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Spiritual Darkness in the Middle Ages #1

Prayers and Worship towards Mary!

                 SPIRITUAL DARKNESS OF THE MIDDLE AGES #1

From the book "Babylon Mystery Religion" (Edition 1966)

By Ralph Woodrow


MARY WORSHIP


     PERHAPS THE MOST outstanding proof that Mary worship
developed out of the old worship of the pagan mother goddess may
be seen from the fact that in pagan religion, the mother was
worshipped as much (or more) than her son! This provides an
outstanding clue to help us solve the mystery of Babylon today!
True Christianity teaches that the Lord Jesus--and HE alone--is
the way, the truth, and the life; that only HE can forgive sin;
that only HE, of all earth's creatures, has ever lived a life
that was never stained with sin; and HE is to be worshipped -
never his mother. But Roman Catholicism--showing the influence
that paganism has had in its development - in many ways exalts
the MOTHER also.
     One can travel the world over, and whether in a massive
cathedral or in a village chapel, the statue of Mary will occupy
a prominent position. In reciting the Rosary, the "Hail Mary" is
repeated nine times as often as the "Lord's Prayer." Catholics
are taught that the reason for praying to Mary is that she can
take the petition to her son, Jesus; and since she is his mother,
he will answer the request for her sake. The inference is that
Mary is more compassionate, understanding, and merciful than her
son Jesus. Certainly this is contrary to the scriptures! Yet this
idea has often been repeated in Catholic writings.
     One noted Roman Catholic writer, Alphonsus Liguori, wrote at
length telling how much more effectual prayers are that are
addressed to Mary rather than to Christ. Liguori, incidently, was
canonized as a "saint" by Pope Gregory XIV in 1839 and was
declared a "doctor" of the Catholic church by Pope Pius IX. In
one portion of his writings, he described an imaginary scene in
which a sinful man saw two ladders hanging from heaven. Mary was
at the top of one; Jesus at the top of the other. When the sinner
tried to climb the one ladder, he saw the angry face of Christ
and fell defeated. But when he climbed Mary's ladder, he ascended
easily and was openly welcomed by Mary who brought him into
heaven and presented him to Christ! Then all was well. The story
was supposed to show how much easier and more effective it is to
go to Christ through Mary.
     The same writer said that the sinner who ventures to come
directly to Christ may come with dread of his wrath. But if he
will pray to the Virgin, she will only have to "show" that son
"the breasts that gave him suck" and his wrath will be
immediately appeased! Such reasoning is in direct conflict
with a scriptural example. "Blessed is the womb that bare thee",
a woman said to Jesus,"and the paps that thou has sucked!" But
Jesus answered, "Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word
of God and keep it" (Lk.11:27,28).
     Such ideas about the breasts, on the other hand, were not
foreign to the worshippers of the pagan mother goddess. Images of
her have been unearthed which often show her breasts extremely
out of proportion to her body. In the case of Diana, to symbolize
her fertility, she is pictured with as many as one hundred
breasts!
     Further attempts to exalt Mary to a glorified position
within Catholicism may be seen in the doctrine of the "immaculate
conception." This doctrine was pronounced and defined by Pius IX
in 1854--that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instant of
her conception... was preserved exempt from all stain of original
sin." It would appear that this teaching is only a further effort
to make Mary more closely resemble the goddess of paganism, for
in the old myths, the goddess was also believed to have had a
supernatural conception! The stories varied, but all told of
supernatural happenings in connection with her entrance into the
world, that she was superior to ordinary mortals, that she was
divine. Little by little, so that the teachings about Mary
would not appear inferior to those of the mother goddess, it was
necessary to teach that Mary's entrance into this world involved
a supernatural element also!
     Is the doctrine that Mary was born without the stain of
original sin scriptural? We will answer this in the words of The
Catholic Encyclopedia itself: "No direct or categorical and
stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from
Scripture." It is pointed out, rather, that these ideas were a
gradual developement within the church.
     Right here it should be explained that this is a basic,
perhaps the basic, difference between the Roman Catholic approach
to Christianity and the general Protestant view. The Roman
Catholic church, as it acknowledges, has long grown and developed
around a multitude of traditions and ideas handed down by church
fathers over the centuries, even beliefs brought over from
paganism if they could be "Christianized" and also the
scriptures. Concepts from all of these sources have been mixed
together and developed, finally to become dogmas at various
church councils. On the other hand, the view which the Protestant
Reformation sought to revive was a return to the actual
scriptures as a more sound basis for doctrine, with little or no
emphasis on the ideas that developed in later centuries.
     Going right to the scriptures, not only is any proof for the
idea of the immaculate conception of Mary lacking, there is
evidence to the contrary. While she was a chosen vessel of the
Lord, was a godly and virtuous woman --a virgin--she was as much
a human as any other member of Adam's family. "All have sinned
and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23), the only
exception being Jesus Christ himself. Like everyone else, Mary
needed a savior and plainly admitted this when she said: "And my
spirit hath rejoiced in God my SAVIOR" (Lk.1:47).
     If Mary needed a savior, she was not a savior herself. If
she needed a savior, then she needed to be saved, forgiven, and
redeemed - even as others. The fact is, our Lord's divinity did
not depend on his mother being some type of exalted, divine
person. Instead, he was divine because he was the only begotten
son of God. His divinity came from his heavenly Father.
The idea that Mary was superior to other human beings was
not the teaching of Jesus. Once someone mentioned his mother and
brethren. Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? and who are my
brethren?" Then, stretching forth his hand toward his disciples,
said, "Behold my mother and my brethren! For WHOSOEVER shall do
the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother,
and sister, and MOTHER" (Matt.12:46-50). Plainly enough, anyone
who does the will of God is, in a definite sense, on the same
level with Mary.

     Each day Catholics the world over recite the Hail Mary, the
Rosary, the Angelus, the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin, and
others. Multiplying the number of these prayers, times the number
of Catholics who recite them each day, someone has estimated that
Mary would have to listen to 46,296 petitions a second! Obviously
no one but God himself could do this. Nevertheless, Catholics
believe that Mary hears all of these prayers; and so, of
necessity, they have had to exalt her to the divine level -
scriptural or not!
     Attempting to justify the way Mary has been exalted, some
have quoted the words of Gabriel to Mary, "Blessed art thou among
women" (Lk.1:28). But Mary being "blessed among women" cannot
make her a divine person, for many centuries before this, a
similar blessing was pronounced upon Jael, of whom it was said:
"Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be
..."(Judges 5:24).
     Before Pentecost, Mary gathered with the other disciples
waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. We read that the
apostles "all continued with one accord in prayer and
supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and
his brethren" (Acts 1:14). Typical of Catholic ideas concerning
Mary, the illustration (as seen in the Official Baltimore
Catechism 5 ) attempts to give to Mary a central position. But as
all students of the Bible know, the disciples were not looking to
Mary on that occasion. They were looking to their resurrected and
ascended CHRIST to outpour on them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We notice also in the drawing that the Holy Spirit (as a dove) is
seen hovering over her! Yet, as far as the scriptural account is
concerned, the only one upon whom the Spirit as a dove descended
was Jesus himself - not his mother! On the other hand, the pagan
virgin goddess under the name of Juno was often represented with
a dove on her head, as was also Astarte, Cybele, and Isis!

     Further attempts to glorify Mary may be seen in the Roman
Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity. This is the
teaching that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. But as
The Encyclopedia Britannica explains, the doctrine of the
perpetual virginity of Mary was not taught until about three
hundred years after the ascension of Christ. It was not until the
Council of Chalcedon in 451 that this fabulous quality gained the
official recognition of Rome.
     According to the scriptures, the birth of Jesus was the
result of a supernatural conception (Matt. 1:23), without an
earthly father. But after Jesus was born, Mary gave birth to
other children - the natural offspring of her union with Joseph,
her husband. Jesus was Mary's "firstborn " son (Matt.1:25); it
does not say he was her only child. Jesus being her firstborn
child could certainly infer that later she had a second-born
child, possibly a third-born child, etc. That such was the case
seems apparent, for the names of four brothers are mentioned:
James, Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matt.13:55). Sisters are also
mentioned. The people of Nazareth said: " ... and his sisters,
are they not all with us?" (verse 56). The word "sisters" is
plural, of course, so we know that Jesus had at least two sisters
and probably more, for this verse speaks of "all" his sisters.
Usually if we are referring to only two people, we would say
"both" of them, not "all" of them. The implication is that at
least three sisters are referred to. If we figure three sisters
and four brothers, half-brothers and half-sisters of Jesus, this
would make Mary the mother of eight children.
     The scriptures say: "Joseph ... knew her not till she had
brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS"
(Matt.1:25). Joseph "knew her not" until after Jesus was born,
but after that, Mary and Joseph did come together as husband and
wife and children were born to them. The idea that Joseph kept
Mary as a virgin all of her life is clearly unscriptural.
     During the times of the falling away, as though to more
closely identify Mary with the mother goddess, some taught that
Mary's body never saw corruption, that she bodily ascended into
heaven, and is now the "queen of heaven." It was not until this
present century, however, that the doctrine of the "assumption"
of Mary was officially proclaimed as a doctrine of the Roman
Catholic church. It was in 1951 that Pope Pius XII proclaimed
that Mary's body saw no corruption, but was taken to heaven.
The words of St.Bernard sum up the Roman Catholic position: "On
the third day after Mary's death, when the apostles gathered
around her tomb, they, found it empty. The sacred body had been
carried up to the Celestial Paradise... the grave had no power
over one who was immaculate... But it was not enough that Mary
should be received into heaven. She was to be no ordinary
citizen... she had a dignity beyond the reach even of the highest
of the archangels. Mary was to be crowned Queen of Heaven by the
eternal Father: she was to have a throne at her Son's right hand
... Now day by day, hour by hour, she is  praying for us,
obtaining graces for us, preserving us from danger, shielding us
from temptation, showering down blessings upon us."
     All of these ideas about Mary are linked with the belief
that she bodily ascended into heaven. But the Bible says
absolutely nothing about the assumption of Mary. To the contrary,
John 3:13 says: "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that
came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" -
Jesus Christ himself. HE is the one that is at God's right hand,
HE is the one that is our mediator, HE is the one that showers
down blessings upon us---not his mother!

     Closely connected with the idea of praying to Mary is an
instrument called the rosary. It consists of a chain with fifteen
sets of small beads, each set marked off by one large bead. The
ends of this chain are joined by a medal bearing the imprint of
Mary. From this hangs a short chain at the end of which is a
crucifix. The beads on the rosary are for counting prayers -
prayers that are repeated over and over. Though this instrument
is widely used within the Roman Catholic church, it is clearly
not of Christian origin. It has been known in many countries.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "In almost all countries, then,
we meet with something in the nature of prayercounters or
rosary-beads." It goes on to cite a number of examples, including
a sculpture of ancient Nineveh, mentioned by Layard, of two
winged females praying before a sacred tree, each holding a
rosary. For centuries, among the Mohammedans, a bead-string
consisting of 33, 66, or 99 beads has been used for counting the
names of Allah. Marco Polo, in the thirteenth century, was
surprised to find the King of Malabar using a rosary of precious
stones to count his prayers. St.Francis Xavier and his companions
were equally astonished to see that rosaries were universally
familiar to the Buddhists of Japan.
     Among the Phoenicians a circle of beads resembling a rosary
was used in the worship of Astarte, the mother goddess, about 800
B.C. This rosary is seen on some early Phoenician coins. The
Brahmans have from early times used rosaries with tens and
hundreds of beads. The worshippers of Vishnu give their children
rosaries of 108 beads. A similar rosary is used by millions of
Buddhists in India and Tibet. The worshipper of Siva uses a
rosary upon which he repeats, if possible, all the 1,008 names of
his god. 
     Beads for the counting of prayers were known in Asiatic
Greece. Such was the purpose, according to Hislop, for the
necklace seen on the statue of Diana. He also points out that in
Rome, certain necklaces worn by women were for counting or
remembering prayers, the monile, meaning "remembrances." 

     The most often repeated prayer and the main prayer of the
rosary is the "Hail Mary" which is as follows: "Hail Mary, full
of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of
God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death, Amen."
The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "There is little or no trace of
the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about
1050."  The complete rosary involves repeating the Hail Mary 53
times, the Lord's prayer 6 times, 5 Mysteries, 5 Meditations on
the Mysteries, 5 Glory Be's, and the Apostles' Creed.
     Notice that the prayer to Mary, the Hail Mary, is repeated
almost NINE times as often as the Lord's prayer. Is a prayer
composed by men and directed to Mary nine times as important or
effective as the prayer taught by Jesus and directed to God?
Those who worshipped the goddess Diana repeated a religious
phrase over and over - "...all with one voice about the space of
two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians" (Acts
19:34). Jesus spoke of repetitious prayer as being a practice of
the heathen. "When ye pray," he said, "use not vain repetitions,
as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for
their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your
Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him"
(Matt.6:7-13). In this passage, Jesus plainly told his followers
NOT to pray a little prayer over and over. It is significant to
notice that it was right after giving this warning, in the very
next verse, that he said: "After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven..." and gave the disciples what we
refer to as "The Lord's Prayer." Jesus gave this prayer as an
opposite to the heathen type of prayer. Yet Roman Catholics are
taught to pray this prayer over and over. If prayer was not to be
repeated over and over, how much less a little man-made prayer to
Mary! It seems to us that memorizing prayers, then repeating them
over and over while counting rosary beads, could easily become
more of a "memory test" than a spontaneous expression of prayer
from the heart.

                          .......................


To be continued with "Saints, Saints' Days, and Symbols"


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