Praying to Mary Is Idolatry?

by Dr. Alan Keyes  •  •  July 16, 2018   

A response to one comment

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Dr. Alan Keyes

In the course of my efforts to clarify and promote the moral premises that preserve the God-endowed right of liberty in the United States, I've often addressed issues that involve abandoning those premises. Among them are abortion, the denial and disparagement of the natural rights of the family and the rising persecution directed against people who strive to live according to Christ's saying that obedience to His commandments is an imperative sign of love for Him:

"If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).

During my endeavors in this regard, I've worked with many fellow Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic. Though we stand firmly on common ground on the issue of American principle mentioned above, now and then our differences do make an appearance. This happened recently — sadly, not for the first time in my experience — regarding Catholic devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. I felt moved to respond to the denigration of our devotion, as I have in the past. When I was running for political office, I did so against the counsel of political "consultants," who always think it best, for electoral purposes, to avoid discussing such differences. But if I were willing to let such considerations stop me from sharing the Gospel, I would downplay all the issues of moral concern, since all are rooted in insights deeply connected with the truth God shared in and through Jesus Christ.


If the special grace of God in choosing Mary for His mother is not part of the good news of Christ's coming, I don't know what is. To speak with love against the denigration of her worthiness, with words thoughtfully informed by the Scripture and the heart of her son is, I believe, an aspect of devotion to Christ and God. Like the servants at the wedding feast in Cana, we understand that in Mary's help we find a way to bring the miraculously transforming power of Christ into our lives. As Pope Saint John Paul II instructed, "To honor Mary is to Go to Jesus." With this in mind, I share the following Facebook user's comment and my reply.

Facebook user's comment:

I have not lost hope because my hope is in Christ and His mediatorial kingship. If your hope is that (Brett) Kavanaugh will be a good Supreme Court judge, your hope is misplaced. God is working all things for good, but His idea of good may be to pour out His wrath on America. I will pray to God for His kingdom to come in America, but I will not join with you. Praying to Mary is idolatry.

My reply:

Jesus said: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). Do you doubt that Christ's mother believed in Him? Though she stood at the foot of the Cross when fear overpowered all but a few of His closest disciples?

Do you doubt her faith and Christ's reverence for her authority despite the fact that, at the wedding feast at Cana, she believed implicitly that He could and would perform a miracle at her behest, even after He made clear that it went against His sense of the occasion? If Christ, who is God, deferred to her wishes and did as she asked, why do you believe His Father does otherwise?

If the special grace of God in choosing Mary for His mother is not part of the good news of Christ's coming, I don't know what is.

Were the hosts or servants at the wedding feast idolatrous because they trusted in her relationship with Christ?

You speak of life as if it is a matter of time. But Christ says it is a matter of the relationship with Him — "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). And you speak of death as if Christ has not already abolished it (2 Timothy 1:10). If, as Christ promised, the faith of the thief on the cross meant He ended that very day in Paradise, what makes you so sure Christ let His Mother, blessed among women, "see corruption" (Psalm 16:10)?

Would you treat your mother like that, if you had power to do otherwise? If Scripture does not convince you, doesn't your own heart, which in faith is the heart of Christ, Mary's loving son, protest against it? "Honor thy father and thy mother," the Lord says. If we do so in the flesh, why do you reject the very idea that Christ, the Word who was with God and is God, would not honor Mary in spirit and in truth, and in the heart He brings into our very being when we accept Him as the being of our being in this life. As this worships Christ within us, how can it be idolatry?

Dr. Alan Keyes served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Ronald Reagan, and ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, and writes at his website Loyal to Liberty.


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