Wednesday, July 21, 2010

* BEST OF DTB #10* The Rosary is THE weapon!

Saint Padre Pio once called the Rosary of Our Lady THE weapon. He was right in a good way and a bad way. He was right in the sense that the Rosary is the scourge of the Devil. It is the single most effective devotional there is.

Unfortunately, it is also often the case that the Rosary is THE weapon of choice for anti-catholics to demonize catholics as an anti-Biblical church.

Does their case hold water? Of course not.

However, few Catholics truly understand how to get past their clever arguments to the plain and simple truth below. I am going to help to show you how to do that.

Protestant objections

Protestants have many objections to the Rosary. I will try to list as many of their claims as possible and we can address them.
  1. The Rosary is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
  2. The Bible does not instruct us to pray to Mary or the Saints.
  3. The Bible condemns communicating with the dead.
  4. Praying to Mary is an act of worship.
  5. The Bible condemns "vain repetitions"
  6. The Rosary contains 10 times as many prayers to Mary as to God.
  7. There is no evidence that Mary can even hear our prayers.
  8. Why go through Mary when you can go straight to Jesus? After all, the Bible tells us that there is only one mediator.
  9. Jesus corrects the woman in the crowd for elevating Mary.
  10. Salvation is by Jesus alone!
  11. The Bible condemns the so-called 'Queen of Heaven'
  12. The Rosary is based on private revelations.

I hope I didn't leave any out.

Let's tackle these, one at a time. Maybe, on the way, you will learn that the Rosary isn't quite what you thought.

"The Rosary is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible"

Nor does it need to be.... at least not specifically. The Rosary is a devotional. It is an answer to the Biblical calls both to pray and to meditate on the things of God.

The primary focus of the Rosary is meditation. To ponder these things in our hearts, just as Mary did (Luke 2:19, 2:51)

There are 20 such events the Rosary calls upon us to ponder. We reflect on the meaning of these events in our life. They are;

  1. Jesus agony in the garden of Gethsemene.
  2. His scourging at the Pillar.
  3. His crowning with thorns.
  4. The carrying of the cross.
  5. The cruxifiction.
  6. The Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary.
  7. Mary's journey to visit Elizabeth in the hill country.
  8. The birth of the Saviour.
  9. The presentation of the Baby Jesus in the temple.
  10. Finding the 12 year old Jesus in the Temple.
  11. The Resurrection of Jesus.
  12. His Ascension into Heaven.
  13. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
  14. Mary's Assumption into heaven.
  15. Mary's coronation as Queen of heaven.
  16. The miracle at the wedding at Cana.
  17. Jesus baptism in the River Jordan.
  18. The Transfiguration.
  19. The preaching of the coming of the Kingdom.
  20. The institution of the Eucharist.

As far as I can see, any protestant would be forced to concede the first 13, and at least 17 or 18 of the 20 events, (Catholics call them "mysteries") as being Biblical.

True, we may disagree- for now- on #14, #15 and possibly #20. However, to say that we need a specific Biblical mandate to examine and weigh and meditate on these things is silly, to say the least. Do Protestants provide Biblical instruction for all their devotions?

"The Bible doesn't instruct us to pray to Mary or the Saints"

Does the Bible instruct you to wash your clothes? feed the dog? take out the trash? The Bible cannot tell you everything to do explicitly. The questions at hand are;
  1. Is prayer to the Saints something the Bible allows you to do?
  2. Can the idea of praying to the Saints be inferred from Scripture?
  3. Did the early believers pray to the Saints.

The answer to all 3 questions is yes. Protestants would probably have answered no to all 3 questions and that is getting down to the marrow of why they have so much trouble with the Rosary.

I could write a page on each of these three topics. That won't fit in what I am doing here. So let me just leave you with these thoughts. If the Angels can hear our prayers, and take them to God (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4), and the saints are to be as the Angels (Matthew 22:30), why is it so hard to believe that they, also, can hear our prayers and take them to God?

Secondly, if this idea is so much in error, why is there so much evidence that even the earliest church practiced this?
Clement of Alexandria
"In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]" (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).
"But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep" (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).
Cyprian of Carthage
"Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy" (Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 253]).

"The Bible condemns communicating with the dead"

and well it should....

Deuteronomy 18:10 Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, 18:11 or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.

There are a couple of distinctions here.

First, what type of behavior is being condemned here?

What is being condemned here is some of the darkest, most evil human conduct imaginable.

  • parents burning their children to death.
  • necromancy
  • witchcraft
  • divination
  • communing with evil spirits
  • black magic

Pretty serious stuff by any measure.

Demonic stuff.

Is this comparable with praying the rosary? Hardly.

To understand the difference is to understand the difference between those who are dead and those who are living. It is God who gives eternal life. Those who are with God are not merely alive but far more so than are we.

Matthew 22:32 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

Mark 12:27 He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled."

Luke 20:38 and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

Matthew 7:14 How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Matthew 18:8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire.

Matthew 19:16 Now someone approached him and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"

Matthew 19:17 He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 25:46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

The Bible certainly goes to great extent to show that the saints are certainly not dead.

Secondly, in praying to saints for intercession, we are not consorting with them or consulting with them or asking them for powers. There is not a two-way converstaion here, or some kind of collusion.

We are not adoring them as gods, nor affording them anymore credit or glory than they deserve, as human examples.

In fact, we ask the saints for just one thing..... to pray for us. This is no different from asking someone in our church to pray for us, except that the saints are in a better position than your churchgoers.

"Praying to Mary is an act of worship"

This is a brief, but in-depth, article I wrote, giving 10 separate arguments demonstrating that Catholics do not worship Mary. In invite you to read it. I will only include argument #1 here.... it is enough.

Pose this scenario to a fundamentalist.

Theresa lives a very good life. She seldom, if ever misses Church on Sunday, doesn't curse, smoke or drink. She gives genoursly over her time and money to the poor. Theresa is a devoted and faithful wife and mother who has never stolen, murdered or committed adultery.

This is not to say she is perfect, no one is. However, on balance, Theresa is a very decent person who tries her best to serve the Lord.

There is just one thing. Theresa has never been 'saved' in the manner fundamentalists describe it. She has never actually said the specific words;

"Jesus, I accept you today as my personal saviour".

Bob is Theresa's husband. 30 years ago, Bob was saved at an altar call. He was a devoted Christian for about 10 years then started to backslide a bit.

Now, 30 years later, Bob only goes to church at Easter and Christmas. He smokes, drinks to excess, and watches porn on his computer. Bob is currently having an affair on Theresa.

Which of these 2 are 'saved'?

If you are a true devotee of Sola Fide and Calvinism, you have no choice but to say that Bob goes to heaven and Theresa goes to hell.

The only thing that matters is an assent of faith. To be a Christian is to worship Christ as Lord and Savior and that worship is only possible with an assent of faith. Free will demands that you make a choice to accept and worship Christ.


Isn't it ironic that some of these same people accuse Catholics of worshiping Mary despite the fact that there is a complete abscence of, even an open denial to, such a assent of worship of Her?

"The Bible condemns 'vain repetitions'"

Matthew 6:7
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

This is actually a poor translation, found in the error-prone King James Version. A better translation is "do not babble".

Nevertheless, VAIN prayer is what is being condemned, not repetitive prayer.

Psalm 136

136:1 I
* Praise the LORD, who is so good;
God's love endures forever;

136:2 Praise the God of gods;
God's love endures forever;

136:3 Praise the Lord of lords;
God's love endures forever;

136:4 II
Who alone has done great wonders,
God's love endures forever;

136:5 Who skillfully made the heavens,
God's love endures forever;

136:6 Who spread the earth upon the waters,
God's love endures forever;

136:7 Who made the great lights,
God's love endures forever;

136:8 The sun to rule the day,
God's love endures forever;

136:9 The moon and stars to rule the night,
God's love endures forever;

136:10 III
Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
God's love endures forever;

136:11 And led Israel from their midst,
God's love endures forever;

136:12 With mighty hand and outstretched arm,
God's love endures forever;

136:13 Who split in two the Red Sea,
God's love endures forever;

136:14 And led Israel through,
God's love endures forever;

136:15 But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,
God's love endures forever;

136:16 Who led the people through the desert,
God's love endures forever;

136:17 IV
Who struck down great kings,
God's love endures forever;

136:18 Slew powerful kings,
God's love endures forever;

136:19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
God's love endures forever;

136:20 Og, king of Bashan,
God's love endures forever;

136:21 And made their lands a heritage,
God's love endures forever;

136:22 * A heritage for Israel, God's servant,
God's love endures forever.

136:23 V
The LORD remembered us in our misery,
God's love endures forever;

136:24 Freed us from our foes,
God's love endures forever;

136:25 And gives food to all flesh,
God's love endures forever.

136:26 VI
Praise the God of heaven,
God's love endures forever.

"The Rosary contains 10 times as many prayers to Mary as to God"

This is a false dichotomy. The person making this argument is alleging that you can either seek help from the saints or from God, but not from both. This is like seeking help from your pastor would mean not seeking help from God.

An even more extreme example are irresponsible parents who refuse to get medical care for their kids because they claim faith.

When I ask my friend to pray with me 10 times, I am not petitioning God 1/10th as much but 10 times as much. When that friend is Our Blessed Lady, it is immeasurably more.

If I say the full, 20 decade Rosary, I make the same simple plea to our Lord's Mother more than 200 times- "pray for us". That is more than 200 more prayers to God on my behalf. We sinners need all the help we can get.

"There is no evidence Mary can even hear our prayers"

I can only sigh when I hear people make such a ridiculous claim. They clearly have a very myopic view of heaven.

There are two quick observations;

1) Clearly, the Bible tells us that the Angels hear our prayers, and take them to God, (Revelation 5:8, 8:3).

2) Clearly, the Bible tells us that the saints will be like the Angels (Matthew 22:30).

It is preposterous to say that the Saints, who live outside of time and space, are not united to us in prayer. After all, what did Paul mean by the great cloud of witnesses? (Hebrews 12:1).

"Why go through Mary when you can go straight to Jesus? After all, the Bible tells us that there is only one mediator.

1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human,

Protestants like to pounce on the fact that we call Mary a co-mediatrix, incorrectly surmising that ''co'' means equal. It doesn't. It means ''with''. Calling Mary co-mediatrix does not make her a mediator between God and Man. Only Jesus can do that for the obvious reason that only He is both God and Man.

Nevertheless, Jesus mediation depended, in part, on Mary because it was by her assent, that He came to be with us.

In the same way, we do not go to Mary instead of Jesus, or go through Mary to get to Jesus. We go to Jesus, with Mary.

It is silly to suggest that we cannot ask Mary and the Saints to assist us, by praying for us. That is exactly what we should be doing.

"Jesus corrects the woman in the crowd for elevating Mary"

Not so....

From my article of July 20th, 2010..

One of the most cleverly veiled arguments against Catholics is the short exchange between Jesus and a woman in the crowd. Anti-Catholics assert that this exchange refutes the practice of Marian devotion.

What was Really said?

The exchange is recorded in two verses in the 11th chapter of Luke's Gospel. The Douai Rheems records it this way;

[27] And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. [28] But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

The New American Standard Version:

27While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed."
28But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."
The King James:
27And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
28But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
However, my adversary chose to quote this passage from the New International Version.

27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."
28He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
The difference may appear subtle at first blush but it really is an important distinction to understanding this passage.

Literal vs Dynamic

To understand the different ways this passage is rendered, one must understand the difference between literal Bible translations and dynamic translations.

Literal does not necessarily mean accurate

A literal translation is a translation that seeks to translate the passage as close to a word-for-word rendering as possible. This type of version is good for advanced study. Bear in mind that calling a Bible a literal translation does not indicate that it is necessarily an accurate translation. It only indicates a type of translation.

The King James Version is a literal translation but it is certainly not an accurate one. There are thousands of documented errors in the KJV.

The good thing about literal translations is that they are very good at getting to the actual exegesis of the passage. The bad thing is that they give no credence to the culture of the time, the literary style or the difficulty of translating a passage from Hebrew/Aramaic to Greek to Latin and then to English. This creates a slew of terms that lose meaning in the translation.

One example is the fact that there is no New Testament word for cousins, so these are rendered as brothers. As a consequence, uneducated readers misread many passages by not understanding these factors and assuming the english translation translates itself.

Dynamic translations are, themselves, interpretations (and the New International is one of the very worst).

A dynamic translation is designed to be easier to read by putting the passage into language the modern reader will understand. In short, the dynamic translation seeks to interpret the passage for you. Needless to say, this is a much more liberal way to translate scripture and some pretty awful translations have resulted.

The New International version is just such an example and it's translation of Luke 11:27-28 is a classic example.

Let's read it again;
27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."
28He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Whereas the other translations quoted the woman as blessing Mary's womb and breasts (her maternity, in other words), the NIV quotes her as addressing the person of Mary, not her motherhood.

Do not be fooled. This is not as subtle a difference as you suppose. However, before I explain why the NIV's translation is misplaced, I must prove it is inaccurate.

There are two greek words for 'mother' that appear in the New Testament, pronounced Maytare and Pentherah. Neither of these two words are present in Luke 11:27. The insertion of the word ''mother'' into the text is the translators' attempt at their own interpretation.

The NIV says what many protestants believe......but they are wrong.

In it's defense, the NIV is only expressing what many protestants believe- that the woman in the crowd is blessing (elevating) Mary and that Jesus is saying, at a minimum, that Mary is no better than anyone else who hears and obeys the word of God.

If you read the NIV's translation of the passage, you are mislead into such a conclusion, especially, if you do not understand the actual exegesis of the passage.

In short, protestants believe that the woman is calling Mary- the person- ''blessed'' and the Jesus is rejecting such an assertion.

I have already demonstrated that the woman is not directly blessing Mary- the person- but her maternity. In actuality, Jesus does not disagree....but we'll get to that in a minute.

Mary is not blessed? Sorry....the Bible doesn't support that notion.

So that I can not be accused of misrepresenting the protestant position, let me quote one of the heretical statements from the person I was debating. To be honest, I was shocked that he actually had the temerity to enunciate this position.

............... Now lets look at Luke11:27-28 shall we------------> As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." The Woman was obviously corrected (just catholics are just like the Woman in the crowd blessing Mary)........

This person's own words condemn him. he is saying- flat out- that Jesus has instructed us not to bless Mary. This is actually a blasphemous assertion. The Bible demands that we honor our father and mother. This person is accusing Jesus of violating one of the Ten Commandments!

Jesus even spells out the gravity of this very truth to the Pharisees.

Matthew 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.'

but that is a violation of the scripture by extrapolation. We do not even need to do go that far, for the Bible tells us EXPLICITLY that Mary is to be blessed among all women (Luke 1:42) and by all generations! (Luke 1:48).

Why would the Holy Spirit allow the gospel writer to record Mary saying of herself that all generations would call her blessed, only to see Jesus reject such a claim less than 10 chapters later?

This is an absurd suggestion!

Let's get down to brass tacks

Now that we have examined what the passage clearly doesn't say and what it clearly cannot say, there is only one thing left to do....

Let's look at what the passage actually does say. The answer may surprise you.

The Woman in the crowd says "Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed." The greek word for womb is pronounced koyleeah and the word for breasts mastos. That the woman is blessing Mary's maternity of Jesus is inescapable.

So, why does Jesus disagree?
11:28 He replied, "Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

He doesn't. The mistake you are making is in misinterpreting the word rather.

(rā th 'ər, rä' th ər)

  1. With more logic, wisdom, or other justification.
    1. More readily; preferably: I'd rather go to the movies.
    More exactly; more accurately: He's my friend, or rather he was my friend.
  2. To a certain extent; somewhat: rather cold.
  3. On the contrary.
  4. (rā' th ûr', rä'-) Chiefly British Most certainly. Used as an emphatic affirmative reply.
Protestants imply that Jesus is using definition #4, on the contrary, but that is not at all the case. Jesus is actually using a term that denotes agreement with the woman to an extent, but showing emphasis on Mary's obedience rather than her maternity.

The exegesis of the word bears this out unmistakably.

The word rather, in this passage, is translated from a greek word pronounced menoongeh. This word is a conjunction of the words men (to affirm), oon (accordingly) and gheh (which denotes emphasis).

It is very clear that Jesus is not saying "not 'A' but 'B'" but is, in fact, saying, "yes 'A' (men) and (oon), even more than that (gheh) "B".

So, to paraphrase....

Woman: Blessed is your mother for carrying you and nursing you.
Jesus: Yes, but more blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey.

A fair objection

A fair minded person, considering my words, would concede several points.
  1. Mary is clearly blessed.
  2. On this point, Jesus agrees with the woman.
  3. Though Mary's maternity is worthy of blessing, more worthy is hearing and obeying the word of God.

If the person is fair enough to concede those three obvious points, I should be fair enough to concede an obvious objection that could be raised.

Objection: Fair enough! It says Mary is to be blessed...but not anymore than any other person who hears the word of God and obeys.

That is a conclusion you could come to by reading the text. After all, the verse implies that the greater blessing goes to they (plural, inclusive) who hear the word of God and obey. This means that all who hear the word of God and obey are blessed in this way.

I gladly concede the point.

Yet, you must concede that the greater blessing goes to the one who shows the greater obedience. Thus, the Bible tells us that John the Baptist was the greatest (most blessed) among men born purely of women (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28) and that Mary was most blessed among Women (Luke 1:42).

So, the logic brings it back full circle and closes the discourse between the woman and Jesus. For, though it is true that the Bible is saying that all who hear and obey the word of God are deserving of this special blessing, it tells us, by inference, that Mary is at the top of this list because she is most blessed among women and is to be so for all generations.

So, Jesus is, in essence, saying "Yes, she is blessed for her motherhood, but most because she heard and obeyed.

Of course, what Jesus says of Mary, implicitly, is what Elizabeth says explicitely;

Luke 1:45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

"Salvation is by Jesus alone"

...and no Catholic has ever suggested any different. What we differ on your refusal to recognize how Jesus uses people to work His will. People through whom you reach Jesus, people through whom Jesus reaches you.

Mary is one of those such people. In fact, the highest of such people.

"The Bible condemns the so-called 'Queen of Heaven'"

So it does....

Jeremiah 7:18 The children gather wood, their fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, while libations are poured out to strange gods in order to hurt me.

First, let's identify who this 'Queen of Heaven' is. She is the babylonian goddess Ishtar. Second, notice what is occuring. Sacrifices and libations are being offered to her. She is being worshipped.

No Catholic worships Mary. No Catholic offers sacrifices to her. No Catholic sees her as a goddess.

But what of this title 'Queen of Heaven'? Is it Biblical? It certainly is.

Revelation 12:1 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.

Revelation 11:19- 12:17 is rich in marian doctrine. It shows Mary as the Ark of the Covenant, the Assumed, the Mother of God, The Mother of believers and, yes, the Queen of Heaven.

What we see here are the Olt Testament types fulfilled in the person of Mary. The mother of the King is given the office of the Queen Mother (2 Kings 10:13).

Just as people would ask the Queen Mother to intercede, on their behalf, with the King, we do likewise.

No one denies that Jesus is the King of Heaven, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Mary, by virtue of her position as Mother of the King would be the natural fulfillment of this office. Revelation 12:1 confirms this.

"The Rosary is based on private revelations"

There is some truth to that being partially true, certainly. Although the miracles at places like Lourdes and Fatima, with their thousands of witnesses, certainly stretch the definition of the term "private revelation". The genesis of the Rosary grew from monks who would pray the entire 150 Psalms.

The Rosary was created as a devotion- a means of deep meditation and prayer.

It has certainly expanded over the years and- yes- we do believe that heaven has shown it's approval.

JOEL 3:1 Then afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

Miracles have never ceased in the Catholic church and there is no reason to believe they ever would.

Testing the spirit is always a good idea. (1 John 4:1)

Mary has always encouraged believers to renounce sin, to fast, to pray the Lord's prayer, to pray the Creed, to trust in Jesus and to renounce the vanity of this world.

Hardly what the Devil would advocate.

Miraculous stories such as those of Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Betania are not something that Catholics are afraid of embracing.

Luke 21:28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."

If there are no miracles in your church, you belong to a false church with a vain worship. Religion has power. Anyone who denies this is to be rejected. (1 Timothy 3:15)


The Rosary is the most powerful devotion ever created. It is totally Biblical. The Hail Mary is taken almost word for word from the 1st and 2nd chapters of Luke's gospel.

The Rosary forces us to take the miraculous events of scripture and meditate on them to understand their depth. The Rosary is a true participation in the communion of saints. It allows us to tap into the help of that great cloud of witnesses God has given us.

If you wish to go deeper into an intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity, it is difficult to do better than the Rosary of Our blessed lady.

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