Catholic Questions and Answers -
Mary and the Saints
This section covers some of most frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we receive here at The Crossroads Initiative about Mary and the Saints. If you have any questions you can check this page frequently for more Catholic Q & A. We are adding new Questions and Answers every week. Please select the topic that you have questions about. If you don't find an answer to your question, feel free to contact us and Dr. D'Ambrosio will try to answer.
Main Q & A Page
Q -Dear Crossroads,
Have you heard about Our Lady of America? I just did the other day. Is this real? What is your take on this? I went to their web site www.ourladyofamerica.org, but, am still confused. If this is real, should we all not be promoting this wonderful vision and promises?
Your answer would be greatly appreciated.
A -Hi Eleanor,
I have not heard of Our Lady of America. Keep in mind, if the apparition is authentic, the message of the Blessed Mother will be the very same as what is taught in the scriptures, the catechism, and past approved apparitions like Lourdes and Fatima. That being said, I’d stick with those sources and not give too much attention to an apparition that is not sure. Even if it is authentic, no Catholic would be obliged to accept it since it would be private rather than public revelation. We DO however, have an obligation to accept and spread the gospel.
Faithfully in Christ,
Q -This is a question…our pastor has stated on numerous occasions that we pray, not TO Mary or the saints, but thru them…I have found, in Catholic literature, arguments for praying to them and then, only thru them to God…need a clarification..Thanks
A -Hi Marvin,
Really, I think it presents a bigger theological problem to say that we pray THROUGH the saints than TO them. The classic way to pray in the Roman liturgy is to pray to the Father, through Jesus. I think that saying we pray through the saints risks confusing people into believing that we need other mediators than Jesus between us and God.
To pray simply means to ask in English (think of how it is used in Shakespeare "I pray thee . . ."). It does not imply worship or adoration, which is only properly given, of course, to three divine persons. To pray to the saints means to express to them our devotion and ask for their intercession. That is entirely proper, but we Catholics tend to do this mostly outside the liturgy, in devotional prayers (except in the Litany of the Saints). In a certain way, it makes sense to me to think that we go to the Father, through Jesus, with the saints, our elder brothers and sisters, as our prayer partners. I'd recoomend to you the final chapter of my book Exploring the Catholic Church which discusses this more in detail.
Faithfully in Christ,
Dr. M D'Ambrosio
Q -The priest at morning Mass today said that Mary Magdalene in the Gospel reading today is not the adulteress Mary or the Mary that cleaned Jesus' feet with her hair, but just some other Mary. I tried looking but cannot find if this is true. Can you help?
A -Hi Debbie,
In the sixth century Pope St. Gregory the Great preached a sermon in which he identified Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:2 with the unnamed woman sinner in Luke 7:37, who perfumed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. He also identified her with Mary of Bethany in John 11:1. Some (like Mel Gibson in his Passion of the Christ) have identified her with the woman caught in adultery in John 8. These associations got picked up and passed on from generation to generation although they are in no way official teachings of the church.
The gospels do not clearly identify Mary Magdalene with any of these other women. Neither does it identify her as a repentant prostitute or adulteress. Luke 8:2 does say that Jesus drove 7 demons out of Mary Magdalene, but it does not specify the kinds of evil that these spirits worked in and through Mary before her repentence.
St. Gregory the Great was not only a Pope, but also a Father and Doctor of the Church. Nonetheless, his identification of Mary Magdalene with the other women associated with her name is not at all infallible. From a historical point of view, it is very unlikely that she was the same Mary who was a sister of Lazarus. "Magdalene" means she was from the village of Magdala, near Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany, a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem, far from the Sea of Galilee.
The important thing about Mary was not who she was or what she did before her encounter with Jesus -- what matters is who she became and what she did afterwards. All the gospels agree on the contrast between her courage and fidelity at the foot of the cross and the fear of those apostles who fled.
They agree too on her faith in the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday morning contrasting that with the unbelief of several of the apostles. She is a model of faith and faithfulness -- may we imitate her example.
Q - Dr. D'Ambrosio,
Can you please assist me in why we believe in the immaculate conception and the Assumption when I cannot locate this evidence in scripture.
A - Hi Chris,
While there is not clear and explicit teaching in the New Testament that Mary was born without original sin and was bodily assumed into heaven, many have seen these things implicitly contained in various texts of Scripture, such as the angel's greeting in Luke 1 calling Mary "full of grace" and various Old Testament texts speaking of the necessary purity of the ark of the covenant, the place of God's dwelling. For a discussion of these doctrines and their backing in Scripture and Tradition, visit www.catholic.com and other sites on my links pages under apologetics.
Keep in mind that the New Testament Scriptures were never intended by the apostles (or the Holy Spirit) to be a complete, all-inclusive record of God's revealed truth. That they are is an assumption of Protestant Christians that has never been shared by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches going back to the apostles. Tradition is that passing on of the life and truth of Christ that complements the witness of Scripture, and these two doctrines lean upon Tradition as well as upon various scripture texts.
To read a bit about the Assumption on my site, see http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/190/Assumption_of_the_Blessed_Virgin_Mary.html
Q -Can you shed light on why the stigmata of Padre Pio and others is through the palms of the hands whereas the crucifixion is thought to have been through the wrist and most crucifixes of Christ show this. I already get the newsletter etc.
Best regards David M, Liverpool, UK
A -Hi David,
A couple of reflections on the stigmata and the crucifixion:
1) The phenomenon of the stigmata is something that pertains to the realm of religious experience rather than Catholic doctrine. The Catholic Church has no binding teaching on the phenomenon and does not guarantee that the phenomenon, even when apparently experienced by canonized saints like St. Francis of Assisi or Padre Pio, is of supernatural origin. That is not to say that I don’t believe that the stigmata reported by these saints were supernatural; just that it is an open question and that good Catholics come to different conclusions on the matter and still be good Catholics.
2) It is not know for sure whether the nails affixing Jesus’ arms to the cross were driven through the palms of the hands or through the wrists. It had been thought impossible to suspend a body from the cross with nails through the palms, but it has been recently proved that it is entirely possible if the feet are also nailed to the cross and bear some of the weight.
3) These facts should shed light on how to interpret Padre Pio’s wounds in the palms of the hands. His wounds could or could not be in the same places that Christ’s wounds were located. Also, they could have been or could not have been of entirely supernatural origin. Lastly, the wounds may have been supernatural in origin but placed in the palms by God based on the religious sensibilities of the people of the age regardless of the exact locations of the words. Most people then, as now, envision Jesus as having been nailed through the hands rather than wrists, regardless of how it actually happened.
Best wishes in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Q - I wanted to know if it is ok to say a novena to help sell my house. Someone suggested saying a novena to St. Joseph and burying his statue. I heard you say once that burying a statue is wrong. Could you explain it again for me and let me know about the Novena.
Thanks – Sharon
A -Hi Sharon,
Novena to St. Joseph, yes! Putting his statue in the yard, yes! Burying it in the yard as if it is a good luck charm that guarantees results, no! The latter is superstition, not devotion and faith.
Q -Hi, I would really like to gain understanding about the Catholic view on Mary and the Saints. I come from a Protestant (and before that. No church) background. I can't accept the Protestant view that any appearance of Mary is from hell, because I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and I have heard Jesus say, "Thank you for honoring my mother." Then I have my almost 16 year old son in my home. His bedroom is full of stuff he shouldn't own. So there is warfare in our home. Perhaps that is why I can't gain clear insights from heaven. Sorry to write to complete strangers. I hope wisdom and understanding will come with time. and perhaps some victory. God bless, Jenni B.
A - Dear Jenni,
We have several resources that I think will help you a great deal--the final chapter of my book Exploring the Catholic Church http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/resource_info/6.html
is on Mary and the Saints and was written precisely to help people like you.
Also, my CD series How Mary and the Rosary can Change your Life http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/resource_info/69.html
would be of great help. Finally, we have a free library online with resources on Mary and the Saints http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_category/20/Mary_and_the_Catholic_Saints.html
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
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How Mary and the Rosary Can Change Your Life
by: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Talk 1: The Virgin Mary: Model of Faith
Some Christians seem to neglect her; others seem overly preoccupied with her. What is the true role of Mary in God's plan, her intended role in our lives now, and the proper form of devotion to her? In this talk, Dr. D'Ambrosio provides enlightening and inspiring answers to these questions from Scripture, common sense and the teaching of the Church.
Talk 2: A Fresh Look at The Rosary
There is something here for everyone-- those who have problems with the rosary, and those who've read every book on the subject. Drawing from scripture, history, Church teaching and personal experience, Dr. D'Ambrosio shares insights in this talk that will forever change the way you look at and experience this traditional devotion.
Retail CD - $18.95 Retail Audio Tape - $18.95