The Forgotten Branch - a Lesson taught to me by School of Faith.
When defending Catholic's belief in the significance of Mary, it is best to start off with what we have in common with our Protestant brothers and sisters. We all believe that Mary is the Mother of God. So what follows should be things that we can agree on, too.
When we are baptized, we all become Christ's brothers and sisters. If we have Christ as our common brother, then this means that we humans are all brothers and sisters to one another as well. With Christ as our brother, we share Christ's Father: God the Father. This is also common knowledge. This is where our Protestant brothers and sisters stop. Yet how can we share Christ's siblings and father without also sharing His mother? Thus, we all have Mary as our Heavenly mother.
I'll go over some of the stumbling points that we can get tripped up on concerning Mary. These are points that we can back up with the advice from the Catechism (Tradition) and the Bible (Scripture). Stumbling Block One: Mary's Immaculate Conception.
We believe in Mary's Immaculate Conception. This does not have anything to do with her conception of Christ. This has to do with the fact that Mary, from the moment of her conception was and is free from all sin.
The stumbling block in this case is that it leads us to wonder if Mary really needed a Savior. She was, after all, walking about without ever having sinned. To answer this, we must realize that there is two ways to get a cure for horrible sickness. Option one is to get a cure after you have contracted the disease. Option two is to never have the sickness, to have preventable measures taken.
God did save Mary from sin - from the moment of her birth. He did not allow sin to taint her soul. After all, if Christ's divinity came from His Father (God), then His humanity had to come from His mother (Mary). If Mary's humanity was tainted with sin, then Christ would have inherited that sin. Thus, Mary had to be without sin from the momnt of her conception: always and forever pure and spotless in the sight of God.
Stumbling Block Two: Mary, Ever Virgin.
We believe that Mary is ever virgin. To dispute this belief, our Protestant brothers and sisters will point to this verse: "But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." (Matthew 1:25).
To some, the word "until" implies that Joseph was with Mary after she gave birth to Christ. Yet in the Bible, the word "Until" means only something that did not happen up to a certain point. It does not have anything to do with what happened later, which is how we use the word in modern terms. To prove this point, all you have to do is plug the modern version of "until" into other passages of the Bible.
In 2 Samuel 6:23, the verse reads "Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no children until the day of her death." Now, this obviously does not mean that Michal had kids after she died. It means she didn't have any children.
Another passages is in Deuteronomy 34:6. "No one knew the location of the grave until this present day." Yet no one knows about the site of the burial place of Moses today, either.
I could provided tons of examples, but I think the point is made. The word "until" does not imply Mary wasn't a virgin. The New American Bible translates the verse: "He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son" and the Knox edition says "He had not known her when she bore a son."
Stumbling Block Three: Mary is in competition with Christ
Mary is not in competition with Christ. It's not like they are in a race to get the most people to Heaven. Rather, they work as a team to save souls from the clutches of the enemy.
Christ could have accomplished the whole saving of the world without the assistance of Mary. Yet He chose to include Mary in the plan for salvation. Thus, because Christ Himself did not ignore Mary's role, we too cannot ignore our mother.
If you all were invited over to my house and I had my whole family join us, would it not be rude for you to ignore my mother the whole night? Not only would it be an insult to my mother, but it would also be an insult to me, as you did not respect and recognize a person that I hold very dear.
You do not offend God by honoring the saints and Mary. Rather, you honor and flatter an artist by showing honor to their work. If an artist came to you and gave you a painting to ask for your opinion and you said "Well....I love you!" They would reply, "And what about my work?" To reply to them, "You are just really great! I love you as a person!" would insult their work. It would be similar to ignoring my mom at dinner.
Every artist has a masterpiece. When they feel that they have created something to the best of their ability. For God, this was Mary. She was pure, holy, and without a touch of sin. She is what we were all meant to be, but lost because of the actions of Adam and Eve. So do not feel you are cutting God short by honoring Mary as Christ's mother.
In short, Mary is our mother. She loves us incredibly and wants to see all of her children in Heaven with her. She is a source of incredible grace, and an advocate that we can never replace. Please tap into this incredible source of love that the Father has provided us by giving us the same mother who He gave to His own Son.God bless you all,