To properly understand this devotion, one must distinguish between honor and worship. Simply put, ພວກເຮົາ honor Mary and the Saints, ແຕ່ວ່າ worship God alone. According to the Bible, the essence of worship is not ການອະທິຖານ, ຍິ່ງໄປກວ່ານັ້ນ, but the offering of sacrifice (ເບິ່ງ ການອົບພະຍົບ 20:24; ມາລາກີ 1:11; ແລະ Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 10:14-21, et al.). Catholics pray to the Saints, but offer sacrifice to God alone, namely the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
As we explain elsewhere, praying to the Saints is merely a way to ask those who have gone before us to pray with us and for us–just as we ask fellow believers on earth to do.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox devotion to Mary involves more than prayer, ເຖິງແມ່ນວ່າ. What of the high status which Catholics and Orthodox assign to her? Is is right to so exalt a mere human being?
We believe that no one could possibly exalt Mary more than God did when He chose her to be the Mother of His Son. In the Gospel scene of the visitation, Saint Elizabeth says to her, “Blessed are you among women, ແລະໄດ້ຮັບພອນແມ່ນຫມາກຂອງມົດລູກ! And why is this granted me, ວ່າແມ່ຂອງພຣະຜູ້ເປັນເຈົ້າຂອງຂ້າພະເຈົ້າຄວນຈະມາກັບຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ?” (ລູກາ 1:41-43). In that same passage, Mary exclaims, “ເພາະຈົ່ງເບິ່ງ, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (1:48).
Sometimes those who oppose so lofty a view of Mary will cite the episode in the ພຣະກິດຕິຄຸນຂອງພຣະ in which a woman in the crowd calls out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”; to which He responds, “Blesssed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (11:27-28). We need to be careful not to interpret a particular verse of the Bible out of the context. ສໍາລັບການ, as we have just seen, Mary’s blessedness is affirmed elsewhere in ລູກາ. ໃນຄວາມເປັນຈິງ, in the first chaper of the book, Elizabeth says of Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (1:45). These are essentially the same words Jesus used later to identify true blessedness: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” ໃນ ລູກາ 11:28, ຫຼັງຈາກນັ້ນ, the Lord was not denying Mary’s blessed status, but clarifying for us the true reason for it: her perfect faith and obedience to God’s word.
Christ is our one Mediator with God, and He calls His followers to share with Him in that singular mediation, to, as the Bible says, become “God’s fellow workers” as Saint Paul stated in his ຈົດຫມາຍຄັ້ງທໍາອິດກັບຊາວໂກຣິນໂທ 3:9.
ພຣະເຢຊູໄດ້ກ່າວວ່າ, “He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). ດັ່ງນັ້ນ, ໃນການເວົ້າ “ແມ່ນແລ້ວ” to God at the Annunciation, Mary cooperated with Him in a far greater, more intimate way than any human being or angel ever has or ever will do.
As she stood at the foot of the Cross, Jesus said to her, “Woman, behold your son!”, referring to the Apostle John beside her. And to John, ພຣະຜູ້ເປັນເຈົ້າກ່າວວ່າ, “ຈົ່ງເບິ່ງ, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).
It is extraordinary that Jesus first asked Mary to look after John, given that John was an adult fully capable of caring for himself. It is only reasonable to interpret Jesus’ words to Mary and John in a spiritual way, seeing that Mary was entrusted to be the spiritual Mother of John, who as “the beloved disciple” represented all of Christ’s followers. ບັງເອີນ, ໄດ້ ປື້ມບັນທຶກຂອງການເປີດເຜີຍ, written by John, affirms Mary as the Mother of all Christians, ເວົ້າ, “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (12:17).
ຢ່າງໃດກໍຕາມ, despite all the special privileges God has seen bestowed on Mary, she remains merely His creature and servant as she herself humbly professes in the Magnificat, her hymn of praise to the Almighty:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. ເພາະຈົ່ງເບິ່ງ, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (ລູກາ 1:46-49)