Why Honor Mary
Why do Maronites honor Mary?
By Fr. Antonio Elfeghali
One of my friends asked me: “The Holy Scripture does not say we should honor Mary. Why do Maronites honor Mary?
I said: We are called to imitate Jesus for He is the Way, the Truth, and Life.
We are called to love what Jesus loves and to hate what Jesus hates (sin).
We are also called to honor whoever he honors. Jesus honored his mother otherwise he would have broken the 4th commandment (honor your father & mother).
There are 10 reasons why Maronites honor Mary:
1- We honor Mary because Jesus honored her. Jesus said: “For God said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.'”
[Mat 15:4] Do you think Jesus broke this commandment?
2- According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary said: All generations shall call me blessed (Luke 1:48). The Maronites are fulfilling this verse by calling Mary Blessed.
3- Mary is the mother of all the living. Jesus called her “woman” which means “the mother of all those who have life in Jesus Christ”. Eve was called woman because she was the mother of all the living. Mary, the New Eve, became the mother of all those saved by Jesus.
4- We honor Mary because without her “Yes” we wouldn’t have Jesus, but we would have remained in darkness.
5- We honor Mary because she is the mother of the Light, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
6- Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”[Mat 10:40] We can apply this verse on Mary saying, "Whoever receives [Mary] receives [Jesus], and whoever receives [Jesus] receives the one who sent Him. Whoever receives [Mary] because [she] is [the mother of the King] will receive [the mother of the King's] reward, and whoever receives a righteous [woman] because [she] is righteous will receive a righteous [woman's] reward.[Mat 10:41]
7- Jesus said about himself that there is something greater than Solomon here [Mat 12:42] Read how Solomon treated his own mother: “Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right.”[1 Ki 2:19] If Solomon, who was an earthly king, treated his mother this way, how would Jesus, the King of kings, have treated his own mother Mary who is the mother of the King? And Jesus is greater than Solomon [Mat 12:42].
8- Mary is the Queen of Heaven: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” [Rev 12:1]
9- Finally, the Maronites experienced Mary’s protection in a special way throughout history. When they were isolated in the arid mountains of Lebanon, cut off from the rest of the world, Mary was with them. When they were persecuted for the sake of Faith, Hope, and Love, Mary was there to strengthen and console them. When they were divided, Mary was there to reunite them. When they were oppressed, Mary was there to ease the pain. When the whole world abandoned the Maronites leaving them at the mercy of their enemies, Mary was there, under the cross of our people and at the moment of our ancestors’ death.
10- Mary visited our land in Cana & Sidon (Maghdouche). She is called in our litany: "O Cedar of Lebanon, pray for us."
Q. Why do Maronites ask the intercession of Mary instead of praying directly to Jesus?
- Can I ask you to pray for me?
- Sure, I can pray for you.
- So, why we shouldn’t ask Mary to pray for us? She is the mother of the King of kings and she is alive in His Kingdom. why should I ask you to pray for me, while I can ask Jesus directly? Mary is very respected by Jesus. He will do whatever she asks. At the wedding of Cana, Jesus made the miracle at his mother’s request.
Q. Why do Maronites have statues of Mary in their homes, villages, and churches?
- Yesterday, I saw you taking pictures of your own mother. Why did you that?
- Because I love her and I like to remember my mother.
- The Maronites love their mother Mary, and they like to keep her picture with them. They make statues not to worship them but to remember their mother and to ask for her intercession.
Q. Do Maronites worship Mary?
- If they worship Mary, they commit a grave sin. God only must be worshipped. You shall have no other gods beside me [Exodus 20:3].
When we pray, sing, or talk about Mary, we do not worship her, but we honor her. For us, Mass is our worship to God when we remember God’s plan of Salvation.
Q. Why do Maronites pray the Rosary? It is vain and insincere repetition. Jesus said “in praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”[Mat 6:7]
- Repeating the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary” is not babbling. The “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” were taken from the Bible. Jesus did not like vain repetition, not all repetition. When Jesus was in Gethsemane, “He left [his disciples] and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again”.[Mat 26:44] Jesus asked us to pray in secret but that doesn’t mean we can’t pray together in Church.