Dennis asked:

I was raised Catholic, and I’ve since left the faith. One of my concerns is regarding the devotion to Mary and the diversion away from the worship of Christ.

Edward Sri replied:

"Everything that we do in relationship to Mary and the saints is not there to just focus on Mary and the saints. Everything we do ... as Catholics ... is there to help us to love, know and praise Jesus more ... When we honor Mary, we don’t worship Mary and the saints, but we do honor them. There’s nothing wrong, the bible wants us to honor people. You’re supposed to honor your mother and father.

I don’t know if you’re married or if you have kids. But people get on the "honor roll" and that’s good, you know they’re recognized for what they’ve accomplished ... But when we’re honoring people as a Christian, you and I Dennis, when we honor an athlete and they get a gold medal or honor a student on the honor roll we should ultimately be looking at them with a spiritual perspective and saying 'wow, thanks be to God, for what God did in that athlete ... or in that student,' right? And if we do that for human things on this earth, how much more so we should praise God for what he did by taking weak human beings like Peter, or Paul and transforming them with His grace? ... That gives Jesus more praise.”

Dennis asked:

The idea of bowing down to a statue and kissing a statue ... is contrary to the first commandment ...

Edward Sri replied:

"Someone looking at someone kneeling down before Mary’s statue. That seems like 'are they worshipping Mary or something?' And I can appreciate someone from outside of the Catholic tradition wondering, 'why are they doing that?' But maybe a simpler way of understanding that ... I carry pictures of my kids with me ... those pictures are helpful for me ... I was just overseas for a good nine days ... I missed my kids. I remember just pulling out a picture and just looking at it for a bit. Now I wasn't worshipping the picture, it was a helpful reminder.

When a Catholic has a picture or a statue in a church about that saint or Mary, those are nice helpful reminders of who these great heroes were that God raised up and played a crucial role in His plan of salvation. In terms of kneeling down before a statue I think if you asked the average Catholic ... 'Are you worshipping Mary like you worship God?' I don’t think the average Catholic would say 'I think Mary is the fourth person of the trinity when I do this.' ... I think kneeling is just a sign of respect and a way of expressing love ... It’s just a way of outwardly expressing some type of humble respect and honor toward someone."

Mark's take:

When someone from outside a religious faith would ask me about this I would quickly flip this around (not to hide from the question, but to get them to look at what 'their world' celebrates). Look how much we Americans honor "celebrity" in this nation. It’s SICKENING. Especially when they are people with no talent or are just rich. We honor, and some worship mediocrity because someone is "famous". There's at least one generation of children out there who think they can be reality stars or sports stars and what not. It's sad when a sports star is held up as a role model just because they are famous or good at their sport. Then that star comes crashing down to earth as soon as the media finds out they have a flaw. Like famous people are better than the average person, just because they're famous? We all have flaws. No one is perfect.

Or how about all these ridiculous awards shows like the academy awards, or any music award show. Why do people all gather around the TV to watch this? Ok so you saw your favorite star win an award for a movie or a song they made. So what does that do for you? Do they send you a check for supporting their career? Are you gushing over how they look, what they're wearing, who they are with? Are you worshipping the statue they hold up in their hands when they say 'look at me'? Then there are all the gossip magazines in the checkout lanes at the store. Why do we need to be constantly informed of every detail of some "famous" person's personal life? That's worship, or at the very least obsession if you ask me.

As for my family, we'd rather worship God alone and honor the people who God honors.


Catholic Answers, " Name of Podcast Show" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. For the complete response download the podcast.

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Show air date: September 11, 2013

Name of show: Walking with Mary

Guest comments by: Edward Sri

Question appeared in show: 20:28

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