Why is it OK for us to pray to the Virgin Mary?


Sr. Louise Zdunich

June 9, 2014

QuestionA lady who is Catholic now belongs to one of the "new age" religions. She was told that you do not pray to Mary because she is human. You pray only to God. I told her that Jesus was human too and asked her if she prayed to him. She said "that's different" but could not explain why.


AnswerJesus was human but he was also divine and so when we pray to Jesus, we are praying to God. This is clear in Jesus' response to his disciple Philip's request "Show us the Father" (John 14.8).

Jesus declares, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own; . . . Believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14.9-11).

Therefore, whenever we invoke Jesus' name, we are praying to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

However, for Mary, it is a different story for Mary is human and not divine. Your question really asks whether we can and should pray to Jesus' mother, Mary.

Perhaps, the first clue is at the wedding feast of Cana in chapter 2 of John. Although Jesus says that his "hour has not yet come" (v. 4) for doing miracles and showing his power, Jesus does what Mary asks of him.

This event leads us to conclude two things. The first is that Mary is concerned about our welfare since she was willing to advocate for the wedding party running out of wine at Cana. The second is that Mary's intercession with her Son obtains results.

From the cross, Jesus gave Mary to us as our Mother when he said "Woman, here is your son . . . and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'" (John 19.26-27). Devotion to Mary spread rapidly.

The third ecumenical council held at Ephesus in 431 declared that as Christ was both God and human, Mary was the mother of God.

More churches are dedicated to Mary than to any other saint. Rome has 10 basilicas and 58 churches under Mary's patronage. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, according to tradition, is the oldest and most beautiful.

Not only were churches dedicated to Mary but Mary is invoked under many different titles such as Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Lady of Good Counsel and according to events in her life such as the Annunciation and the Visitation.


In addition, multiple devotions developed. Many short prayers were common such as the Memorare which begins "Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary" and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, the most enduring and popular is the rosary with its joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries. These provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the events in Christ's life.

New mysteries were added to the rosary in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. On the 24th anniversary of his election, he wrote an apostolic letter on the rosary declaring it marked the rhythm of human life bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God's own life.


How efficacious is prayer for Mary's intercession? Many people can attest to the benefits it brings them in both good times and bad, in sickness and health. John Paul II said, "Thinking back over the difficulties which have been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, the rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and moments of difficulty. In it, I have always found comfort."

Many Catholics, faithful to praying for Mary's intercession can, I'm sure, echo Pope John Paul's words. They turn to Mary for their own needs and the needs of others. They know Mary's intercession with her Son Jesus will bring strength, courage and hope to all. After all, she is not only Jesus' mother but our mother too who loves us and cares for us.

(Other questions? Email: zdunich@telus.net)