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Luther defends the prayer, Hail Mary!

 
 

Martin Luther defends the prayer, Hail Mary!


Book burnings have made a come back: Remember the good old days when people appreciated a good book burning? There was Bishop Tunstall, who purchased and burned Tyndale's Bibles because he found over two thousand errors in the text. Martin Luther burned the books of Canon Law and the Bull of Pope Leo X. Henry VIII ordered that all Tyndale's and Coverdale's Bibles were to be delivered up and burned. And then there was that Michael Servetus. He was the worst of the lot. He had the audacity to put notes in his Bible that were not to the liking of John Calvin. Calvin burned all the copies he could get of Servetus' Bible and went one step further and threw Servetus in the fire. I certainly hope Mr. Servetus has learned his lesson. I'll bet he'll never do that again!

  • Yes, those were the good old days when people appreciated a good book burning. It now appears that the good old days may be returning. Bill Jackson, editor of Christians Evangelizing Catholics, is advocating the burning of Dr. James Dobson's books. But why?

I would get every 'Focus on the Family' magazine, every 'Clubhouse' magazine, every Dobson book in my home and do to them exactly what they deserve - what the believers did in Acts 19:19 (burning of books about magic). I would not like Jesus to visit my home and find a 'Playboy' magazine, nor would I want Him to see Dobson literature that sounds like it has psychological help, but is produced by a man who dishonors the name of Christ... Let's have some public burnings of this material in the Churches that truly desire to honor Christ and His glorious completed work for our salvation (Christians Evangelizing Catholics, August 92 pg. 6, by Bill Jackson).  

Mother Theresa, Bill Jackson, Dr. Dobson and Mother Mary: I have listened to Dr. Dobson many times and I must confess that I rather enjoy the great diversity of topics he covers. So just what has Dr. Dobson done that is so terrible that his books merit burning? Is he advocating books on magic or Playboy magazine? No, none of these. Apparently Focus on the Family's youth magazine Clubhouse, late in 1989, showed, on its cover, a picture of Mother Teresa with the title, Mother Teresa, Friend of Children. Bill Jackson read the accompanying articles and was told, she gets up every morning at 4:30 to pray. Okay, fine, so what's so bad about that? Isn't prayer a good thing at any time of day? Jackson's difficulty is that she is an avowed devotee of the Blessed Mother (Christians Evangelizing Catholics, August 92 pg. 7). 

  1. Book burnings have made a comeback
  2. Mother Theresa, Bill Jackson, Dr. Dobson and Mother Mary
  3. Jesus obeys Mary and Joseph
  4. Is the repetition of words in the Our Father, Pagan Babbling?
  5. How do you call Mary blessed in this age in your church?
  6. Luther defends the prayer, Hail Mary
  7. Can any of us, including Mary, intercede on our behalf?
  8. Coming to the Father except through me, means redemption, not intercession
  9. Do we worship Mary as God equal to Jesus?
  10. Is the adversary of Jesus, Mary or Satan?
  11. Does Mary qualify as a goddess?
  12. Radical feminist, abortion and Mary
  13. Mary, feminist or is she handmaid of the Lord?
  14. A priest on the way to Hell; Mary intercedes for him

Jesus obeys Mary and Joseph: Here again, we have the issue of Jesus versus Mary. You cannot be devoted to both Jesus and Mary because some traditions depict Mary and Jesus at odds with one another. You cannot obey Mary, only Jesus. Never mind the fact that Jesus was devoted to His mother Mary and His foster father Joseph, and even obeyed them: He (Jesus) was obedient to them (Lk 2:51).  Apparently, Jesus did not know that He was supposed to obey Himself alone.
 
Is the repetition of words in the Our Father, Pagan Babbling? Mother Teresa's devotion to Mary manifested itself in the praying of the rosary. The rosary is a meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary. The rosary consists of 20 scenes, from the Resurrection of Jesus, to the institution of the Eucharist. While meditating on these scenes, there is a repetition of prayers: the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.  And because there is the repetition of many words, there are those who believe this is pagan babbling, because Jesus says in Matthew 6:7; In praying, do not babble on like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  One of the prayers that is repeated no less than 21 times in the rosary is the Our Father.  If the repetition of the Our Father is what is meant by babbling on like the pagans, then why did Jesus say; This is how you are to pray (Mt 6:9), and then teach the words of the Our Father.  

And so, it's not just the repetition of words by themselves that makes prayer pagan babbling, otherwise Jesus would be contradicting himself. What is being talked about here is the intention of our heart when we go into prayer. Any type of prayer could be pagan babbling, or useless, if we do not pray from the heart with pure motives (Mt 6:5,6).  Their [the Pagans] babbling probably means they are reciting a long list of  divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from a deity (New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, note on Mathew 6:7).

How do you call Mary blessed in this age in your church? I have, on occasion, asked: how do you call Mary blessed in your life and in your Church? Some Christians tell me that this is idolatry, and we should only bless Jesus, not Mary. Here we have it again, Jesus versus Mary. I then repeat Mary's words in the Gospel: Behold from now on will all ages call me blessed (L 1:48). And then I ask again: how does your Church in this age call Mary blessed? I am then told that what they just referred too as idolatry (calling Mary blessed) is practiced by their Church at Christmas time. This, of course, is a very good thing, because it is the Biblical thing to do. I call Mary blessed too, only I do it with far greater frequency, every time I say the prayer the Hail Mary.  Both Jesus and Mary are called blessed.

  • Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb (Lk 1:42). 

Luther defends the prayer, Hail Mary: There are people, with the best of intentions, who believe that the word hail is a term of worship that is used for God alone; thus to them its use in relation to Mary is idolatry. What they don't realize is that the term hail is a greeting that simply means, hello.  As for the rest of the Hail Mary, it's actually taken from Scripture. This is interesting because there are those who believe the Hail Mary is not Biblical.

  • Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is With Thee (Lk 1:28). 
  • Blessed are Thou among Women, And Blessed is The Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus (Lk 1:42). 
  • Holy Mary, Mother of God (Lk 1:43),
  • Pray for us sinners, Now and at the hour of our death, Amen (Mary interceding at Cana, Jn 2:3).

Along with the Scripture testifying to the essence of the Hail Mary, we have the Father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, defending the Hail Mary: Whoever possesses a good faith says the Hail Mary without danger (The Catholic Answer, The Real Martin Luther, by Dave Armstrong, pg. 35, Sermon, March 11, 1523). Again, Marian devotions and teachings were not a problem for 16th century Protestants. If Christians today would take a good look at the teachings about Mary from a Biblical and historical perspective, they would have no problems with Mary and definitely would not see her as competitor to Jesus, but one who points to Jesus.

The problem lies not with 16th-century Protestant theologies but with 20th-century antagonists who in an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church must discredit Marian teachings as well. Their venom towards the Catholic Church is so great that they even try to discredit Protestants, such as Dr. Dobson, for carrying a book on Mother Teresa.  According to Jackson, Dr. Dobson is a friend to God's enemies and promotes a pseudo-Gospel of self esteem (Christians Evangelizing Catholics, August 92 pg. 6).  And so, along with being anti-Catholic, Jackson and others are ultimately anti-Protestant as well. Unfortunately, too many Protestants and Catholics have fallen prey to the unscrupulous tactics of the antagonists.
 
Can any of us, including Mary, intercede on our behalf?  In order to dismiss Mary and Marian devotions there are those who knowingly or unknowingly quote Scripture verses are quoted out of context. Here is an example. They will quote: Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (Jn 14:6).  And then say this means you cannot pray the rosary because the only way to the Father is through Jesus, not Mary.  They start with a truth, we go to the Father through Jesus and then arrive at the false conclusion, that Mary and others cannot intercede for us. 

Ask them this question.  How many ways are there to come to Jesus?  There are people who do not like this question. You will either hear the sound of silence or they will say Mary cannot intercede to Jesus on our behalf.  We can only go straight to Jesus and Him alone, intercessory prayer is forbidden in Scripture.  Here again there is an inadequate understanding of Scripture.  Simon asked Peter to pray for him; Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.  If intercessory  prayer was false then why didn't Peter instruct Simon to go direct to Jesus rather than Simon asking Peter to, Pray for me to the Lord.

Again, these people only know the Scripture, in part because at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary acted as an intermediary, interceding on behalf of the wedding party. If the wedding party were antagonists of Mary, they would have stopped Mary from making the request to Jesus they have no wine!  They would have said I don't know why I need to go through Mary, I will go directly to Jesus and ask Him, myself. However, they didn't do that; somehow, they didn't mind it when Mary interceded to Jesus on their behalf.  We can put the request directly to Jesus or we can ask Mary to intercede for us just as it was done at the wedding feast in Cana.

Some people say to me, I don't know why I have to come to Jesus through Mary.   I respond to this by asking this question: Who told you that we have to come to Jesus through Mary? Generally, at this point I get silence because there is no requirement to come to Jesus through Mary by any Christian Church. They are often times relentless in insisting that the Catholic Church requires that we must come to Jesus through Mary. I then make the point, In the two thousand year history of the Church, which official Church council requires us to come to Jesus only through Mary? Again, I get silence. The point is simply this, there is no council that requires this.  It is only an option; the same option that the wedding party exercised at Cana. The central act of worship in the Catholic Church is the Mass. The Rosary and other Marian devotions are secondary. 

Coming to the Father except through me, means redemption, not intercession: What I have just given is a good answer for well intentioned  people who, innocently enough, quote Scripture out of context.  However, answering this way is not the best way because it does not give the proper sense of John 14:6. The key here is in understanding the meaning of the verse, No one comes to the Father except through me.  Does it mean, no one can pray to the father except through Jesus? Or does it mean exactly what it says; no one can come to the Father except through Jesus?  In John 14:6, is praying to the Father the same as coming to the Father?

The answer to this is found in looking at the preceding verses to John 14:6.  Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to my self, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way. Thomas said to him, 'Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (J 14:1-6).

  • The first thing to notice is that there is no mention of intercessory prayer. So when Jesus says, No one comes to the Father except through me, He is not saying, No one can pray to the Father except through me.  If Jesus did mean it that way, He would not have taught the prayer the Our Father.  When we say this prayer we are going directly to the Father in prayer.  There is nothing here, or in all of chapter 14, that is a prohibition against people interceding for us or cooperating with Jesus.

And so if it is not referring to intercession, what is it referring too?  When Jesus says no one can come to the Father except through me, He is talking about redemption (His death resurrection and ascension into Heaven).  From the text, we can see that Jesus is going away to prepare a place for us and will later come back for us. This is a reference to redemption because the way that Jesus goes to the Father is by dying on a cross, later rising from the dead, and ascending into Heaven. That is why Jesus says I am the way, the truth, and the life because without Him redeeming us on the cross, He would not be able to come back for us. Jesus is the way and the only way. 

Mary intercedes for us, and we intercede for one another. If we could have no effect on one another's salvation, there would be no point in interceding for one another. We aid in one another's salvation, and Mary specifically aids in our salvation. This is because of the great sorrow she experienced at the cross with Jesus. Simeon prophesied this shortly after Jesus was born.

  • He said to Mary, Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Lk. 2:34-35).

Do we worship Mary as God equal to Jesus? Devotion to Mary is referred to, by some, as Mary worship. Loraine Boettner, in his attempt to discredit Marian devotions, says, It is important that all understand the difference between the matter of honoring Mary, and the grossly unscriptural practice of worshipping her (Roman Catholicism, pg. 155, Loraine Boettner, 1989, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company).  Boettner quotes from an old book called The Glories of Mary in an attempt to prove that the Church gives to Mary the worship due to Jesus. The Holy Church commands  a worship peculiar to Mary (Ibid pg. 130). And herein lies the problem for some. We honor the Saints and worship God above all else. After all, the Bible says, You must worship the Lord your God (Mt. 4:10). And so why is the word worship applied to Mary in certain old books. The reason is that the word worship is used in an archaic sense in these older books.  Although the word worship today in English is usually used for God alone; it was not always used that way.  What Boettner and many others don't seem realize is that the words worship and honor are synonyms; they mean the same thing.  And the greatest honor or worship goes to God alone.  

Begin with the word Itself.  It comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity.  To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God. But there are different kinds of  worship as there are different kinds of honor.  The highest honor, and thus the highest worship, is given to God alone, while the honor or worship given to living men or to saints in Heaven is of a different sort. Idolatry thus does not simply mean giving worship (in the old sense) to living men or to saints; it means giving them the kind reserved for God (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg. 259, Karl Keating, 1988 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California).

There are people who are surprised when they see the word worship applied to persons other than God. In the United States, judges are addressed as Your Honor while British magistrates are referred too as Your Worship. I don't know of anyone who accuses the British of idolatry, for this custom.  Again the words honor and worship are synonyms; they mean the same thing.

Here is a quote from another old book: And all the Congregation blessed the Lord the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped the Lord, and the king. In this old book they were not only worshiping the Lord but also the king and doing both at the same time. I realize that there still may be people who have difficulty with this because most of us are not used to using the word worship for anyone other than God. However, if we throw out this old book, we are throwing out the King James Bible because that's where the quote came from (1 Ch 29:20). The reason that this Bible uses the word worship in relation to Solomon the king is because this is an older English version. People such as Bettine, who are critical of the Catholic Church because in old English books the word worship is used in relation to Mary would do well to read and understand their own King James Bible.

Is the adversary of Jesus, Mary or Satan?  William Kimball, another antagonist of Mary speaks against the prayer the Hail Mary and refers to it as blatant idolatry specifically forbidden by Christ (The Bible and Roman Catholicism, pg. 14, William R. Kimball 1985, Christian Equippers International).  And as proof of his allegations, he quotes from the Jerusalem Bible, You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone (Mt 4:10). Does this verse alone truly put Jesus at odds with Mary?   The problem lies in the fact that Kimball fails to take Mathew 4:10 in its proper context. The solution to this is to quote verses 8 and 9 and all of verse 10.

Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, 'I will give you all these,' he said, 'if you fall at my feet and worship me.'  Then Jesus replied, 'Be off, Satan!'  For Scripture says: 'You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone' (Mt 4:8-10 Jerusalem Bible). 

  • Now when we see the partial statement, You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone, we can no longer use this verse against Mary.   It is not, Jesus versus Mary, but Jesus versus Satan. To use this against the Mother of Jesus (Mary) and not the adversary (Satan) of Jesus is a blatant misuse of Scripture.  This is intellectually dishonest and an excellent example of how people are sometimes using the Bible out of context.   

Kimball seems not to be able to differentiate between the arrogance of Satan and the humility of Mary. Satan pointed to himself and his own self glorification, If you fall at my feet and worship me (Mt 4:9). And Mary humbled herself and pointed to God, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38). Mary, in her humility, wanted to be Handmaid of the Lord, and Satan, in his arrogance, wanted to be Lord. 

The issue is not that we bestow honor or worship on someone, but that we give the greatest honor or worship to God and a lesser honor or worship to others. The Church is very specific, we honor the saints (dulia), we give a still higher honor to Mary (hyperdulia), and the highest honor or worship always goes to God (latrai). And so the Church really does not give Mary the worship that is given to God alone as some would allege.  Their attempt to show the Church deifying Mary, as a false God, fails.

Does Mary qualify as a goddess? However, there is a question that should be asked here.  Does anyone, anywhere, advocate making Mary into a god? Sandra Schneider, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley is quoted in Time Magazine discussing this very issue.  There has been a stupendous upsurge in goddess research and the feminine divinity as an antecedent to the male god.  It's not unrelated that the Virgin Mary's popularity has also increased (Time, Dec. 91, Handmaid or Feminist, page 66, Richard M. Ostling70).

Schneider suggests that there is a correlation between Mary's rise in popularity and feminine divinity; however, I believe she is dead wrong.  I use the terms radical feminist to mean those feminists who are involved with New Age, witchcraft, or pagan female goddesses and advocate abortion. I make this distinction because there are feminists who are very traditional and orthodox in their belief and who are  definitely not pro-abortion. The radical feminists, can do all the goddess research they like, but they will never make Mary into a feminine divinity, because if they do, then they will have to listen to her and her message is this; Do whatever he tells you (Jn 2:3).  And these radical feminists are not going to do anything any "he" tells them to do, even if that He happens to be Jesus. Remember, in their goddess research, they are not looking for Jesus. They are looking for a feminine divinity as an antecedent to the male god.

Radical feminist, abortion and Mary: Donna Steichen, author of Ungodly Rage says: Secular feminism is largely about abortion. Religious feminism is also involved in supporting abortion.  Donna, 25 years ago used the term feminist to refer to herself. She will no longer do so because this term is so frequently associated  with pro-abortion. She has put the radical feminists on the defensive because of her book, Ungodly Rage where she documents Catholic feminism and its connections with New Age, witchcraft, and goddess worship. 

In front of one of the abortion clinics in Milwaukee, I heard this chant by the radical feminists; I asked god and she's pro-choice (pro-abortion). Who is this she-god, who is pro-abortion? Could it be Mary, the Mother of Jesus? No, this could never be, because Mary listened to the angel of the Lord, while the radical feminist listens to another angel. 

  • The angel Gabriel said in Luke,
    YOU WILL CONCEIVE IN YOUR WOMB AND BEAR A SON... (Lk.. 1:31).
  • And the angel of the radical feminist she-god says,
    YOU WILL CONCEIVE IN YOUR WOMB AND ABORT A SON (OR DAUGHTER). 

Mary fails to be the goddess of the radical feminist because she gave birth to her child. Pro-choice (pro-abortion) was not Mary's choice.  And pro-choice is no choice for the child being terminated in the womb of its mother.

Mary, feminist or is she handmaid of the Lord? The cover of Time magazine (Dec. 91), asks, WAS THE MOST REVERED WOMAN GOD'S HANDMAID - OR THE FIRST FEMINIST?  Their very question, by the way it is asked, is acknowledging that she is either one or the other. Is Mary handmaid or feminist? I believe the best qualified person to answer this question is Mary herself. 

  • Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38). Now, I think that's pretty clear. Radical feminists are not interested in being handmaids of the Lord. They are interested in goddess research and feminine divinity.

Mary did not live for herself, but for her son Jesus. Mary said; Let it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38), and the radical feminists while clamoring for political power within the Church are saying, let it be done to me according to my word. The radical feminist will never want Mary as their goddess because they do not want to follow her example of humility, or her Son Jesus.

Mary is a mother. She is the mother of Jesus and our mother too. And for that mother and father who were duped into sacrificing their child on the altar of the abortionist, Mary as a mother waits for you. She wants to comfort you, to wipe away your tears, and to lead you to her son Jesus, that you may experience forgiveness. She understands your pain. Remember, Mary's child was sacrificed too, on Calvary. Mary can be a comfort and a help to you just as she was to Elizabeth whom she remained with for about three months (Lk 1:56).

A priest on the way to Hell; Mary intercedes for him: Although Mary is not God, it is never-the-less a great privilege and honor to have Mary present with us. Elizabeth expressed this when Mary came to see her. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me (Lk 1:43)?  Fr. Steve Scheier, (a Catholic priest who had been on his way to hell) could just as easily ask: And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should intercede to Jesus, to spare my very life?

Fr. Scheir shortly recalled a conversation that took place shortly after his accident. He was before the Lord's judgment seat. I did not see Him; I heard Him. My sentence was not good; it was Hell. The Blessed Mother came; I heard her voice.  She said 'please son spare his life.' He [Jesus] said, 'Mother this man has been a priest for 12 years, not for me,  but for himself.  Let him reap the punishment he deserves.'   She said, 'but son, let us give him more graces in his life, share with him some of what we have and see if he bears fruit, if not, your will be done.'  There was a moment's pause, as I can recollect.  He said to her, 'Mother he's yours.'  I am here before you this evening because she came and interceded for me for a new life.  I likened my accident to the conversion of St. Paul (Fr. Steve Scheier, audio tape, 1991 Marian Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma).

God worked a minor miracle (his physical healing) and a major miracle (his salvation).  Here was a Catholic priest, on the road to hell, who was saved through the intercession of people on this side and Mary on the other side. I find Jesus' final response to Mary interesting in regard to Fr. Steve Scheier; Mother he is yours. This is very similar to what Jesus said to his mother in relation to John the apostle;  Woman behold your son (Jn 19:26).  And so Mary is the Mother of the apostle John, and at that point she became our mother as well.

In summary, we find that repetition of prayers such as the Our Father is not babbling on like the pagans but the way Jesus taught us to pray. The prayer, the Hail Mary, comes from Scripture and Martin Luther defended it. The word hail is a greeting that simply means, hello. 16th-century Protestants did not have the same difficulties with Mary that 20th-century antagonists do. Anti-Catholics in their extremes are also anti-Protestant as well. There are people who will, without realizing it, quote the Bible out of context in an attempt to portray Marian devotions as not Biblical. The Mass is the primary public worship where Jesus is being offered. The rosary and other Marian devotions are secondary devotions and are not required. No one comes to the father except through me (Jn 14:6), is not a prohibition against saints on the other side interceding for us. You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone (Mt 4:10) is a partial quote that is used by some against Mary and Marian devotions. Jesus is not speaking against Mary; He is speaking against Satan: Then Jesus replied, 'Be off, Satan for Scripture says: 'You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.'  The adversary of Jesus is Satan; not Mary, His Mother. The word worship in older Catholic and Protestant books is used for people other than God. In the King James Bible it says that the whole congregation, bowed down their heads, and worshiped the Lord, and the king (1Ch 29:20). The word worship means honor with the greatest honor or worship always going to God alone. According to Donna Steichen, secular feminism and religious feminism are both involved in supporting abortion. Mary is not pro-abortion. She gave birth to her Child. Mary is neither radical feminist nor goddess. She is both handmaid and mother. It is a great privilege for Mary to be among us just as it was for Elizabeth 2,000 years ago (Lk 1:43).  Mary interceded for the wedding party at Cana. She interceded to spare the life of Fr. Scheier. And she continues to intercede for us today.