If you are Catholic and you have friends that aren’t, you have probably been asked this question about a million times.
“Don’t you guys pray to Mary?”
And if you don’t get asked, you get told.
“Oh, well Catholics pray to Mary and I only pray to God.”
This is based on pure misunderstanding. The Catholic church is so often judged based on weird and misinformed stereotypes. People don’t mean to demean you. Well, I shouldn’t say that. About half of the people that say this to you mean to demean you, the other half are probably just curious or trying to defend their own faith. Regardless, here is a really great way to explain this form of prayer to these people. It is easy to understand and not at all offensive. I learned it from another Catholic friend on the internet a year or so ago, but I have used it so often since then!
When I am faced with this question (or statement), this is what I say.
“No. We don’t pray to Mary. We pray through her.”
This is probably a little vague for the person you are trying to explain this to though, so you will have to elaborate with an analogy. Allow them to express their confusion or whatever before you go on though, that way you can tell them these things without them boiling over from their original thoughts.
“Do you ever ask a friend to pray for you? Does your mom pray for you? Or your grandpa?”
If the answer to this isn’t yes, then I don’t know what you do. Just finish the story so they understand the whole praying-through-Mary thing. I’m not a professional. Do I seem like a professional to you? You’re on the wrong blog if you’re looking for a professional.
“Well, when I say we pray through Mary, that’s what I mean. We are asking Mary to pray for us.”
Some rebutles for this gem are:
“Why bother? She is already dead.”
“When you ask someone to pray for you, I imagine you would preferably ask someone that means a lot to you. They might be very God-centered. They really know their faith and live it out in daily life. They may also be very thoughtful, and you know they will be thinking of you and your situation. Maybe you would even ask someone in the same situation as you, because they truly know what you are going through. All of that makes sense, right? Then doesn’t it also make sense that Mary would be the prime candidate? I think it makes sense to ask her to pray for me because she was such an important person to Jesus and such an important person to me. She mothers the entire Church, so she is probably in a position where she feels like she needs to be praying for me. I am one of her daughters that needs some serious help. So – I mean – I don’t really see an issue here.”
For those that choose to not really accept your explanation, there will probably be the occasional:
“Well you guys pray to saints too!”
“Same deal as with Mary. If I am in a bad car accident or get cancer, I pray that St. Jude prays for me. If I am a dancer, St.Vitus. If I am standing up for women’s rights, St. Catherine of Sienna.”
And if, in the end, they still want to think that Catholics pray to Mary, so be it. They probably have something against the Church itself that needs worked out before they can let little things like praying to Mary be explained to them. Whatever, let them be. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. I hope I helped you out a bit! Defending the faith can be so difficult and this is such a common question/comment.