Have you seen Mary?

Have you seen Mary?

Images of the Virgin Mary are appearing throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics are gathering at these apparitions for prayer.

Here are some statements from these apparitions:

In 1846 she predicted, "Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the Antichrist."2 She also said, "The priests, ministers of my Son, the priests, by their wicked lives, by their irreverence and their impiety in the celebration of the holy mysteries, by their love of money, their love of honors and pleasures, the priests have become cesspools of impurity. Yes, the priests are asking for vengeance, and vengeance is hanging over their heads. Woe to the priests and to those dedicated to God who by their unfaithfulness and their wicked lives are crucifying my Son again!" "There are no more generous souls, there is no one left worthy of offering a stainless sacrifice to the Eternal God for the sake of the world." 2

1916 – "Offer unceasingly to the Most High prayers and sacrifices! Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended." "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God." 2

1917 - "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’" 2

1917 - "… they must build a chapel here in my honor, that I am the Lady of the Rosary; that they continue to say the rosary every day." 2

1941 – "God wishes to establish the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart." 3

1973 – "With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross… Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger." 4

1974 – "I, the Mother of the Church, am personally intervening and initiating my work of salvation." 2

1979 – "I have come from Heaven to reveal to you my plan in this struggle which involves everyone, marshaled together at the orders of two opposing leaders: the Woman clothed with the sun and the Red Dragon." "During these years, I myself am intervening, as the Woman clothed with the sun, in order to bring to fulfillment the Triumph of my Immaculate Heart which I have already begun through you, my beloved sons." 2

1980 – " The Holy Spirit draws me, like a magnet, into the depths of the life of the love between the Father and the Son, and I become interiorly transformed and so assimilated to Him as to be His spouse…" "I will bring you full understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. …The battle to which I am calling you is clearly described, and my great victory is foretold." 2

1982 – "In many ways I have manifested myself, but my signs have been given no credence, my interventions, even the most extraordinary have been contested." 2

1986 – "This is the moment for all to take refuge in me, because I am the Ark of the New Covenant." We are told to take refuge in the ark, which is the Immaculate Heart.2

1987 – Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater that Marian apparitions signify Mary’s final victory over Satan.

1989 – "…the time has come when I also, your heavenly leader, am signing, with my heavenly seal, all those who have consecrated themselves to my Immaculate Heart and formed part of my army. I am imprinting my seal on your foreheads with the most holy sign of the Cross of my Son Jesus. 2

1990 – "You will see the greatest marvels everywhere, because the time of my maternal co-redemption has arrived." "I am the Mother of the Second Advent. I am preparing you for His new coming." 2

1991 – "In the Name of Mary, Marxist communism, …has been defeated in these countries. Not because of political movements or persons, but through my personal intervention, has your liberation finally come about." 2

1991 – "My Pope, John Paul II…" "When this pope will have completed the task which Jesus has entrusted to him and I will come down from heaven and receive his sacrifice, all of you will be cloaked in dense darkness of apostasy…" 2 (according to the Catechism, apostasy means the rejection of the Christian faith.)

1992 – "By accepting the Protestant doctrine, people will hold that the Mass is not a sacrifice but only a sacred meal, that is to say, a remembrance of that which Jesus did at His Last Supper. And thus, the celebration of the Holy Mass will be suppressed. In this abolition of the daily sacrifice consists the horrible sacrilege accomplished by the Antichrist, which will last about three-and-a-half years, namely, 1,290 days." 2

1973 & confirmed through later apparitions – "… if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all of humanity. It will be a punishment greater than (the Great Flood). Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only weapons which will remain for you will be the rosary and the Sign left by my Son." "one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…" "Pray very much the prayers of the rosary. I alone am able still to save you from calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved." 5

Both Catholic and non-Catholic alike can agree that these references that these apparitions should not be taken lightly.  Now that we've built a framework, we can apply a perspective for these apparitions.

I know the Biblical references that the Catholic Church uses to defend the status of Mary such as Genesis 3:15, John 19:26, Revelation 12:1. I have also learned the Biblical arguments against the cause of Mary as well. There are millions of people that stand on both sides of the issue. Also, I have read commentaries that stretch the interpretation of the Bible. If applied in the same manner to the whole Bible, we would be completely lost. Each word, each sentence, and each verse would have so many meanings that it would be impossible to stand on anything the Bible says. The translations of the Bible are accurate and we should not try to substitute a particular word to fit our need. God did not give us His Word to confuse us but to guide and teach us.

So how do we view the status of Mary? The Catechism considers her a co-redeemer (she works with Jesus to redeem – people go through her to Jesus but only Jesus has the ability to redeem). The Catechism also refers to her as an Advocate and a Mediator. The Bible says, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" 1 Tim 2:5 and "if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ," 1 John 2:1 (written by the Apostle John who Mary lived with after Jesus died - see John 19:27).

The Church does emphasize that Mary cannot take the role of Jesus even though the terminology used is very misleading – the titles of Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate had been used exclusively for Jesus. Although these titles have been given to Mary through her own apparitions, the church has adopted them. The Church defends that these titles of Mary and the Marian Movement (believers of Mary) work with the salvation of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the Catechism points out that she is "a mother to us in the order of grace."1 The debate continues because the status of Mary has steadily increased throughout the years. Some of the influence has resulted in the following belief:

The Bible tells us about the first miracle that Jesus performed at a wedding. We are told that His mother asked Him to help out when the wine ran out. "’Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’" John 2:5 NIV Then Jesus told the servants to fill the vases with water and He performed His first miracle. Because of this, the theory has developed that whatever Mary asks, Jesus will do.

Catholics are starting to say, "If you can’t talk to Jesus, talk to His mother" or "Mary is our mother and will be a mother to you. Pray to her and she will answer your prayer." She is given credit for answered prayers even though we know all blessings come from God. When Pope John Paul II came to visit in our city, I spent the day with thousands of people to see him. I really enjoyed seeing so many people, Catholics and non-Catholics, gather in unity to see the pope. The pope has a motto that states "Totus tuus" meaning "Totally yours" or "All yours".

Years later, I was hurt and shocked when I found out his motto was not referring to Jesus Christ but Mary and that he attributed his life being saved by Mary rather than Jesus when he was shot in 1981. One year later, he visited the Fatima shrine to thank Mary for saving him. This is probably the first pope whose motto doesn’t exalt Jesus.

It’s difficult for the Catholic Church to say that Mary is not being elevated when there exists strong evidence that her position and influence is growing. After I studied the Bible, then I started studying the Catechism, the apparitions of Mary, and deeds that Catholics do for Mary. It was only then that I realized the extent to which Catholics glorify and worship Mary.

For example, a priest stated that Mary is letting people into heaven through the "back door" because she knows that Jesus will do whatever she asks of Him. In most churches there are more candles lit at the statue of Mary than Jesus. There are more prayers said to Mary than to Jesus (for every rosary, 53 of the 59 prayers are recited to Mary). The Catechism states that saying the rosary, "an ‘epitome of the whole Gospel,’" expresses our devotion to the Mary. 2 Catholics are taught to kneel before Mary at the sites of apparitions and statues. Although is may sound petty, according to the Bible, kneeling signifies worship. But even more so, we should look at the apparitions of Mary that are the driving force that increases her position.

In the apparitions of Mary (places or people that Mary has appeared to) she often states that her purpose is to guide souls to Jesus. For example, in 1916 she instructed the three children to say the rosary and insert at the mysteries, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell." In 1990 at Medejugorje she said, "Open your hearts to Jesus! I am calling you to prayer and to complete surrender to God!" In fact the Medejugorje site of apparitions had many statements that glorified Jesus. This certainly gets approval of the Christian community as any priest or pastor sows the same seed. But there is the other side to the apparitions. The following are extracts from the thousands of pages that Mary has said through various people throughout the last 150 years.

Throughout history the apparitions of Mary were very quiet until 1830 when Mary appeared and showed an image of a medal to be made. It included the words "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." Twenty-four years later, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that Mary "was preserved immune from all stain of original sin." This was the first time anyone other than Jesus was declared sinless. 2

Since then there have been many apparitions throughout the years.   As we analyze the selected statements listed above, these apparitions of Mary want us to draw closer to her ability and words.  Additionally, there are Marion apparitions that tell about the time of tribulation, many signs that we will all be able to see in the sky and on earth, that the Protestant Churches will not be able to withstand the temptations of Satan, and that she will hear your prayers and intervene on your behalf. Along with all of these apparitions, there have been many miracles and many foretold. I don’t question the validity of the miracles because Jesus told us that there would be miracles to come.

This paints a varied picture of Mary’s position. On one side, if you believe that she is what she claims to be, then she says you will be protected through the time of tribulation. Yet, the Bible does not account for such a substantial role for her. On the other side, she has glorified herself by talking about her plan, her intervention, telling people to pray to her, and to depend upon her for guidance from deceptive and unworthy priest, and for protection and guidance to salvation.

She has taken many titles and abilities that were exclusively used by Jesus. She has strongly influenced the Catholic Church and confuses its congregation as to which priest, bishops, cardinals, or pope will be of the faith or demons. The Bible does account for this role to be fulfilled, including many miracles, but only as a false prophet that Jesus warned about. As a Catholic, I was required to believe that she is what she says she is or leave the Church. As the priest said, "If you don’t believe it, you’re not Catholic."

It is possible, through the Catholic Church, that Mary can be elevated. If the pope, who has ultimate authority on the interpretation of the Bible for the Catholic Church, decides that Mary can have this role, then Catholics must believe it. It all depends on one man – the pope.

Very few Catholics realize that Mary has claimed so much authority and few realize the impact that she has had on the Catechism and the Church. When I was young, I had visited and prayed at a site where the image of Mary formed on a window (similar to the occurrence on the window at the church in Florida). As a Catholic, I defended her thinking that I knew a lot about her. It is only after all of this research that I realize how little I knew and how wrong I was to defend her.

What would happen if we left Mary alone? What would the result be? We would pray directly to God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Who saves? Jesus. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."Acts 4:12 NIV Who do we ask for things? God. "Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."John 15:16 Who do we ask for spiritual guidance? The Holy Spirit "will guide you into all truth."John 16:13 NIV The Trinity is completely suffice! The Trinity does it all!

What is prayer? Talking to God. Jesus told us it is not repeating words over and over again. He was very specific about it. "Don’t recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are answered only by repeating them again and again." Mat 6:7 TLB So, what about asking other people to pray for you? Great! The New Testament gives us examples of people praying for others. When you ask others to pray for you, it shows a humbleness, a weakness, and a need on your part. It helps the people praying for you to grow more intimately with God. When the prayer is answered, all of the glory goes to God. No glory is given to the prayer group. All of the light is shown on God. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus and that Jesus glorifies God.

So how do we view signs? Jesus was annoyed with the people who kept looking for signs and said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign," Luke 11:29 NIV More importantly Jesus said," For false christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect - if that were possible." Mark 13:22 NIV The Bible tells us to always be prepared for we don’t know the hour or the day. So, it doesn’t matter because we are told to always be ready and waiting for Jesus to return.

Jesus entrusted the care of someone He loved dearly, Mary, to someone He dearly loved - John. John was leaning back against Jesus at the Last Supper as a loving brother would. John never mentions his own name in any of the books that he wrote and he was the only apostle mentioned at the foot of the cross with the women. John had a loving and serving personality. The type of person anyone would want his or her loving parents to be cared for. John wrote four more books after his book in the Gospel. Yet he never mentioned Mary, who was in his care. Additionally, Mary is only mentioned twice in the New Testament after the death of Jesus.

Mary is blessed. Her prayer of thanks is sincere and beautiful. Jesus told us, "But even more blessed (than Mary) are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice." Luke 11:28 TLB If you exclude the apparitions and the influence they have had on the writings of the Catholic Church, you will find very little to support Mary in the substantial role she tells us that she has claimed. If you stand on the writings of Bible, it’s impossible to support this substantial role.

What if I’m wrong? There is no reference in the Bible that I will be condemned because I stand on the promises and words of Jesus Christ and not Mary. Not once in the Bible does it condemn me for this. But asking for salvation through Mary can be strongly argued throughout the Bible. She is not God, the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit.

Mary says that she is unable to protect me if I don’t trust in her. Yet, I know I have salvation because the Bible is very specific on how to attain salvation. The most that could happen to me is to suffer for the sake of Christ. Jesus told us that this is a blessing and we would be rewarded for it! "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you…" Mat 5:11 NIV The apostle Paul writes "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,…"2 Tim 3:12 NIV

Often Jesus points out that He is the only way. We know that Jesus didn’t mislead us. We know that God has not changed His mind. God’s truth is eternal and absolute. If not, then there is no basis for salvation for anyone. Trust the Bible. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:1-17 about the end times and states that the Bible is the truth to stand on. Trust Jesus. As Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can them out of my hand."John 10:28 NIV

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The above article is excerpt from Why I Left the Catholic Church by Chuck Bethancourt

© 1997


References


TLB

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The Living Bible

NRSV

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New Revised Standard Version

NCV

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New Century Version

NIV

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New International Version

KJV

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King James Version

 
    1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994, ISBN 0892435666
    2. The Thunder of Justice, Flynn, 1993, page 22, 112, 134-5, 136, 137, 17, 90, 328, 56, 330, 151, 236, 251,     ISBN 096343070X 
  • www.fatima.org, August, 1998
  • The Meaning Of Akita, Haffert, John
  • The Final Hour, Michael Brown, ISBN 1880033038
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