Is Mary Holy?

Is Mary Holy? September 27, 2011

I recently received the following e-mail, and I thought that I would share my response with all of you since it seems to deal with a number of issues that many christians have, and a number that I have dealt with myself.

Do you think Mary is holy? Like the Catholics do? Because doesn’t it say she is blessed. But blessed means made holy, so that would mean she is holy. But aren’t we also blessed once we enter heaven? Because I thought only God could be holy. So how does this all work?

 The quick answer: YES

However there are a lot of issues in this message that need to be explained and expanded. I will take each question and comment and share a few thoughts of my own.

Do you think Mary is holy? 

Yes, I believe Mary is holy. The scriptures call many people holy. In fact the word “saint” is more accurately translated “holy one”

  • In Hebrew the word is  חסיד (chaciyd)
  • The Greek Word is ἅγιος (hagios)

To call someone holy is not reserved alone to God. Holy means SET APART. Cities are called holy, places are called holy, mountains are called holy.

Mary was most certainly set apart by God. She was the one women in all of history who was set aside to give a Human nature to God, and to clothe divinity with flesh in her womb.

Therefore it is both good and right to call Mary Holy.

Like the Catholics do?

The Catholic church confirms a few things about Mary that are hard to find in scripture.
The main things Protestants get uncomfortable about are:

  • She is Queen of Heaven
  • She was born without the effects of original sin
  • She was sinless in life
  • She is The Mother of God
  • We can ask her for intercession on our behalf
These are all Theological statements that actually point to realities which most Protestants affirm. They have generally come out of HUGE theological controversies dealing with the nature of Christ and The Church.

The Catholic Church did not invent these concepts to create new doctrines about Mary, but rather developed the language so that they could continue to AFFIRM doctrines about Jesus and the Church.
  • Queen of Heaven tells us the Jesus reigns in his Humanity as well as His divinity as King of all creation
  • Affirming she was born without the effects of original sin points to the reality of the grace of God in the lives of all Christians, and the purity of Jesus’ human life.
  • Believing Mary was sinless in life is an icon of the Christian Life that God calls all in His Church too in obedience to the movement of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Saying she was The Mother of God is an important way of affirming that although has both a human and divine nature Jesus is one unified person
  • Believing we can ask her for intercession on our behalf is an affirmation of what the scriptures say about the prayers of those on earth being offered by the saints (Revelation 5:8).
Of course these are all HUGELY controversial and it would take multiple books to exhaust any one of them in their entirety, but the main take away is that in Catholicism Mary mainly does two things:
  1. She points to truth about Jesus
  2. She is an icon of the Church 

I can’t say I believe everything about Mary that Every Catholic does, but I do think that in at least in the two affirmations above I agree.

doesn’t it say she is blessed?

It does… it also says she is “Full of Grace”: in Greek χαριτόω (charitoō) meaning “to honor with blessings, to be highly favored, make accepted”

What do you think that means?

It is God’s grace that transforms us and allows us to be Holy. For Mary to be “full of Grace” means that she has been made accepted in a way that no other person in scripture is said to have been made. In fact the only time that word is used in scripture apart from Mary is Ephesians 1:6 where Paul discusses the ways in which Christ makes us pure and Holy before God….

All in all I think those of us outside of the Catholic Church can learn A LOT about Mary from them, and should.

"Referring your to someone much wiser than myself."

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