Why Catholics Ask Mary's Intercession

Why Catholics Ask Mary's Intercession

A few years ago I went to see the tall ships that were visiting Boston harbor. On my way home I stopped at Saint Anthony’s Shrine downtown. As I was walking toward it I noticed a tall, thin man hanging around in front of the church, sort of huddled into a corner wall. Though he looked around furtively through his black-rimmed glasses and seemed a bit timid, he didn't appear to be begging. True to my New York upbringing, I began to walk quickly past, pretending not to notice. As I went by, he suddenly reached into a white plastic grocery bag, pulled out a leaflet, and waved it in my face. I realized immediately that it was one of those anti-Catholic tracts, so I didn’t take it.

After a short time praying in the church, I got an inspiration that on my way out I should stop and talk to this man. I felt reluctant, since I generally don’t approach strangers on the street and talk to them. But I thought: Here’s this person handing out anti-Catholic leaflets in front of a Catholic church, so why should I just go by without responding in some way? So I asked him, “What’s that you're handing out?”

He handed me the leaflet, listing some typical fundamentalist objections to the Catholic Church. He said he had been Catholic but now was going to another church. His big point was that the Catholic Church has “man-made” beliefs and practices, and of course, the intercession of Mary and the saints was a huge issue. So I talked to him for a while about this. I wish I could say that he converted back to the Church, but it’s never that easy. Only the grace of God can bring that about.

Hopefully, however, if Catholics had a better understanding of why we have devotion to Mary and the saints, they would not fall away so easily when challenged about this. So the question arises: Why do we ask Mary’s intercession at all? Can’t we just go directly to Jesus? Yes, we can and certainly do pray directly to God and to Jesus, who is the “one mediator between God and humankind” (1 Tim 2:5). In this, as in so many other things Catholic, it’s not a matter or either/or, but of both/and.

Jesus came to earth for our salvation. He redeemed us by his death on the cross and his resurrection. Without that, we could not be saved. But Jesus established the Church and wanted us to play a part in helping others to be saved. For example, shortly before he went back to heaven, he told his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15–16). Jesus gave the disciples a role through which others would be saved. Their role was subordinate to that of Jesus, of course, but it was still a true role. Something similar is at work with the intercession of Mary and the saints. It is part of the plan of God, by which he wills that we can help each other along the way of salvation.

Jesus merited for us the gift of grace, which is how we become like God. Jesus undid the evil of the original sin committed by our first parents at the very beginning of the human race. The irony is that in sinning they thought they would become like God, as the tempter told them (see Gen 3:4–5). But in reality they were already like God since he had given them the gift of original grace, and they lost it when they sinned.

So how do we become like God? The short answer is through faith and the sacraments. Looking at it more broadly, however, Saint Thomas makes an interesting point. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but basically he says that we can become like God in two ways. First, because God is good, we become like him by being good. Second, because God is the cause of goodness in creatures, we become like God by bringing goodness to others, by doing good (see Summa Theol., I, q. 103, a. 4).

That second point is the key aspect in regard to the intercession of the saints. By praying for us, they play a role in bringing goodness to us. It’s part of God’s plan. It’s more perfect for us to reflect God’s goodness by doing good rather than simply by being good. We’re meant to be active, to reach out, to help others, and that reflects God. And while we can help others in all sorts of ways, to help them get closer to God is the best thing we can do for them. The intercession of the saints does precisely that.

When you think about it, isn’t this the way God acts in regard to other things? He brings about goodness through other creatures. For example, he could have just directly created all the people he wants, instead of having them come into the world through their parents. But by giving parents a role in procreation, God is acting through them to bring goodness to others. And the parents’ role is not only good for their children, but good for themselves too. It gives them the wonderful ability to cooperate with God in bringing life into the world.

That’s good for us, because it’s an important part of the way we become holy. We reflect these two aspects of God by both being good and doing good. God isn’t concerned about doing things in the most efficient way. If he were, he would just do everything himself. God is concerned about drawing us into his very life, and he doesn’t want us to come all by ourselves. He wants us to come with a lot of other people.

The Catholic faith takes this seriously. It’s not just a matter of me and Jesus, but of me, Jesus, and the whole community of the Church. …

On Calvary, Mary offered up her sufferings at seeing Jesus die such a cruel death. She joined her sufferings to his and so she became the Sorrowful Mother, the mother who understands our own pain and sufferings. As Jesus was dying, he saw Mary standing there with the beloved disciple. Turning toward them, Jesus said, “‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then [turning to John,] he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (Jn 19:26–27). Even though we usually think of Saint John as being the beloved disciple, and he probably was, he is never named in John’s Gospel. Some writers think this is because he is meant to represent all of us as disciples. So in giving Mary to him, in effect Jesus was giving her to all of us. He was asking us to bring Mary into our lives, to welcome her and give her a place. It’s as if Jesus was asking us to develop a relationship with Mary.

So how do we do that? Basically, we can do it just as we develop other relationships, by getting to know the person and sharing knowledge of ourselves. Granted, it may be a little harder to do this in regard to Mary, since prayer operates differently than when we speak to others face to face. And even though when we pray we may not hear a response, we can know without a doubt that she is listening to what we say and bringing it to Jesus. She will ask him for all the graces we need.

Mary Help In Hard Times  Excerpted from the book: Mary Help in Hard Times, written and compiled by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP.



Mary, saints, intercession, prayer


Inspiration, Living the Faith Today



  • I am not a Catholic, but I don't think anyone needs to put Mary down. She does not deserve to be ridiculed. She was a special human being chosen by God, and I believe she is in Heaven right now. But I also don't think she needs to be elevated any higher than Peter, Paul, David, Moses, Abraham, or any of the other "Greats" in the Bible. There is nothing following Christs death and resurrection that speaks anything about Mary. If God intended us to elevate Mary, Jesus would have instructed us to do so, and Peter and Paul, and John would have emphasized it in the books to follow. And lastly, the belief that Saints are the dead who do miracles is not biblical. Here are some verses in the bible that talk about Saint being Christians who are alive. (Acts 9:13). (Acts 9:32) (Acts 26:10).(Philippians 4:21). (Romans 16:2). (Ephesians 4:12) (Ephesians 5:3)
    8/1/2017 6:21:20 AM Reply
  • Philomena, it is not that we have a "dislike" for Mary or that we are being rude (I'm not a JW) but that what you are doing is SPEAKING TO THE DEAD and it's called necromancy and it is strictly forbidden in the Bible. I think the whole Mary worship thing is a sin. If you saw someone doing that, you would try to help them wouldn't you? I think psychologically, people want another "Mother;" something, someone maternal to pray to. That doesn't make it right.
    4/27/2017 10:52:37 PM Reply
    • @Zachariah Abraham: @chenns: The missing power in a catholics life - The non indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Catholics have replaced the 3rd person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, with Mary, Saints, Idol worship, Novenas, Rosary, etc I want to ask them what they think about Sin and how they intend to overcome Sin by all these rituals? For example, if you cannot control lust and have lustful thoughts about any woman (other than wife), how do they overcome that by all these endless rituals or by keeping Lent or some other fast? They should read Romans 8 and understand what is written: Romans 8 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Only through the Power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome Sins. I wish they stared reading their Bibles and see what is the message given. Or listen to sermons explaining about who the Holy Spirit is.
      9/11/2018 2:39:56 AM Reply
    • ncc
      @Susan: https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc5.htm Mary is alive with Jesus Christ!,, the bible tells us why! :-)
      2/4/2018 6:50:05 AM Reply
    • @Susan: Nowhere in the bible does it say that she is dead. In fact, on the contrary, it says that whoever believes in Christ shall not die, and that their soul shall live on. Additionally, the Bible says that God is the God of the Living, and then also that he is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, very clearly, showing that they are all living. Now, if you're wondering whether or not Mary believed in Jesus Christ, then we can be pretty sure that she did. I'm preparing a sermon on this, so please ask me any further questions if you'd like clarification as that would help me too.
      6/22/2017 9:53:24 AM Reply
  • Develop a relationship with her? She is not a divine being. She is dead. She is asleep in Jesus like everyone else who is not the Father, Son or Holy Ghost. Try as I might to understand the Mary thing, it seems you guys really stretch that one "Behold your mother" thing. He even makes a point, when someone says something like :"Blessed are the breasts that gave suck" or something, to say that everyone who worships him is him mother, brother or sister. He makes a point to let people know "No, don't worship my human mother. She is no different than you!"
    4/27/2017 10:48:48 PM Reply
  • I agreed with what I read in this Article. It is true because I have experienced a JW being rude to me at the bus stop whilst I was reading a prayer book called " Marian Devotion". He interrupted my reading by talking to me and trying to give me few of their booklets. I told him I was already a Christian and a Catholic and thats when he started trying to criticise the church and I found him have a dislike for Mary. I told him he was wasting his time on me and that he should go and preach to someelse that didnt believe in God.
    1/6/2015 1:09:05 PM Reply
    • @Philomena Kassman: @Mark Cherian: Hi For the Catholics that believe in their priests and all the rituals that go along, I just ask to please read the English standard version and even these scriptures that I’m going to give are in the Catholic bibles as well, so to listen to a person as that’s what the priest is, merely a person like you and me that has sin in him just like all of us, do he has no high powers to act like God and try to intercede by listening to your dirty laundry behind a curtain, which is by the disquieting to tell another human being your dirt, in which case we all have dirt and have sinned and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 and I find it odd that this scripture is not in the fore page of the chapter 3 and there are no exceptions, none, God said all have sinned .... period ! And in the Catholic Bible a verse that they may never read on their own as they listen to a man behind the pulpit which God says read for yourself, those who seek his word will find answers so God will teach you, do not trust just a person telling you things as they don’t always have the truth in themselves. Romans 6:14 is important please read it and Romans 6:23 wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life IN JESUS CHRIST not in Mary not in your priest, not in your rosary, not in saints but only through Jesus and Romans 8:1 there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 10:9 if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved In verse 11 and 12 no one will be put to shame for there is no distinction between Jew or Greek, the same Lord is Lord if all and bestows his riches upon all who calls on the name of the Lord... WILL BE SAVED please read the Bible and ask God to show you all his truth and open your heart to seek him only !! My prayer will be on all those that diligently want to know Gods truth and his eternal life and even most scriptures are true in the Catholic bible but you need discernment so ask God to show you his truth, praise and glory be to our Heavenly Father
      11/5/2018 2:00:05 PM Reply
    • ncc
      @Philomena Kassman: :-) yes !!! https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc5.htm dont listen to those jw. they are taught to not pray to Jesus Christ. they all believe its a horrible sin. their bible is currupt, poor lost souls.
      2/4/2018 6:45:50 AM Reply
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