Beloved Disciple did, and to pray in union with her, as the early Church is described as doing in Acts.

You said:
I know I'm supposed to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. In a certain prayer (I can't remember which one), it says (I'm paraphrasing here):

"I give my whole body, life, soul, and home to you (meaning the
Virgin Mary)."

  • What does this mean?

It is poetic, devotional, but true. It means giving it to God through Mary. It is an act of trust in her disposing of things according to the will of her Son. It is an act of faith in her intercession and in her motherly care.

You said:

  • Also, I've heard of becoming a slave to Mary?
  • What in the heck is that all about?

Again, poetic language, with the addition of a translation of a word that could mean slave or servant. There are fashions in devotion, as there are in art, and different eras express them in different ways. There is no requirement to adopt any particular devotion.

You said:

  • What exactly does devotion to the saints mean?
  • Are there any Protestant saints?

It means you love and admire the saints, and ask them to pray with and for you, just as you ask people on earth to pray with and for you. There are Protestant saints, in the sense that there are Protestants in Heaven. There were some recently mentioned by Pope John Paul II who were martyred under Communism. They were not canonized, but they were mentioned as being martyred.

You said:

  • Are the souls in Purgatory considered saints?

Yes, and so are we. But not in the same sense as canonized saints, which is a statement that
the person is definitely in Heaven and his virtues are worthy of imitation.

You said:

  • Does the Church teach that canonized saints go directly to Heaven?

I'll defer to an expert on that one. Martyrs, yes.

You said:

  • If so, how would they know who is in Heaven and who is not?

Guidance of the Holy Spirit.

You said:

  • Could you please tell me if Martin Luther believed in Purgatory?

He did, I have read, but not in indulgences applied to their relief.

You said:

  • Does God love the canonized saints more than the rest of us?

No. And they are not necessarily the greatest saints. They are just the ones who are raised up to witness to us about something we need to see or know. God loves each of us perfectly.

You said:
Let's face it, I absolutely love Jesus, and try to follow His teachings, but I'm definitely not a saint.

You are a saint. You are one of God's holy ones, one of the chosen, the elect, set apart by Baptism to be part of the Body of Christ and to gain an everlasting inheritance. You are not a perfect person. Neither were canonized saints. And, until you are dead, you cannot be declared a saint, though you may very well be one in virtue. A person who is a candidate for canonization must be judged to have "heroic virtue."

As to who is elect and who is not, those who persevere in following the call are elect, and those who turn about and leave God are not.

You said:

  • Are there ranks among the saints?

Yes, but each one is as happy and perfect as he or she can be.

You said:
I understand the concept of indulgences, but, honestly, they sound a bit like magic. Let's just say a prayer, be detached from sin (no easy task), and Whammo! Grandma is set free from Purgatory.

Faith in God's infinite mercy is necessary. And thank goodness we are allowed to draw from and share the heavenly inheritance given to us in the Holy Spirit. The treasure is not just one waiting for us in Heaven. It is one we can spend in faith now.

You said:

  • Can I say a prayer or do some other pious act for my loved ones?
  • I'm not Catholic; is God going to accept my offerings?

Of course!

You said:
My grandparents were very devout Lutherans, weren't anti-Catholic, and honestly didn't understand some of the Church's teachings.

I can only pray to God that they're not in Hell. But, if God is all-merciful, I'm hoping
He will understand, and show them compassion.


We all need compassion. Read the Catechism on salvation. They are saved through the Church, even if they did not perfectly belong. They followed the light of conscience, and that is how they are judged.

"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and , moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation."

(Lumen Gentium, 16, Vat II - also quoted in the Catechism)

You said:
I was baptized when I was three days old.

  • Am I considered part of "the Church"?

The Catechism says you are joined in many ways to the Church, that you are in an imperfect communion with the Catholic Church. (838)

You said:

  • If Mary points the way to Christ, why did she tell the children at Fatima to say the Rosary to her?
  • Wasn't she a humble girl who didn't want to attract attention to herself?

If you read the Hail Mary, you see that the first part is quoting Scripture, and expresses her blessedness in terms of her relationship to Jesus, and greets her as God greeted her. The second part is just putting her to work for us, so to speak, with the addition of the "Mother of God", which is a dogma and one of the greatest works of God.

You said:

  • What about the promises she made, saying she would save anyone who wore
    a specific scapular?

That is a devotion. You don't have to believe it. The Brown Scapular has some heavy hitters on its side, but it is still a devotion. As to promises, they are all contingent on the state of a person's soul. Grace is needed for all of us. God will offer as much grace as He can, up to the last minute, "between the bridge and the water" so to speak, and the openness of the world to His grace is partly determined by our prayers and love for each other. He respects freedom and needs doors opened for Him.

You said:
P.S. Also, please pray that my Lutheran church, and the Roman Catholic church may be reconciled.

I have and I will.

You also may want to consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and checking out our FAQ section.

Mary Ann

Brenda replied:

Mary Ann,

Thank you for your prompt and thorough response.

Your answers clarified some problems which I had found very confusing. I will continue to visit your web site, as I find it very informative.

Thanks,

Brenda
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